Craft

via Daily Prompt: Craft

Many people when they hear the word “craft” think of things people do to create something.  For example painting, knitting, quilting, sewing, writing, or maybe drawing.

But what about your home?  How do you “craft” your family?  Do you eat dinner as a family at night and so build a good relationship with your children? Do you spend time reading the Bible together and praying so that you “craft” a good relationship with God, yourself and your children? And what about playtime?  Are you spending time outdoors doing things you all can enjoy as a family?  Riding bikes, hiking, playing ball, swimming or just taking walks?

You see, I believe this is one of the most important things that you can craft.  Healthy family relationships. When you have a healthy family relationship with your children and spouse you are helping to make your community a better place.  And let’s face it, we need that today!

When children trust their parents and have respect, this will show in their dealings with people in the community, their teachers, peers and those in authority.  It would go a long ways in eliminating a lot of problems that are so common today!  I think if we would spend more time in “crafting” our families into safe healthy places for our children we would see a drop in shootings between police officers and teens, and teen shootings in our schools.   There wouldn’t be looting and protests because things “aren’t fair” to their way of thinking.

We see the effects of children growing up in homes where there isn’t respect for parents, where they aren’t made to feel like they are a part of the family and have responsibilities as a member of the family and it’s tearing our country apart.

I for one am ready for a change in our country. Aren’t you?  Let’s go back to God and “craft” the best thing we can:  a healthy family!

 

 

Resist

via Daily Prompt: Resist

Resist, I bet when you see this word you think about things you have to resist.  You know, like that last piece of chocolate cake, or eating another piece of pizza, or maybe resisting the urge to skip that workout.  These all have to do with your body, what you put in it or what you do to it.

What about your soul, your spiritual life?  Do you have a hard time resisting the urge to skip your devotional or prayer time?  Do you struggle with the urge to resist going to church?  I know I have faced those struggles!

But there is hope!  God sent us a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit.  He is there to help us to resist giving in to those urges. We also have a gift God has given us in his Word that is there for us to use in those times.

I love this verse from James 4:7 NIV “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  There’s a step we have to take, we must submit to God and then resist and the devil will flee! What a great promise this is!

Then God gives us promises and directions regarding temptation, for that is what those are, temptations:

I Corinthians 10:13 NIV “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

You see, since Jesus came and walked on this earth and lived a sin free life and died on the cross for my sin and your sin, we now have the power to not give in to that temptation.  How?  By prayer, by being in the word.  Yes, it all goes back to the things we need to resist giving into.

It isn’t always easy.  But start small.  Just read a few verses and pray for a few minutes and then build on that.  After a while, you will find that you miss that time when you skip it.  You will find fellowship with Jesus and you will become stronger and more able to resist other temptations when they come to you!  And they will!  When you conquer one area, Satan will come at you in another area.

YouVersion has just started a 21 Day Challenge.  You pick a reading plan with them and read it for 21 days in a row.  I’m doing it!  They will be giving away prizes too!  Go to YouVersion and pick a plan today!  Resist the urge to put it off!

 

The Green Eyed Monster

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I’m pretty sure that someone will be able to relate to this.

 

I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post from a friend.  It was a picture of her meeting my favorite author Karen Kingsbury.  I paused and I commented on it, “Oh, I’m so jealous of you! LOL”  Doesn’t seem harmful, right?

Then I came across another post by a different friend and it was a picture of a new car, I did it again.  I posted that I was jealous of that person.  Ah ha.. I see a trend here.

It came time for a devotional later that week and sure enough, God had something to say about my jealous heart.  And it wasn’t good!

Proverbs 14:30  A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.

Proverbs 27:4 Fury is cruel, and anger a flood, but who can withstand jealousy?

James 4:2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask.

Exodus 20:17  Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

OK, but Lord, I was just joking..  No daughter, you were not.  I was coveting, and I was jealous of what my friends had. This was leading to me having a bad attitude about the blessing my friends received!  Not a good thing!

So something needed to change, ME.  I didn’t want to just get off Facebook because I do Bible study through Facebook and I have a prayer group page on Facebook.  I also use it to keep in contact with my family across the country.  It’s really nice to be able to see what my cousins are up to in Kansas, Texas, Missouri,  Utah and other places.

So I established that I wouldn’t leave Facebook, how was I going to change?  I decided I would no longer post that comment on any post.  I was going to work on changing my thinking.  So instead of saying I was jealous I needed to post that I was so happy for my friend and the blessing they received. But in order for this to come across and truthful and how I really felt, I had to do some praying and repent of my jealousy and see it for what it was.

Now when I come across a picture of one of my friends of a new car or meeting someone I admire and would love to meet, I can comment on how happy I am for them or make another comment that is kind and truthful.

My words make a difference.  Yes, maybe I did say I was joking to my friends when I said I was jealous, but I may have hurt them in that.  I may have taken away some of their joy in their blessing.  I didn’t mean to.  But it could have happened.

I’m learning to be more careful of my words.  God is working in me.  Sometimes it hurts when He is shaping me into the woman He wants me to be.  But the end product will be something that will bring glory and honor to Him.

And that’s my goal.

Secret Places of the Heart

We all have them, those places in our heart that we don’t share with anyone.  We think we can hide them and no one will ever know about them.  We think if we keep them hidden we won’t have to deal with them.  They can just stay there and we can try to be like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind and think about it another day.

Ah, but this doesn’t work for those of us who are in Christ.  You see, when I abide in Him, he shines a light on all those secret places of my heart.  OUCH…  this isn’t a fun thing!

You see, God sees ALL no matter how well we think we have hidden it, he knows.  Jeremiah 16: 11  “for My gaze takes in all their ways. They are not concealed from Me, and their guilt is not hidden from My sight.”

Then in Psalms 139:1-12 one of my favorite passages:

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,[a]
10 even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
12 even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You.

So, if I can’t really hide my sin from God, why do I try?  Because of pride.  I don’t want to give up what gives me pleasure.  It makes me feel good, so I continue to do it.  But this is not how God wants me to live and He has gotten hold of my heart and convicted me of this.  But it’s hard.  Very hard.

You see, once I have given sin reign in this area, it has become a stronghold.  Satan has come in and built himself a nice little corner that he has control over and he doesn’t give up easily.  When I am tired he knows I’m more apt to give into this sin.  So that’s when he hits me with it.  Oh, he can drag up all sorts of thoughts, movies or books that were not of God that I allowed into my life and he parades them out like so many ducklings in a row behind their mother.

That’s when I have a battle on my hands.  A battle I must be prepared to fight.  This goes with my word for the year:  ABIDE.  Only by abiding in Christ and being prepared, in the word and suited up in my armor can I fight this!  I am weak and will fail every time.  But God is strong! Psalm 91:2 “I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””   Psalm 28:7 ” The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.”

Another thing I can do to battle this sin is to pray the Word.  Jesus was an example of fighting Satan with the Word.  The word is a powerful sword!  I must take it up and use it!  Besides praying it I have found that listening to it helps me too.  At night when he plays his games with me and tries to tempt me with this I can put my earbuds on and put in my Audible Bible.  A few nights I have fallen asleep listening to the Bible being read to me.  This has helped me so much.

Memorizing scripture is helpful as well.  I’m working on memorizing Psalms 91.  This whole chapter is about abiding in God and the benefits of that.  When I put scripture in my mind, it pushes out more garbage.

If you, like me, are battling a stronghold, give it over to God.  Pray, seek His face, listen to His Word and abide in Him.  He will fight for you.  In Him, you CAN have victory over the secret places of your heart too.

Light

Light: what do you think of when you see this word?  Do you think of the sun and how it gives us light for the day?  Or those handy switches on your wall that you flip and the light comes on so that you may see better?   Yes, those are lights and they are important to our lives.  But today I want to write about a different light.

Jesus is our light, and we, in turn, are to be lights to the world.  We are told in Matthew 4:16

The people who live in darkness

have seen a great light,

and for those living in the shadowland of death,

light has dawned.

This is speaking of Jesus.  He came to be a light for us so that we might see God through Him.  Without Him, we would still be living in darkness and death.  I’m so thankful that He came!

Jesus then told us that we are lights in Matthew 5:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket,[b] but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine[c] before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

So how am I being that light to the world?  Well, for a starter how I speak to others.  Today, for example, was a very frustrating morning.  I was making calls to take care of some appointments I needed to make.  I was on hold one place for 10 minutes and then finally reached a live person, spoke to her for a few minutes explaining what I needed and then my cell phone dropped the call!  I was not happy.  So, I waited to see if she would call back since she had verified my call back number, nope no call.  I then made another call and of course reached a different representative.  I was frustrated.  I was not happy.  I tried to keep my tone of voice even and not take my frustration out on her.  It was not her fault,  and yelling at her would accomplish nothing.  By speaking kindly I was allowing Jesus’ light to shine through me even over the phone.

Another way to be a “light” is by our actions.  A few weeks ago I had a car accident.  Not fun.  Not in my plans for the day, that’s for sure!  Even worse, it was my fault.  Thankfully no one was injured.  The other person involved called the Highway Patrol.  When the officer arrived he spoke to him first and asked me to wait.  When it was my turn I honestly explained what had happened, accepted responsibility for the accident and answered each of his questions.  When we finished I shook his hand and told him thank you for his help.  A small thing that I hope helped to make his day better.  I later took my car over to my parent’s house and my Dad and brother checked out the damage.  They told me when I took my car in to get worked on that I should put on the claim that my windshield that was already cracked before the accident on the claim.  I refused.  That would not be honest.  In acting with integrity that’s letting my light shine.  This is so important.  It’s so easy to let the world in and dim our lights.  Then we are no longer effective in the world!

I think this is part of the problem in our world today.  I know I have to be so careful about what I let in.  What I read, watch, listen to and see online all have an effect on me.  So how do I make sure that my “light” stays bright?  By being in the Word, spending time in prayer.  By worshipping with others and being connected in some way to other Christians.  I belong to an online Bible study group, Women’s Bible Cafe and I chat with other members throughout the day, we pray for one another and we study the Word.  Being connected in a local Church body and online helps me to not let the world dim my light.  I’m also memorizing Bible verses and I have a friend who is keeping me accountable in this.  We speak once a week or so to see how we are doing in our verse.So how do you take care of your light?  Are you fellowshipping with other believers?  Do you have someone

So how do you take care of your light?  Are you fellowshipping with other believers?  Do you have someone to help you?  Do you pray with others and for others?  Are you in the Word daily?  Change just one thing this year to help keep your light bright!

This little light of mine!  I’m gonna let it shine!  This little light of mine! I’m gonna let it shine let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

When You Don’t Want to Go to Church

It happens to us all once in a while.  We wake up on Sunday morning and we just don’t FEEL like going to church.  Maybe we didn’t sleep so well that night, maybe we had an argument with a family member.  Or maybe you are like me and you deal with a chronic illness and health problems that can make church a challenge.

I am deaf in my left ear and I have Meniere’s Disease which causes me to have hearing problems in my good ear.  I wear a hearing aide, but sometimes it’s still a challenge to hear in a large open room.  I also get spells of vertigo or dizziness and tinnitus which is so annoying!

This morning I woke up with a headache which can be a bad sign, it can mean a full blown attack on the way or just an “off” day.  But I never really know for a few hours.   I got out of bed and was a bit dizzy so I sat in my chair for a little while.  Then I got in the shower and that was fine, no dizziness.  I did notice my hearing was off.  I debated going to church.  I knew I might not get much out of it with my hearing the way it is.  Sometimes I miss words.  Sometimes I hear but don’t really understand what the person is saying.  It’s so frustrating and it makes it a LOT of work to sit in church and try to hear what is going on. But in the end, I decided I should go.

I got to church and I was greeted by a friend I hadn’t seen for a few weeks.  Between illness and Christmas, I hadn’t been to my church since the first week in December!  It was so good to be greeted and told I was missed.  I felt loved, welcomed and wanted.  All good things!

Then the service started and we did praise music first.  I love praise music!  Music is a challenge when my hearing is bad too.  I miss cues, I don’t always hear the words correctly.  They do put the lyrics on the screen at the front, so that helps.  Regardless of my hearing I enjoyed the music.

Then one of the men in the church shared something, I could hear him, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I caught a word here and there.  I was getting frustrated and was tempted to just walk out and leave.  I thought “why bother to stay if I can’t understand what the sermon is going to be?  I may as well not even be here!”  But I stayed.  The sermon started and sure enough, I couldn’t understand what our Pastor was speaking on.  I caught that it was in 1 Kings but not the chapter, then I caught that he was speaking about Solomons son who became King after him. So I flipped through my Bible to find the passage.  I finally found where it started speaking about him.  Then I  finally was able to figure out where he was.  But I missed so much of what was being said.  I was frustrated.  Feeling isolated and again wondering why I even bothered to go.  I missed so much of the service.

After the service, though, I had friends greet me and tell me how happy they were to see me and ask me how my Christmas was.  I caught up with them, got hugs, held babies, shook hands with other members.  Then I went and spoke to the Pastor’s wife and I shared with her what was going on with my hearing and how hard a time I had today and how I almost didn’t even come.  She encouraged me to come even if I can’t hear what is said.  That I need the fellowship and connection with others.  Funny, I was finding that out.

I was given a book from a friend of mine called Craving Connection from (in)courage.me This book shares stories from real people about how we all need connection to others in the body of Christ.  When we isolate and disconnect we are more prone to stall in our walk with the Lord, at least I am!  We don’t have anyone who can hold us accountable when we fall into sin, we don’t have anyone that can encourage us in our walk, we don’t encourage others, we can’t help that sister or brother who is facing and issue we have faced and had victory over through Christ, we don’t share prayer requests and pray for others.  There’s a reason in Hebrews 10:25 we are told:  “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” NLT  God knows how much we need one another.  I needed to be in church today.  My spirit was lifted and I was loved.  I was encouraged, even if I couldn’t hear and understand the sermon.  I hope I also was able to lift the spirit of someone else and encourage them.

So, when you feel like you don’t want to go to church, don’t give in to that!  You will be blessed in some way.  God has something for you that day and Satan doesn’t want you to get it!

{A few notes:  I do not know sign language.  I will be changing a few things that I hope will help me do better in church, I will sit closer and I will ask the Pastor if he can give me notes.}

 

 

What Will You Give Jesus This Christmas?

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Christmas, the season of giving.  We shop for gifts to give our loved ones and send cards to friends and family scattered across the country or even the world.  But have you considered what you will give to Jesus this Christmas?

I heard a Pastor preach about this a few weeks ago and it made me think.  What do I give Jesus now?  Do I give Him as much as I am able, or do I short change him?  My answer wasn’t what I would like.  I don’t give Jesus as much as I can or should.  I don’t spend the time I should in Bible reading and prayer lately.  I did well for a while and then I allowed other things to squeeze that time out of my day.  It’s a shame.  It’s hurting me and it hurts his heart.

Say you have a date with a friend for coffee every week at the same time and place and you have something come up and don’t get there and you don’t even remember to call your friend.  She is there waiting for you and wondering if you are all right.  Now granted, Jesus knows that I’m all right.  But just the same he is there waiting for me at the time I have set for my prayer and Bible reading.  He’s sad when I don’t show up and he misses that time just as my friend misses me when I miss coffee.

Thinking on this lead to my getting my word for 2017 (my good friend Christine Abraham at Women’s Bible Cafe does this each year and introduced me to it):  ABIDE.  This is what I want to give Jesus this year.  I want to ABIDE  in him.

Then I wanted to see what it really meant to ABIDE in Jesus.  According to Blueletterbible the word abide means:

  1. to remain, abide

    1. in reference to place

      1. to sojourn, tarry

      2. not to depart

        1. to continue to be present

        2. to be held, kept, continually

    2. in reference to time

      1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure

        1. of persons, to survive, live

    3. in reference to state or condition

      1. to remain as one, not to become another or different

  2. to wait for, await one

So to me this means that I will tarry with Jesus and not depart from him,  I’ll be present with him and be held by him.  I will continue to be with him and endure with him, I’ll remain one with him and wait for him.  Wow!  There’s a lot packed in there!

According to Webster’s Dictionary tarry means to linger in expectation.  I like that!  But it also means to wait, waiting is not something that I do well.  I hate waiting.  But this year God is calling me to tarry with Jesus.

To ABIDE means I won’t depart from him.  I’ll stay with  Jesus no matter what this coming year will bring.  I know it will most likely have challenges, and most likely pain, as well as I, live with advanced osteoarthritis, and it will mean days that I have vertigo and can’t drive due to my Meniere’s Disease.  But I need to stay close to Jesus and ABIDE in him so that I can get through those days easier.  This goes along with ENDURE in the above meanings.

The meaning I really love is: to be held, kept, continually.   As I ABIDE in Jesus he holds me and keeps me with him too!  Do you remember the popular picture out a few years ago of Jesus holding up a man?  The man is weary and almost falling but Jesus is behind him holding him in his arms and keeping him standing.  That picture brings tears to my eyes when I see it.  This is how Jesus is for each of us.  He holds us up when we can no longer stand.  But, I have to do my part and be in his presence!  I have to allow him to do this by keeping close  ABIDING in him!

ABIDE also means to remain as one.  In the Bible, Jesus tells us that we are one.  John 14:20 ” When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”  And in John 17:21 ” I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”  But in order for me to have this relationship, I must do my part.  I have to ABIDE .

So this year, this is the gift that I will strive to give to Jesus.  To truly ABIDE in him and give him more of me.    I ask you, what gift will you give to Jesus?