Untangling Our Will From God’s

Decisions, the ones that really matter, are difficult. And no matter how hard we try to view a situation objectively, more often than not, each choice will be enmeshed in emotion and obligation, tainted by our sinful nature, and … hopefully, ultimately resting on a desire to be obedient. So how can we separate the latter from the former? Is that even possible? What are some steps we can take to surrender our will to Christ’s and zero in on His guidance? First, we need to understand that we are, by nature, sinful people, prone to pride, selfishness, and self-deception. If not dealt with, these sins have the capacity to squelch the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the first step is prayer, asking God to cleanse our hearts. Consider making Psalm 19:12-14 a daily prayer, especially during times of indecision. “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (NLT). The next step, which is an ongoing one, is to listen. Throughout Scripture, God promises to lead and guide us. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left” (NLT). Sometimes God will guide us by gently whispering to our heart. Many times He’ll speak...

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,...

Get Over Yourself

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV Listen, I know when you first read the title you were probably taken aback a bit, but I hope you hear my heart on this–sometimes we really do just need to get over ourselves. We live in a world where it’s all about ourselves and what makes “me” happy. The problem starts when we live a life that is only focused on ourselves then we can become entitled, self-righteous, judgmental and sometimes downright ugly. When our thoughts and lives are filled with only thoughts about us and our needs/wants, then the rest of our relationships become strained or even nonexistent. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who only thinks about themselves. So, what’s a person to do who is struggling with this? First, I’d say get a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness”. It has radically changed my thoughts on this whole concept. In his book he talks about a gospel-humility that takes thinking of ourselves right off the table. How do we even do that? Through lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of practice. I read this book over a year ago and it’s still been something I wrestle with daily, but something that I intend to keep on wrestling with and working through. We spend our days scurrying around trying to fill our lives with more of stuff to make us happy, but the reality is that the “stuff” we long for isn’t really going to bring us the fulfillment 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,...

No More People Pleasing! It’s Okay To Be YOU!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 ESV Do you want everyone to like you? Do you spend time trying to make sure everyone is happy? Does it worry or bother you if you think someone doesn’t like you? Then chances are, my friend, that you are a people pleaser. Oh, I am right there with you on this one. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure when it started for me but for the most part, I can remember that most of my entire life I’ve wrestled with wanting people to like me. I guess it was one thing when I was an awkward teenager, or the constant “new girl” in school (yep, went to 3 high schools), but for crying out loud, I’m a grown woman now: what’s the deal? It wasn’t until the last few years, particularly this last year, that I’ve really started to wrestle with letting this whole people pleaser thing go. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is or has wrestled with this, so let me share with you what God has been teaching me about what’s wrong with being a people pleaser. I’m not being true to who God has called me to be if I’m trying to be something I’m not. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) I am not perfect. (Romans 3:10) I can’t make other people like me and it’s okay if they don’t. (Galatians 1:10) Listen,...

Choosing Strength When Life Gets Hard

We were going through a crazy-tough time, one of the most difficult our marriage had faced, and I began to crumble. To pull away. To isolate. Until one afternoon, my husband pulled me to him, cupped my face in his hands, and locked an intense gaze on mine. “I need you to be strong.” In that moment, it was like a jolt hit my selfish, whining heart. He needs me. My family needs me. And suddenly, I was no longer the victim in our mess. I was a warrior. A woman who could make the choice to hold tight to her family. To protect those I loved, to set the tone in my home, and to point us all to God’s never-failing strength. For when we are weak but rely solely on Him, we find He is more than strong enough to carry us through. The result of that prayer and my determination to follow through? Our marriage grew stronger. Our family grew stronger. And Jesus Christ became the defining factor in it all. More than that, my husband and I started a trend that day, one birthed in decision and continued through a daily choice. When times get tough, we grow closer. Now I know, according to the oft spoken clichés, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen, right? But I suspect it doesn’t always. During times of trial, families either grow closer or farther apart. We don’t remain stagnant. We never simply tread our way through a crisis. We either to cling to Christ and one another, or we isolate, self-protect, and bit by bit destroy those...

A New Lens For Relationships

True encouragement can’t take place in isolation.” Matt Mashburn   A people person who pulls away from people. A person who has been hurt, wronged, and wounded by others’ actions or words. A person who would like hide in a cave away from everyone. What do all these things have in common? They are all at times me…and maybe even sometimes you too. No, you would probably never admit it out loud, but if you were looking deep down into your heart, you might see that it’s true. It wasn’t until church one Sunday that I discovered these things about myself. As I feverishly wrote down notes from the sermon (which you can listen to here, on 7/28/13 with the same message title) it struck me that he was talking about me…and to top it off, that “he” was actually my husband. He and I had not talked about his sermon that day, which is rare since we usually do, so the frankness of his message hit me even harder when the reality of his words started to sink in.  As a people person who has been in ministry for over ten years it was funny to me that this actually rang true in this season of my life. Let’s dig into his sermon a little bit and see what we can uncover together. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) Chances...

It’s Almost A New Year! Is It Time For A Fresh Start?

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 ESV A brand new year — filled with excitement and anticipation. There is this sense of awe, wonder and expectancy.  This is the chance we have been waiting for to start new, to make a fresh start!  I think this is the reason why New Year’s resolutions get started, because the New Year feels like it holds lots of endless possibilities for each of us. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great planning week.  Every year during this week, my husband & I get away to rest, recover and relax. We find a sweet little get away spot, bring some of our favorite Christmas gifts and take some time to unplug for a bit. We also use this time to prepare our hearts, minds and family for the next year in our lives and ministry.  It is good to stop and celebrate all that we were a part of the year before, talk about our highs and lows as a family, as well as taking some time to map out what we hope to do in the next year.  It also helps us to reconnect after a busy Christmas season. In taking the time to reflect on our year, it helps us to better prepare for the next year.  It also helps to provide incredible insight as to what worked, what can be improved, what we would drop, add, or change all together. God made my life...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

Ask The Hard Questions

In an effort to get to know each other better we need to be ready to ask the hard questions. Especially when it comes to our marriages, but truth be told, these questions can also be tweaked and applied to your family or your ministry as well. It all started a few weeks ago when my husband and I had the opportunity to sit down with two youth pastors and their wives. Being in ministry for over fifteen years we have a heart for young families in ministry. Both of these couples that came over are newlyweds and both are serving their local church. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to spend some time with them. They are so passionate about serving Christ and their love for their spouses and the ministry is a beautiful thing to see. It was our hope to be able to encourage them as they walk the road of marriage and ministry but before the end of the night we quickly realized that we were the ones being encouraged. Listen, I’m a firm believer that we are never too old to learn and never too young to teach so this was a perfect example of God preparing all our hearts for an honest, real and transparent look at life in the ministry. It was also a sweet picture of Titus 2 in action. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,...