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Joy in the Process

‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘ Romans 15:13

Of all the ministry areas the Lord has led me to work in, I find myself enjoying leading Bible Study with the ladies of our church. It actually has not always been this way. When my husband and I first began in ministry together, He was the associate pastor at a local church. He had been serving  in churches for quite some time before we were married so he had his feet already wet and prepared more than I was for the challenges in the ministry. I had served in the church, but had not yet been in a position of leadership. I remember the first time I was approached to lead a women’s bible study. Two words come to my mind, “SHEER PANIC”! I would have to get up in front of other women and lead in a study of God’s Word. I felt so unworthy and then concerned. What if they asked me stuff I didn’t know the answer to? What if they thought my teaching style was weird? I went through every scenario. I prayed a lot. I prayed God would change His mind. Then I realized that God was calling me to do it. So I took a deep breath and jumped in feet first. God did a work in me. He taught me to rely on Him.

When I think of leading a bible study now, I look forward to it. I know I am doing what God has called me to do. It took a little while to find my groove, but the Lord showed me I just needed to be myself and trust him fully. A lot of prayer and preparation goes into it, but I have found joy in all God has taught me over the years. It’s hard to believe that it has been 24 years since that first Bible study. I give God the praise for all He has done in me and through me. Last night, Our ladies finished up the Book, “Why Do I Put So Much Pressure On Myself And Others” by Kathy Collard Miller. Though the Book is a lesson on how God helped our author through overcoming and learning to cope with perfectionism, we looked at a lot of Scripture to realize who we are and whose we are! I had the privilege to go through this book several years ago. This time the Lord taught me some more about how my life goal should not be about making sure everything is perfect, but to strive to pursue Christ with my whole heart. Someone with perfectionist tendencies often never sees the joy because they are more focused on the circumstances. I am thankful that God is willing to take us where we are and lead us to where He wants us to be. If we spend all our efforts focused on things we cannot control we will not have the energy to pursue Christ. We can find so much joy in the pursuit of Christ.

God can fill you will all joy and peace as Romans 15:13 says. The key is we have to be in a position to let Him. Let go of things, and grab Jesus with both hands. Don’t let Him go. Tell Jesus you can not take one more step without Him. To Trust and Rely on God should be our focus. When this happens, Joy will be the product, and Peace of God will be experienced as you never have felt before. We can find joy in the midst of trials. The bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18) We can learn to hope in God alone. Do you want pure joy? My friend, you cannot find it outside of God. Pursue Christ and find joy in the process!

Blessings to you today!

Heart Check Up

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!

 

When you can’t see His hand…

“Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand all the ways that God will lead us to that blessed promised land, but He guides us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die. for we’ll understand it better by and by.” ~Charles Albert Tindley (1905)

The third verse of the hymn “By and By” has always been the one I think of first of when singing this song. I am not sure exactly why. The third verse or stanza was probably one of the verses of the hymn least sung in a small rural church where I grew up. Our tendency was to sing the first, second, and fourth (or last). Can I get a witness? 🙂 As I contemplate the meaning of these precious words, I can’t help but think that the message is as true today as it was back in 1905. When we look on our own life and the lives of those around us, we cannot always see what God is doing. The trials and circumstances taking place in our lives can cause us to doubt that He is even working at all. If you were to visit your favorite Christian bookstore, you would find a wealth of options on finding God’s will for your life. While the principles many of these books resonate with us, we must realize that God is the God of the individual, and carries out His plan in each life according to that person’s needs. While there may be some things in common between us, God may also choose to move in another’s life in a way that might be a mystery to them and to us.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know what God is doing in this situation, but I hope He’s doing something!” Believe me when I say, God is working! Sometimes we only see the trials and the dark places. The places may feel like they are closing in and around us and we are overcome with the gravity of them. We feel weighed down and sluggish as if we were wading through a bog. We cannot find relief and feel our path will never change. We want God to step in and pull us out of the mire of our circumstances. ‘I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. ‘ Psalms 69:2-3  My friend, you are not alone. David felt these same feelings. Let’s see what God did. ‘Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord , in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. ‘ Psalms 69:6,13,18,30 The answer is seemingly simple. David sought the face of God, and God heard and answered his cry.

The Christian life is full of mountain top experiences. Those are the fun times. When we see God move, work, and show all that He can do. Equally, the Christian life has a valley between the mountains. In the dark times, when we don’t understand and have a rough time seeing His hand moving in our life, Stop. Lift up your head and your voice and seek the face of God. In my life’s darkest places, I have learned more about God in the valleys than on the mountains. I have learned He works and moves in ways I cannot begin to understand. Really, it is not my place to understand. It is for me to seek Him and trust the one who sees both the mountain and the valley in a glance. So I with faith will follow till the end of my life. Hold tight to Jesus, my dear friend. “We will understand it better by and by.

Blessings to you!

Jesus and The Homeschooler

What pops in your mind when you hear the word “Homeschooler”? It has been a term that has been coined by those who feel the calling of God to teach their children at home. Some of you out there may only have encountered a home school student at the time of the year when the National Spelling Bee is shown on Television. May I just say in the kindness of your heart don’t judge all home school children by these few. My boys would keel over if they thought the world saw all home school students in this light. My boys were good students, smart, active in the community, active in church, active in county sports programs, and were happy, healthy, “dirt under their fingernails” fun kids. We made our decision to home school our children because we felt it was in their best interest and we did feel called to do it. I will state that if you do not feel called to home school, “DON’T DO IT!” It will be a recipe for disaster.  We all have to do what is best for our families. I do not look down on anyone who chooses to use the traditional system, yet I would like the same courtesy from you! 🙂 Thanks in advance. I will go on to say that this system worked for us, and now that we have crossed the finish line, I am glad that we did it. Can I say also that I have two great guys! At 20 and 21, they are well rounded, awesome guys. I am a proud mama!

You might wonder what brought on this particular post at this time. I spoke with one of my fellow home school friends who has a ways to go to cross the finish line of homeschooling. She has 5 amazing kids, the youngest three being adopted. She needed someone to talk to about her junior in high school. We had a great conversation! We were there for each other. It’s what we Home School Mama’s do! As I began to think on the journey we have taken. I know that when I had moments of doubt, God was there with me to help me through it. I was reading in my quiet time today in the book of Matthew and saw something I had not seen before, or maybe just read over it. Today, I saw it in a new light. In Matthew 11:28-30, we read, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The middle verse of this is what caught my attention. We all need to stop, listen, and take on what Jesus is trying to tell us. We need to learn of him where we are. We do need that corporate worship each week where we meet with other believers, (Please do not stop meeting at your church with your brothers and sisters in Christ. This is needed for all of us) yet, we also need that daily time alone with Him in our homes.  What do you need to know? “Come unto me!” What do you need to let go of? “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden!” What do you need to feel less stressed?” “Come unto me… and I will give you rest.” What do you need to take on? “Take my yoke” Pray over every situation, before you commit to it.  We can only do all of these things by learning at His feet. We need God’s wisdom and guidance. We need to be his student. We need to be his homeschooler!

Okay, maybe you think I kind of roped you in with that last line. I do promise I will not ask when you will be on TV at the National Spelling Bee. Because if you are, Hey, I am okay with that. Seriously though, I have found in my own life that some of the greatest lessons God has taught me was when I was studying and learning from Him in the quietness of my own home. The fact of the matter is we need to sit at His feet every day. Take some time today to “learn of Him”. These lessons will last a lifetime.

I love the song by Jennifer Deibler,

“In the calm of Your presence
I am listening, Lord
I am still, I am quiet
I am Yours

Let Your Word speak to me
Let Your Spirit draw near
I will obey
The truth that I hear

In the calm of Your presence
I am listening, Lord
I am still, I am quiet
I am Yours”

Blessings to you!

The Sweet Tea Principle

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