Category: spiritual

One Sentence You Need to Let Go of Right Now

Choose Prayer gif



We all have times when we think our circumstances can’t change, or we think there’s no way this can work out. We have dreams no one else knows about, but we’re fairly sure they’ll remain just that: dreams. We struggle because we really secretly want that dream, or the change in that circumstance, or a solution to a problem. We want someone’s health to improve. We want our child to do well in school.

You know what really bothers me? When we say “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it.

As we say it, the shoulders sort of shrug and the posture’s a little hunched. “I guess…” is equivalent to saying, “I know this really isn’t a solution, but I can’t think of anything better at the moment.”

I guess we’ll just have to pray about it. I guess, until something better comes along, we can pray. Maybe that will hold us in place until we find the real solution.

And we’ll just have to. Just: a lowly place. Have to: something we don’t want to do.

You know what really bothers me? When we say “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it.”

So we’re shrugging, a little stooped, lowly, not really desiring to go to the Lord in prayer for our answer. Mumbling a stop-gap.

Now, wait just a minute. I’m a believer. I believe in God the Father. I believe, in fact I KNOW he can work behind the scenes and inside of people, inside the ones in this circumstance. Inside me, inside you – he can create change. And He’s there before we get there, working on that change. He knew the change was needed before you did. Before I even thought about it.

In Him there is strength and wisdom. He holds the knowledge – the key to this situation.

Now, God will let the circumstance or process go on if it means your disappointment, your struggle, your heartache will ultimately prosper you. It might help you grow. It might help you heal. It might help you see God differently. Faith sees us through that part.

And if you don’t give up – you will be prepared for the wonderful-ness that He has in store for you. (You weren’t thinking about giving up, were you?) He promises that with Him, all things are possible! That’s power. You have options – you aren’t stuck in that circumstance, or a hundred light years away from that dream. You can walk directly beside Him by trusting Him, by praying to Him about it and believing He will make the changes that are best for you, and praising Him throughout all the good and bad times.  Praise him when your spouse leaves a note on the table saying she’s moved out. Praise him when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Praise him when you with your human viewpoint can’t imagine how that addiction is ever going to be cured.

Choose to trust Him, and in choosing it you are also electing to live your life differently. You’re able to look for His goodness and “taste and see” what He has in store. You can relax, knowing who’s got your back. You know His strength, and you’ve put your trust in it.

When you have chosen this path, your posture will be a little straighter, your voice will be stronger, more commanding, and the next time “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it” will become “Let’s pray.”

Let’s take it to the Lord. Let’s find out from the Almighty, the Creator, the All-knowing, All-seeing One – yeah let’s see what He has to say about it.

There is power in the name of God.

Choose trust. Choose faith. Choose prayer.

Related Verse
“…with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26, NIV

 

 

5 Tips for Ministering to the Homeless

Friday Five (on Tuesday!): 5 Tips for Ministering to the Homeless.

Doing a homeless ministry was something I never imagined myself doing. I didn’t feel a special calling, and I suspected I lacked the appropriate skill set. But when a friend invited me to go with her to a local park one summer, I went along – to keep her from going alone. Imagine my surprise when the one who got the most out of the experience was *me.*

We parked near a picnic shelter where ten or twelve people hung out every day. They sat playing cards, talking, and one even had two dogs with him. We put our heads together and prayed just before our feet hit the concrete of the picnic area. My plan would’ve been to get to know them a little, break the ice as it were. Maybe the ministry part would come later.

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ – Matt 25:40

My friend, though, jumped right in. “Does anybody here need Jesus?” she asked. Within minutes, we were praying the sinner’s prayer with two people, and a third was professing her need to rededicate. I stood back and watched in awe. God is so awesome!

If you’re thinking of undertaking a homeless ministry, or if you find that God has thrust you into one, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Bring the very basics. Bottled water and hard-boiled eggs are some of the easiest and most appreciated food items. Both can be consumed without utensils or preparation (or a can opener).
  2. Prepare to be hugged. The first time a smelly homeless man wraps his sweaty arms around you, brushing your cheek with his whiskers, you might shudder. But these people are hungry for human touch and will reach for you often. Just remember, you’re washable.
  3. Not everyone will respond to you, and that’s okay. They might on another day. Or maybe not. You’re doing what God called you to do, and that is what’s important.
  4. Try to listen more and talk less. These people lead chaotic and uncomfortable lives; they need to feel heard.
  5. Be safe at all times – and just because you feel comfortable, doesn’t mean you’re safe.

I still don’t feel like a homeless ministry is my forte. But I’ve learned a valuable lesson: there is no “us” and “them.” The people I’ve met are simply down on their luck, but they are parents, grandparents, pet owners, card players, art lovers, and just plain people. They have hopes and dreams and successes and failures. And Jesus loves them as much as He does you or me.

Photo Courtesy Garry Knight/cc/flickr

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.

**To print any page in this blog, click its title. You will see a small printer in the upper left-hand corner; click that to print.

**If you like this page, please share it!

 

 

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. 😀

God’s Name is Father

Does anyone have trouble referring to God as “father”? I did a little survey recently based on this question. I mostly found that people who are close with their own father, the earthly father, are able to relate to a heavenly father in a good way. They pray with a feeling of familiarity, a closeness.

But those who are less close to their earthly father have a hard time referring to God as father.They pray to someone distant.

And then there are those who take it way too far, calling him “the Man upstairs” or other familiar names. To me, this lacks completely and reverence and isn’t how we are supposed to address him.

So here’s my question to you. How do you personally make sense of the awesomeness of God when there is the ability to have such intimacy with him at the same time? How do you strike the balance without being irreverent?

Hint: This is part of my next book!

And thinking of “Our Father” reminded me of the Don Moen song, so here it is for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!


It’s Decision Time, having trouble?

Do you have trouble making decisions? Whether big decisions or smaller ones, God wants to be a part of every choice you make. Do the little ones matter to Him? YES they do!

Every decision we make, large or small, has the potential to move us closer to God or further away. Rarely do we remain static. So …. when trying to discern His will, what do you do?

Watch the video for some answers. Verses are listed below that are mentioned in the video (I forgot to embed them on the screen!). The whole list is a good set of references for times when you’re trying to decide anything at all. 🙂

Verses, reading mostly from NIV:
Psalm 91
Proverbs 3:5,6
2 Chronicles 15
Isaiah 12:6
Jeremiah 33:3
Hebrews 11:8
James 1:5
Isaiah 30:21