Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Few Of My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things…..
 Fresh apricots falling from the tree
Warm summer sun and time to relax in it
Fresh veggies from the garden
Sitting around discussing scripture passages with friends
Swinging in my hammock swing
Iced coffee on a hot day
Lake Michigan, sand dunes, and watching my kids enjoy it all
Fresh picked Indiana blueberries
A visit from my awesome in-laws
Crossing items off my to-do list

Enjoy your summer, and don't forget to stop and give thanks for each of your favorite things!

Set Up

"My favorite in Scripture is Ephesians 2:10. It says: "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works prepared for us in advance." I love that tag line: "prepared for us in advance." Translation: God is setting you up."

"That tag line fills me with holy anticipation. It gives me an unshakable sense of destiny. If we simply stay in tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing we will walk into situations that God has divinely orchestrated for us. I don't believe in coincidence. I believe in providence. God is in the business of making sure we're in the right place at the right time. There are divine appointments that God is already setting up for next day delivery!"            
Makes me think of times in my life when I feel like I’ve been set up……

I run into someone at the grocery store, cart full, schedule even more full….. in a time crunch to get home, put food away, cook food for supper, clean up and sweep mounds of dog hair off floor …all before the girls show up for bible study…. And it seems that times like this are exactly when the “how are you doing?” greeting actually gets a for-real answer, and the “fine” gets lost in the rush along with my few spare minutes.  Set up.  I asked.  Now I am receiving the answer.  No matter how narrow my margin of time. 
Despite the ominous feeling that I have no option but to stand and listen to the precious minutes ticking away, I do have options in such circumstances.  I have a choice in this.  I can choose to fake-listen while silently complaining, thinking of all the things that will go undone, envisioning the horror on the faces as the ladies wade through dog hair on my floor.  I can look for pauses in the conversation to slip in a muttered excuse and be on my way, leaving the dear soul wondering why I even seemed to care in the first place. 

Many times these are the first options that come to mind and if I don’t search further, they can seem like the only options as well as the right ones.  After all, I do have to feed my family, right?  I do have to be home for bible study, right?  Yes, of course. 

But if I will turn my eyes to my Father, you know, the One who prepared good works for us in advance, the One who gives us grace so we will abound in good works - I will see that He has placed this person in my path for a purpose He wants me to accomplish.  Maybe they just need to know someone cares.  Maybe they need further counseling and I can offer it.  Maybe they need a friend to help them walk through the shadows. Maybe I need to learn to put people before my to-do list. Whatever the reason, God has set me up to grow more like His Son and equipped me to minister for Him to them. 

Set up. It’s not such a bad thing, depending how you look at it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Do I Have An Undivided Heart?

Each summer we used to operate a large fundraiser for Impact Skate Park & Youth Center where I was the manager. This was a huge undertaking and required hours upon hours of time and many volunteers to make it happen. One morning as I was preparing and mentally coaching myself for the day ahead, I caught a glimpse of a verse card sitting quietly on the bathroom counter.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth;

 Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
 Psalm 86:11

An undivided heart.  Lord, how do I have an undivided heart while I am working long days in the heat to raise money? I’m over tired, stressed with all the responsibility on my shoulders, discouraged by lack of volunteers, and wondering if we will make enough this year. My total focus these next 10 days must be on running the fundraiser, how do I fit You in?

The answer came softly. It’s not that my mind cannot be going in many directions all day, but that my inner compass is steadily pointing to Him. Undivided loyalty to Christ.  It’s not that I need to fit Him in, I need to fit life into my devotion to Him.

I will not simply follow my emotions or current situation, but consistently respond in ways He wants me to. This verse gave me the strength to make it through the day and the rest of the week and God blessed us again, as He always has and as always, the stress wasn’t even necessary.

How can you live with an undivided heart?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Solemn Acts Of Devotion

Around the 4th of July, we all get to feeling a bit more patriotic than usual, celebrating with flags lining Main Street, parades, and even red white and blue flip flops. America has been a great country enjoying freedom for 237 years.

 My favorite preacher, who happens to be my husband and is very patriotic, spoke a while back on the solemn acts of devotion of our country’s founding fathers.  I was inspired and thought I’d share some of what he spoke about. (I will put his words in quotes to give credit where credit is due.)

56 men signed the Declaration of Independence.  I have always admired these men, but never realized just what it meant for them to put their “John Hancock” on that document of 1,321 words.

“Each of these men was willing to sacrifice everything for a cause they believed in and history shows that they paid a price for that bravery.” 

These men endured great hardships.  For some of them, businesses were destroyed… families were harassed and ran for their lives….homes and properties were ransacked, burned and lost… Some went into great debt to fund the war… some were captured and tortured…and some even lost their own sons in the war. Stop for a moment and ponder this. Would you and I be willing to risk our home, and family’s safety for a cause? Would we risk our jobs and businesses to stand up for what we believe in?

“And though few of them benefited from their bravery, and most lost everything they owned, not one recanted his original declaration of independence.  These men were courageous and valiant and brave and because of them and others, we have the privilege of being here today, and living in the greatest country of the world.” These men did not directly benefit from their sacrifices, but they knew their descendants would one day benefit.

John Adams said of observing the 4th of July, “it ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

“Preserving American liberty depends first upon our understanding the foundations on which this great country was built and then preserving the principles on which it was founded. Woodrow Wilson once declared, ‘A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today or what it is trying to do.’ ”

 As I mull this over in my head, I see a parallel with my Christian walk. My life ought to be a series of solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  I stand among the ones whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  A price was paid for the freedom that brings and I have a mission to preserve that so others may hear and benefit as well.

Am I willing to endure the things these men went through?  Don’t I give in to much smaller pressures?

Am I willing to sacrifice my life, my comforts, my conveniences, my home for a cause I believe in? My Savior paid the price for my sin, am I willing to give my life back to Him?

I don’t always see the benefit here and now, but I need to remember the cause of my life and not recant. Will others have the privilege of knowing Christ because of my bravery in sacrificing my life to point them to Christ?

I have to remember what I once was, who I am in Christ and what I am to do here on earth…. My life ought to be a characterized by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. A daily celebration of Him.