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All of me

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
We were challenged this weekend to love God with all that we are. Easy concept, right? Umm, no. Not so much. Not when you really take a good hard look at yourself. And that, my friend, is no fun. 

The challenge began with “Who is #1 in your life?” Well, I’m at church, on a Sunday night. The Sunday school answer is “God”, right? But when the question was asked again at the end of the challenge…the answer wasn’t God, if I was being honest with myself. And that is tough stuff right there. 

Love God with all my heart. What does that mean? As I have thought about it, I see it as loving God with all my emotion. Our heart is the center of our emotional state. When I love God with all my emotion, I make everything about Him. I choose to see His hand at work in my life. I allow Him to change and mold my attitude. Now, does that mean that I go around gushing and acting all cheesy? No. I believe that you can love God with all your heart by acknowledging Him every opportunity you get. You are deferring your emotion to Him. You are choosing to allow Him to guard and guide how you feel and respond. Loving God with all my heart.

Love God with all my soul. I think about this in this way – loving God with my eternity. My soul is something I can’t see; I can’t touch; but it is something I can give. I can give my soul back to it’s Creator by choosing Jesus as my Savior. I can allow God to have control over my eternity. Loving God with all my soul.

Love God with all my mind. Some days, I do okay with this and others days, it’s just plain ugly. In my way of thinking, this is loving God with thoughts. This is allowing God to control my thoughts. This is choosing to see things in the scope of eternity. “What would Jesus do?” It’s not wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve but rather seeing all things in the light of the love of Christ. Letting Jesus control my thoughts. Loving God with all my mind.

Love God with all my strength. To me, this is my actions. These are the things that I do or don’t do on a daily basis. This is reading my Bible. This is going to church when the doors are open. This is preparing for VBS. This is the physical action of the group. This is loving God with all my strength.

There are times when I get parts of this challenge spot on and there are times when I fail miserably. But you know what, God wants me to try my hardest. He wants me to make the choices to do things right and to seek Him daily. He knows when I am doing the best I can and when I am doing just enough to get by. This is where grace and mercy come into play. This is where I really need grace and mercy. And praise God, they never run out.

So this week, ask yourself “Who is #1 in my life?” And don’t just give the Sunday school answer. Really look hard at yourself. Ponder where your priorities really are. Happy Tuesday. 

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Nuggets

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:7-8‬ ‭KJV – “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”‬‬

I’ve been reading in Proverbs lately. There are so many little nuggets in this book that it is hard to pin one down. There are so many that I read and totally get and then there are some that I just don’t understand because they are period related. But that is on me. I need to study more. 

But as I was reading this morning, I came across these two. 

We have all met them – people who think they are all that and a bag of chips, that person that knows everything and they are not afraid to tell you exactly what they think they know. They are the kind of person that I inwardly roll my eyes at. The older I get, the more advantageous I find it to just be quiet. Listening is a great art that many fail to learn. Some people feel that a multitude of words makes them smarter and better and more desirable to be around. But nope, that is so not the case. 

The word “prudent” means “acting with or showing care and thought for the future”. It means that you don’t just think about yourself and how you are presented in the here and now, but you consider the effects on the future. A person that is considered a fool just rambles on with no thought to the future.  

So what does that mean to me? It means that I want to be a person that others want to be around. I want to be known for my ability to listen and offer sound advice. I want others to see that I allow Christ to lead and guide my life, not me. Now, sometimes I am able to show this spot on. And then there are other times that I am the fool, babbling on like a brook.

I ebb and flo just like that brook. I just pray that my ebb and flowing is more in line with the footsteps of Jesus rather than those of the world. Happy Tuesday. 

Gifts

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:10-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
This last weekend, my daughter was in a school performance of “The Little Mermaid”. There were so many talents displayed – song, dance, prop prep, costumes, sound management, makeup, acting – just to name a few.

And these kids had worked hard. They had been practicing for weeks and weeks to prepare for these few nights in April. They had long rehersals, extra time at home and an occasional Saturday meeting. There were lines to memorize. Dances to learn. Props to prepare. Costumes to fit to people. Seriously…hard work.

They presented this hard work beautifully. These young people are incredibly talented. They are hard working and dedicated to the task at hand. I have seen this over and over again in the last 3 years that my daughter has participated in the spring play. There may have been a year that they weren’t too excited to present the play, but they still gave it their all and didn’t quit until the curtain went down on the last night. 

They were all using their gifts. 

When we think of gifts, we think of big things like presenting God’s Word or teaching or being a missionary or singing in services. But our gifts can come in many shapes and sizes. Some are obvious while others are inconspicuous. But regardless of the attention they receive (or don’t receive), they are important. And we must use them – daily. 

For example – I am a planner and an organizer. I like to know what is coming, when it will get here and how I will handle it. I plan out lunch and dinner every day. I have the menu listed in my kitchen for everyone to see. I do this to serve my family and to provide a sense of stability to our day – things may be crazy today but at least I know what is for dinner. Crazy, I know, but this is how my brain works. Not everyone can plan things. For me, this is a gift. 

You see, I think that we overlook little details like planning and chalk them up to just being able to do things like that. But I choose to see it as a gift that I can give my family. Occasionally, I will let that gift seep over into other areas of my life. I have been known to plan events at church. I create treatment plans for my patients all the time. I help plan vacations for the family.  I organize the house on (what seems like) a daily basis. 

But in all these instances, I am serving someone. That’s the part I think we miss – the reason behind what we are doing. Yes, I do it to make my life feel easier but the main purpose is serving. And in serving, I am helping the people around me. I am showing them Christ in my life. 

I don’t know what gift(s) God has given you. I don’t know if they are flashy or private, obvious or inconspicuous but I do know that your gift(s) are important and God means for you to use them to bring Him honor and glory. I know that He is disappointed when you don’t use them. I know that He gave them to you for a reason. And I do know that you and I both need to get out there and use them more and more. You never know when His gift He has bestowed upon you might lead someone to the greatest Gift anyone could receive – salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Going to the water

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:8-9‬ ‭KJV- “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”‬‬

You know, learning is a choice. You can’t make a child learn something. Sometime, somewhere in that little brain of theirs, they have to decide that they want to learn something before they can actually learn it. I can remember helping my kids learn their memory verses for school. (They have always gone to a Christian school.) There were times when I thought they were just going to have to take a poor grade on it because they just couldn’t get it into their little heads. But alas, somehow, they would recall it. They would remember all that we had gone over and the little tips and cues that I had used to help them remember what they were trying to learn. It was definitely a process.

Many people have pets. They work and work to teach them to do tricks or not go to the bathroom on the floor or roll over. They want them to be able to accomplish something on command. Some are successful. Some…..not so much. 

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” sometimes stands out loud and clear for some of us. We see it in the lives of the people around us and, sometimes, we see it in our own life. 

How many times do God attempt to teach us a lesson and over and over again we fail? I don’t know about you, but I can look into my own life and see that over and over and over again. I sometimes feel like I am the horse and God keeps leading me to this beautiful, cool, abundant stream and I am just standing there like, “nope, not gonna happen.” It makes you shake your head when you see people like that. And then, when you realize that person is you….it makes you shake your head again. 

God has left a stream of abundance somewhere around you – the Bible. He has preserved His Word for all these years just so that you would have this instruction, this comfort, this Life giving opportunity. It is not hard to get your hands on, at least in America it’s not. You can get it on your phone or in book form. So many options. Yet, there are still people that will hold this glorious opportunity in their hands and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. 

And from time to time, I am one of those people. 

So I want to encourage you today to see value, see worth, see the need for the Word of God in your life. He is leading you to this amazing opportunity to get to know Him better, to make your life more meaningful, to encourage you to keep going. Don’t just stand there and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. Get in there and make it happen. Let Him do what He does best – making you the best version of you that there could possibly be. 

Faith

‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


How does the verse and this saying work together?

We tend to think of faith as something that we strive for. It is something that Hebrews 11 goes into great detail about. It isn’t something that you go and get a refill of every time the church doors are open. 

To me, faith is more of a decision or choice that you are going to trust God no matter what. It is a firm belief that God has every thing under control. It is a reassurance that in the good times and the tough times that God will see you through and bring about His good and perfect will. 

This was a tough week for our little family. We found out about 2 deaths and lost a really important soccer game. The deaths were very sad and sudden. The soccer game, well, in the scope of eternity, our attitude matters more than the win or the loss. 

But, nonetheless, it all required faith. In the case of the deaths, I believe that God is in control. I don’t understand it, but I believe it. With the soccer game, I prayed that His will be done – that whatever outcome He had chosen, that I would have what I need to get through it. And I believed with all my heart that that is exactly what would happen. 

Faith is something that you have to practice every single day. It is trusting God to lead you in the path of righteousness when righteousness is tough to find. It is allowing God to have control of every aspect of your life from the simplest decisions to the life changing ones. It is desiring Him in and through it all.

Decide that you are going to practice faith today. You are going to allow God to do something amazing in your life and you are going to praise Him through it all. Decide that faith is not just something for the people listed in Hebrews 11. No, those people were just like you and me – followers of Christ just trying to make it through the day. 

Rejoice!

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

It is a time of rejoicing at my house. The boys’ soccer team at school has advanced to regional finals. For us, that is HUGE! It is the first time in the school’s history that this has been accomplished. We are super excited!

You know, I believe that if it is important to us, then it is important to God. I feel that He desires to be intimately involved in everything we set out to do and accomplish. I believe that applies to everything from grocery shopping to school sports to major life decisions. God wants to be a part of it all.

I know that in the scope of eternity that winning these games really doesn’t matter. But was does matter is how we approach them and how we win them. Do we do it with integrity and a desire to be fair or are we in it to win it no matter what? Do I tell my son to play hard and fair or do I encourage a hateful attitude toward the other players? Soccer games can get rough but it is the heart behind the actions that I want to be upright before God.

God already knows the outcome of all these games. I leave it up to Him. I’m just so very proud of my son, his hard work and his dedication to the team even during the difficult times.

So whatever you have going on this week in your life – rejoice. Remember, “This is the day that the Lord has made. We rejoice and be glad in it.”

What a day…

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭KJV – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

‬‬

Yesterday at church, before preaching even got started, nearly brought me to tears. Let me give you the run down on the song and prayer portion of the worship service yesterday morning at a little church on the side of the road.

The first thing to happen was during prayer request. A young woman we have all been praying for for so long reported to us how well she is doing in her battle with cancer. Her positive outlook and joy in her voice just touched me in a way she will probably never really realize. In fact, it wasn’t just me who noticed it. I think everyone was elated over her progress and touched by her infectious enthusiasm. It was beautiful!

And then the “little folks” got up to sing. Our “little people” have been running short on numbers as of late, but that doesn’t stop them from bringing a special every Sunday morning. But this one song was a bit more complicated than their little voices could carry. So they asked us all to sing with them. “This is the day that the Lord has made” has never sounded so good.

And then, the icing on the cake – a lady, who shouldn’t have a voice due to cancer and subsequent treatments, sang for us. She had difficulty getting the song she was singing to match the song being played on the piano – so she went “a cappella”. And it was beautiful – a few voices in the audience came alongside and sang with her. It overwhelmed my heart.

The whole 15-20 minutes that this all occurred in was so touching and so moving. It reminded me of how we are to come alongside one another – in each and every situation. When someone needs prayer, we pray. When things are lean and sparse, we step in with a helping hand. When we feel like we just can’t get the job done, we have our brothers and sisters come alongside us. Sometimes the request is not even uttered. Our loved ones just know when we need them.

That’s the beauty of our church family. Sometimes we ask for help and sometimes help just shows up.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve beside fellow followers of Christ at my local New Testament church. If you don’t have one, start looking today. Ask God to show you where you should be serving. Believe me, on the side of the road in the middle of the swamp is one of my most favorite places to be!