Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing 
in the heavenly realms because 
we are united with Christ.  

Even before he made the world, 
God loved us and chose us in Christ 
to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  

God decided in advance to adopt us 
into his own family by bringing us 
to himself through Jesus Christ. 
This is what he wanted to do, 
and it gave him great pleasure.  

So we praise God for the glorious grace 
he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.  

He is so rich in kindness and grace 
that he purchased our freedom 
with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  

He has showered his kindness on us, 
along with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:3-8

One of my favorite passages of Scripture. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nuggets of Wisdom

It's been a while since I've shared a Nuggets of Wisdom post. So here's one which I was inspired to write after listening to Beth Moore who did a short video devotion this week. This one really spoke to me. The heart is deceitful...

What's inside your heart?

  • There is a subtle difference between a Lie and Deception. A lie is usually something that we can recognize as such. An example of this would be if I told you that I was a supermodel in my spare time. Obvious lie. (wink) Deception is a lie that worked! We do not recognize something as a lie and suddenly we have been deceived.
  • "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10. Yes, our hearts (and emotions) can deceive us but God knows our hearts and our motives. If we ask God to reveal these places of deceit in our heart, He is more than willing to do so. But we also need to be willing to listen.
  • We should seek the truth in our innermost parts and let God unearth these deceptions and heal.

I placed a link in the first paragraph to the devotion if you'd like to watch the entire video. I'll leave you with a few other verse references that Beth gave: Psalm 51:6 (Wisdom in our secret places); Acts 1:24 (God knows the heart of all); Jeremiah 17:14 (God will heal.) I encourage you to look up these references and meditate on them today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

For this world 
is not our permanent home; 
we are looking forward 
to a home yet to come. 
~ Hebrews 13:14

I'd like to share a little bonus video to go along with our Bible passage this week. I don't know about you, but lately it seems so many people have been experiencing earthly trials and tribulations. It makes us weary and as I said in my post earlier this week, we can become discouraged. As believers in Jesus, the Christ, we can draw strength from him for this journey and rejoice in knowing that one day we will be at home with Him. 

Steven Curtis Chapman performing "Long Way Home"

Please note: this is performance was recorded live and it's not perfect like you might hear on an album. I wanted to share this version simply because I love the fact that it's not perfect. He even struggles to get out all the notes in this song, yet he perseveres. A great example for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giving Up?

Have you ever been at that turning point? The choice is 1) either continue on the current path (usually uphill) or 2) just give up, turn around, and go back.

How does someone get to this turning point?

I'll use an example from my own life. My first job was working in a busy library where my main function was to put away books being returned by patrons. Sounds easy enough, right? For the most part, this was true. It's not that difficult to pick up a book and put it back on the shelf. Now, multiply that one book by several hundred a day. (At the time, there was a circulation of about 80,000 pieces of material!) As quickly as I could put a book back on the shelf, ten more would be waiting for me (even more after a holiday when the library was closed). Unfortunately the books didn't magically jump off the carts and find their ways back on the shelves. (That would be a Disney movie!) Keeping the shelves in order was ALWAYS a challenge and sometimes discouraging--especially in the children's wing. All those tiny little books, picked up by tiny little hands, and put back in the wrong spot. Another part of my job was to make sure these books always in Dewey decimal order so that someone searching for a particular title could locate it. What a task! Do you know how many books Dr. Seuss wrote? Many!

I share these examples as something anyone can identify with. What's your challenge or discouraging situation? Just exchange the book scenario for toys, paperwork, co-workers, a spouse, an illness. Anything has the potential to be overwhelming and discouraging.

Circumstances (or people) can be frustrating. [When will it ever end?!!!]

Circumstances (or people) can (and usually do) disappoint. [Can't they see how hard I've worked?!!]

Circumstances (and people) can cause discouragement. [What's the point? I have worked so hard and nobody appreciates it. No matter what I do it just gets messed up again. I can't take this anymore. I just want to feel sorry for myself and go home.]

Yes, I think we can all identify with those thoughts and feelings. There were days at the library when I would come in and see books stacked up higher than me and overflowing from their carts and temporary shelves. I also felt much frustration over the person who worked the shift before me and should have put a dent into that huge volume of books--but didn't. At that moment I had a choice to make:

I could become discouraged and half-heartedly do my job, 
quit, or take it out on the other employees.


I could roll up my sleeves, dig into the work, 
and do the best I could in what time I had. 

I had to choose to forget the frustrations of the shirking co-worker and I had to play a little mind-game with myself, making it a challenge. (Interestingly, my attitude rubbed off on some of my other co-workers and it eventually became a fun challenge to see how many books we could put away during our shift! It's amazing how our attitude really does affect others.)

I heard Dr. Charles Stanley recently teaching a series about overcoming discouragement. He said something I found quite interesting which I will paraphrase. There is a difference between discouragement and disappointments.

Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice. 

Hmmm. I've often thought those words were somewhat interchangeable. Discouragement may begin as disappointment and we can choose to live in discouragement.

We can trust God with our disappointments (those inevitable things that happen). So discouragement becomes our zip code. We live there and have all our mail delivered to this place. (I've known people like that and I don't really want to be  that way. Discouragement breeds all kinds of other problems.) The antidote to this place of discouragement is to stay in the Word. Daily doses of scripture (TRUTH) can counteract that disappointment and discouragement. Will there be an immediate reprieve from these feelings? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on how God wants to use these circumstances in our lives. Dr. Stanley said he was in a place of discouragement for quite a long time and people often asked how he managed. After he looked back, he realized it was his daily time studying the scriptures which sustained him.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us 
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 
while we look not at the things which are seen, 
but at the things which are not seen; 
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

I have dealt with disappointments and discouragement many, many times in the past two years. There were times when I let discouragement settle into my heart and set up a pity party. Sometimes I just wanted to run away--backward (retreat), sideways (avoidance), anywhere but forward. The path forward was overwhelmingly difficult. It wasn't long before the Lord would nudge me. Truth from the Word ALWAYS brings me back to reality. Before long, each time I needed encouragement, I would to ask the Lord for help. He was faithful to supply exactly what I needed. Yes, the path forward may be extremely difficult but God will walk through it WITH US.

And take heart because one day we will be celebrating the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven. No more tears. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more discouragement or disappointment. Hallelujah!

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, 
and there will be no more death 
or sorrow or crying or pain. 
All these things are gone forever." 
~ Revelation 21:4


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
Exodus 15:2 (This is a portion of Moses and the Israelites' Song of Deliverance.) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 9th Inning

Yes, this is me before the game. Very wet!
I'm a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and have been for many years. In fact, a few weeks ago I was able to attend a baseball game at Busch Stadium. I was giddy with excitement for the opportunity to attend. The game almost didn't happen because of a huge storm that rolled through that day.

My rainy view of the Arch.
Because I'm a big fan of the team, I also watch the Cardinals play whenever they're on television. Some of their games have been incredible come-from-behind wins. One recent example was the final game of a five-game series with the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals were behind during the whole game. It seemed impossible for them to win. The Cardinals were up to bat in the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes. That's when the seemingly impossible began to happen. The Cardinals were able to score four runs to come back and win the game. It was amazing to watch.

Why am I talking about sports on this blog? After I had time to consider all that happened during that game, I realized there was some spiritual application to be gained.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that things like:

     All seemed hopeless.
          I didn't think I could hold out any longer.
               I was ready to give up.

It was shortly after these moments when God responded with:
     Needed hope to shore up the hopeless.
          An extra dose of patience for the impatient.
               An answer to prayer for someone who had nothing left to hold onto.

There have been many times like that in my own life. The older I get, the more it seems I have those moments when my spirit has grown weary. Life starts piling up around me or some things just never seems to work out the way I'd hoped. I become disappointed, frustrated, and weary. I'm ready to throw in the towel.

Just like the baseball game, the fans--including me--were ready to give up. There's no way the impossible could happen, it's too late, might as well give up. Yet, the impossible did happen. The players didn't give up. They were quietly confident in their team and their abilities.

God is sometimes very last-minute too. His timing is always perfect, yet we worry that He's not paying attention. But God may be trying to get us to a place of complete dependence on Him or He's waiting till the situation seems unsalvageable so that there's no doubt who gets the glory. And sometimes instead of giving us what we want, God gives us something we need: An encouraging word and a smile from a friend or a tiny speck of hope.

What it boils down to is that...
     God is in control.
          He hasn't forgotten us.
               He is working everything out His way.

God is able to look at every situation from His special vantage point, seeing things we can't see--including the future. We can be quietly confident in God's ability to handle whatever--I repeat, whatever--is going on. God may swoop in and do something wildly amazing at the last minute or He may just continue to provide the little things we need to keep us moving. Either way, I'm glad He's in control and not me!

One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from Cherie Hill:

"It’s been said that the hardest part of faith is the last half hour. 
Waiting on God tests us like nothing else does. 
When we’re experiencing overwhelming confusion, 
we can be certain that deliverance is just around the corner. 
The problem is that we give up just before God shows up."
from Waiting On God.

Whether it's the last half-hour or the ninth inning, our faith begins to waver and we wonder if God is going to do something. We're ready to give up. Hang in there and keep looking to God for help.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pride and Humble Pie

"Pride always produces faulty expectations. 
I can detect pride in my life 
when I start to expect things
to turn out “my way” 
and am disappointed when they do not. 
Pride causes us to make assumptions 
that set us up to miss out on what God wants for us 
and the way He wants to accomplish it." 
~ Priscilla Shirer, He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear the Voice of God.

I just finished reading the above referenced book. I love highlighting passages that jump out at me as I read. When I finish a book, I like to go back and read those highlights again. This quote is one of those that I highlighted. Obviously the quote meant something to me when I first read it, but little did I know that by the time I finished this book I would be knee-deep in this issue.

This particular form of pride is definitely a problem in my life. It's not that I'm demanding in my way or blatantly prideful about having my way, but I do have this tendency to project my own expectations into any given situation. I've mentioned this issue before on this blog--this overwhelming desire to figure things out. This gift can be a blessing as it has helped me many times in business and other areas of my life. But I'm also realizing it can be a bit of a curse, too.

You see, this desire to figure things out causes me to over process. I see things unfolding in a certain way and begin to make assumptions based on past experience or some other knowledge. Before long I start to give in to expectations based on what I "think" is going to happen (or what "should" transpire). In the business world that's called "thinking ahead." I've been nicknamed "Radar" for being able to anticipate, therefore this gift has served me well. However...

God doesn't work that way. 

When something in my personal life doesn't unfold as I thought they might, suddenly my confidence in God and trust in Him plummets. I'm left picking up the pieces and wondering what in the world happened? But the problem is not with God. The problem is with my expectations and placing my hope in the wrong place. I was putting trust in myself and my own knowledge (pride).

Newsflash: God doesn't "do things" the way we would. 

Okay, probably not a newsflash if you've been a believer for a while. We know that the Bible says:

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so my ways are higher than your ways 
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 
Isaiah 55:9

Yeah, pride is thinking that my thoughts are just as good as God's--or better. The antidote for pride is humility. I need to take a spoonful or two each morning as I contemplate the God who created not only this vast universe, but also the tiniest of molecules in our bodies and the air that we breathe.

He is the God of detail. Nothing surprises Him. 

God created me and knows me much better than I know myself. He created my innermost parts and knows exactly how everything needs to fit together for His glory--not mine. I'll say it again: His glory, not mine!

Wanna join me in a slice of humble pie?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

On this Wordy Wednesday I wanted to share this wonderful public prayer by David.

David Praises God

There in front of the whole assembly King David praised the Lord
He said, “Lord God of our ancestor Jacob, may you be praised forever and ever!  
You are great and powerful, glorious, splendid, and majestic. 
Everything in heaven and earth is yours, and you are king, supreme ruler over all. 
 All riches and wealth come from you; 
you rule everything by your strength and power; 
and you are able to make anyone great and strong.  
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and we praise your glorious name.

“Yet my people and I cannot really give you anything, 
because everything is a gift from you, 
and we have only given back what is yours already. 
You know, O Lord, that we pass through life 
like exiles and strangers, as our ancestors did. 
Our days are like a passing shadow, and we cannot escape death. 
 O Lord, our God, we have brought together all this wealth
 to build a temple to honor your holy name, 
but it all came from you and all belongs to you. 
 I know that you test everyone's heart and are pleased with people of integrity.
 In honesty and sincerity I have willingly given all this to you, 
and I have seen how your people who are gathered here 
have been happy to bring offerings to you. 
 Lord God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 
keep such devotion forever strong in your people's hearts 
and keep them always faithful to you.  
Give my son Solomon a wholehearted desire to obey everything 
that you command and to build the Temple 
for which I have made these preparations.” 
 ~ 1 Chronicles 29:10-19

From the Good News Translation via Biblegateway.com

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Community Role Call

Photo credit: kakisky from morguefile.com

I am borrowing this idea from another blog, but I am tweaking it a bit. It's a great way to get to know who's reading this blog and it will also help me to know what topics might be of interest and how to pray for you.

1. Your first name, your age, and where you live.
2. What line of work are you in (this includes stay-at-home moms)? Or, if you’re in school, tell us where and what line of work you’re steering toward.
3. What is your #1 hobby?
4. Do you have pets? If so, what kind?
5. Describe your idea of the perfect Saturday.
6. Complete this sentence: Only people who really know me realize that I am _______
7. Your biggest recent disappointment and/or your biggest recent elation.
8. When did you accept Jesus as your personal Savior and, in briefest possible terms, what was the setting?

Lastly, name one thing you would like prayed for. I will be happy to lift this concern before the throne of God.

I'll start...

1. Kristi, 49, Tennessee
2. Children's book publishing
3. Blogging
4. A cat named Bandit. He's a black & white short hair domestic cat. Spoiled rotten, but very sweet.
5. A couple of hours in the morning to lazily sip coffee and read. Time outdoors puttering in the yard followed by an evening with friends.
6. ...funny. I often come across as very quiet and serious to people who just meet me. That's my reserved side (mwah-ha-ha-ha).
7. Disappointment: A relationship that didn't pan out. Elation: I attended a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game for the first time in many, many years. I've been wanting to do it for such a long time and the Lord provided a great opportunity. I was overjoyed by the experience. (I'm a big fan of the team!)
8. I accepted the Lord as my Savior around age 11 during a revival at my church. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

A little encouragement from the Word...

Philippians 4: 4-9
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

For Your Own Good...

"I'm doing it for your own good." 

I'm guessing we've all heard this or said this at least one time.

Photo Source http://www.tvcrazy.net/images/beaver.jpg
I turned on the television one Saturday morning as I was finishing my coffee and watched the last half of an old show called Leave It to Beaver. I like watching these old shows with strong values and families that actually love each other. In this particular episode, Beaver had somehow won a contest and the prize was a sports car--a real car!  When I tuned into the show, Beaver's parents, Ward and June, were discussing how to handle the situation. Obviously Beaver was much too young to have a car so Ward decided he would sell the car and save the money for Beaver's college education. Dad was about to break the news to Beaver.

In the next scene, Ward is in Wally and Beaver's room giving them the bad news. Dad calmly explains the impracticality of the situation and finally ends with the phrase, "I'm doing it for your own good." After Dad leaves the room, Wally asks Beaver why he's crying and making such a fuss since Beaver knew all along he wouldn't be able to keep the car. Beaver's reply was, "Just because it's for my own good doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."

For your own good. 

Don't you just hate hearing those words? That phrase usually follows something we are enjoying, something that is giving us pleasure. Yet, there must have been something about that "thing" which was deemed not quite right or not the best by someone in authority over us. So, for our greater good, that thing (a privilege, toy, snack, etc.) was removed from our life. No amount of crying, complaining, or manipulation helps.

It occurred to me as I was watching this episode that there might be a spiritual application to this scenario. I immediately thought of something God recently asked me to give up. I have been part of the music ministry at my church for many years and have always enjoyed it. Music ministry is a good thing, right? Why would God ask me to give that up? I don't know the answer to that yet. I do know that in the long run it's part of God's plan and it will be for my own good. Did it hurt to give that up? Yes, a little bit. It's not easy to give up something good, something known, something that is part of my identity. But if there is something I've learned in recent months is that quick obedience to the Lord is much more satisfying that trying to ignore or run from God. As I was preparing this post I ran across this quote which seemed so appropriate to use here:

"Every difficult thing that God has asked you to do
is something that will benefit you
in the long run." ~ Joyce Meyer via Twitter

I'll just have to trust that the Lord knows exactly what He's doing. One day I will be able to look back into my rearview mirror and see that it was exactly the right thing to do. Just as Beaver said, "Just because it's for my own good doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."

"A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline,  
a mocker refuses to listen to correction."
Proverbs 13:1

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; 
yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields 
the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
Hebrews 12:11

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
 so my ways are higher than your way 
 and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 
Isaiah 55:8-9

What about you? Has God ever asked you to give up or do something that was good? How did it turn out?