You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

Momentary Message

More than once, the Lord has had to convict me to MOVE and GO. Convict me to move out of my comfort zone. Convict me that Jesus really doesn’t care about MY comfort. It’s been in these convictions, my lens has shifted, my perspective changed and my life, as I knew it, would not, could not ever be the same. **** Imagine if you will, a Saturday afternoon several years ago where the weather was making what seemed to be a venture into autumn. The boys were engaged in several college football games and the afternoon was ours to do some “fall” shopping. As the girls and I turned into the plaza, chatting away at what fall accessory was a “must have,” I spotted a man. It seemed odd to see a man holding a sign on the corner of this particular plaza. This wasn’t the typical “Cash for Gold” sign, no, he was holding an “Out of Work, Need Money” sign.  I thought for a moment how sad, whispered a prayer and turned the corner only to reveal that I recognized the man holding the sign. That man holding the sign was the father of a boy on my son’s football team. I’ve never “known” the person holding the sign. Regardless of the circumstances that brought him to that place, it’s safe to say that it’s not an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Now, I’ve been in church ALL my life. I’ve heard many, many, many sermons. I’ve heard good sermons, I’ve heard poor sermons. I’ve heard brilliant speakers and I’ve heard speakers who, if we’re honest, should...

When The Good News Gets Easy

We boil it down to the basics: Love Jesus. Help others love Him, too. But we have different approaches: Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. Help people. And if you can’t help, at least, don’t hurt them. Give what you can, and you will receive more. Helping others achieve their dreams will help you achieve yours. We like to boil things down to the simplest form. We like quips that affirm and encourage us. If it sounds good, we think it is good. If we can’t readily see how something contradicts Scripture, we assume it’s consistent with Scripture. That’s not always the case. We have to know Scripture well in order to find what is consistent and what isn’t. In many cases, we can find or recall a verse that supports just about any perspective we want. That approach only affirms us; it’s not a reliable approach to a faith-filled life. That kind of life requires humility, which we don’t always like because it makes us feel vulnerable and gets us out of our comfort zone. Vulnerability and discomfort often describe living out the gospel, too. We prefer living out and sharing the gospel in more comfortable and convenient ways. Lifestyle evangelism—living out the good news in our everyday lives—is an excellent approach to sharing Jesus with others, because we have established influence on those in our immediate circles and regular routines. However, we can sometimes fall back on a distortion of lifestyle evangelism as if we’re falling into a comfortable couch. It feels good. We don’t have to do much more than what would...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

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,...

Planting for the Harvest

I love this time of year. The summer has cooled and gone for the year, leaving us crisp days as things change. Living in the country means I get to watch the farmer’s fields. It’s a busy time of year as they work hard and fast to pull the crops from the fields. Harvest is the focal point of their year and everything they do shows harvest is the key issue for them. While their fields are covered with snow, the farmers are planning and working on machinery they’ll need for the season. During planting season they’re out there as early as they can be and put in as many hours as possible, knowing if they don’t get the seed in the ground, they can’t reap the harvest from that seed. In the summer they’re fertilizing and spraying and mowing in order to maximize their crops. They do what’s best for the crop so it can grow and produce as much as possible. Finally, harvest comes. They’re ready for the long hours they know it will take to pull their crops out of the fields. In fact, the longer they’re sitting in the combines, harvesting crops (not broken down or stuck and waiting for help to arrive), the happier they are because it translates into an abundant harvest for them. Around here, it’s unusual to see fields sitting idle. It’s just not done. And if a field is empty, there’s a very good reason for it. Farmers plant their fields because they want the harvest. Each and every step of the process is done with harvest in mind, not...

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...

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,...

He Knows My Name

But now, this is what the Lord says—     he who created you, Jacob,     he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;     I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1, NIV) For many years, I wondered if I mattered. I questioned my worth. I doubted I had value or a purpose. Certainly God had little use for me, even if He did love me. Lies spoken to me in my past rang loudly in my ears. They were sometimes deafening, sometimes silenced by truth. Yet, the lies remained. Even in the best moments, the lies swirled quietly in the back of my mind. I was made to feel I did not deserve the grand lives others were given. I did not believe I would measure up or accomplish much regardless of what I did. I would say I was determined, and I expertly developed a strong exterior, but inside I often crumbled. While I tackled goals with tenacity, I typically believed my efforts would amount to nothing, and I would fail. Failure became my identity. Have you come to a place of knowing there was more, of knowing there was something better, yet did not know how to obtain it? As I have dived into Scripture, I have found my answer. I have found answers to my questions, and the rebuttal for every lie. I have found how deeply God loves me. He knows me. He calls me by name. Jeremiah 1:5 says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,     before you were born I set you apart;     I...

The One-Mile Marker. Time to quit!?

Passage: Exodus 9 “‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6 He left the presence of the Lord, repeating the words God had given him several days before. “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements”. He hung on to that promise as he got ready to request yet another audience with the King of Egypt. Between you and me – Moses had to be tired of it. When we get to Exodus chapter 9, Israel’s leader had seen God strike Egypt five times with miraculous, awesome wonders, and yet, Pharaoh would not waver.  And although God had told him that He himself would harden Pharaoh’s heart, there’s no doubt that pressing on was a hard thing for Moses to do. How much more, Lord? How much will it take for this hard-headed, prideful king to let your people go? How many more wonders do you have to perform until he finally believes? You know exactly what it will take to break him, and yet, you choose this slow, painful path to set us free. Why? Why? True – I may be stretching Moses’ thoughts a bit, but we know that Israel’s leader at the time had serious issues with unbelief. He questioned God’s sovereignty over and over again, while presenting his excuses to defuse the task of leading the Jews out of slavery (Exodus 4). Surely it was hard to go...