Sick of Complaining

I have to admit, the first two months of the new year have been a bit rough. Viruses and the respiratory flu have come to stay in spite of the fact that they weren’t invited. I’ve noticed a familiar pattern when I feel less than my best; something I’m not proud of — I complain. Because good health is the norm, it’s easy to justify my complaints. But complaining is toxic. Just like poison, complaining taints everything it touches. (click to tweet) When I begin a conversation with a complaint, I set the tone for others to add more of the same. Negativity creates a downward spiral that leads to hopelessness. A choice Consider the children of Israel. They had been set free from the bondage of slavery. God had done the miraculous and released them from their cruel taskmasters, the Egyptians. Instead of continuing to trust God to provide for their physical needs, they chose to complain. Listen to one of their pity parties: And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Exodus 16:2-3; KJV Really? Was the food in Egypt that good? Had they forgotten the hard labor and beatings they had endured at the hand of the Egyptians? Probably not. But...

From the Inside Out

One of my favorite snacks is a generous scoop of peanut butter on a fresh stalk of celery. When I grabbed the celery out of the refrigerator recently, I was already imagining how it would taste once I slathered it with peanut butter. But when I took the celery out of the package, and tore off the first stalk, I noticed the inner stalks were discolored. Although everything looked fine on the outside, something had caused the celery to begin rotting on the inside. Who would have thought I could learn a valuable spiritual lesson from a vegetable? A comparison We can be just like that celery – appearing fine on the outside, when there is something (sin) on the inside that is making us spiritually sick. Jesus put it this way when talking to the scribes and Pharisees: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Matthew 23:25; KJV Although following rules might trick us into thinking we’re spiritually healthy, only a right relationship with the Savior can provide the cure we need (click to tweet). When we realize we can’t measure up to the standards of a Holy God, we’re in a position to receive some very good news – He already provided a way to bridge the gap between us. Bridging the gap  He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to fulfill the law and make the payment for our sins: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life...

Holding on for the Impossible

Sometimes I limit God. It’s true. The things I’ve so carefully laid at His feet in the morning have an uncanny way of showing up once again by mid-afternoon. He never intends for me to carry them. But when nothing seems to be happening, I run and pick up my burdens as quickly as I laid them down. The wait of faith I have to admit I have a bad habit of expecting God to work on my time table – and solve my difficulties using my suggestions. When He reminds me to trust Him, I sheepishly relinquish my problems into His more-than-capable hands. Faith delights God. Faith in Him. He helps me understand: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 Faith trusts that God will work the situation out in a way that’s best for me and will bring Him maximum glory (click to tweet). Taking things into our own hands I can’t help but think of Abraham and Sarah. God had promised them a son. What exciting news! They had been married for quite some time, but Sarah was unable to get pregnant. Surely after giving them the promise, God would bless them with a child quickly. But month after month, year after year, they remained childless. Sarah reasoned that she had misunderstood God. Maybe God really intended them to have a child through her servant, Hagar. It was a popular custom in their day. Yes, that MUST be it!...

Leave Room

I knew it was too heavy. I had packed my suitcase with everything from clothes and shoes to toiletry items. Not to mention my pillow. The additional things I bought while we were in Florida did nothing to help the situation. The airport scale told the story: my suitcase was eight pounds overweight. Time to do a little rearranging. Fortunately, the attendant who checked us in didn’t charge us for the additional weight. I made a mental note to pack lighter next time. My suitcase was a glaring reminder of how I often live my life – filled to the brim with too many things (click to tweet). It wouldn’t hurt to do some evaluation and scale back; leaving room for other opportunities the Lord has for me. Living with purpose Jesus provided the perfect example. He lived life with purpose. He taught and preached to crowds, mentored the disciples, yet found time to minister to individuals. No doubt His schedule was full, yet Jesus was never too busy to meet the needs of those who sought Him (click to tweet). In Christ’s day, women and children were not considered as important as men. Even Jesus’ disciples had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that all people were valuable. When little children were brought to Jesus for His blessing, the disciples made an executive decision: Jesus didn’t have time for them. He was far too busy to waste His time with little kids. The right agenda But Jesus was more than willing to rearrange the day’s agenda. His response is heart-warming: But when Jesus saw it,...

Don’t Waste the Wait

Waiting isn’t a popular pastime. In a society of fast-this and fast-that, it’s easy to expect everything immediately. Waiting is often thought of as a time when you’re doing nothing while expecting something to happen. Although there are plenty of times when I get impatient, I’ve also learned that waiting can be a magnificent opportunity for growth. Whether I’m waiting for my husband to get back from his business trip, or for my next book to be published, I’ve gained some valuable insights while I’ve waited: *God can be trusted – He’s proven time and again that He has things under control. Waiting gives me the opportunity to put things in His hands and let Him orchestrate the details. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 *He’s given me this waiting period to prepare for what lies ahead – I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t consider the fact that it takes a significant investment of time and energy to write a book. Periods of waiting have helped me remain realistic. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14:28 *He has a plan for me that’s far better than anything I can come up with – Before time began, God planned out specific good works for me to do. Times of waiting allow me to seek Him and determine the next step He wants me to take. For we...

Staying Connected to the Right Source

I love fall. The morning air is crisp, the trees begin showing off their autumn wardrobe, and apple picking is once again a popular weekend activity here in north Georgia. But there’s another kind of fruit that’s in season all year round – the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. While this fruit is familiar, by nature we’re pretty selfish, and our culture encourages a ‘me-first’ attitude. It’s easy to just go with the flow instead of listening to the Lord’s still, small voice and putting others ahead of ourselves. The Source I remember attending a conference years ago and sitting in a session about structuring a daily quiet time. The speaker had a lot of great points, but what resonated with me the most was this statement: “If you’ve not been to the Source, you have nothing to give.”~ Conference Speaker (click to tweet) Wow! The Lord knew exactly what I needed to hear. A lot of times I find myself trying to solve problems and fix situations in my own strength. You too? Without seeking the Lord and submitting to Him – even my best efforts fall short. My human wisdom and understanding won’t be helpful to people searching for answers – but here’s the beautiful thing: When I spend time seeking God in His Word, and living out what He shows me, I can point others to Him – the Source with all the answers. Stay connected The apostle John put it like this: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me,...

Feeling Left Out?

Do you ever feel left out? I can relate. Sometimes we just don’t feel like we fit in – we don’t have anything in common with our co-workers, classmates, or neighbors. Feelings can be deceiving. It’s comforting to know we were created by a God who designed us for relationships. We were made to have a relationship with God and with others (click to tweet). It’s neat to see this pattern began way back in the Garden of Eden: And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him…And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Genesis 2:18,22; KJV In Adam and Eve’s case, they became husband and wife – a family. Friendships are valuable relationships too. Stepping outside of our own world and connecting with others is important. Value of community Whether we’re part of a family unit, a church, or a group with similar interests (art, music, etc.), there’s no denying the value community plays in our lives. Within community, lots of things happen. We can: *share our concerns *offer words of encouragement *learn from each other *support one another Love is powerful Jesus emphasized the importance of our relationship with Him and others: …Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:37, 39 (emphasis added) Love lets us reach out to others without expecting anything in return (click to tweet). It...

Time To Speak Up

I’ve been out of my teens now for many years. But I admit there are still days when I feel like the proverbial teenager buckling under peer pressure. Sometimes I find myself shying away from controversial subjects – remaining silent when given the opportunity to speak. Why? Fear. Of. Rejection. Keeping the peace Remember Pilate? In Jesus’ day, Pilate was the Roman governor of Judaea and Samaria. A prestigious position. One he wanted to keep. Of Pilate’s many responsibilities, one was to maintain peace in his region. Imagine his uneasiness when a crowd of Jewish leaders approached him with a major concern. They had a problem with Jesus: We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that himself is Christ a King. Luke 23:2; KJV After an initial questioning, Pilate returned his verdict, “…I find no fault in this man,” (Luke 23:4b). The Jews rejected his judgment, fiercely stating that Jesus was purposely causing dissent among the people with His teachings. Since Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate saw an opportunity to pass the decision-making responsibility on to Herod – the ruler of that region. Pilate’s judgment would no longer matter, the Jews would be appeased, and Herod would serve as the scapegoat. Brilliant plan! But it didn’t work. Following the trial with Herod, the chief priests and rulers of the people once again stood before Pilate. His response? Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:...

Make the Right Call

They were everywhere. Less than an inch long, the tiny invaders seemed to show up overnight. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. Over a two-week period, our basement went from no bugs, to a healthy crop of the irritating things. A closer look had me convinced we were dealing with some type of ‘pede’: centipede, millipede, etc. It didn’t matter to me what they were – I wanted them out of the house. I tried stepping on them, sucking them up with the vacuum cleaner, and siccing my cats on them. It didn’t work. By the next morning, there were always more. Beyond me It didn’t take me long to realize I’d have to leave my home remedies behind and call in the experts. I’m happy to report, Operation Millipede, has stopped those multi-legged insects in their tracks. As irritating as it was, the millipede invasion made me stop and think: Sometimes our best effort to eliminate pesky things doesn’t do the job – we need the Expert. There was the time I held my tongue but ended up wearing a bad attitude which was equally as bad. Time after time I’ve tried to get rid of sin using my own power, only to discover I can’t. The Lord is the only One who can extend grace and offer the forgiveness I need – He is the Expert (click to tweet). A sick man In Jesus’ day, there was a sick man who had suffered with a disease for 38 years. It was common knowledge that many sick people had experienced healing at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. An angel...

Celebrate Every Season

School is winding down. Another year has passed. Graduates will don cap and gown, march onto the stage, and receive a well-earned diploma. A thrilling time. A time for reflection. A time for celebration. One season of life has been completed and another is about to begin. The excitement of venturing out for the first time is mixed with a twinge of apprehension about the future. Countless decisions vie for attention. Which college to attend? What major to choose? Where to work? Who to date? Lots of questions I remember heading off to college with many of these questions swirling around in my mind. Not a single one takes God by surprise. His Word offers help and guidance for every season of life (click to tweet). Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) Whether poised on the brink of leaving home for the first time, or dropping your high-school graduate off on campus, the Heavenly Father’s point is clear: don’t try to figure everything out, bring each concern to Me, and trust Me to guide your every step. A faithful guide Look back on your life. Take a look at God’s track record. Has He ever failed you? If He’s brought you this far, won’t He continue to lead you? (click to tweet). Let His Word encourage you: …I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5b He has a purpose and a plan for your life. For I know the thoughts that I think...