Friday, January 29, 2010

A Red Pen?

Do you remember getting a report back from an instructor with red pen comments and marks all over it? Maybe you spent hours laboring over it and when you turned it in you thought it was a great piece. The reality of the red pen was disappointing.

Don't we use that red pen on ourselves, though? We want to change the story of our life and out comes that red pen.

It could be that we use it in a positive manner with the goal of improving in a certain area. For instance, it may be as simple as striking out 'eat fast food' and changing it to 'cook healthy meals'. When we are looking to the future, a red pen is not always a dangerous tool for us to wield.

What got me to thinking about this? Well, I've been following a series by Holley Gerth ( titled "The Rest of Your Story". In one of her posts she discusses the use of a red pen and how God is really the only One wise enough to accurately utilize it to help us write the rest of our own story. One thing she mentioned in that post that really got my attention was how the same characteristic can be used for benefit or detriment. It depends on who (or Who) is guiding the behavior. Her comparison to the Apostle Paul before and after Christ came into his life almost jumped off the page when I read it.

In the past different jobs required that I take personality tests/surveys. The one that made the most impact was the one that pointed out how the same personality trait can be viewed positively and negatively. Usually people with the same trait will view me positively. Those with the total opposite trait will tend to view me negatively. That knowledge has helped me improve interpersonal communication, especially when it comes to working in teams. However, Holley's example of the same trait before and after Christ made me reconsider how I am to live out the rest of my story.

Instead of trying to control the red pen by second guessing how others perceive me and becoming consumed in that dance, I will instead simply allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and trust God to fully use me just exactly as He created me. I am giving control of the red pen to Him.

Which makes me even more excited about the rest of my story.

What about your story? I encourage you to check out the entire series that Holley has written. I believe you will be both challenged and encouraged by what you read!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's moisturizer got to do with it?

Mornings are a challenge for me. As in 'my brain doesn't wake up until after 2 cups of coffee' kind of challenging. And even after that first jolt of caffeine, I'm still not running on all 8 cylinders. So you'll understand how I managed to forget to put on moisturizer. Well, maybe you'll understand. I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I mean, I have my routine down y'all! Shower, lotion up the body and slather moisturizer on my face while it's still damp, dry my hair, brush my teeth, get dressed and then put on makeup. I've followed the same sequence for so long I was beginning to believe I could do it in my sleep. (Now that would be a great way to capture a few more zzz's!)

And morning this week I got to the last step of the routine, putting on makeup, and my foundation was just not cooperating. Instead of gliding over my skin and blending to a natural glow (that's what those beauty magazines tell you it should look like, right!?), it was blotchy - definitely not blending. My skin felt dry and the resulting look was anything but a natural glow. It took only a moment for me to realize I had forgotten to use moisturizer. It was apparent that without the foundation of smooth skin brought about through the use of moisturizer, no amount of makeup was going to make me look any better. I simply would not be able to achieve the look (results)I was used to getting.

My walk with Christ is a lot like that. Just like I must daily prepare my face by using moisturizer, so must I prepare myself spiritually by spending time with Him, reading His Word and taking time to hear from Him. If I don't, my spirit becomes dry and parched. I respond to difficult people and stressful circumstances in ways that do not show Jesus living within me.

Now before you start to think that I am being all preachy here about a daily quiet time and that I must have it all together to be able to do that, let me confess. I do not!! I struggle with being consistent with carving out morning time to be with Jesus. For this girl it is definitely not as simple as the routine I've developed for getting up, dressed, and out the door for work. I am SO a work in progress. But God loves me anyways. And He is all about giving me reminders of how important it is for me to spend time with Him.

Don't you just love it when He speaks to us through the little daily things in our lives?

May He speak to you today, right smack dab in the middle of your day. Keep your eyes open and ears alert. You just never know when He is going to show up. Like early in the morning when you really don't think you are completely awake yet!



Sunday, January 17, 2010

What will you do with Him?

I just finished the book, "Learning to Soar". I highly recommend that you read it. (Check back here in a few days for a complete review.)

In the closing chapters, Avery Willis Jr. tells of learning the difference in having the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit. He reminds the reader that "the Spirit is given to us to teach, guide, empower, and use us for God's glory."

When we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit moves in. 1 Corinthians 6:19 states "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (NIV). And in Ephesians 1:13 we are told "...Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance..." (NIV).

But what we do from that point on is, in many ways, up to us. I fear that many of us, this writer included, accept His Spirit as a deposit and only tap into a very minute portion of the power available to us. We under utilize that power partly because of our human self-focus. We ask for His wisdom when we want to know how to handle something. We ask for His comfort when we are in need. We ask for His guidance when we have a decision to make. And just as He promised, He is faithful to give us what is needed.

But what about the untapped power? The potential of what we can do or who we can become for God? When we change our motivation for seeking the Holy Spirit from what we think we need at the moment to opening ourselves to Him and His power to accomplish whatever He wants to through us, then I believe we will begin to see the outpouring of the Spirit.

In this morning's service the choir sung the song, "Holy Spirit Rain Down". As I listened to the words, it was like God was sending a holy echo from what I just finished reading. (You know God is speaking to you when He repeats himself. He knows just how many times He must do that for each of us!)

We are living in treacherous and desperate times. Lost and hurting people surround us, searching for significance and meaning that we know can only be found through Jesus Christ. I believe God is shouting from heaven for us to open the doors in our hearts that we have selfishly protected from a full indwelling of the Holy Spirit and to commit to do whatever God tells us to do.

We all have God given talents and potential that He wants to use for His glory. I don't know about you, but I don't want to stand before Him one day and find that I left untapped the power that was available and did not fulfill all that He prepared me to do. However, I confess that I am a work in progress. I wish I could say that when He speaks I immediately do an about face. But I don't. This faith walk is a step at a time, a day at a time.

But I am looking forward with anticipation to see what God is going to do in and through me as I daily ask anew to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I pray that you will join me in this adventure with God. And I'm looking forward to hearing your stories of the great & mighty things that God is going to accomplish through your sold out heart.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Soar or Stay in the Nest?

I am currently reading the book "Learning to Soar: How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials" by Avery T. Willis Jr. & his grandson, Matt Willis. Using the example of a mother eagle who stirs the nest where her eaglets have hatched in order to force them to fly, the Willis' draw a correlation to how God "stirs our nests" to nudge (or shove when necessary) us toward growth in spiritual maturity.

I'll be the first to tell you that in my own journey I have thought of myself as a slow learner. There are lessons I thought that God would probably have preferred that I learned the first time He tried to teach me. But one of the things the Willis' point out in their book is that many times when we think 'O.K., here I am again. What is it that I still haven't learned?", what is really happening is just another step in our growth from newly born Christian to fully matured Christian. I don't know about you, but I tend to think if I can just learn the lesson that God wants to teach me in and through a trying circumstance, then life will improve and I won't have to face that trial again. With that mentality, it is easy to slide right on over to the belief that I can somehow have a life of comfort with no trials, difficulties, or tragedies. But that is wishful thinking.

In fact, God tells us in His word to expect trials. "In this world you will have trouble..." "...when you pass through the waters..." However, He also tells us He will never abandon us or forsake us in the midst of those trials. He tells us that He is refining us as silver which requires heat. Lots of heat. And He promises that "all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV

When I look back at the difficulties that God has brought me through I see how He used each to increase my faith, to help me learn to trust Him more, and to change me into a vessel He can use. The shape of that vessel changes with each faith stretching circumstance as does how and where He chooses to use me.

I can't say that this means that I now look forward with excitement to the next challenging cirucumstance or difficult trial that will come my way. I don't know that I will ever grow to the point of being able to say "I'm loving this trial 'cause I'm growing more mature." But I can tell you with complete and open honesty that I look at those seasons of life through different eyes now. With a heart that trusts that my God is right there with me and that He is in the process of bringing about good in my life. Allowing Him to define that good. Trusting that He will reveal it to me in His perfect timing.

If you are in the middle of a storm in your life right now, I pray that you will remember that He is with you and that He will never, never, no never let you go. He will lead you through these days, in and through and over the pain, the discouragement, the despair.

If you, like me, find yourself between storms let us not become complacent or let down our guard. Through the storms and through the calm of life, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. If you know someone who is going through a storm, then be on your knees in intercessory prayer for her.

Speaking of prayer, as I end today's post I want to remind you of our women's Praise & Prayer Gathering next Saturday (16th) at 9:30am. If you are in the Hopkinsville area we invite you to join us as we begin the new year with a first fruits offering of praise to God and a time to join together in prayer. If you live elsewhere, join us where you are. Simply turn on your favorite praise music and then follow it up with a time of prayer for your Christian sisters in your church, your city, and around the world.

Looking forward to a mighty movement of God in 2010!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to the 'Real' World

Shortly after my last post I came to the realization that in order for me to enjoy the simpler celebration of Christmas that I yearned for, I was going to have to cut some things out of my to-do list. One of those things was regular posting here. (I've heard that you lose readers by not posting regularly but hopefully, there are a few left!)

Creating time in my days during the month of December allowed me to:

* Finish Christmas shopping without being totally stressed out. (However, I still found myself shopping the morning of Christmas Eve! I think that is just part of my way of doing it so I will accept that and not fret because I'm a down to the last minute type person.)

* Actually wrote notes in family and friend Christmas cards and got them in the mail by Dec. 20. (There have been years when they were mailed after Christmas!)

* Enjoy time with my family. I mean, REALLY enjoy it, savoring each precious moment.

* Spend a couple of pajama days during the long holiday weekends, complete with afternoon naps and time to snuggle under my fave fleece throw with a good book.

And time of R & R is past and it is time to get back to what I call the 'real' world. The world of a regular work schedule. The world that forces me to be disciplined in setting aside time to spend with the Lord. To schedule time to write and read. It is important for me to schedule those things so that they don't either get shoved aside and left behind or, worse, take away time spent with my family.

You see, I can easily swing from one extreme to the other. At the end of one far swing I am the queen of procrastination, doing absolutely nothing but vegging out in front of the tv for hours and eating out of boredom. Nothing accomplished except gaining weight, damaging my health, and feeling guilty. At the opposite side of the swing I am totally cramming doing something into every moment of my day, falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day. In this extreme mode, I may accomplish quite a few tasks, however, it is at the expense of relationships. My relationship with Christ, my husband, my family, friends - they all suffer. And I still feel guilty.

So my goal is to establish a schedule that makes room for relationship strengthening, completing tasks, and a bit of R & R. Notice I didn't say resolution! I'm just not into the whole making a new year's resolution thing. I smacks too much of here today and gone in a couple of months type thing. I'm looking for more of a long term, life style changing, good habit forming type of change.

What has the turn of the calendar inspired you to do? Let's share!

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