What Fills My Heart?

“When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy…and the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:45a, 52 (NIV) Looking at the Facebook post, my heart was filled with jealousy. Being filled with jealousy isn’t a pleasant experience! Success often fills my heart with pride. Computer glitches can fill me with anger. And left to myself, I default to selfishness. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and His joy are the best moments. I want to learn to continually seek His filling. But I can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit if I’m already full. If I’m filled with jealousy or pride, He is quenched. “Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (ESV) When I’m filled with anger, I don’t hear His voice. When I’m filled with impatience or unforgiveness, He is grieved. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) Am I filled with lustful pleasure? Then I push Him aside. Am I obsessed with self? Then I don’t see Him. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, I must be emptied of pride, anger, unforgiveness, self-seeking and lust. This means I need be willing to let go of those sins. I can’t live without sin. I’ll never be perfect. But I can choose what I will seek. I can choose to let go when I’m convicted. I can change directions when I realize I’m headed the wrong way. I can look to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. I can ask the Holy...

When Depression Knocks

“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” Psalm 34:1 (NLT) I tend toward the melancholy. A while back I was struggling more often than usual with the temptation toward depression, a lack of joy, and an oppression of the spirit. I know there are many others who struggle with this and I want to share what helps me most. (To clarify: I’m NOT talking about chemical imbalance and I’m not discussing clinical depression, that is a medical condition for which professional help needs to be sought.) I’m talking about a feeling of sadness that comes for no obvious reason. Feeling gloomy or unhappy sometimes in spite of having things go well in life. It might be unexplained or it might come because of sin and suffering in the world or because of my own failings and weaknesses. When I fall into this kind of depression, these choices help me the most: • Singing praise to God out loud. Spending time alone with God and singing praise songs to Him is powerful. There’s more power in singing out loud but listening to praise music is also healing. • Prayer. Our greatest resource. We can tell God exactly how we feel. It’s important also to confess our sins. We can tell Him what we desire Him to do in our lives. If I feel powerless to pray, I pray the Psalms. Some that have helped me are Psalms 37, 34, 32, 23, 27, 40 and 42, but any of the Psalms are helpful. • Reading and meditating on Scripture. Reading God’s Word is essential....

Calm and Quiet

I get agitated when life isn’t going like I think it should. How can I fix this? What can I do? I feel this urgency for God to answer my prayers the way I want. Anxiety starts to drive out peace. God recently spoke to me through David’s wisdom in Psalm 131: “My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content…put your hope in the LORD now and forevermore.” Psalm 131:1-3 Pride goes before a fall by deceiving us and making us think we can do life on our own: but we can’t. We decide we know what the answer is and head out in a rush of pride and fall flat on our faces. A haughty person is filled with self and blinded by pride. I don’t have all the answers. There are mysteries in life and creation I don’t understand and I need to leave them in God’s hands. I trust all the unanswered questions to a loving and holy Father who knows everything. I leave to Him the mysteries of doctrine I don’t understand. I trust Him with the whys that come up in life. It takes humility to admit we just don’t know the answers. We can do nothing apart from Jesus. “I have calmed and quieted myself.” I love this statement. Calmed (composed, leveled out, made smooth). Striving, grasping and fretting are the opposite of...

Who SHOULD I Compare Myself To?

“If only I could write as well as she does.” “ Wouldn’t it be great to sing like that?” “I wish people were drawn to me the way they are to her.” “I can’t do this as well as she can so I’m not going to participate.” “Why can’t I be…. smarter, more talented, more popular, more gifted…?” All I can see is what she has that I don’t. We all have thoughts like these. I fight these thoughts daily. Sometimes I struggle with not wanting to use my gifts because I think they’re not as good as what someone else has or because I’m coveting someone else’s gift. Thoughts like these bring pain to our hearts. We feel left out: like we’re not good enough. We feel like God must like them more than He likes us. We all want to be loved and admired. But the truth is these beliefs go against the whole purpose of spiritual gifts! The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 is clear about the role of spiritual gifts in the church. This verse sums it up: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV) To “each,” to every individual believer, a public demonstration of the power and purpose of the Spirit is given. These gifts are the Holy Spirit showing Himself through each believer. It’s not about us; it’s all about the Holy Spirit revealing Himself. For what purpose? To bring us together for the good of all and for the glory of God. How can there be pride when it’s...

Do I Keep it Secret?

“Is it wrong to tell people about the ministry I do?” A friend recently asked in reference to this passage: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4   “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6   “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18 We need both. Praying in secret and praying with others. Giving in secret and giving openly. Fasting in secret and fasting corporately. Secret times with God need to be the priority. Times when we give Him praise for His ears only are essential. I love to let praise flow from my heart. Yielding as His Spirit moves, making up tunes, singing and letting His word inspire me and fill me with thanksgiving and praise. He is pleased because He wants a love relationship with me. He desires secret times with us where we find joy in His presence. He wants us to talk to Him, giving Him thanks and telling Him our needs. He wants us to listen as He speaks...

Stuck In The Attic

Our beloved kitty stumbled into trouble. My husband was improving our attic, adding lights and flooring. While Russ worked, I diligently kept the study door closed and watched our cat Sugar, who was curious about the attic. While he was finishing the work and I was sorting through all the “stuff” we had stored, my husband asked, “Do you know where Sugar is?” “No,” I replied. He heard a persistent meow and discovered that she had sneaked into the attic and over to the eaves where the roof sloped down and was now about a foot down inside the wall. The small space prevented us from seeing or reaching her. Pitiful meowing filled the air. We tried putting a board over the opening, hoping she could jump up. No good. After an hour, I cried out, “She isn’t meowing anymore. Something’s wrong!” I called out to her, but she was silent. Our son came home and was alarmed to learn what happened. Russ decided to cut a hole through the roof to rescue her. He and Jake mounted the roof and began to saw directly above where she was trapped. I watched intently from the front lawn as Russ cut a hole in our roof with a power saw while Jake kept Sugar out of the way of the blade. Then she was airlifted to safety. (I wondered what the neighbors thought.) I rejoiced to see she was alive and well, though filthy. We petted her, cleaned her up and welcomed her with joy. You’d think she’d learned her lesson, but that night she jumped up and meowed to...

What Jesus Did

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he….” John 13:3 What would I expect this to say? Jesus knew all things were under his power…so He… Made a blind man see? Raised someone from the dead? Healed the sick? Defeated the enemy? Preached a great sermon? Stilled a storm? Showed His glory?   What would I do if I knew God had put all things under my power? What did Jesus do? He “got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist…and began to wash his disciples’ feet.” John 13:4-5 What?? Okay. He knew He had all power, so He got up, knelt down, took the job of a servant and washed 12 pairs of dirty feet: including the feet of one He knew would betray Him? Yes, that is what the Son of God did. He did this as an example for us. This truth blows my mind. It’s so opposite of our fleshly human nature. So opposite of what most of us would do. Usually, the more power we have, the more we expect others to serve us. Jesus did this as an example for us, to set an example for me. What would this look like in my life? Am I supposed to go around washing feet? I think it looks like meeting the need that is in front of me. Jesus knew their feet needed to be washed. What do I see? Someone who needs a meal… A mom...

Temper Fits

“I hate this phone!” “Grrr…why won’t this stupid computer work?” “Can’t you see the light changed? Keep going! Idiot!” “D___ !” “I hate______!” “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Proverbs 29:11 (NLT) “A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 (NASB) Fools gives full vent to their anger, not holding anything back. The wise quietly restrain themselves. They don’t express every angry thought. This not only applies to the person who’s always losing their temper at others but also someone like me who’s often spewing out dislike and discontentment under their breath or, when alone, quite openly. I need to remember that I’m never alone. God always hears. His Spirit lives in me. Does my Father want to hear me vent every angry or impatient thought and feeling? Does He want me to throw a fit when the phone provider won’t answer? When the computer doesn’t work? When I can’t find something? On and on. There are many moments when I express negative thoughts. I give full vent to my anger. Even if God’s the only one who hears, I’m foolish if I think it doesn’t have a negative impact on others and myself. I pull myself down with these fits. I rob myself of peace and joy and leave myself with nothing to give. And it grieves His Spirit in me. This isn’t how my Father wants me to live and experience life. He wants me to show the fruit of His Spirit living in me, which includes joy, peace, patience, and self-control. He wants me...

Facing Sudden Heartbreak

The arena was filled with praise as Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant led us in singing “Because He Lives.” Talk about memories! In an instant I was taken back over 40 years to the first time I heard this song, a brand new song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. I was twenty years old and I was supposed to be newly married. But 3 weeks before our wedding, my fiancé told me he wasn’t sure he loved me and in fact he’d met this other girl and wasn’t sure which one he loved or if he even knew what love was. I was devastated. Three weeks away. All the plans were made. Invitations were out. The dress hung in my closet. We were hanging curtains at the little place we planned to live in after we got married. As I stood on the ladder, I heard him say, “I need to tell you something.” Soon my heart was in pieces. Three days later I was sobbing as all the plans that had been made were pulled apart one thread at a time till all that was left was broken dreams. I felt like I had no future anymore. All my future plans had involved being a wife (supposedly a pastor’s wife.) I felt like a boat adrift at sea. Then my sister invited me to go with her church to Falls Creek (a summer youth camp.) My healing began the night they introduced two new Gaither songs. The first one was “Because He Lives.” That song poured healing into my soul. Because He lives, I could face...

Letting Go of “Stupid”

As I walked the other day, I thought about a decision I made that didn’t turn out so well. The term “stupid” came to mind. I realized I shouldn’t use that term for myself. Soon I was aware that the word had come to my mind three or four times in just a few minutes. I wondered if this word was part of my inner thoughts more often than I realized. As I was looking at God’s amazing creation, I considered how God might feel about my constant use of that word. Immediately, I felt Him say, “It makes me sad.” I heard Him say in my heart, “Don’t call what I made stupid. I love you.” I thought of all the wonderful truths in His word. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14 He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” Jeremiah 31:3 Yet, I didn’t know what word to use instead of “stupid”. I felt…stupid. Should I say, I made a mistake? A poor decision? I pondered the truth that God never views me as stupid. I am 61 years old and I have always struggled with this name. Maybe it’s because I remember my dad calling my mom “stupid” on numerous occasions. Maybe because once in frustration he made a statement comparing me to a mentally challenged person we knew (Don’t misunderstand – I know my dad loved me wholeheartedly. It was just that one time, but I remember it.) Maybe because I struggled with math my entire life, which always made me feel…you know. Or maybe it is because we are all...