Tips for Better Living

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for all that he has provided. Don’t forget the LORD your God. Observe His commands, His laws and His decrees. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you settle down in your fine houses, when your wealth has increased, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.”
(Deuteronomy 8:10-14)

I have been thinking about gifts and I will be writing more about gifts. For now, suffice it to say, we should be grateful for all that is given to us. If we take gifts for granted, we’re doing a disservice to the “gifter.”

God, I pray that I do not take your gifts for granted. Let me always feel gratitude. Protect me from the hardening of my heart, pride and forgetfulness. Let me always remember and sing your praises.

Amen.

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Monday Blueprint Madness

Paul’s advice to Timothy is applicable to us today.
“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Or…if you choose to neglect your gifts, they can rust and become overgrown – a loss for all. There is no pleasure in witnessing a gift that is lost to disuse. It is a tragedy for all.

God, help us to discern the gifts you have given to us. Help us to be guided by your wisdom, sent to us through the Spirit. Help us to be diligent, giving ourselves wholly to you and submitting to your will for us. Let us bear witness to your grace, so that others can benefit from our efforts.

Amen.

Thirst for Wisdom

“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
Proverbs 11:28

In these days of uncertainty, our faith is tried. I don’t know about you but my 401K is a 200.5K – suffering mightily from the market downturn. But I am so blessed in my immediate wealth. God has given me more than I ever imagined. It is so easy to take on the responsibility of fretting about our future. I’m glad that is not a yoke I’m tempted to bear. I am not watching the market. I am not weeping, wailing or gnashing my teeth. These words of wisdom from Proverbs certainly help me feel justified in my disinterest.

But am I righteous?

“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us.” Deuteronomy 6:25

Ah! There’s a sticking point. Am I obedient? I certainly try, but I’ve been struggling with God’s desire for me to write. This week marks the 1 year anniversary of the death of my last novel. I’d written all of 3 pages, then I left for a business trip to China. The only copy of the novel was on a traveling USB storage device (“key”). Let us pause for a moment to respect my mourning….the file was unrecoverable….. My 2nd attempt at a “great American novel” was gone. It died a premature death. I wept bitterly.

The journey since then has been fascinating (at least to me). And here I am. Journaling about my journey through life. My search for deeper faith, deeper understanding and a deeper, more intimate relationship with our Father. Seeking words of wisdom.

“But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.” Luke 7:35

So, I am not going to worry about money, I am going to focus on being obedient (righteous). If God wants me to write, I will write and I will quit fretting about “why?” and “for whom?” and even “what?” I will write. The proof of the wisdom of my actions will be seen when we look back, even if it can’t be seen now.

Please pray for me. I am unreasonably afraid. This fear is not something God can address. I have to overcome this fear to demonstrate my faith. If I were afraid of something “real” of this world, I could turn it over to God. God can give me strength, yes. But this demon, this fear is mine to overcome – and I will be its master.

Please pray for me. I am not operating in a realm of comfort. I am not able to look back on my track record and presume competence. I have nothing but my faith to push me down the path. And the voice that whispers (and sometimes shouts) when I am still and quiet. “Write. Trust Me.”

And yet, I hesitate.

Please pray for me.

Tips for Better Living

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

I can’t add to that.

The first sentence…this is the advice I just gave my youngest in response to a situation he’s having with a difficult teacher. “Love her and do your best. Turn in all of your assignments. Smile and be pleasant.”

I have found this to be extremely helpful in the workplace.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Words to live by.

Amen.

Monday Blueprint Madness

Technically, this is art.

Sometimes, as I wend my way through life, I feel like I’m living something similar. Ups and downs, not getting anywhere even though my perspective is changing and I seem to be working hard.

I’ve been looping back a lot lately. Playing the same conversations over again. Not replaying dialogues like we do after a weird conversation. No, I mean self-talk … arguing internally. Talking to my soul.

Maybe this sense of deja vu is the result of weeding the same flower beds, pruning the same trees, going over the same ground I’ve gone over before.

Meanwhile, I’m working up the nerve to try something different. To trust God’s guidance as I leave the track I’m on and venture out into new territory. The Holy Spirit gives us power to do things we never dreamed. There’s comfort in the paths we know. The familiar places make us feel strong and confident. But me, I’m talking to myself. Telling my soul, “Be strong. Rest in the knowledge of God’s love. Trust Him. Step out in faith.”

Praise God!

Kairos

My loving hubby spent the weekend in Bartlett jail….as part of the Kairos prison ministry. Kairos is all about God’s time.

There’s nothing like a “captive audience” for receiving the message of love and brotherhood. This was my fourth closing ceremony and I must say, I love hearing the men talk about how they were moved during the weekend. Sadly, out of the almost 40 men who participated, statistics indicate only one will *really* be affected (as in “life changed – the future that would have been, will not be. This is truly their last time in the pen”) by the experience. But almost all of the men got up and spoke a few words about how much the weekend meant to them. And the Spirit in the room was palpable.

Praise God for the one man. I don’t know which man but I know he was there and his life will never be the same. Let there be much rejoicing!

Café Chat March 21st

Today’s chat topic is based on Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
After looking at the verse in Galatians, what specific “fruit” (love, joy, peace…) do you find yourself lacking in your daily life? Give an example if you can.What circumstance in your life shows your weakness with the specific “fruit” you mentioned above.

Although I recently lamented my tendency to be impatient, after some introspection and time spent with my young-adult children I’m cutting myself some slack on that one. Thinking in terms of days recently passed I see that I am struggling with faithfulness. Or maybe I should say “faithfulness in all things.”

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

God gives us gifts and lets us choose how we will use those gifts. In the Parable of the Talents we learn the importance of using our gifts and the consequence if we choose to bury our gifts. Bury your gifts and you can look forward to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I have been whining and complaining (weeping and gnashing teeth) in my prayers because I’m trying to be obedient with the gifts God has given me, but I’m looking for earthly reward and not finding satisfaction. This morning I woke up knowing I will continue faithfully doing what I’m doing. I look to God, who is eternally faithful, to recognize and reward me in His way. I long to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So, even though I’ve been weak in my faith, I feel much stronger today and I trust that next week my answer to this question (if asked again) will be different.

Praise God!