Tag Archives: jesus

I am being used . . . and I’m Ok with that

1-Winter scene

I find it interesting and fascinating how God answers prayers. I am reminded that it is not always in the way we expect. What is more pleasing to me was that it was my 17-year-old son who pointed it out to me.

In the past during the Christmas season I have always purchased restaurant gift cards and when approached by someone asking for money, I would try to engage them in a conversation and ask what the money was being used for. Often times I was told it was for food. I think probably 90 percent of the time that was the response that I received. Since I don’t carry cash around (I stopped that practice many years ago) I would offer them a gift card to a restaurant. Well my sister and brother told me that many times the recipient would exchange the gift card to someone for drugs or for cash to buy drugs. So this year, I decided to provide what the recipient needed more than anything – to hear about Jesus.

So I set about putting packets together. The packets were simply sandwich bags that had small pamphlets that talk about Jesus. I had been collecting them throughout the last several months. I also put together some information on social service organizations where someone can get some help – free meals etc. And I prayed. I asked God to use me to lead someone to a closer walk with Him. I asked him to slow my pace as I scurry from in the cold blasts of winter winds so that someone looking for help might approach me. I wanted to be an instrument to guide people to Christ. But so far there has been nothing. I haven’t seen anyone seeking help. No one has approached me on my one-block walk from the parking garage to my office building. I know they are there, but I haven’t seen anyone. Was my timing off? Were my eyes open? Was I looking friendly and approachable?

In the meantime, I was asked to serve on the live-in team for the February Walk to Emmaus. I’ve talked about my Emmaus experience before. It was the best 72 hours I have ever spent. I was away from home, away from the television, cell phone and internet. I was able to sit quietly and listen to God speaking to my heart. I heard a whole lot during that weekend. And I came out with a renewed love for the Word and for service.

In the 18 months since my walk I have been busy and involved. I have been listening and asking for direction and in general involving God in my everyday decisions. I’ve been thanking him almost moment by moment and receiving the blessings and hopefully being a blessing to someone. Thinking about significance of the season, I wanted to do something this holiday season. I wanted to do something impactful. I reminded myself it wasn’t for my glory – but for His. Even though I haven’t been approached by anyone so far this holiday season, I am being given the opportunity to make a difference and to have an impact.

I was asked to be part of the February team. I wanted to say yes immediately. Actually I did say yes right away, but I asked the Lay Director to give me the weekend to pray about it to be sure. It didn’t seem like it could be a bad decision. But in my usual fashion I began to think of a million things that I needed to take care of to make it happen. I would have to make sure my teenager was someplace safe for 72 hours and the dog needed to be well taken care of also. As I pondered about these things I continued to wonder about my earlier mission. And then as I was telling my son about my little packets and he said “I’m proud of you mom for your Emmaus work. You are making such a difference in someone’s life.” Boom. There is was. I was going to be able to help make a difference is someone’s life. God was going to use me in an Emmaus Walk. I didn’t immediately see it and I am so grateful my son pointed it out to me because he realizes its impact.

So I’m being used . . . and I’m Ok with that.

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Who Am I To Say?

I often open a blank page in my blog and think, ‘Who am I to say anything?’ Who would listen to me? There are occasions when I hear the Lord speaking clearly to me about a topic and I feel compelled to write about it. But there are many other times when I think I should just shut it down and close it up.

And I am not writing this looking for praise or begging for compliments. But I feel humbled each time I sit in front of my laptop.

I have slowed my posts lately because I’ve been busy and because I found myself writing just to be writing. I had set a goal to post twice a week. But I found I didn’t always have something to say. Trust me, not everything I write finds its way to the blogosphere. I do not post everything. But it started me to think about why I am writing.

My son first encouraged me to start writing my blog. It’s funny because I had encouraged a few other people to write a blog. I encouraged my sister to write a blog a few years ago. She often comments on lots of posts from political issues to social issues. And then I encouraged my son last year to start his blog on fashion. But it was my son who told me I should start my own blog about my faith. Was he weary of hearing what I thought were words of wisdom for him? Perhaps but too bad, he will still get that.

But who am I to say anything about the Lord? I am not a preacher or teacher. I am not a Bible scholar. I wouldn’t even call myself well-versed in the Bible. I am a student. I am learning. I am a sinner saved by grace. I have been redeemed and He has set me free. He has blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. He has provided for me and He has delivered me. He has done what I would call miracles. He has sustained me and He has helped me overcome. He loves me and I love Him.

He is awesome and I am awestruck. He is Lord of all. He came to save. He came as a sacrifice for my sins. He walked this earth and was tempted just as I am tempted. He died for my sins. He rose again and sits at the right hand of God. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

So what do I have to say? God loved the world so much that He gave his only son and anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life.

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.

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?

Staying Relevant

With age come gray hair, wrinkles, achy bones and stiff muscles but hopefully some wisdom too.

I was watching the MTV VMAs last Sunday with my son. And I thought to myself, ‘Nearly everyone who performed is young enough to be my child and I would be very upset to see my child on stage gyrating, bumping and grinding.’

music-notes

I started to post on Facebook that I clearly have aged out of the MTV’s target demographic and was having a hard time enjoying the awards show and put my status as ‘feeling old.’ But my son urged me not to.

I have been struggling these days with the thought of staying relevant. I struggle with the idea that I need to show ”them” that I am not of a generation that can’t contribute and that I can still bring knowledge to the table. Is it a real problem? I haven’t been told so but my perception feels real.

But a friend’s Facebook post the very next morning spoke to me. In her post she simply quoted scripture from Romans 12:2

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God’s will is and whatever God finds good, pleasing and complete.

So the wiser part of me has decided that I won’t watch the MTV awards anymore. I’ll take my gray hair, achy bones and stiff muscles and wrinkles and spread a little wisdom. The Bible is still relevant.

 

Are We A Forgetful People?

I just love how the Lord can be gentle but firm in his instruction to His children. Recently He brought back to my attention that we must continue in the faith – at all times. He provided once before and He can do it again.

I am in the midst of another car malfunction. I recently paid nearly $600 in June for repairs. And it looks like this new one might be as expensive. I think it’s time for a new car. I realize my current car is 13 years old and that nothing lasts forever. But part of me thinks if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Psalm 78 reminds us of how the children of Israel often forgot where their blessings come from.

“How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland! Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power – the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his miraculous sign in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan.” Psalm 78:40-43

But earlier in the chapter we read, “Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power. . . They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.” Verses 23-26, 29

What a forgetful people. Do you know anyone like that? Do you know someone who has been blessed by God but rebels against him and forgets His blessings?

I pray I am not so forgetful that I am rebellious. But I do tend to get caught up in my day to day life and start to stress out a bit when something bad happens.

But this time I trust God and praise Him even in the midst of this latest trial. He provided once before and He can do it again.

Ways to Develop a Closer Relationship with God

field-of-red-flowers

Since returning from a weekend Christian retreat I have been encouraging my son to develop his own prayer and devotional time. I realize as his mother I cannot do it for him. I can invite him to join my time but it would be most effective and have long lasting and more meaning results if he created the time himself. But let’s face it, we are time crunched. We are pressed to fit everything into our busy lives – work, kids, the kid’s activities, taking care of the house, meals and friends. There is very little time left in a day. People are even scheduling time for exercise or scheduling date night with the spouse.

So how do you develop a closer relationship with God? I have some tips. These are not the only way to do it, but for me this has worked. I am still developing and growing. I invite you to share you tips too.

Pick A Time

First you have to be dedicated to schedule regular time. I have to tell you, it took me probably a good year to get into a rhythm for my prayer and devotional time. I discovered that I am not a night owl. I can barely keep my eye open past 10 pm. My midday was just too rushed. Since I’m still among the work stiffs, I am never guaranteed a lunch and finding a quiet place in a busy office building is a challenge.

So I selected early morning. I’m talking EARLY morning. I am usually awake and reading my Bible by 4:30 or 5 a.m. (Which is probably another reason why I’m ready for bed by 10.)

I feel most refreshed at that time of day. The house is still quiet and dark, which for me feel more intimate.

Find Your Spot

You want to find a place that is free of distraction. I personally don’t have a lot of extra room in my house, so I have selected the living room. But I have disciplined myself not to turn on the TV or go to the kitchen. Once I turn the TV on or head to the kitchen to start breakfast or washing dishes from the night before, I become easily distracted.

Decide What to Read

I enjoy reading devotionals. I select just a couple but there are a host of daily devotionals that you can get online. They range from those delivered to your inbox to various apps. For me it’s important to have scripture along with the devotion. It gives a Biblical foundation – backed up by scripture is very important. My daily devotional is followed by my daily Bible reading. A companion to the Bible reading is a Bible commentary. It helps decipher what the Bible is saying. Oftentimes a commentary is written by Bible scholars – people who have had years of study in the original languages the Bible is written.

Time for Mediation and Silence

When I wrap up my devotion and study time, I always devote time to meditation. Meditation is a misunderstood period in the life of a Christian. Because many different religions use meditation, it hasn’t been associated with Christianity as much as it has been with eastern religions. But to meditate means to engage in thought or contemplation or reflection. Think about the scripture you just read – how can the scripture be applied to your life or what can be observed in scripture as a lesson for you.

Finish With Prayer

I always finish with prayer – thanking the Lord for His word, asking Him to help me apply it and of course my prayer requests for family and friends.

If you open your mind and heart to listening and receiving, your relationship with the Lord will develop.

Again, I invite you to share your tips with me.