I have in the past week been on a trek of profound reflection. It could be the fact that I became a great-aunt a week and a half ago. It could be the fact that my friend who graduated from high school the same year I did proclaimed on Facebook that she graduated 30 years ago. Wow. I’m not sure which one did it, maybe it was the combination of the two. However, I began to look over my life of the past, ahem, 30 years and began to take stock of what I have accomplished in those years. On first glance and pondering, it didn’t seem like much. As I looked deeper I realized that I have gone through quite a bit in those years. I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I met and married an awesome man. I had two amazing boys who are Jesus loving, well-rounded, and daily amaze me. My husband and I have served in ministry for all of our married life together (almost 24 years at 3 churches). We have a great family and a wealth of friends. To you it may not seem that much, but that doesn’t matter. What truly matters is have I taken the time the Lord has given me and served Him to the best of my ability. Have I done everything perfectly? Not a chance. On reflection, I feel I have followed the Lord faithfully to this point. Would I have liked to have accomplished some great things? Well, Sure! but I know that this is not the end. I have today. I am not promised tomorrow so I will take the day I have been given and live it out how I know Jesus would want me to do. I can show compassion, I can love Him with my whole heart, I can serve others in the work place and in my home, and I can live out the plan He has set before me for today. No matter what amount of time I have left, I can finish well the course the Lord has for me. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” This is what I want. I want to be counted among the faithful. A lifetime is made up of what we have done with all of our “todays”. We cannot do anything about yesterday or tomorrow. We have today. Let’s take our today, and put in it all that God would have us to do with it. Serving Him, Trusting Him, Loving Him, Worshiping Him, and Living Life with the purpose of bringing glory to His name will be my goal today. It is indeed a worthy calling!
‘ This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. ‘ Matthew 15:8-9
I have always been a cheerleader at heart. Yes, I did have the uniform to prove it from 1985-1988. Even after my cheer leading days were but a memory, I loved to cheer on the underdog. The one who always seemed to get the short end of the stick so to speak was the one I tried to lift up, encourage, and cheer on. In my quiet time today I was reading in Matthew 15. At the get go, in this chapter, the Pharisees were after Jesus and disciples again. They were criticizing the disciples for not holding to their traditions and doing things a different way. My inner cheer leader hollered, “Get ’em Jesus!” He did. Yet what He said gripped my heart. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (v.8)
Wait a minute! Am I guilty of this? Am I quick to honor God with my words when I know my heart is not honoring Him with my actions? Is my heart far from God? Do I say all the right things because people are watching, yet in my heart I know I am not where I need to be? I had some self evaluation time with my Savior. I won’t give you the results. That is between Him and Me. I will say it has set me to look after the things that I say.
I want to draw close to him with my whole heart not just my words. I want my motives as well as my lip service to be in line with God. The reason this issue is so important is because in the next verse it reveals why. A heart not right with God affects our worship of Him.(v.9) When we sing in church on Sunday, do the words we sing reflect what is in our heart. We may lift up His name with our mouth, but does it echo from our heart or merely lip service. Do we do more sinning in the song service than out in the world? Can I truly say with my heart “I trust and obey”, or “I surrender all”?
The second part of verse 9 states that instead of clinging to the truth of God’s Word we place in higher authority what men say. How we worship God can affect our view of God. I want to say that in my heart I hold what God says to be more important than what man may say. I want to show that my heart speaks and shows honor to God when I open my mouth. Pleasing God needs to come before pleasing man. My husband is fond of saying, “In my life, I serve an audience of One.” We do. We strive to serve God and honor Him alone. In our walk with the Lord, may we be careful that the words we say come from a heart that is drawing close to the Savior daily.
I am cheering for you, my friend. Let us together practice checking our heart before we speak!
This dog of mine seems to know how to push my buttons. Most of the time she is a good dog. She minds pretty well. She loves big. She tends toward hardheadedness. Thus, this morning is my beef with her. Annie, the dog, is my rescue dog. She came to our family and fit right in. As she is currently the only dog in our household, so she is very spoiled (my fault, I know). Not long after she came on board, she developed parvo which affected her digestive system. She came very close to dying, but with some quick vet meds and waiting it out she did recover. The illness did leave behind a very sensitive stomach. I have to be very careful that she doesn’t over eat because it will make her sick every time. Yesterday, she got into a new bag of dog food. It went everywhere while I made an effort to get most of the excess up it was more than she usually has access too. I even told her don’t overeat. This morning I woke up to the smell and sounds of a dog tossing her cookies. Yuk! We have hardwood floors in our home. However, her favorite place to do the aforementioned is on the end of the long rug in our hallway. She forgets, She’s a dog, and She can’t help herself.
Unfortunately, I am like that at times too. My life will get out of balance when I let to many things capture my attention. The fact of the matter is these things are not bad things. They are good things to do. I find myself taking on more and more things, then I find I am stretched to thin and not effective at any of them. I am learning that I am not super woman. I really cannot do it all. We all may struggle with finding balance in our daily lives. Because in all fairness, most of us are more busy than we have ever been. Juggling family, work, church, and friendships can lead to a three-ring circus. I have learned when things begin to feel out of control, I go to Father God who is in control of it all. I take Him my unbalanced, crazy life and we work together on it. In the quietness of our time together, I find a peace and contentment that comes only spending time with Him alone. He knows me so well. He knows everything about me. He shows me what is best for me and what is not. The time spent in God’s presence is time well spent. It is something that I need everyday. Most days, I find a run to Him all through my day. It is in those days that I feel the most centered and the most balanced.
Some may say that having to much of a good thing is the only way, but I disagree. The only way to live it to have all that God wants me to have for that day. God is the one person you can never have to much of. It is indeed the best way to live.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
‘And of some having compassion, making a difference.’ Jude 22
Well, we are headed back to the ball field. Tonight our little corner of southwest Georgia has begun our annual church softball league. I will say up front that as a former player of this sport, I love when the season comes around again. There is something electric when you get to the ball field. I loved playing softball in high school. I loved watching my boys play baseball growing up. Now, I get to watch them in the church softball league. I’m excited.
I do know that there are times when stuff that takes place at the ball field gets a “bad rep”. Parents going overboard, or kids having meltdowns etc., but in all fairness there is a lot of positives that can happen on our favorite diamond. One it teaches our younguns teamwork, and how to get along well with others. When they get out on the work force after school has ended, they are going to have to know how to get along with other people. It teaches to pursue excellence and doing your best. Also, great lessons to learn before thrust into the situation in your twenties. So for all intensive purposes, you can learn what to do when the pressure is on, and also what not to do.
It really warms my heart when I look back at the coaches my boys had at the ball field. They both had ones that worked with them and helped them, and above all showed them compassion when it was needed. They took the opportunity to show my boys the character it takes to achieve greatness. The boys often discuss the ball field antics now that they are older. The coaches that they remember are the ones that showed them how to strive for excellence, but also understood that character and compassion would be what they would benefit from the most.
So for all those sweet folks that will be out there on ball field across America. Remember, your kid might not be the next great one on the ball field, but if he is wouldn’t it be better for him to have character and compassion before he takes on the world of sports. We sure to need more of those!
As a southern lady, I was from infancy grounded in the knowledge that as a woman from Florida, migrating slightly north to South Georgia, USA (following a wonderful man), that if you wanted to keep your family happy, keep them fed. The only way to keep them fed to the gills was to incorporate a mass amounts of comfort food recipes written by southern women available by the internet, cookbooks, T.V. shows, and the best way “by word of mouth”. If you are unaware of this, Find a woman from the south and ask her. I would tend to stick to AL, FL, GA, TN and the Carolina’s for the most accurate information. If I did not include your fair state, this was not an oversight, I was merely speaking from my personal experience. I would also include VA, just because I have a sweet sister in law, who also migrated north also from her SC roots. In all these ramblings, I must say that the “comfort food” should be accompanied by its most lovely companion, Sweet Tea, which is often spoken of in hushed tones, and always with a smile!
Some southern “sweet tea” souls know the best ratio from sugar to tea. Some may engage in anywhere from lightly sweetened to heavy “let’s pour it on pancakes” sweet. I have, however, in an effort to be more healthy over the last couple of years engaged in an effort to switch from sweet to unsweetened tea. I have not totally succeeded in this adventure as I still have to add to my unsweetened tea a zero calorie sweetener. I know most of my southern girls would say, “Girl, if you have to do that, just drink water!” I would, but I can’t totally let go of my tea. It is what mama served us, it is what I know!
So my dilemma remains! I guess you need to decide if you are going to stick to your roots, or press forward in a way that is different than what everyone else is doing. I will say that some traditions serve a purpose and leave a legacy for us, but we also need to consider that just because it has always been done that way does not mean you cannot find a better way for you. In my reading about Jesus, He seemed to be doing things differently than the way it had been done. I think that is why the religious crowd had so many problems with Him. In my own efforts to pursue Christ, I am seeing things in a new way. I know I need to follow Him in the way He wants me to, not in the same way I have always done it. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over again in the same way and expect different results. So if I want to pursue Christ with my whole heart it requires some sacrifices on my part. This includes my will and my want to. To be filled with the Spirit means letting go with what the flesh wants to do. They are in direct opposition. Pursing Christ means stepping out beyond what others may think or what they may be doing, and following Him alone.
I would say “in conclusion”, but I won’t. This is a work in progress. I am a work in progress, and that is okay! I may not have it all figured out, but I have faith in One who does. If I stay close and continue to pursue Christ, He will show me the way. So where ever you are in your Christian walk consider pursuing Jesus every day. Your relationship with Him will be ever so much sweeter than the aforementioned “nectar”!
Stayed tuned, my friends, it only gets sweeter!
‘For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; ‘ Colossians 1:9
As an avid Star trek fan, I am always moved by the scene at the end of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn”. Spock tells Jim not to grieve because He is doing what is needed, “For the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one!” I suppose if one were to think logically this may apply, yet God thought that the needs of the one, me, was worth sending His beloved Son to be born, live, endure hardships, die, and be raised from the dead. As He did it for me, Jesus did it for you too.
God thought we were important enough when ties were broken with man, God chose to pursue a relationship with us. He chose us and in return we have the choice to choose Him too. The truth I am looking at is that although God is the God of the individual, He can also be (and is) the God who loves and cares for the masses. We read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God loves everyone! In the New Testament, Jesus also had compassion on the multitudes. God cares about everyone! NO ONE is excluded from His compassion and caring heart! He gave His Son to the Masses (the World); He gave His Son to the individual (Me). How is this possible? The answer is very simple, He Is God!!!
I know my brain may be going in a circle right now, but what brought this train of thought along is the fact that I have needs every day. What can I say besides, “I am needy!” I need Jesus! This year our church’s theme is “Pursuing Christ”. As we have been studying the Scriptures I am realizing that I need to pursue Christ as He pursued me in Salvation. Our salvation begins our relationship with Christ. As God pursued me in having a relationship with Him, I need to pursue that daily fellowship that deepens the relationship. I need to meet with God every day. I need to fill up with Him in the mornings and pursue Him all day long. Psalm 70:4-5 reads, “‘Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord , make no tarrying.” We need to pursue Him because He alone is our hope, and peace. We need to go after Him joyfully and cheerfully. We do not do this because we feel we ought to or because someone will realize if we don’t. We pursue Christ because of the love we feel for Him. We need to be so wrapped up in loving Jesus that it is our main focus and concern. Because we know that whatever we face during the day, He is there with us to face every challenge, to walk every step, and to overcome our weaknesses. We are needy, but God is our help and our deliverer! Why would we not want Him with us through the day?
So this is where we live, knowing we have needs that far outweigh our ability to handle in a day. We know also that God wants us to reach out to the world. We can only do this in a strength that is not our own. It is Christ living in us and reaching out through us. Through our obedience, we reach out to the individual, and by doing this, we can reach the World. The needs of the one, me, must propel me forward to meeting the needs of the many, the world. The significant Truth is the need is the same, JESUS!
Blessings to You!
What is it about new beginnings that inspire you? The prospect of starting fresh really appeals to me. I have often tried to accomplish many things over the years. Sometimes success reigns, and I am glad I decided to push past my feelings of doubt or inadequacy. Sometimes the new thing excites me in the beginning, and I have every intention of following through to its conclusion, but I do not make it to the finish line…Epic Fail. Do you see yourself at the beginning of the same journey and wonder if this will be the time it will be different? I find myself in this place this morning. I know that the task ahead of me is great. I know that if I can push past the doubt, and let fact not feeling dictate my mindset, I know I can succeed. The fact that I am clinging to is that in whatever I am facing, God is there! He is my biggest cheerleader! God wants me to have abundant life in Him. (He says so in His Word!) I cannot measure my success by the world’s standards because they have a whole other set of rulers to measure success. So I must ask myself, who are you going to please with this one life you have been given. At the end of the day are the choices I made today going to please or displease my Heavenly Father.
Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” My husband is fond of saying He is serving an audience of one. The more I think on this statement the more I believe it to be true. May God be pleased with me today, and as I face this day may He be pleased with every effort. May God be pleased with my new beginning!