Attitudes and Actions {6.21.17}

Attitudes and Actions. They work together, or rather one fuels or directs the other. Think about it, what you are thinking about plays a huge part in how you act. That’s why God tells us in His word what we are to think of in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, 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 morning I was attitude - Churchillpraying before I got out of bed and then again in the shower. As I was getting ready for work, God brought to mind some of the things I had been praying about and that they are all part of either an attitude or action.

There are many things going on in my life right now and I have found myself entertaining doubt. I’ve wondered, Will God do this? Will He do that? Am I really in His Will or following after my own selfish desires? Knowing that we’ve prayed and prayed and felt God’s leading, Satan is always around trying to convince us of lies. One of his names is “Father of Lies”. God reminded me this morning of the words of James 1:6 that say “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” So…get on out of here Satan, I’m not believing in what I see, but in what I know – or more specifically, WHO I KNOW! Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I am going to praise God for the answer I don’t even see yet and not doubt for a minute that He will provide the answers – the best answers! After all, He knows the whole picture, I only see a small portion.

actions speak louderAnother area where I realized Satan was tempting me was with fear. I’m not normally a fearful person but sometimes we can fear the unknown and not even acknowledge that it is fear. I don’t know about you but I tend to like to know the plan. I’m a planner and organizer by nature and maybe it’s a control thing that I have to struggle with to give up. Regardless, fear does NOT come from God. In face this is what God says about fear in 1 John 4:16-19 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”  Fear not – My God is With Me!

It all boils down to our relationship with God through Christ Jesus. If we are His Children, we can stand on his promises, recite them to ourselves over and over again. He is true to His Word. God can be trusted. We must have faith and not doubt. We must be courageous and not fear. WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

BibleSo, if you, like me, have ever entertained doubt or fear – read God’s Word, hide it in your heart (Psalm 119:11) and then stand firm in the armor He provides (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Let’s make sure our attitudes and actions work together for good, for God, for His Glory and His Kingdom! Let’s walk forth in confident joy!

Storytelling {1.18.17}

Storytelling has been around as long as the human race. The serpent told a story to Eve. We know that was a false story (He twisted the truth in his story to her). There are all kinds of stories and many different ways to tell them. Storytelling can be done verbally, written, through music or acting. All are effective, depending upon their content, delivery and audience. The stories can be fantasy, fiction, biographical, historical, self-help, how-to books, etc. There are plenty of options for all situations and people.

I remember that my Grandma used to watch soap operas during the day. She called them her “stories”. I had to be sure not to call during her “stories” or she was so preoccupied she didn’t hear a word I was saying. I never watched daytime soap operas but I did get caught up in Downton Abbey and hated to see that series end. storytelling-campfireA good story has the ability to capture our attention, doesn’t it? We feel like we are right there in their midst. I even dream about whatever movie I’ve watched or book I’ve read that day. So…I do NOT watch scary movies!

I know people who can tell a good story, whether make believe or truth, they just seem to have a way about them that makes us want to keep listening. I am not one of those people. I usually mess up the punch lines in a joke too but that’s another story altogether. I do love a good story though and enjoy being with people who can tell them well.

The great thing about books is that your imagination can create the characters and places as you see them in your own mind. I have always loved to read. My Mom shared that gift with me and I am thankful. I have to admit though that I do love a happy ending in books and movies with all the loose ends tied up on pretty bows. That doesn’t always happen but when it does it makes my heart smile.

once-upon-timeA few years ago we took a family vacation (well, not all of us – we are a large family, but a good group of adults and children). Anyway, we created our own story book on that trip. I started the story and then passed it to another person who added to the story from that point, then on to the next and the next until everyone had participated. It was fun and it was funny to see how each person interpreted the story and characters. We all had fun reading it from beginning to end and seeing the twists and turns each person put into the story line.  I highly recommend that for anyone who is heading out on a trip with a group of people. I think we all enjoyed it (adults and kids).

The greatest story of all though is written in a book that is readily available to all of us here in the United States. The Bible.bible-falling-apart You can read it for yourself either with a book, electronically, or listen to someone else read it, It is so easy to get that I even have it on my phone and computer. This story has everything in it and the best part is – it’s a true story! All through the years people have been trying to prove the Bible false but it always proves itself true. However, you can’t just take a few verses or chapters and try to make sense out of them, you must read the entire thing. Then you realize how true it is and how it all fits together. It doesn’t matter what type of story you like to read, it’s all in the Bible. I don’t know of any other book that offers all these things. Check out this brief list: love, passion, betrayal, faithfulness, miracles, obedience, disobedience, consequences, beauty, disasters, life, joy, peace, relationships, politics, intrigue, blessings, curses, truth, eternal life, war, natural disasters, geography, agriculture, construction, precious gems, astrology, etc. etc. The list goes on and on but the best part is…for those who believe, there are no loose ends and there is a very happy ending!word-of-god

So, if you want a good story – look no further than the Bible. It will bless you and no matter how many times you read it, you will still see something you missed before. It’s a book for lifelong learning and is life giving. It doesn’t get any better than that. So whether you want to hold a book in your lap and read, get it on your phone or computer, or listen to a tape, pick up a copy and get started. You will find it hard to put down. The Bible – the Greatest Story Ever Told and we can read it for ourselves. Enjoy!

God’s Word: Know it, Pray it, Live it {5.21.16}

I hope you will bear with me in this blog post. It’s a bit of a testimony of my Christian walk and maybe similar to some of yours. We weren’t all “born in the church”; some of us (like me) “saw The Light” much later.  This journey we are on as believers in Christ is an amazing journey but sometimes it’s hard to see “God’s guideposts” as He directs our paths. Do you ever feel like that? Trying to discern where your will ends and God’s will begins is sometimes hard to see. I don’t know how long you’ve been on your Christian walk. Maybe you have not yet accepted Christ and started down that narrow path. If not, the steps are simple. You simply come as you are. Here’s what God says is required: (Romans 10:9) “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Once we confess our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, here’s what God says in (Luke 10:27) “He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Of course, loving like that in our own strength is impossible. That’s one of the great blessings we receive – God’s strength will work in and through us and His love will enable us to love others. Now, back to the topic at hand…

My husband and I both accepted Christ in our thirties. Our Christian walk seemed to head down the road fast and furious. However as we look back, it really took us quite a while to “get it”, “connect the dots”, or “see clearly”. Neither one of us grew up in the church. My husband did go occasionally as a child and knew many of the Bible stores. I was, on the other hand, clueless. I only have one memory of attending church as a child. It was Easter morning when I was 5 years old. What I remember is walking into the church and my Sunday school class wearing a new dress, patent leather shoes and white gloves (I felt so wonderful in those things). My mother tells me that we attended a few times after that but I really don’t remember those times. I did not know any of the Bible stories that most children learn. So, when I accepted Christ at age 30, my learning curve was huge! Unfortunately, we were raising 5 children at the time and they suffered from our lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. We all went to church whenever the doors were open. My husband and I read our Bibles but, it took us a long time to figure out how to walk out our faith in Jesus. Therefore, we didn’t show/teach that to our children. We simply didn’t know how ourselves (at least I didn’t). You know this saying is so true – “You don’t know what you don’t know”! Something was missing but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t even realize enough to pray and ask God for it! I do, however, remember spending my lunch hours in God’s Word. It seemed like I could not get enough of it. I felt like I was so many years behind that I wasn’t sure how I would catch up and move forward. I knew that we needed to somehow incorporate our faith at home with our kids either reading or doing some sort of devotion or Bible study with them. But, frankly, it was all we could do to keep up with their school work, extra-curricular activities, keeping up with cooking, cleaning and laundry – not to mention all the outside chores. Thankfully my husband got home from work before me so he got to be the “homework helper” when needed (I do thank God for that one!). Our priorities were misplaced. Well, we can’t go back and change the past or re-do those years. We can only go forward and pray for God’s grace to cover our mistakes. Three of our five children are serving God and we are so very thankful. We are still praying for the other two and know that their salvation is for sure within the will of God. He wants all to come to Him through Jesus.

Knowing God’s Word: The only way to know God’s Word is to read it. To truly understand God’s Word, as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you into understanding. The more I read my Bible, the more I see and understand. Even after reading it through many times, it is still fresh every time I pick it up. God seems to speak to us just where we are and gives us answers when we are seeking them. He truly loves us so much that he provides all we need. To summarize, we must know God’s word in order to: (1) obey it, (2) recognize the counterfeit and deceiver’s lies, and (3) share it with others. That brings me to the next part of today’s title…

Praying God’s Word: There is no better assurance of praying in God’s will than praying His Word back to Him. What a journey of prayer God has taken me on! I was terrified to pray out loud for years. I thought I had to pray a certain way. After all, I had heard preachers and others pray and their prayers sure didn’t sound like me talking to anyone, let alone our Creator! I didn’t know and couldn’t feel right speaking in their words and ways. It just wasn’t me. Did I need to change? I wasn’t sure but I knew I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of a group of people. Remember, I was the one who didn’t know anything about God’s Word and was frantically trying to catch up. Well, God, in His infinite wisdom and patient guidance, taught me to pray as I was ministering to children and praying with them. He is so gracious! It was a long journey and God was pushing and giving me strength all the way. Praying is like second nature to me now. All I had to do was finally realize that I didn’t have to speak in a certain way or use special words. God just wanted me (and all of us) to talk to Him. So, however you speak – that’s it. I made something so simple seem so hard. As I begin this new ministry (blog and prayer gatherings) I wonder…was God preparing me for this all along? Funny how hindsight is so clear.

Living God’s Word: Now we come to where the rubber meets the road (had to use that analogy – it’s May in Indiana and the 100th running of the Indy 500 is almost here. Yes, I’m a Hoosier.) The only way we can live out God’s Word is through His power at work in us and the Holy Spirit guiding us. In January 1997 I changed jobs. It was by far the best job and best company I had ever experienced – a perfect fit for me. The funny thing is that I wasn’t looking for a job but a previous co-worker kept hounding me about it until I finally created a resume and applied. I got the job and shortly after I started, one of my new co-workers shared with me that she had been praying for God to send a Christian to fill the position I had taken. It didn’t take me long to realize the blessing was mine! God led me there because I needed her guidance and example. She truly walked her talk. God was (and is) in every part of her life. She saw Him at work everywhere and included Him in all things. Through her example, I kept seeking and finally found what I was looking for – clear vision.  I will never forget the day my eyes were opened and I could actually see God at work around me. I can’t explain it but I just knew that I knew that I knew and the light bulb has been on ever since (thank you, Jesus). People at work were drawn to my new friend because the love and light of Christ were evident in her. She truly cares about others and shows it. She is a wonderful encourager but is brave enough to hold you accountable to God’s Word if you are a Christian. That is what we are all called to be and do. She retired a few years ago and is sorely missed. We are still dear friends and maintain our relationship. If you don’t have a Christian friend/mentor/prayer partner, I encourage you to ask God for one. It’s an incredible blessing.

So, where are you on your walk? Are you on the narrow path yet? Have you been wandering around for a while? Are you “comfortable” or allowing God to nudge you into the unknown? I would love to read your story. Simply comment or reply to this post.

Whatever point you find yourself on this path, please keep moving forward. Your life depends on it.

p.s. I have a bonus for all of you living in the Avon, Indiana area. On Saturday, June 4, the dear friend that I mentioned above will be sharing with us at our next “prayer gathering” before we get down to the business of praying. You can find all the details on the “gathering” page of this blog.