Saturday, November 10, 2012

Talk Less, Pray More

Written September 10, 2012

A sigh escapes my lips...there is no one there. I look again five minutes later. Still no one. Have you ever found yourself constantly checking social networking sites in hopes that a friend gets on-line? I know I have. There are times when I want so bad just to talk. I don't really care who to, just someone so that I can get my mind off what is "bugging" me.
I am currently staying off most social networking sites where my friends are most active for that very reason. I realized that I had become dependant on talking to others because it was a way for me to escape. A way to stop thinking. When did thinking and deep thoughts become something which I wanted to run from? I used to sit for hours just thinking and writing our my thoughts. What has changed?

Maybe because my thoughts are ones that I have no answers to? It's easier if you have a problem to solve. You research, and in time you find a solution. But what about those thoughts that there is no real solution to as far as you are able to see. That is, no solution but to wait on the Lord. The ones that chase each other around and around your head and no matter how hard you try to stop thinking of them they don't go away.
Today I have a little cold and haven't felt up to my normal riggers, so I've been sitting still. I caught myself glaceing at my phone to see if anyone had texted, and looking at my inbox for a new email to answer. But there was nothing. I started to grow a little agitated. Where was everyone when I needed to talk? Then a simple truth came to mind. The things I wanted to talk about, they are things that only God has the answers to. Talking them over with friends is not a bad thing, and yet, is it profitable? They don't have answers and you still don't, so you are right where you started. If God knows the answers, why am I afraid (yes, afraid) to talk to Him about these things that will not leave my mind?
I am afraid because what if the things I want are not what He has planned? What if He says no? What if He says I need to wait...just wait for His timing? What if He tells me that I don't need answers. That I just need to have faith and trust in Him? I'm not good a waiting for answers. I like to know what lies ahead, what the plan is, have a schedule. I don't want to give up all of the things that I have dreamed about and prayed for, even if only for a season. In fact, I just want what I want. Or do I?
If I think about it long enough. If I face my fears and if I take those fears to the Lord, He teaches me that I don't really want what I think I want. He shows me where selfishness leads and reminds me of a better way. His way. If it brings Him glory (which in turn brings Him pleasure) then I desire to die to self. I desire to go where He leads even if it means walking in ways that I fear to trod. I desire to learn how to wait, patiently.
The next time I start looking to see if anyone is available for me to talk to. I am going to try to ask myself why it is I want to talk. And I pray that in times when I am running, I will learn to seek out silence and seek out my Lord. That my desires will become molded more and more into the likeness of His perfect plan.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Each Day, a Gift

It started like any other ordinary day, but the ending was far from what I could have imagined. That was the day we learned that one of my younger sisters has type 1 diabetes.
It got me thinking. We have this expectation that each day will be a continuance of the last. We wisely do not borrow trouble, but trust that the Lord knows what plans He has for us and will provide strength accordingly. Yet, there is one thing that I have found, while it is good to not worry about tomorrows, it is not good to take things for granted. Neither health, nor loved ones, nor life. Thank God for the blessings He bestows, treasure them, treat each day as if it might be your of good with those you to live on this earth. Do not live in fear of what could happen, and look with joy towards a future with the Lord in eternity, but do not take today or what it holds for granted. The things of this life are fleeting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years...and America Forgets

Eleven years ago was the first time I remember hearing about the World Trade Center or saw pictures of the Twin Towers. I remember my mother's face when she explained what had happened. I remembered the days, weeks, and months that followed and how I listen to stories on the radio about what had happened. I remember accounts given by those who had escaped fiery deaths, and those who hadn't. The harrowing tales that I will never want to forget. I remember for the first time in my life, seeing people stop thinking about themselves and reach out to help and encourage a nation.
Now, eleven years later, America is beginning to forget. To forget the heroes who gave their lives that day. To forget those who's lives were changed forever when they lost loves ones. To forget that freedom comes with a price. We are being lulled to sleep by our daily cares so that we forget that if we want to keep our freedom, we as a nation have to rise and fight for it as one. And we forget that each day is a gift. We aren't promised a tomorrow. We have only today, to love, to share, and to care.
Tragedy happens. When it happens to you or those around you, are you ready? Have you given in to Jesus' call, to come and follw Him? If you have, then do you see the urgency of speaking to others about The Way, The Truth, The Life?
In the face of tragedy it is easy to remember to share the gospel, it is easy to remember to have compassion, it is easy to remember that freedom (as a nation or from sin) comes with a cost. But we forget so easily...
Today, take some time to remember what freedom means. Take time to look at those around you and see their needs. Take the time to count the cost. Let the memories of 9/11 spur you to reach out, share the truth, and fight the fight for freedom.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Servant of Christ

Recently I have been reflecting on what I have been spending my time on in the past several months and asking myself questions about whether or not I have been investing my time wisely for Christ. Scripture that came to mind was from Luke 10:38-42.
 "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"
When it comes to serving Christ there is more than one facet. Yes, there are times to serve and physically be busy for the Lord, but there are also times to "sit at His feet" and seek to know Him. Have you ever found it challenging to know what it is that the Lord will have you do and when? I know I have. A thought that has helped me is that if I am in tune with the Lord, and if I am seeking Him daily through His Word and prayer, then I generally know what it is that He would have me do. If, on the other hand, I have been so busy running to and fro under the guise of serving Him that I have not made time to be still and seek Him, then I often begin to get confused about what it is He would have me do. It would be safe to assume that that in each season of life our first duty to serving Christ is to spend time seeking Him in quiet and keeping our hearts in tune with His, and then serving as He leads.
 Another thing that came to mind was the times when I will say no to someone because I do not have time for them or their need because I am "too busy doing the Lord's work." Now, obviously there are times when we should say no. Even Jesus did not bow to every one's beck and call (Mark 1:36-38). But, at the same time, are there times when I say no because I am too busy just being busy? Sometimes it is so easy to get wrapped up in doing, that we do not take time to listen. For example, your friend's house is damaged by fire and you have headed up a team of volunteers from your church to help rebuild your friend's house. You are so focused on doing this "good deed" that you brush your friend aside when he approaches you and tries to share his heart with you about his grief over the loss of some letters from his father that were priceless to him. You have to get that roof up, and you do not have time to listen.
A balance that I sometimes find hard is getting so wrapped up in the act of serving that I forget the hearts and spiritual needs of those I am serving. They become objects of service instead of breathing and feeling individuals who have emotional and spiritual needs.

God places us in circumstances for a reason. If we are on an elevator with complete strangers, or if we are in a roomful of old friends, He has placed us there for a reason. There are no random chances in life. Maybe your ministry is just to smile, say a kind word, or open a door. Maybe it will be sitting down and just listening. Maybe it will be offering advice. Maybe it will be physical labor. The trick is to not overlook the people in effort to meet a project deadline or goal. We are to tend His sheep (John 21:16), to share the gospel (Mark 16:15), to bare each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2).
There is so much more to serving the Lord than physically serving. Let us not lose sight of serving in the sometimes mundane and less glamorous ways. Let us not think that the only real service is preaching the gospel on the street corners, yes, surely this is a big part of our calling as believers, but it is not all there is. Let us not think that being cloistered away in our little closets studying His Word and praying is our mission either. There is a balance that must be maintained. We should take the time to seek Him daily for direction, and from time to time reflect and re-evaluate. We should study the life of Christ and module our service after His.
Serving Christ is not a one size fits all kind of thing. Just because others serve Him in one way, does not mean that is the way that you are to serve Him. You probably knew this, as did I, but sometimes I just need a reminder. Being a servant of Christ has many facets that often change within each season of life, and while neither is better than the other, there should always be a balance between serving and being still.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Will We Listen?

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" ~ Matthew 16:26
Most of us do not think of ourselves as trying to gain the whole world, many of us aren't even interested in becoming wealthy, but how many of us dream of or work towards a comfortable life? Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life, nothing at all. But when that ideal of a comfortable life trumps our zeal for doing what the Lord calls us to do, you will agree that we have encountered a problem. Not just a mere speed bump, but a mountainous problem.
Imagine this. You are 32-years-old, you have a beautiful wife and four adorable children (yes, you are bias, but that is besides the point). You have a comfortable home, in a middle-class neighborhood. You have two nice vehicles in your drive, and you make a average income at your average middle-class job that you actually enjoy. One Sunday you are sitting in church listening to the story of a missionary couple who has been living in Africa for 10 years and are back in the States to raise awareness to the importance of their work with orphans, most of whose parents died from AIDS. As they share pictures and stories of the devastation, all you can see is the eyes of the children staring back at you and in your heart you hear them crying out for someone to help them. The missionaries share that while they have rescued so many children, they cannot put a dent in the need. Why? Because they simply do not have the man power to expand their their outreach.
Tears run down your face, you look at your wife and see your tears reflected on her face and the look she gives you begs you to help her do something for these children. You look at your own young ones and cannot help but think about how you would feel if they were the ones alone and in such desperate need.
After the service you are one of the first in line to talk to the missionaries. You say, "My heart cries out for these children. I don't make a ton of money, but I will give all that I can to help? I will try to raise awareness, just tell me how. I want to help!" They look you in the eye, "Mr. Johnson, your money could help feed these children and that could save lives, raising awareness would be wonderful, we would appreciate your help with that! But one thing we beg for more then anything else, please pray with us for hearts to be stirred to go and serve. We have a great need for long term missionaries, and frankly, many people express how heart broken they are for these children, but few are willing to serve. Pray, with us that God will work mightily, even in the hearts of those here today, and that He will raise up families willing to serve."
You promise to pray and you mean it with all your heart. You go home burdened for these children, and for weeks and months you pray begging God to stir the hearts of a family to go and serve. One night at the dinner table you look at your wife, "I just cannot forget those children's eyes. The pain in them. I hope the Lord sends someone soon." Your wife turns from feeding the baby and looks deep into your eyes, "Why not us?" You do not grasp what she means for a few seconds and then it hits you. She means, why don't you and your family go to Africa? Your mind begins to whirl. How could you? You have a family to raise, to support, to educate. Besides, it wouldn't be safe there. It would be different. Your mind quickly thinks for twenty reasons why you couldn't. You try to voice some, but even to your own ears your voice sounds strained.
You toss and turn in your bed, you continue to pray that God will raise up a family to go. In fact, you pray harder then ever. And times slips by, months turn to years and the eyes that used to haunt you no longer do so much. You are living comfortably in your middle-class home, working the same middle-class job (though you don't enjoy it as much as you once did). Your children are in middle school and junior high, involved in sports, and thriving.
No, you never go. You still wake up some mornings with the question in your mind, "Why not? What about those children?" But you drown them out with excuses and reasons why you couldn't. After a while you no longer listen to the voice of the Lord nor walk daily with Him because You refuse to hear His voice. You have hardened your heart. You can't leave the comfort of what you know, what is normal, what is safe, even though you know the Lord is calling, you turn a deaf ear.
And then, one day, it's too late. Your life is nearly gone, and your strength is fading and you look back over your life. What do you see?
No, we may not all seek to gain the whole world, but how many of us seek to stay in our comfort zones. To live the comfortable lives we have always known, and are to afraid, to set in our ways, to fearful of what others would think, that we do not forsake all and follow the Master? You say that you love Him, that You will go where He leads, do what He asks, but will you? Will I?  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Degree Purpose

If you are a college student, then you have mostly likely encountered the following question from well meaning friends or relatives, "So what do you plan to do with your degree?" I like to rephrase that question. Instead of answering to what I will do with my degree, I would like to answer, "I like to think of my degree, not in terms of what I will do with it, but what it has done and is doing for me." At this point you will get puzzled looks, in fact you may have a puzzled expression on your face now. Let me explain.
I began the process of earning my degree through CollegePlus as an exercise in trust. I was scared by the phrase, "Credit by examination." I have always had to work hard to maintain a good grade. Studying and testing has never come easily for me. The idea of gaining my whole degree through distance learning was so daunting that I very seriously considered attended a brick and mortar college, because for some reason that option sounded far less frightening.
For reasons I may explain in another post, God really convicted me that leaving home and going several hours away to college was not a good choice for my spiritual growth, and that I needed to remain at home and involved in the lives of my family members and friends. For months I sat staring the option of starting CollegePlus in the face. "But Lord, I don't think I can do it. You know that testing isn't my strong point. I might fail…" The argument when round and round, and finally I remember the question that changed my life. "Katy, you have always told God that you would go where He led. How you would leave all behind and follow Him anywhere He asked you to go. What if He is not leading you to go anywhere? What if He is calling to serve here? What if He is asking you to trust Him in this journey of earning your degree? Will He be with you any less in passing exams than He would have been if He had called you to Africa? You said you would trust and follow Him anywhere, what if this is where He is leading you? Can you trust Him?"
That was the beginning of my journey to earning my degree. Since then there have been many faith stretching moments, many fears to overcome, and I know that there will be more as I continue forward. The question for me is not about what my degree will do for me, or how I will use it, it is, "How will God continue using this process to build character and ultimately draw me nearer to Him."
I have learned what it means to persevere. What it means to fail and try again. I have learned how to better manage my time and how to trust that He can help me overcome seemingly impossible odds. I made friends through CollegePlus who challenged the very core of everything I believed, causing me to seek the truth through His Word. Consequently I have grown by leaps and bounds spiritually. I could probably write a book on all that the Lord has taught me since I took that first step of faith and enrolled with CollegePlus.  The decision to begin CollgePlus really was a life altering decision.
For me college has never been about earning a degree that will give me better career opportunities, it has always been about trusting the Lord and following where He leads. The question is not always, "What will you do with your degree?" but rather sometimes it is, "What will your degree do for you and how will the Lord use it to grow you in ways that glorify Him?"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 34

“You shall fear the LORD your God, you shall serve Him and to Him you shall hold fast” (Deuteronomy 10:20).

What does it mean to fear the Lord? In this day in age you hear over and over that the Lord is a God of peace, a God of love. In many cases you get the impression that He is your buddy. He wants you to always be happy and He is there when you need Him. There is not a big emphasis on fearing the Lord, in fact it is a term that many do not fully grasp. I am not sure that I even do, though I am seeking to understand it more fully.

The Lord is a God of love. He is the originator of love. He is love in its deepest sense. He loves us unconditionally, yes, but this love is like the love of a Father. He chastens us, He shows us where we are wrong, lovingly correcting us and calling us to a higher way of life. He is a God of Love, but He is also a God of justice, His wrath can be awakened toward those who displease Him. He is not our “buddy” He is God. Creator of the universe, Savoir of the world, He is to be stood in awe of, worshiped, reverenced. These are a few things I have been learning about what it means to fear the Lord.

Not only are we to fear the Lord, we are also to serve Him and to hold fast to Him. Serving Him should be easy, but often times it isn’t. We are selfish and we want to go our own way. We have goals to meet, but how often are these goals our own and for our own gain? Do we serve for the Lord, or to gain the praise of others? Do we truly serve the Lord from hearts filled with unselfish motives? What does it mean to you to serve the Lord? What does it look like in your life.

In my life right now, serving the Lord is first following His commands and doing those things which He asks of us, like prayer and seeking to know His Word and hiding it in our hearts. Then it is serving those whom He has put in my life like family, friends, and even those at the grocery store or wherever that I come in contact with. Serving the Lord means doing things for His glory and not my own. This means heart checks on a daily basis. Why am I doing this? Is it to impress others, or is it to bring honor to the Lord? Often times serving the Lord means laying aside what I would like to do to do that which He would like for me to do, and honestly, I really struggle with that. It is something that I seek His strength in daily.

“And to hold fast to Him.” Why hold fast? Well, I’m sure there are lots of reasons, one being that if we do not hold fast to the Lord and His Word we will surly grow week and fall. We will get lost in the darkness of our sin, loaded down in guilt and shame. We will become distracted by worldly gain, by the promises that we will gain the praise of men. If we do not hold fast we will fall away until we no longer see what it is that He put us on this earth to accomplish and that would surely be heartbreaking.

I do not have it all together. There is so much I do not yet know, but I pray that the Lord will help me to remain faithful to reading and studying His Word and that daily He will help me to understand who it is He is calling me to be. I want to get to the end of this life and be able to say that I strove with all that was within me and by the grace of the Lord I served Him above all else. Above man, above wealth, and mostly, above self.

Monday, July 16, 2012


One of my favorite bloggers, recently posted this quote in her article "Guilty As Charged."
"In our sufferings, we need to be more concerned about our duty than our deliverance. We should seriously consider what it is that God desires in our present dispensation. There is no condition or trial in the world but we have the opportunity to exercise some special grace or duty. To desire deliverance alone is self-love and quite natural to man. In affliction man seeks to be delivered and released from his burden. Men make more haste to get their afflictions removed than to be sanctified in them...Let us search and try our ways, Let us consider that the present condition is best for us, and learn in whatever state we are, to be content (Phil. 4:11). Let us rejoice in tribulation (Rom. 5:3) Let us lift up Jesus Christ and make Him glorious by our afflictions. Paul studied more how to adorn the cross than how to avoid it. If he must suffer for Christ, O that Christ might not suffer by him! May Christ be exalted, and let us entrust our souls to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19)." Thomas Chase, Select Works, A Treatise of Afflictions, pp. 65-67

"Men make more haste to get their afflictions removed than to be sanctified in them..." How true this is. Recently in talking with a dear friend I was reminded of this very thing. How often have I wished for the trials in life to just be gone. How much easier it is to pray that God will set us free from our afflictions rather than to sanctify us through them. My friend has challenged me to not pray, "Lord, lift this burden," but instead to pray, "Lord, make me broken before You if in my brokenness I may be sanctified and You glorified." When you are in the midst of some hardship that is the last thing you wish to pray for from a selfish and human perspective isn't it? But when you look at life as means of glorifying the Lord, and if that means be sanctified through pain, then would you not pray it?
Not so man may see,
But that I may be
Fully surrendared to You
In everything You call me to do
Humbled and broken
That Your glory be spoken
In word in action for all to see
Lord, be glorified in me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


"Those of us who are single face a danger of becoming self-absorbed. Free from the constraints of family life, it is all too easy to become preoccupied with fulfilling our own social needs or consumed with our jobs or with making money. Now there's certainly nothing wrong with having friends or careers or making a living, but God is concerned about the heart motives of His children. Rather than devoting their lives to furthering the Kingdom of Christ, many Christian singles have been caught in the trap of self-seeking and self-fulfillment." ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Reading this was one of those "ouch" moments. It gave me food for thought and prayer. What are my heart motives and what are some things that I may need to change?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bolognese Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 c. water

1/2 c. uncooked rice (or orzo)

2 T. olive oil, divided

1/8 c. minced onions (or substitute with carrots)

6 bell peppers, stems and seeds removed (blanched)

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/4 lb. pancetta, or lightly smoked bacon diced

1 1/2 c. prepared marinara sauce

1/4 c. red wine, optional

1/2 t. red pepper flakes

1/3 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. grated parmesan, divided
Preheat over 375*. In saucepan bring water to boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender and fluffy. Set aside. Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add carrots and onions and cook, stirring, until tender. Add beef and pancetta and cook until browned and crumbled. Drain. Return to heat. Add marinara, wine, and red pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cream 1/2 of cheese and rice. Simmer 5 more minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stuff the peppers. Drizzle with remaining oil and top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Love the Bride, Love the Savior

"If you do not love the bride, you do not love the Savior." ~ Voddie Baucham

Time management is something I have always struggled with. Truth be told, it is probably something everyone struggles with to some extent. This morning I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Voddie Baucham and the line I quoted above really stood out to me. "If you do not love the bride (speaking Christ's bride, the church), you do not love the Savior. He spoke of how it isn't enough to just serve Christ in your little closet. You must also love the bride as He loves the bride. Your top priority is not only to serve Christ, but to see Him worshipped among the nations.

I personally want that to be my first priority, but sometimes in the midst of everything I loose sight of that top priority. Thinking of it in terms of if I don't "see Him worshipped among the nations" and show concern for His bride thenI do not love Him...that really changes the way I look at life. At what I want to do, versus that which I have to do.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about marriage. Having just seen my older brother marry and having friends preparing to make that same commitment, I have begun to look a marriage in a different light. I see it more and more as it was meant to be seen, as a reflection of Christ's love for His bride, the church. As that reflection, marriage is a union that calls both parties involved to become more selfless, to be more concerned about the needs of the other than about their own wants. Marriage is a reflection of Christ's love for His bride. He was selfless when He died on the cross to redeem us, so stands to reason that I, as His child, am also called to be selfless.

After all, you do not just get married and all of the sudden become selfless. Selflessness is something that must be nurtured throughout our lives. How does this apply to the topic at hand? Well, it means we are called to be selfless or Christlike. When we are Christ-centered we will want to be about our Father's business. We will desire to serve Him in every area of life, but we will not stop there. Our desire will also be to see Him made known to the nations and worshiped by all. Once this longing fills our heart, we should not let it get pushed aside for things that we may want to do, or even what others may want us to do. This is not a choice that is left to us. We are not to serve Christ only if we want to, and to see that He is worshipped among the nations if we want to. No, we are called to do this. It is something we have to do. If we do not do it, then we are walking in rebellion and sin.

The next time I am tempted to push aside the importance of loving Christ's bride, I pray I remember to keep my priorities straight. First, I do what I have to, and then when I have done that and as He provides I can do those things that I want to do. Those things that may be good, but are not best right here and right now. There is no joy in serving self, but there is unfathomable joy in serving our Savior and "singing" His praises to the nations so that they may join in the song and lift their voices in fervent worship to He, who alone, is worthy to be praised.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 33

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of all of them” (Psalm 34:19).

No one says life as a follower of God will be easy. Actually, the Bible says many times that the righteous will suffer, but our hope rests in the fact that the LORD will deliver us. He will be our strength. What a promise!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef

3/4 c. fresh bread crumbs

1/2 c. minced onion

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 t. ground black pepper

Combine and mix well. Pat into a 14x18 rectangle. Preheat oven to 350*.

3 c. shredded cheddar cheese (or pepper jack slices)

Spread cheese, leaving 3/4 inch border. Roll up. Press ends. Bake 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160*.


-Using the same meat mixture – pat into loaf pans and top with BBQ sauce. Bake at 350* for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

-You can add garlic (1 clove), fresh ground pepper (1/2 t.), and dried basil (1 t.).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Who's Kingdom Are You Building?

"We are kingdom-oriented people. We always live in the service of one of two kingdoms. We live in the service of the small, personal happiness agenda of the kingdom of self, or we live in service of the huge, origin-to-destiny agenda of the kingdom of God. When we live for the kingdom of self, our decisions, thoughts, plans, actions, and words are directed by personal desire. We know what we want, where we want it, why we want it, how we want it, when we want it, and who we would prefer to deliver it. Our relationships are shaped by an infrastructure of subtle expectations and silent demands. We know what we want from people and how to get it from them. We seek to surround ourselves with people who will serve our kingdom purposes, and we evaluate them not from the perspectives of the laws of God's kingdom but from the perspective of the laws of our kingdom."
~ Paul David Tripp What Did You Expect??
"The kingdom of self," those very words made me cringe as I read them. Sometimes it is the words of a wise friend and sometimes it is a passage from a book that causes you to face yourself head on and see a truth about who you are. In some cases you see your weakness but just choose not to give them the attention you ought. As I read Mr. Tripp's words I was forced to stop, to be still, and to listen to the truth that has been gently whispered to me over and over in more urgently the last few months. I say that I love the Lord, that I love others, but are my thoughts and actions really reflecting that?
Have you ever had thoughts about others that sounded something like this, "I love them, I'm there for them, I sacrifice for them, but they don't do anything for me"? "Whoa, wait a minute," you think. "Did I just think that?" Be honest, thoughts of pride and self-centeredness are a part of every life, but that does not excuse us. That does not give us the freedom to continue walking in sin.
We each must be equipped with the knowledge that we will struggle with the kingdom of self, because as children of God we know that we are called to build not our own individual kingdom's, but to build His. That our actions and words should be a reflection of the Father's love in us.
I was challenged to examine my relationships with family and friends, and even the casual passer by-er. What do my actions, words, heart attitudes towards others reflect? Myself or God? Am I surrounding myself with people who will serve to meet my agenda and build my own little self-centered kingdom? Or am I seeking to love as Christ loved, to serve as He served, to be self-less and filled with grace?
Each day we face choices. We can choose to do those things which make us feel good, big, and important, or we can choose to seek the Lord and His strength to do those things that will probably be harder and will require sacrifice at times but will also bring Him the most glory. We can live to build our own little kingdoms, or we can live to build His.
How do you love? Why do you serve? What are your heart motives? These are questions I continue to ask myself, and pray I never cease to ask myself. We are sinners by nature, but we are not bound by sin. Christ died to give us a better way. In Him, we can love and live more like He loves, more live He lived (in His time on earth). In Him we can die to self and live for our Maker. In Him we have hope.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

As For Today

We often mistakenly think that things are always going to be as they are now. We have difficulties imagining how the changing seasons of life will affect the habits of today. We wake up in the morning had have our hour plus long devotions and rarely treasure the time as we ought.
I don't know about you, but as a single young adult I often forget that this is just a season of life. Don't get me wrong, I pray that one day God will bring a special man into my life and that we will have a family of our own, but in those dreams I rarely quite grasp the reality that with becoming a wife and mother my focus will shift. What I "have time for" will change. We like to think that the older we become the more efficient we will be at time management and the more time we will have. Wrong. While we may develop better time management skills, we will have more responsibilities so the time we now imagine we will have then will seem laughable when we actually get there.
Someday you may have a family to feed a cloth and to lead in the ways of the Lord. You may have little feet pattering after you all day long, and little faces to wash and ouchies to kiss. You may find that quite hour quite elusive during certain seasons of life, especially if young children are in the picture. What am I trying to say? Treasure these moments. I know the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but it's going to get here faster than you think. When those moments come, treasure them too, but for today, treasure the longer devotion times, the sweet hours of prayer, and your ability to focus on God a little more whole-heartedly. And don't just treasure these times, seek them out. Make time, because if you don't now, you won't then. Waiting for a time when you aren't busy is like waiting for the day you will no longer need oxygen. It's not going to happen.
Each day is a gift. Let's live it in such a way that our thankfulness is reflected back to the Father. Let's not long for what we don't yet have, but thank the Lord for what we do have. What are some other things that you take for granted?  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Strength in Weakness

Within each of us is the desire to stand strong, to be the one that others come running to for a comforting hug in hard times, or for a prayer when they feel discouraged and weakened. Each of us longs to be a "hero." Only our perception of what a hero is can become quite skewed. We want to be this strong and courageous person who never falters, who doesn't show weakness, who is always faithful. The thing is, we all falter, we all fall because we are all broken people, sinners saved by grace.

God does not call us to be macho. He calls us to be broken. It is in our brokenness and in our weakness that He is made strong. We don't have to hide our brokenness, we don't have to pretend be who we are not, perfect. Oftentimes it is our very brokenness and our willingness to let that brokenness show which encourages others. No, this is not an excuse for us to whine and complain, this is just to encourage you to examine your motives for hiding the things that God is using to refine you just so that you appear strong in the eyes of others.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 32

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks or water, of fountains and springs that flow out of valleys and hills" (Deuteronomy 8:7)

The children of Isreal had just been in the wilderness, chastened by God. Sometimes we find ourselves going through dry times. We sinned and were "exiled" to the wilderness of consequences. We are alone in and unfamiliar land. We are famished and in need of the Lord, we thirst and nothing short of His living water will quench our thirst. God reminds us that we cannot live happily on the "bread" of the world. We need the bread of the Lord, His Word.

The verse above paints a beautiful picture of a place where God led the children of Isreal to after their time in the dessert. It reminds me of those places of joy, where our thirst is quentched, and Jesus is as near as He ever will be this side of heaven. A place where through His Word and prayer we can bask in His presence, eat of His bread, drink from His streams and have our every need met. A place He has called all of us to if only we will listen and follow the sound of His voice.

"Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God...when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

In the good times when all is well, we so often forget the Lord, and how He led us out of bondage and the dryness of the wilderness of our sin. Before we know it we have slipped from our beautiful valley back into a desert of sorts, weakened so that we do not stand firm in obeying the commandments of our Lord. Here is a warning. Don't let us forget it...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Give Me Jesus

This last week I have found myself sitting still and silent many times. For those of you who know me, maybe this doesn't surprise you. Maybe you have pictured me as doing this on a regular basis, but this hasn't been a normal "thinking session." My thoughts have been deep and about many things that God has been using to grow and shape me lately. Sometimes I have been overwhelmed by it all, but more and more these last few days I have been overwhelmed by Him. By who He is and what He does and has done. I know who I am, and I know what I have done, and yet despite that, He still loves me. He died for me.
There are a lot of things I hope and pray for my future, but more than anything I pray that I honor and glorify Him in all that I do. All that I  treasure in this world will be as nothing if I do not have my Jesus.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What'cha Putting In?

Today a friend and I were discussing movies. My friend was telling me about this movie that she planned to go see. I had never heard of the movie, so she began to describe it to me. After she had finished I asked her, "So why are you going to see this movie again?" This led to a discussion about how what we feed our minds and hearts on will be reflected in our lives. If your desire is to live life right (righteous, holy, with all purity) then consider those things that are influencing how you think. It matters. God calls us to live by higher standards. Are you willing to take the road less traveled?

An excellent article Think Right To Live Right...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 31

"I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure" (Psalm 119:162).

Reading those words was something of a slap in the face. I was paging through my past and currant prayer/Bible study notebooks and found that I had begun to take this "great treasure" for granted. Here is what I wrote:

"When did I stop journaling my thoughts on Scripture? When did I stop recording what God was speaking to my heart? When did I stop recording His goodness to me? When did I fail to record prayers? When did I stop memorizing scripture on a daily basis? When did my very prayers go back to nothing but whispered pleas and nothing more? When did all of this happen and why did I not see that something precious was slipping away."

Here I am on day 31 of my challenge and I have just realized that though I was reading the Lord's Word on a daily basis, and even spending some time in prayer I had lost sight of having a relationship with the Lord. At least to a point. I started this challenge because I realized I was "slipping" and I have been learning so much since then, but still things have been more impersonal than I realized.

I want to wake up each morning rejoicing that I have the privilege to read the Word of God. I want to treasure every minute in His Word, to record His goodness, to thank Him daily, to hide His Word within my heart continually, and for my prayers to be so much more than hurried requests. I want God to be my all, my everything. My first thought each morning and my last every night as I fall to sleep.  As I move forward to day 32 my prayer is that I will fall more and more and love until I cannot not give Him my all every single day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 30

"You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your Word."
~ Psalm 119:127

Over and over the psalmist talks about how being in the Word, living by God's commands is what keeps him safe from his enemies, what gives him hope. Is the LORD and His Word my safe place? My "run to" when troubles come my way? Do I hide within His Word? Does it dwell within my heart? Is it written so firmly there that when fear tries to demolish my trust it comes to my aid as easily as a second breath?
The Lord is my hiding place, my shield. But is my hope continually in His Word? Unfortunately I know this is not always the case. When things come my way and threaten to steal my joy and peace in Him, often times I turn to the wisdom of men and only after that fails to I turn to the true Source of strength. Why is this?
I could go into a long and in-depth post about all that is involved, but let's just cut to the main and more simple truth. Those whom you spend the most time with are those whom you turn to first in troubled times. This could be friends or family or, I hope and pray, the Lord. So in the case of not turning to the Lord's Word first it seems highly probable that I do not do so because I do not spend enough time in His Word. I read it yes, but am I meditating upon it? Am I memorizing it and writing it in the very depths of my heart? Quite simply, not as I ought. What about you?
I think we each know the truth, that which lies behind our own reasons for turning to man before turning to the Lord. The question of the day is, what do we intend to do about it?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Perfect Way

"And as for God, His way is perfect" (2 Samuel 22:31).

This morning I woke up praying, "Lord, make Your Word come alive to me this morning. I don't want to just read through the pages and not find within them some treasure, some special words to take away with me and carry in my heart all day to strengthen and encourage me. Lord, I never want reading Your Word to be an empty habit. Give me wisdom and show me who You are. Be near, Father, be near..."

And so I dug into the Word search carefully for the treasure I sought. That is when I came across this verse. "And as for God, His way is perfect."

His way is not just good, it is perfect. Today when doubts come and I wonder why things are happening as they are. When I'm struggling within my heart, I will remember these words. I do not know where the Lord is taking me, but I want to always trust His leading.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

As the new year begins here is a thought:

What good is a life lived in comfort, safety, and ease if one day you die? What will you have to show for your days? You had fun but in the end it was empty. Life was easy but did it amount to anything? You were safe but you still died. You were comfortable but what about when you stand before God on judgement day? What does any of this matter when your life on earth is over?

What treasures are you planning to lay up this year? Ones that will fade away, or ones that will count on that day? (Matthew 6:19)

Lots of people are making lists of resolutions as this new year begins. Seriously, how many will keep those resolutions for the entire new year? As I was thinking about this I decided there was only one thing that I desired to be more faithful in this year that really mattered. More prayer. My one and one prayer for this year is that God will help me to be more faithful in prayer. I like to think of it as a prayer, not a resolution. Perhaps to you it sounds the same, but to me the word prayer says that I know I cannot do anything on my own puts the focus back where it belongs. On Him who gave His all for us that we might live.

May His joy fill your heart and may His strength be your resting place in the year 2012!