Christian Living

One of “Those” Days…

Posted by on Jul 20, 2011 in Christian Living | 2 comments

Have you ever had “one of those days.” You know what I’m talking about. The days when nothing seems to go right, you’re tired, cranky, and could really just use a long soak in the tub?

Last week seemed to be “one of those weeks” for me. Abigail was sick (the first time she’s had anything beyond a cold) and waking up nearly every hour during the night. Aubrey was attempting to sleep through the night, which meant her schedule was completely crazy. I was doing my best to stay sane and hold down the fort despite lack of sleep, worry over my girl’s sickness, and cabin fever.

My times with Jesus were not ideal. They were occurring, just not as consistent or in depth as I like. In fact, I was doing good to remember anything I had read in my sleep-deprived state. I was trying to pray -trying to be strong for my family. Matt was being a knight, but I was having  a short fuse. We were definitely not behaving in prime-example of a Christian married couple!

One day, I found myself reading some of my former blog posts. A comment on one post caught my eye. A sweet friend of mine who has had three children in two and a half years encouraged me that, even though the days of having little ones close together is hard, when you “throw yourself on Jesus”, He gives strength.

I read comment one. twice. three times. Throw myself on Jesus? How does one do that? I mean, I’ve grown up and been around enough Christians in my life to know these phrases. But what does clinging to Jesus look like when one daughter is crying for hours, one daughter can’t decide if she’s hungry or sleepy, and mommy is in three day old pj’s, holding my eyes open with toothpicks?

The more I thought about this concept, the more I found myself searching for what throwing myself of Jesus would look like. I begin looking for examples of that in the Word. I read a Psalm each day, and I started to see ways David clung to God. As my mind would drift, I prayed that God would teach me how to cling to Him – in the mornings when a hungry girl wanted to nurse, in the afternoons when a whiny girl needed relief from her skin hurting, in the evenings when a husband needed dinner and love.

Peace begin to come over me. God taught me – throwing myself onto Jesus doesn’t mean life is always perfect. It doesn’t mean that I always get a good night’s sleep or never have “discussions” with my husband. It doesn’t mean I’m never tired or always happy.

But it DOES mean that when my heart and mind are feeling frustrated and tired, I focus them on the Lord. I think on Him, on His truth. I spend time dwelling on His promises to never leave me or forsake me. I trust that He gave these circumstances to teach and grow me.  Clinging to Jesus means staying away from feelings and focusing on Truth.

Some days when I’m exhausted, I don’t know what to pray, where to start, or what to ask for. That is when I just pray for strength, wisdom, and a desire for God to give energy. These aren’t times of hour long prayer sessions on my knees in a quiet home. More often, they are times of day-long prayer sessions that continue throughout everything I’m doing, from changing diapers to scrambling eggs to washing germie laundry.

And the great thing is – He does give strength – for every one of “those” days.

What about you? How has God taught you to cling to Him? Share your stories and ideas to encourage us!

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Here
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Standing in His Council

Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 in Christian Living | 2 comments

A few mornings ago I opened my Bible to spend some time with Jesus. My reading that day was Jeremiah chapter 23. In case you are unfamiliar with this major prophet of your old testament, here is a brief synopsis:

Jeremiah preached and pleaded with the nation of Israel for forty years without one convert – not one person to encourage and fellowship with him, preach alongside him, or turn to the Lord because of him. Yet, Jeremiah remained committed to His God in the midst of corruption, false teachers, and an upcoming siege. Talk about a faithful man!

In chapter 23 God talks to Jeremiah about the Israeli leaders who chose not to follow the Truth: vs. 1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!”

As I sat reading this passage, I quickly judged these authorities, How could these so-called leaders push people away from God? What hypocrites to pretend to point to the Lord, while instead leading them astray!

I continued reading when verses 21-22 stopped me cold: “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.”

How sad! God was ready to give His wisdom to these prophets, but they wouldn’t even stand in His council. They chose to run with their own ideas to the people, rather than taking God’s words that could have changed hearts and lives.

God convicted me at that point. How often to I speak my wisdom to others rather than the words of the maker of the universe? How prone am I to run, like the prophets of old, in my own flesh to my husband, children, family, and friends proclaiming and acting upon supposed “wisdom from God” when I am simply giving my own advice and opinions?

In my flesh I can do no good thing. However, when I spend time with God, in His council, saturating myself with His word, my own wisdom will fade, and I will be filled with His Truth. God will remain the One changing lives, and I will fade into the background.

What about you? Do you spend time with God on a regular basis? Do you strive to decrease your own sinful wisdom and instead search the Scriptures for what is true and right? Do you run to worldly “authorities” or even other “Christian” leaders before running to Christ for answers? Make a commitment to stand in His council today.

 

 

 

 

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Longings After God

Posted by on Jul 9, 2011 in Prayer | 0 comments

This morning as I was reading Valley of Vision, I came across this prayer. My heart was both convicted and encouraged! May my longing match the passion shown in this prayer:

 

My Dear LORD,
I can but tell thee that thou knowest
I long for nothing but thyself,
nothing but holiness,
nohing but union with thy will.
Thou hast given me these desires,
and thou alone canst give me the thing desired.
My soul longs for communion with thee,
for mortification of indwelling corruption,
specially spiritual pride.
How precious it is
to have a tender sense and clear apprehension
of the mystery of godliness,
of true holiness!
What a blessedness to be like thee
as much as it is possible for a creature
to be like its Creator!

Lord, give me more of thy likeness;
Enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness;
Engage me to live more for thee.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual
experiences,
and when I feel at ease after sweet communings,
teach me it is far too little I know and I do.

Blessed Lord,
let me climb up near to thee,
and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle
With thee,
and pant for deliverance from the body of sin,
for my heart is wandering and lifeless,
and my soul mourns to think it should ever
lose sight of its Beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love,
and keep me ever desiring thee,
always humble and resigned to thy will,
more fixed on thyself,
that I may be more fitted for doing
and for suffering.

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An Empty Swing

Posted by on Feb 11, 2011 in Christian Living | 3 comments

Photo courtesy of Camp Tejas

Last weekend Matt and I loaded up our car and headed to Giddings, Texas, with around 50 youth from our church to our annual winter camp. This is my sixth year to attend, and Lakeside Bible Church’s fifth year to use the facilities at Camp Tejas. I enjoy winter camp. It seems to come at a much needed time each spring when I’m ready to hear from God’s Word and simply spend a weekend away from normal life building relationships with youth.

This year, being both my fifth on staff and at this facility, I had many memories engulf my mind as I walked around the campus. I remember sitting on the swing pictured above as I listened to a young girl pour her heart out to me. I passed a bench where one young woman shed hundreds of tears expressing her desire to be right with God. There was a rickety, old bunk bed, where a girl and I both sat crying as I prayed and pleaded with both her and God for her heart to follow Christ, and she  continued to reject Him. The chapel brought even more memories where I’ve heard dozens of sermons preached, seen the conviction of the Holy Spirit in people’s faces, and laughed with and hugged more girls than I can name.

Where are these individuals now? A few are loving and serving Jesus. Some have rejected Him completely. Still more are trying to love both God and the world.

As names and faces of girls I’ve interacted with over the last five years flooded in and out of my mind this past weekend, I couldn’t help but praying for them. My mind also filled with questions: Why do so many of these girls walk away from God? Church? Their families? Is it really worth my time and effort to love and mentor them? Did I do all I could for these young women?

As the discouragement increased, I walked into my bunkhouse room. All alone, I laid down and continued to think and pray. Shortly, a few bubbly girls bounded into the room. We laughed and chatted. I made breakfast plans with one and listened to another tell me about the new “friend” in her life. Not long after, I had a heart to heart chat with another young woman.

God then reminded me of a story. Two years ago the youth staff stood in the back of the chapel room at winter camp as the speaker invited the students to come pray with us. A young man, with his head held low, shuffled back and grabbed my husband. Matt later told me that this fifteen year old had started praying for his unbelieving family members with huge tears pouring out of his eyes. Matt said they knelt, weeping together, and begging God to transform this young man’s family.

Last Saturday, I sat in my bunk house, chatting with a girl on fire for the Lord. She told me about her desire to be a witness for Christ. Her conversation was saturated with the name and a love for Jesus. This girl is the older sister of the boy in the story above. She’s now a child of God.

God then reminded me that He is in control of these students lives. He will be the one to draw them to Himself in His timing. Each of those individuals are responsible to respond to His calling. They will be held accountable for their actions.

My job, as a youth worker, as a mother, as a friend, and as a Christian is to remain faithful to Christ. He does hold me responsible for my actions and attitudes towards others, but I can not make any of these young ladies seek God. As my daughters grow, I will not be able to make them become a Christian. My mission must be to glorify and stay faithful to the Lord, knowing that He is in control and will take care of these precious souls.

As I walked back by the empty swing, I thanked God for allowing Him to use me for even a small part of these young woman’s lives. Next year, there will be new girls around, and who knows how many lives will come and go within the next five. No matter what, may my life be used of God as I remain faithful, trusting Him for the results.

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Heart of Jealousy?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2011 in Christian Living | 1 comment

In 1 Samuel 18:6-9 we find David returning from fighting the Philistines. As he arrives back in Jerusalem, the townswomen emerge from their homes singing to King Saul and the warrior David, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” At this point, Saul becomes extremely angry and “the saying was evil in his eyes.”

As I sat listening to this passage last month in Sunday School, I immediately began to shake my head at Saul’s foolishness. Why did he hate David so much? Why was he always so jealous?

And then, as the Lord so often does,  God used the living Word to convict my heart. Mr. Mayfield, our teacher, looked at us and asked, “How many of you get jealous when someone around you has something good happen to them? Or gets something better than you?” I slunk down into my seat. Gulp. This happens to me all of the time! Mr. Mayfield proceeded to give examples of how or when this could happen to us.

But, I didn’t need to hear examples; my mind flooded with instances of my own envious attitude. When friends of mine bought a house – yep, I was jealous. When I found out how much money that family makes – yep, there’s that jealousy again. Oh, and they have how many cars? How many bedrooms? More than one! Wow, what luxury! Her husband makes it home by what time each day? Before 7? Lucky. She only gained how many pounds on her fourth pregnancy? And it was gone within two months?!

Need I go on??

Thankfully, Mr. Mayfield asked us to turn to another passage of Scripture lurching my mind back to the lesson God needed to teach me that morning: James 4:1-10 begins with, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”

I have read and heard this passage more times than I can count. Never had I heard it in this context. Discontentment breeds fighting among Christians and certainly negative thoughts in my own heart. Discontentment causes me to befriend the world. Discontentment grows pride within me and results in my resisting the humbleness God desires.

What must I do to rid my heart of this jealous discontentment? I obey James 4, “Submit to God…Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” The key to being content is to love Jesus more, to run to Him, to focus on Him!

In First Samuel, Saul has turned his back on God. He no longer walks in obedience to the Lord. This allowed jealousy to take root and grow in his heart. How often to I take my eyes off of the One who gives all good things and become jealous at what others have. Has God not promised to take care of me? To provide for my needs? If I do not own something, look a certain way, have the “luxuries” that others possess, who am I to question God for not giving them to me? Won’t God provide what I need in His timing?

A week or two after this lesson, while continuing to memorize and meditate on James 4, I was reading in 2 Samuel. Here David makes plans to begin building a temple for the Lord. God tells him that rather than David building this structure, one of David’s descendants will. David had a deep, passionate desire to craft a magnificent home for his God. But, rather than become jealous that he could not do this mighty act, David approaches the Lord with grateful humbleness, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me this far…. You are God and your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to your servant. May it please you to bless the house of your servant.” 2 Samuel 7:18-29

My desire is that I will pursue the heart of God as David did. When God blesses others,  I want to rejoice with them. May I seek to draw near to Christ, and, when temptations come, may I pattern my response after David rather than Saul.

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Beauty in Death

Posted by on Sep 27, 2010 in Christian Living | 0 comments

This weekend I attended a funeral with my family in the small Texas town of Itasca. The attendees huddled together in the cemetery amidst a cool wind and darkening skies. We listened with compassion as my cousin Richard shared memories and truth from the life of his Mamaw.

Berniece Wiginton, born in 1917, was actually no blood relation to me. She was my cousin’s grandma – more specifically, my dad’s sister’s husband’s mother. But, the fact that we shared no direct family tree line made no difference to the way this godly woman treated me. Anytime our family went to visit our cousins near Tyler, Mamaw would give us huge smiles and hugs and plop us down for a good game of dominoes.

This lady had a zest and spirit for life that few I know could compete with. She loved her family, loved fun, and loved her Savior. Each Sunday we were in town, we knew we would be attending church with her. She would stand and sing her heart out, grip our hands till the knuckles turned white during prayers, and even try to hook my sister and cousin up with any handsome, eligible bachelors in the building.

This past Saturday, many of her family members shared their favorite memories of Mamaw to the crowd gathered in the cemetery. Tears fell, and laughter erupted as one individual after another told humorous and  touching stories.

For me, funerals are always a time to reflect on life, not only the person’s life who has passed but on my own. As James states in the Bible, our lives are but vapors, here today and gone tomorrow. What is important about life? Why has God placed me on this earth? What am I living for? What will people say about me when I’m gone?

As I stood contemplating these things on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think of the Mamaw we were discussing. Even though tears fell and sadness hung in the air, the overriding emotion I sensed was joy. You see, Mamaw had lived a long, God honoring life. She was ready to meet her Heavenly Father. In fact, for several years leading up to her death, she was very blatant about the fact that she was ready to die. To some this may seem morbid but not to Mamaw. She was ready to be free from pain, ready to see her husband, and most importantly, to be in the presence of Jesus. As we stood Saturday celebrating her life, a peace enveloped the attendees. She was ready. And she was home.

I know that my relationship with this dear lady is no where near as close as most others who were standing there that day. But, this woman’s legacy did touch my life, and I am grateful for the beauty that she showed even through her death. A life lived for Christ is one worth celebrating. My prayer is that when it’s my time to enter eternity, I can do so with the same courage, excitement, and grace that this loving lady showed, and that all those around will be able to sing with confidence, just as we did Saturday, “It is Well with My Soul.”

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