Monthly Archives: July, 2014

Everyday Ordinary Life

I have an everyday, ordinary life. I wake up to a morning walk and coffee. I head out to work. I get home and do normal stuff. I hang out with the kids. We watch movies, play games, go the park, talk, etc. I go shopping (though I am not a fan of shopping). I run errands. I read. I sleep. I eat. Romans says to “take your everyday, ordinary life… and place it before God as an offering.”

There was a time when I thought my life was so ordinary that there would be no reason God would want it as an offering. What did I do? Today I think differently. With humility, I can see that my life is valuable. It is important. It can be an offering placed before God. Yes, God wants you to offer your life to Him. He wants it all!

Never think your life is meaningless. Never think that you are too ordinary, too mediocre, too unqualified. God wants your everyday, ordinary life. Embrace Him. Fix your attention on Him and watch what He does to your life. You will still have the everyday, ordinary life, but great things will come from it. “You’ll be changed from the inside out,” and it is true—“God brings the best out of you.” Nothing is left ordinary in God’s hands. He made you for something great. Don’t hold back anymore.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” – Romans 12:1-2 [MSG]

Treat Them Gently

When a person holds a young baby, they hold it differently than something less fragile. You support the head. You wrap both arms around the baby. You keep the baby close. You protect the baby. You treat the baby gently.

In Romans 14, we are told to treat other believers gently. People will not always share the same opinions. People will not always understand a passage in the same way. People might have a different opinion when it comes to what music they think should be played at church or which Sunday School curriculum to use. Some people will want to stand firm on a particular agenda while others are more focused on other things.

The bottom line is we are to “treat them gently.” We are not to “jump all over them.” We are to be gentle. When you try to push your opinion so hard, it is more about being right (pride) then it is about Jesus. When you get all caught up in rules and regulations and agendas, Jesus is lost in the shuffle. So today, as fellow believers will come in your path and possibly not agree with you on some matters, remember that each of us is on our own walk with Christ and treat everyone gently. Encourage. Equip. Embrace. Empower. Show love.

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” – Romans 14:1 [MSG]

How Can I Help

How often do you wake up and say, “How can I help”? It’s not something we always want to do because helping can be an inconvenience. Helping can be uncomfortable. Helping may cause us to sacrifice. But if you wake up each morning and ask God how you can help, don’t be surprised when you get lots and lots of answers.

There was a time when I woke up and thinking of others was far from my mind. Even today there are days when I wake up and I want to live for me. But God has been helping me to see how awesome it is to ask how I can help when I start my day. So on a normal day I wake up and thank God for the opportunity to serve Him another day. Then I ask how I can help. And when there’s someone struggling, I don’t pray only for them to find relief, be healed, receive direction, etc., but I ask God how I can be used in the situation.

Watch out when you ask this question. God may open your eyes to many people in need. God may place before you people who need rides, who need a shoulder to cry upon, who are going to pull you out of your comfort zone. You might have to change your routine so you can help someone. You may have to leave early to pick up someone for a ride. There may be a phone call when you wanted to watch television and veg. Paul wrote to “not just do what is most convenient.” There are people who falter. There are people in need. We “are strong and able in the faith” so that we can “step in and lend a hand.” So how can YOU help today?

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’” – Romans 15:1-2 [MSG]

The Yellow Shirt

It was early morning and I had broken sleep. I had not had my morning cup of coffee and I was walking not one, but two dogs, as Max was joined with his pal Marci. I felt like I was sleepwalking through the first half mile. I looked forward and saw a man in the distance sitting on a lawn chair. He looked jaundice. I immediately began to pray for him. As I got closer I realized he was just bald and he was wearing a yellow shirt. It was highly unlikely that he had jaundice. Then I said, “Lord, you’re probably laughing at me. I know I would.”

It was a good morning laugh. I was so quick to pray for the man and it was for something not relevant; however, I’m sure that God answered my prayer. The point that I want to highlight is the fact that I instantly prayed for the person. I don’t always do that but it is the best thing to do when we know of someone who is in need of prayer. When someone asks you to pray for them, do it right away. It does not matter where you are at or who you are around or what you are doing.

Prayer lists are great. I have one. Having a set time of the day when you connect with God in prayer is great as well. But there should always be this open door policy throughout your day where there’s no list, there’s no set time, there’s just you and God. When you are driving in your car and you see someone in need of prayer, pray for them. When you are on your work break and just saw someone post something on Facebook that shows a need, pray for them. Right then and there. Sometimes we put the list together and lose it. Sometimes we plan to take that list to our bedroom and pray before bed but we fall asleep with only good intentions that failed. You will feel better if you pray right away and at the same time, you will know that you took it to God first. It is always best in His hands.

“I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!” – Psalm 116:1-2 [NLT]

Labeled New

Recently my son had a problem with his gaming system. I decided to reveal my tech geek side and began to look deeper into the issue. I realized that the disc drive was malfunctioning and had another drive ordered. When it arrived, the sticker on the box said, “new.” I quickly learned that it was anything but new. It had a padded wrapper over it but inside told another story. I found things broken and a stripped screw.

The people who sold me the disc drive can easily slap a sticker on a box and say the merchandise is new even though it is anything but new. With us, we can pretend to be a particular way; however, if we have the Spirit, if we accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized, then there should be a sign of fruit—fruit from our lives.

You cannot fake a relationship with Christ. You cannot slap on a label (ex: “Christian”) and think it makes the reality change. There’s a song that says, “You’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, are you a box with a deceptive sticker or are you the real deal? If people look around will they see the fruits of your labor or will they get lost and confused from the image you try to uphold?

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-18 [ESV]

Swollen Lips

I decided to reward myself with a cool dessert and pulled open the freezer to retrieve the ice cream. I chose the Peanut Butter Swirl kind and started to enjoy one of my favorite ice creams, though it was not a brand I typically eat. After a few bites, my lips started to feel strange. Before I finished my dessert, I realized my lips were swollen. The kids had a good laugh as I had difficulty speaking.

The swelling of my lips was clear evidence of something wrong, likely a nut allergy. Only a few seconds after having the peanut butter touch my lips it was noticeable. That is not always the case with sin though. You might not see the consequences of a sin right away. While you are in the middle of a sin, you might feel good. You might feel great. But whether it is quickly thereafter, or if it is awhile later, there will be consequences. Whether you notice them or not is another story.

When David had eyes for Bathsheba, he knowingly committed adultery. He then scrambled around to find a way to cover up what he did. The truth is you cannot bury a sin so deep that it is never seen. God sees all and the truth eventually comes out. In this case David tried to cover a sin with another sin. He later faced the heartbreak of losing a child because of his actions. Today remember that you might not see consequences for your shortcomings, but there will be consequences. Sometimes they are not faced by you alone but by those around you. Repent. Accept God’s forgiveness. Change your mind and step by step you will change your ways.

“Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I’ve sinned against GOD.’ Nathan pronounced, ‘Yes, but that’s not the last word. GOD forgives your sin. You won’t die for it. But because of your blasphemous behavior, the son born to you will die.’” – 2 Samuel 12:13-14 [MSG]

The Lost Bottle

When I was a young girl I had a favorite Barbie doll. It was a Barbie and the Rockers doll. I was so upset when we moved and it was lost. I had tried hard to find it but never could relocate my favorite doll. This morning as I walked Max we passed a house for sale with a toy baby bottle in the grass. We actually pass by that home each morning and saw the owners moving out so my mind wandered and I thought what if a poor child lost the baby bottle for her doll

It’s frustrating when we lose things. Even as we get older and dolls and toys are not are favorite things, we get irritated when things are misplaced or even lost. But there are some things we cannot lose—there is One who we cannot lose. When you receive the Holy Spirit, when you accept Jesus Christ into your life and are baptized and receive God in you, He is always with you. Always.

There’s no, God “come down on us.” He’s in us. You do not have to ask for His presence. You have His presence. You may need to ask for Him to help you to feel His presence, to listen, to know He’s there. It is also not a situation where we can ask God to give us more of Him. He has already given us ALL of Him. The problem is we are often so full of ourselves that we are not focused on Him. Dying to self involves more of Him and less of you. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself—you gain your true self, who you were meant to be in life. Today remember that you cannot lose Him. You can only lose the opportunity to know and have a relationship with Him if you are too full of yourself.

“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” – John 16:7 [NLT]

A God Story

When I was younger, it was always about how much I could do and how well I could do something. That was true even when it came to my relationship with God. I wanted to do my best in my actions and be the “good Christian.” I read my Bible. I tried to do what it said. But again and again I failed. We cannot be perfect. We are not perfect. Every time we fail some way or another.

We need to remember that it’s not our story; it is God’s story. It’s not because of what we do that saves us, but we have salvation through the blood of Christ. There is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves. Each of us needs saving. Jesus is the only way.

Salvation through Christ is a free gift. You do not work for it. You do not earn it. If your relationship with God is based on what you can do for Him and how you can follow His Word, you are missing out on what God truly wants and on what God can provide you. When it becomes a “you story” rather than God’s story, it is time to reevaluate your relationship with God and understand you are only set right through Christ. Stop making it about you.

“So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, ‘Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.’ If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.” – Romans 4:1-5 [MSG]

Gravity

I recently watched the movie ‘Gravity’ with Sandra Bullock. There was a moment in the movie when Sandra’s character was in real trouble. Much of the movie found her character trying to make her way back to Earth despite catastrophe after catastrophe, hardship after setback. At this point in the movie, it appeared as if all hope was gone. Sandra’s character says something like, “I’d pray but no one every taught me how.” When I heard that I couldn’t help but consider those who don’t pray because they think they do not know how to pray or that they need to be taught by someone how to pray.

When I was a little girl my grandma introduced me to Jesus. I spent many years of my life speaking to Jesus. I included Him in my life just as He wants to be included. I gave Him my everything. I had long winded conversations. I talked about anything and everything. He was a part of my life. Years later things changed. I’m not sure how it all changed but things were very different. People made me think that my prayers were not right. I had to say them a certain way. I had to be in a certain position. I had to speak particular words. When I followed their instructions I did not feel like I was speaking to God, as I did as a child. It was very different.

God wants you to speak with Him, to pour out your heart. The Bible talks about a child-like faith and I think when I look back on my conversations with God as a child, He enjoyed those talks a lot more than me stammering around trying to fulfill what was prim and proper by the world’s standards. When I was a child I prayed. When I got older, I was taught “how to pray.” I spent years having to learn to not do what I later did. Don’t allow something or someone be a stumbling block to God. He wants you to speak. You. Just you. It doesn’t matter how you come. It is your heart that matters. In the movie, the characters flew all around with ease because of gravity. Imagine if your prayer life could feel at ease too. Imagine if you could just be you with God. How freeing is that? How beautiful is that?

“The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 [NLT]

Scars

As I mentioned before, I am allergic to bees and I once again was viciously attacked. Well that’s how I see it. Nonetheless, as I walked Max this morning, I noticed the sting location is going to be a scar. I also remembered that there was already a scar there beneath this newly forming scar. It is kind of humorous to consider that both scars were my fault.

Years ago when VCR’s existed (before DVD players), I received one for a gift. I was so excited and wanted so badly to open it up. I refused to wait and I refused help. I was greedy. Pure and simple.I grabbed my keys and tried to use my house key to cut open the packaging tape. It ended up finding its way into my hand. It left a nice scar to remind me. When I recently was stung by bees, it was because I was standing on their underground nest. But why was I there? The neighbor told me that there was honeycomb above. I was spraying those very different bees while trying to remove the honeycomb. I should have asked for help. I should have called someone but I was too prideful. So two scars, two areas that needed some work in my life.

God has a way of sometimes smacking you right in the head by placing something right before you to show you what needs work. We like to see the best in ourselves, and even when we are being negative about our faults, we often do not address our biggest faults. We are often blinded by them. We often deny them. We would much rather ignore than acknowledge. Today, God might be trying to show you something. You might be paying attention or He might need to get your attention. Either way, He wants to show you things. He doesn’t want to leave you how you are right now. He loves you so much and He’s got a great plan. Don’t settle for less.

“Making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.”
-Proverbs 2:2-5 [ESV]