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Transformation – 2017

It’s that time of year. A new beginning. A clean slate.  Of course, this is also the part of the year that I make a list of resolutions.

December fifteenth I wrote my list or should I say lists.  The first, was a goal chart of five things I wanted to accomplish like reading two books a month.  The second list had to with my character.  What did I want to see changed such as embracing imperfection, and letting go of fear. I prayed over the lists.

Since I am an over achiever I started a little early and began to read a book entitled Journaling with Jesus – How to revolutionize your relationship with Jesus. By Laurie Snyman.

I figured I would work on two items at one time; my spiritual growth and writing skills.  But what I didn’t expect was the golden nugget that I found.  Ms. Snyman states,

“You could suffer the discomfort of changing or suffer the results of continuing the way you are.  God wants to transform you…God will ask you to submit to His will.  You will need to endure it if you were to become transformed.”  (Snyman kindle edition loc. 313)

The nugget?  Transform.  There is so much packed into this little quote but this is what stuck out.

  1. Change will be uncomfortable
  2. God wants to transform me
  3. I will need to submit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (NASB)

Everything I have written down for the coming year all comes down to “Transformation”.  The cool thing, is I can’t do it. It’s why I fail every year because I try to do it in my own strength.  I don’t do the work, I can’t, but God can.

My part is to seek out a deeper relationship with the One who can do the work in me.  My Relationship with God involves four things; read the word, pray, and obedience.  These are the basics but there is one more, solitude.  Why solitude?  I can be still and listen more intently when I take the time away from the busyness of life.

Jesus, in Luke 5:16, took time often to go to a secluded place to pray.  The key word is often.  The way I understand it Jesus had His “quiet time” with the Father every day; however, there seems to be times that perhaps He needed a more intimate and focused time away from everything.

So back to my lists.  I’ve decided to go with a word for the year instead of solely working the lists.  Transformation.  It’s good to have goals to work towards, but we can get into trouble when we hold too tightly to them and that stifles God work.

I know that this coming year will have its ups and downs.  I also know that God is already in December 31, 2017 and has a wonderful plan for me.  He is in control and He will do whatever it takes to have His plans accomplished.

I’m excited, yet nervous at the same time.  I don’t like the unknowns but there is peace knowing that He knows and that He has the power to transform me to His Son, Jesus’, likeness.  This transformation may not be what I envision,  but it will be the best transformation ever.  Most importantly it will reflect the glory of Him who did the work.

 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

Our Finest Gifts

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is here again, and it’s even harder to believe how little I’ve written this year.  Both were brought to mind when I heard “The Little Drummer Boy” playing on the radio the other day.

 

The first brings cheerful thoughts, lights, food, family and of course the music.

 

The second makes me cringe just a little.

 

God has given each of spiritual gifts and talents to use for His purpose, honor and glory.

 

For several months I haven’t been doing what He has called me to do.  Some of it has to do with fear, doubt and perhaps a loss of joy in it.  But as the little drummer boy he gave his best to the king in the manger, I should be a steward with what He have given me

 

I also realized that perhaps I have relied on my own ideas of how to use them and not taken into account that yes there has been disobedience but there has also been obedience. Once a month I send an e-mail out to a group of ladies to encourage them in their walk as well as those who are in my Bible study group.

 

For me the the little drummer boy song reminded me of the gifts, talents, and skills the Lord has given me. My job is to be obedient in using them for His honor and glory.  By doing so in essence I am laying them at His feet, giving them back to Him as a gift of appreciation.

 

It doesn’t matter how big or small they are. The question that needs to be asked is “Are we obeying the Gift giver by using them for Him?

 

My middle daughter Emily has a talent for photography.  Last year was frustrating for her. She got passed over for award after award to fellow students who were at a lower level.

 

I asked her “Would you prefer all the medals and trophies the world could offer or would you rather hear ‘Well done my good and faithful servant. You have used the talent I have given you for My purposes and honor.’ ?”

 

This year she won top in show, and her picture is hanging at a museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.  What was the picture of?  My sister’s funeral.  The caption expressed sadness, but that it was a celebration of life.  Individuals who read it may ask how can death be a celebration? A seed may have been planted that will cause them to seek God.

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When we’re obedient – we’ll also be held accountable – in using what He’s given us, He’ll in turn use it in ways we never knew could imagine.

 

Are you using the gifts and talents God has given you?

 

Just as the little drummer boy gave all he had, give God your “Finest gift”. Don’t neglect them no matter how unimportant or insignificant you think they are.  Rely on Him to give you competence to use them so that He will receive the honor and glory.

 

If you’re not His child you can give your finest gift, your heart.  No matter what you’ve done, or what you think can and cannot offer Him, give Him yourself.  There’s nothing more He would love this Christmas than to adopt you as one of His own.  (See the tab “Invitation” at the top of the page)

 

Matthew 2:1-12; Matthew 25:14-27; Luke 21:1-4

Have a Merry Christmas and Wonderful New Year

I’ve always been overwhelmed by the fact that God chose to be one of us, and to give up everything to become a helpless baby, to be laid in an animal feeding trough.

As I write this I’m preparing to go shopping for the perfect gifts for family and friends.  Sometimes those gifts are things the individual needs, more times then not they are things the individual wants.  As I get older, the less I want and the more I desire to give.  But it can be stressful, trying to find the “perfect” gift.

Christmas, though, is the day we celebrate the fact that God gave the perfect gift to the world.  The baby born so long ago filled both the world’s needs and wants (whether it realizes it or not).

We are all sinners.  Of course not all of us have killed, but who reading this has never lied, said a cross word, worried, or stole a cookie?  It’s all sin.  Like Paul, there are I times that I can say “I’m the chief of sinners.”

The worst part of sin is not that it hurts others – which it does – but that it separates us from the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.  The consequence for sin is death not only physically, but spiritually.  It’s why the sacrificial system was put in place.  A lamb without any defect, including spots, was sacrificed to pay for all the wrong doing.

I’m no more perfect than you.  I need, you need and the world needs a Savior.  That little baby more than two thousand years ago was that Savior.  He came, lived, and taught others how to live, but that wasn’t His purpose.

His purpose was to be that perfect sacrifice, without sin or defect.  He left the riches of heaven to die a cruel death to satisfy the requirement of His Father.  The good news is He didn’t stay dead. He rose from the grave three days later.  If He hadn’t all that He accomplished on the cross was for nothing.  If there could be any other way, His death would mean absolutely nothing.

His coming that Christmas morning also provided for our wants.  Many times we think if I could just have more money, a nicer house, perfect children, perfect spouse or perfect job, life would be satisfying.  However, when we get more or have the perfect family or job, we find it’s not enough.  Why?  Because when we were created there was this void built in us that can never be satisfied unless it’s filled with Him.

He created us for a relationship with Himself.  Too simple?  Yes, but also the hardest concept to accept especially in a culture that thrives on the mentallity of “dependence on self.”

As the story reveals the wise men sought God out, found Him and presented Him with the best they had.  Unfortunately, our best isn’t good enough.  It never will be, but Christ gave His best and that is enough.

How about you?  Have you ever genuinely chosen to seek Him?  Are you a skeptic and have you snubbed the whole idea of this whole Savior thing?  I challenge you, seek Him and the truth with an open heart and mind.  Ask Him to show you the truth.

If you are willing, open the Invitation Tab above.  It may be the answer you’re looking for or it could be your starting place.  There is the perfect gift waiting for you, but you have to accept it.  It won’t be yours any other way.

 

Adultery?!

Proverbs can be a hard book for me to read in a couple ways. First, there doesn’t seem to me to be a flow.  In one chapter you can jump around in various themes.  For example, in one verse you read about the tongue, in the next money, the next laziness, and then back to the tongue. Second, sometimes it’s hard to see how a concept applies to me.

 

The latter made an impact with me recently.  In this book of wisdom, the author talks in several places about the adulterer and their ways.  Being a married woman I have never gone after someone other than my husband.  I also know like everyone else, I am susceptible to it if I am not using wisdom and discernment.

 

I went on a walk one morning and prayed.  I proceeded to tell God I have no idea how to apply chapter 5 of Proverbs to my life. Be careful what you say to God.  The Spirit spoke to my heart. “How about the idols in your life?”

 

The Old Testament is full of stories about Israel exchanging God for idols.  I’ve even mentioned it in past blogs.

 

He continued, “Lately you have consistently chosen things before Me.  You have committed adultery by running to them as if they will fix things, bring satisfaction or fill a void.  Sometimes you to go to them out of habit, and other times you make a deliberate choice.  Yet in the end the situation isn’t better or changing, and you still feel empty, just like one who is cheating on the spouse.  It satisfies in the short term but in the long run, it causes strife within you and it comes out to affect others.”

 

I realized that the things of this world can and will seduce me away from the God who loves me unconditionally, who seeks my best always, who stands by my side through struggles and heartaches. The best part is He is ready to fight for me.

 

God has a plan for me.  He desires a relationship with me that is like no other.  When I run to the arms of the world and all it offers in the way of stress relief, problem solving, comfort, peace, joy, love and the list can go on, instead of turning to God, I am committing spiritual adultery.

 

Some may say that’s far-fetched.  Is it?  I am considered the bride of Christ (Revelations 19:7) along with all those who belong to the “church body”.  If Scripture is correct and I believe it is, when I put God where He belongs at the center of my life, I’m faithful, when I don’t I’m not.

 

It’s not easy to hear.  When I realized this, it became depressing to think about.  But praise the Lord, there is reconciliation when I confess what I have done, and acknowledge it as sin.  Then turn from it and return to my first love. (Revelation 2:4-5).  Like the prophet Hosea reconciled with his prostitute wife, God will be reconciled to me and that reconnection is unlike anything else in the world.

 

“Adulteress!  Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.”

James 4:4 (HCSB)

The church is not the block and mortar building standing on the street corner.  The church is the people.  It broke my heart when I read of an individual who lost a family member in another state and received no support from the church.  The individual felt that the church was becoming cold.  Others echoed the same sentiment.

 

Tears came to my eyes.  Now I don’t know the full story, but this is how the person was feeling.  I thought about the church I attend.  It’s not perfect, however when it comes to love and support they give it.  My first thought was where was their Sunday school or friends.  Then It turned into – was this person even connected.

 

My husband attended a teachers meeting the other week.  They told of two stories.  The first was a believer who entered the hospital suddenly and died.  When the pastor arrived there were three others from the congregation there.  The second, and individual passed and the church didn’t find out about it until months later.

 

These two individuals attended the same church.  Yet there were two drastically different responses.  When the staff researched, what they found was one was connected and involved, the other just came for services.

 

The support was two sided.  The first individual made it a point to be involved.  They attended a small group, may even was involved with a ministry.   The other didn’t.

 

I have had three family members die within the past ten years.  We have received cards from the deacons and pastoral staff, cards from the other members of the church body.  It was surprising to me how many showed up for the memorial services because these family members did not attend the church with us.

 

A friend of ours just had a celebration of life party.  She has cancer and stopped treatment.  More than two hundred showed up for the last minute potluck dinner, to pray for her.  she and her husband are greeters.  Every time there is an opportunity to serve they are at the doors.

 

I can’t tell you how surprised I was when the chapel at church was packed to overflowing at my sister’s memorial service.  People, I wasn’t expecting to see there, walked in for me and my family.

 

In order for the church to function and support as they should, each member must do their job.  Especially in a big congregation.  We aren’t gathering just to Connect with God.  At my home church we go by the C4 principle

 

C1 –  Connect to God – through teaching of the Word – service

C2 – Connect to Others – being involved in a small group Sunday School

C3 – Connect to Ministry – serving the body of believers outside of the SS

C4 –  Connect to the world – Missions – going (locally, worldwide) or                                                        supporting via financial

 

Are you connected?  Are you involved with a Sunday School?  If not, try a few out and attend the one that you can be encouragement to others as well as be encouraged.  If you aren’t finding something to get involved in – dare I say it – find a church that you can or better yet, ask your Pastoral staff to start a ministry using the talents God has given you.  My pastor has said, people have met with him and mentioned a ministry the church should have and he tells them great idea why don’t you head it up.  They need you just as much as you need them.

 

“and let us consider how to stimulate on another to love and good ; , not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB)

 

 

Tithing of Our Time

Tithing is a biblical principle of bringing God the first fruits, the best of labors. One of the ladies in my Bible study group mentioned about tithing our time as a way of making sure God is our priority.

 

Although, “tithing of our time” is not an actually in the Bible, being stewards of the things He has given us is.  I think it’s safe to say that God has given us time.  In my case, sixteen waking hours.

 

I was excited about the concept and was challenged to try it.  How many hours does our culture spend on Facebook, watching a marathon of our favorite shows, reading book after book of our favorite series or, genre? Yet when it comes spending time with God we do a quick ten minutes because it’s what good Christians do.

 

Ten percent for me is approximately two hours of my day.  At first I thought “Whoa, that’s a lot”; however, I can sit for three hours reading a great mystery book.  I can spend two hours watching my shows and then I complain I don’t have time for the things God has for me to do.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, the mystery books are okay, TV is okay even Facebook is okay, but when it’s stopping me from God and what He has for me, then it becomes a problem.

 

I don’t necessarily have a schedule that allows two hours straight.  But a half hour here, fifteen minutes here and there and another half hour later, I have accomplished two hours focusing on God and what He has for me.

 

It’s being intentional and giving God the priority throughout the day not just when we have devotional times.

 

Let me show you some things I’m starting to do to make God the priority though out my day:

  • When I walk in the morning this is the time I have started using to pray. Evening walk now are times of praise and worship through music
  • Instead of watching my favorite show, I’m choosing to watch instructional video’s to improve my writing skill. Or writing more on what God is teaching me.
  • I also now keep a book like When the Enemy Strikes by Charles Stanley in the car so I can read while I wait for my children to get out of school.
  • I also leave out one or two devotionals so that during the day, I take fifteen minutes to read and mediate.

 

These are just a few of the adjustments I’m making.  I’m busy with my children, chores etc.  But just making these little changes help me keep focus on who I am in Christ and what He has called me to do.

 

However, It’s more than just reading and praying, but giving God our best in everything including ministry, and fellowship.  Do you have a ministry you are involved with?  If not, pray about it.  There is nothing like serving the Lord and others to keep our focus on Him.  I‘m scheduling coffee dates with other woman so I can encourage and fellowship more.

 

Some may say, “You’re a stay – at- homer you have all the time in the world. I work 40 to 50 hours a week.”  How do you use your lunch breaks?  Maybe take a prayer walk, read a devotional, or take time to encourage a co-worker.  We all have twenty-four hours in a day.  It not about quantity but quality.

 

I have been following this principle for a week and I have been amazed at how God has used it.  There has been peace, even energy during the hardest parts of the day (afternoons).  I have also been “responding” rather than “reacting”.  I missed one day I could tell there was a difference.

 

Warning:  There is a risk that the “tithe” becomes a ritual or legalistic. I will not become a slave to the clock.  The heart and motives are important too.  It’s all about the relationship.

 

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk-not as unwise people but as wise- making the most of the time, because the days are evil.  So don’t be foolish, but                                                    understand what the Lord’s will is.                                                                                                                                   Ephesians 5:15-17 (HCSB)

Indulging in God

Recently I was asked to write a 150-word blurb for my church’s Moms at Heart Newsletter on the topic of “How do we trust God, when life doesn’t make sense?”

 

I laughed.  My life doesn’t make sense. How am I to write about a topic when I don’t have the answers for my own life?

 

God impressed on my heart, “You’ve been indulging, in me and there is peace even though you don’t have the all answers.”

 

Of course He was right.  When is God ever wrong?

 

I’ve been indulging in Him a lot lately.  Some synonyms for indulge are savor, marinate, and enjoy to excess.  It’s hard to picture savoring God, or marinating in His presence.  However, that is what I’ve been learning to do.

 

I’ll give one word to describe it: chocolate.  Whoa God is like chocolate?  Well, no that would be absurd, but how we experience Him can be.

 

To say that I love chocolate is an understatement.  Unfortunately, because I like it so much, I have a tendency to scarf it down without enjoying it.  My weight can attest to it.  This is how I can act when it comes to God.

 

I get up, spend time reading, answering my study questions and then immediately start my day without any time to let it soak in.  It’s almost as if I am saying, “I’ve done my obligation; now on with my day.”  Sure I pray before starting, and the Lord shows me things, but is it really soaking in?

 

Since I didn’t really understand what savoring meant, I took a piece of chocolate from my husband’s stash, sat down and let it melt in my mouth.  I was totally surprised.  Taking the time to indulge, I tasted it, felt the texture and it was satisfying.  I didn’t need another.

 

Last year I posted about soul care – taking time every so often to go to a place without distractions to pray and listen.

 

Over the past several weeks, it has been almost an everyday occurrence.  I haven’t been on my knees just for my life, but also for my family and friends as well.  I read, pray and most importantly listen (being literally still, waiting and not speaking until the Lord directs).

 

Have the answers come? I’m seeing God work.

 

Indulging in Him also means being intentional.  I have to make the time; it’s not going to suddenly happen.  I’m trying to be deliberate every day.

 

Warning:  If we aren’t careful, even this purposeful time is in danger of becoming ritual.  The Christian life is about a relationship with the One who created us, not the “works” or rituals that we do.

 

Are there situations in your life not making sense, not “fair” or just plain anxiety – filled?  Take some time to indulge in the Lord. I can’t guarantee your situation will immediately change.  Some of the answers I’ve seen have taken months, but what I can promise is peace.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

 Matthew 11:28-29 (NASB)

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