July 8, 2012

A Passion To Serve

Passion to serve God, passion to serve others...passion! God told us that to be a leader and a teacher, we first have to be a servant and a student. The way we receive blessings is through the gift of giving. That is not to say we should serve with the sole purpose to receive blessings of our own...for that would be an intended motive that is impure. We serve because it is in our hearts, because it pleases God, and because we want to have a heart that can break for others. We want to be driven to compassion and strive to let the Lord shine through us and our cracks. God does not choose whole and perfect people to serve Him. Only through those people who are cracked and broken can He let His light and image shine through. I am not afraid or ashamed to say that I am a very, very broken person with many cracks. I am proud, because that means the Lord can use me so profoundly and greatly!

"Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry."  (Exodus 22:22-23)

"If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest." (Exodus 22:25)

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

When we put God's priorities first, the blessings will come. Awareness leads to prayer: prayer leads to action: and that action leads to changing our priorities. Let's share our time, treasures and talents with as many of God's children as we can...only through serving and giving can we continue to grow and be used for the greater good to proclaim our Father's Glorious Name!

July 1, 2012

Holding Grudges...Hurting Hearts

Too often in life, we run into people who just cannot seem to forgive, forget, let go, or let live. Sometimes it is us who hold onto something far longer than we even realize. When we want to be a part of someone's life so desperately, yet they are holding some type or hardened heart towards us for something that could have been long ago in the past...it hurts. We want them to know God like we do, we want them to learn how God feels about forgiveness and loving each other, we want them to know that judgment and consequences are not their to dish out. But no matter how we wish, pray, and hope some people just do not seem to have any desire to know God, be a part of our lives, or be witness to learning about the way our Lord commands us to live. It is at that point that we may continue to try, wish, pray, and hope for that person or persons to see the light, to open their minds and hearts...but at the same time, we realize that it is only in their own time and by their own doing that they will seek out the Lord, His Word, and the mercy to let poison out of their hearts so that they may be set free. Only then can they see Christ's love as it is supposed to be, and right any wrongs with casting us out of their lives or harboring resentment towards us. So we continue to pray blessings upon them that they purify their hearts, trust in the Lord, and ask for their ways to be made right. But in the meantime, we must take a close look at ourselves and rid our hearts of any hurt, resentment, or judgment based on their grudge towards us. To free ourselves of this is to be free in Christ. Only He can right wrongs, and only He can bring people together in God's prepared time. Keep your hearts light....

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."  (Leviticus 19:18 ESV)

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."  (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"  (Romans 2:1-4 ESV) 

June 27, 2012

We Are So Small...But The Lord Is Infinite!

When I wake up in the morning, and the first thing I do before my feet hit the floor is say, "I thank you for this day Lord and all that it brings. Please lead me in Your ways and have me do Your will. I am Yours." I say this every morning. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I always feel I need to take on the world and accomplish so much and sometimes I forget to step back and remember how very tiny and breakable I really am. And that our life is not about being busy or having a lot of accomplishments, but in praising God for every moment, every breath, every opportunity, and every trial in our lives. Because through those things, He is shaping who He has designed us to become.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord … ”(Psalm 37:23) A step is one day in our lives. God has each day of our life perfectly planned out for us to the day that we depart from this life. We are on the yellow brick road with the yellow color now being the light of God Himself. Our job is to now live each day to its fullest, always trying to do the best at whatever God will be calling us to do for Him on that particular day. If we can learn how to keep this kind of mindset, we will be less likely to throw pity parties when things do not go the way we think they should.

It is God’s job to fully guide and direct our steps in this life. And all of this is given to us free of charge. We need to let go and let God. This is why the Bible tells us that we can now cast all of our burdens and cares upon the Lord – because it is now His job to take full and complete care of all of us from the moment we fully surrender everything over to Him. It is not our responsibility to direct our own steps in this life, this responsibility belongs to God and God alone! Otherwise we will drive ourselves crazy with all of the nervous energy that will start to eat at us and rob us of our peace and joy that we have in the Lord.

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass … Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:4,7)

June 25, 2012

His Arms Are Always Open...

We are human, we are imperfect, we make mistakes, we sin, and we regret. But through all of that which we continue to do over, and over, and over...God's arms are always the same. They are wide open, waiting for our return, and yearning to hold us close. Sometimes we can be stubborn and rebel, sometimes we feel unworthy, and sometimes we just plain lose hope. There is one being who NEVER is stubborn, NEVER rebels, NEVER feels unworthy, and NEVER loses hope. Would that not be the most wonderful one to follow? One who makes no mistakes, acts only out of love, and always forgives. Can we say that about any human? No, we cannot. So why do we follow humans, why do we try to fit in so desperately, and why do we care what other humans think of us and our ways?

It is part of our imperfect nature that we must struggle against every single day, in everything that we do. There is only one place we can go where we know that there are never mistakes made, we will be forgiven no matter how we falter, we are beautiful and perfect just as we are, and where we are loved unconditionally. That is only in God's loving arms...and in the shelter of His heart. Christ died for us...because the Lord loves us, feels we are worthy, and wants our praise. We owe all to Him, for without Him...nothing is possible. We simply need to open our arms...and ask Him to wrap us up in His.

June 14, 2012

Insecurity Poisons Our Faith

We all have experienced it, and none of us like it. Some of us are more predetermined than others to fall victim to this emotion and trick of the devil than others. Some of us try to change, but it rears its ugly head time after time. How can we get rid of insecurity and jealousy in life? There is insecurity in our careers, in our relationships, in our families, in our faith, and in our view of our physical and emotional selves. This poisons our hearts, minds...and yes, our faith. When we allow this human emotion to overtake us, it can often result in damaging consequences. Poor thoughts of ourselves, arguments and unnecessary worry in relationships, poor self-esteem and self-image, and it can cause us to withdraw and pull ourselves into a shell of worry, fear, and hurt...and away fromt he Lord.

So what does the Bible say about insecurity? Let's take a look at three profound scriptures that bring peace to our heart, calmness to our thoughts, and strength to our faith:

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18 ESV)

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away..."  (1 Corinthians 13:4-13 ESV)

You see, we are not meant to bear the burden and weight of these thoughts and worries. We are supposed to cast these on the Lord, because his strength and tolerance is limitless, as is His perfection. When we choose to listen to the lies, thoughts, and insecurities that cross our minds (and sometimes set up deep camp there, in my case), we take trust away from God. We consume ourselves with things that damage our being and cause us turmoil. But to God, these are like mere mosquitos he gently slaps away. He does not want us to carry them, but instead open our arms and give them all to Him so that he may take them away and replace our mind and heart with peace, security, and mercy.

It can be very hard to change our natural instinct and let the emotions fly free up to the heavens. It is in our nature to hold on to them, try to fix them, stew on them, and often make them into so much more than they ever are. This is dangerous, hurtful, and scary. So it may be a constant struggle, but we must learn to give them to the only One who can absolve these false feelings and thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts of hope, love, wholeness, and deep faith. Give it all to Him!

June 7, 2012

Who Does God Choose?

Does God choose those that are intelligent, powerful, and perfect-minded to lead and build His Kingdom? Actually, no. That is a worldly way of thinking. Put the smartest person in charge of a company...put the most powerful person in charge of our government, put the most honorable and non-sinful person in charge of our ministries and counselors. But this is not God's way, it is man's way.

God chooses broken-hearted, powerless, and foolish people to lead the way to build His Kingdom. Do you remember the 12 disciples that Jesus chose? Or rather, that God chose? Jesus went up on a mountain the night before and prayed to his Heavenly Father, his Abba, to lead him in the choices and show him who he was to choose. God did so. Now, when God showed Jesus who to choose, do you think he might have said, "Father, I know you are perfect and all-knowing, and you have a great sense of humor, but....uh, are  you SURE these are the ones you want?" Because God did not move Jesus to choose the most obvious men for this...He chose the broken, powerless, and foolish ones. It is a huge lesson in humility. Let's take a look at some of his choices:

Thomas - "The doubter"
Simon - "The zealot"
The 3 Fisherman
Matthew - "The tax collector"
Judas - "The traitor"

These are just some of the disciples, but they paint a pretty good picture of the less than stellar men that were chosen to help lead and build up God's Kingdom. Now why on earth would our Lord choose these type of people? It just doesn't make sense! But actually, it makes perfect sense.


Simple as that. When we see the most down and out person conquer something, we admire that. When we see someone with no one and nothing left in the world come back to be a person of strong bonds and living a life of kindness and service, we believe. If we saw things through the "perfect" ones who have everything together and are already seen as higher up...we would not see it as anything unusual or unexpected, and therefore would have no cause to believe. But when the most broken of pots is used to rise up and be glorious and show God and His love to the world...we take notice, our faith grows, and we believe. So take heart when you see the homeless, the victims, the wounded, the children, the poverty stricken...do not pass by. Take a good, hard look. The Lord is using each of those for a profound, important purpose...just as He is using you! Follow Him...and you will shine!

"Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God."  (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT)

June 5, 2012

Get Back On Track!

That may feel like the hardest thing to do sometimes. Life is so busy, things need to be taken care of, there are only so many hours in the day, and lets face it...some things are just a lot more fun than staying on track. But then that brings some very important questions to mind:

Would we have the opportunity for a busy life without God's provisions and forgiveness? When Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for mankind, he did so willingly and with a love no human can comprehend. But he did not do it so we could just take it and run with it, and not devote our lives to thankfulness, grace, and mercy.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  (1 Corinthians 10:31)   

If we cannot take time out of each and every day to be thankful for each breath we take, each blessing we have been given, and each new day we live that we don't deserve...Jesus' and the Lord's sacrifice will be in vain. Just typing that brought chills to me. A slap in the face to Jesus and the Almighty Father. Could you look yourself in the mirror after that? I am human, as we all are. I fall short in so many areas, I lose sight of the important things, I get off track and struggle to get back after too much time has already passed. And yet no matter the mistakes we make, no matter how many times we fall off track...we are still forgiven, we are still unconditionally loved, and we are still welcomed back with open arms.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  (1 John 1:9)      

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

Can any mere human compare to that depth of love, forgiveness, and mercy? It is only through Our Father that we can get back on track, move forward better than before, and gain the love, strength, and grace that will keep our hearts pure. If you have fallen off track as I have, take heart...God is still there, waiting with open arms...and eager for your return!