Filling the Void

Stuff and things, gadgets and gizmos. It’s easy to let them consume our lives. When we’re not using our stuff and things, gadgets and gizmos, we’re taking care of them– right? Replacing batteries, updating to latest versions, and making sure everything is working properly. I realize technology is constantly changing and there is nothing wrong with keeping up with it. But in our quest to have the latest tools, is it possible we’re missing a key ingredient? Contentment. When is enough, enough? Discontentment stems from not being satisfied. Maybe we’re looking to our stuff for fulfillment, instead of looking to the One who allowed us to have the stuff in the first place. Jesus warns us of running after things: And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15, KJV A sobering thought when we’re constantly bombarded with ‘newer,’ ‘bigger,’ and ‘better.’ Somehow our focus needs to shift. We need to return to the only thing that will truly satisfy: Jesus Christ (click to tweet). Returning to the Source Solomon was the wisest man who lived, and yet he struggled with contentment. He tried to find happiness in relationships with people and things – yet he failed miserably. What he discovered is found at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV When we keep our gaze firmly focused on the One who gave us...

Choosing the Right Attitude

Being thankful is a choice. Even when things don’t go the way I’d like them to, I get to choose my attitude. Earlier this year, I found out I needed surgery. Trust me, I didn’t do a happy dance. But through the entire process, family and friends made it clear that I had a lot to be grateful for. My story An unusual shape on an x-ray prompted me to head to my gynecologist. Sure enough, following an ultrasound, it was confirmed: I had two large fibroid tumors – one directly behind the other. Because of the size of the fibroids, laparoscopic surgery was out of the question. I was scheduled for an abdominal hysterectomy. The information from my doctor and every other article I read listed the recovery time as eight weeks. I was definitely not looking forward to so much down time. My surgery was scheduled for a Wednesday with an expected release date of Friday. Although my husband would be with me through the surgery and the weekend, he had an important conference he had to attend the following week. I wasn’t sure how I would manage to take care of our pets or myself so soon after major surgery. A big helper Riley to the rescue. Although our daughter, Riley, and her husband live 4 hours away from us, as soon as she found out about the operation, she offered to come and help. Because she had limited time off, I knew it was a sacrifice for her. This was just the beginning of several small acts of kindness that were big reflections of God’s...

Think Before You Speak

  Jean and I were in the same class and rode the school bus together. We weren’t friends – just acquaintances. I’m not sure why I chose to make fun of her, but all these years later I wish I could rewind the clock and apologize for the way I acted. Harsh words & a lie I was sitting with one of my friends on the bus when we slowed down in front of her house. As the door slid open, and Jean boarded the bus, I made a rude comment about her hair. As we laughed, Jean took her seat and asked what was so funny. I made something up, and pretended to be nice to her. My words and actions were anything but kind. What we need Discretion isn’t a word we use much today, but it’s a quality we need to develop. The dictionary defines it as “the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information.” My words, all those years ago, were not discreet. Look at what King Solomon has to say about this quality: When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: Proverbs 2:10-11; KJV When my words are discreet, they serve as a source of protection and help maintain a high standard. They are wise words. Choose wisely Years have passed since that day on the bus. And every day I get to choose the words I will speak. When I yield to the Holy Spirit, I can use my words...

Are You Believing a Lie?

The feelings were unfamiliar. Years ago, I was in a car accident that resulted in soft tissue damage to my upper back; but it was nothing major. Pain pills and muscle relaxers didn’t work, and I was unable to sleep. The lack of sleep added to my growing apprehension and worry clouded my thoughts. I began anticipating the worst. An injection that was supposed to help with my back pain only added to it when the needle hit my sciatic nerve. Things seemed to be getting worse instead of better. A trying time My irrational fears were paralleled by all kinds of physical symptoms: chills, a racing heart, a tingling feeling in my arms, shortness of breath, and headaches. I was convinced I had ruptured a disc and the doctors had just missed it. As my thinking spiraled out of control, so did my trust in God. Why had He let me get in a wreck? Was I being punished for something I had done? Why did He seem so far away? It wasn’t until I went in for a CT scan and the doctor gave me a pill to “calm my nerves,” that I actually felt better. The physical and mental issues I had been dealing with were not caused by a physical injury. I was experiencing anxiety. Reassurance In His grace, God showed me love. God’s Word gently reminded me that bad things happen because of sin. In the Old Testament, Job went through horrific circumstances – losing his sons and daughters, his possessions and even his health. His response? The Lord gave, and the Lord hath...

Beyond Approval – You Are Wildly Loved

Who are you? Do you define yourself based on what others think of you? Do you crave the approval of others? You’re not alone. It’s common to seek approval to overcome feelings of rejection and low self-esteem.  But pleasing one person can cause a problem for someone else. On our quest for approval, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. So how do we fill the void? It’s not as difficult as you think. God created you with a specific purpose and plan. Because you belong to Him, what He thinks of you matters most (click to tweet). So just what does He think of you? How God sees you He designed you with infinite care before He formed you (Psalm 139:16). Remember the Psalmist David? He was quick to recognize the miracle of life and praise God for it: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14; KVJ God’s Word is true. You were created in the image of God. He made you uniquely you: with the looks, personality, and abilities you have. You are a masterpiece. The right focus While we often get our hearts set on winning someone’s approval to validate our worth, our vision clears when we focus on Jesus. His actions demonstrated a radical love we can’t deny. He was willing to humble Himself and become a man. He lived a sinless life. Jesus died on the cross in our place. When we put our faith in Him, we will live with Him eternally in Heaven. Wow! Now that’s...

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Have you ever run a marathon? Although I enjoy exercising, I can honestly say I’ve never considered participating in a long distance run. I admire those who put themselves through the rigors of training and discipline themselves to eat right to achieve maximum performance. I understand it’s as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. When a runner reaches the 18-mile mark something happens. The muscles reach a point of fatigue so overpowering it’s easy to entertain thoughts of quitting. Running 18 miles is quite an accomplishment – something to be proud of. But it’s only through perseverance and focusing on the finish line that the runner can complete the remaining eight miles of the race. The race of life On a much larger scale, the apostle Paul used the analogy of our entire life being a race: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1, KJV There are those who are watching us; cheering us on and keeping us accountable. Paul cautions us to keep our eyes open for distractions. There are also things that need to be set aside so we can run a good race: sin, our past, defeat. When life gets tough, it’s tempting to give up (click to tweet). We can get discouraged by what might lie ahead. Or we can keep pushing ahead. The choice is ours. When our eyes are focused on the...

Wrestling with Pride – It’s Nothing New

How does it happen? One day I am consciously aware of God at work in and through my life – and praising Him for it. The next day I’m questioning God’s plan and doing things my own way. There’s a wrestling match taking place in my life; will pride or humility win? (click to tweet). This battle with pride is nothing new. Way back in the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve to doubt God’s goodness. Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Genesis 3:1b, KJV A tricky question The crafty question gave Eve pause to consider. Maybe God was withholding something from her and Adam that would be good for them. It was true; God had given them permission to eat the fruit of any of the other trees in the garden, but why was the tree of knowledge of good and evil off limits? With the bait set, Satan slowly reeled her in, assuring Eve that what God said was not true. God merely didn’t want her and her husband to be “as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5) As Eve considered Satan’s statement, she gazed at the fruit. It was beautiful and appeared to be ripe and delicious. Without getting her husband’s input, Eve made her choice – plucked the fruit and offered some to Adam. Adam and Eve chose to do things their own way. They rebelled against God. Their actions confirmed they thought they knew better than their Creator. A choice Before we’re too hard on Adam and Eve, don’t we do the same thing? We...

Encouragement to Continue

Are you facing a challenge that has left you with countless questions? I’ve been there. Several years ago, my husband Steve’s, position at work was eliminated. If you’ve ever lost a job, you’ve experienced the stress of financial pressures and lack of medical insurance. It’s no picnic. It was nine months before my husband found a suitable job. During that time, the pastor of our church died. And not many months later, my dad passed away. Doubts & questions The doubts and questions were relentless. Why was it taking so long for Steve to find a job in his field? What would happen to our church without a pastor? How could I deal with the death of my dad on top of everything else? In His grace, God gave me hope and encouragement to continue. God’s Word is filled with countless examples of people who chose to trust Him during really tough circumstances. Ruth’s story Ruth is one of my heroes. She went through some hard times, suffering the death of both her father-in-law and husband. The choice she made when faced with a life-changing decision is inspiring. Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, had lived in Moab for ten years and her husband and two sons had died. Now she was heading back to her home town. Naomi advised her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to go back to their people. Orpah found it hard to leave, but took Naomi’s advice. Ruth was different. She saw something in Naomi that caused her to leave all she had ever known – family, friends, her home town, and culture – and trust God...

The Best Investment

How would you describe yourself? As a project person? Or as a people person? Although we’re all a combination of both of these, I’d have to say I tip the scale in the direction of projects. I like the feeling I get when I’m able to cross tasks off my to-do list. Last weekend began with a full agenda. My husband Steve was out of town on Saturday, and I had naively lined up a weeks’ worth of chores – hoping to finish all of them in one day. Talk about setting myself up for failure. Am I the only one who does this? By mid-afternoon I made a disappointing discovery: I wasn’t going to finish all the items on my list. I wouldn’t even come close. Time to think about what was most important. A valuable lesson We would be celebrating our adult daughter’s birthday the next day. Did it really matter if the house was spotless? In five years would I really remember if the house was clean for her big day? No. But I would remember planning a special celebration for Riley, and spending time with our family. I made a decision. Cleaning could wait. I was going to focus on Riley and making this birthday one she’d always remember. We had a wonderful celebration the next day, and I was reminded of a valuable lesson: We were created for relationships – it’s much more important to invest in people than in things. People trump projects every time. (click to tweet) The right choice Jesus was the ultimate example of this principle. He wasn’t concerned about the...

Your Guide to Surviving & Thriving

Do you like flowers? I do. My husband surprised me with a beautiful bouquet for my birthday. The sunflowers and Peruvian lilies were highlighted by artfully arranged greenery. I gave them center stage on our fireplace mantle where I could enjoy them throughout the day. A few days later I realized I had forgotten something. The flowers hung limply over the sides of the vase, desperately in need of some water. Soon after I added the liquid with a packet of plant food, the flowers began to perk up. Staying connected I was reminded of an important fact: plants need nutrients in order to survive and thrive. The same is true in your life and mine. The apostle John put it this way: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. John 15:4; KJV So what does this mean? You guessed it. In order to survive and thrive, we need to stay connected to Christ (click to tweet). He’s made it easy for us. Keys to abiding *He gave us His Word – His love letter to us containing everything we need to know For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 *He gives us a direct line of communication – He always has time for us Let us therefore...