Monday, October 20, 2014

A Condition of the Heart

One of those silly "quizzes" appeared in Facebook feed this morning - What kind of heart do you actually have?  Ten seemingly unrelated questions later, and a new screen appears - "You have a Generous Heart." - NOT

What I have meditated on today is this -  If I don't have a generous heart, then what is the true nature of my heart? But more importantly, what do I want it to be?

  • A heart for Jesus?
  • A heart rooted in love?
  • A broken heart?
  • A tender heart?
  • A selfless heart?
  • A courageous heart?

I think I want to be all of those.  But what comes first? What's most important?

I think the God was very clear in both the Old Testament and when Jesus speaks in the New Testament.  In Psalm 51:10, David writes, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." And Jesus affirms in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

I think there's my answer.  I want to be able to describe my heart as clean and pure.  Wow - that's hard and I'm sure hoping I'm not in this alone.

So where do I - scratch that - we (remember I said, surely I'm not alone) go from here?

This indicates to me that we can't do it alone.  I think part of it is just being honest and asking God to create in us clean hearts. In my case, I probably will have to do this EVERY DAY. And maybe sometimes more than once a day.  Whenever I find myself being judgmental, or tempted to gossip, or selfish, or greedy, or (this list could be whole post on it's own) - because I have purposed to memorize scripture - I can pray Psalm 51:10 over my own heart right then and faith that God will do so.

That doesn't mean that we don't have practical responsibility in the matter, for we are told, "Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

Because I work and live in the "real world" just like you all do, I encounter people and situations that can negatively impact the condition of my heart. If I let these things take root in my heart, I create a stronghold for Satan.

I'd like to end with a prayer for myself, my family, and my friends - Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrew 10:22

Friday, September 26, 2014

I’m Learning to Speak - and a purpose for my blog

Let me preface this with if you haven’t read Speak by Nish Wiseth, I encourage you to do so.  It was a quick, easy read.  I got it last Friday and had it finished by Saturday evening and it wasn’t as if I just sat and read -  Sister had a volleyball tournament both days and I squeezed in taking Boober to a birthday party. I don’t know Nish and am definitely not getting anything for promoting her book, but I do know that it came into my life when God was stirring me to be more intentional about sharing my own life stories.

I don’t have a fancy website and I’m no Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, or any other “famous” blogger - another post on this whole idea down the road - but I’ve come to realize that blogging is my way to process what’s going on in this crazy life of mine.  After reading Speak, I’ve realized that I think maybe it might also be a way for me to share my story with others (those very few who might actually read my blog).

I’m not a Bible scholar  theologian, evangelist, pastor - wasn’t gifted with these gifts - yet, another post for another day, but  I am a real Christ follower who messes up, who wants to do right, who attempts to right my wrongs.  So I’m going to be more intentional about sharing my life and what God is doing through the everyday stories. Sometimes it’s going to be messy, but not to share them would be disobedient.  It’s in these stories that we connect and grow the kingdom of God.

Feel free to share my blog, comment, pray for me. But most of all, go boldly and learn to Speak!

Monday, September 22, 2014

I AM Selfish!

When I woke up yesterday morning, I guess I thought it was just going to be another day of me living life they way I wanted to.  I planned to come home after church and do pretty much nothing. At this point in my life I should know that just when I'm starting to feel content living life the way I think it should go, God is going to make sure that I am well aware of His plans. 

Today's post is a confession - I AM SELFISH!

I don't think I've ever really looked inside myself  so closely to come to the realization that I am indeed a selfish person - probably because I didn't want to admit it.  I can't say now that I really want to admit it either, but confessing it has to be the first step in my quest of repentance.

We arrived at church in time for the CEO to do whatever it is he does in the Preschool Department.  The kids and I decided to stay in the car so they could finish their breakfast - No I was not ready in time for us to actually go in and sit down and eat in the donut shop.  As they were finishing their donuts and kolaches, I found myself passing time on my phone.  Cars were arriving in the parking lot and I didn't pay much attention to what was going on around me.  The only thing that drew my attention was a mini van attempting to park in the handicap spot in front of me. (I probably wouldn't have noticed it except it had to back up fairly close to the front of my car in order to get in the spot.) Once it parked I watched as "J," a lady in my new small group, got out of the van and began to unload her children.  I don't really know J, but I do know that she has an elementary aged daughter with special needs, a preschooler, and a baby.  J's husband is back in their home country in Africa for a month, so J is basically a single parent while he's gone.  I watched as she unloaded the wheel chair form the back of the van, settled her oldest daughter into it, and parked her to wait outside of the door while she unloaded the younger two.  The Holy Spirit just darned near reached out and physically poked me.  I am not usually one to just walk up and talk to someone I don't know (another post coming about this one soon) - but I hurried the kids out of the car and found myself asking J if she needed help.  Her response, "Yes, thank you."  I handed my Bible and notebook off to Sister and offered my hand to the preschooler while J unstrapped the baby. I found myself escorting a four year old to her class while pushing the wheel chair of her older sister.  As I made my way to my small group I realized how little that took of me to help her for what amounted to less than 5 minutes.  I wonder how often I ignore situations where I could help others because I'm too consumed with my own comfort.

After our small group, I met Sister and Boober in the foyer of the worship center and we ran into my parents as they were getting out of the early service.  My dad wanted to know when the CEO was coming out to help him adjust the settings on his new spreader so that he could fertilize his hay pasture.  My immediate response was that I didn't know because he had things to get done at our house.  What I was not saying was that his wanting the CEO to come out and help him was interfering with my plans for all four of us to be at home and just do nothing. It also meant that if he went out to their house, I would have to do anything that needed to be done around our house - laundry, empty the dishwasher - you know those real strenuous time consuming things that just have to be done. All I wanted to do was go home and either read or take a nap. I was so consumed with myself and my plans - which weren't really plans at all - that I went on in to worship mildly frustrated. Throughout worship I could feel the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention - I even became emotional at one point and quickly dried the tears that threatened to run off what little mascara I had bothered with.

It wasn't until we all got home and the CEO left to go help with the spreader that God really made me aware of how selfish I am.  He began to speak very clearly in my head that the CEO would rather be at home with his feet propped up on the ottoman flipping between the Cowboys, the Texans, and snoring. I was quickly reminded of all my parents have done and continue to do for us at a moment's notice; yet when it was time for one of us to help them, I didn't want to give up what I thought was more important - NOTHING, really.

Since yesterday - yes, I know, it hasn't even been 24 hours - I find myself focusing on the fact that I am selfish.  I want to tell myself this everyday (probably 100 times a day) so that I might actually focus on something other than my wants.

Father God, Lord Jesus - 

I come to you confessing that I am selfish. I don't know if I've ever really acknowledged that. I see it in the way I ask the kids to stop what they are doing and let the dog out when I am sitting 3 feet away reading a book.  I see it when I walk into the bedroom, see a pile of clothes waiting to be folded, and walk away thinking that the CEO will do it when he comes home. I see it when I tell someone that I can't cook a meal for someone because that's the only night of the week that I didn't already have somewhere to be. Father, continue to point these selfish moments out to me so that I can see them for what they are. I ask that you forgive me of this sin - I'm sure I'll have to ask forgiveness again, more than once.  Thank you for the guilt that comes with these moments - it gets my attention. I want to be a servant to others and I know that I am missing opportunities to do so when I'm only worried about myself. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year - A New Me

I've spent the last week contemplating a New Year's Resolution that I might actually keep. 

Eating better.  Spending less. Giving more.  

These all were up for consideration along with several others.  Some were selfish while others focused on my relationship with Jesus.  However, none of these won out. I started a new Bible study this morning that I just happened across.  Not really I know God led me to this particular study. It's actually a two year study so it's a HUGE commitment for me.  

This morning's reading was Genesis 1:1-2:3. As I read the very familiar creation story, I found myself really drawn to Genesis 1:26-27 "Then God said, “Let us make mankindin our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

Every "resolution" I had considered paled in comparison to seeking to live as God created me to - in His image. This, my resolution.  I know it's not going to be easy, but to do otherwise will be blatant disobedience. 

It's a little scary to think what this really means. I already feel like I'm going to fail - of course I will, it's called sin. I've begun to worry what people who read this will think when I mess up. Satan is already rearing his ugly head. Making the attempt is better than continuing the way I was. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

O me of little faith?

A couple of posts ago, I made a statement that my posts may not be on a level of any theologian, but they would be honest.  Well, here's to honesty and being real.

Over the past week I found myself worrying about a situation at school.  I don't mean that I just thought about it and prayed about it each day - I mean I worried in the sense that I allowed it to consume me.  On one particular day last week, my Bible study began with the story of Alona who was facing a surgery that would require that she remain in bed for one full year.  She realized that she had no choice but to face the surgery and allow God to carry her through this particular storm of her life.  At the end of my time studying God's word that morning, I felt like I needed to ask God to carry me through the storm I was facing.  I found myself on the floor of my bedroom asking God to do just that - BUT it felt fake.  In my heart, I really didn't want God to carry me through it.  I wanted him to carry me around it.

I began to wrestle with what I thought I was supposed to be asking for and what I really wanted.  The longer I prayed through it, the more I realized that I didn't even want Him to carry me around this particular storm - I just wanted God to calm the storm. In my mind this meant "just make it go away." This began some heavy thinking and praying on my part because I immediately felt guilty for wanting God to calm the storm I was enduring.

There were three different scenarios for facing this storm with God:

1. Put total faith in Him and allow Him to carry me through it, trusting that however it ended, it would be okay. I tried this, but as I said before, it just felt fake.  I felt like I was lying to God as I spoke these words, because it's not really what I wanted and He knew it.  Because I couldn't honestly ask for this, did this mean I didn't trust Him to carry me through it?  Was my faith lacking?

2. Allow God to take me around the storm. In my mind this meant me letting it go - not worrying about it and it just be resolved with me watching from the outside.  I found myself praying for this scenario at times. I even prayed "For I know in whom I have believed and persuaded that He is able to keep which that I've committed to Him against that day."  2 Timothy 1:12. This is an old hymn I grew up singing and a few years ago heard in a women's Bible study group that one way to deal with worry was to write down my worry/prayer and then add that verse to the bottom of the page and throw it away.  This was a physical way to give it to God.  I thought "I'm giving it to God and trusting Him, so all is good."

3. Asking God to calm the storm.  I felt a little guilty asking God to do this for me.  God clearly spoke to me when I finally worked my way to the realization that this was what was in my heart during this particular situation. In both Matthew 8 and Luke 8, we learn of Jesus and His disciples facing a storm on the sea.  When His disciples called out to Him, He asked them where was their faith (O ye of little faith - Matthew 8:26), and He calmed the storm.  I was reminded that Jesus is in the business of calming storms. Asking Him to calm mine AND BELIEVING that he would do so, indeed showed as much faith on my part as trusting Him to carry me through the storm.

I now understand that each of these ways to deal with storms are all valid at different points in life depending on the storm.  Regardless, I know that God will carry me through the storm, around the storm, or calm the storm.  I have to know that however He chooses to face the storm is the best way of dealing with it.  Although the Spirit revealed to me some truths about faith and trusting God, ultimately I learned I have to be honest and real with God.  To not be is to not trust and lack faith.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Snake at My House is a Dead Snake

I've often told people that a snake in my yard is a dead snake.  How true I wish this was...because there's one snake who's raising his angry head right now and I'm none too happy about it.

I've always known that the closer I get to God, the more concerned Satan becomes with me.  I guess I'm begin successful in my attempt to draw closer to the Lord, because that ugly snake is attacking in many ways right now.

I have a friend who asked that I pray specifically for confirmation as they are proceeding in the process of adoption.  I committed to do so and felt lead yesterday to message her a written prayer. It wasn't long, but very specific and to the point.  Immediately after sending it, I began to second guess myself.  I began to think of all of these things that I could have added to it.  I could have changed the words to make them sound better. I should have included a big section of thanksgiving. It was already out there in cyberspace; I couldn't take it back.

As the evening continued, I began to feel like maybe I sent it to make myself look better - to "prove" to her that I was actually praying like I said I would. I couldn't get out of my head that I just never should have sent it.

Until I realized that all of these thoughts were Satan needling me, making me questions myself.  When I sent the message, my intent was to pray. That was it. There was no selfish motivation - as a matter of fact, I wasn't even thinking of myself at the time.  I did it for the right reason. How it was received - I can only leave up to God. I have to continue to press on and do what I know God is calling me to do and not look back. When I kill a snake in the yard, I cut its head off.  I have to know that God has already "cut off the head of Satan" in my defense. (Please don't misunderstand, Satan is alive and fighting as hard as he can. BUT God has already won the war in my life. Satan just can't seem to figure it out.)

**I'm including a picture of Cooper and a giant snake at the Houston Zoo earlier this week.  Although, I can't stand snakes of any kind - Satan, especially - Cooper seems to kind of like them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WARNING - to Tim, Abby, and Cooper

I'm telling my husband and children everyday that they should be afraid - CHANGE is coming and it's going to be big! It has become very obvious to me that God is calling us to make changes in our lives and I, for one, am going to be obedient to His instruction.  I can't begin to discuss it all in this one post, so I decided to revitalize my blog in an attempt to chronicle what it is I hear Him calling us to do, my thoughts about it, and our reactions.  I can't pretend that it's going to be easy, pretty, or even that we are going to be obedient the first time, but I am at a place in my life where I believe that NOW is the time. God is working around us and we are going to be in a place to join Him in that work.

I guess I'll start with what's been going on the last few months that has lead me to this particular place. I won't go into detail here, but I know that upcoming posts will focus on each of these "encounters" as they relate to the upcoming changes.
  1. Our pastor at University Heights Baptist Church, Dr. Richard Rogers, has been teaching on this whole idea of making a difference in the world we live in and that God is getting ready to turn this world upside down.  
  2. I have recently read Jen Hatmaker's radically, life-changing book 7.  It is without a doubt the most thought provoking and life moving book I've ever read. (And I've read A LOT of books.) 
  3. I met with a group of about 40 women from our church to begin thinking about how women's ministry can better serve the women of our church and community.
I do not like change; I do not handle change very well. When I thought about and finally looked up synonyms for change, this is what came up: adjustment, break (yikes!), correction, development, modification, mutation (not so sure I like this one), revolution, and transformation. (There were others, but these really stuck out to me as being meaningful in the change that we are living. THIS IS SCARY!  But I don't find myself as scared as I think I should be.  There is a very real peace about all of this because I KNOW that we are moving in the right direction.

So where are we going from here.  Tim and I are committing the month of July to prayer - seeking God's will  as to how to proceed in getting rid of excesses in our family. (This is the premise of Jen's experimental journey in 7.) As we spend this month in prayer, join us to see how God would want you to make changes in your own lives. I can't promise that my posts will be full of scripture and teaching and God breathed, life-changing, thoughts, but they will be honest and real.