Monday, September 7, 2015

There are so many different people mentioned in the Bible in more than one place. Over and over God uses these people to teach us how we are suppose to live our lives. I am "n awe" Noah. This guy as A-Mazing! He built a boat for a world that had never experienced rain. And he didn't do it in a day, a week, a month or a year. For 120 years, every day, he was purposeful in his actions to be faithful to God. I can't imagine what he endured from others around him for 120 years doing something crazy like building a boat for a world that had never experienced rain falling from the sky. He had to be completely plugged in to what God wanted for him in order to obey and build such a thing as an ark...EVERYDAY!!!!

Walking with God...WALKING WITH GOD. What an incredibly amazing concept.
Faith grows when we step out of our comfort zone and sacrifice for God. Noah, to me, is a faith warrior! He powered through, I imagine, terrible difficulties day after day. I want to understand how he was able to continue because at no point in my life have I faced a calling of the magnitude that Noah was given by God. The true relationship that he shared with God is the kind of relationship that each of us should be intentionally seeking on a daily basis. He had to have woke up every morning and faced the day with a heart that was open to hear God's voice and a faith to follow.
Are you ready to be Noah? Eeeeek! I'm not sure that I am....actually my answer is no. I can immediately think of several reasons why I am not ready to be a Noah. I don't have enough of the Bible memorized, often I have to really search when I am looking for something specific. I have no theological education and when it comes to leading others to Christ, well....let's just say that is the weakest of the weakest of my Christian walk because I'm so inadequate when it comes to stepping into that role. It is not my area of comfort. And that is what God often calls on us step away from the things that we are comfortable with and step into the roles that we sometimes believe should be filled with more experienced people. When we step out of the comfort areas, we are stepping into walking in faith. I have a saying, faith + trust = GOD'S POWER! His power is beyond anything we can imagine and yet, He holds it back and waits for us to invite Him into the center of our lives to allow it to show in the open for others to see. Noah did it....we can too. Noah was not a meteorologist. He was not educated on the ways of weather patterns or watching the latest electronic forecast models....he simply had faith and trust in God and allowed God's power to be released. Now, just to be clear....God does not need us to do those things for Him to use His power. He does so, so that our faith can glorify Him and show others how different life can be when He is the beacon that leads us in this dark world. How can you be a Noah this week? How can you step out in faith and trust and release God's power in your life? Pray about it....have a conversation with God. And open yourself up to the scary stuff that you aren't sure you're qualified for....God just may have some pretty awesome plans for you!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I heard this phrase this week, "We are natural born worshippers." And, I had an ah-ha moment. That spoke to me so loudly. Those five words spoke such truth and inspiration to me. Every single person I know, worships something....everyone.
When we talk about worship, what comes to your mind? Do you picture people bowing down to King Harrod kind of worship? Do you think of hands raised on Sunday morning in worship to the One True King? Could it look more like your kid's sports achievements? Your favorite store to shop? Your bank account? Your favorite professional athlete or entertainer? Your spouse? Your friend? Worship can take many forms.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, this is the definition of worship:
 1. the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god  2. excessive admiration for someone.
That first definition makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. The second definition makes me uncomfortable. One definition is holy, one is not. And our society is obsessed with the second definition. All of us fall into the trap of holding things and people in a higher admiration or importance than we should. We all worship something.
Christ said in Matthew 6:24 and again in Luke 16:13, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." I believe it's safe to assume that this is an important reminder that Christ wants us to hold steadfast to. You can replace money with whatever is highest on your personal list. The reminder is the same, nothing can come before God. This is one of those extreme ideas for me because I can rationalize why sometimes it's ok to have more excitement or importance about something else in my life when I'm in the moment. I could even use verses from the Bible to back it up, to twist truth with a little manipulative thinking. Jesus was a crazy extreme guy...he was a true fan of God....he was fanatical when it came to obeying and worshipping God alone and nothing else. And as Christians, you and I should be just as fanatical for God.
If I go to a football game, I'm decked out in my team colors. I get excited at the games. I cheer loudly....very loudly. And I'm usually totally plugged into what is happening on the field, especially when it's the team that my husband is coaching. When I'm at church on Sunday morning, I usually remember my Bible, I sit quietly and reverently in my seat, I calmly sing along for worship time, I pay attention to most of what the pastor says (man those outlines are great to keep my brain on task with what he says!) and then I head home to all the crazy stuff I have to rush around to accomplish that day and even into the week. I'm not a very good example of being a die-hard fan for God. There are times when I feel the urge to lift my hands in worship or publicly pray, but I don't because I don't want to look/sound foolish. But I don't have a problem cheering on my team like a crazy woman on Friday nights. Why is that? What does this scenario look like for you? What are you crazy for?
I want people to know I look different. I want to be known as that crazy Christian. And it's a little scary to be be different. It's even scarier to me to hold anything higher than God and miss opportunities to be in His presence. Because in doing so, I'm providing satan the perfect opportunity to sneak in and steal my focus from God.
As we continue on into this Lent season, I pray that all of us will seek to be a true fan of God, to hold him higher than all else with a fervent type of enthusiasm that becomes contagious to those around us in our homes, work places, and communities. Let's strive to be the natural born worshippers that God created us to be, filling that desire with Him alone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today I have enjoyed yet another snow day with my family. The actual temperature was -14 when I got the text this morning that school would be closed. So, I decided to sit down with my computer and get some serious school work done today. Three hours later.... I have listened to all of my favorite Rich Mullins' songs and even an entire concert of his and very little school work accomplished. Man I LOVE his music!!! And the idea that he was taken from this earth at such a young age, with no reason for the car accident that caused his death, and having a format to reach millions to share God's word, it really makes me go hmmmm???
There is a lot of things that I can think about that makes me scratch my head and ask why. And as I was thinking about all the cool and influential people that have been taken from the earth and it felt like it was the wrong time, it makes me want to question God and to ask Him what was He thinking. But then, that's me trying to elevate myself to God. I don't need to know. I need to trust.
So as I was thinking about all the really awesome people that have come and gone, I started to think about my youth minister. He was a person who was able to touch so many lives. When he passed away about 8 years ago, it was one of those moments when life pauses and you don't have any answer to the why. And as time has passed, I am no closer to understanding.
I remember when I first heard that Mark Angel, the new youth minister, was coming to our church. I was a freshman in high school and I distinctly remember opening up the weekly newsletter and reading the front of it, "An Angel is coming to Russell First Christian Church." As wise as the folks were at my church, I highly doubt that they truly understood the truth in that headline.
My friends that I shared life with in my youth group are still people that I am most interested in how life is going for them. A friend that I grew up with in my church recently talked with me about us hosting a youth group reunion. As I passed on the idea to another one of our youth group members he said, "Now, that's a reunion that I would travel home for to be part of." I grew up in eastern Kentucky and he lives in Iowa with his family, so that speaks volumes about how much of an impact our youth group played in his life; and that sentiment resounds over and over in many of us.
I love getting to share with people about my time with my youth group and Mark Angel. It was one of the greatest blessings in my life. If you had the privilege of knowing Mark, then that was something special. He had a way of sharing a true enthusiasm and love for Christ that made you want to go out in the world and do the same thing. It was during my time in youth group that I learned what it meant to give, love, be faithful, work hard, be a service for others, study God's Word and have an honest/transparent walk with Christ.
I remember one time when Mark gathered several of us and said, "Here's some money. I just met a homeless guy with a family. Go buy all the food you can with this and we will give it to him and his family after he speaks at youth group tonight. This is going to be so exciting!" Another time he announced that what was originally planned for youth group once again was thrown out the window and wasn't nearly as important as chopping wood in the freezing cold. Mark had found himself driving passed a house (more like a shack) and noticed that an elderly man was taking cut wood inside. So he stopped and told the man that he would be back with help to cut more wood for him and his wife and anything else that they needed help with. And when he told us, he was over the moon excited about taking us out there. I had gone passed that house more than a thousand times and never really noticed it. But he did. It was something that he did a lot. What I mean is, he taught us that when you see a need, take care of it if you are able to do it. Open your eyes, see what is around you....and love on people. He didn't believe in changing people's lives by simply listing off what God wants of us and telling them to do it. Instead, he taught us the importance of being the arms and feet of Christ and loving on others...and then sharing with them about Christ's love. THAT is some profound stuff. Not all that difficult....but it is intentional.
I love that song by Matthew West called "My Own Little Word". (Take a listen here if you've never heard it Basically it talks about how we are so involved in our own lives that we miss opportunities to make our world bigger by reaching out to others. Just like I had not ever noticed this little tiny house situated between two big oaks tress in the bend of the road I had traveled to my house for years, I'm sure there are people around you to invite into your own little world.
We need to stop making things about us. We all do it at some point. But we need to be intentional to recognize that people are hurting all around us, that people need to just be loved. And for no reason other than loving them as Christ loves us. So here's a challenge for us both....this Lent season, let's grow our world. Be the enthusiastic example of Christ's love. Be intentional. Be the hands and feet of Christ. I have found that enthusiasm, earnestness and love are all contagious. And once Easter is upon us, we just may find that our practice to grow our own world will become a permanent action for Christ! :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sometimes when I stop and think about God knowing and seeing all my junk and yet still loving me, it's really overwhelming. There is no one else on the earth that has the insight about who we really are, except God. He knows our actions....and our thoughts. There is no hiding from running from Him, just ask a guy name Jonah. Every time I read the story of Jonah I wonder how he could have been so stupid? He heard the voice of God, he was a prophet of God! (Could you imagine listing that on a resume as a job title? lol....anyway) And even with all the knowledge that he had, he believed that he could hide from God, that he could just run away and God wouldn't know. Oh, Jonah, Jonah, Jonah! Seriously, how was he so stupid? Christians every where still laugh at Jonah and wonder what in the world was that guy really thinking.
So, what in the world was I thinking? You thinking? We have ALL had a "Jonah Moment." I've had so many "Jonah Moments" that I'm not sure Buckingham Palace has enough closets to hide them all in. Even if I hid them there, it wouldn't matter. We cannot run, take a boat, or a plan to escape God's knowledge of what we have done or who we really are. That is so profound. But our God is even bigger than that. Even though he knows all the stuff that we ourselves don't want to know, He desires to be close to us, to have a relationship with us, to bless us, to love us. Talk about profound!!! THAT is mind blowing! There are times when I don't like myself vey much, disappointed in what I've said or done...turn my eyes from what God calls me to do, but the creator of the universe, the alpha omega, the one true God..loves me. And He feels the same about you. :)
Romans 8:38-39 Write this down....and remember it for the next "Jonah Moment."
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm reading a new book called, Women are Scary. It is hilarious and so far, I think the author has been eyeballing my life cause it certainly speaks to me. should read it. I haven't completed the book yet, so my review won't happen for a few more weeks. But, I wanted to share some things that are on my heart, some of it because of what I'm reading, some of it because of my morning today.
First, I miss my girlfriends so much since we moved. It makes my heart hurt to be so far away from them and be missing out on doing life with them. God made us (women) to fellowship. In other words, we have a need that only good girlfriends can fill. I had the BEST girlfriends where we were living. And I have been slow to put myself out there to make new friends where we are living. Its ridiculously intimidating to me....and exhausting. Let's be honest, relationships take A LOT of work and frankly my plate is kind of full with 7 children and a husband. At least that's what satan wants me to believe. He whispers in my ear about not being good enough to make genuine friendships where I am, and lately I have believed him.
So, this morning I went to a women's Bible Study at the sweetest, warmest lady's house (Hey Carrie! :) ). On the drive there I actually thought about turning around and not going. I was sure it would be awkward for me, as I wouldn't know most of the women there. What pushed me to go was the fact that one of the few women that I have become friends with (Hey Noey!) was going to be there and I LOVE getting to spend time with her. As I walked in, it was just as I had feared. A room full of the cutest ladies, with the cutest little ones playing. And here I come, half put together and thankful that at least I remembered to brush my teeth before I left my house. I did not belong in this group. It felt awkward. I quickly realized that it felt that way, because that's how I had built it up to be in my mind.
If we aren't careful, its easy to give satan a place in our lives. I had not prayed about my morning. I didn't take it before God and trust in His willingness to listen and help. I let my mind wander and worrying about things that weren't even an issue. Ever do that? I doubt it works any better for you than it did for me this morning. As I sat in the chair and listened to how open and insightful these ladies were, satan's whispers were no longer lingering in my ear. And I joined the conversation. Before I left, I got a huge honor of sharing my testimony that led us to where we are today. And I'm sure I needed to hear it more than the ladies there. I needed the reminder of how important it is for me to have Godly girlfriends in my life. I need them there to listen. I need them there to encourage me, hold me accountable, laugh with me and love me through all of my weirdness. And I certainly need to be able to do the same for them. If you are missing out on positive girlfriend relationships, I will be praying for you. I will pray that God opens your heart to find such a relationship, for those types of relationships are true blessings.
I was reading my book, "Women are Scary," last night and I love how the author talked about how God expects us to have girlfriend type relationships. He provided such a connection for Mary when her relative, Elizabeth, became pregnant too. He knew that Mary was gonna need a supportive friend and he provided that to her. And I believe that God still wants that for us today. I am thankful that I was included in this Bible Study. I'm thankful that someone who hasn't felt quite qualified to lead such a group, listened to God calling her to do so. Open up your heart, hear where God is leading you and be on the lookout for Godly friendships. It can make a difference in your life and possibly an even bigger difference in someone else's life!
In case you want to grab your Bible, here's where you can read about Mary and Elizabeth: Luke 1:36-56.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sunday mornings are typically filled with "hurry-ups" and "aren't you ready yets" as we struggle to get all 9 of us out the door with everyone having their hair brushed out, clean clothes on and shoes on their feet matching the left to the right. (The struggle is real. lol) We rush everyone around all morning, rush to get to church, rush to get kids checked in for children's church and finally a rush to get our seat in the sanctuary. It's really not a lot of fun. And some Sunday mornings when I am the first to get up, I'm already dreading getting everyone ready and heading off to church. I love Sunday morning services, I can't wait for it to roll around each week. But, the getting ready part...I have come to loathe it. It would be so much easier, and waaaaaaaay less stressful, to just stay home. And that's how that guy satan often gets us to sin...find the easy way. Satan has a way of stealing our joy in situations so that we will look for the easy route to take the next time.

I just recently read a new book from Max Lucado called Before Amen. I really loved it! He talks about going through life with a grateful heart. And I love what he says here:
Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our systems. (Lucado, 82)

It's pretty much impossible to have a grateful heart and have room for satan to steal your joy. Satan is the biggest thief around! He steals joy...often because we miss the blessings around us. The best way to get rid of a bad mood is to name things that you are grateful for in your life. "Before Amen," also talks about finding something from every letter of the alphabet that you are thankful for in your life (Lucado, 80). That's 26 things to be thankful for...imagine how many times you can go through the alphabet! In doing an activity such as this, you've made it impossible for satan to be a thief to you.
So a couple of Sundays ago I declared that satan was NOT going to steal my joy that day. I was not going to head off for worship with frustration and annoyance in my heart. I said (out loud), "Satan will not steal my joy." And I followed up with something that I was grateful for. There was plenty for me to be annoyed about that of our chickens had not gotten put away the night before and I looked out the window to see that our outside dog was "playing" with the chicken by tossing her up in the air and dragging her around the yard, my 9yo was in tears because the chicken didn't make it through the "playtime" with the dog, breakfast was spilled on the floor, little girls couldn't find their shoes, and my shower was ice cold!!!!! Satan was working overtime in our house that morning. But, before the chaos had erupted that morning, I had already determined that he wasn't going to steal my joy. I found gratefulness in Amazing grace, Bagels for breakfast, Church time that day, Dogs to love on, Each of my children, Faith, God, my Husband's willingness to take care of the lifeless chicken, Iced coffee, Jamming to "This is the Stuff," Kindness from my children to the one who was upset, Love filled home, Mom as my title, Not being grouchy, Optimistic attitudes, Playful moments, Quiet time earlier that morning, Remembering to laugh, my Stubbornness that joy would not be stolen, Time together as a family, Utter silliness that morning, Victory over satan, Wrestling, eXcitement for church, Yummy coffee, Zaney little personalities running all around me.
When we enter a time of worship and fellowship, it shouldn't be in a bad mood. I'm tired of getting to church in a huff. I'm tired of feeling grouchy before I leave for church. I'm tired of not enjoying those moments together as a family. And in each of those statements there is one common theme...choice. I choose all those behaviors. I do so because I allow satan to do what he is so good at, steal from me. I'm working so hard at staying focused on being genuinely grateful and shutting down satan before he gets a foothold on my day. I have a long ways to go, but I'm hiding away tools in my heart that God has provided to use against that thief. I will choose thankfulness over impatience. I will choose gratitude over annoyance. And I will remember that God is in control.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Max Lucado’s newest book, “Before Amen,” is a must read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding about what prayer is and how God calls us to participate in it. Thanks to my friends at Family Christian for sending me a free copy of Max’s book early, I was able to read it before it was officially announced as The Book of The Year for Family Christian. It only took me a few pages in and I was so hooked I had to read it with my pen in hand! I marked up my book for furture reads. This is a book that I will read more than once.

Prayer life for Christians is such an important part of our relationship with God. Yet, many miss out on this time to spend with Him. My life is an example of how God will take hurt and use it to draw you in. During the mist of the most painful time of my life, I simply told God that no more would I pray for the things that I want. I was tired, I was lost and I was full of pain all the time…and my ways were no longer what I sought. I changed my prayers and looked at the time completely different than I had ever done so before. I began to pray that my heart and my mind would be opened to hear and follow what God was asking me to do. I repeatedly told Him that I would go wherever he asked me. I would deal with situations in a way that were glorifying to Him rather than rely on myself to deal with things. And in doing so, He has changed who I am…dramatically. As I read Max’s book, it felt like he had put my life experiences to paper. And sometimes we find ourselves at a loss of how or what to say to God. Max offers up a “pocket prayer” to use in times such as those. It’s simple, short, and yet still provides a connection to God’s power. Prayer with God is like this….faith+trust=God’s Power. If you’re struggling in anything….prayer WILL fix things.  “Prayer can be the internal voice that directs the external action,” what a powerful and true statement!   Praying may not change your circumstances, but it will change who you are. Take time to read Max’s new book, “Before Amen”, it will help you unlock God’s presence in your life.

Grab your copy here

 (Lucado, 88)