I crack open our squeaky mailbox and notice a postcard stamped, “Report for jury duty Monday.” At this moment, the firecrackers shooting through my veins ignite any spiritual fruit that may have been growing and kill it.
I huff, puff, and kick up the snow as I march back into the garage. I crinkle the unwanted mail in my fist and think, “I need this week to be easy and it’s not going to be.”
There is Christmas shopping to do, bills to pay, cleaning to pick up, and now a court case to attend. The to-do list that used to be neatly tied up in a perfectly sectioned bow quickly unravels into a knotted monstrosity. One little pull from just the right string and the whole thing unravels.
Did you notice all the personal pronouns above?
My shopping, and
Do you see the presence of God in this at all? Or do you see someone enslaved by her calendar?
In order for us over-extended mammas to maintain a God-centered perspective, we must ask ourselves, “Who are we serving?” Our ‘to-do’ list or our Jesus?
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes our well-meaning selves are more concerned with keeping our schedules than keeping Christ in the center of them.
This time of year, it’s easy to be tempted. We are tempted to become more in touch with ourselves and out of touch with Jesus.
The Bible says we are to have the following attitude when it comes to our calendars:
“What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil, James 4:15-16 (New Living Translation).
The question isn’t what are we going to do, but what is God calling us to do? What does God want on our calendar? When is God calling us to say “no” and when is He calling us to say “yes?”
So, how do we make adjustments in our sometimes worldy calendars?
We begin praying and thinking – we begin “prinking!” We prink, prink and prink some more. We think about God’s Word. We pray we will live it out loud. We pray that we will step away from the wreckage of a capsized day and He will be glorified because of it.
Think about your week for a moment.
Are you drowning in the pitfalls of tomorrow so much that you are missing what God has for your today?
Is your calendar reflective of the call of the gospel? Or is your schedule all about you?
It’s hard to be thankful when…
And cleaning, um… anything.
and holding firmly to the Word of life.
Instead of looking at our not-so-great jobs with dread and disdain lets be radical by delighting in them and embracing them as an opportunity to enhance our star quality.
The next two months are full of waiting, wondering, and worrying.
The word “suspicious,” is on the lips of every doctor. One test leads to another. The next test leads to a procedure. The waiting in between test results, phone calls, and appointments is excruciating. What if I have cancer? What if I can’t have children? What if I die?
The “what-ifs” paralyze me. The “whys” beg for my attention. I’m tangled up in fear. I try to shake them loose but they ferociously reappear and settle right back. No matter what I do. No matter how hard I try. I ask God to move this mountain of complication, but His answer seems to be “No, I want you to climb it.” This isn’t the answer I want to hear.
The Bible says we will experience difficulties in our lives. So, why do we sometimes think we should get a free pass from hard times?
I wish I could say I responded to my circumstances like King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles before heading to battle. Jehoshaphat knew he was outnumbered, but he also knew he had God on his side. He looked up to heaven and cried, “I don’t know what I’m doing but my eyes are on you God.” My eyes were not on God. They were on me. I was more concerned with my personal relief than God’s glory. The only thing glorified in my pain was the pain itself.
These moments, illuminated my fear instead of my absolute dependency on God. My response ~ fear, insecurity, and anxiousness. God’s response ~ courage, security, and a calming solution.
I did not have cancer, but I did not have the faith I wanted to either.
During these times, we must remember that…
God is the source of our comfort in difficult times;
Because we believe in God, we are unshakable and at peace;
We stand in the shadow of the cross where there is no bad news;
It’s God’s party and He invited us, not the other way around;
Sometimes, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so we can be there for that person just as God was there for us (see 2 Corinthians 1:3 MSG);
We have an opportunity to know our God more;
We learn obedience in what we are suffering; and
We don’t have to live alongside trouble alone – God is always there.
The next time we find ourselves standing in the shadow of bad news, how will our soul react? Will we draw closer to God or further away from Him?
As I sit on the front porch, the cool winter breeze tickles my hair and teases my face. I hear rustling of leaves and swaying of trees. I close my eyes and bend into the wind. I inhale my life’s journey and exhale thankfulness.
Today, I am thankful that Jesus made me a “this” not a “that.” I am a “this,” a new creation; not a “that,” a broken person defined by her circumstances.
Several years ago, I was a that.
That girl who was physically abused in her marriage; that girl who was stained by divorce; that girl who tried to take her own life because she couldn’t handle the pain; that girl who shook her fist at God and walked away from Him.
Jesus holds me in these difficult places. The places…
I don’t think I can go on,
The pain aches too much,
My heart breaks too often,
Shame swallows me whole.
Jesus interrupts my thoughts. It’s not all about me. It’s all about God. I realize I’m tired of me and I want more of Him.
Today I am no longer a “that.”
I am no longer defined by my circumstances;
I am no longer a throwaway person;
I am no longer a girl who turned her back on God.
I AM a “this.”
A grace girl loved by her Savior just the way she is.
Now, this girl is claiming her promises…
I will find my Jesus when I seek Him (Prov. 8:17);
I have the Spirit in me (Is. 42:1);
He meets my needs (Phil. 4:19);
I can hear Him (John 12:26);
I anticipate His presence (Prov. 8:34);
I am complete in Him (Col. 1:28);
I am strong because of Him (2 Cor. 12:9);
He knows me calls me by name (Is. 43:1); and
I will forever stand firm in the will of my God (Col. 4:12).
Sweet sister if you feel like a “that” today, take comfort in knowing you are a “this.” “This” dearly loved child of an Almighty God.
How about you? What’s something your thankful for today?
“Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving,” Psalm 69:30 (New Living Translation).
My eyes meet his in a sorrowful yet desperate exchange. I reach down and grab a bag of food. As my hand briefly touches his, I notice his unsteady fingers peeking out from underneath his moth eaten gloves. I am startled by the weathered appearance of his hands. The overwhelming shock grips me. I freeze. My lips begin moving but I’m speechless. Not one word rolls off my tongue. Not even a “God bless you,” or “God loves you.” I blew it. I place the bag full of hope in his appreciative hand and drive away.
“Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need,” 2 Cor. 8:14 (NLT).
I see him in my rear view mirror. He tinkers around in a personal prison of chronic despair. He probably thinks I am just a nice person who tossed him a quick snack. My heart’s desire was to speak these words, “I come with Christ; do you know Him?”
I didn’t swing my car over to the curb out of the goodness of my sinful heart. I felt compelled to stop my car in front of this man for three reasons:
Because my life is radically abandoned to Jesus;
Because a radical gospel reigns in my heart;
Because God’s will for us is to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel known to everyone.
I don’t want to come with simple niceties –I want to come with Christ.
When we serve the poor whether it’s providing food, shelter, or handing out blankets, we are doing it all with the gospel. It’s not enough to hand out a blanket or serve a meal and walk away. We do these things as we express the gospel of Christ. We do it so God’s glory can be exalted in the midst of a grungy backdrop.
When we come on our own, we meet the immediate needs of the poor; when we come with Christ, He meets their eternal ones.
Lord, it’s been a while since I shared the gospel with someone. When I’m nervous or scared please be the author of my words. As our ministry passes out blankets and gloves tonight, I pray that the harvest of generosity that only flows from You will splash out onto others. Amen.
“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God,” 2 Cor. 9:11 (NLT).
I am a woman stained by divorce. For the past several years, it seemed safer to isolate myself in my own personal desert than to step forward and say, this is where I come from; this is my journey; this is how God saves.
Have you ever run from the heat of scandal and just wanted to evaporate?
Sometimes we find ourselves in places we never thought we’d be.
We’re hurt in ways we never thought possible.
We find ourselves out of options.
So we run.
I’ve read the story of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar many times. However, I’ve never unearthed the treasure found in Hagar’s plight before. Hagar proves to be no stranger to scandal or the desert.
She is a servant girl who is forced to mother Abram’s child. She is disrespected, mistreated, and misunderstood in a male driven world. She probably carries a double dose of resentment, hostility, anger, and bitterness deep within her heart.
“Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away,” Genesis 16:6 (NLT).
Scandal wraps its unforgiving arms around Hagar and squeezes. It pushes her into a wilderness of loneliness.
God interrupts her desert bound journey and provides fresh perspective, new possibility and a promising future. He reveals His will, provides instruction, and requests her obedience (see Genesis 16:7-8 NLT).
God informs Hagar, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress,” Genesis 16:9-12 (NLT).
Hagar replies, “You are the God who sees me,” Genesis 16:13 (NLT).
God embraces Hagar in the midst of her desert. He sees her when she feels invisible. He notices her struggles when she thinks no one cares. He gives her a purpose beyond herself.
God provides the faith fuel Hagar needs to walk back into Abram’s tent and pick up where she left off.
Like Hagar, when we find ourselves in the desert, God sees our pain, hears our cry, and draws us to Himself like never before.
The Bible says to remember the desert times. Don’t get discouraged while you’re there because it won’t last forever. The important thing isn’t how you got to the desert but what you do while you’re in the desert.
Surrounding our earth is a powerful Magnetic Field. It shields us from the sun’s harmful radiation and blocks the Earth from solar wind. Solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. The magnetic field repels these otherwise dangerous particle bursts.
The Earth and the Sun are set in perfect distance from one another. Our temperatures fluctuate roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional deviation in our position to the sun would make life on Earth inconceivable.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.”
Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)
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