How’s My Love?

Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ ”  ~ Matthew 22:37

One of the things I have tried to practice in my home is to tell each member of my family how much I love them. I wanted my boys to know as they were growing up that in any situation whether good or bad they were loved by me. Of course, I loved doing things to show them that I loved them. I feel this is indeed very important, but equally important is to say the words, “I love you!” Every time they were leaving to go anywhere or even off with friends. I would tell them to “Be careful, and I love you”. This did get a bit tricky when they moved into that age when saying “I love you” around other people can be embarrassing for a fellow to hear from his mother. So, we used code 143. (I Love You). It was something we did not explain to anyone. It was just something we did. It kind of cracked me up when sometimes when they got older. I would tell them 143 and they would respond back with, “I love you too”. We said it so much that it got to the point when it didn’t matter anymore. Our saying “love you” grew beyond the code. It became our second nature.

In our relationship with God as in our human interaction, we tell others we love God, and we even show our love by our actions, but when was the last time you told God, “I love you!” Maybe this has never occurred to you and that’s okay. I was talking with someone not long ago and this was the case with her. She began telling God she loved him and it made a difference in how she viewed God. She stated that it encouraged her to hear someone praying telling God that they loved Him. Our verse today in Matthew encourages us to love God with all that is in us, our heart, our soul, and our mind. Leave nothing out. We must love completely and love big! God has done so much for us. God shows his love to us, but He also tells us He loves us. (John 3:16) God is the very essence of love. (1 John 4:8) With all that He has done to extend love to us should we not want to love Him back with all that is in us: Heart, Soul, Mind? With our whole heart, the essence of who we are, we serve and love God and others. With our soul, spiritually seeking to love God as He loves while following his commandments. With our mind, using the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon us discerning when we need to go the extra mile in loving.

So I give it to you, my friend. How’s your love? Do you love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. I have to say for myself, I have come a long way, yet I have not arrived. It is something that I am striving for daily. I want to love God the way He wants me to. I do need to remember that this is an area God can help me with.  ‘And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, ‘ (Ephesians 3:19-20)  God wants us to know his love! He can do more than we ask or think. So together, Let’s ask!

 

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When Compassion Meets Opportunity

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!

“Captive” Thoughts

‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ‘ II Corinthians 10:3-5

Think of a water filtration system at your house. What is its function? As the water passes through the filtering system all the impurities are stripped away. Anything that could be potentially harmful to you is taken out. You are left with water that is safe to consume and be beneficial to your body. Water is a wonderful for our bodies.

In the Christian life, our thought lives are where the most aggressive battles take place. We think then we act. Often it has to be said we act without thinking at times. But, more often than not, how we think affects what we do. Several years ago I came across the phrase “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. This phrase is what I call it when negative thoughts about myself invade my mind and heart. To often in my life I have fallen into the trap of valuing what the world negatively says about me or thoughts I have about myself rather than looking to God and His word for my value. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Maybe someone put ideas in your head as a child. People who are hurting often lash out at those closest to them. In an effort to stop feeling bad about themselves they fling hurtful words at others putting them down. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Not sure who came up with this one, but I believe they were misinformed. Words can hurt deeply.

So how do we ditch the “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. We filter every word we play in our head through the filter of God’s Word. Read and find out what God has to say about you. Ephesians 5:25-26 says about the church, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” God is speaking of the church here, but I believe the same principle can be applied to the mind. We cleanse our minds of negative thoughts by filtering every thought through the filter of the Word of God. In our Key verse, II Corinthians 10:3-5, all our negative thoughts should be brought into captivity. Practice going to the Word of God when “stinkin thinkin” invades your mind. Clean up your thoughts by washing them in the Word. Find out what God has to say about you. (Psalm 43:5; Proverbs 3:3-5). Pursue Christ and Learn to think thoughts that will honor and glorify Him.

  • Example Prayer to Pray—”Father God, I grab hold to this truth that you are for me! You value me! (Matthew 10:31) You said in your Word I am more valuable than the birds you created. When I get down on myself, I am going against what your Word says about me. So, I claim (Deuteronomy 31:8) that you are with me, and (Romans 8:32) that you are going to give me what I need in this very moment. Also, (v.33) that no one can lay a charge against me except You. This includes me! Help me take these negative thoughts I am thinking about myself and drown them in the truth of your Word. AMEN!
  • Pray with your Bible open praying the Scripture back to God

May the truths of God’s Word penetrate your heart and mind and think “Good Thoughts”.

 

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda”

I should have handled that in another way…

I sure would have handled that differently…

I could have done it so much better another way…

How often does the tape recorder of second guessing yourself play the same tune, different verse in your head? Me? Quite often I would have to say. For years, I have struggled on and off with the business of perfectionism. As a disclaimer, I will say upfront that I am aware that I am not perfect, painfully aware. Most of the time, with the Lord’s help, of course, I have learned the signs of perfectionism coming out in my life and dealt with it quickly with the help of His Word. Sometimes though I experience the tape recorder playing over and over in my head with all the “what if’s?” and “If Only’s…”

We, perfectionists, at one point or another, find ourselves falling in the trap of evaluating every minor issue in our lives thinking we could have done it better, if only… I find that when I find myself susceptible to this trap is when I being to turn my thoughts and feelings inward rather than focusing my thoughts upward on Christ. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…” It is in my mind and my heart where these battles are fought. We know that when we pull negative thoughts toward what we did or said it brings us to the place where we feel we are lacking and come up short of what we really wanted to do or say. Our negative thinking can be our undoing. So, when we feel these negative thoughts coming up, call it what it is “stinkin thinkin”! I heard this term several years ago, though I am not sure where, and it resonated with me.

I need to let go of the “stinkin thinkin” thoughts of I shoulda, woulda, or coulda done it differently. Sure hind sight is 100%. The Bible tells us in Philippians 2:2 that you “be likeminded”, and then in verse 5 of chapter 2 to, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We need change our frame of mind and focus on how Christ thinks about us. Scripture reveals to us over and over how God feels about us. He loves us. (1 John 4:8; John 3:16). We are valuable to Him (Luke 12:6-7; Matthew 10:31). The list can go on and on. Once and for all we need to take Philippians 4:6-8 seriously. Do not fear and think on things that are true and right before God. Will we still struggle from time to time? Yes, the devil wants to see us beat ourselves up to the point that we cannot be effective for Christ. When the negative thoughts arise. Quickly squelch them with what God has to say about you.

We do not have to live by the shoula, woulda, coulda merry-go-round! We can overcome with the power of Christ and His Word. May you find your freedom from “stinkin thinkin” and rest in Christ alone.

Blessings to You!

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 that is. The third verse or stanza is probably one of the verses of the hymn least sung, because growing up in a small rural church 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, 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 out 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