Saturday, August 8, 2015

Could YOU give a monthly report?

As a church, we support many missionaries around the world.  And as a general rule, because we send them monthly support, these missionaries will send us an update on their ministries.

Some send a letter every quarter.  Some every other month.  Most send a letter every month.

What if we were required, as stewards of all God has charged to our keeping, to send a monthly "update" to the Lord God Almighty?  Could we send a letter filled with how we have seen Him at work in our lives?  Or how we have faithfully served Him this month?  What about our rejoicing over answered prayer?

Or what if, as a requirement to be part of a Sunday School class, we were required to send an update to our Pastor?  Would we be able - as a class - to share how God has used us?  How, as a class, we came together to support some ministry of the church?  Surrounded a struggling classmate with love and encouragement?   Raised funds as a class project to meet the need of a missionary on a foreign field?

Or what if, as a requirement to be a member of our local church, we were required to send an "update" to the congregation as a whole?  Would we be able to share how God has used His Word to challenge our daily walk?  Would we be able to give encouragement to those around us as God has shown us how to apply his Word in our daily lives?  Would we be able to tell of the people we talked with, or witnessed to on visitation?  Could we give testimony of those we've invited to church or shared the gospel with while out soul-winning?

Our missionaries are required to "report" back to their supporting churches - to testify that they are still, indeed, doing the work of the Lord that we've sent them to do.  Yet, we are ALL missionaries; we are ALL commissioned to give the gospel; to exhort, rebuke, edify.  Yet most of us never have to give an account.  Ever.  Much less on a regular basis.

But what if we did have to give an account.  Monthly.  Could we do it?  Would there BE anything to write about?

We may never have to report to our local church.  Or our pastor.  But we WILL, eventually, have to report to our Lord and Savior.  And, academically of course, we know this - that  we'll give an account to the Lord one day.  "One day" - somewhere far, far away in the future.  But not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not any time soon.

Or is it?

Monday, July 13, 2015

It Will Be Worth It All.....

A year ago, I would not have foreseen where God would have me today - spiritually, physically.

There are people in my life today, that were not in my life a year; people who are now an integral part of my life that I didn't even KNOW a year ago.

There are people BACK in my life today that have really been gone for some time.

I am not the same person I was a year ago.

All that to say this:  You can't see the future and you don't know what God is going to use in your life to move change grow stretch you...

As I reflect, I look back now and see that often times those painful things that God allowed in my life actually turned out for the better.

Going through my own family crisis brought me to a place today where my heart's desire is to counsel and encourage women to be the person God made them to be.

God used a very hurtful experience to move us to another ministry, where both of us have grown and thrived and increased in our thirst for Christ. 

God doesn't give us the "desires of our hearts" in the way we want to think; it's not about the latest sports car or the biggest house or the nicest clothes.  God molds those desires to match his, so that he give us the desires of HIS heart  - which, when we are close to Him, will be the same as our own desires; the two will be indistinguishable.

We're not promised tomorrow - we're not even promised our next breath.  What can I do today that will accomplish the desire's of God's heart?  I might not have tomorrow.  I might not have next week.  But whether in sunshine or rain, promise or pain....I WILL serve the Lord and it WILL be worth it all!!

Set Aside

I was reminded yesterday that Christ did not die on the cross because he had no choice.

Christ did not die on the cross in vain.

No, his death - his ugly, violent, cruel, torturous death - was freely offered up.  In love.  For me.

If an army buddy saved you from certain death, you would be forever grateful.

If a good neighbor pulled you out of your burning house, saving your life, you would find as many ways as you could to repay them.

But Christ, who died to save your life from an ETERNITY in the lake of fire, rarely gets any acknowledgement - much less thanks or love or devotion.

But Christ DID offer up his own life for mine - he suffered the most cruel deaths so that I did not have to.

And when I came to that point where I recognized that sacrifice and realized it was for me - personally, for me - I accepted his payment for my sin and I surrendered my life to serve Him who saved me - forever.

God doesn't save us and set us aside.  God desires a relationship with us.  A personal, daily, one-on-one relationship.  Like you have with your best friend.  It's a two-way street; he even wrote you a love letter!!  (It's called His Word). 

No, God doesn't save us and set us aside.  The question is:

Have I set HIM aside?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

On Being Engaged...and Beyond: Org. Post January 2014

Recently overheard:

Young man recently engaged:  "Yep, come May I'll have an ol' ball & chain!"

Now, before we go any further, I want to tell you about this young man.

This young man has trusted Jesus as his Savior.  And I believe he loves the Lord and wants to serve Him with his life.  He has a wonderful godly family, a wonderful sense of humor, is multi-talented, and is now engaged to a beautiful godly young lady.

And I know he made the above statement entirely in jest and that he loves his bride-to-be with all his heart.

So why even bring it up?

Well, because God has taught me some things over the years.  And one of those things is that even in jest, the things we say impact our attitudes.  The things we watch - like those "funny" and "harmless" tv shows (the ones the bash the dad for being an idiot, or promote living together without being married, or lift up rebellious kids as being funny and cute, etc, etc, etc) - those things impact our attitude.  These things are subtle and seem like "not a big deal."

Exactly what Satan would like us to believe.  That it's no big deal.

But here's the challenge:  What if, instead of talking about our spouses as balls & chains - even in jest - we talked about how precious they are to us?  How much we love and appreciate their sense of humor?  Their gentleness? Their godliness?  What if we actually talked about them the way we actually feel - or should feel?  I guarantee that the man who treats his wife (or fiance) as a precious gift from the Lord, AND talks about her that way, will develop an even deeper love and appreciation for her than he has today.  I guarantee that the woman who treats her husband (or fiance) as her knight in shining armour and talks about him as such, will, in fact, HAVE a knight in shining armour!

We are too often unaware of how powerful our actions (words, deeds) impact our attitude - and then impact those we love.  A one-time jest may be no big deal...but all too often, a one-time joke becomes a habit...and a habit becomes an attitude...and an attitude affects our relationships.

So be careful what you say - treat your spouse in a way that  honors God - and you just might be surprised at how your spouse responds!  :)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What's the big deal about Sunday School???

I don't know about your church, but our church has Sunday School.

Adult Sunday School, as well as Sunday School for the younger kids.


Well, it's another opportunity to grow and to learn about the Lord.  But it's so much more than that...

In a classroom setting, you have an opportunity to ask questions.  How many times have you sat in a preaching service and wondered: Just what exactly did the preacher mean by that?  And what in the world does THAT word mean??

It's just a tad bit awkward to raise your hand to ask those questions in the middle of the morning service.

But not in Sunday School. 

In fact, most teachers - mine included - long for some class participation! 

It's also an opportunity to get to know other adults in your church on a more personal level.

Most classes are organized by "theme" if you will - some classes are for "Young Marrieds" or "Young Families".  Or maybe "Senior Saints" or "Homebuilders" or "Parents of Teens."  Some classes are more topical, such as our class, which is called "Foundations" - where we study the basic foundations of our faith in Christ.

So, all that to say that often the people in the class with you have similar interests or are in a similar life-stage as you are.  Sharing testimonies and prayer requests in this small group setting allows you to know & understand that person you're sitting next to just a little bit better.  And then, of course, a class fellowship, often outside the church setting, is a great way to build friendships and relationships with other adults that you really don't have an opportunity to do in a normal Sunday morning service setting.

Of course, the most important thing about Sunday School is the Lord Himself.  I have to admit, I was SO encouraged this morning in my own class...the teacher dealt with some very practical, very applicable information.  Here's what  I mean:

If you've been saved for any length of time, you understand that a believer's "go to" answer to almost any question is this:  Go to church, read your bible, and pray.  For example:

How do you grow in the Lord?
How do you gain the courage to go soul winning?
How should I deal with this challenge I am facing?
How do I become a better mom? dad? wife? daughter?

 Go to church, read your bible, and pray.

Get the picture?  But here's where going to Sunday School gets down to the nitty-gritty - this morning, our teacher asked this question:

How do you know, where you're seeking God's direction, if you're hearing GOD - or someone else??

Well, you could throw up the answers above - but they're not very helpful on the nitty-gritty level.  But here's what we learned this morning:

1.   First and foremost, you must be saved - you must have a personal relationship with the Lord.  "My sheep hear my voice and I know them..." John 10:27  You can't begin to hear the voice of someone you don't even know.

2. After that, hearing God's voice begins with a willing heart.  You won't hear God if you don't give him your attention; if you're not willing to hear.

3. We have to listen carefully - God does not SHOUT!  Elijah didn't hear God in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire - but in a still small voice. 

4. God's voice always lines up with His Word - he will NEVER contradict himself.  Example - God is never going to tell you to do something that is going to put Him anywhere but your FIRST priority  - so if that job offer, or that move, or that committee is going to cause you to miss church, or miss service opportunities, or miss anything that would keep you close the Lord, it's not God's voice that you're hearing.

5. Don't "follow your heart" - this is worldly advice!  How do I know?  Scripture says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?"  Isaiah 17:9.  My heart is wicked!  It's wants what pleases self, not God - don't follow it!

6. Don't trust in circumstances - they are ever changing!!  How do you trust something that is never the same from day to day or moment to moment?   But God NEVER changes -he is always the same, yesterday, today & forever.

7.  And then, as in the answers above, read God's Word - faithfully, EVERY day.  All the answers you seek are there.  And the world, your flesh, your lost family & friends - they don't have God's answers.  They only have their own wisdom and their own ideas.  Which do you think is more trustworthy - the God of all creation? the One who created YOU?  the one who is wiser than anyone you could ever know - or another man, like you, who on his best day is still just a man?

What's the big deal about Sunday School???  If you're not in it, you're missing a vital part of your Christian walk and a huge opportunity to become more like Christ.

Get in Sunday School - God wants you there.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Godliness Doesn't Just 'Happen"...

Think of the people you know.  People in your family.  People in your church.  People at your office.  People at the store. 

Now, think of the word "godly."  And go through that list again.  Can you apply that adjective to any of the people you are picturing right now?

I know good people.  Hard working people.  Faithful people.  But sadly, the names of people I would consider "godly" would fall on a pretty short list. 

Godly does not mean "holier than thou" or "perfect" or being a "spiritual giant."  Godly is simply having the characteristics of God.  Not characteristics of the world.  Not characteristics of unbelievers.  Case in point:  Someone cuts you off in traffic.  You get right up on his rear bumper, honking your horn, waving your arms, screaming every kind of name you can think of (even though he obviously can't hear you)...

Is that how the world (most people) would respond, or is that how Christ would respond?

Being godly takes time, effort, practice - yes, practice.  It takes a determination to purpose in your heart how you will respond in certain circumstances.  The amazing thing is, that we can actually practice for some situations before they even happen!!

For instance,
 If you go to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon, it's going to be crowded...people are going to leave their carts in your way while they wonder off looking for something.  Or they're going to stand right in the middle of the aisle, talking, while people in both directions try to get past them.  Or the lady in front of you, with two full carts, has coupons and ads and Walmart Saving Catcher...and THEN realizes she left her wallet in the car and it'll just take her a minutes to go get it...

Sound familiar?

A naturally frustrating place to be.  BUT - you can purpose in your heart to go and have a cheerful attitude.  To smile, to wait patiently, To go on and come back to that blocked spot later.

Or how about your drive to work every day?  You already know, someone is going to cut you off.  Someone is going to merge without looking.  Someone is going to drive 20 miles below the speed limit - in front of you AND on either side!

So how are you going to deal with that?

Decide today.  Purpose in your heart TODAY.

Being godly doesn't happen overnight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Where's My Focus?

I find it interesting that just when I think I can't cram one more thing into my already busy schedule, the Lord stops me in my tracks.

Oh, I'm not saying He's the reason I have this flu bug or whatever it is, but certainly He allowed it.  At the beginning of a very busy week.  In the middle of a very busy season.  When there are gifts to make, songs to practice, people to meet with, decorating to be done (and undone), presents to wrap, places to go, to do lists to accomplish...

I'm in bed for 2 days.


Accomplishing nothing.

And yet, somehow, it's okay.

I am reminded that my life isn't about me and what I want to accomplish - it's about the Lord and what HE wants to accomplish through me.  So I'm thinking that perhaps I was getting a bit off track and starting to stress about the unimportant stuff (something I do more often then I care to admit).  That perhaps my focus has been on doing those things that make ME feel good, instead of being focused on doing things to make others feel good - to be an encouragement, a help.

So, I'm re-focusing.  Oh, the house still needs to be cleaned and there are still gifts to wrap and decorating to be done - but before all that, there are friends that need a kind word, a hug (when I'm over being sick, of course), a note of encouragement - family members that need to hear "I love you!" just because...because at the end of the day, if my house is clean, the gifts are wrapped and my house looks festive - who cares, if I have not shown love to the people God has put in my life?

So, thank you, Lord, for ALL that you allow in my life, be it sickness or health, thank you for loving me and reminding me to strive to be more like you.