Tag: spirituality

Seeking God – How to Know God

Seeking God

“I want to change the way I relate to God; but I can’t.”

seeking god

 

This was part of a private message (Facebook) discussion. The person was asking questions about my Get Closer to God course. Unfortunately, there are way too many people who take this attitude.

I’m not griping because she didn’t make the purchase. In fact, I encouraged her not to. The thing is, I want people who buy it to (1) actually work through it – it’s set up in worksheet style, and (2) allow God to help them make a change. If those things are not going to take place, then there is no need to purchase the program.

And if the first words out of your mouth are “I can’t” then nothing will change.

Isn’t the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Why do we do that? We say we are seeking God, yet have not made one single change?

I’m no longer talking about the one Facebook fan, but about myself, and maybe even you, dear reader…

What change have I made to find God

seeking God
Sans Dieu Rien
  • Today
  • Yesterday
  • This month
  • This Year

Think about it………

Often the difference between a Christ-like person, a God seeker, and a person who struggles to implement positive changes in life is not the first one’s superior abilities or innate holiness, but the courage to step out and to take steady steps forward in prayer, Bible study, and by surrounding him/herself with Christian thinkers. Seeking God is a continuum.

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Proverbs 19:2, ESV

One Step Closer is designed in a way that you will have to spend time on it, and therefore, time in front of the Lord. There was a reason it was created that way.

God wants you to spend time with Him. You already know that. People who want to change have to try things to see what works and what doesn’t. Seeking God requires action. Saying you want to change doesn’t work. You can say it until the cows come home. Actually making a change takes perseverance. It takes courage. And it takes… time. The course forces you to spend a little more time in front of God, listening to God…and as a result you’ll become closer.

I’m not going to go into my rant about ‘time’ and ‘busy;’ I’ll save that one. But there is a saying that goes “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” This is as true in strengthening your faith as in anything else. If you aren’t going to change the way… the time… the steps you take when you relate to God, your relationship will continue to be distant and formal. He didn’t move away, after all– you did.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8, ESV

Seek God Daily

Some people sit and wait for God to come to them in a shimmering epiphany. Others pursue Him as if they’re on fire, spending time in front of Him whether they “see” Him that day or not, constantly chasing after Him, stepping forward steadily.

It’s not a contest, but if it were, guess who’d win?

Maybe He even wants us to struggle, just a little, to get where He wants us to be: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,” 2 Peter 3:9, ESV

Since the only contestant is you, and the prize is a stronger, steadier relationship with the One who is Lord of All, why not change something today? See what happens. I challenge you.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17, ESV

Let me know how it works out. 😉

To purchase One Step Closer, Vol. 1 click here.

 

Invitation to Study Scripture

An Invitation to Study Scripture

Hi there!

I feel like I haven’t talked with anyone here in a coon’s age. A lot has been happening…. anyway just this week my uncle Lloyd passed away rather unexpectedly, and at the exact same time I got a new parrot from the local rescue. Actually an old parrot. Actually a really old parrot.

Which meant there was no way to leave and fly up to the funeral.

Which my Aunt Betty said is fine because “the preacher is 82 and the funeral won’t last 30 minutes.”

Go ahead and laugh. I did.

So I stayed home and worked on a new idea for my readers. 🙂

I have decided to utilize the different Bible study methods to see if I can view Scripture in a new light. Some of those methods are:
Word Study
Book Background
Book Synthesis
Biographical
Topical

…. and there are more. I am going to use the Devotional Method for my first one. Here is a video outlining how you can join me for this adventure.
http://youtu.be/owlV9yDMDUk

If you’d like to join, please sign up by commenting below, commenting on Facebook, or sending me an email. Also, please share the link. Thanks!

5 Ways to Humble Yourself Now

 

Humility (NOUN) The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

Recently I was writing a piece on humility, and immediately the Lord went to work on me. You need to practice it yourself.

Ugh.

So, off I went to do even more research on the practice of being humble. Here are some ways to humble yourself right now. I hope they are helpful.

Meditate on the greatness of God. When we truly submit to the One Who Is All That Is Holy, we realize that everything about us is from him and we have no control over anything in this world.

Be gracious. Ephesians 4:29 says, ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Is what you say building others up, or do you spend a lot of time in putdowns and gossip? Make a decision to only say things that will build others up.

Serve. Whenever you serve anyone in any way, you are building up the kingdom of God. Try to find someone every day that you can serve. This could be anything from bringing a cup of coffee to providing money to someone in need. You might find a senior who needs a ride someplace. Better yet, find a way to serve in secret, and never let anyone know!

Submit to all authority. This is difficult in today’s world, because we believe strongly in individualism. But we have many authorities in our lives – our pastor, teachers, and superiors on the job.

 Create a lowly place. Remember when Jesus said that if you go to your friend’ s table, you should sit in the lowest place of importance? Often, what we strive for is recognition when we need to strive for is honoring others. Look for the lowly place, and go there.

Pride comes to us naturally, and yet your mother probably always told you that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). It is only by living as a conduit for God’s service that we become humble. Commit yourself today

For further reading: 1 Peter 3:8 – 17, James 4.

**My links today are in the NIV. To change versions, when you get to the link look at the drop-down box on the right that says NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Click there, and scroll to any version you choose.

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What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?

 

5 Steps to a Great Bible Study

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
—James 1:12

It’s 10 pm, and I literally just walked in from one of the best Bibles study classes I’ve ever led, though it had nothing to do with me leading. Everyone opened up and shared from the heart. We had several new faces, and they were happy to talk about what was on their minds as well.
The topic is being loved by the Savior this week, plus we did discuss (briefly) being in a Valley, a time of sadness or grief, because somebody could be there right now and also EVERYBODY identifies with it. There’s no one who hasn’t had a hard time. Here’s a quote from the chapter:

When you feel like you’re in the bottom of the valley, it is important to remember that it’s only a passageway, not a destination. You aren’t going to stay there forever unless it’s by your own choice. Psalm 23:4 says, “I walk through the darkest valley.” It doesn’t say “I sit in the valley for months a time . . . holding pity parties . . . woe is me!” *page 62, Come Back to Jesus—and Don’t Bring your Blackberry.

I’d like to add– as you are moving in this Valley experience, pray through it. Literally pray your way from start to finish, until you are out, until the sadness and grief are gone and the bad thoughts that are like cobwebs in your brain go away.
When we got in the car to go home, my husband said, “That was one of the best classes I’ve ever been to.”
Excited, I wanted to pick apart the reason. I wanted to know! When something is “right” in God’s house, you want to keep doing it right over and over.
“Why?” I asked.
“I guess because I contributed,” he replied.
Oh, burst my bubble. I wasn’t expecting him to say it was about me, but I wanted to KNOW! What made it a good meeting?
So I’ll take a stab at it — here’s what I think (emphasize think) it takes to make a “good” Bible study class.
1. I had prayed a lot earlier in the day, and in fact had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, which I’ll tell you about sometime when it isn’t 10 pm.
2. I prayed over each chair around our table for the person who would be sitting in it. The Spirit actually gave me a couple of words to use, including ‘healing’ in one spot…I’d love to know about the need for healing but it’s none of my business!
3. The pastor always prays for me before we start, asking for anointing. I think this helps get God in the flow and me out of the way. I love it.
4. Everyone shared. They had a lot to say. This is week 4, and they’re getting comfortable with each other. They’re also becoming used to the way I blurt out whatever comes to mind. The pastor just shakes his head…he’s never heard somebody be as blunt as I am. 🙂
5. God showed up. This is the real crux of the matter, when we ALLOW the Lord’s presence among us and invite Him to work on our hearts He is there. This is a class of dedicated God-seekers. They care. He matters to them. It’s beautiful.

What do you think makes a great class?

As we neared the house, my husband patted my hand. “I feel blessed to even be a part of your ministry, even if it’s just a supporting role.”
OK so he kinda made up for the other statement. And he is my support! I couldn’t do it without his presence, his help…he’s the wind beneath my wings.
Want a copy of 5 Steps to a Great Bible Study? Click here for a pdf.

Christian Mind Management

Psalm 3418 copy

 

Day 10 of Faith Dare #FaithDare really spoke to me. It’s titled “Mind Management,” and I suspect it’s relevant to the majority of American Christian women. We bought into the women’s lib, do-it-all have-it-all lie and then we believed that we all had to emulate that annoying Proverbs 31 woman, and what we ended up with was a message: We have to do it all and we have to be perfect.

As a result, we talk unkindly to ourselves. We speak to Self in a way we would never, ever speak to our family or our best friend. We use an ugly tone of voice — try saying out loud sometime what you say to yourself in your head! Doesn’t it sound awful?

So, Day 10 likens our negative self-talk to flies: They are “disgusting, annoying, and downright frustrating,” author Debbie Alsdorf says. She mentions how they return again and again, and even become an overwhelming swarm. Has this woman been inside my head, or what?

If you have this sort of problem, what’s the answer? Focus, says Alsdorf. Handing over these thoughts to God, interrupting the lie with a Truth will stop it in its tracks. I never thought of this as a spiritual practice. I never thought of managing my mind just like I manage my household, spiritual life, relationships, and, errmm, my desk. Please don’t look at my desk.

It’s simple, but I’ve already put it to work and it is successful. Whenever you have a bad thought, look for the good of the situation. If your husband is driving you crazy, stop and think about the positive: He is a good provider, he is great with the kids, he helps with housework. He loves you. Or whatever you can find that’s good about your hubby. 🙂
Once you’ve replaced the bad thoughts, focus on the new, positive thoughts. This is mind management.

If the thought is too stubborn to leave, take it up a notch: Use Scripture. Yes, take out God’s Word and read it silently or aloud to shoo away those lie-flies. Better yet if you have memorized Scripture, you can quote it.

This works because you are able to take charge, you are able to stop the negativism and call on the Lord to help straighten out the oft-blurred line between truth and fiction. Only 4% of women in the US consider themselves beautiful, according to Dove, the “Real Women” proponents. We spend our days thinking, my thighs are fat, I need more makeup, don’t take my picture… Whew! We wear ourselves out just thinking.

As soon as I tried replacing the negative with positive and realized I could push these thoughts aside and make them never return—I felt more in control. I felt like I had found a special key and unlocked a secret door. Because I tend toward depression (part of the fun of having fibromyalgia) I find this especially helpful. I called my daughter, another fibro sufferer, and she was excited over it, too. “It’s not one of those just-get-over-it things, is it?” she asked.

No it’s not. This is reach up to God to reach the tools we need to get through this life. This is how to live on earth happily, how to simplify our own minds. Beautiful!

Philippians 4:8 ~ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. [NASB]

What’s Heaven Like, and Who Will Be There?

My latest video, based on a thought from yesterday’s church service: what is heaven like?
Please let me know what YOU think it’s like!

Very short, and no verses to look up. 😀

Living from a New Heart Perspective

Something as simple as whether to blog about a book you’re reading can put you into a sort of tailspin. I read recently that if I’m blogging, as a Christian author, my posts should only be about: 1. me in relation to my book 2. the book itself 3. Christianity as it relates to my book. After giving this some serious thought, I decided that I’m a lot more dimensional than that, and my readers (ok. My one reader?) might appreciate some insight into the thought process. Besides, if I found a blog like that, it would be boring!

So this is my  first day reading a 30 Day book called The Faith Dare, by Debbi Alsdorf.  My online Bible Study group — a lifeline, now that I am without a church home (until we find one here in FL)–is doing it together. I’ll be journaling about it here on Hooked On Jesus throughout the entire month, though possibly not daily. 🙂

So. Today we’re talking about the heart: having an undivided heart, giving God access to all of your heart, becoming a woman of purpose (a single purpose!), and living out of your new heart. This truth is speaking to me strongly, as I know I need a single, focused purpose. Actually I have one–I just keep letting myself get blown around in the tide. I need to sail straighter. Living out of that heart…that’s a difficult thing; if you’ve had pain or trials in your life, sometimes you live out of the past instead of out of the glory in which God has made you.

Today, God asked me whether I was putting other things in front of my Bible reading. Not Bible studies — the actual  study of The Word. Obviously I’m guilty, or He would not have gently presented the question. So I think I’ll start the day with Bible reading, before I even get out of bed.

I also have some awesome CDs of the Bible narrated by some name actors, I love listening to it. It’s just since we moved there is no way to listen privately. I have to play it on my computer in the (shared) office, or in the living room. Blaring out through the entire house, as it’s an open floor plan. lol I’ll have to give that some more thought, as I really enjoy listening to the Bible on Cd. Sometimes I try to follow along in my Bible at the same time; other times I just sit back and enjoy the Word washing over me.

Goals:
Live from my new heart
Find a way to listen to Bible on CD
Read my Bible more
Stick with Faith Dare the whole 30 days

Sans Dieu Rien

This is a picture I made to hang in front of my desk….I was thinking it in French (Sans Dieu, Rien) but it came out in English, didn’t it? Never mind….it conveys the same message. Without God, I am nothing.

WIthout God, Nothing photo
Sans Dieu Rien

What Happens when Christians become Divisive

….and what we can do about it. Please watch the video for a couple of my thoughts on this topic. Based on Galatians 5.

I’ll post a link here shortly with the “love” verses I promised. 🙂