How many times have we wondered, “God, what’s taking so long. Why haven’t you done that yet. I told you about that months ago?” It’s our human nature to question things, right? I’ve certainly had many questions in my journey with Him and I really don’t think God is put-off by our questions. After all, He desires our conversation, our talks with Him.
God does indeed want to give us the desires of our heart; however, His timetable is so much better than ours. It’s so hard on the flesh while we wait; yet, it’s actually the mercy of God at work. During that time of waiting, the imperfections that would have ruined us are exposed so God can remove them. Those imperfections could be pride, greed, selfishness, arrogance, insecurity, and the list goes on and on.
Don’t be discouraged or lose sleep if it takes time for your dream/desires to become reality! God never gets in a hurry because godly character is more important to Him than gifts, talents, or temporary success in the eyes of others. He does want to use you, but He also wants you to be ready to be used.
Right now you may need some time to prepare, change, and grow. That way when God finally promotes you or gives you your desires, you’ll have what you need both naturally and spiritually to STAY established in that God-ordained position or role as you fulfill your assignment with excellence.
*excerpts taken from Sparkling Gems From the Greek*
This is a note I just came across that I wrote back in 2009. I thought it would be a great reminder for all of us as we start a new year.
Do you say horrible things about yourself? Do you speak well of yourself or are you hyper-critical of your appearance, your weight, your intelligence, your talents, your skills, and every other aspect of who you are as a person?
I’m a huge fan of Rick Renner and his book Sparkling Gems from the Greek. He states in one of his enlightening devotions that he used to be so hyper-critical of himself that once the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “How dare you continually talk so badly about yourself after the good work I’ve done inside you. Don’t you know how marvelously I created you to be in Jesus Christ? Quit speaking so negatively of yourself, and start acknowledging every good thing that is in you.”
Most people don’t even realize how negatively they talk about themselves. When the Holy Spirit brings it to your attention, you’ll find out just how bad it is and how often you do it. Our own mouth can become our greatest enemy!
That’s what happened to me back in September of 2006. I went on a personal HeartQuest with 15 other ladies and a leadership team from TX. During my 6 day quest, I found out a lot about myself that I didn’t even know was there. The Lord spoke to me so profoundly and directly about this one issue. He brought to my attention the negative things I would think about myself and even sometimes say to close friends. After that revelation, He assured me that I was created in His image and He has never created a ‘mistake’. His creations are intentional and for a purpose. I have purpose and He has deposited good things in me. With His help I have grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to walk in that purpose for the rest of my life.
In Philemon 1:6 Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” So, even though God has done great things in us, it is up to us to activate His blessings in our life! The word ‘effectual’ is the Greek word energo. It’s where we get the word energy. In this verse, the word energo means to become energized or activated. So Paul’s words could be translated as “That the communication of your faith may become energized and activated…”
So let’s apply this to ourselves. Paul said that “every good thing” has been placed in you by Jesus Christ. Think about it – He saved you, He healed you, He redeemed you, He protected you, He has given you a sound mind, He has given you the mind of Christ, He has imparted gifts and talents to you, and He has planned a future for your life that is simply glorious! You are loaded with phenomenal potential that is just waiting to be activated!
Renner compares this to a car filled with gasoline but won’t go anywhere until we get in and turn the key and push the gas pedal. You may ‘feel’ like you’re worthless, you’re defeated, you have nothing to offer; but remember that you have potential, though you can’t see it until you ‘activate’ it.
So how do we ‘turn the key in the ignition’ so that the great work God has done inside us is activated and released? Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” The word “acknowledging” is the answer to the question. The Greek word is epignosis which describes a well-instructed, intensive, deep knowledge of the facts. No one becomes this knowledgeable accidentally. It requires study, meditation, digging deep into truth and applying oneself to know the facts inside and out. The result of this hard work is a thorough knowledge of the facts that a person has a strong confidence in what he/she says.
We are to confess the truth about ourselves, but before we can do that, we must know the truth. We must possess:
•A knowledge of exactly who we are in Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of what Jesus has purchased in our redemption.
•A knowledge of every good thing that God has placed in us by Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of all these truths that is so concrete and so unshakable that we are immovable in what we think and believe.
The truth in our life is no good unless it is spoken. The moment we open our mouth and start confessing the good things that are in us by Jesus Christ, a supernatural connection is made between our faith and all that Jesus has deposited in us. At that moment, the gifts and treasures God has placed in us become supernaturally activated. The confession by our mouth – our acknowledgement of the truth – is what sparks these spiritual blessings and causes them to become operative, activated, and manifested realities.
Let’s review how to make these truths real in our life:
1.Thoroughly know the truths through diligent study.
2.Put the key in the ignition switch.
The key is the Word of God
The ignition is our mouth
3.Turn the ignition by opening our mouth and speaking the truth.
Good things in us are activated the moment we start confessing the truth.
The recognition of these spiritual treasures that reside within you will pick you up, lift you high, and carry you over into the realm of victory you desire!
Now…take another look in the mirror and speak out/confess all of the good things that are in you by Jesus Christ. Let’s live victoriously!!
(Excerpts taken from Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems from the Greek)
Another Mother’s Day is here! This is my 13th mother’s day and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I had always dreamed of becoming a mother one day. My dream was not too far off from what God had planned for me.
1. I’d always wanted a boy and a girl. Just two children would be perfect if one was a boy and the other a girl. Guess what? God did just that! I have a handsome son and a beautiful daughter.
2. I wanted my children to be at least 2 years apart in age so that they would grow up close in their siblinghood. Guess what? They are 25 months apart!
3. I didn’t necessarily ‘desire’ to give birth to my children, as I have always wanted to adopt at least one child. Guess what? Both of my children are adopted!
4. I wanted to have children 2 years into my marriage. Guess what? That didn’t happen. I waited 9 years for my son!
I know deep in my heart that I could not have planned my motherhood any better than God’s best for me. I am in constant awe as to how He has blessed me with such two amazing, smart, beautiful children. Yes, the journey was long and hard at times, but I wouldn’t give up any part of that journey because I learned so much about God’s love for me and my love for Him. There is nothing on earth that compares to that!
My prayer for you is that if your desire for motherhood has been put on hold for now, allow yourself to dive deeper than ever into God’s love for you. Enjoy daily conversations with Him about your desires. Grab hold of what He’s called you to do now. Make every moment count for His kingdom. Your season of motherhood will come soon. You are in the palm of His hand…and, there’s no better place to be as you wait on God’s best for you.
I have come to the realization that as I get older and one year after another sneaks by, I am becoming more sensitive…maybe more sympathetic or empathetic sums up my tearful episodes of late. I can hardly watch a heartfelt commercial, tv show, or feel-good movie anymore without tears. Yes, it’s just a commercial which I’ve seen a thousand times, so… what is wrong with me?!! And this one’s a biggie…IF I see someone else crying, well, just throw me the tissue box cuz I’ll cry right with them. I wonder if all of my tearful episodes is because I’m approaching menopause, mindful I’m 43, so I’ve a got a few years to go, for sure. J Or, could it be that God is trying to show me something about His love.
I know that February is the big LOVE month and I LOVE this month and all things about LOVE. But must we limit it to just ONE month to celebrate our love for one another? I think not. If we never show our love for someone until Feb 14th, then is that really love? I think not. If we never give a thoughtful, loving card or buy chocolates or flowers or whatever until that fateful Valentine’s Day does that count as a celebration of LOVE? I think not.
Love is in everything! It’s in the way we talk to others, the way we listen to others, the way we care for others, and the way we accept others and ourselves for who God created us to be. Those are just a few examples of love, but I think they are some of the most important. Nothing compares to God’s love for us, for sure. I mean, none of us can fathom how far the east is to the west. That’s how much He loves us! It’s never-ending, it’s unconditional, and it’s always and forever.
So through my tears and empathy of silly little commercials and tv shows who truly help people, I believe God is softening my heart to become more aware of those that need our love. Some of those have never understood or even seen love. Some do not know that our God is love and cannot understand how He could love them. I am thankful that I have always felt loved and never had to question whether I was loved or not. I had a very loving childhood, which carried with me to my adult years.
I believe now more than ever that God is showing me how to be a ‘carrier’ of His love. Sure, it’s easy to love those that love me; but to love those who don’t love me or those who are unlovable is hard. It’s frustrating and nauseating, to say the least and for some of us, it can be very painful. It’s a self-less act that Jesus portrayed with dignity. As a Christ-follower and one who desires to become more like Him, it must become a self-less act for me, too.
Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night and not known why? Maybe you’ve been out running errands by yourself and suddenly someone’s name comes to mind. You’re perplexed as to why that certain name popped in your head at that time. When these interruptions happen in my life, I believe it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me to pray for that certain someone or something. I was out earlier this evening going to gas up my ride. Ok, confession time, first time in a long time I let it get down to 15 miles left before empty. I’m not sure why I let it get so low but nonetheless, I prayed for grace all of the way to the gas station and thank God, I made it! You see, on the way there my focus was ALL about actually making it there without running out of gas. However, on the way home, the Holy Spirit abruptly caught my attention. I was thinking about the elk hamburgers that my husband Brady was cooking at home for dinner. Then, I was thanking God for blessing me with such a godly man as my husband and a father to Abram and Callie and then, I thought how rare it is these days to find such a man. My heart began to break for my single friends. I was urged to pray for them right then and to remember them every day in my prayers.
The world is becoming more and more dangerous and treacherous. So many times I hear of Christian men and women seeking love in the wrong places. This kind of love is a short cut, a quick fix and will never be everlasting. This is not the kind of love our Father in Heaven desires for us. As Christians, we should desire the things of our God, right? God desires to bless us with His very best. It may take 5, 10, 15, 20 yrs or more waiting for His very best; therefore, we can’t give up. We can’t surrender to a quick fix that is not His best. God cannot bless when He’s not the provider.
My prayer for my single friends and singles everywhere searching for the ‘right one’:
May you stay strong and disciplined. May He give you the patience and courage you need to wait on His best and not give in to a quick fix and may He overwhelm you with peace while you wait. Most importantly, may you understand the undeniable, everlasting love your Father has for you and that your joy comes from Him and no other can fulfill all that He has for you.
Considering all that I have been through lately with my husband, Turbo Brady, having open-heart surgery, the heart has been on my mind a lot. I now know more heart-related medical terms than ever before. However, what I want to share is a very simple, yet hard to follow discipline…diligence.
It takes diligence to keep our heart in good shape, physically and spiritually. I know I’m speaking to the choir with this simplistic statement, but how many of us are actually doing the diligent part? Diligence means a constant and earnest effort; persistent exertion of body or mind. It takes a constant, every day effort to keep our earthly bodies healthy and energized. The same is true for our spiritual heart.
We are the overseer of our heart, no one else’s, just our own. We are responsible to watch, direct, guide, correct, and give oversight to what goes on inside us. We alone are responsible for what we allow to develop inside our head and heart. We are personally responsible for both the good and the bad that occurs within our thought life. It is that ‘inside part’ – the part we control – that God will hold us responsible for.
Consider this simple analogy: There is only one reason that weeds grow out of control in a garden…because no one took the proper time and care to uproot and remove them. When the garden is choked with weeds, the gardener can’t complain. If he’d been exercising the proper amount of diligence, he would have known that weeds were about to take over. His lack of diligence is the reason his garden got into a huge mess!
The only way we can stay free of the weeds the devil wants to sow into our ‘garden’ is to be attentive, careful, thorough, and meticulous about the condition of our own heart. Don’t expect others to take care of your heart for you either. It’s your heart! Be diligent to keep it in good shape.
(Excerpts taken from Sparkling Gems)
How many times have you wanted to do something, plan something, or dare to dream something, but you were too afraid? You know you’re missing out on life and opportunities, but you’re too scared to do anything about it.
Those of us who live with anxiety are living below the mark of what we were created to be. Worry was never a part of God’s plan for you, yet clinics are full every day with worrisome people trying to find an answer to conquer this flesh-eating stronghold.
My big fear was always public speaking. Whether small or large groups, I could never imagine myself doing that. I remember in college having to write a speech and read it in front of the class. Yikes!! I was horrified, to say the least. I remember speaking as fast as I could to get it over with so that I could finally sit down and take a deep breath. That was one of the worst feelings in the world. All of the anxiety and fear had taken over my body trying to find some relief.
Fast forward to my life now as a pastor’s wife of a really, big church. Good grief! I started questioning what did I say ‘yes’ to. “Lord, I don’t think I signed up for this.” To which the Lord has confirmed to me over and over and over that “Yes, indeed, I signed you up for this. I called you for such a time as this, remember? Don’t worry for I have equipped you and I am here with you.” It was only after I surrendered all of my fear about public speaking that I was able to stand up for the first time in front of 1000 ladies and share my testimony in our church. That’s not to say that I wasn’t nervous. I went to the bathroom 3 times before walking up on stage! I’m human, so of course, I would be nervous speaking for the first time.
I have since been asked to share my heart at various others events and with every one, I am more comfortable and confident in the One who speaks through me. I simply let go of my insecurities…and let God use me as His vessel.
We can all conquer our fears by exercising our faith. Look up some Bible verses and commit them to memory. When doubt and fear enter your mind, speak those verses out loud and proclaim your faith. Here are a few verses to start with:
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation…whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life…of whom shall I be afraid.”
Psalm 56:11 “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and discipline.”
Most of us have pretended at some point in our lives to be someone or something that we are not. As children we most likely pretended to be someone great like a superhero or an astronaut or a schoolteacher or a doctor. I remember watching the Miss America pageant growing up and afterwards, I would find something that resembled a crown and walk through the house smiling and waving pretending that I was the new Miss America. I also remember getting a notebook that I made into a grade book for my pretend students in my class. I’d pretend to teach math and English (my favorite subjects) and then I’d grade pretend papers from the students. I thought I was the best teacher in the world. As much as I enjoyed pretending during my childhood, I am thankful it was not my reality. I had the opportunity after Brady and I got married to actually substitute teach in the elementary school where I worked in the office. I can honestly say that I am so glad that I did not pursue the career of a teacher. They truly have one of the hardest jobs and I am thankful for those that have that calling.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the innocence of pretending is lost. Somehow, it turns into a destructive way to hide the parts of us that we are ashamed of; therefore, we pose as someone greater than ourselves. God warns us against pretending to be something we are not-especially when we pretend to be spiritually great. True authenticity comes from finding your real value in God’s eyes and being honest with yourself and others. It is better to be honest about your failures than to lie about your successes.
Why do we pretend to be something or someone we are not?
1. Pride – we all want to look honorable and important in the eyes of others.
2. Embarrassment – when we are embarrassed to admit what we did, we may be tempted to deceive others into thinking that what we did was right.
3. Flattery – we may use flattery to pretend we like someone in order to get something from them.
4. Selfishness – we may disguise our true motives in order to get what we want.
If we continue to go down this path, we eventually fool ourselves into thinking our motives are sincere, and worse yet, we think that God does, too.
Proverbs 20:23 “The Lord detests double standards; He is not pleased by dishonest scales.” God is opposed to hypocrisy! Hypocrisy shows the heart of dishonesty. “1 Peter 2:1 “Get rid of all…deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” Much of pretending grows out of deceit, which is incredibly harmful to your spiritual growth.
After awhile, a habit of deceitful pretending becomes common and even acceptable to you, dulling and even killing your conscience. Eventually deceivers deceive themselves, cutting them off from truth.
Take off the mask and stop pretending! Psalm 119:29 “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” We must be diligent in studying His word. It illuminates deceit and teaches us how to live honestly and transparently. Psalm 120:2 “Rescue me, O Lord, from liars and from all deceitful people.” Watch the friends you keep. Deceitful friends will lead you deeper into deceit. After having personally walked through a few deceitful relationships, I am very cautious of who I let in to share life. That’s why I am not a person who needs a ton of close friends. Give me two close friends and I’m content. Romans 12:3 “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” A good start to conquer pride is to ask honest friends to give you a realistic account of your life and actions. Be ready to receive criticism without making excuses or becoming defensive. Be ready to make the change to becoming the real you!
(Excerpts taken from Life’s Questions by Beers and Beers.)
Distractions interrupt every part of our lives, including our spiritual lives. As Christians, we have a purpose: to be in a personal relationship with God and live that out in our daily lives. Many things can distract us from doing that. As wonderful and cool social media has become, it can also be a major distraction in our life. From Facebook to Twitter to any gadget that begins with the little letter i, let’s face it, our ‘face-time’ with another human, or more importantly-our God, can become extremely limited. I’m not saying that these things are bad or evil, but I do believe that too much of ‘anything’ can be harmful. I pray that I keep my priorities straight and recognize that it could be a potential stronghold in my life if I let it.
Many other things distract us from our spiritual walk with God - our busyness, our stuff, our problems, even the good things in our lives. Christmas shopping is upon us and I love to buy gifts for my family and friends, which is a good thing, right? However, if I focus all of my time (and money) out shopping for that perfect gift, and I neglect ‘face-time’ with the One and Only Reason we celebrate Christmas, it is not a good thing. We must constantly be aware of God’s presence and His workings in our daily lives. If we are aware and stay on our toes then we can try to minimize the harmful distractions so we stay on course as we follow God.
While there are some distractions that are harmful for us, God sometimes uses distractions to get us to stop thinking about what we think is right and start thinking about what He says is right. Saul believed that persecuting Christians was the right thing to do. He thought God was pleased with his actions. God had to get his attention with a dramatic distraction that changed the course of his whole life (and the lives of many others!). The more stubborn and passionate we are, the more dramatic God may have to be to get our attention.
Some distractions are clearly bad for us because they take our focus off what we should be doing. We need to discern between a distraction that should refocus our attention and one that should not. If a distraction is mainly about us (it tempts us to do wrong or to disregard a commitment), then it is not a good thing. If a distraction is mainly about others (it allows us to help someone in deep need or it provides a teachable moment), then it is a good thing. If we set clear goals for how we will serve God and manage our day and then we focus on those goals, we will be less likely to get sidetracked by harmful distractions.
Distractions bombarded Jesus all the time. But He didn’t see them as distractions; He saw them as opportunities to save the lost and to help someone in need. A distraction can become a divine opportunity to show someone the love and care of God. Sometimes God interrupts us for good reason. Don’t miss a chance to help the people God brings to you. Stay on your toes!
(excerpts taken from “The Complete Book of Life’s Questions with Answers from the Bible”.)
We are born into this world thinking the whole world revolves around us and all the other people are just paying rent to live in our world. Many of us have parents that told us we were the best, the cutest, the smartest, and the greatest at anything we did. Why would we want to believe anything else! In fact, we, ourselves as parents, have told the exact same things to our beloved children. From the moment they become a part of our family until forever, we want our children to think the best of themselves. If taught correctly and in healthy exhortation, with the grace of God, our children will attain a healthy confidence.
I believe we, as parents, are to be their role models. If we live our lives before them not as cocky , selfish, pompous elitists , but as broken and humble servants looking for opportunities to help others; then, most likely, they will do the same as they grow into their confidence through the years. It must start in the home though. Afterall, God gave us these precious children to love, nourish, and disciple. Let’s encourage them to embrace who God created them to be.
Healthy confidence is a realization and an assurance that God loves us, that He has given us talents and gifts, that He wants us to use those gifts for Him, and that He has given us salvation and eternal life in heaven. This gives us complete certainty that our life can have meaning, now and forever.
Unhealthy pride results when arrogance and cockiness are substituted for healthy confidence. Thinking we can make it without God and failing to seek His help are the warning signs that confidence has turned into pride. Self-promotion will get us nowhere but into a deep, dark hole of depression with no friends to enjoy the success we made for ourselves. If we promote ourselves, then we are the ones responsible for the outcome. I can probably bet that that would not be a life we would want to live with all the stress and burden of having to live up to that. If we let God promote us, then He is the one responsible for the outcome. He’s got my vote! Just think how peaceful we all would be if we just let go and let God.