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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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Chocolate cake

‭‭James‬ ‭4:13-17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
It is a problem that we all are guilty of participating in at some time or another – choosing not to do what is right when we know better. Yes, I know, it is also known as sin – intentional sin, at that. 

Let me set up the situation.

Let’s say that you know that you have a few pounds you need to lose. It is not drastic, you just know that if you lost them (and never found them again) that you would feel better physically and emotionally. But you are at an event and they are serving chocolate cake – your all time favorite dessert. You know that you should not eat that cake. You know that it will show up on the scale tomorrow morning. You know that it is too late at night and eating that cake will result in a restless night of sleep. You know all these things. You have rationalized it over and over again in your mind. Yet…you still eat it. You really, really, really want that chocolate cake. You know the consequences and yet you do it anyway. Sin has caught you with a fork!

I tell you this to say intentional sin is tough. We can push unintentional sin under the blanket of a forgiveness prayer. But when it comes to the sins we commit knowingly, well, that requires more effort to get rid of. Yes, I know, I’m stepping on your toes, but guess what, mine are paining too!

The problem is that it is these sins that are keeping us from a closer walk with Christ. These sins will build a wall between you and Him that if left unchecked will cause serious problems down the road. That is why it is so incredibly vital that we keep that wall destroyed. It’s like letting weeds grow in a garden. If you don’t stay on top of them and get rid of them when they pop up, before you know it, the garden is overtaken with weeds and you have to spend an enormous amount of time locating what it is that you planted one day, way back when. 

So my challenge to you, and to me, is to keep those intentional sins in check. Or better yet, when you hear that still, small voice saying “don’t do it…don’t do it”, then…don’t do it. God wants you listen to Him. He wants to guide you on the path of righteousness but He won’t make you make the right decision. He wants you to do that on your own. Gotta love free will. 

But it can be done. You can say “no” to that chocolate cake. You can walk away knowing that tonight there will be no consequences because you made the right choice! 

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.

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!

Breaking through

Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”‭‭

It has been a while. Sorry. I have had some things on my mind – things that have been a bit troubling and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. 

I had some time this last week to think on them and pray about them. And here is what I determined – the devil is trying to keep me from doing what I know that God would have me to do.

We get like that from time to time, don’t we? We are plugging along, doing what we think and feel that God wants us to do, and then we hit some sort of invisible wall that all of the sudden this thing that you have been doing just doesn’t seem doable anymore. You start coming up with excuses and find reasons not to fulfill what you know that God wants you to do. Things begin to happen that make you question your reason, your purpose and your safety in completing what you know that God has laid on your heart to do. 

It happens to everyone – the pastor, the missionary, the teacher, the casual blogger. You have to find a way to break through. 

This last week, my husband was at a conference that I was blessed to be able to attend with him. There were several motivational speakers there that he heard. On the last day, he was asked to be a part of one of the seminars as a helper. Well, I had to see what this “helper” was going to help with – it was breaking a board with one’s hand. Sounds very ninja-like, right? Well, I saw people of all ages, sizes and abilities breaking an untampered board with their bear hand. The whole purpose of the activity was to write what it was that was holding you back from moving forward in your life on this board and then break through it – metaphorically and literally. 

We all need to break through something. Often times, that thing is fear. It is fear of failure, fear of starting, fear of change and sometimes, just plain old, flat out fear. It permeates us from time to time. It holds us back. It keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us from the blessings of God. Fear is one of the great tools of the devil. He uses it to control us, to keep us from serving God in such a way that could change the world. And we let him use that tool. We choose to see fear as something that protects us from the bad we perceive. Truth be told, that “bad” isn’t really “bad” at all. We should, instead, chose to see it as a challenge that forces us to move in a different direction. God put it there for a reason.

So this week, what is holding you back? What do you need to break through? What is it that is hindering your blessings from God? What is keeping you from serving Him like you know He is calling you to do? Together, let’s break through this thing!

“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.

A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.