What’s My Focus?

 

The other day I had the most vivid dream.  I’m not much of a dreamer, but for some reason, this dream was so vivid and clear.  I could remember the details and emotions elicited by the dream like I was there experiencing it first hand.  From past posts I’ve shared, I like to run.  In this dream, I had trained and prepared for a race.

I remember being in a car driving to the race, trying to get there, but something was always getting in the way–traffic, crowds, roadblocks.  I remember feeling anxious thinking I wasn’t going to make the start of the race.  Then the race started and I wasn’t at the start line.  The crowds of runners passed by me.  Feelings of disappointment and failure rummaged through my heart as I watched the runners pass me. I had prepared and trained for a race I could only watch and not participate in.  Every which way I turned, every time I tried, something got in my way to prevent me from getting to the start line.

After I awoke from my dream, I felt like I failed (nice way to start the day).  I felt the devastation of not completing the race, thinking what does all this mean?  I spent time in prayer asking God the meaning of the dream and heard his gentle response.  He asked me a very simple question, “Are you going to continue to focus on your stumbling blocks or allow me to take care of them?”  “Focus on my purpose for you, I will take care of your stumbling blocks.”

God was right.  At the time of this dream, I was a hot mess.  I was in an ugly rut of taking matters into my own hands, trying to handle things my way, amplifying the stumbling blocks that laid before me.  God was trying to show me, my struggles, my inadequacies, my unbelief will always keep me away from His purpose for me.  Focusing on my struggles making them bigger than God will always take me out of the race, not allowing me to participate and worse yet not finish.

When we live in God's purpose for us, it doesn't matter what struggles or obstacles lie in front of us, if it is His will, He will move them. Click To Tweet

At the time of my dream, I was studying the book of Nehemiah.  If you haven’t read Nehemiah, it is such a wonderful reminder of what God can do when we discover and live in His purpose.  God chose Nehemiah to carry out what He had promised to Abraham.  The Jewish people spent many years in exile and now it was time for God to come through with His promise for restoration of Jerusalem, their holy city.

Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he received news his people (The Jews) were in great trouble and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down.  Once Nehemiah heard of the turmoil, his burning desire to help his people became the sole purpose of his existence.  Two qualities I admire most in Nehemiah were his wise, decisive leadership skills to lead people in the hard work of completing the wall and his prayerful heart.

Before taking on this task of rebuilding this massive wall, Nehemiah devoted four whole months in prayer, praying and fasting before taking action!  Once the four months was over, it only took 52 days to rebuild the wall!  What is so amazing about this task, about 60 years prior Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed and rebuilt which took 20 years to rebuild!

What was the difference?

In both occurrences of the wall, there were obstacles, inward and outward oppression getting in the way of God’s purpose of rebuilding the wall.

Neh. 2:10-  There were enemies getting in the way of rebuilding the wall

Neh.  4:10-11 There was doubt, discouragement, laziness, and fear

Neh. 5:1-5-  The Jews and their families were being exploited as slaves

Neh. 6:1-8- There was an evil conspiracy plotted against Nehemiah to lure him away from the wall

Neh. 6:10-14- Lying prophets tryied to tempt Nehemiah to sin

Nehemiah 6:9 'For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.'Click To Tweet

Nehemiah was successfully able to complete the task of finishing the wall because He stayed in prayer and focused on God’s purpose, not the obstacles.

Our obstacles will always prevent us from finishing the race.  Satan will throw obstacles in our path to prevent us from living in God’s purpose for us, to keep us from His plan because He knows God’s ways are greater and better than anything we could ever imagine.

When our focus is on what God is able to do, God will move our obstacles out of the way.Click To Tweet

We have a choice– Focus on our problems or Focus on God’s purpose.

Nehemiah never lost sight of completing the wall WITH God not FOR God.  He stayed in prayer and asked for God’s wisdom never faltering from His purpose.  Our struggles, our unbelief, our doubts, our past, and insecurities will always keep us away from God’s purpose.  We can choose to amplify our struggles or allow it to be God’s platform for what he’s able to do.

What is your focus?

Do obstacles get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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My Hiding Place

Do you have a hiding place?  A place you like to retreat to?  To get some peace and quiet? To be able to decompress?  Process things?  Or just get away?

I have a hiding place that doesn’t seem like much of a hiding place.  It’s a place I always seem to come back to and find hard to stay away from.  It doesn’t seem like much of a retreat and yet I always come back to it.  Busyness.

Why do I keep coming to this place?  I constantly struggle with making my no, be no and my yes be yes.  I struggle with the balance of just because I can doesn’t mean I should.  I struggle with my heart being pulled in a million different places and where I should prioritize being present.  I constantly allow myself to be reeled back into this place time and time again.  The only thing I accomplish in the end is the feeling of not being able to accomplish the task well, weariness and guilty for spending valuable time away from the ones I love.

Why do I do this?

It’s who I am.  According to my Enneagram personality test, I’m a reformer by nature and have a desire to change the world.  I’m also a helper, who likes to help others at the expense of neglecting the needs of myself or my family.  Busyness also keeps me from dealing with the core issue of who I am–my perfectionism.  If I had a conversation with you, worked on a project, or been allotted a task I’m going to analyze how I could have improved the situation relentlessly in my head over and over.  It becomes tiring and quite defeating not living up to these always changing expectations.

When is it ever good enough?

At some point I just need to be okay with how things are, and accept it's enough.Click To Tweet

So how can I prevent getting into the tangled web of busyness?

Before I say yes to anything, I need to consult with God and my husband FIRST.  Because really when I say yes to something I’m really saying no to my family.  I need to spend time in prayer asking God, is this how I can make the most impact right now?  Is this how I should be spending the time you have given me?

My story reminds me of the Mary and Martha.  Whenever a guest comes to visit your home, there are so many preparations and tasks needed to be done before their arrival, especially if Jesus is your guest!  Jesus came to their home.  While Martha was distracted by all the preparations for their guest, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he had to say.  Martha became annoyed at Mary and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  (Luke 10:40).  

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. (Luke 10:41-42).

I’ve asked myself would I have responded like Mary or Martha?  I want to say I would have sat at Jesus’s feet listening to every word He had to say, blocking out any distraction focusing on what was most important at that moment–Jesus.  But being the reformer, helper I am, I know I would have been distracted like Martha, missing the very point of Jesus’s visit–to be with Him.

Over the years It has become easier the more time I spend with God, discerning his voice over what I need to do and not do.  But if I’m not careful can fall into the trap of busyness once again missing the very essence of God’s desire for me–His purpose.

My value and worth aren’t comprised of how much I accomplish, but in who God says I am and His purpose for me.  There will always be another task to accomplish, but if I lose focus of God’s purpose for me then all is lost.  The biggest obstacle I can be aware of is if life starts to get chaotic, then probably I let my balance off of being more performance driven than purpose driven.

I will never regret when I make a choice in Jesus name in the direction of God’s purpose for me.  I will never say I wish I performed more tasks.  I will never say I wish I had more time to do more.  I will always regret not spending enough time where my time is needed most with my family or I didn’t get the rest I needed.

Do you struggle with busyness or distractions?

I want to be attentive to what God desires for me and not distracted by where the world wants to take me.  God’s purpose will eternally satisfy more than any highly successful performance ever will.

Where is your hiding place?

Who do you relate most to Mary or Martha?

Prayer-  Lord help me please guard my time, protect the time our family has together.  Help me find rest in you and not my hiding place.  Help my no be no and yes be yes and not feel bad about it!  Help me be present, not go before you and be released from the burden of how I can always do things better.  I love you Lord, trust in who you are, you’re promises and love.  Thank you for keeping me balanced and grounded.  I love you, God, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Failures Don’t Define Us

Have you ever failed something?  Not just a little failure, but a big failure that defined the course of your life?  I’ve shared in other posts the failure that changed my perspective was when I failed my nursing boards.  But what if you have a constant failure in your life one you have to deal with every day?

I’ve shared before about our daughter Brooklyn who has dyslexia which there is no cure.  She will have dyslexia for the rest of her life.  Every day she’s reminded of her inability to interpret text when she’s asked to read something.  Her deficits and inadequacies are amplified every time she’s asked to spell a word.  I can’t imagine what she goes through on a daily basis fighting the battle within thinking she’s not smart and not capable to do what others can do.

As a mother, I have a choice in how to treat my daughter and my daughter has a choice in how she will respond.  Will, I treat her that she has a disability and allow her to use it as a crutch to make excuses for why she can’t?  Or will I show her I believe in her and give her the skills she needs so she can run?

Many of us believe the lie, our failures define us and hold us back from our future.  

Praise God we serve a God who is bigger and is able.  

We are more than our past failures.  We are more than our weakest link.  God uses our weakest traits as a catalyst to propel us towards his greatest plans.  Our weaknesses are not an excuse to go through life walking with a limp, but an opportunity to learn how to overcome and grow stronger for what God has in store for us.

Our failures don’t define us, God’s truth does.

I am always so amazed how God uses the unlikely to carry out His almighty plan.  He doesn’t use the strongest, the wisest or even the most powerful to carry out His plans.  Instead, he used a little shepherd boy named David, a young teenager named Jeremiah and a man with a stuttering problem named Moses.

When you are chosen, you can’t run or hide from God’s choice.  God sees so much more in us than we will ever see in ourselves.  When God chose Moses to go before Pharaoh, Moses wasn’t so sure.

Exodus 4:10 “And Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

I love God’s response to Moses.

Exodus 4:11-13 “The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?  Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God didn’t say to Moses, ‘you know you’re right, my plan is never going to work because you don’t have the skills to be a great leader.’  Instead, God reminds Moses, who made you and gave you the ability to hear and see?

We may feel deficient.  Not adequate.  Not prepared.  But God will never ask us to go somewhere without equipping us with the skills we need to accomplish what he is asking of us.  The tasks God asks may be hard and difficult.  They may even seem impossible, but God is bigger.

Jesus reminds us inLuke 18:27, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'Click To Tweet

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. “

When Moses went before Pharaoh, he had already provided a way and means to communicate to Pharaoh, his brother Aaron.  He provided the words and the details of what to do.  Moses was merely God’s vessel and needed his obedience.  Moses had no idea how everything was going to turn out, but God did.

I can’t always be there advocating for my daughter in what she needs to succeed, but with tutors, teachers and a strong support system, we are going to give her the skills so she can fly.  I never want her dyslexia to be a stumbling block and reason why she can’t but the reason why she overcomes and succeeds.

 

Just because my daughter has dyslexia doesn’t mean she’s deficient.

Just because Moses had a stuttering problem didn’t mean he was incapable.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5, 'Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.' Click To Tweet

Where we fall short, God makes up for our deficiencies and accomplishes His greatest plans through us.

We have two choices.  Allow the limitations of our deficits to confine us and stay in cycles of brokenness or allow God to use our deficits to refine us and move forward in His plans for us.

Do you believe God is bigger?

How will you allow your deficits to impact you? To confine or refine?

Has God helped you do the impossible?

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I Once Was Blind

The other week our family had the opportunity to get out of town and visit a nearby town called Cripple Creek.  The name in itself sounds kind of dreary, however, this was an old mining town that thrived in the late 1800’s early 1900’s.  Today it is a preserved gold mine used to tour tourists around its corridors.  I can’t believe our family squeezed into the 3 x 8 elevator shaft that lowered us down to the 1000 ft. mine.

It was dark and dingy and we couldn’t see anything without the lights on.  I couldn’t believe the dangerous conditions the miners worked in.  They spent hours working in these small mines using dynamite to blow holes in the rock or hammers to chisel it away.  Before machines were invented to haul away loose rock, donkeys were used to haul these carts full of rocks.  Can you imagine an 800-pound donkey lowered 1000 feet into these mines?  The donkeys actually lived down in the mines 24/7.  Eventually, the donkeys went blind from living in constant darkness.

When President Theodore Roosevelt found out about the donkeys living in darkness, he passed a law stating the donkeys had to be let out of the mines at least once a day.  Eventually, this became too much work and the donkeys were set free no longer having to live a life of darkness or blindness again.

Could you imagine living a life a darkness to then be set free–never to live in darkness again?

Have you ever felt like these donkeys?

I can’t help but see the parallel of the donkey’s lives who lived in the darkness to our own lives.  Oh, how I have been blind and lived in the darkness before.  Living in darkness is not living at all.  The longer we stay in the darkness we become blind just like these donkeys.

Just like Teddy Roosevelt interceded on behalf of the donkeys, Jesus intercedes for us.  

The donkey’s story of their lives and sight being restored reminds me of the man who was born blind in John 9.  It was believed in Old Testament times, if you were born blind, then you or your family must have sinned to deserve such a rotten life of blindness.  But Jesus, tells His disciples the man’s blindness wasn’t the result of his sin, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v.3).  Jesus then tells His disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (v.4).

Jesus then used his own spit and some dirt on the ground to make mud to spread over the man’s eyes.  He then tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam to wash off the mud and came back seeing.  Neighbors and friends who had known this man his whole life were in shock and disbelief, after a lifetime of blindness, now their friend could see!

One of the mysteries from this scene strikes me when Jesus uses mud to heal the blind man.  Jesus is Jesus.  He doesn’t need mud to heal people.  His power didn’t lie within the mud but within the abilities of God.  Jesus didn’t use the mud to heal the man, he used it to open our unbelieving hearts.  

The biggest skeptics of all were the Pharisees, the Jewish high priests.  The man went before the Pharisees to explain how he miraculously gained his sight.  The Pharisees did not believe a man who had been born blind was healed, because only a person from God, their Messiah could perform such miracles.  The Pharisees called upon the man’s parents questioning them to answer their disbelief.  They confirmed, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind” (v. 20).  The Pharisees still weren’t convinced the man’s sight was an act from God Himself.  So they called upon him again and asked ‘how do you see?’

The man replied, 'One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see' (v.25)Click To Tweet

The Pharisees were spiritually blind to the fact God could perform such miraculous wonders.  This is the part of the story I love.  Jesus not only healed this man from blindness, he also came to find him.  Jesus found the blind man after he heard they cast him out and asked the healed man, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35).  

He said, “Lord, I believe, and he worshipped him.  Jesus said, “For judgment, I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (v. 38-39).

The longer we live in this dark world, we become numb to the tragedies surrounding us.  We become blind to what people are going through and stop seeing the hurting people around us.  In an instant, Jesus removed a lifetime of blindness from the man who had no hope of ever seeing again.  No matter how dark our lives are, how much we sin, Jesus loves us and will always come to find us, if we let him.  Many of us who have sight are blind to the fact Jesus is standing right in front of us, reaching out his hand for us to take hold of to lead us into a life of light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' John 8:12.Click To Tweet

Jesus is the light of the world.  Whoever follows him will never walk in darkness again………..

The old mining donkeys to this day are protected in the town of Cripple Creek, roaming around free.  Just as the donkeys are set free, so are we when we allow Jesus to have all of our hearts.

Has God set you free from a life of darkness and blindness?

Praise God, I once was blind but now I see!

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You Are Not Qualified

Have you ever had someone tell you, you’re not qualified? You don’t measure up?

For many years I ashamed to say, I had believed this very lie about myself.  Unfortunately, at the impressionable age of 13, I had a teacher tell me something very similar. One day in front of the entire class she had me stand up and spoke these words to me, “You’ll never amount to anything in life but a hairdresser.” And then the entire class proceeded to laugh at me. In that very moment, a lie was born.

From that point forward I believed, I’ll never amount to anything. I’ll never measure up. I’m inadequate, I’ll never be enough.  Personally, I have nothing against hairdressers, they make a very good living. However, it was the “You’ll never amount to anything” part that hurt. From that moment on, I believed a lie. I wasn’t smart, I could never achieve what other people could, all from words spoken probably from a teacher who had been hurt in life and was just taking it out on me. But at the age of 13, I was just discovering who I was. At that time I needed a teacher who believed in me, to build me up, not tear me down and crush my spirit.

I am sure the teacher that day was looking

at me from the outside, never bothering to get to know who I really was.  Her words labeled me as a ditzy girl for the rest of my middle school through high school years. I may have not always thought about what I said before I said it. I may not have come across as the most intelligent person. But that doesn’t give someone the liberty to tear them down or crush their spirit at the expense of gaining a laugh and potentially changing the trajectory of someone’s path.

Proverbs 18:20 NLT The tongue can bring death or life.

Our words have the ability to either bring life or death to another. How will we choose to use our words? To build or destroy?

Those words, sadly, paved a path of what others thought of me and they treated me as such. Looking back it didn’t matter what others thought of me. It only mattered what God thought of me. But thankfully God gave me a strong-willed spirit. Those words stirred something deep in my soul, that said, “I’ll show her.” Those words made me try harder, and more determined I wasn’t going to fail.

The human faulted flesh of mine would love to look that teacher up and give her a long list of all of my worldly successes. I would love to tell her how I exceeded well beyond her limited view of me and shame on her for picking on a kid!

I learned something very powerful from all of this. Just because a teacher said something about me, someone I trusted or valued as an authority figure doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

What she said may have been true—I’ll never measure up. But it wasn’t the truth.

It may be true I’ll never measure up to what the world says. I’ll never be enough. I’ll never be qualified. I will always be inadequate.

But thankfully I can rest in who God says I am and break free from what the world says I’ll never be. My weaknesses and flaws will never get me to where I need to go, but God’s strength will.

John 8:32 And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.Click To Tweet

By the standards of the world I’ve accomplished

many great things, but none of those compare to what God has accomplished in me. Because of God’s truth, I am set free from the lie I believed so long ago and what the world thinks. I don’t have to carry the chains of my past into my future. I believe who God says I am, the one who created me and knows me best.

I am more than the words the teacher said to me that day, I am who God says I am.

 

Have you ever been told you’ll never measure up?

I wonder if the great leaders in the Bible ever had someone tell them they’d never measure.
Moses had a stuttering and anger problem.
David had an affair and killed a man.
Jonah was stubborn and disobeyed God.
Peter denied Jesus 3 times.

And yet God still used them. We all have our flaws. We all have our inadequacies. Praise God, we can be free in who God says we are.

Listen to You Say sung by Lauren Daigle and be free in who God says you are…..

You say I am loved
You say I am strong
You say I am held
You say I am yours
I believe what you say of me……..

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Where Do Unanswered Prayers Go?

I don’t know about you but I have thought about this question many times.  There have been many prayers I have prayed my whole life, God still hasn’t answered.  Does that mean he doesn’t care?  Does it mean God isn’t listening?  I pray this post encourages you to know that God indeed is listening and he cares and loves you very much.

I have heard many say ‘God didn’t answer my prayer, that must mean he doesn’t love me.’  Even though it may be true God doesn’t answer all of your prayers the way you want them, he isn’t a genie in the bottle waiting to grant our every wish.  God doesn’t work that way.  He is our Father who loves us, who knows what is best for us, who sees the bigger picture and has the best plan ever for our lives.  To not answer our prayers may mean that God has something better waiting ahead.

When our third child was born with a fatal kidney disease, my husband and I prayed for God to please heal our son and for him not to suffer anymore.   We had so many people praying for healing for him.  The day he went to heaven, many were angry (including us at first) and said I can’t believe God didn’t answer your prayer.  Even though God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted, he indeed answered our prayer in a bigger way than we could ever imagine.

Our son is living the best life ever in heaven where there is no more pain or suffering, he waits until one day we will see him again.  

When I struggle with ‘Why isn’t God answering my prayer?’  ‘Why is this happening?’  ‘How will I ever get through this?’  I hold onto God’s promises that he is faithful, he loves me and cares about my every need.  He is good all the time and I can rely on him for ALL of my needs.

Where do unanswered prayers go? In God's Hands. He holds them, never forgets them, molding and shaping them into the best life ever for you. Click To Tweet

When I am feeling defeated by my circumstances I think of…………..

The Israelites running away from the attack of the Egyptians.  They cried out to God for help and protection and God provided a way through the Red Sea which provided them with a safe escape and toppled on top of their enemy.

Mary and Martha crying out to God, why didn’t you heal our brother, Lazarus, to see him arise from the dead 4 days later.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace how he kept them protected from the hot flames.  There wasn’t a hair singed on their body and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

I think of Daniel in the lion den.  God sent an angel to shut the mouths of those lions and kept Daniel safe.

It may not seem a likely place to find hope in unanswered prayers, but know that God uses them for good.  He will never waste your prayers or pain.  Your prayers are precious gold to him.

In your trials is where you will find hidden treasures of what God is trying to show you WHEN you allow him to have your struggles and pain.

Do you have unanswered Prayers?  

Did God answer your prayers in a way you didn’t even think was possible?

Keep Praying.  Never Stop.  God is listening.  He is always with you!  God is Faithful!  In God all things are possible!  You never know what Prayers God will answer, know you can always trust him and his plans lead to the best life ever!

In God We can Find Comfort in our Trials.
In God We can Find our Hope despite devastation.
In God We can Find our Peace in the Storms.
In God We can Find Joy in our Struggles.

Keep Fighting the Good Fight with your Prayers!

There is HOPE in our unanswered Prayers!


What do you think God does with unanswered prayers?  

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I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.


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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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Why Do We Need To Go To Church Anyway?

If we believe in God then why do we need to go to church?

Sunday at church the question was asked, “Why do we need to go to church?”  It is a very common response for others to say, I don’t need to go to church to experience Jesus or have a relationship with God. This is true so it can be difficult to answer. We were all asked freely what was our own personal reason for being there that day in church?

Some answers were:

1. To worship
2. To connect with others
3. Build relationships
4. Receive Sacraments
5. Edify Believers
6. To take scheduled time out for God

These are all great answers. However, one answer struck me, as someone raised their hand and said, “I come to church to fill me up.”  She said, “I think of church like a gas station to fill my tank up. Just like a car. Is a car a car just because it takes space up in a garage?” “What is the point of having a car sit in a garage if the gas tank is not filled up, you can’t go anywhere with an empty tank.”

How profound this statement was to me. Just as a Christian goes to church.

Does sitting in a church make a person a Christian or a believer?Click To Tweet

Of course not. A person can absolutely have a personal relationship with God without going to church. But how full is their tank and how far have they gone in their relationship with the Lord? Our personal relationship with God can be like the car that sits in the garage with an empty tank, collecting dust and forming rust. How far can we go if we are not filled up? Our tanks will never be filled just by sitting there. Church is a way to connect, re-energize, refocus, worship and build relationships.

What is the church to you?

Is it the building? The choir? The pastor? The church is the people. Not the building, not the things in it, but the people in it. The building is just a building and means nothing without the pastor, the choir, or the people.

Right before we came to Alaska, our church had the unfortunate experience of being victim to a horrible storm that caused a flood. The waters rose so fast and became so powerful they pushed opened the doors of the church. Water came gushing into the sanctuary filling the entire room. All the seats we sat in every Sunday became submerged in water. It was the most unbelievable sight. When the rain stopped the water then had a chance to recede and drain. When this flood happened it was an eye-opening experience because at first I was saddened the flood ruined the church where we worshipped the Lord. When the storm left, in came the people to help in any way to rebuild and restore what was damaged. This experience made me realize more than ever, a storm can take away the building but it can’t take away where we worship the Lord. Where we worship is the church.  The church is the people.

As the sermon went on that day the pastor stated statistics of why people don’t attend church.

It saddened me to hear the responses:

1. 30% say church is important but not relevant
2. 40% say church is ambivalent, I find God elsewhere
3. 30% say church is not important

Other reasons people said why they didn’t go:

1.  Hypocrisy
2.  Moral values of the church leaders
3.  The church’s irrelevance
4.  God is missing from the church

So it challenged me to think how do we answer the question, “Why do we need to go to church?” It makes me question, Are we the people who are in the church doing something wrong or are the people attending not fully, wholly giving themselves completely?

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12).

I think the blame game can be played here. But in reality, there is no perfect church or person for that matter. There will always be variables at play. I believe we do need the church and the church needs us. That is how the beautiful message of the gospel is spread. That is how the body of Christ functions and we become the hands and feet of Jesus. A body works much better when it has all of its parts.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

People who go to Alcoholics Anonymous go to keep them accountable. Without accountability what kind of relationship can be built? Church keeps us accountable. It is important to keep coming together and be the church.

Hebrews 10:25 NIV-  “So let’s not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

Nothing happens when the car is sitting in the garage with an empty tank. God’s word isn’t meant to stay on the pages of our Bibles, but to be alive and living within us.  His words, His truth, fill us with all we need and more than we can imagine.  His words will sustain and maintain us in this life and for all eternity.  Keep filling up your tank and see how far you go.

Have you given up going to church?

Are you missing from church?

How does church fill you up?

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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