sandbox in garden

A Few Thoughts On Politics (Lessons From the Sandbox)

sandbox in garden

I’ve never been much for politics.

In fact, my family members reading this title probably immediately clicked to my blog to see what on earth I had to share on this topic.

As a child, I wasn’t naturally interested in news or politics. When I got a little older, once in awhile my parents would actually ask me to sit and watch the news, because they thought it was something important about which I should have some understanding.

As much as I agree with them, I still don’t think I got much out of those sittings, and I still don’t relish watching the news. I try to read about important happenings in the most minimal way possible to stay somewhat informed, then move on with my day.

As for politics, it’s a similar scenario. I only voted exactly one time in Canada, before being away at school for three years near Rochester, NY. I then married and moved all the way to Massachusetts, the home of my husband, where I have lived ever since. Now I confess that I don’t fully understand the details of either US or Canadian governments. Someday I hope to at least become literate on this topic.

So I may not be an expert in politics, but I do know some things about life.

boy in sandbox

Isn’t there a book called,  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ? Although I doubt I agree with many of the author’s personal beliefs, I’ve always been intrigued by a truth in this title. When it comes down to it, many of life’s most important lessons are pretty basic.

In fact, this post reminds me of the kinds of interactions with children that I dealt with almost daily in my years as a teacher’s aide.

So why is it “acceptable” in politics for grown men (and women), to revert to behavior hardly appropriate for a young child? I’ve never understood nor appreciated this fact.

I’m not talking about everyone. There are many politicians who possess the desirable qualities of integrity, kindness and uprightness, and whose words and actions are admirable.

But so often I am disappointed (sometimes downright disgusted), by the way in which people talk and act when it comes to their political views. And Christians are unfortunately not exempt.

 

So I present some thoughts that we probably all learned in our formative years in the sandbox, which I believe apply to our politics as well:

 

1. Name-calling is not cool.

We all know that the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, is pretty far from the truth. Names, unkind titles, and derogatory comments do hurt and they can negatively affect both the speaker, the listener, and the one of which the words are being spoken.

If we wouldn’t speak to someone face to face in the same way we talk about them in conversations and on social media (or driving in our car), then we probably shouldn’t be speaking at all. And often our comments are not motivated by speaking the truth in love, but rather an emotional reaction to something we don’t like.

“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” – Matthew 5:22 (NLT)

boy crying in sandbox

2. Putting others down doesn’t make you look any better.

It is human nature to feel that if we put others down, we will look better. But it really isn’t true. Instead, we are often disclosing our own insecurities and the sinful attitudes of our heart.

Speaking of “the sandbox”, Jesus himself once wrote in the sand in response to the accusations of the crowd when a woman was caught in adultery. He reminded the onlookers that they were no better (or less sinful), than she.

Even if we disagree, we can still do it in a civilized manner.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

girl playing in sandbox

3. The “Golden Rule” Still Applies

All of the “elementary” teachings that many of us learned in church or school as a child are just as relevant in our grown lives.

I often think about and speak of this in our own family. It seems that “the basics” of Christianity are often the most difficult to live out in our daily, “real” lives.

Even if you are not a believer, I’m sure you want your life to be based on good principles and your words and actions reflective of a mature, kind person.

children playing in sandbox

4. Above all else, PRAY! 

This isn’t necessarily learned “in the sandbox”, but children do seem much more apt and willing to pray. They are not bound by complicated reasoning and years of emotional baggage.

The Bible teaches us most of all to pray for our leaders.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NLT)

tractor and sieve in sandbox

I like the boldness of The Message version of Luke 6:27-38:

27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

There is certainly a time to speak what is true, but I think the manner in which we deliver it will disclose our real intent. Also, it is responsible and right to research and check the facts about a politician’s values and character, as well as what they intend to accomplish in office.

Then we should pray and vote accordingly.

So let us think before we speak, examine ourselves before we judge, and treat others the way we wish to be treated, and above all else, pray for our leaders. Let’s behave not like disobedient children, but as wise and mature individuals, living lives of honor to God.

prove it by living an honorable life

*****

 

grey door

What Does It Mean When God Closes Another Door?

grey door

Another door slammed shut.

Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face.

At the very least, it leaves us confused, disappointed, perhaps even disillusioned.

But what does it really mean when God closes another door?

 

Recently, this was my truth. In fact, it still is.

I seem to be in a time of transition, at least as far as “work” (the paid kind), goes.

So I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about this lately, and frankly, just trying to figure it out.

Some friends on Facebook posted this, and it’s seems to be speaking truth to many.

If it does not open, it's not your door.

 

Here are some thoughts I’m having about the closed doors in my life:

 

A closed door is a type of boundary.

Boundaries don’t always feel good. They are not always fun. They feel like they are robbing us of freedom.

But they are always for our protection. It may feel uncomfortable, but when God closes a door, it really wasn’t our door. He’s not failing us. He’s keeping us from what isn’t meant to be.

Just as an earthly parent must provide loving boundaries for a child, so God shows us where it is safe and healthy to go.

We need to trust that when God puts a boundary in our path, it is not to hurt us, but for our good.

A closed door is not necessarily forever.

You’ve heard it said that God always answers prayer; he sometimes responds with “yes”, sometimes a clear “no”, and sometimes with “wait”.

A closed door could be the end of a particular dream or season. Or it could just not be the right time. God knows things that we don’t (surprise, surprise!).

We need to trust God’s perfect timing.

A closed door is clearly leading us in a different direction.

When God closes a door in our lives, he isn’t just stopping us. He is making it obvious that we need to go in another direction.

This is most comforting to me. God doesn’t just stop us from doing a particular thing; he leads us in a better way that He has planned for us.

Sometimes I believe He wants us to leave the past in the past.

We need to follow His leading.

A closed door tests our trust.

Sometimes I think God allows a door to close in order to see if we will still trust Him.

I’m not saying He just closes doors to play around with us or tease us, but He may partly be testing our love, devotion and faith in Him. (Remember Job?)

I don’t believe God just does things to make our lives difficult, but sometimes he allows difficult things to cause us to uncomfortably stretch and grow.

Often times God needs to see if we are willing to give something up. Then He is free to either give it back to us (in our open hand), or give us something better.

We need to remain unconditionally devoted to our Lord, and truly trust Him with our lives, no matter what the outcome.

 

I’d like to suggest some reflections from Psalm 139. (Why not take a moment to read it?)

God knows us, He created us, and He planned every day of our lives before we were even born. Because He knows and loves us so deeply, the only reasonable response is to follow Him. As we surrender to Him, he will protect our hearts and lead us in the way He has planned for us.

 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

*****

So what about you? Are there any closed doors in your life right now? Are you willing to trust that your Creator knows what is best for your life?

 

 

 

Our house with violets

How I Felt When You Complemented My Home

Our house with violets

I really do have a lovely home.

It’s not huge or new or rich, but it is pretty and cozy. It’s about “average” as far as houses go around here, but so much more than most people in our world would ever dream of.

We picked it over twenty years ago, and I can still remember how quickly it felt like “home” when we moved in. We added two kittens shortly after we purchased our house, and within about a year, I was pregnant with our first child.  It is where we are supposed to be right now.

our home - winter 2015-16

But often I notice what is wrong, not clean, needs fixing, isn’t new, is broken, or how small it feels when we have a certain number of guests. I see newer furniture and appliances that would just look nice, be more “functional”, or would make life easier.

Sometimes I look with envy at others’ homes, either in Facebook photos or in real life. We can always find someone with a bigger, newer, more modern house and more “stuff”.

I’ve already shared about how easy it is to struggle with discontentment; in fact, my second post ever was about how I often have to remind myself to be grateful for the things I have.

This is part of our own human nature, but also augmented by a wealthy culture which thrives on consumerism.

But I need to remember that there is probably someone looking at me in the same way, wishing they had a house perhaps, or maybe just wishing their big home was filled with peace.

Our living-room

Sometimes I just need a reminder of how lovely and wonderful my life really is. I need to focus on the positives, rather than the lacks.

This past week, I had two individuals complement my home.

One was someone we are just getting to know. He walked through our door on the first night he joined our church community group and said something like, “What a beautiful home you have!”

Exercise mat in living-room with cat

The second was a complete stranger. She was responding to a photo I shared on a Facebook page for those of us participating in a Pilates fitness challenge. It was a photo of a corner of my living-room, where I had my exercise mat, near the couch with the sleeping kitties. She commented, “What a lovely space!”

So once again I’m reminded of how blessed I really am. I needed those reminders (and I guess it took two of them), to get my attention once more to be grateful.

I needed once again to look at my life with fresh eyes.

There’s been a little video circling in social media lately that speaks to this, so maybe I’m not the only one who needs to be reminded.

Take a look here.

And there’s another lesson as well.

Don’t hesitate to give out heart-felt compliments. It may be just what that person needs to hear on a day when life feels overwhelming. It may give them a renewed sense of how their life is blessed.

Our house with summer watermelon flag

And thank-you to those friends who took the time and followed your hearts to share your compliments with me.

They made my day and are helping to make my grateful life.

Our house - kitchen entrance

humming-bird feeder and hanging plant

enjoy the little things

*****

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 16:3

Flourishing Plans

Proverbs 16:3

 

…or as the NLT (New Living Translation) states,

 

“Commit your actions to the lord, and your plans will succeed.”

 

Well, that sounds simple enough.

So if I just pray about my plans every day, God will make me succeed?

 

On first glance at this verse, it would seem that if we are Christians (or perhaps even if we aren’t), and if we pray and ask for God’s blessing every day, then everything will go smoothly.

But there are two major flaws with this line of thought.

 

First, my plans DO NOT ALWAYS SUCCEED! 

At least, that’s how it appears. Life does not always go smoothly; in fact, sometimes it’s painfully difficult.

But do I ever consider that God has an even better plan, one that allows for my growth and His glory, and not just my comfort? Ouch!

 

The second problem is that I think we interpret this verse ALL BACKWARDS.

As much as I want it to mean that I just go ahead and plan my day and my life and God will bless it, I have to remind myself that I also need to consider that my ways may not necessarily be God’s ways.

Mother doesn’t always know best! (That’s me, by the way.)

I need to remember that my life is fully surrendered to Christ, not just when I go to church on Sunday, but for real, in the nitty-gritty of my everyday life.

 

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Oswald Chambers expresses it this way in a devotional reading entitled, “The Surrendered Life”:

“To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else.”

Yes, I want my plans to succeed.

But first and foremost, even though it may mean walking through difficulty and pain, I want my life to be fully surrendered to the Lord, with the end result being His glory.

I want to grow and mature into the real person God designed me to be.

If going through difficulties may make my life a blessing or an encouragement to others, then so be it.

My true desire is to commit my way to the Lord, and allow His good plan to flourish and succeed in my life.

Besides, His plan is so much better than mine ever could be.

“If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.” – Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost For His Highest

*****

 

stone well with bucket

The Well Is Deep

 

stone well with bucket

 

This morning in my Bible plan reading of the day, Oswald Chambers, author of the well-known and loved devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, talked about the story of the woman at the well.

Jesus stops along his travels at a village in Samaria, and surprises a Samaritan woman by not only speaking to her, but asking her to draw a drink of water for him from the well. (In those days, the Jewish people would not associate with the Samaritans. See verse 9.)

After questioning why he would even talk to her, the woman then says this:

   “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?” – John 4:11 (NLT)

This well is very deep.

Hmm. Sound familiar?

Have you ever questioned God’s ability or desire to provide for your needs or guide you through a problem? I know I have. Sure, I know with my head that God can do anything, but do I truly believe it in my heart?

After seeing what seemed to be an encouraging sign that God was moving in a certain area of my life this past week, I awoke this morning to thoughts of why this possible answer wouldn’t work, because of something I didn’t have.

My husband and I still laugh about the time years ago when a student from our College & Careers group said something like, “I know God created the universe, but I don’t think he can help me with my finances.” This person was expressing in so many words what we often live out in our lives…..that we don’t actually expect God to meet our needs.

But do we realize who we are talking about?

Oswald Chambers challenges us with this:

“The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.                                                                                                                  The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ.”

Wow.

So if I truly believe that he is the Almighty God, I will understand his unlimited power. And in order to truly believe, I need to not only “act like” a Christian, but I must fully surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

 

Lord, help me to surrender my whole life to you. Let me know you so well, that I can do nothing but trust you. And help me to believe that you are not only my heavenly Father and a close friend, but my Almighty God. Amen.

*****

 

 

 

duck swimming

Look at the Birds…

Hebrews 13:5-6

Being the “good” Christian that I am, of course I don’t love money. Besides, I’m not rich, so there’s no chance of worshiping money. I’ve got that one down.

But wait a minute: “…be satisfied with what you have” ???

That part hit me square in the nose.

You see, if I’m really honest, I have trouble with contentment. Not always; sometimes I am so happy and thankful for all of the many blessings I know that I have been given. Truly, I am. But other times…..

No matter in what financial state you find yourself, there is room for discontent. Especially when money is tight, it’s easy to feel that there isn’t enough. But if you have enough or perhaps are even rich, you may still long for more than what you have. Our human nature tends towards greed, and our culture doesn’t help. There’s always someone with a bigger, newer, nicer house, car, job, family, vacation…..the list goes on.

So why is it so difficult to remain focused on the blessings, rather than our apparent lack?

Discontent is lack of thankfulness or gratitude, to be sure, but I think sometimes it goes deeper than that. I believe that often my feelings of dissatisfaction are fueled by an inner fear that there will not be enough. How can I trust that God will provide when sometimes I feel I must do without?

There is an answer within this passage. Look at the words again. God promises to never fail us, to never leave us, so that means that we have a choice.

We can choose to trust him and have no fear. Does that mean we will never have moments of doubt, sleepless nights, and thoughts and emotions of worry? I don’t think so. We are not yet perfect.

But I believe that when we are confronted with fear, God wants us to face it, then turn and look to him. And there we find the one place where there is no fear.

It’s not always easy, but he promises to care for us.  duck swimming

 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” – Matthew 6:25-26

 

So next time you feel dissatisfied, look deeper.

Do not worry.

Look at the birds; observe the simple trust illustrated in nature.

Keep your focus on the One in whom there is no fear.

And be satisfied.

*****

Are you prone to fear? What do you do when you feel you don’t have enough? Have you ever taken a walk or hike and found peace in observing God’s creation?

 

Bible, journal and tea

This One’s For Your Spirit

 

Bible, journal and tea

Quiet Time

Hi friends! This year I’ve been enjoying finding and sharing various ways that we can make positive changes in our lives, and it’s never too late to start. First I shared about a 91 Day Declutter Challenge, then suggested another way to tackle several differnt changes in a 12 Mini Goals Challenge .

Today I’m really excited to share a challenge for your spirit! I was intending on discussing the benefits of the Bible App and YouVersion, and low and behold, they are staring a 21-day challenge tomorrow, February 1st, 2016!

So what better time to jump right in and check it out!

Do you ever struggle with wanting to read your Bible or do a study every day, but you just don’t always know where to start, what book or verses to read, or how to go about it in a practical way? Sometimes these obstacles can even distract us from spending any time in the Word at all!

I’ve been using YouVersion for some time now, and really enjoy and find it useful. You can sign up for the Verse-of-the-Day, read Bible verses and passages and share them with “friends” (with whom you link up, similar to Facebook), even make beautiful and impacting verse images on your mobile device to share on social media, and one of my favorites, chose and participate in one of numerous and varied Bible devotional plans.

Our church is one of many who provide the option of using The Bible App to follow along with the Sunday message and even take notes.

And the wonderful thing is these helpful tools are all free.

Let me tell you a little more about the plans YouVersion has to offer.

There are many, many interesting topics to chose from, with commitments from as short as three days to as long as a whole year. Each day includes a thought-provoking reading, a Scripture verse (or verses) or one or more passages to read, and usually a prayer. I really enjoyed one particular plan that had an optional music accompaniment. I found it very a relaxing and worshipful addition to my quiet time.

You can chose a plan that suits your desires, needs and your schedule. There is even a setting called, “Catch Me Up”, so if you miss a day, you can continue on without a hitch. This just may be the best few minutes of your day!

This special challenge is provided to help us form a good habit of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer daily. To participate, you simply need to complete a day (or more) of one of the YouVersion Bible plans each day for twenty-one days. There will even be daily prizes and a grand prize to help motivate you even more.

So what have you got to lose???

There is EVERYTHING to gain!!!

Why not download The Bible App to your mobile device, or participate on your computer or laptop (as I mostly do), and start right away? Join me today!

*****

Have you ever tried YouVersion, The Bible App or subscribed to a verse-of-the-day? Have you found it helpful in your desire to spend time with God more regularly? If not, are you willing to give it a try? What sort of plan would interest you most?

 

 

 

 

the struggle between flesh and spirit

The Fight

Galations 5.16-17

 

OK….I admit it.

I did it again. And it seems I keep on doing it.

Do I have your attention now?

Maybe you’ve done it, too. Actually, it is probably more accurate to speak of what I have not done.

Oh, it’s not some horrible crime or obvious neglect. It’s just that daily struggle to put “first things first” and not be distracted.

This past Saturday I awoke with all the good intentions that I so often profess, and proceeded about my day. I probably threw in a load of laundry, cleaned up the kitchen a little and turned on my computer.

Once at my laptop, I probably looked for “just a minute” at Facebook, or checked “just a couple” of emails.

And before I knew it, it had happened again.

My intended priority is to spend some quiet time with God. But as so often is the case, I allow myself to be distracted by life. Yes, often by “good”  and “necessary” actions, but not what I intend to be the priority.

There are tools, tricks and plans to help us with our morning routines and our devotional life, but the first gadget I need is discipline.

Why is it so hard to simply apply oneself to sitting quietly to read God’s Word, think and pray a little?

It’s an age-old flesh and blood struggle, my friend.

The apostle Paul speaks of this battle clearly in Romans 7, where he discusses this predicament. Pay special attention to verses fourteen to twenty-five, which discuss our familiar struggle between the flesh (our human feelings and desires), and the spirit (that inner part of us that belongs to God).

 

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

 

And the result? It varies between mediocrity and downright disaster. This particular Saturday was somewhere in between, with one of the first events being a “disagreement” between my husband and I. I don’t even remember what it was about; all I know is it brought upon me the sudden realization of my mistake.

I need God to get through this life. I need him more than the air I breathe. But in the natural flow of our normal days, it’s so easy to forget the absolute necessity of this relationship.

So you see how it is.

And I know you’ve felt it, too.

Even if you are not a Christian, don’t you notice how hard it is to do good and those things that are truly important on a consistent basis?

Thankfully, the answer is also found in this scripture. It’s in Christ Jesus our Lord. We first need to accept the gift of himself offered to us, and then we need to pursue this relationship with him.

It won’t be a “magic bullet” or some guarantee that everything will go right, but it sure is a step in the right direction.

I want to let the Holy Spirit guide my life (as stated in the Galatians passage above), and to stand and fight against the desires of my flesh. I know that when I put him first and apply my focus to what is best and most important, I at least have a chance of doing things his way.

In short, I’m more likely to have a better day.

Yes, the milk may still spill, there will be conflicts and questions, life will still be “real”…..but I will be prepared and my mind and spirit filled with the strength, peace and wisdom from God. He will show me and remind me of what I am to do, and Lord willing, I will do it.

I am excited to share with you soon about some of the “tools” I’ve found that can help us to have a more successful morning. But for today, I encourage you to do just one thing right first thing.

Spend time with him.

*****

Do you struggle with doing what you know is important first thing in the morning? Do you intend to spend time with God first? What tools have you found to be helpful in setting proper priorities? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

 

 

junk pile

Junk Piles

junk pile

 

Have you ever looked out of a window and had to deal with a view filled with junk? I have.

It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it almost feels like a violation, to have your view accosted by garbage.

Recently I had such a window view. It gave me such an unpleasant feeling, and I proceeded to complain, criticize, even judge the perpetrators of the junk pile.

But, as so often happens with me, I immediately began to sense a lesson. And as soon as I begin to judge others, I am quickly reminded of my own short-comings.

You see, we all have junk piles.

Some of them are like the ones we can easily view outside of a window. They refuse to be hidden, refuse to just go away, and are difficult to avoid. They are in plain sight of the world.

Others are more secret. like the piles or clutter in our own real life basements: hidden, out of sight, and unknown to many.

But they all need to be dealt with. They all clutter our hearts and negatively affect the lives of those around us.

I am aware of some outward junk piles in my life. But because of (the introverted part of) my personality, most who do not know me well would not “see” my junk piles.  They may not even be aware that they exist.

But my family and those I love the most often live blatantly staring at my junk. I am guilty of presenting my sins or the result of my “un-dealt-with” stuff to those with whom I am closest.

I don’t want to keep my junk piles for myself;  I don’t wish to share them with my loved ones; I certainly don’t want to leave them out for anyone to see.

I have to realize that what I do, and especially what I say, can be “junk” to my listeners’ hearts…..or it can give life.

And I don’t want this junk to be my legacy. I want to chose words and deeds that are life-giving. I want my influence to be a positive one. I desire to bring love, and peace, and growth to those around me.

Whether the whole world sees it outside my window, or whether I only present it to those who are close enough that I allow them into my “basement”, I chose to banish the junk. I purpose to clean it up.

And I need Someone to help me.

Lord, help me to live unashamedly. Forgive me for uncontrolled words and actions that kill, rather than heal. Help me to speak and live more like you…..both in my public and private life. Amen.

 

   ” The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;
    the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.”

   Proverbs 10:11 (NLT)

“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” 

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

” And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

Romans 8:2 (NLT)

flower in cupped hands

 

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Psalms 84:11

What Are You Lacking?

Psalms 84v11

What are you lacking?

I often feel I am lacking something. Too often, I compare what I don’t have to what someone else has.

Many times I have found myself feeling sorry for myself, when the Bible says, “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalms 84:11)

How is it that we who live in the twenty percent of the world with eighty percent of the wealth can feel we are lacking in material things?

It’s not just about stuff.

I have also compared my gifts or abilities or how much I think I am noticed to the outward displays of others’ talents or ministries. It’s too easy to compare our “real life” with what we perceive as someone else’s life by way of the nice photos they share on social media.

But God tells me that He isn’t withholding anything good from me.

It’s a simple verse, really, but yet so hard to believe.

The straightforwardness of this scripture speaks clearly to my heart.

But I have to be constantly reminded.

Perhaps I don’t understand what constitutes a “good” gift. Am I really so shallow that I can only accept from God what feels comfortable, fits into my perspective, and is something I think I can handle as “good”?

What about those things that stretch me, wake me up, and cause me to grow closer to Him?

The Bible is quite clear.

But what about the part that states, “from those who do what is right”? Is that me? Do I fit into this category of those to whom He withholds no good thing?

I believe that to do “what is right” is not requiring perfection, but an honest attempt to do what’s right based on our relationship with the One who is himself righteous. If we are following Him, even imperfectly, we are “right” in God’s eyes, based on what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we accept his provision for our sins, God counts us as righteous.

So what is it that you’re lacking?

The next time you feel a sense of lack, I challenge you along with me, to stop and consider what God has already told us. He will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Maybe He just wants to get our attention and have us allow Him to be everything we need.

Maybe He’s just calling us to trust Him.

Perhaps we just need to count our blessings.

Here’s a book (and there’s a video study, too), that may help you cultivate a more grateful, thankful heart. It certainly changed my perspective.

I am endeavoring to record daily those things, both big and small, that deserve my attention and my gratitude.

Do you ever feel that you are lacking? How do you remind yourself to be grateful in all circumstances of life? Have you ever recorded blessings in a gratitude journal?

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