Stop and Refocus

When I sat down to have my quiet time this morning, I looked at my Bible study book and just couldn’t pick it up.  So after a little prayer, I began getting the kiddos working on their lessons for the day.  I really felt God wanting me to stop and refocus.  Not exactly what I wanted to do this morning.

Here’s a little insight…

Ok, so we’re working to get settled in.  Unpacking is just as much fun as the packing was. Moving-Homes-The-Unpacking-Nightmare-700x466I’m honestly, OVER seeing boxes everywhere.  But, unpacking and living in a place at the same time makes it slow-going.  That’s ok.  It really is.  But, here’s what happened over the past few days.  The hubby has started officially at the church.  He’s keeping regular office hours (and not just across the parking lot), so he’s not around during schooling hours if I need a little assistance.  (That’s really ok, too.)  I, however, during this transition have not been as diligent in keeping the Enemy out of my thought life.  That’s a very dangerous thing!  Little unpacking has been accomplished this week.  All of my time has been spent schooling & cleaning.  (I mean, you have to clean if you are going to live in a place…even if it isn’t unpacked.)  Insert LOTS of frustration over not being able to find items needed for cleaning.  More frustration over being interrupted by children needing assistance while I was looking for missing items needed for the cleaning task I was involved in.  Dishes. Laundry. Creating a home atmosphere. Sweeping. Vacuuming. Dishes. Laundry. Trip over a box. (Did I break my toe?) Try to develop a cleaning/shopping routine.  Realize it doesn’t work.  Try again.  Redirect kiddos back to school.  Etc. Etc. & repeat.

During all of this, the Enemy is whispering: “You are going to have to do this all by yourself.”  “Look at them all, playing around & not helping at all.”  “You’re never going to get anything accomplished.”   See where he was taking me?  UGH!!

Insert God saying “STOP!” “My daughter, I need you to refocus!”

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: “Many women are capable but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:25-29 (HCSB)

He directed me to read and meditate on Proverbs 31, again.  I love my Abba for times like this!  Sure, I may get overwhelmed at times, but I don’t have to listen to the Enemy’s lies.  As long as I recognize them, I can rebuke them.  God created me for the purpose of “watching over” my household.  That doesn’t mean I have to do it all myself, but I do have to delegate responsibilities & ask for assistance when needed.

Why do we, as women, make things SO much more difficult than they need to be?  😉

May I encourage you, sister, if you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged with simply everyday life, take some time to stop and refocus.  Pray.  Listen to God.  Obey Him.  Maybe read through Proverbs 31. (And please don’t feel that you EVER have to live up to her example.) Be inspired by her!  Be encouraged by her!  God created you for a beautiful purpose!

Be blessed!

-De

Terrifyingly Exciting

How’s that for a title?  Seriously, though, God has brought us down a path over the past 6 months that is both very exciting and completely terrifying.

Where to start…

How about here:  About a year ago, at a women’s conference, I first heard the song Oceans.  You know the one.  I was so moved by it…literally moved to tears.  I wanted God to do that kind of work in me.  I wanted to not fear His will, whatever that may be.  I wanted to be willing to go wherever He called.  So, I began to make that my prayer.  Every time I would hear the song, I would make it my hearts cry.  God kept it on my mind and in my heart.  I would find myself singing it at random times, my heart’s prayer.

Fast-forward several months, late summer I believe, all I know for sure is that I was in the throws of a “Who Do You Think You Are?” season and totally in my genealogy state of mind.  My sweet hubby comes in one afternoon and asks me, “How close is Kershaw, South Carolina to where your ancestors are from?”  *Insert nerdy squeee*  Um, my great-grandfather was born there!!  Then he tells me that he’s been contacted by a church there.  Excitement ebbs a bit and terror takes over.

*God, that’s SOOO far from our family!*

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail

Deuteronomy 13.4Well, that’s all it is for several months.  My husband and I purpose to consistently pray for God’s will over our family & His church.  God revealed to my hubby two very specific tasks to complete at our current church.  Not easy tasks mind you, many nights of prayer went into these.  It was very difficult for him at times, but I love my man of God, he faithfully followed.  Here’s the most awesome thing…the morning after he finished the final of the two tasks, the church called him again.  (God doesn’t play games guys.  He is full of awesome!)  It was a serious call, a we’d love to talk more in depth call.  A terrify this little girl to the core call.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

So, we began the task of SUPER heavy prayer (with the addition of a few faithful prayer warriors) and conversations.  You’d think by this point in my life, and through all the things God has brought us through, I’d have no fears with following Him with blind faith…WRONG.  This little mommy is a worrier!  This southern belle is really a home body!  This planning girl doesn’t like for things to be “up in the air” or unknown.  (You’d also think I’d know by now that God doesn’t work like me.)    Ministry at the intersection of one place and another is HARD, I’m not going to lie.  If you are serious at all about loving and working for Jesus, you can’t just “check-out” from your current ministry home.  Things still need to be done.  Things still need to be planned and organized…even when you know you aren’t going to be the one to see it through.  I can’t even begin to accurately describe how hard that is.  My emotions have been a roller-coaster.  But, I know God’s holding us in His hands.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

And now, after many months (and I must confess, a Gideon prayer or two) God has finished the task of preparing us for His work in a new place.  We are going, with full faith in Him, to South Carolina.  We are excited to see the work He has for our family there.  Our hearts continue to pray for His church here, I know He has amazing plans for His precious people here.  Change is always difficult, but it can so often be a wonderful thing, especially when it is ordained by the Creator.  Commit yourselves to Him!  Follow Him without fear and question!  It’s terrifyingly exciting!

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Be blessed!
-De

Take Off Those Steel-Toed Boots

2_timothy_3_16_by_treybacca-d5vmg7vBut as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2Timothy 3:14-17 HCSB

Preface: This verse actually popped up in my children’s lesson a few Wednesday nights ago.  That set it rolling around in my brain.  God has had it on simmer for the past weeks, allowing me to draw some amazing things from it.  Speaking its lessons to my heart.

How often do you wear your “steel-toed boots” to church?  You know what I mean…the imaginary armor you put on after a few weeks of the preacher’s words stepping on your toes.  It’s so easy to become exhausted of sermons stomping our toes into the ground.  You may even be tempted to ask your pastor to give your toes a break once and a while.  Ever been there?  I have.

You know what friend?  Don’t be tempted to ask your pastor to “tickle your ears.”  There are warnings against that.  Paul specifically warns Timothy of this just a few verses later:

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom:  Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.  They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:1-5

Prayerfully, if your pastor is truly seeking God’s will, he/she will not listen to your counsel anyway.

We are human. We don’t like to be told we’re wrong in any way.  It hurts.  It makes us uncomfortable.  It often makes us angry.  We may want to lash out.  We may want to withdraw.  There are many ways we respond to rebuke or correction.

When your pastor or teachers are teaching the Words of God in truth*, friends they’re fulling God’s will for them.  If those words from scripture stomp on your sensitive toes…LET IT!  That usually means that you need it.  I know that is the case with me.  When something my hubby preaches just pierces me to the core, I know it’s time to get with God and do a check-up!  (Not always willingly…I have been known to throw a toddler tantrum or two.)

God’s truth can hurt as well as encourage.  I’ve heard messages in the past that I found incredibly encouraging only to be told by a friend how much it stomped her toes, and vice versa.

Let’s take those old steel-toed boots and toss them in the trash!  Let’s allow God’s Word to pierce our hearts and stomp our toes!  Only then, when we’ve been taught, rebuked, corrected, & trained will we be complete & equipped for the work He has prepared for us.

Be blessed!

-De

*Please be aware that there are “teachers” and “pastors” who do not teach the Word in truth but in twisted versions of the scriptures.  I encourage you to study the scriptures & hold them accountable.

Too Far Removed

The-Days-After-American-Flag-964

So, I’ve found myself avoiding TV and media in general today.  Mostly because I don’t want to have a cry fest and the images of 9/11 always move me to tears.

But I starting thinking, maybe avoiding the harsh reality that was 9/11 just because I don’t feel like crying today is probably not the best idea.

Why?  What’s wrong with that?  I strongly feel that the farther removed from the tragedy of 9/11 we are, the more forgetful we become.  The more secure we feel, the more we like to pretend it never happened.  Things are great.  What’s there to worry about?  Or the worst… we’re invincible.

I don’t want to be that naive…ever.  I pray that our society as a whole wouldn’t either, but that’s not what we see on the news everyday.

Pondering these thoughts while driving back from town, led me to thoughts of the Cross.  Are our problems in society simply that we are too far removed from the truth of the Cross?

Are Christians becoming too comfortable?  Do we suffer from a false sense of security while sitting on our comfy pews?  Have we lost the urgency to reach a lost and dying world?

The words of Paul are ringing in my ears.  His sense of urgency….

“I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom:  Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.  They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.  But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:1-5

The words whether convenient or not punch me in the pit of my stomach.  Convenience…isn’t that what our culture is all about?

Father, bring us a sense of urgency to tell people of You!

So today, while we as a nation, remember the fallen & the heroes, take a bit of time and turn back to the Cross.  Remember what Christ accomplished there.  Amidst the ugly tragedy, He purchased eternal life for us.  We will never be able to do anything to deserve that sacrifice, but we definitely live like it.  Allow yourself to get uncomfortable and think about it.  Think about all the ugly of that day on Calvary.  The hatred filled words from the crowd.  The mangled sight of the cross.  Let yourself ugly cry even if needed.  But please, don’t be too far removed from the Cross.

-De

 

Revelations on a Sick Day

So, I’ve found myself bundled on the couch today, drinking plenty fluids, getting rest to fight off this cold, and watching a good bit of TV. This is not normal behavior for me, but even reading a book seems an exhausting concept for how I’ve felt.
Today I’ve had a revelation. We’ll, maybe not a true revelation because I’ve seen this for a while, but today I was overwhelmed with it. Anyway, back to this revelation. I can sum up many of the problems in our society with one word: MORE.

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When did consumerism take over? When did it really become necessary to have the newest & best?
I hate when I catch myself getting caught up in it. We all do it. Example…I’m currently drooling over the thought of purchasing a Silhouette. I’ve tried justifying it in many ways…but truth be told, it is far from a need.

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We honestly think that joy & happiness come in these things. But they don’t.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty & hunger, abundance & need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

Paul learned this. We can too.
Not that it’s easy. Not that we will always succeed. But let’s try, together. Let’s break the chains of this commercialism driven consumer culture!

-De

Do I Live Sacrificially?

Today I posted this question to ponder on my facebook wall:

Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for you. What have you sacrificed for Him lately?

Have you ever seriously pondered this?  It was a challenge to myself, and I hope you’ll allow it to challenge you.

Are you living sacrificially? 

Honestly, we will never be able to give Christ everything He deserves from us while we tread in this life.  But we should at least give it a go, right?

So, how might that look?  Believe me, I’m no expert, but I’m willing to dig in and learn…care to join me?

Let’s look to Romans 12

Romans12_1_2

We have to make a conscious choice to not be influenced by the world around us.  We have to dig into His Word and renew our minds…daily.  It’s so simple to let the world sneak into our minds.

The world tells us,

  • “It’s been a long and tiring week, I don’t need to go to church today.”
  • “Yeah, I know I missed last Sunday, but I really need to catch up on housework.”
  • “Oh, the budget is so tight this month, the church won’t notice if I don’t tithe just this once.”
  • “I’ve served my time in the church, I deserve to observe rather than serve.”
  • “I know I’m not the only Christian who sees that homeless man on the corner everyday, surely someone else is helping him out.”
  • “The style of clothing I wear to church shouldn’t matter. They should know to control their thoughts anyway.” (Referring to modesty here…not dressy or casual)
  • “Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be at the top of my priority list.  I’m sure I’ll find time to fit it into my day.”
  • “There are too many hypocrites in churches today.”
  • “Why should I pray when God already knows what I need?”

I could go on, but you get the picture.

I have struggled with many of these nagging voices trying to convince me to, in all honesty, be a lazy and uncaring Christian.

Can we address these lies of the Enemy with the Word of God?  Let’s see…

  • “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (The Message)
  • “Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” Mark 12:41-44 (The Message)
  • “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)
  • “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)
  •  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
  • “…Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV)  Here’s a good blog that speaks more in depth to modesty.
  • “Attention, Israel!  God, our God! God the one and only!  Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!  Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (The Message)
  • “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.” Matthew 5:17-18 (The Message)
  • We’re All in the Same Sinking Boat (Romans 3:9-20)

9-20 So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:
There’s nobody living right, not even one,
    nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
    they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
    I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
    their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
    They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
    litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
    They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.   (Sorry I know that was long, but, Wow, it preaches!)

  • 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:13-18 (ESV)
  • 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

And there are so many more Scriptural rebuttals that we can glean from God’s Word.

So, let’s challenge each other (because, yes, I need it too) that next time we find ourselves tempted to give in to the lies of the world, to seek after the TRUTH of God’s Word.  Seek living a life of sacrifice…that is going against everything our human selves desire. Sacrificing it.  And seeking to fulfill the desires of God for our lives!  IT’S NOT GOING TO BE EASY!!  Oh, but can you imagine how WONDERFUL it will be!!!

-De

Word Box: Joy

Let’s add the word “Joy” to our word box this week!

joy

Here are a few of my favorites:

James 1:2-3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Psalm 47:1

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

John 16:22

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Psalm 30:5

For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

Hebrews 12:1-2  – Christ’s joy at the cross

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

When you find yourself down, or letting someone steal your JOY, take a moment to stop and pray.  “No one will take your joy from you.” “Count it all joy.” “May the God of hope fill you with all joy.”

Please share with us some of your favorite joy verses!

-De