Guilty or Grateful?

Okay, friends! It is confession time. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, but the fact of the matter is lately I have been overwhelmed with guilt, not for the things that I have done, instead for all the things I have not done. For instance, I am racking myself with guilt for not writing here more often. My son is about to leave the nest for the summer so I am kicking myself for not doing more with him before he goes into camp life as a staffer. I feel guilty for the pounds that I have gained over the last few years. I would love to say this is the first time this has happened to me, but I can’t. Through my life I have often lamented all the things left undone rather than celebrating the things I have done. Call me a pessimist if you will or a gal that looks at the glass half empty, yet I must admit, I have found my reality. Yesterday, The Lord showed me it is once again time to change my thinking.

Guilt can be a powerful weapon that the enemy can use to discourage us. When we make a good choice the enemy whispers, “Yeah, good one, but look at all the choices you made yesterday!” When we spend time with our loved ones the enemy reminds us, “Girl, you sure should have said or done that differently!” He uses guilt to tie us down to the point where we go through survival mode from day-to-day.  I heard somewhere this mindset was called “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. You may ask how do I break this roller coaster of guilt.  The key to stopping this lock down is to begin celebrating what is rather than what is not. I think we need to confess our weakness to God and ask Him to help us to develop an “attitude of gratitude”.

This is our truth. God wants us to be grateful. “Count Your Blessings” was a song I grew up singing. In the business of life, I often forget to count my blessings and focus on the guilt. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “In everything give thanks…” God can show us something to be thankful for in everything we face. Think about all the Psalms that focus on thankfulness. Psalms 105:1, Psalms 106:1, and Psalms 107:1 all begin by giving thanks to the Lord. We need to recognize that the mind can be a powerful weapon against us or a blessing of thanks to encourage us. It remains in us whether we will live in a state of victory or defeat. We need to stop feeling guilty for our size whatever it is and be grateful we are God’s, and we are beautiful to Him. We need to stop agonizing over what we said or did yesterday, and celebrate the wonderful people God has given us to love. We need to focus on God’s Word and how much He has blessed us with every day. Remember, we are human. We are going to make mistakes. We are not going to do everything perfectly every time. Only God is divine. God will help us in our weakness if we realize that He has the strength and the power to break the guilt that is holding us down. Remember Job? He began every day giving thanks to the Lord, even on the day when He seemingly lost it all, however, God was with Job and restored all he had lost. Job’s cry was “blessed be the name of the Lord”. Step out with God and choose to be grateful. It is the first step!

Dear Lord, My heart’s prayer is that you help me to be grateful for You and all You have done for me. Help me when I lean toward guilt rather than gratefulness. Help me to guard my heart and my mind. Bring these verses to my mind when I am about to falter. I love you, Lord. I am grateful for my salvation, and the ones you have given me to serve. Thank you my precious Father! Amen

Resting on the Run

Today, my friends, begins a new chapter in my life. After several years of working two jobs, I find myself at a new place. I didn’t have to go into work this morning. Whew, thought it would be a very long time before I would say that, but that is my reality this morning. I wrapped up my job as church secretary at First Baptist Church and I am getting ready to move to a new town, to a new house, and a new ministry.  Back in November, My husband was called as pastor at a new church about 40 minutes from where we live. So today my first official day not having to work and I have a to-go-do list a mile long. I have to catch up on all I have been putting off. So before I literally run out the door. I stopped to take a breath, and check in with the faithful few that have been with me and this blog since the  beginning.

I heard a phrase this weekend at the Minister’s Wives Retreat that I go to every year and this morning it resonates with me. We, Minister’s Wives, probably will have very few days that we are not off and running from the morning to the evening. Rest comes mostly when we crash in the evenings with our Minister husbands. So how do we really find the rest that we need to make it through the days until Jesus comes back? This weekend was all about rest and renewal. I thought excellent that is just what I need. I need to rest. I have found the true rest that can only satisfy our souls is rest that we find in the Lord. “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” How many verses have been written about resting in Jesus? Probably more than I can count are available to us. I digress. The phrase I grabbed on to this weekend. We need to learn to “Rest on the Run!” There will always be running involved with our lives so take time to carve out some minutes on the run to stop and rest. Carry verses with you to read over while you are waiting in line. Stop and pray while you are going to the next place on your list. (Disclaimer: Keep your eyes open if you are driving. lol) Just Kidding. This is something we all can do. Learn to rest on the run. It will take discipline to train your mind. To not do this is to let the devil distract you while you are on the run. So My Friends, take a moment to take a deep breath, “Be still and Know He is God”, and find sweet rest in who He is and His promises.

See you Soon! I will wave in passing!

Amy

Strength for a Weary Soul

Here it is! Wednesday they call it. This day is also known as “Hump Day”. It’s time to get excited, folks. We are halfway through the week, and, yet… I am tired. I need a great dose of strength. In my ramblings, I am reminded of a story I came across several years ago. Let me share it with you!

A young boy was on a hike through the woods with his father when he came upon a mid-size boulder.

“Dad,” he asked, “Do you think I can move that boulder?”

The father replied, “Yes, son, you can move that boulder if you use all of your strength.”

The boy pushed with all that was in him. He pushed and grunted and pushed some more, but the boulder would not budge. Frustrated, he said, “You were wrong, Dad, I can’t move it.”

The father replied, “You could have moved it if you used all of your strength, but you didn’t use all of your strength because you didn’t ask me for help.”

Many times in life we get weary, tired, and weak in God’s service. In my own life, when I become weary I have to go to the One who has endless strength. God is the only One who never tires, or grows weary. He has strength readily available to lift us up and sustain us. We can find rest for our body and soul at His feet. I have to admit that when I feel myself growing weary many times it is because I have not leaned on the Lord and gained the strength I need from Him. So I go! I go to Him. I sit beside Him and let Him teach me. I find comfort in His words and strength to continue with Him through my day.

Psalm 18:1-2 reads, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.”

Why do you suppose that David began this Psalm in this way?  By reading in the forward of the Psalm, you will find that this Psalm was written when David was being pursued by an angry Saul who wanted to kill him. David was living on the run, hiding in caves, sleeping on the ground and just trying to survive.  We can certainly see how weary and tired David had become physically and emotionally.  In this state, He chose to praise and declare his love to the one who was his daily strength. David may have been running, but he knew who to run to for the strength and encouragement that he needed.

Are you weary today? my friend. I know someone who has strength for your weary soul. Don’t wait. Sit with Him. Jesus has all the strength you need.

When God Grins

There are days, and then there are DAYS! At times here lately, I have felt my world begin turned upside down. Like a kid with a new snow globe, there are days when I feel life shaking me so hard then watching me try to settle back in place. That unsettled feeling seems to linger longer than I would like, and I pray and ask the Father to put all the pieces back the way that He would have them to be. It is in these times, He pulls me closer and says, “Wait and watch what I can do!”

This weekend my sons came home from working at camp for the summer. It was so good to see them and visit. My oldest headed back on Sunday because he works at camp year round. My youngest is home to stay. Since he finished high school in May, after camp he was planning on getting a job locally and earning some money before starting college. Of course, with our life in transition right now I wondered this morning how God would work it all out. Father God has been so faithful to us over the last several months I did not doubt He would work it out for “Youngest” a job, just didn’t know how or where. First thing this morning “Youngest” hit the pavement job hunting. I shared our need with my co-workers, and we prayed God would provide a job for him.  My husband call about 1  1/2 hours after I got to work (shortly after we prayed) and God had provided a job for “youngest” and he was starting in the next 30 minutes. Who can do that but God! When I need a smile from the Father, He whispered, “My child I can do better than that…” and He grinned at me.

As I study the Word of God, I long to know God more. As I pray and seek Him, He has been ready to be found. I am reminded of the story in the Old Testament when God was not to be found in the whirlwind or in the earthquake, but He was to be found as He whispered in a still small voice. I wonder if in the past I have gotten so busy that even If He had spoken in the whirlwind I would not have heard him. He chooses to speak to me when I settle into those quiet moments to look for him. Some days you may feel like everything in your life has shaken upside down. In those times, run to the Father, go to Him in prayer, grab your Bible and read His words. Let the God of Heaven hold you close. Only when you are close will you see His gentle smile and sometimes when you least expect it that smile will turn to a grin. This lets you know, He has everything under control.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

Let Go What’s Gone

I love a good heartfelt story. I guess I have always enjoyed them. I was watching a movie one day where the main character was trying to comfort a friend who had been hurt both physically and emotionally by someone. The main character put her arms around her friend and said, “Honey, you have to let go what’s gone!” The depths of those words have been going over and over in my mind the last couple of days. How often to I try to hang on to the things that are past. They need to be let go, yet I find myself grasping for the edge of those things and fighting to keep my fingertips on them. Like dandelions in the wind we chased as children, they flew away and were gone before we realized it. And yet we continue to reach back to grab the negative rather than turn forward and embrace what is positive.

This morning I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”  There are two types of baggage Paul is dealing with here. First, Paul talks about weights. When I came across this verse for the first time, I kind of read it all together as “weights and sins“, but they are two distinctly different things. Weight, I have learned, can be anything that is holding back our progress. Negative feelings and actions can bind us tight. Trappings of the past and the “what if’s” can burden us to the place where can’t put one foot in front of another.  Hurtful words or actions by someone or regrets of our own makings can be weighing us down. A weight could also be a seemingly good thing. Perhaps longing for the way it used to be can stop you from moving forward. Sometimes I long for the days when the boys were little. Looking back and cherishing the memories of them is good, but it can become a weight when I focus solely on all the changes I would have made, and mourn all my mistakes.  Regrets can be cumbersome, they can tie us up and not only hinder our progress moving forward, but also can be so heavy it pulls us backward dragging our spirit low. This can also lead to depression if we are not careful. We need to lay the weights aside. Often we carry weights that were never meant for us to carry. Friend, what are you trying to hold on to that is locking you down from moving forward for God?

The second part of the verse is “the sin which doth so easily beset us.”  Believers all have sins which seem to give us a fit. We are tempted and find ourselves drawn to the same sin over and over. Our human nature did not dissolve when we became a Christian. It became something we would continue to deal with every day. Before we gave our life to God we didn’t care if we were sinning or not, but now that we are a Christian, and our goal is to be like Christ, we have to deal with our sin as it comes up. That’s where 1 John 1:9 comes in. Confessing our sin to God and receiving forgiveness that God offers moves us forward. It’s time we get serious about letting go of that sin we are trying to hang on to. It is time to let go and let God cleanse you. You must ask yourself, “Is the sin I am holding on to worth what it is doing to me and my relationship with God?”

Whether it is a weight or a sin you are fighting so desperately to hold on to, it is time to let go. Letting go will free us to do what the last part of Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We all have a race that God has given us to run. It stretches before us and lasts a lifetime. In our hearts, we know we want to run the race well. If something in the past is weighing you down, or a sin plaguing  in the present and regret is locking you down, let go what’s gone. Do not keep dragging it back up. Brake free and run like mad in the race that is before you.  Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Let go what’s gone, my friend. Jesus is waiting for you.

Perspective

I have always enjoyed driving! I guess that is why when I was blessed with a job about 30 minutes from home, I really didn’t mind. Most of the time I listen to music when I am driving along, but that was not the case today. Silence reigned in the car and I was very deep in thought on my drive this morning when I focused on the road ahead I noticed it looked like mountains in the distance. Now I know there are not any mountains in Southwest Georgia at least not since last Thursday. The clouds were arranged in the sky in a way that made it look like the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. For a moment in time my eyes were playing tricks on me. My perspective was tainted; I was seeing something in a different way.

In my walk with God, I often see things differently than the way that He wants me to see them. I often view God from the perspective that I have heard others share about Him. When they tell me how God has been working in their life, I get a glimpse of the essence of God’s character. As I get into the Word of God and study His nature, I begin to learn even more. The deepest lessons I have learned about God however have come through experience.  When I have been betrayed by a friend,  I have come to truly know Him as the “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Through brokenness and sickness, I have come to know Him as the Healer. In Financial lows, I have come to know Him as God, my provider. Recently, when my husband went through a health crisis and we almost lost him, I came to know God as the Comforter and God of Peace. People may wonder how I was holding it all together. Well, I wasn’t. God was holding me together. We stand and sing in Worship, “I want to know you(God) more, I want to know you more”, but I wonder if we are willing to go to the hard places and be put in uncomfortable circumstances in order to really get to know God in the way He wants to be known.

Often trials and tribulations comes into the life of the believer. It is the world in which we live it. A perfect creation was broken by man and his sin (Genesis 3). We have been living in a broken world ever since then. God has made a way to restore us back to Himself and it is through the person of Jesus Christ. God wants to have a deeper relationship with you. When we receive Him into our heart and life at salvation, we receive all of God that there is to get. The thing we need to realize is God may not have all of us. We may not even realize there is something we may be holding back from getting to know God more. He wants to reveal Himself to us. Are we ready to let God put us in a tight spot where the only place we can look is up? Perspective sure can be an interesting thing. Thankfully God is willing to take my perspective and turn it toward His way, and walk every step along with me until I am closer to Him than I ever thought possible.

I Peter 5:10-11

10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

A Kind Word

Someone once said, “You don’t know what’s missing until it’s gone!”, and in a sense I guess that is true. However, some things in life you don’t realize how much you have missed until you begin to experience them again. A kind word from someone is one of those things. Often we may find ourselves in a rut of going to church, putting on our “happy face”, putting in our God time, and leaving without really interacting and having fellowship with those around us. When was the last time you really took the time to give a kind word to someone, and encourage them in their walk with Christ? There is a point when so much is going on in our lives that we hit survival mode and are only able to go to church, and meet with God and that is all we can handle at that moment. The cares of this world may have driven you to a place that you barely can put one foot in front of the other. When we find ourselves in this place, God may use someone to speak a kind word or offer a prayer on our behalf that will help us to see that God has not left us and we still have christian friends that are there for us as well. One of the best things about being a part of the body of Christ and in a God filled church is that you can be there for each other.

In the last month when my husband was so sick, I was so encouraged by all of the kind words, prayers, texts of encouragement, cards, support of our church friends & family, and even people I had not met but who heard about our situation and responded with encouragement and blessings. Some will never know this side of Heaven the extent of the joy that brought to me. Though I tried to express my thankfulness, It has meant so much more that a mere, “Thank you” can cover. Those of you who have ministered to us, you have shared fellowship with us that caused our joy to abound. (I John 1:3-4)

For the last two weeks, my husband has been interim pastor at a new church. One of the things I have really enjoyed has been getting to know the new people and sharing our lives with them.  As I look how far God has brought us in the last couple of months and all He has taught us, I can’t help but try to pass on the encouragement I have experienced. I have again realize the importance of sharing a kind word with someone. Many in this world are carrying burdens and are hurting. You never know that your word, prayer, text, card, etc. will be the difference that will turn them once again to the Heavenly Father. You have a wonderful opportunity to share a kind word that will produce ripples of encouragement throughout someone’s life. Don’t hold back! Give a Kind Word!!!