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Becoming

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

Last night, one of the guys at my church brought a message partially centered around this verse. He did a great job.

I had listened to a podcast earlier in the day about becoming who you are. Of course, it was a secular thing and there was really no spiritual meaning attached to anything they said, but I believe that God brings things into your life to teach you and grow who you are, no matter the source.

So, those things together got me to thinking about becoming. What does it actually mean? Off to Dictionary.com I went. Here is the definition I found – “to come, change, or grow to be (as specified)”. The 1828 Webster’s definition is this – “to pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character”.

I am not the same person I was yesterday. I will not be the same person tomorrow that I am today. I should be growing and changing and becoming closer to the person God would have me to be.

When Jesus called out His first disciples, they were a ragtag bunch of men that really had no significant background. They were fishermen who had probably been fishermen since they came into that area. It was what they did and who they were. They weren’t great scholars or problem solvers or men of renown. But Jesus saw something in them that made Him call them away from their nets and everything that they had ever known.

And they weren’t great missionaries straight off the starting line. It was something they had to grow into. It was a pattern of growth from one state to another by the learning of new qualities and the refining of pre-existing qualities. But it required challenges and choices and being thrusted into situations that were confusing and combative. It wasn’t an easy growth period to be sure. But each one became someone different, someone better, someone who would advance the Kingdom of God beyond all human comprehension.

Where does that leave me? Have you ever heard that song “He’s still working on me”? That’s where I am. I am still becoming. I am still becoming the wife, mother, employee, blogger, daughter, friend, occupational therapist (and whatever other word to describe me that I’m currently leaving out) that He wants me to be. I’m a process – a work in progress. I need a sign some days.

I guess what I want to send out to everyone is this – be patient with yourself and with others. We are all becoming. We are all works in progress. It might take a while to get where God wants us to be, but one day, we will get there.

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Still waters

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1-2‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
I have not been walking beside still waters lately. Oh, nothing has been terribly wrong. I have just been so busy that still waters seems to be a distant memory. 

Last weekend, we went to the beach. The place where we were at had some pretty energetic waves. My nephew and son took quite a face full of sand a few times while boogie boarding. Yet, as I walked along the beach, doing what I love to do – hunt for cool shells, I heard a jingling sound. When I looked, that jingling sound came from the amount of shells that the waves were dropping in this one particular location. They were congregating at this one spot but the waves were so rough that you couldn’t get in there to see what was being left behind. Trust me, I know. I would attempt to get to them and the wave would crash bringing with it pieces of coral and broken shells that rammed into my feet and legs. It was not pleasant, let me tell you.

But if I waited, if I stood there for a significant length of time watching the waves go in and out, a time would present itself, for just a short period, that I could run out there and view the plethora of shells that the ocean had left behind. I found 2 really large clam shells, a very old and small conch-type shell and many very pretty little shells. But I had to be fast. Those still waters didn’t last long.

That’s the way I feel my life has been since my last post. Nothing really exciting or earth shattering has occurred. My waves have just been energetic and and sometimes a bit rough. But when those still waters come and I’m able to be still, man, the things I find are beautiful and sweet. They are rare and beautiful treasures that I can store in my heart.

Flavor Enhancer or Grass Killer

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭KJV – “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”‬‬

I had a really good Sunday school lesson this week. I have shared it with my ladies’ group and with my husband’s Sunday school class. But I really feel that I should share it with you today. 

Salt. Yummy, yummy salt. It makes food taste good. But did you know that salt does more than make things taste good? I want to look at the purpose of salt and relate it to our walk with Christ.

1) Preservative – Salt has been used for many years to preserve food. People used to rub a ham with it and hang it in a smoke house to preserve the meat until they were ready to eat it. I know in my house, we use salt in our beef jerky to preserve the meat. Preservation is good. But what are we doing to preserve the teachings and statues of Christ in our life and in our world? You see, followers of Christ are supposed to be the ones restraining the movement toward moral, spiritual and political decline. Yet, too often, I fear that we are sitting on our hands and taking the back seat on way too many issues. We are letting things decay around us faster than we have ever seen in the past. We are not being salt.

2) Flavor – Salt adds flavor to whatever it is applied to. A good salty tortilla chip really adds zest to an already delightful salsa. Salt on a fresh, ripe, summertime tomato is hard to beat. When you leave salt out of a recipe, you can taste the difference. The food is bland. It may be palatable, but not enjoyable. And so is a life without Christ. We need to live our Christ-filled life in such a way that people will see how bland their life is without Him. We need to add flavor to the lives around us. 

3) Create thirst – Now, this one was the one that got me. When you eat those delightfully salty tortilla chips without the salsa, what happens? You are reaching for a glass of water because the salt makes you thirsty. We need to be showing Christ so much in our life that people are thirsty – for the Living Water. (This lovely analogy was brought to my attention by a young man we go to church with – thanks Luke!) ‭‭John‬ ‭4:10, 13-14‬ ‭KJV – “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jesus is that Living Water. When we come to Him thirsty, He gives us Water that will never leave us thirsty again. How beautiful and cool is that!

Salt has to be kept pure in order for it to remain useful. Have you ever been cooking and spilled some salt on the counter with all the other stuff you have spilled? You can’t separate the salt out and try to put it back in the bowl. Once it touches something else, you have deminished it’s usefulness. Yes, we a followers of Christ are supposed be in the world telling others about Him. But we can’t let the world tarnish our usefulness for Him. It is a delicate balance, for sure. But we have to remember to let Him lead us and not go where He doesn’t lead. 

I love how God uses the simple things in life to remind us of great spiritual truths. He knew that we would all understand salt, no matter when the Scripture is read or studied. So take to heart this little lesson on salt. And…be salty!

The Lone Surfer

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:116‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.”
My husband and I were in San Diego last week. Your thinking, oh, that sounds great – sun, sand, the ocean. Well, let me tell you. It was great. But the ocean was vicious. It was very windy for a good portion of the visit which made the ocean very “angry”. It churned and crashed like it was nobody’s business. 

Yet on one day when the waves were particularly high and the wind was whipping, my husband and I went for a stroll along some cliffs – just to take it all in. As we were staring at the ocean in awe, we saw a little dark figure paddling out further and further. This person had quite the challenge on their hands – battling the waves. It was a surfer who was bound and determined to catch some waves. He paddled. He ducked under waves. He fought against the current. And he watched. He watched diligently. He was looking for just the right opportunity to enjoy the surf for a few moments. And he did. It was marvelous watching him sail across the waves that would have sent terror into my heart. He rode the waves with grace and beauty. 

As we continued on our little hike, we came back to watch him once more. And upon further inspection, we realized this guy wasn’t young. He wasn’t some “crazy young fella”, nope, this was an older man! We were shocked and amazed!

So, what does this have to do with the Bible, you might ask. 

Passion. This older man out surfing the waves of California on a brisk and windy day had passion. He loved surfing – he had to to be out there in those conditions. He didn’t let fear keep him out of the water. He was not ashamed of the hope that he had that he could surf those waves. He knew he could do it if he only tried. He was passionate about surfing. 

Passion is something that drives us. It keeps us going through the toughest of circumstances. It gives us hope and opportunity. Passion is what seperates the casual from the dedicated.

But here is the question – what are you passionate about? 

Is it work? Is it your children? Is it yourself? Is it serving God?

How many of us could truly say that we are passionate about God? I would venture to say that would be a sadly small number. I know in my own life learning about God and serving Him is very, very important. But passionate? I’m not so sure. And that’s not as it should be. 

So, based on this verse, what does that mean? Am I ashamed of my hope? Goodness, I don’t want that to be the case!

Speaking for myself, I need to be more passionate about serving and learning about God. I need to decide that I am going to face adversity and problems in my life with the dedication of this surfer that I talked about here. I need to wait more upon Him. I need to look for opportunities to serve Him. I need to not be afraid to do something that no one else is doing. I need to be passionate.

Training

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

My son is preparing to make a presentation to the church tonight in regards to his trip to Haiti. While preparing for it, we came across the concept of a local, New Testament church sending out missionaries. It was a great opportunity to explain to him the why behind this concept. We were training him on how to properly go about being a missionary, which is what he will be doing in Haiti.

It made me stop and think about children and how we teach them and why they leave. 

I have been going to church my whole life, literally before I was even born. I have been at church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other night in between that my family could get to. My parents taught me commitment by bringing me to church every time the door was opened. My parents made sure that I had my Sunday school lesson prepared on Saturday night (back in those days you prepared the lesson the night before). My extended family, both by the blood of man and the blood of Christ, made certain that I understood the concepts in the Bible and why I should believe them. I wasn’t spoon fed God’s word. I didn’t memorize it just to make someone else happy. No, I was trained up in it. I was trained to see how much God loves me. I was trained to use His Word, the Bible, to learn how to live my life. I was trained to be committed to Him because that shows obedience in my life. 

Some may call me a trained animal, and that’s okay. I would rather be a trained individual for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than an individual who thinks that I don’t need His training and spend my eternity in Hell. No, training is good. Training is what gets me closer to my Savior. I’m good with that.

Now then, let’s get real. 

Are we just allowing our children to memorize concepts in the Bible or are we training them in it? There is a difference, you know. I “learned” a lot in my 3 years of Spanish class. I memorized words and phrases and could decently write in Spanish. But can I do that today? Nope. I can ask where the bathroom is but when they tell me how to get there, I have no idea. I have departed from my knowledge of Spanish. As wonderful as my teacher was, I never developed a passion or saw the necessity for it in my life. I was more concerned about getting a good grade and keeping my average up rather than seeing the importance of being trained in another language. 

How often do we, as teachers and parents, allow our children to learn just enough to keep us happy and make us look like we are doing a fair job in raising our children yet all the while we are failing to train them on how to rely upon the Lord? It hurts to think that this is going on, but when I see young people go off on their own, too often they leave God just where they found Him, at church. And that makes me sad. I don’t blame anyone. I don’t point fingers. I have 3 pointing back at me. 

I bring this up because we, as followers of Christ, have a problem. 

I have the opportunity right now to train my children. I will never get this opportunity again. I have the opportunity to train them to rely upon God. I have the opportunity to train them in commitment and respect and love for God. I have the opportunity to train them to absorb God’s word and apply it to their every day life. When my children leave my house, I want God to be so real to them and be such a part of their life that leaving Him at church would make them feel naked. 

I don’t know that I expect anything profound from this blog today. I was just thinking about this last night as my husband sat at the dinner table with my son and was explaining missions work to him in a way that he could understand and appreciate. My son had heard it before, but when you live it, you learn it better. It really was special, watching my husband train my son. I am truly, truly blessed.

Lessons from a dead tree

Psalm 8:3-4 – “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

We had a pretty intense storm a few months ago that left our little yard with one small, dead tree. Now, this tree had a diameter at it’s base of about 4-5 inches – big enough to be difficult but small enough to drag around. My son and my husband had removed it and set it by the side of the road for pick up, in September. 

Needless to say, the grass was beginning to grow through it and the county has passed by it several times. It isn’t big enough to require a large truck to pick up the debris but it is too big for the lawn waste people to heave it into their truck.

So, I set out yesterday to hack this poor dead, dried up tree into pieces and stick it in a garbage can with the hopes that the lawn waste people will begin to pick it up today. And as I was sawing away with my little hand saw, God began to remind of a few things:

1. When you go after something that seems overwhelming, you have to attack it little by little. For me to try to saw through the largest branches with my hand saw and all the other limbs still hanging off the end was near impossible. I found that if I cut off the little branches, the larger ones were much easier to deal with. 

2. Persistence is the key. Have you ever tried to cut through a 4 inch piece of wood with a 2 inch wide hand saw? It takes persistence. I found that if I stopped while sawing through a limb this size, I looked like a crazy person trying to get it started again. I just had to keep going. Even when my puny arms were screaming and my strength was giving out, I had to keep going. Eventually, I got it in two but it wasn’t easy.                                                                                                                                                                         

You know, sometimes we feel like we are getting nowhere in reaching people. We feel like living our lives for the Lord isn’t enough. We feel like inviting them to Sunday school and worship services and fellowships is just not working. But God is using it. Little by little, He is chipping away at their heart. He is pursuing them in a holy manner that we can’t always see or understand. All He asks us to do is keep going. Keep doing those little things that mean more to them than we will ever know. 

3. Do your best and let God take care of the rest. He doesn’t always expect us to conquer something. Sometimes He wants us to trust Him and get out there and do something. 

The lawn waste people may or may not pick up that hacked up dead tree, but I have done all that I can. I know that I have attempted to do something to get rid of the dead tree. If nothing else, it is easier now to transport to that secret place on the other side of the retention pond where things seem to disappear into the woods. I don’t have to solve the problem. I just needed to work on it. 

You may not have a dead tree hanging out in your front yard, but I would guess that you do have something in your life that needs attention. It needs to be attacked little by little. It needs to be addressed persistently. God may or may not want you to conquer it, but He does want you to put forth your best effort in addressing it. 

Live like you are loved

Jeremiah 31:3 – “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Think back with me for a moment to the time when the love you have with your spouse or significant other was new. Remember how wonderful it felt? Do you remember thinking that if you two stayed together that it felt like there was nothing that you couldn’t overcome? Do you remember your every thought was consumed by him/her? When you weren’t together, you wondered where they were and what they were doing. You could spend hours on the phone with them just talking about the day. Do you remember how the tiniest gesture of love sent you into a tailspin and you felt like one of those cartoon characters with hearts in your eyes? Yep, those were the good old days.

Now then, when was the last time you felt that way about the True Love of your life, Jesus Christ? Because, you know, that without Him, you would have no idea what that feeling was in your heart toward your spouse or significant other. You wouldn’t know how to love him/her. Jesus is the One that showed you what real love is. He is the One that keeps showing you how to love.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want us to look at living like we are loved. I heard that phrase in a song yesterday and it has stuck with me and made me think – do I live like I’m loved or do I live like I’m not? 

When I first entered into my relationship with my husband, everything was bright and new and wonderful and fascinating. We could talk for hours on the phone when we were apart. We asked questions of one another and really got to know one another. Now, we have been married for 22 years. There’s not too much that I don’t know about him. Every now and again, I might learn something new, but for the most part, we are an open book to one another. Yet still, everything is still bright and new and wonderful and fascinating – but in a whole new way. We are learning to live each part of our life in love that is sustained because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some people have a tendency to live life defeated or downcast. They fail to see the newness of each and every day and they choose to turn their eyes from the promises of God. I’m not sure why or how they do this. But they live their life like they have no real love. And these are people who proclaim to be followers of God. Actually, I question the truth in that statement. 

So what does it mean to live like you are loved? 1) I think that it means you have a desire to grow your relationship with Jesus. You have the desire to get into His word and learn more and more about Him – even through the challenging and seemingly redundant parts – there is still something there for you to learn about Him. 2) I think that it means that you have the desire to spend more time with His people. You want to attend services. You want to have friends that believe like you do. 3) I think that it means that you want to talk to Him. You want that ongoing dialogue. It brings you peace and comfort. 4) I think that it means that you want to do as much for Him as you can. You want to show Him that you love Him too by serving Him and His people. 

Living like you are loved brings peace and real joy to your life. It lets you know that you are exactly where you need to be despite what may be going on around you. Life isn’t always going to cooperate. Dark days are going to come and the devil will throw darts at your heart. But living like you are loved makes those challenging days more bearable because you know that you don’t face them alone.