Through the Cracks

 

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When I pray for God to give me strength, he provides me with coffee.

I’m pretty sure coffee is the strength of God in liquid form.

There’s probably a verse about it in the book Hebrews somewhere.

I just got a second job. I am so tired. I’m also joyful because I see God working in my life. But I’m still tired. I haven’t written in a week and that is discouraging. I hate saying that my passion is writing, yet it’s the last on my list of things to do. Working to pay off debt,  doing ministry, and cultivating relationships seem more important right now.  I am passionate about those things too, but I know I need to somehow fixate a time for writing in my schedule and I’m going to work on it.

We all have seasons in our lives where suddenly our schedules are so crammed full, we don’t know how we won’t go crazy. I’ve had to stop thinking about the whole week and just focus on what I’m doing each moment and do my best at it. Thinking too far ahead will just give me an anxiety attack. I think it’s okay to have a busy schedule doing things that are important to you and doing the things you know you are called to. But it seems like some of the most important things tend to get left by the way side, and we have to fight to keep them apart of our daily lives.  It’s easy to let life happen TO us while we are being washed under the waves of what we HAVE to do, as everything that makes life meaningful becomes lost in the chaos.

When we get caught up in the things we have to do, one thing that easily gets over looked is meaningful, intentional relationships. What relationships do you have that maybe you’re neglecting?

Well they don’t put much effort into spending time with me, so why should I?  Our schedules don’t match up so we just are too busy. They said or did something to hurt my feelings and I don’t feel like dealing with it. 

We can list all the excuses, but relationships are one the most important things in life. Especially when we are busy, because suddenly we find ourselves alone, in our own isolation. There’s no accountability or someone to vent to.  Not only do we have nobody to call when we need a friend, but our friends are lacking our friendship. They need us just like we need them. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. I know we all don’t have time for a ton of friends. But those few important ones that God has brought into your life deserve some attention. Call that friend you haven’t seen in a while and just get some coffee.  See how they are doing, and they need anything.

Maybe you don’t have any close friends? Starting new friendships can be awkward. But think of a few acquaintances that you’d like to be closer to. Ask them to lunch or just tell them straight up that you’d like to be better friends. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  It’s so important that we have each other to help us through life.

Another thing that tends to disappear in our lives when we get busy, is doing things we LOVE.  You have to go to school. You have to work to pay the bills. You have to go grocery shopping. You have this thing you need to prepare for ministry.  That is a lot of HAVE TOs.  Not that we don’t love some of those things, but I mean do things that are just for fun. Set aside a time to  read, paint, create, a dance class,  board games, and dinner with friends.

Sometimes we have to discipline ourselves to have fun.

Solomon said, “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.”  (Eccl. 8:15)

Yes there are so many things that get lost in our lives but lastly I want to mention how we easily forget to PRAY. We need to make sure we are filling our lives with the things God wants us to be doing. He’s given you gifts and talents to be used to change lives and give him glory. How can we know what God wants of us if we aren’t communicating with him? We don’t want to spend our lives in this stressful schedule that doesn’t even do us or others any good right? Let’s talk to our creator and ask him what it is that we should be spending our time doing.

We are hearing from many people about what we should be doing right?  Society tells us what it means to be successful. Our parents tell us what they think we should be doing. We compare our lives to other’s and feel inadequate.

It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or saying.

It only matters what God is saying. When we ask him, he will guide us, directing us in places we never thought we would go. He will help us use our gifts, providing opportunity to practice our skills, and he will give us the strength to live a life worthy of our calling.  We can’t forget that God will never leave us or forsake us. Even when we aren’t sure what God is saying, he will guide us through his Word and through other people who might give us advice or insight.

If we really want to live a life led by God, we cannot let prayer fall through the cracks of life.

Philippians says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  He will guide us and give us peace as we do the best we can to live a life of faith.

This blog would go on forever if I tried to list everything that falls through the cracks of life. What do you havehttp://howtomakeafruitsalad.com/?page_id=2982 to fight to keep in your busy life? How do you keep it in your life?

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Coming To a Theater Near You!

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When I go to the movies, I love watching previews.

It’s exciting to see what new movies are coming soon and then decide which ones  I will and won’t see. By the fourth preview, I actually forget what movie I came to see in the first place. Even if it’s an epic movie I had been excited about, I think, “Wait, why am I here? Oh ya I’m here for that movie.” And then I get all excited again because I’m looking forward to seeing it.

We tend to forget why we are here.  I easily get caught up in the many distracting things in life. The world offers some awesome previews filled with enticing promises of  success, fame, sex, and happiness.There are temptations which causes us to forget God altogether. One minute we are saying yes to God and the next we are saying yes to the devil. We say we want to love like Christ, but then we argue, debate, and hate. We begin to enjoy other things more than God, because we forget why we are here. And then of course there are fears, insecurities, and trials that pull us off course. But let me remind you of a few things God is calling us to, so we can again be excited about our reason for living.

God calls us to be holy in a polluted world.

Hebrews says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  Many times we try to toe the line of sin, because our goal is to see what we can get away with. But the point of the boundaries God has set for us isn’t to see how close we can get to sinning. God is calling us to be different and free from the things holding  us back from our calling. When we are distracted and clinging to so many things which don’t even matter, we can’t see the Lord.

We are called to reach out.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So now we all need to adopt an orphan and find a widow to take care of. Right? I don’t believe so. Orphans and widows are both abandoned.They are in need of community. We need to look beyond our selves to see who might be lonely and in need of love.

We are called to unity.

We read in Ephesians, “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (4:2-3)  Not only are we here to bring in the abandoned and lonely, but we are to treat each other with love and maintain unity and peace with other believers. We say we want to create peace with each other, but it’s so easy to get caught up in things that divide us. Church history has shown that the church has not been successful at maintaining unity and peace. How many denominations are there? How many people were killed by self righteous “Christians” trying to force their beliefs on people?  We might not always agree, but our reaction to conflicts needs to be aiming for peace and love, not aiming to be right. We are called to spread the Good news of Christ, not to force it on people.

We are called to love.

1 Corinthians 13  tells  us,  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.”   The ultimate point of our lives, as Christ followers, is to love. Yes God wants us to serve those in need, and strive for holiness, to be unified but if we aren’t doing it out of love, then what’s the point. If we aren’t doing it for love, we are doing it out of selfishness or obligation.

Whatever you  are dealing with might be complicated. Maybe you are going through a trial or have a difficult relationship to figure out. When God says the solution is love, we might think it’s too elusive or simple; some cheesy idea that can’t actually apply to real life. But if we lift our eyes from our present situation, and look to our God who loves us enough to die in our place, we will realize our problems are temporary and fleeting. Yes the emotions are real, and life is difficult, but when we keep looking and dwelling on the things that distract and hold us back, we forget that God loves us and wants to lead us to freedom. Let’s stop wasting our time getting caught up in meaningless things and move towards the holiness, peace, and love God has for us. We will never do it perfectly in this life. But that is the point of God’s grace. When we aim for righteousness, God will help us with the rest.

This is what sparked your heart when God first called you! Aren’t you excited again?  I am!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the

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throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 1-3

 

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The Best Weapon is knowing who you are

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God loves you just as you are and is equipping you to fight against the enemy and set captives free!

God will fight for you when you can’t . Your biggest weapon is knowing that God loves you and calls you his child. Knowing who you are is half the battle .

The enemy can sneak in and we believe the lies he says about us when we start doubting our value and the way God sees us!

Remember Jesus says in John 15:15,

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

And don’t forget ,
1 Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”

Psalm 139:13-16

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Stand firm on Christ’s love! You are God’s handiwork !

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We Trim the Tree but Forget about the Rotting Roots

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You know the verse that says, ” Love your neighbor as yourself, only when they aren’t family members who have hurt you” ? ……ya me neither.  But I find that sometimes we pour our love and our affection on our friends, but we go home, let our filters down  and have excuses to stop being nice and respectful. Every family situation is different.  We might have bitterness and baggage built up from years and years that we haven’t dealt with, or we may have tried to deal with things, but it’s hard to break through. Maybe there is just one family member you can’t get along with or forgive?  We might have family members who continually treat us badly and we just don’t know how to love them while trying to deal with our own pain and hurt.  We get used to the way things are and just don’t want to worry about dealing with the problems. But as Christians, God doesn’t call us to just get by with the way things have always been. He wants us to be healed and whole and free. It might be painful or a hassle to deal with years or even just a few months of drama , but think of it this way: Being healed in such a way that you can love those who hurt you, will not only save your life, but those lives you will inspire.  I’m not saying you have to be BFF’s with a father who hasn’t been there for you, or buddy buddy with the sibling who has treated you badly.  God calls us to love  those who hurt us.  But what does it mean to do so?  It doesn’t mean, when you think of people you get a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. And it doesn’t mean to keep being in an abusive situation. It doesn’t mean we have to ruin our lives trying to fix people. When it comes to family, love is about how you respond to they way they treat you. Love is about being free from reacting out of bitterness, by loving them they way God does. It means praying for them and treating them differently then they treat you.

I wish I can remember who told me this, but once someone said to me, ” The way you act with your family, is the real you.”   Ouch.  When I was told that,  I had to do some soul-searching.  I realized I would put on my social attitude when I was with friends or leading a ministry, but then I go home and my attitude was a more snappy and harsh and blunt…and leaned a bit more towards rude.  If my friends asked me for a favor, I’d jump up and help, but if my brother needed help I would either say no or grumble and complain as I helped. I was shocked at the “Real Me”.  Who are you around your family? Asking this question can change your life.  It’s not a quick fix for sure!  But God calls us to grow and to ask him to search our hearts. Ask him how he can help you love your family. 1 Corinthians says that love is patient and kind.  Love does not envy and it is not rude. Love does not insist in its own way. Love is not irritable or resentful. Love rejoices with the truth.  Love is all-inclusive to bearing, believing, hoping and enduring.   I don’t believe this verse is meant to condemn you when you struggle with these things. This is what God calls us to, but we all fall short. But many of us are most irritable, rude, and impatient when it comes to our family. Maybe not all the time and maybe not intentionally, but let’s use this passage as a goal to aim for. We can’t ever love perfectly like God loves us, but if we try, maybe we will grow into this kind of love a little bit more each day.

Sometimes we work really hard to love others, but because we have treated our family the same way for so long, we forget that God wants us to surrender every area of our lives to him. From the moment we started living for God, God works through each part of our lives, transforming, changing, and healing. We can’t handle this change in every area all at once. Take a look at your life, and ask God, ” How do I treat my family?  Do I need to work on loving them like you love me? Is this an area that needs change right now?”   God wants to free you and heal you, so you are able to love everyone, including your family. You’ve only got one family so treat them as such! And God will give you the strength and ability as you do so. You don’t have to do this all on your own strength. He is able to do all things!

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Armed with fistfuls of Glitter

download (5)Sometimes I read a Bible verse and think, Aw how cute. That sounds great in a perfect world. 

Philippians 4:8 for example,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

This sounds so wonderful. Kinda like unicorns and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Wouldn’t it be nice to always just think about lovely things?   But look around.

This world just sucks sometimes.

People are dying.

Relationships are broken.

Our TV show options are anything but admirable.

Evil is rampant.

(Throws some glitter up in the air and runs away….ooo pretty.)

Ok, so we already know WHY we should dwell on things that are pure and right. What goes in has to come out. Even if we don’t realize it. Proverbs 4:23 says,

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The things we think about, and dwell on will make its way to our hearts, and everything we do is affected by it.  If we just go along with what is relevant and allow our minds and hearts to be flooded with negative and horrible things, the light that God calls us to be will slowly dim. We will become numb to our surroundings and just accept that, this is the way it is.

God has called us to so much more than that.

If we aren’t intentionally focusing on what is life-giving, we will lose our hope and our joy.

The question is HOW?

How can we follow such high and lofty things in a world that is so opposite to the things of God?

And how to we focus on what is holy, without being ignorant to reality? We don’t want to hide from the world, but we need to know what we are opposing, and be prepared to fight against it. Jesus says,

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16.  We need to be aware of what is going on,  yet protect our selves from it; know what reality is but instead of dwelling on it, intentionally dwell on things that will renew us and equip us for battle.

We need to put on the armor of God.

Instead of focusing on how to get rid of the evil things on our own power, let’s strive for holiness with God’s help. (Heb 12:14) Let’s bathe in God’s presence because he is lovely and pure, and come out into the world with his peace that passes understanding. We can ask HOW, but I think on our own we will fall short every time. If we focus on God, who is love, naturally those things that are not of God will fall away.

We need to stand firm on the truth and take action.

Knowledge and intention are one thing but action is what changes our lives. When you are running in one direction, headed for a cliff, what good is knowing that cliff is there if you don’t stop and go the other way? Intention doesn’t matter when we end up at the bottom of the ravine. We need to see where we are headed, know the danger coming, STOP, and run to safety.

Knowledge is useless if we don’t  do something about it.

Let’s dwell on the presence of our loving God and prepare our hearts for the day-to-day decisions and moments where knowledge meets action. And when that moment comes when we need to choose between pollution and purity we can trust that God will give us the tools and strength to grow towards Christ.

We need to pray.

God is calling in the orders and guiding us to places he can use us. We need to listen to what he’s saying. He’s calling you to fight a specific battle unique to your experience. Pray for those around you, those you are leading, and those leading you. Come to God, as you are, in your need and in praise,  because he wants to bless you and lead you to freedom. Let’s communicate with our God.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to dwell on lovely things. In heaven we won’t need to be aware of evil. There will be plenty of glitter to go around. I look forward to that day. But in this imperfect world pulling at our attention and trying to break us down, we need to ask God to lead us towards things that  fill us with joy; things that  cause us to declare God’s glory like the sun declares its beautiful light.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18

 

 
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Drag Me Out Of My Comfort Zone

Originally posted on iChristian:

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Demanding Lord,
I am afraid of the duties that seem unavoidable,
I am afraid of a calling that seems beyond my grasp.
I am afraid of risk, I am afraid of responsibility,
I am afraid that I don’t have either the ability or the stamina for the job.
Even so Lord, I give you permission to drag me out of my comfort zone.
I sign myself up to do both what I ought and what you want.
I might need a bit of help Lord- you know that.
And so I trust you to supply it,
Both divine strengthening inside and human companionship alongside.
I trust it to turn up when I need it.
I trust you as a God of both challenge and comfort.
Amen.

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