Doing The Extreme

My husband, Tevis, and I listened to Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick.  What an amazing and challenging book!  It talks about having an “audacious faith”.  Some of the things that he was talking about kept playing over and over again in my mind and it got me thinking.
We had a lot of people who thought we were crazy to move 700 miles from home for a job in ministry that was only going to be part-time pay.  Excited for us, yes, but some still thought we were nuts.  I mean, we are a family of 4 with a special needs child.  Who does that anyway?  There were days where WE thought we were crazy for it also.  Yet, God had provided everything up to that point (I talked about that when I first started blogging).  He laid every stepping stone for us to step on and He still is laying those stones.
We have been back and forth about whether to put the kids in school and get second jobs and such.  Every time we have sat down and started to seriously talk about it and then start to put the wheels in motion, God has slammed that door.  I’m not talking a subtle close…a SLAM!  Does it make logical sense that we are to get by by the skin of our teeth?  No, but it makes perfect sense if we look at it through God’s eyes.  We have total reliance upon him.  He provides the extra that we need when we need it.  He provides each day’s provisions in all areas.  I don’t expect people to understand why we do the things we do or the choices that we make (not that they are all smart).  What I would like to be able to expect is respect of the decision of what we feel that God is so clearly asking of us to do right now.  There is a lot that he is doing in and through our family in ways that we know nothing about.  I struggle with it a lot though.  I go through the days where I throw a pity party for myself.  I haven’t had the best attitude about it.  Many of you who know me, KNOW I’ve showed my butt a few times about it.  I’m sorry.  I owe you an apology.  Please forgive me for not being the example that God asked me to be.  I have come to a point of acceptance, though.  That and I see the benefit of being obedient and I’m choosing to be just that.  Obedient.
So often we have this false belief that if we are doing God’s will and “working for God”, that we will not be inconvenienced by what he asked us to do (I fell into that category).  That we will have a nice, big house, drive a nice new car and be able to have all the new toys and gadgets.  Don’t get me wrong.  God wants to bless us more than we can imagine, but to believe that we will want for nothing and never have a struggle, is really misguided.  Honestly, I think that that mentality shows more of a worldly, materialistic viewpoint.
I was reading in Luke and that is what aided my thinking about this.   Luke 18:8-25 says, A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’  “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.  When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.  Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
So, if God asked you to do something extremely out of the ordinary and walk with extreme faith and trust in him, could you do it?  Could you “sell everything you have” and go?  It’s hard.  We are a very blessed nation and I think that blinds us so much.  Missionaries over seas do with very little.  They are blessed more than we know, though.  Not with things but with their relationship that they have with God.  They have a faith that is amazing.  Their communion with God is deeper than many of us know.  I think not having all the material things clouding their perspective and view helps greatly.  They are much less SELF-reliant and more GOD-reliant.  I think we get that way (self-reliant) unknowingly.
We serve a great God and I want to be someone who puts myself aside and serves Him wholeheartedly!  To stand with the courage that He gives and walk in “audacious faith” when He calls me to do something out of the ordinary or extreme.  I want to be THAT servant!  How about you?  =)  Be Blessed!

They Did WHAT?

Gossip.  I know that right now someone’s name floated right through your head.  You know the one.  The person who ALWAYS knows what’s going on with so-and-so and just has to tell you about it.  There is the obvious ways of gossip, but there are the not so obvious ways too.  One way I think this comes in the form of, is by complaining about others.  I’m guilty of this.  Especially if I feel I have been wronged.  It doesn’t help at all in reality.  If you really think about it, you can’t really complain about someone/somthing without gossiping about what they did.  Normally this can create a lot of problems.  Proverbs 25:23 says, As surely as the North wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger.  How much of our complaining would stop if we viewed it through the eyes of it being gossip?  How much of the fighting that goes on between people is caused by gossip?

Proverbs 26:20 says, Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.  If we didn’t gossip and run our mouths, there would be A LOT less fighting.  So, much discord is sown with gossip.  Are we to build each other up or tear each other down?  There is no edification in it.  Romans 14:9 says, Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  We are to do what is in the best interest of others.  Talking about everybody’s dirt isn’t in their best interest.  No wonder everybody is afraid to be real.  They are afraid of being burned at the stake for not being perfect.  God forbid!  How can we ever heal, grow and mature as Christians if we’re never real and HELP each other with our junk?

So often ministry leaders are held at a higher standard than anybody else.  But, I’m going to fill you in on something, we are a mess just like everybody else.  We are not superhuman.  Our children are not perfect.  We have struggles daily and we are not immune to them.  That’s what is so interesting about having a special needs child.  Our junk is out there for everybody to see.  There is no hiding it.  Hunter makes sure that you know that we don’t have it together.  I am thankful for that.  Yet, at the same time horrified.  I get tired of being the incoming circus.  To be honest, I feel that my biggest asset is that we are out there; exposed per say.  How we deal with things and how we handle things are sometimes our biggest witness to others.  It’s a big relief to me.  It’s hard trying to fit yourself into some mold that people expect you to be in.  Hunter keeps us from fitting into that mold.  Thank God!

So many times we have such a low self image that to make ourselves feel better, we tear others down by gossiping.  But, by remembering that we never truly know the whole story of what is going on in someone’s life, it will help in keeping the gossip down.  Instead of talking to everybody else about what’s going on in someones life, go and talk to them about it.  Encourage them.  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, Let us think of way to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  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.

Oh the peace to be had.  So, the next time you speak about someone, try something uplifting about them.  Focus on the positives.  If we judge people by their intentions instead of their actions, we may see them in a whole new light.  =)  Be Blessed

Roots

I had a root canal awhile back.  Great sentence to start with, I know.  I was thinking this morning about the whole idea of a root canal.  The whole intent is to go in and take care of  infection.  There is, of course, a parallel.
So often we have an infection of some sort in our character.  We struggle with something in some way.  And so often we only use bandages to cover it up but we never get to the ROOT of the problem.  Over time it grows more and more infectious.  Like a cancer.  “Just ignore the elephant in the corner” we tell ourselves.  Why are we so afraid to really dig in and deal with our character issues?  There are 8 character qualities that stand out the most that people struggle with.  They are humility, confidence, courage, self-control, patience, contentment, generosity, and perseverance.  Those are the areas that God is wanting to bring to the surface and correct.  It is so much easier to focus on other peoples issues and problems and not our own.  But by doing so, we negate correcting anything.  A friend of ours said that he heard a saying once that went something like this, “So often we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.”  If we would see other by their intentions as we see ourselves, we may see things differently.  We normally, though, have infections in our heart that make it hard to look past the actions.  By not letting God reveal to us the areas he is wanting us to work on, we never grow ourselves in our walk.  Not only do we not get to the root of the problem, we show how shallowly we are rooted in our walk.  Matthew 13:21 says, But since he has not root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  We are to be rooted in the Word.  By digging into God’s word and what He has to say, it gives him the opportunity to reveal the root problems that cause our outbursts, anger, hatred, bitterness, envy, hostility, impatience.  The list goes on and on.  We need to have a strong foundation to stand upon when those times come that test and try us and can trigger those character issues that God is wanting us to deal with.
I got a book a few years ago.  I never did get through it all since I lost the book.  I found it again when we moved.  I loved it.  At least the part that I was able to get through.  I wish I would have made it through it all.  I will start it again.  It was called Character Makeover by Katie Brazelton & Shelley Leith.  I highly suggest it.  It is a 40 day journey of honesty with yourself.  If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with anybody else?  Be real and get to the root of the problem.  It will be totally worth it in the end.  And make sure that God is the one guiding you through the process.  =)  Be Blessed!

Going Where God Leads

How often do we say no to what God is asking us because it would be uncomfortable or inconvenient for us?  Why do we think that we should always be comfortable?  So often when we pray, we will say things like “Let Your will be done” or “If it’s Your will Lord”.  But what we are really saying is, “Let Your will be what I want”.  Do we really want God’s will or are we just wanting Him to be like Santa Clause?

We are so afraid of failure that we avoid the things that, in the end, will be good for us.  You don’t learn unless you fail.  You don’t grow unless you fail.  You can’t find out what you are made of, if you don’t fail.  Things need to be tough for us a little so we will use the brain that God gave us, to figure it out on our own.  Sometimes we have to go into the unknown that He is asking us to go into so we will learn to have total reliance on Him.  He gave you everything that you will need, to do the tasks He planned for you to do.  And the kicker is, ONLY YOU can do YOUR tasks.  Nobody can do them for you.  And you can’t hire someone to do them.  The full benefit of them will not be achieved.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

His plans are for our own good.  We need to start listening to what God wants for our lives instead of trying to tell Him what OUR plans are for our lives.  They aren’t our lives anyway.  God gave them to us.  He should have a say in what our purpose is.  Besides, when we try to do things on our own, we normally make a bigger mess of things anyway.  Let’s start looking to what His plan is for our lives.  Things will be a lot brighter when we do.  We just need to go where God leads.

The Lukewarm Christian

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying on a lot of different topics.  I’ve been studying up on what it means to be a lukewarm Christian.  I don’t think we really give it much thought nowadays.  I had been reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love.  What a great book.  I came across this blog today by someone who had read the book.  I LOVE the list that he has written out.  It is something that I am going to print out and keep in my Bible so I can go over and really dig into each point.  I want to hold it up to what my life is right now.  It’s convicting.  Maybe it will be of some help to you too!  So, the question we need to ask ourselves is: Am I lukewarm according to the Bible’s standard?  =)  Be Blessed!

Are you lukewarm?

1.  Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians do, so they go. (Isaiah 29:13)

2.  Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (1 Chronicles 21:24; Luke 21:1-4)

3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives (Luke 6:26; Rev. 3:1; Matthew 23:5-7).

4.  Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one (John 10:10; Romans 6:1-2).

5.  Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers (James 1:22; James 4:17; Matthew 21:28-31).

6.  Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion (Matthew 10:32-33).

7.  Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street (Luke 18:11-12).

8.  Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives (Luke 9:57-62).

9.  Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals (Matthew 22:37-38).

10.  Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached (Matthew 5:43-47; Luke 14:12-14).

11.  Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give (Luke 18:21-25).

12.  Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis wrote, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (Philippians 3:18-20; Colossians 3:2).

13.  Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “Called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor (Matthew 25:34, 40; Isaiah 58:6-7).

14.  Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them. They ask, “How far can I go before it’s considered a sin?” instead of “How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?” They ask, “How much do I have to give?” instead of “How much can I give?” They ask, “How much time should I spend praying and reading my Bible? Instead of “I wish I didn’t have to go to work, so I could sit here and read longer!” (1 Chronicles 29:14; Matthew 13:44-46).

15.  Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God (1 Timothy 6:17-18; Matthew 10:28).

16.  Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation” (Matthew 7:21; Amos 6:1)

17.  Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them – they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live – they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis – their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God (Luke 12:16-21; Hebrews 11).

18.  Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong (Matthew 23:25-28).

Taming of The Tongue

I was reading in James the other night and I started the third chapter.  Goodness, did it hit me like a ton of bricks!  I’d read the chapter before but it never really stood out to me.  I mean, I understood the general principle of the whole thing, but it never really too root.

James 3:1-12 says, Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.  Indeed, we all make many mistakes.  For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.  And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.  In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.  And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,  but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!  Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

I came across something a few years back and have done it a couple of times.  It was called a Tongue Fast.  Basically, you don’t speak for a set amount of time.  You have to write down everything that you want to say.  EVERYTHING!  It is amazing how much you rethink things when you can see the words in writing.  Then you learn what’s worth saying and what isn’t.  What is edifying and what is demoralizing.  The venom that we spew from out mouths without really thinking about it is amazing.  I’m guilty of this.  I have learned though that I have to really strive to control what I say when I’m frustrated or upset.  The reason is, that I started to notice that my kids were behaving the same way.  Your children are a mirror of you.  Some of their behaviors are learned.  Depending on their age, those behaviors are taught to them by you.  So, what is the condition of your tongue?  Does it control you?  Does it seethe venom when someone wrongs you?  The things that you say can be an indicator of your true character.  To praise God in one breath and then turn and speak ill of a fellow believer in the next breath says that you have a heart condition that needs to be addressed.  Ask God to reveal to you the areas of work that need to be taken care of and ask for His guidance in that work.  Oh the joy to be had in the completion of that work.  =)  Be Blessed!

Our Built In Virus Scanner

I was running a scanning program the other day checking for all the bugs and virus’s on my computer.  Just trying to get it cleaned up from whatever may be on there.  It got me thinking.  How wonderful would it be if we had a scanning software for our brains.  I mean, how much junk do we allow into our brains that goes on to infect our thoughts and feelings?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just do a virus scan and clean it all up.

In a way we do have a virus scan.  It’s called the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 4:22-24 says, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.

So, let’s break this down.  “…..way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception”- that is equal to your computer getting a bug or virus.  You know how it will pop up a screen that tells you a file is corrupted?  The same thing goes for our brains!  We allow bugs/viruses in by what we expose our eyes to.  Just because something makes us laugh doesn’t mean it’s right.  A show has a couple who are unwed, living together and whatever else and you know that according to the Bible it’s wrong, but since it makes you laugh and you don’t “feel” bad watching it, it’s okay.  (this was just an example.)  With each thing that we watch or allow into our minds that is morally, biblically or ethically wrong, we slowly chip away at the convictions that we have about them.  We start to let the black and white of right and wrong to become grayed.  We are allowing the “virus” to grow within our minds.  With that, our judgement of things becomes skewed.

“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” – The Holy Spirit is our Norton Antivirus, so to speak.  It scans us and, if we let it, shows us what areas of our lives and minds are infected with something that is not of God.  It can renew (clear up) the viruses and bugs that have infected our minds.  We are to fill our minds of things that are of God.  Positive, uplifting and pure.  It’s really hard to get the bugs out once we let them in.  It takes a lot of work.  The best way, is to not let them in in the first place.  Stop watching and reading things that are morally damning.  Every little step counts.

This is a challenge for me.  It’s something that I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s been a slow process but something that I feel is needed for myself.  So challenge yourself.  Yeah, there is a new show coming on or a new book coming out.  Find out what the story line is.  Hold it up against God’s standards and decide if this is something that is healthy for you to watch or read.  Will it bring you closer to God or will it inject something that could be used as a wedge?  He gave us freewill but our choices can either build us up or tear of down.   Just something to think about.  How’s your built in virus scan working?  =)  Be Blessed!