Tag Archives: heaven

Don’t Give God a To-Do List, Give God Your Heart

Chrysanthemum

Journaling is all the rage these days. And keeping a prayer journal helps Christians keep track of pray requests. But we need to be very careful that prayer journals don’t become our ‘to-do’ for God.

I started a prayer journal about this time last year. Each morning I would have my prayer and devotional time and then commence writing in my prayer journal. It became a task for me. I wanted to have the correct sentence structure. I worried about spelling and I worried about punctuation.

Part of me thought that it could be a lasting legacy for my son and his children beyond him. My topics in my prayer journal were legitimate prayers and concerns that I brought to the Lord. But my focus in the journal was misplaced.

When I decided to just sit quietly, speak with God from my heart and listen with my heart, I heard so much more in my prayer life and saw so much more happening on my prayer list. And then there was the discussion with my son about answered prayers and even unanswered prayers. That is the lasting legacy, my spoken word about the goodness of God.

Luke 11:9-10 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

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Trust In The Lord

I think we can all relate to living with anxious moments from time to time. Do you ever have those moments when you feel like something is wrong? Do you ever feel something has you on edge? You can’t put your finger on it exactly, but you are anxious about something. For some anxiety is severe and can be paralyzing. But the average person can manage their anxiety by trusting in the Lord.

Palm-Tree

I can first recall that anxious feeling during college. The pressure to perform well in college was nothing I had ever experience before. The first few months out of college I would get anxious moments thinking that I needed to be doing something. I had been so used to studying. But once college was over, the studying could stop. I had to learn how to relax.

Then along came life and career and the anxious moments from college were replaced with staying on top of work assignments. Adult issues such as bills, family and children can bring out anxious moments too.

But I have learned to trust in Jesus. I literally say many times a day, “I trust you Lord.” The anxious moments disappear.

When I feel an anxious moment coming on I pray, “Lord, something has me feel anxious and upset. I don’t know what it is, but Lord I trust you to help me through it. I trust you Lord to take away this feeling. I trust you Lord to see me through whatever it is.”

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Stop Complaining

My workstation sits out in the open a bit. I am surrounded by people all day. I can hear conversations, I can hear coughing and sneezing and I can hear people shuffling their feet as they walk by.

All three of those are things make working in an open environment a challenge for me. I try to stay focused and mentally block it out. But I miss the days of having my own private office.

This week was the triune of the things that annoy me. I heard all three on one particular day. I cringed when I heard the cough and sneeze determining not to catch a cold. And I let out heavy sighs at loud conversations that interrupt my focus. I can remember my father always telling me to pick up my feet when I walk. And he would tell me to walk with a purpose – head up, shoulders back. He would say ‘Walk like you’re going somewhere.’

All of it got me to thinking. And that made me think about my walk – my Christian walk. I was reading one of my favorite books of devotions and that particular day was so appropriate. I have learned that those messages are always very appropriate and timely.

The devotional message was commending me for staying close to Jesus but it also reminded me that I have a tendency to complain. OUCH! Nail on the head!

My complaining spirit about my workstation is not flattering or pleasing God in any way. The passage encouraged me to take my cares to the Lord because it will temper my thoughts and help me see things from His perspective.

Philippians 2:14-15 says “Do everything without complaining or arguing. So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like the stars in the universe.”

I am thankful to have a job when so many do not. I am thankful I live in a country where health care and medical supplies are easily accessible – there are so many places in the world without adequate health care. And I am thankful I have shoes on my feet – whether they are shuffling or not – because so many do not.

Scripture stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be thankful. That should be my focus.

Be Joyful

When You Ask God For Direction . . . You Have to Listen For His Answer

proverbs-3-5-trust-the-lord

When I look back over my life and think about the number of time I asked God about his direction for me, I find that He’s been talking to me all along. I just haven’t been listening.

I can remember the first time I knew that God – without a doubt – was speaking to me. It was a long time ago and I had been dating a guy for nearly three years. I was ready to settle down. When we first started dating, we were not in the same city. But the opportunity arose where we could be closer, and the guy did not encourage me to move to be near him and he wasn’t making any moves to be nearer to me. I wasn’t playing coy. I clearly let my feelings be known. I didn’t believe in playing games. He asked me about two years into the relationship where I thought it was going. And I told him. I wanted to be married and start a family. You could hear the crickets. Exactly, he didn’t have much to say to that. But we continued to date. That was my own selfishness. I was thinking he would come around to seeing things my way.

So later in the relationship another opportunity arose. But this one would have taken me farther away from him. Again, he didn’t ask me to stay. He was pretty indifferent to where I moved. Finally, the Lord placed it so clearly on my heart that this young man was never going to commit to me. It took me another six months to finally listen and end the relationship.

Did I mention that I’m a little hard-headed?

Jump forward 24 years and I was still struggling to hear from God. I had the one experience under my belt of hearing from Him so I knew He would speak to me – but why wasn’t I hearing anything.

Again, I had some big questions about my career and moving. I started praying and asking God’s direction. And at first I didn’t think He was speaking to me. Confusion arose and frustration set in. But what I discovered is that I wasn’t listening. I was blaming God and I was convinced that He wasn’t speaking clearly to me. I even told Him that He needed to speak loud and clear because I was a little hard of hearing. But what I finally realized I wasn’t hearing him because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Again, I was feeding my own selfishness.

Jumping to the present time, I find myself asking God for direction on many given topics and choices. But I finally learned that I need to sit and listen. Sometimes it still isn’t the answer I want, but I have to remember it’s not my will but His will.

Just this week, I prayed about joining a new study at my church. It was one of the new community groups. And the books were going to be $50. I asked the Lord to show me where I was going to get $50 on my tight, tight budget. I listened and He showed me where I would find that $50.

I want to be obedient to Him. My biggest challenge these days is remove my own opinion about something and leave my mind open to hearing from the Lord. I remind myself to remove my desire and to accept His will.

There are many examples in the Bible about people not listening to God. Each one had many challenges until they submitted to God’s will.

I encourage you to listen for Him. He can speak in many different ways. It can come through scripture or it can be a small quiet knowing in your being.

Yes, ask Him but you have to be willing listen to Him.

Banned Words

There are some words I need to stop using. Now before you think something awful about me, let me explain.

I have never been one to use profanity. It never felt natural for me to say certain words. And I don’t hold myself up higher than anyone else – even the most red-blooded sailor who can cuss a blue streak. So when I say there are certain words that I need to strike from my vocabulary trust me, these aren’t words that would cause anyone to blush.

I have always felt that a smart person has an entire dictionary at their disposal and to resort to curse words isn’t very smart of them. In addition, the fact that any word said with emphasis can convey the same message of frustration that curse words do.

I’m talking about seemingly insignificant words in the English language. But still I think in using them, I as a Christian send a mixed message. They kind of get stuck in my mouth and don’t roll off my tongue easily anymore.

I have been trying to adjust my conversations and avoid these words.

The first word is luck – lucky. If I as a Christian say I faith, how can I talk about being lucky. Can a Christian be lucky? Luck means chance, happenstance or fluke. If I believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God then there is no luck. Nothing is left to chance or happenstance.

The same can be said of fortunately. Again, it implies that something happens without planning or that God had no part of it. Unless you are talking about the root word – fortune – and you say that God has blessed you with a fortune. Have mercy on this poor believer.

And the word wish is another one. What is so wrong with the word wish? Is it appropriate for a Christian to wish for something? Shouldn’t I pray? If I have faith that my prayers can be answered, why would I wish for something.

Of course there is big, bad four letter word of hate. How can a Christian who is supposed to love have hate for anything? I know that Bible says God hates certain things but He is, after all, God.

I am a work in progress. I am loving and learning as I go along. I know these words aren’t going to send me to the depths of hell. But I want my conversation to match my faith walk.

What are some words that should be banned for you?

Workplace Christian

Workstations

In today’s workplace you have a menagerie of individuals with a variety of backgrounds. I seems that more than any time in history, today’s Christian walks a minefield of political correctness not to offend anyone and maintain friendly workplace. 

I am ashamed to say I have found myself saying and doing things to get along and keep the peace and to fit in. I realize I haven’t held strong to my convictions for fear of being the ‘Jesus freak’ or too preachy. But isn’t that what this Christian life is about. We are to bring others to Christ. Then if that means being labeled the Jesus freak or being preachy, so be it.

On the other side of the coin you also never want to come off with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, because the reality is we are all sinners saved by grace.

If you find yourself in a situation that puts you between a rock and a hard place, speak the gospel’s truth – remember Jesus is the rock who will smooth out the hard places.

If this is you, say this prayer with me. Lord, forgive me today that I have fallen short of your glory. I have been lacking the conviction to stand firm on your word. Lord, give me the courage to stand for you. Give me the boldness to speak up about you. Protect me Father when I come under attack when I speak up about you. Give me the conviction that declares you as Lord and Savior and that it brings others to know you. I give you the honor, the glory and the praise.

Who are you?

I love the TV show, “Who do you think you are?” They usually have celebrity guests as the focus. They trace that person’s history. In some cases they have been able to trace it back to a native country – Ireland, England, or Germany. They have even been able to trace ancestry back to specific countries in Africa, which is amazing given the slave trade and the fact that very few records were kept.

But I am talking about how you identify yourself.

At family reunions we often say that we are ‘so-and-so child’ as a way to help identify yourself. Or if there is strong family resemblance, you could easily identify people.

It is interesting, in business people are driven to identify individuals also. I worked in marketing and that is driven by demographics and targeting the right audience. We often needed to segment our marketing by income levels, by gender, or by race. We occasionally needed to segment geographically.

But who do you say you are?

Thankfully I can say that I am a child of God. He doesn’t segment me. But exactly what does that mean?

I am not defined in God’s eye by my occupation. I am not defined in God’s eye by my marital status. I am not defined in God’s eye by my income. I am not defined as an African American or as a female. But because I believe in a heavenly, holy father, his son Jesus Christ who died on the cross and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I simply define myself as a child of God.

Romans 10:11-13 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile –the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”