Bearing Fruit? or Staying Busy?

We like to be busy.  We take pride in the fact that we are doing so many ‘meaningful’ things.  But take notice — being busy does not mean that you are getting the desired Kingdom outcome.  Unless you are leaning in to His presence, taking His direction, moving in His will — you might be doing good things; but they may not be the thing He has for you to do.  Abide!  Without His presence – you cannot accomplish His will.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  John 15:4

He Delights In Me! and You!

So underserving – yet, He still adores me!  I stand amazed at His endless and matchless love for me.  Praying always that my life is bringing Him glory, honor and great pleasure.  May my life, this day, be a sweet offering of worship to Him.  He is the delight of my soul!  May my life, this day, be lived toward His purposes.  He is my redeemer and my benevolent Sovereign!

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Life Happens and sometimes you step in S***!

life-happensIt is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives that it is to rejoice for the good.  I don’t know why that is, but it seems that our natural bent is to complain about what is happening to us rather than recognize what God is doing in the difficulty.  I’m sure that I have been guilty of that in my own life.  As we come out of the Christmas season and I have seen people returning those precious Christmas gifts complaining that the gift didn’t work; was the wrong size; didn’t meet with their liking; etc. — I could only think about how dissatisfied we are most of the time!  Just like we forgot that someone sacrificed something in order that we might have that gift; we forget that He sacrificed all so that we might have eternal life.

When Lloyd and I moved to Ghana in 2004 we didn’t speak the language; we couldn’t eat the food; we didn’t know the rules; we didn’t understand the culture.  People stole from us; people told us that they did work that they didn’t actually do; the car kept breaking down; pipes kept bursting (once so badly that we had to fetch water and bring large barrels into and around the house for use); bugs were getting into everything; the ceiling fell in; malaria happened; dysentery happened; etc.   When all of these things happened – we were careful to encourage one another to rejoice at how God was going to fix it for us; how He was going to use us to be Him to the people we were trusting to fix the problems; how our headaches would bring Him glory.  Lloyd and I would go into our room and inspect one another – miraculously we found that neither of us had scars from a thorny crown; holes from nails in our wrists or feet; and not even a spear in our sides!  Incredible isn’t it!  None of it was Calvary! We believed every time that He would give us the strength to bear it – and He did!!  Time and time again – He brought us through all of it.

My dear friend Mike Pickett wrote a song that serves to remind me daily of what it means to count all of it as joy.  The lyrics say,

“You are the salt of the earth, a preservative for some.  You may be the ONLY reason destruction hasn’t come.  If while following God you find yourself in the midst of circumstance; you may have been sent there to let someone know that today may be the last chance to walk in righteousness; holiness; love; peace; and joy in the Holy Spirit of God”

So, yeah — you may be driving a car that is a little older than you like, and it may require a lot of repair; but are you taking that opportunity to be salt and light to the person who will repair the car?  You might be facing a different trial everyday in your health (thanks for this lesson, Lorenita!); but are you being salt and light to all who visit you and to the doctors and nurses that serve you?

This life on this earth is temporal!  Don’t lose sight of that!  Our home is in heaven – a place where all will be well!  As for the “momentary light afflictions” you WILL face down here — count it as joy AND count it as an opportunity for you to be His glory in this fallen world.  Know that as you face each hardship with joy – you will have more patience and endurance to face the next thing.  Being used for His glory in the midst of it all is just the icing on the cake!  I like icing and the thought of being icing on His cake is an incredible gift to my heart!  May the Father move me to trust Him in the midst of it all and may He bend my heart toward full joy and the hope of my eternal hope.  Remind yourself in the midst of difficulties and hardships  — It Ain’t Calvary!

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2,3)

Binding up Foolishness

disciplineI have been a mom for 24 years – I still remember well finding out I was pregnant with Joe. Jeremy followed 4 years later – the joy of motherhood was just as fresh as the first time. Over those years people have often commented on the character and behavior of my sons. People tell me that they are intelligent, respectful, purposeful, engaging, etc. I am proud of them and pleased that they carry themselves in this way. God has been gracious.

Lloyd and I did not leave it to chance that they would ‘turn out’ okay. No way! We were bold enough and courageous enough to speak into their lives; to demand certain behaviors of them when they were young; to express the behavior and character requirements of our family unit; to teach them the truths of the Bible; to teach them who they were in Christ; to teach them on Whom they should rely. We made our expectations clear and we were never afraid to put non-negotiables in place. Even as they have entered adulthood – we do not shrink back from speaking to issues related to their character and the heart of God.

I’ve been talking to people who have teens and young adults that are living ‘just any ole kinda way’ and they have been asking me why it is that these almost grown folk cannot get it together. My answer to them has been that because they did not correct the fool that was bound up in their child’s heart – that fool has now been unleashed in a full grown adult!

We are blessed with children not so we’ll have someone to love; someone to brag on; someone to spoil rotten – we are blessed with them so that we will raise them to respect and acknowledge our God and King. We are blessed with children so that we will have a ready made opportunity to disciple Christ followers. We are blessed with children so that we can do our part to ensure that this world is exposed to the hope, love, peace and truth of the gospel.

Take my advice – don’t unleash a fool on the world. It seems there are plenty of them out there already! Instead – while they are young, be bold enough to risk ‘friendship’ with your child and restrict what you allow them to take in to their minds. Be bold enough to call them out on bad behavior. Be bold and courageous enough to speak to them about what they wear; how they speak; who their friends are. Have enough faith in God to trust that His plans for them include righteousness, peace and joy. Have enough faith in God to risk requiring that they obey His commands in order to experience and walk in your favor. Don’t reward their foolishness; correct it. Don’t excuse their misbehavior; correct it. Love your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews enough to step out on the word of God which promises that if we would help them to take aim at the right goal – they won’t get lost when they are older. Admonish them in love, not in anger and disdain, so that they will know and trust what God’s correction looks like. Live your life in front of them in a way that there is no mistaking Whose you are. Make the Word of God and the life of the believer the focus of your own life. Make good choices so that they will learn to do the same.

There is a saying “My momma didn’t raise no fools!” — May it be true in your family. I’m grateful that it is true in mine.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)

A Little more about satisfaction

philippians-4-13God is more knowledgeable about us than we are about ourselves. He knows that the temptation to fall into line with the world’s systems are too much for us to bear alone. He does not leave us to our own devices, but will work within us to teach us to be satisfied – to give us hearts that are content.

As you start this New Year, I encourage you not to cry over the things that you did not accomplish; the stuff that you did not get; the relationship that ended; the project that you did not complete. Ask the Lord to help you to accept that all that happened in 2014 was what He had for you in 2014 — and then walk into 2015 with a new attitude that says “I am beginning again!”

Paul said that he could be content in any situation because Christ within him gave Him the strength. You have access to that same resurrection power! Ask the Holy Spirit today to teach you the way to be satisfied/content with what is over and done with and ask Him to teach you the new lessons you’ll need in the coming days to move ahead.

God’s plan for you in 2015 are perfect – tailor made for you! There is nothing that He intends for you to have that you cannot not have. There is nothing He intends for you to accomplish that you cannot accomplish. There is no good thing that He will withhold from you. What God has destined for your life is for your life.

You are a part of God’s great plan to redeem this world and reconcile it to Himself. Get in the game in 2015 – realize that there is something that God created you to do that no other person can accomplish. Know this — when you identify that purpose; you will know satisfaction in a way that you have never known it before!

Happy New Year! Be New! Be Changed! Be All HIS!!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)