Why is it So Hard?

March 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you have been reading my blog regularly, you know I am memorizing James and I am praying on my knees for at least 15 minutes a week. Are you joining me? Let me know by leaving a comment and telling me about where you are in James or what God has been doing in your prayer time.

Anyway, I have made it to James 3 and here came this verse:

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. James 3:2

First I am struck with we all stumble…Not only do we stumble, but we stumble in many ways. OUCH! That is pretty harsh. I don’t like to admit that I stumble at all and now James is telling me that we all stumble in many ways. Then he mentions our words. Yes our words…If we are never at fault in what we say, we are perfect. Seems simple right?

So why is it so hard? Why can’t we never be at fault in what we say? Why do words matter so much that if we could keep our tongue in check we would be perfect?

Words…I want to use life-giving words. I want to pass on wise words, words of grace, words of truth. But too often my words are harsh, they tear down, they convey irritation.

Words are that important. Jesus confirms this when He says, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b)

We speak what is in our hearts. If our hearts are in check our words will be in check…So our words are a good indicator of the condition of our hearts. Are we speaking in love and with patience or are we irritated and grumpy? God is more interested in our hearts than our actions. We can fake a lot of things, but our words often give away where our hearts are…

Let’s do some heart checks. We need to think about what we have said, ask others if what we say is harsh or said in love. We need to measure our words carefully. They are important.

What do you think? Are words really something that can “never hurt me” unlike sticks and stones? Is it possible that words are important and that they show the condition of our hearts? Do you have a story about that? I can’t wait to hear it!

Here is another post I did on the Word…Click here to read it.


Rethinking Following Your Heart

February 17, 2011 § 14 Comments

Here is another vlog for your enjoyment. I only wish you all could comment back in video form to my blog. Wouldn’t that be cool?

May I Recommend…

January 5, 2011 § 7 Comments

Nearly three years my quiet time was revolutionized when I was introduced to the Chronological Bible at a ladies retreat. It is a Bible that puts the Biblical account into chronological order and then into daily readings for each day of the year. For example January 1 the reading is Genesis 1:1-3:24.

Since the Biblical account is given in chronological order, when I read yesterday about Noah from Genesis, I also read some of the verses in 1 Chronicles that mention Noah’s genealogy. When I read aboutNIV One Year Chronological Bible, softcover   - David hiding from Saul in a cave, I also read the Psalms he likely wrote in that cave.

This allows me to read through the Bible every year and I get such a great perspective of what and when God did things. I am seeing His hand and His story in more detail. I am more in love with His word than ever because reading this Bible helps me put the pieces together. Also Iva May does blog full of daily questions and commentary to consider over each of these readings. Her blog site is: http://www.ivamaystories.blogspot.com/

All that to say I HIGHLY recommend the Chronological Bible. It comes in different versions, so look around to find your favorite one.

Also I am throwing out a challenge. I have not been the best at memorizing scripture until I found someone in the last year or so to hold me accountable. Now that I have that person, I want to help others by being that person. I am also feeling compelled to memorize longer portions of scripture. Again, not because I am so cool, but because I am so needy of the word! Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (NAS) Without His word treasured or hidden in my heart I am certainly going to sin. I need more of Him and more of His grace. As I have been memorizing I am able to breathe grace in and out. I am able to accept grace for myself and give grace to others. Oh, but without His word, I am desperate.

So I am memorizing the book of James. I have finished the first chapter. I would like to have the whole book done by June. Can you help keep me accountable? If you tell me what you are memorizing, I will help keep you accountable.

I can’t wait to see where God is going to take us this year! May God bless the time you spend with Him. Praying, Reading, and Memorizing!

The Big Picture

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love to know and understand the big picture. Even my kids crave to know, “why do we have to pick up our toys?!” I try to paint the rosy picture of a house tidy and organized, so when you wanted your teeny-tiny Strawberry Shortcake and her itty-bitty less than a centimeter across plate of cupcakes, you would know where to find it. In my mind that huge picture is a thing of beauty, a goal to aspire, and yet often out of reach with three children. Not to mention that my twin sister stole my organizing gene. I seriously was born without one, but she has enough organizing mojo for three people. Big pictures give us a great goals to achieve. Most often the big picture, like an organized house, takes lots of smaller goals to accomplish. It is many times overwhelming and confusing to determine what the first step is. For me, the organizationally challenged mom, figuring out what the first step to making my dream a reality is a mystery. I cannot even fathom all the steps it would take to get me there.

Often that is how it is with God-size goals and dreams. Maybe you know He is calling you to write a book and speak to teach others His word. You can even see yourself signing books at a huge conference and later on stage speaking to hundreds of people. Your heart swells because you want this ministry to honor God. However you are not a well-known anybody. You are not even sure if your friends want to hear what God is teaching you much less a group of five or ten. Your dream maybe more humble, more like a tidy house, or a fulfilling preschool ministry where you direct kids to the heart of God. Maybe God is calling you to a prayer ministry that will lay the foundation for a nation-wide revival. If you are like me, you are wondering how do I get from where I am to the dream or goal or ministry I know God has for me to accomplish? What is next?

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Meaning that God may light the next step, He may even light a small passage or path to your destination. However He doesn’t show us every bend in the road. Every twist, every intersection He is orchestrating to get us to our big picture. Instead, He gives us a small short-term guide. We know that somehow the road, He is guiding us down, leads us to the main goal, the big picture. He lights our feet and our path, but not the complete road to our big picture.

My problem is that God often has to wrestle with me to join Him on His road. The one road that will lead to the big picture, the goal, in His way. I sometimes think I can get there by my planning, my own decisions, my power. Oh, but let us not forget the road is often filled with twists and turns we cannot anticipate. Your husband gets relocated out-of-state or country, you get an unexpected diagnosis, your wife is pregnant and the doctors said it would never happen. Perhaps your parents are divorcing or you got laid-off. God’s symphony of life allows many twists and turns, many hardships and painful things, as well as unexpected joys, to come so that you will be ready when it is time for you to reach your big picture.

Father God give us all a picture for our lives. Let us all have dreams and goals that we can only attain through You and Your power. As we work to attain those big goals that are beyond our abilities, may we take the next step you are placing before us. Forgive us for trying to do it our own way LORD. We know You have perfect plans. Help us to rest in them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So what big goal, dream or picture are you waiting to see God fulfill in your life? Share your thoughts and I will pray that the next step will be clear for you.

Christ’s Strength

September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

“I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 This verse has become cliché in Christian circles. We spout it when someone complains, “it is hard,” or “I can’t do it.” We glibly rattle it off to our friend who is struggling with pain and loss. We think it is GREAT verse for them. Oh, but we do not even read it in context.

Perhaps it is ironic that as I write this I am sipping a coke and eating a Spicy Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries from Chick-fil-a. Do I really get this verse? I live in the land of plenty. I have never known true want. I have never wondered IF I will have another meal, I have only wondered IF it would come soon enough. I have worn hand-me-downs, but I have never wondered if I could squeeze myself into a thread-bare dress that is two sizes too small because we have no money for a new one. So what does this have to do with Philippians 4:13? Well, if you check out Philippians 4:10-13, you will understand.

Paul is talking about how he has, “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” He describes contentment while well-fed and contentment while hungry. Then he says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you see it? He can do all things because he is content in Christ. When he is content in His savior, Paul has contentment with an empty stomach or a full stomach. Let us be real here. I rarely have an empty stomach, but am I content? If I am not content with the blessings God has given me today, how can I be content when one or more are taken from me? If I haven’t learned contentment with the house, car, kids, husband, friends, job, gifts He has given me, how can I do all things through His strength?

Do not get me wrong, God’s strength is available to those who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior. However we often disconnect ourselves from our power source by not finding contentment in the place He has us. God has given us the houses, cars, friends, family we have for His purpose. We need to learn to find contentment, not in the people, money, things that He has given, but in Him alone. When our contentment is in Christ, we find strength to make it through every trial. We find joy to cling to during great times and terrible times. We have hope that this world is not all there is for us. True contentment is found in Christ. Through contentment we can do “all things through Christ who strengthens [us].”

What are you not content about in your life? Lets pray that we find contentment in Christ our Savior regardless of the things that seem to be falling apart around us. Then let us stay connected to the source of our strength Christ to see us through the good times and the bad.

Share with me you thoughts!

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Epic Failure…

August 7, 2010 § 3 Comments

Samuel at the end of his tenure as Israel’s High Priest and Judge, probably felt like an epic failure. His sons were not following in his faith. They behaved wickedly, took bribes, and did not obey God. (1 Samuel 8) Yes that is a total of four (one is hiding) tow trucks to get one car.Not only did his sons not follow God, but the whole nation was looking for an earthly king. They were not satisfied with God as their king. They wanted to be like the other nations who had kings. I am sure Samuel felt rejected. God even reassured Samuel that it is not Samuel the Israelites are rejecting, but God. (1 Samuel 8:7) Samuel had failed to pass on his faith to this stiff-necked people. However, he did the most amazing thing during his farewell speech.

Samuel, the spiritual leader for Israel, was giving his going away speech. I am amazed at what he says to this people who are not following his leading, this people who have asked for an earthly king, this people who continue to choose anything rather than God. Samuel says, “…far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23) Samuel calls it a sin against God to not pray for those he is leading. Not a sin against the people he is leading. Not an oversight, no, he calls it a sin.

I must confess, I have been sinning against God. I have NOT prayed for friends and family as I should. Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” ALL the saints, ALWAYS, ALL occasions pray! In this I have failed. Can I say that divorce would not have happened if I prayed or that illness would not have come if I prayed. No. That is only something God knows. What I do know is that when I fail to pray, on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests, I sin. I fail because I am human. I fail because I focus on my self, my stuff, my needs. Oh, but I fail. Don’t you think Satan loves it when we fail like this. Honestly, I don’t know how or why God uses our prayers to further His cause, but He does. The verse from Ephesians follows the description of the Armor of God. So we are not prepared for battle unless we are praying in the Spirit on ALL occasions. When we aren’t praying it is like expecting to be able to win a basketball game without practice. It won’t happen. I am so glad that God is so forgiving and full of grace!

Father, forgive me for failing to pray for my friends, family, children, church, kids in my Sunday School class, ladies in my old MOPS group. Forgive me. Father, help keep the prayer part of my mind on at all times. Help me develop tools to remember who to pray for and what to pray. Father most of all give me Your heart for the lost and hurting of this world. The needs are many and great. Often I cannot do much for the needs, but I can pray and that is more important than anything else. Thank You for giving us the gift of prayer. That we can boldly approach Your throne and lay our requests at Your feet. You are God. Thank You for loving us all! Amen!

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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!

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