I’m giving up my quiet time.

It’s true. I have decided to give up my 30 minutes in the morning with God…at least for a while.

Will I still read the Bible in the morning?  Probably. Will I still talk to God on my morning walk? For sure. What I won’t do is sit down for 30 minutes with my tea and my agenda and have “time with God.”

No, I’m not backsliding. I am responding to some recent messages I’ve heard; one from Pastor Aaron and the other from a book I’m reading, Signs of Life. The problem as I see it is not the quiet time itself–it’s the “setting aside” part that is the issue. I don’t want to compartmentalize my life with God from my life. I don’t know if my routine time in the morning causes this or not, so I’m doing this experiment. I’m giving up my daily scheduled quiet time and asking God to speak to me throughout the day. I am looking for God-moments and opportunities to pray, worship, listen, and talk to and about Him…I’m hopeful that I will gain a new awareness throughout my day in areas I may have left Him out of before. I want Him to know that He is way more to me than 30 minutes in the morning and some reading at night. I want Him to invade every part of my day and to know that He is welcome to.

Are you open to spontaneous God-moments today?

Am I faithful…or fearful?

“He said to them, Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Mark 4:40

 What does it mean to be faithful? I work in an organization where people have served 10…15…20…even 28 years! We have a reputation for becoming “lifers” here. This got me to thinking, will I be one? The answer is, IF God calls me to stay.  I pray I won’t stay simply out of convenience or in the name of faithfulness. It would be scary to leave, but I want to be faithful for the right reasons.

Senator Robert Byrd has been a Senator since January 3, 1959, serving the country for 40 years. Impressive.  Brett Favre quarterbacked from 1992 until 2008 when he retired, starting in 291 games. That’s faithfulness!  Still, when he returned to the field after his retirement, some of the zeal was gone, the spark and excitement that once was Brett Favre had dissipated. His faithfulness became painful to watch—I for one was ready for him to go quietly.  That’s the way it is!  Some people just don’t know when to quit. But sometimes they should! 

The ability to persevere is admirable; the inability to continue moving forward and embrace new seasons and new frontiers in life is not.  Sometimes we admire someone’s faithfulness, when in reality they are mostly fearful of letting go and taking a step toward something new. How can we tell if we are acting out of faithfulness or fear? This is really the question…

To begin with, true faithfulness should be grounded in faith. (Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?)  Faithfulness believes that God is going to do something as a result of our efforts. If we have lost this expectation, it could be we are holding on to what God did in the past, not looking forward to what He wants to do today and in the future. If somehow we believe the best is behind us, we may need to ask ourselves, am I remaining faithful for the right reasons?

Also, I believe faithfulness should produce fruit. If we are persevering in faith we should see new crops and fresh growth in everything we do. Psalms 1 says we: “will bring forth its fruit in its season, [our] leaf also shall not wither; And whatever [we do] shall prosper.” There must be fruit throughout our season of faithfulness.  If we can’t identify the fruit of our efforts, or see any recent growth, this could be a sign that our season to remain faithful is drawing to a close.  Perhaps God is trying to get your attention to ask you to pursue something entirely different with Him.

Another trait of true faithfulness is action. Faithfulness should not be just a passive, enduring existence. There may be times when you feel God has put you on the shelf for a season, and He holds you back from doing the one thing you feel called to do. He may even ask you to remain faithful when nothing is happening in your circumstances. However, this does not mean He requires nothing from you during the wait!  He asks us to give thanks at all times, to love our neighbors, to work heartily for Him, and to look for opportunities to bless those around us. We cannot use the idea of being faithful to excuse not doing all we can when we can.

I don’t want to confuse faithfulness with seniority. Does God really look at years of service the way we do, I wonder. Is pure faithfulness or “steadfastness” always the basis for spiritual promotion? I’m not sure.  At least not as we often define faithfulness. Perhaps he looks at our hearts to see why we have persevered, and if we are remaining faithful in what He called us to, not just what is comfortable and familiar to us.

These are tough questions I think. As a person who has worked in a ministry setting for just 13 years, I can tell you I recognize the difference in my own life. I have stuck with a ministry longer than I should have because I loved what I was doing. I loved reaching people, hearing how I was helping their lives. I saw fruit at every turn. BUT when God was done with it, I had to move on regardless of what strokes it gave me and how much I would miss it. Working in a ministry position is no different. Just because you can stay in a position, or have for many years, doesn’t mean that’s all God has for you.  When He starts tugging at your heart, don’t ignore Him in the name of faithfulness.  We can’t let our fear or comfort hinder the work God wants to do in our lives. Continue reading

Ever wish you had an important ministry?

 Have you ever thought, “I wish I had a ministry?” Have you ever wished you could do something exciting like smuggling Bibles into China, rebuilding homes in New Orleans, traveling on missions trips to foreign countries, or spearheading that global evangelism outreach that no one has even thought of yet? As news headlines catch our attention, the end seems eminent; it seems we should be doing something!

For me, I’d like to just keep up with my current projects…and have the foresight to plan dinner. (That would be a global event in our home!) There are so many times when I feel that even though I’m doing all God’s called me to, it’s just not enough. Certainly there must be something bigger He wants me to do; not just care for my home and family, encourage others, love and pray for my family, live a life of compassion and being an example to others. Certainly there must be more…

I remember reading about Susannah Wesley and how each day she prayed, “Dear God, guide me. Help me do Thy will. Make my life count.” Did she have any idea that God was answering her prayer as she made dinner and taught her children to love God? Did she have any idea that her life and influence would touch nations and impact millions of lives? I doubt it. Read on: “Samuel Wesley, Susannah’s husband was certainly correct when he told her, ‘Some of the truly great people are the ones who were faithful in doing simple things.’” (Susannah Wesley by Charles Ludwig, page 89) It’s not about the vastness of our ministry; it’s about our faithfulness to it.

The often quoted verse says it so well, “Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little…” (Matthew 25:21 AMP). Be it caring for a sick child or parent, befriending a neighbor, serving our mates, maintaining a good attitude. Each of these by themselves may seem insignificant, yet they comprise the fullness of God’s will. Our faithfulness in even the small things can bring a big degree of satisfaction, and is all God really desires from us. Do you have a hard time accepting that? I know I do—at times. And then I get a note from a friend reminding me that God is pleased with me. That my faithfulness has not gone unnoticed. Wow.

Today I give you the same message! God is pleased with you. He’s not saying, “Why doesn’t she do more?” He’s saying, “Look how carefully she obeys me. Look how attentive she is to her home and family. Look how joyfully she cares for the little things I’ve given her to do.” Keep this in mind as you go about your day. Make time to be faithful in the little things, and never believe that they are insignificant or somehow not noticed by God! They are…

Is lack of caffeine the root of all evil?

Caffeine…like money…in and of itself is not a problem. But deprive someone long enough…and look out!

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time to see the caffeine-deprived behaving badly? I have, many times! (Perhaps that’s a reflection of how often I’m visiting Starbucks…) Anyway, today I pulled into the parking lot ready for my Decaf Grande Misto. I was meandering along looking for a parking place, when all of a sudden I catch a glimpse of someone in my rear view riding my bumper. He was impatient and looked as if he was seriously considering passing me in the parking lot! Well, this startled me a little, so I hurried into a spot to get out of his way, and of course, we both got out of our cars at the same time.

Here was a young, successful, well-groomed, well-dressed man who’s manners didn’t match the package. I made eye contact and let him walk in front of me (he was obviously in a hurry). He did hold the door open for me in a very sheepish manner, to which I responded with a smile, “Why, thank you.” (What I should have said was “No, go ahead you obviously need this more than I do.” BUT I didn’t.) He proceeded to get in line in front of me. I just smiled thinking the whole time how embarrassed this man must be; to think that a cup of coffee would be more important than good manners.

Maybe it’s the mother in me, or a deep streak of naivete, but I was troubled by his behavior.  I suppose it wasn’t just the coffee that drove him; it was the selfishness that sometimes drives all of us. As Solomon once said, “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment”(Proverbs 18:1 NIV). When we have our “sights” set on something, it is hard to remember good manners, good judgment, or even our own good intentions. We may get so caught up in the pursuit that we discount our behavior along the way.

I think this is the mindset Paul was talking about in I Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs” (AMP).  Money isn’t the evil…the LOVE of it is—the selfish pursuit and unreasonable desire that elevates our “craving” above all else. I think this truth applies to any self-led desire: money, food, possessions, control, glory and recognition, even caffeine. Now, I say that a little tongue in cheek, but the principle is sound. When we place a higher importance on “getting” any certain thing than walking with conviction and integrity, we risk more than just not getting our desires. We risk hurting our reputation, hindering our ability to influence, and having to answer for our bad behavior to God and others.

Philippians 2:3-4 instructs us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”(NKJV). In our pursuit of a good life, a good future, and a good cup of coffee, we must remember that those we meet along the way are much more important than the goal which we are pursuing. Each person, obstacle, or situation may very well be a test God has placed in your path. His purpose: To determine your reward.  The testing process may reveal the answers to the important questions:

Are you ready to handle the increase?

Is your attitude right?

Are you willing to live without it if need be?

Are you content with where you are in your pursuit of where you are going?

Enough said…

challenges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.despair.com

Why weep?

“Weeping has an honored place in the life of faith.”

In reading Becky Harling’s book, Rewriting Your Emotional Script, I’m being consistently moved and challenged to really look at why I do what I do…and why I respond (or react) to life the way I do.  Her book is based on the Beatitudes and how God used them to walk her through a painful healing of 12 years of sexual abuse while undergoing seven surgeries for breast cancer. Her story was inspiring, to say the least.

So, the thought I’ve been ruminating on, is why Christians struggle with grief and lament.  Why is it, that out of all the emotional channels we flip through, grieving, sorrow, and weeping seem to make people the most uncomfortable? And it’s not just those outside watching that squirm…when we deal with sadness and true sorrow ourselves, I think we are often at a loss! We’re not sure we should “allow” ourselves to feel sad or experience pain…as if that somehow negates the life Jesus died to give us. 

Yet, in generations past, weeping was part of the Christian experience. So, I wonder,  Am I not allowing myself to feel as deeply as God wants me to, or am I merely holding back in an effort to maintain control?  I cherish the times God moves my heart so strongly that I am moved to tears…it usually catches me off guard. But how many other moments pass me by due to my own insensitivity?

So then: Why are we afraid to cry?

 

 

 

Movies I’ve watched (so far) since I’ve been sick

Casablanca
That Touch of Mink
Gigi
The Quiet Man
Roman Holiday
The Apartment
Working Girl
Enchanted
One Fine Day