Worry Never Changes Anything

One summer afternoon, I received two notices: the gas was going to get turned off and the bank was going to foreclose on our home.  I did what most responsible adults would do—I worried.  How can I fix this?  I pondered. Who can I call to help me?  It’s amazing how easily we can tell others no to worry until we are the ones who have to pack our bags and sit on the curb.  Panic started to trickle in.  My daughter, who was about seven years old, was concentrating on a double-dutch game. I had promised to show her how to turn while she was jumping rope.  She came in from playing outside and said,  “Come on, Mom; I thought you were going to show me.”

My first reaction was “Not now.”  But then I realized that life goes on and there was nothing I was going to do in the ten to fifteen minutes it would take to show her that would mean a hill of beans in the outcome of the situation.  In fact, I probably would have just sat and worried some more.  So she and I went outside, played Double Dutch, and had a great time. Both of us got really involved in the game, and I was able to relieve the emotional stress of the looming crisis. We all have to “let go” when we need to. My husband always says, “When there’s nothing you can do…there’s just nothing you can do.”  As adults, our lives can be filled with stressful circumstances, but I learned that day that having the heart of a child helps us relieve that stress.

Having the heart of a child, even in adult situations, is what the Bible encourages us to do.

Matthew 18:3 (KVJ) says, “ …Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Children are more trusting than adults and adjust to their circumstances more easily. As we grow older, we learn that everything may not turn out the way we’d like. Our problems seem larger and the consequences greater.  What was once a natural reaction—adjusting—has now become a chore. So as adults, we lose our sense of safety and have to relearn how to find the silver lining in the clouds,  smile when things are going badly, and trust that we will survive whatever happens to us. Seem impossible? Seem unrealistic?download

As I go through life, I realize God enables us to accomplish the same impossible feats over and over again when we overcome our fears and stretch out on faith.  I hope the stories I share with you will encourage you to trust God with your life. And even though you will make mistakes because that is part of the journey of life, I hope the lessons I’ve learned will teach you not to make the same mistakes that took me so long to realize I had made.

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MONDAY MEDITATION -Finding Joy in Darkness

about-joy1How do you find joy in tribulation?

Often when I’ve been in dark places, I am amazed at the peace that surrounds me, and how the Lord helps me harness my emotional pains and keep my faith in Him. This process has to be supernatural. On the one hand, my mind tells me to panic and on the other hand, I may begin to feel hopeless and depressed. But I learned that to maintain joy, I must go beyond my thoughts and feelings and cultivate the spiritual mind. Romans 8:6 tells us that to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Having the mind of Christ is a daily challenge. It is a mental state that is easier to achieve before tribulations come, and tough (but not impossible) to achieve after troubles set in.

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6 Things That Will Boost Spirituality in 2017

This weekend I was at an annual family breakfast. The family passed a book around where we could write down our goals. I thought it was a novel idea, but I purposely did not put down spiritual goals, because every year, I plan all these lofty spiritual goals in January and by oh, let’s say March, reality hits me like a ton of bricks. One year, I thought I’d complete a read-through-the-entire-bible program, and I did pretty well until about March. It all fell apart one night when I couldn’t decide whether to study my Sunday School lessons which seemed more immediate, or read five to ten chapters of Genesis because I had skipped a day or two and had to catch up to the reading plan. I couldn’t do both. So the Sunday school lesson won and it was downhill from there. After a while, I dropped off the plan.

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Year-long Bible reading plans are great if that’s the only reading you’re doing by the way. Honestly, I’m not trashing them, but the best-laid plans of mice and men…

Well, you know the rest?

This year, though, I’ve decided to focus on two spiritual goals:

1. Re-reading and studying the gospels and;
2. Begin a local bible study focusing on verse-by-verse study.

The bible study thing, I’ve been praying about for a couple of years, so it’s not a sudden move. I just believe that this year is the year. These aims are not at all what I put in the goal book either–way too much mental energy and explaining to do.

At this moment, my goal is to get past March with my goals intact. I am setting up a teaching ministry with my husband, and I guess that was a previous goal which is coming into its own this year. But, I don’t count that as 2017 goal because it’s in progress already.

Patience truly is a virtue.

The 6 Things:
God made humans ambitious. As a whole, we always strive to improve (no jokes about the lazy people you know). We want to get a little better at something, anything. So we set standards and activities that we hope will get us to the finish line.

By nature, I am a goal oriented person. I am known for getting stuff done because of my A-type personality. I tackle a multitude of little tasks like a pit bull and stay on them entire the entire project is completed. I figure as long as I am moving toward the finish line, it doesn’t matter how fast I’m going. I just want to stay on the path.

I recently woke up with I Corinthians 3 on my mind. In this chapter where Paul chastises the church for taking sides behind different favorite preachers. The Corinthian church wallowed in so much division, side-picking, popular preacher flag- waving and mudslinging that he couldn’t even speak to them on common spiritual things.

Well, since you and I don’t want that type of testimony, let me share six tips gleaned from this bible chapter that will help us boost our spirituality in 2017:

1. Refuse to focus on the size of your church. This is carnal thinking and indicates nothing. Focus instead on the truth that is coming over the pulpit and your own obedience to that message. A church should be a local assembly of sold out believers in Jesus Christ, with the salvation of others as their primary goal. Whether it’s 100 or 10, the warmth of the love of Christ is what is important.

2. Make prayer your highest priority this year. The Corinthians were not a prayerful bunch, and so they ended up arguing about preachers and who is following who, and my preacher is better than your preacher. Tragic. Try to drown out ALL such carnal noise with the serenity of quiet time alone with the Master.

“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, Oh what words I hear him say. Happy place so near and precious, may it find me there each day” (hymnal song)

3. Take time to realize that if it’s good, it’s because of God. THINK SPIRITUALLY. Everything we accomplish in the secular or spiritual world is because God allowed it to prosper. When we focus on His sovereignty over our events, our spirituality will increase, and carnality (from the sinful nature) will decrease. Carnal thinking focuses on things like personality, status, and influence; spirituality focuses on God and Him alone. Paul realized this when he told the Corinthians, “who is Paul or Apollos but preachers by whom you believed?” Both were just instruments in God’s hand. That’s spiritual thinking.

4. Ask God to give you a quality experience with Him. Experiences that will refine you and not burn you up. That is the whole point of Paul’s admonition in this chapter. He says the fire “the test” will reveal the quality of our experience. The next time you are ready to scream in 2017, think about this: it’s the hard times that make us great.

5. Recognize that God is in control. Even though things may seem out of control, understand in whose hands you’ve left the problem. We can look at due dates on bills and wonder how we’re going to meet that and not know the answer, but God knows.

6. Walk circumspectly. Be aware of where you are in your spiritual walk. I always talk about this because, lessons-learned, if I had slowed down and took better inventory of my own life, I would have avoided a lot of entanglements that were spiritual poison and from which I am still recovering. Look around you as you walk forward in God.

Have a great New Year!

 

DO YOU BELIEVE GOD?

faith-quoteDo we have faith in our circumstances and difficulties? Do we believe God is a deliverer and a rewarder of those that diligently seek him? Is there anything that you are facing now where you can ask yourself do I believe God? We know that Faith without works is a dead faith, but Jesus also said the work of God is to believe on Him.

Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

St. John 6:29

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Pride & Dunkin Donuts

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8: 2)

download-24Sometimes God allows us to go through situations to try our hearts. Pride can really hurt us in our natural life and our spiritual walk.  The scripture above talks about three things: humbling, proving and knowing.   Being put in circumstances that are humbling, can be trying for anyone and it can lead to knowing and understanding what’s in your heart.

A few years before we learned this lesson; my husband went through the torment of losing a $30,000 a year job. In 1988, that was a pretty good salary. My husband worked for an exclusive restaurant that catered to celebrities.  It was normal for him to serve Michael Jordan, Governor James Thompson and various high-level Chicago businessmen, politicians and actors.  Nice work if you can get it and great tips.   My husband lost this job because unfortunate for him he had a personal conviction  about serving drinks as he moved up in the ranks  He was one of their best workers, but he was given an ultimatum to serve drinks or quit. The way the job was structured everyone was in training for the next step up.  He felt he could not keep that job and his Christian testimony.  It was at this juncture in life that he learned what he now calls the “Tarzan” rule, “Never let go of one vine, unless you’re holding another one”.  So instead of waiting to ease out, he quit and ended up bouncing around in  a variety of jobs he didn’t want and that were barely meeting the bills.

To keep things going, he found a job at an all-night Dunkin Donuts working the night shift.  One night he was scrubbing the baseboard and an old friend walked in. Now, he wasn’t so much embarrassed at where he was working, but what he was doing—scrubbing floors and not managing the place, he had been in restaurant management level jobs on and off for years., and was just embarrassed at his situation.

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Even though his friend did not seem to care and gave him praise for being willing to work hard, all he could see was that he was scrubbing floors for a living. He quit the next day, saying he would find something else.  While his friend said he was so proud of him being willing to take a tough job for his family. All my husband could think of was that he was working this low-level job, and his other friends were all doing well. It’s funny how the enemy makes you think that you’re the only one in a tough situation–the liar.  Anyway, he was too embarrassed to continue.  Well, he didn’t tell ME that he was quitting.  He was just eaten up with humiliation about the whole thing. He didn’t consult with ME about this at all.  I was hot.  How could he do that?! We needed that little bit of money he was getting.  We patched that up, and  he apologized to me about quitting but it helped him to see something about himself–PRIDE!  Yep, that big ol’ thang that sticks out its foot and trips many of us.

He failed to see the big picture which was working for the good of this family, keeping food on the table and keeping a roof over his head. Not feeling successful is a blow to any man. He was working at a world-famous restaurant a short time before and moving up the ladder and now he was scrubbing baseboard at Dunkin Donuts at 3:00AM. However, he realized that pride was playing a part in all of his recent decisions.  Like most people, my husband could not have foreseen the chain of events that would follow from a decision to quit. In the end, though, we all do what we have to, to survive. So he went back to school and  got a trade that led to a great career. He currently owns his own trucking company.

Most people do not live their lives perfectly and make perfect decisions. God understands when we are ill-advised or hasty in our decisions and some of those decisions can be devastating and will send us on the wrong path.  Yet, if our love for Him prevails, God will open our eyes to the root of the problem.

–excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Survival Guide for Going through Trials at Amazon.com

Monday Meditation: 

  1. Will pride keep us from seeing the big picture of God’s plan for our life?

  2. Do other people’s perceptions of us affect our decisions about our lives? Is this what God wants us to do?

  3. When we stay honest about our mistakes, God is faithful to come to our rescue. Is it harder to be forgiven or to forgive ourselves?