Archive | December 2014

Makin’ plans

Psalm 119:1-8 – “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.”

The last day of 2014. It is crazy that 364 days have already passed. My year has been filled with heart ache and tears and laughter and celebrations, reunions and good byes. Like most years, it has had its ups and downs. But when I look back, I mostly remember the good.

On a day like today, I don’t just want to remember the events of the year. I also want to review my behaviors. I had times when I walked ever so closely with Jesus. And I had times where I had to kinda shout because I had walked on a side path.

I also want to take some time and think about the goals that I accomplished and those that I did not. It seems that more often than not the goals that I set for myself were not accomplished. So why do I torture myself by setting goals every year? I need direction. I need a point to try to hit.

You see, when I look at these verses for today, I see someone who tries – someone whose desire is to follow more closely after The Lord and who knows that he (or she) will not always be successful. But in their trying comes a blessing. The writer desires to keep the commands of God and desires to seek after Him. Yet, the writer asks that God not utterly forsake him. Why would he ask that? Because he knows that sometimes he will fail.

God knows who He is dealing with here – He knows that we are sinners. He knows that we are going to make grandiose plans to serve Him and that somewhere down the line, we will neglect that desire. But He knows that we desire to serve Him and learn about Him. He knows that we desire to do our best. Remember, God sees and discerns the intents of our heart. You can’t fool God. I teach the young teen Sunday School class and I am always asking them to give me their real answer, not the “Sunday School answer”.

God doesn’t want your “Sunday School” plans. He wants your down in the nitty gritty plans. He wants to be a part of the plans that you make for every single aspect of your life. He wants to direct them. “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” You see, even the writer of this Psalm had a desire for God to direct his ways. He didn’t say “just my ways when I’m learning about You”. He said “my ways”. To me, that means all of them.

As you remember this year and your successes and failures, you joys and your tears, your ups and your downs, take a moment and see where you have let God lead you. Rejoice in those moments and plan for more. Set your goal list before The Lord for approval. Make sure that He is directing all your ways.

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Time for a check-up

Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Okay everyone, the countdown is on. Only three more days left in 2014. Can you believe it? You have three more days to make the best of 2014 and plan for 2015. What are you going to do? Where are you going to go? How are you going to live the days you are given next year?

Most people will be preparing their New Year’s Resolutions this week. May I suggest that you do something different this year – make plans, not resolutions. Plans mean that you have a goal and how to get there. You’re not making arbitrary wishes. You are making well thought out goals and goals will always get you farther.

So, let’s begin. Let’s look at your health. I want to look at your health in three different areas: mind, body and soul.
First, your mind. Are you making an effort each and every day to renew your mind? Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” How do you expect to be able to do God’s will if you and He are not on the same page?
Second, your body. Are you taking care of the temple God gave you? Do you care for it and feed it properly? Or do you just live life with abandon and eat whatever sounds good at the moment? 1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” I know I don’t want to give God something yucky to live in. So this next year I want to care for my body in a better way. I encourage you to think and pray about how God wants you to change things to make your body more healthy to do His work.
And lastly, your spirit. How is your relationship with Him? Are you walking with Him? Are you letting Him have every day, every moment? Do you talk to Him as much as you talk to your best friend? He just wants to be the biggest part of your life. Think for a moment about Jesus’ life with His disciples. He spent three years walking with them and spending every moment with them. They didn’t just meet for classes once a week. They walked with the Savior and talked with Him and laughed with Him and cried with Him and ate with Him. It was a very intimate time. Jesus still wants that same thing with you.

Princess, the time is now. The time has come for a check-up. Take these next few days and think about your health – the health of your mind, the health of your body and the health of you soul. Do you need to change some things? Could you make any one (or all) of these areas better? Just begin with a list of these three areas and things that could (or should) be changed. Then pray. Pray about how God wants you to change them.

My little poem

‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Everyone was tucked into nice cleaned sheeted beds
without sight of a mouse.
It was so very quiet
The house guests had left
Yet mom could not sleep
Her thoughts would not be silent.
For one thought in particular would not go away –
The peppermint bark had been a horrible display.
She had wanted everything to be perfect and right
But this little challenge was a horrible sight.
The layers had not stuck together at all
Which made the bark crumble and fall.
And while these thoughts danced around in her head
A small voice whispered, “Chill out! Your in bed!”
“There’s nothing you can do
It still tasted fine.
So sleep, dear child, and remember the ‘Why'”
“Remember why you celebrate this season.
It’s not about the bark or candy, dear child.
You must remember the reason.”
Then as she laid there
A thought came to mind
Of a baby in a manger
Who would change eternity for mankind.
A baby who would grow up to be more than a man
But rather a Savior
Who was part of a plan.
A plan that would hang him
On a cruel, cruel tree
But Hope would arise
For you and for me.
Remember, dear princess,
That no matter what happens to the food
God can use it to always work for good.
Despite the flop of the peppermint bark
Good memories were made
With the little girl with a spark.
Remember today to give thanks to the Savior
For He loves to look down on His children with favor.
Merry Christmas

Remembering and Pondering

Luke 2:19 – “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Mary. She was an ordinary girl yet God had extraordinary plans for her. Of all of the eligible young virgins, she had been chosen to carry the Messiah. It wasn’t a task to be taken lightly. There could have been grave consequences. But God kept her safe. She knew that as long as she willingly followed God and allowed Him to lead her that she would be alright.

Can you imagine traveling all those miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem nine months pregnant with your first child on the back of a donkey (more than likely)? She had to have been terrified. And I’m sure that Joseph was a basket case as well. He was probably realizing with each clomp of the donkey hoof that he was going to have to deliver the child himself. He probably had no clue what he was getting into.

After it was all accomplished and everyone was settling down, the young family had visitors – shepherds. And they came with a marvelous tale – angels singing in the sky, proclaiming Jesus’s birth. How amazing!

Mary must have remembered her own encounter with the angel when he told her about the coming of this little bundle of joy she now held in her arms. I just can’t imagine what it must have been like to hold the Messiah in your arms and brush His hair with your fingers and gently kiss Him on that sweet little head. But as she sat there listening to the shepherds, she couldn’t help but wonder what this little baby was really going to do.

You see, I don’t think that Mary truly comprehended all that Jesus was and is. I don’t know how she could. I don’t get it and I have the completed Word of God.

Jesus came to this earth as a baby. He had a big gummy smile. He took His first steps. He learned and grew just like any other child. The only difference was is this – He did it without sin. That is the key. Had He grown up exactly like any other child, there would have been disobedience and rebellion. But not from Jesus. That’s a whole other blog post to consider.

What I want you to get out of this today, princess, is that Mary was living her ordinary life, planning for her ordinary wedding when God stepped in and offered her something amazing. And she took it. She chose to accept God’s will in her life. And Mary was able to experience and witness some amazing things in her life because of her obedience. But through it all, God gave her the gift of remembering and pondering. Take some time today to remember and ponder all that God has done for you in your life. You may just be an ordinary person like me, but I would guess that if you stop and think about it, you will see some extraordinary things that God had done in your life because of your obedience. Thank Him for that today. Thank Him for the gift of remembering and pondering.

The Box

Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Christmas is just three short days away. Decorations are up. Presents are nearly all purchased. Food had been listed and purchased for all the festivities. Excitement is on the rise.

Have you let all the commercialism and worldly lusts take you away from the manger? Life has a tendency to do that sometimes. We get so caught up in the “stuff” of the world that we forget the most important thing.

But just as my pastor was speaking about yesterday, it doesn’t stop at the manger. Jesus was so much more than a baby. Although, I can hardly wrap my brain around Mary kissing the face of God when she kissed baby Jesus. That thought makes me want to cry.
Although we don’t read much about the in-between years of Jesus’s life, I know a lot went on during those years. The next time we see Him is when He starts His ministry. And then, that goes way too quickly.
When Easter comes around, we will all be focused on the cross. The cross is very important. Without it, we would never have the opportunity for forgiveness from God. But it doesn’t stop there.

You see, we like to have things neat and tied up with a ribbon on top. We like things to be predictable. We like things to go just as we expect them to. We put Jesus in a box. We want Him to be predictable. We want Him to do exactly what we think He should do.
When most people read this verse around Christmastime, they focus on the beginning – the focus on the baby. Yet, when I read this verse yesterday, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed at the end – “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Just pick one. There is no way that all that that the one Name is could possible be tied up in a nice, neat package with a bow on top. He is just way more!

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
When most people read this verse, they stop considering it at “ask”. But when you read on, you see “or think”. How many dreams and imaginations do you have inside you head? I have more than I know to express. Jesus is bigger than that! He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine”. Just wrap your brain around that one for a minute.

Christmas is when we remember and appreciate the birth of our Savior – and rightly so. But don’t leave Him there. And then when Easter rolls around, don’t leave Him at the cross or in the tomb. Remember, He arose. But also remember that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

My challenge to you today, princess, is to let Jesus out of the box. Don’t hold Him back from creating within you a wondrous act. Jesus loves to make ordinary people extraordinary. You just have to let Him out of your box, get out of the way and get ready to be amazed.

13

1 Peter 3:4b – “…even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Today is my son’s 13th birthday. I officially have a teenager in the house today.

When I think about him and his character, this portion of this verse comes to mind. Now, I know that the verse is describing an attribute that a woman should obtain, but why can’t a man strive for that attribute as well? If it is “of great price” in the eyes of God, it must be important.

My son is very quiet. He doesn’t have a lot to say, most of the time. Now, get him to talking about soccer or sports cars and he will talk your ear off. But generally, he is quiet. He has a gentle spirit about him. He doesn’t get too upset very often. It takes quite a bit, usually, to make him mad. He has a very caring heart. He is very concerned about the people around him. He pays attention to their needs.

I think if there were one thing that I could learn from my son, it would be to be more easy going. He just rolls with the punches. He likes to know what is going on and when it will happen, but a monkey wrench doesn’t really phase him.

I am so blessed to have him in my life. I can’t imagine my life without him. And I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in his life. Well, actually, I can wait because I don’t know that I’m quite ready to see him grow up to a man just yet.

Birthdays are a great time to remember the past. I like to remember him as a little guy who would line his cars up in the hallway end to end and see how far they would stretch. Or the toddler who would beg me to come and build him a new Thomas the train track every day. Or the little boy out on the soccer field jumping because he just scored a goal. So many sweet memories.

So today, princess, let me encourage you to seek out and appreciate the attributes that God has placed in the hearts of your little people (or not so little people). And remember, God has given them to you for just a short time. Treasure every second.

The Game

Psalm 27:1-3 – “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”

My son plays soccer at school. He loves soccer. And though he plays for a Christian school sometimes they face opponents that are not followers of Christ. That can be difficult at times.

Yesterday, they faced an opponent who has been known to play in a very unsportsmanlike manner. We had heard about several of the previous games against other schools in which this team received several yellow cards for not playing the game properly. We had also been told that the parents were not friendly to their opponents. All in all, our team was a bit fearful of a negative and harsh game.

I don’t know about the rest of the parents but when I get into a position where I feel threatened or my child is threatened (and I know this ahead of time), I pray. I pray a lot. I pray for everyone involved. I pray that God will intervene and smooth out the path. I talked to my son about playing with integrity and not letting your anger get the best of you.

You see, high school soccer is a great life lesson not only for the players but also for the spectators. The players learn to be aware of their opponents and their playing style. They learn how to perform under pressure. They learn to control their emotions so that they can play as a team. The spectators learn to support success – no matter whose success it is. They learn that you don’t have to be in the middle of things in order to be helpful – sometimes your presence means more than any action you can take.

We are all going to have times in our life when we come up against some nasty foes, and we need to know to whom we need to turn for help – Jesus. Israel faced all kinds of foes that wanted to destroy them, that did not play fair. They had people trying to get into their heads with all kinds of crazy ideas. They had people who tried to destroy them from the inside out. Do you think your life is any different? Do you believe that on a daily basis that there are forces set to destroy you and all that you believe in?

Unfortunately, we all have battles in one form or another each and every day. We all have foes that don’t play fair, who try to get into our head with crazy ideas and who would love nothing more than to tear us to pieces.

Ok, Debbie Downer is done because here is the kicker to it all – WE WIN! If you have Jesus Christ leading you in the battle, you win every single time. It might feel like you have lost, but if you learn something to makes you grow closer to Him, you win. You see, it is so much about your attitude and perspective that it is not even funny. Maybe your foes are tearing out the bad stuff so that Jesus can grow the good stuff. Maybe you need to learn how to be strong mentally. You have to know what you believe and why you believe it to grow in that direction. So, you need someone to challenge you.

God can work in any situation. And He can grow us if we are willing to let Him. He can protect us, if we follow Him down the right path.

Yesterday was a win for our boys soccer team. They won not only because they scored more goals than their opponents but also because they didn’t let the other team bully them or get into their heads. They were physically and mentally strong. And most importantly, they showed pretty good sportsmanship – it wasn’t perfect, but really, none of us are. And us spectators had the opportunity to support the athletes of both teams in their successes and failures. It was a good game.

So let me encourage you today, princess, to be on guard and know when to run to the Refuge. Don’t let the devil get into your head. You got this. Play like you mean it.