Tag Archives: God

Wait to Date

kid_date

Through my normal cruising of facebook today, I came across an article written by a staff blogger for www.desiringgod.org and found it to be so spot on.  One of my greatest concerns as a parent is how to raise my children to be more in love with Jesus Christ than anything else.  I want them to desire that relationship before all others.  Remembering my teenage years, I know that wasn’t the path that I took.  This article really highlights several good points.  So, I thought I would share it here.

Read: Wait to Date Until You Can Marry

The pebble in my shoe

pebble

I know we have all been there.  Especially runners.  This is how it plays out for me:

I look outside and see the sun shining, a gentle breeze, and I begin to mentally prepare for it.  I slide my shoes on and they feel great, maybe even lighter today.  Phone strapped to my arm, ear buds in and comfortable.  A quick stretch or two to loosen up and get the blood flowing.  I step out on the porch and walk quickly – with a lighter step to the end of the driveway.  I look up the street and set my focus, hit start on my tracker and  begin to jog.  My steps feel great.  My core is tight and I am focusing on the first song.  In my playlist it’s a great song by Chris Tomlin called God’s Great Dance Floor.  I round the corner at the bottom of the street and I am feeling great.  It seems like no time and my tracker is proudly announcing the first mile is complete.  “That seemed faster today,” I think to myself.  Then it happens.  A slight discomfort in my right shoe.  Maybe it’s nothing…no there it is again.  Somehow I have picked up a pebble.  It’s rolling under the center of my foot on every stride.  Now my focus is elsewhere.  I don’t hear the music, I am locked in on the pain with each step. My mind begins to battle a little.  I can stop and fix it, quickly and keep going, but I have a great pace and I want to run from beginning to end.  I keep going, but the pebble is still there.  It feels like it is piercing my foot with each stride I take.  I have lost all focus on the world around me and can think of nothing else but that small pebble.

Every person reading this probably thinks the same thing.  Take the shoe off, shake out the pebble and keep running. That’s the logical thing to do.  You’re right.  It is.  But as this happened to me not too long ago, it made me think about my life in general, especially my Christian walk.  How many times have I let a pebble – some sin that keeps burrowing into my soul take my focus off Christ?  How often have I left that sinful pebble in my soul and tried to just deal with it on my own?  This happens more often than not.  My “I can do it myself” mentality takes me down a dark path and before I realize what happened, I can’t find God anywhere in my life.  Wouldn’t it be simpler for me to stop and get rid of the pebble?  Better yet, when that pebble seems more like a boulder, wouldn’t it be easier to rely on God’s ability to remove it from my life?  I was reminded of David when he fell for Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 11 paints a picture of a spiral out of control.  David sinned, first when he looked on this woman while she bathed, then taking her into his bed which resulted in pregnancy.  Reading through the passage, we see David losing all focus on the battle he was leading, and instead being consumed with trying to get out of the mess he had created.  Choose today to check your shoe before you run.  Finding the sinful traps in your life and praying for God’s strength to avoid or overcome them is the recipe for a closer walk with Christ.

Lord, today I am thankful for your love and mercy in my life.  I am thankful that you love your creation and willingly laid down your life so that I could have mine.  Thank you for never leaving me and for your power and strength over my sin nature.  I ask for your help in removing the pebbles that cause my focus to be turned from you.  I rejoice in your word and promise to always be by my side through this life.  In Christ I pray – Amen.

He’s got the whole world in His hand

godAtom

He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand…

This song is a classic children’s song that we sing often in Sunday School or in the children’s nursery to convey that God has everything in His hand.  Simple idea, often not thought of again.  But have you every really stopped to think about the meaning behind those words?  I received an online devotion today entitled Holding it Together.  It referenced Colossians 1:16-17, among other scripture, but the idea was that God created it all…EVERYTHING, and that nothing is outside of his grasp, He holds it all together.

 

Look around you and think about how everything that you can see fits together.  Then, if you can, try to wrap your mind around how things that are unseen, are still working in unison and perfect harmony with what you can see.  Our minds are not capable of understanding the depth and breadth of our universe and how it is all held together.  Science has spent hundreds of years trying to explain it and learn about it, yet they can only get so far.  We have been able to dissect the atom, which is a marvelous feat in itself.  Inside this tiny particle are many more parts and pieces and we have names for almost all of them, and we understand how they work and relate to each other, but that is generally where it stops. There is still the “God particle” that has yet to be discovered.  For a believer, we know what that particle is, it is clearly defined in God’s word, Colossians 1:16-17.  At the end of verse 17 – He holds all creation together.  I find it amusing that some will spend their entire life to find that one thing that is right in front of them.  Think of what science could turn it’s attention to if it went like this:

1. We are made up of atoms
2. Inside those atoms are particles
3. God holds those particles together
4. Then end.

That is where my thoughts took off today.  Why is it so hard for someone to rely on the unseen, the unheard, the “beyond understanding”?  It’s faith.  It’s simple faith.  Kids have it.  I don’t know when we lose it as we grow older, but their faith is amazing.  If only we could maintain our child-like faith as we grew older, how much closer to God would we all be and as a result, what would this world look like?

All of this thinking brought my mind back to current events and the uncertainty of the future of our country and this world.  As an adult, these things occupy my mind more and more.  Not so much because I am worried about how it will turn out.  I know the ending.  I read the Bible.  Totally full of spoilers.  But as a parent, with that God-given love for my children, I am consumed with the type of world they are growing up in and the challenges they are and will continue to face.  Sometimes thinking along this line can cause us to panic and stress.  When that happens, I am taken back to this simple verse in Colossians.  “He has the whole world…universe in His hands.  He holds it all together and He will continue to do so until that day when we, that know Him as our personal savior, are called home and He simply “lets go”.

Remember this today.  We do not have to worry about tomorrow. We simply need to place our trust in the God that works all things for His glory.  He loves us.  We were created by His hands in His image.  He is perfect and He created us perfectly.   I have heard before that believing in God and trusting in Jesus to save us is the “easy way out” to give up and quit thinking, become a mindless robot.  As a growing christian, I can say with all certainty that believing and continuing to trust everyday is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am human.  I want to have a sense of control.  It’s natural.  But I love my God, the creator of this universe and everyday He fills me with the gentle peace of knowing He is in control and nothing is beyond Him.

Lord, thank you for being You.  Thank you that You are in control and that You hold this all together.  Thank you for strengthening my faith on a daily basis and for forgiving me when my faith falls away.  I am forever yours and find comfort and hope in Your word.  I am thankful today that “holding all creation” includes me.  Help me to be a light and shine for your glory today.  In Christ – Amen.

Everywhere

everywhere

When I was younger…much younger, I had a job at a fast food establishment.  It was my first job and I poured myself into it, at first.  I had a bit of a work ethic problem growing up, but that is an entirely different post.  It was during this job that I had an awful experience with being surrounded and overwhelmed by grease.  Now, I know the first thought is “that is to be expected, you were working fast food.” However, this wasn’t just the normal greasiness of fast-food.  In the back of the restaurant we had commercial fryers.  There were three deep wells that held quite a bit of cooking oil.  A nightly procedure was to drain the fryers and clean each well.  It was pretty simple.  There was a reservoir under the counter that was big enough to hold one well at a time.  You pulled a lever, drained the fryer well into the reservoir and proceeded to scrub the empty well.  Then you closed the lever and proceeded to refill the well from the reservoir.  On this particular night we had a very eager new employee that wanted to show he was willing to go above and beyond.  He was striving to show that not only would he do anything, but he would do it quicker than anyone else. His chore: clean the fryer wells.  He had been taught and executed the first well perfectly.  He pulled the lever and the oil began draining.  He then went to the next well, pulled that lever and then the next well.  That’s right, he drained three wells into a reservoir meant to hold ONE!  What happened next was we found the entire back side of the kitchen covered in 1-2 inches of used fryer oil.  It was EVERYWHERE.  That night, we cleaned for at least 4-5 hours to try and contain the spill, remove the residue, and restore the kitchen to its original state.  For weeks we found remnants of oil from one end of the store to the other.  I don’t know that it was every completely contained and cleaned up.

That story came to mind today as I was reading a devotion that focused on God’s omnipresence.  The author recounts the story of Moses and his interaction with God in the burning bush.  Moses wasn’t seeking God to worship Him, or to talk with Him, he was going about his day.  Where God was, I would imagine, was the last thing on Moses’s mind.  For nearly 40 years, his days had been the same, mundane almost.  Had God not showed up in the burning bush, He may not have gotten his attention because he wasn’t being sought after.  The point is that we need to recognize that God is everywhere.  He is everywhere at one time, always.  This attribute, when understood, will produce in us a constant worship.  Just like the oil finding its way into every nook and cranny of that building, so should God be able to have access and be in every part of my being.  When I focus on God and find Him in all the details of my life, I will be more likely to remember who He is and how He deserves my constant worship; not because of what He has done for me today, but simply because HE IS.

Lord, thank you for how You are always there.  You never leave me.  Just as the Psalmist said, “where can I go that you are not there?”  The answer is nowhere.  I pray that I will keep my heart open throughout the day and focused on You.  I pray that your spirit will encourage me in all areas of my life today.   Thank you for How you love me and I pray that I give you the reverence and worship that you deserve.  – Amen.

Reading Today: Psalm 139:7-12

Take a breath and…Jump

jump

I came across a great video clip today of popular tv show host – Steve Harvey as he gave an impromptu motivational speech to his audience before an episode taping.  The clip was titled Jump.  Steve does a great job of laying out the fact that no one that is great got there without being willing to take a leap of faith.  Maybe it was faith that their business idea would be a success.  Maybe it was faith that if they made a large investment it would pay off.  Maybe it was faith that if they got the courage to ask the girl out, she would say yes.

He used an illustration of walking to a cliff and looking out to see other people soaring by – flying.  They are going from one success to another, and enjoying life’s moments all because they weren’t afraid to make the initial jump.  About half way into the clip, Steve made reference to the word of God and to a very well known principal – gifts.  Steve shared with the audience, in that moment, that we are all gifted when we are created.  (Props to Steve for using his position on that stage to share that we are created beings, with a father in Heaven that loves us).  

“You can not simply exist in this life”

God doesn’t create anyone without gifting them, he would go on to say.  Now, he didn’t dive into spiritual gifts, but instead insisted that we all have a purpose.  A talent, or ability that makes us unique and allows us to have success or fulfillment in this life.  But that gift was like the parachute on your back, as you stand on the edge of the cliff.  If you don’t jump, you can’t open your chute, and if you don’t open it, your gift stays tucked away on your back and is never used for God’s intended purpose.

So what are gifts that our Heavenly father gives us?  2 Corinthians 9:8 says, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.”  Grace is never-ending from our Father.  He freely gives it to us, as much as we need.  God only requires that we are ready to receive that grace by having faith, humility and sincere love.  The most important gift is the gift of salvation.  That grace which is extended to each of us as God’s creation ultimately leads us to salvation through Jesus Christ.  In that salvation we have a savior that will save us from everything we face.  This doesn’t mean we won’t face things, but he’ll bring us through it and never leave us to  handle it on our own.  The greatest gift is an eternal relationship with the one that created us.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that he is able to save to the uttermost those that come to God through him.  There is no one that is “incapable of being saved” and that Nothing can withstand or thwart His prayers for those who walk in covenant with him.  Nothing beats Jesus.

So what do we have to do to receive these gifts, to really understand our purpose to realize our gifts, to be fulfilled in this life?  Jump.  Jump when God  knocks on your heart’s door and asks to come in and dwell with you forever.  Jump when God challenges you to move in a certain way, or to be used according to his purpose. Jump when you are standing on the edge of that cliff and trust that God will open your parachute and reveal His glory in your life.

Father, today I thank you that you gave me the courage to jump and I thank you that you are the wind that fills my parachute and that you continue to help me open that up and continue to love me and extend your precious grace to me when I fail.  Help me to always trust you and jump when you show me the opportunity.  In Christ I pray, Amen.

Run the race

race

I finally did it.  My first race since being a senior in high school…nearly 20 years ago!  To be honest, I was a little nervous.  Not because I had anything major riding on the line, but because I finally put myself out there in front of others.  We lined up at the starting line, I rested my hand on my watch button, and…we were off.  Pacing.  That was the name of my game.  I wanted to find a comfortable pace that I could run consistently.  My goal…8 minute miles.  The course was pretty easy.  Not too hilly, and it was a 5K, so the distance wasn’t that big of a deal.  Yet my heart beat faster than normal, my breathing was more prominent, I was pushing it a little harder.  I hit the 1/2 way mark, glanced at my watch and it read around 12 minutes.  I was on pace to meet my goal.  After running a couple more hills than I remembered, I could see the home stretch.  That’s when I heard the pounding of feet behind me.  I was being overtaken.  I was at the end of my ability that day.  I didn’t have anything left in the tank to race this competitor.  As he ran past me, I resolved that 8th place wasn’t that bad, 7th was looking good, but I could live with 8th.  But deep down inside, I wanted my position back.  I kept my eyes forward, kept my pace steady and then opportunity struck.  He let up about 10 feet shy of the finish line.  I seized the opportunity and surged forward, not knowing if I could beat him to the line, but with all I had left, I crossed the line one step ahead of him.  7th place.  It was mine again.  The reward was sweet,  I felt accomplished.  Not only did I finish the race, but I had met my goal of time, and in the end, I dug deep and found a way to pull out one more place.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Life, especially the christian life, is a lot like that race.  In fact, the bible makes mention of racing in several passages.  2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.  Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  The idea behind these passages is about perseverance and determination.  Not to win a prize in the earthly perspective, but to stay true to God’s word, keep our eyes on Him and strive each day to live for His glory, winning the battle against Satan and reaching every single person on this earth with the gospel message.  This will lead to the ultimate prize in Heaven.  Hebrews 12:1-3 says it best, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

While it was great to accomplish my goal in that 5K race, It was a beautiful reminder of the ultimate race I am running daily and how the same determination to be steady, bold and unafraid will help me run and finish a strong race.

Lord, may my life today be a reflection of the race you have called me to run.  May you word be hidden in my heart and may I be bold and determined to run for you with the goal of sharing your message of grace and of hope.

 

The Prayer Wall

prayerWall

While decorating our daughter’s new room, we scoured the internet for cool ideas. Everything from paint schemes, to play areas, to organizers, etc.  A new trend that is sweeping through our home decorating world is the idea of “chalk-board” paint.  You can now buy this special paint blend at your local paint supplier, put a couple coats on a normal wall, and you have an instant chalkboard.  Since Abigail is 4 years old, and just starting Pre-K, we thought, what a great idea.  She could practice writing her letters and numbers on her chalk board wall.  After a little thinking and discussion, we opted to use her sliding closet doors as our chalkboard project.  The end result…fabulous.  With nearly a half full can left, we started looking around for other “chalk-board” projects.  That’s when we decided we could have an information area in our home – grocery wants and needs, appointments, and so on.

prayerWallSo we painted a small-wall section from floor to ceiling with the the chalk board paint, with the full intention of creating this area for family info.  About a week or so later, we were hosting an Essential Oils class at the house and in an effort (like most host’s) we were scrambling to make the house look perfect…you know like we didn’t live there or have kids and we were staring at this blank “black” wall.  We came to realize, we don’t really have a lot of info to write on an entire wall.  So, the idea popped into my head…what if we made a prayer wall?  It was really just for decoration, but the Lord moved..,as he usually does.  After several comments by our guests, we took another look and thought, why not?

What has this done for our family?  It is a constant reminder that we should spend quality time bringing our fears, concerns, requests and praises to our Father in Heaven.  This wall is a focal point in our home.  You see it when you walk down the hallway, when you come up from the basement, and when you enter from the front door.  Each time I pass the wall, I find myself reflecting on the need of the person that is listed there and lifting up a quick silent prayer on their behalf.  Now, without hesitation we quickly write the names as we learn of the need.  The kids are in to it as well.  Several times, they have mentioned one or more of the names in their meal time prayers, or asked about a name on the wall.

It’s a quick, cheap, easy way to get your family to focus a little more on daily prayer.  And of course, as an adult, it is a lot of fun to “write on the wall”.  A total “no-no” when were growing up.

True and Proper Worship

ddThis mornings devotion was based on a very familiar verse of scripture.  One of my favorites.  Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship…”  I read it, almost closed it down, then followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to re-read it a few more times.  In times past, I think I have always focused on being the living sacrifice.  That’s what that verse really spoke to me about.  Denying myself, giving my all to God, getting to the end of the day – reflecting and asking God to forgive me for falling so short.  But why?  Why should I try day in and day out to deny myself and to present my body, mind and soul as a living sacrifice.  Simple.  Because this is my true and proper worship.  It’s not about what I say, but how I live.  God isn’t interested in what I bring to the table with my mouth, He delights in how I serve him when I’m alone, and how I serve him when I am taking the kids to school.  He is focused on how I serve him when things don’t go my way, or the day seems ruined by this or that.  Am I being a living sacrifice?  Am I consciously striving to live every moment in a way that is pleasing to the Lord?  Is my focus, each morning, to bring true and proper worship to my Father in Heaven?  It should be.

The scripture continues talking about how we are not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  This idea of stepping out in faith to live by God’s standard and not my own highlights the importance of denying myself and my thoughts, plans and desires so that I can better see God’s plan for my life.  The last part speaks about how this renewing of the mind transformation will allow you to test and approve God’s will.  God has a plan – a perfect plan.  Our job is to wait on his timing and continually be ready, physically and spiritually to act when he makes it clear what that plan is.

Lord, today, may I step out in faith.  May I be patient and loving, and may I focus on your plan for my life.  Your  perfect will and not try to spin things just to fit my small view.  Your ways are perfect and are all that I need.  Amen.