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Part of a story

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
We had junior church on Sunday. My husband and I always enjoy those Sundays because it gives us an opportunity to interact with the younger ones. They are so fun. They have great stories. They love to giggle. They get excited over the smallest things. And they have a heart for others that fills the room.

We were studying about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. We were talking about getting out of you comfort zone and talking to others about Jesus. We were talking about being obedient even when we don’t understand what God is telling us to do. 

And then, someone encouraged one young man to tell us what he was doing on that Sunday. He shyly admitted that he was going forward to let everyone know that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. We were all so very excited! This young man has been coming to church for some time. He has been attending junior church for as long as he has been coming. 

The way this really touched me was that God whispered to my heart that part of this joy was mine. It really belongs to all of us who have spoken Jesus to this young man in any way, shape or form. We rejoice. We know that it is God working in his heart. We know that we helped plant the seeds. We know that God drew him to His side. And we rejoice.

I love that God gives me the opportunity to be a part of someone’s story. I know in my own life, I can look back at friends and family members who demonstrated Jesus and taught me the lessons of the Bible in so many different places and at so many different times in my life. Our journey to Christ and with Christ is one of people and relationships. It is learning from others by their words and actions. These experiences help to write our story in such a manner that each one is unique and extraordinarily special. 

I don’t necessarily have any deep, spiritual advice or words of wisdom on this subject. I just want you to be aware that you never know how God is going to use you in someone else’s story. Each story is beautiful and unique and each story is longing to have Jesus be the Author.

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Black Monday

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬- “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Monday was a tough day at my house. Before we even left for school, my daughter received a text from a friend informing her that a boy she had gone to school with last year had died in a jet ski accident on Sunday night. 

At school, they had an impromptu assembly to discuss the matter and pray for the family and friends of this young boy. This really brought it home to my daughter. Someone, her age, had died – never to return. It broke her heart. And on top of it all, the incident occurred at the home of another boy she knew. He was the one that witnessed the accident. He was the one who pulled his friend from the water. She was heartbroken for this boy.

How do you console a 9th grade girl over the loss of a boy she really didn’t know? How do you guide her to something close to understanding so that she is able to process all of this? 

The things I tried to talk to her about were understanding different ways to grieve. She was getting frustrated with some people and their constant talking about the situation. She needs time to think it through and process it all. Some people have to talk it out to understand it. 

We also talked about taking each and every opportunity to share Christ with others. The saddest part of this whole situation is the fact that she isn’t sure that the young boy had accepted Jesus. She knows that she can’t make someone believe but she is learning the importance of living a life that honors Christ. 

And we talked about prayer. Sometimes prayer is the only thing that we can give to someone who is going through a tragedy. We can pray for the family. We can pray for the friend. They all need our prayers right now. My daughter said to me yesterday, “Mom, I’m just scared that he (the friend) will turn to things that aren’t good for him to cope.” Pray. That’s the most important thing we can do for him right now – pray.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer on this one. I just felt the need to emphasize the importance of numbering our days. We never know if we will have 14 years or 99 years. But what we do know is that we must use each and every opportunity, every day, every moment to honor God and share the salvation message He has given us. 

And enjoy life. Live it fully. Live it wisely. Live it joyfully. Today, Wednesday, is my son’s regional final soccer game. And believe you me, I will be cheering my heart out! I will be living life as full as I can while encouraging the boys out on the field. 

Christ came to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly. But let’s not forget in the midst of living to number our days for Him.

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.”

Towards the goal

Philippians‬ ‭3:13‬, 14‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

It has been quite the week. My son has had 2 soccer games so far this week – It is district competition. They are in the final game tonight. The game Wednesday night was quite exciting – regular game, 2 10 minute overtimes and then a penalty shootout. We won, but it was a difficult win. My daughter is gearing up for state cheer competition on Monday. So, she has been struggling with hitting stunts and so forth. 

Struggle after struggle has befallen my children this week. We have had to diligently remind them to stay focused. It’s hard when you are a teenager to remember that the most important thing about what you are going through is your attitude. It all seems so permanent and scary when you think about the magnitude of winning districts or going to the finals at state competition. But in reality, it is just another stone in the path that must be conquered.

Even as adults, we lose our focus sometimes. All we can see is the rocky patch around us. Yes, this is tough. Yes, it causes us pain to have to deal with it. Yes, it seems like it will last forever. But when we stop and consider things from God’s perspective, it is no more than a bump in the road. That is what keeping your eye on the prize is all about – dealing with the here and now in the scope of eternity.

My daughter was in a particularly rough patch yesterday and man was she fired up. I let her rant and fuss and carry on, but then I felt I needed to remind her of this – “I know that right now you don’t want to hear this, but the outcome has already been decided. Whether you win or move on in competition isn’t what matters. What does matter is your how you handle yourself along the way. That is what you will have to answer for to Jesus one day. He already knows what will happen. You just have to get there along His path.” 

Sometimes we all need that reminder. We have to keep reaching for the goal. We can’t be consumed with what is behind us. We have to stay focused on what is ahead. We have to use every minute we are blessed with to glorify the Lord – even, and especially, when things are tough.

Happy Friday!

“Walk Worthy”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
It has been a while, yes, I know. Things have been a bit crazy at my house. I’m trying to get accustomed to reading through the Bible in a year. Some days have really long chapters that don’t leave me much time to write. I’ll get it figured out though. Just might take a while. 

Let me tell you about some challenges that my family has faced in our walk lately.

Saturday, my daughter had a cheer competition. The team did very, very well – they weren’t perfect or spot on, but very good. Their routine had a high level of difficulty and they executed it fairly well. They received 3rd place with this presentation. Now, that is good, right? Third out of 5 is not too bad. The problem is that the team that won had a much less difficult routine than our girls. And the team that got second didn’t even have a cheer in their routine for a cheerleading competition. Now, walking “worthy of God” in this situation was tough. My daughter felt cheated. She felt betrayed by the judges who were seemingly not looking for the team to challenge themselves. She cried a lot. And at the end of the night, my husband and I declared them champions regardless of what the judges said. But she still kept crying. Then comes the talk. “It’s okay to be sad. You have tonight to be sad. But when tomorrow comes and you wake up, the time has come to move on. You can’t dwell on this and let the devil has his heyday.” And you know what? The next morning my daughter woke up puffy eyed and ready to face the day with a whole new attitude. I am stilll trying to walk “worthy of God” in this situation. It is hard to watch your children go through this kind of thing and lead them in the path of righteousness.

 Yesterday, we sent my son off on his first missions trip – to Haiti. Now, I am super excited for him. I am not worried about him at all. I am so very excited to see what God is going to do in his life. This challenge in our walk comes from not being with him on this journey. We can’t really communicate with him, except via his friend with an international plan. But I don’t need to talk to him everyday to know that God loves and cares for him more than I ever could. I know that God sees him. God knows my heart. He hears my prayers on his behalf. 

So, as you can see, things have been a bit hairy around my house – I’m sure that it is the same way around yours. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to do anything other than “walk worthy”. It is a call to do so through the tough times in life as well as through the less challenging times of life. It is a call to live with God. It is a call to walk with God. Today, as you face your Wednesday and all the fun it holds, “walk worthy” and walk with God. It makes the journey to Heaven that much sweeter.

Learning

Proverbs 2:10-17 – “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.”

I was spending some time with my nephew last night. We were learning about animals and their habits and behaviors. One fact that we learned was that a wildebeast typically have their babies at night. The babies are expected to be able to run 15 minutes after they are born. If they can’t run, the mother leaves them behind. My nephew loves animals and all sorts of facts. He is like a little sponge. He looked up at me after hearing this and said, “Aunt Melissa, there are some facts that I don’t like to know. That makes me sad.”

They say “Knowledge is power.” And in some ways, I guess they are correct. Knowledge helps you to understand the world around you. It can guide you and show the path of righteousness, if you look for it. It can show you what people truly desire. It can help you to identify when someone is trying to lead you away from what you know to be right. 

When accompanied by the Holy Spirit, knowledge can help you see your need for a Savior. 

But sometimes, we pick up the wrong kind of knowledge. We gather and allow the “wisdom of the world” to penetrate our hearts and minds. That knowledge leads us away from the path of righteousness. It tries to take away the truth. 

We need to know and understand this fact – there are two kinds of knowledge and two ways to use them. The Knowledge of God will bring peace and understanding. The knowledge of the world with bring anxiety and confusion. 

The only way that we can absorb the Knowledge of God is to get into His word. It requires us to learn about God, to know His statutes and commands and to walk with Him daily. It means that sometimes we are going to learn really tough lessons. We are going to hear things that make us sad because we are convicted by the Holy Spirit to change. We are going to read about consequences of not choosing God and will learn that Hell is a real place filled with real people who made a real decision. 

Learning is tough stuff. It requires discipline, attention and continuity. It’s not something that you casually do from time to time. It needs to be something you work at every day. Just like a diet won’t work if you follow it one to two times a week, being a student of Christ requires diligence. It is a daily task that you choose to complete each and every day. 

Am I diligent? Nope. Am I proud of that? Nope. Do I want to do better? Yep. I think this is an area that everyone could stand a booster shot in from time to time. The new year is just around the corner. I am already planning how I am going to make next year a more educational year than this year. How about you? What are you going to do next year that will draw you closer to Christ? 

Learning should be a lifelong activity. What will you do to learn more of Him today?

Separation Anxiety

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

We have a little boy that comes to our church with his family. He sits with them in the pew just to my left. He is the cutest little thing. He is just coming into his personality and really beginning to interact with others. It is so cute to watch – again.

Last night at church, my husband went to ring the bell for our study time to be completed. When he left the sanctuary where we were having class, this little guy got very upset. He pointed. He whined. He squealed. Generally, he did everything in his power to express that he was not happy that this man who had been grinning at him had left. The big white thing (door) had swallowed him up. He wanted to leave and make sure this man was coming back. 

Why are we not like that with God? Too often, and way too easily, we walk away from God. We allow the devil to shut the door to all things pertaining to God. Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t get anxious about it. We just think “no big deal, I’ll get back to that later. I have other things I want to do right now.”

We need separation anxiety when we get away from God. I think that if more people experienced a sense of fear and stress when they don’t have Jesus walking their everyday life with them that we might not get so far away before realizing we strayed. 

In a way, separation anxiety can be a good thing. It means that we are paying attention. It means that we have chosen to allow someone to get close to us. It means we have interacted with them and made a connection to someone. And we recognize when they are not around. 

Do you recognize when God isn’t active in your life? Do you recognize when He is active in your life? Have you made a connection with Him that stretches when you turn aside? Are you interacting with Him and allowing Him access to your life?

I know that separation anxiety in my life with Christ isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. It’s an area to grow and work on. 

This week, be aware. Pay attention to your spiritual life. Recognize when things seem a bit off. And then, make a fuss. Do whatever it takes to get back to that right relationship with Christ. Trust me, He is always waiting just on the other side of the closed door.