Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly....

Casting Crown has a song "Courageous" with a line from Micah "Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God".  I wish it were that easy.

Scripture reference:  "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Act justly:  What does is mean to act justly?  Maybe it means to listen...no to hear what God is trying to tell us and not jump to conclusions?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the definition of justly (just) as: having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason: reasonable.

Reasonable?  Using reason to communicate your ideas rather than allowing emotion to rule.  I will admit that lately I have allowed emotion to rule rather than reason and it's brought me nothing but heartache.  Why?  Because I don't have the right answers.  My emotions stem from the sin nature of humankind.  I'm hurt; I want to lash out; I want someone to feel as wounded and vulnerable as me.  That's not God's idea.  I believe God wants us to allow Him to take control of any situation and allow Him to work.  He knows best.  He placed the stars and formed mountains.  He created oceans and every living thing, so why is it so hard to give all our problems over to Him?  Someone, please tell me! I really want to know why I give Him a portion of the problem then take it back because I think I can handle the situation so much better.  I'm an idiot, that's why!

Love Mercy:  Mercy....compassion....forbearance.   Showing compassion when others don't deserve it was one of the greatest gifts of Jesus.  I want to be compassionate.  I want to understand and give comfort....then the sin nature steps in and while I still want to be compassionate I also want them to know how much they are hurting me.  Wrong answer.  That just blows compassion out of the water.  I pray that the LORD will help me conquer the side of me that always wants to be right and replace it with compassion for others.

Walk humbly:  This is a really tough one for me.  It's so hard for me to allow myself to be vulnerable.  It's so hard to accept humbleness and humility because so many see it as a sign of weakness, but it is actually the greatest outward showing of strength.  Jesus walked humbly on the earth.  He could have made himself a vast kingdom.  He could have done any number of things yet He chose to live a humble, gentle life.  When satan tempted Him He demonstrated strength and became an example of faith because he refused to cave to temptation.  I don't know if I could have done that.  My prideful self would have wanted to say, "Okay, satan old boy, watch this!"  then perform some astounding feat (like flying off the top of the temple and dive bombing satan) just to shut him up!   That's why I'm not Jesus....not even remotely close, but it is my desire to become more Christlike.  It's what I struggle with daily and often fail miserably.

I have failed miserably in the last week.  I do not take criticism well, especially when it is seasoned with anger.  I have a temper; I'm not proud of that, but that's me.  I'm working on controlling it, but like so many other things, I often fail miserably there, too.  To make peace with God and to allow Him to work in my life, I have to listen....to hear....what He is telling me.  I have to learn to keep my mouth shut, and anyone who knows me knows that's something that is very hard for me to do.

I need to remember the old proverb "Lord, fill my mind with righteous stuff and shut my mouth when I've said enough."

Casting Crowns - Courageous [Official Music Video - HD]

Monday, February 18, 2013

What influences you?

Think honestly about the last few jokes you heard or TV shows you watched; were they something you would let your small children listen to or watch?  It is up to us to set examples for our children and to model godly behavior.

Card:  "I will not tolerate evil influences in myself or my home but will embrace a life of purity."
Scripture reference:  "I will be careful to live a blameless life...I will lead a life of integrity in my own home."  Psalm 101:2 (NLT)

Tonight I again wanted to know more about the background verses, so I turned to my Bible and, once again, found highlighted with notes in the margin.  My notes pointed to this verse and read "the outward expression of a faithful person."  It's true.  What we model in our lives says so much more about our character than what we say.  Actions do speak louder than words, and lately I'm not so proud of my actions.  I could have handled so many situations so differently, yet I didn't.  I did not model faithful behavior.  I let the world influence my behavior.  Wrong move on my part!

I will admit, I do watch some shows that are sort of like watching a train wreck, it's so bad you just can't look away (Dance Moms, Big Rich Atlanta...Ax Men - though that is not by choice, it's by who has control of the remote).  These people get into fights, yell, scream, cuss, and call each other horrible names and mainstream media calls it entertainment!  Dance Moms does have some redeeming qualities when the girls are actually shown dancing.  These kids have so much talent!  It's too bad the attention is focused more on how the moms can't get along with the psycho dance teacher on a power trip.

Watch just about any television show and you see so many things that go against Biblical principles.  This, folks, is what is influencing the future generations!  They think it's okay to slap someone and yank out her extensions just because she called you fat.  It's NOT okay!   Let's bring back The Walton's or Andy Griffith, or Little House on the Prairie!  Shows that put family first.  Shows where problems are solved reasonably rather than violently.

It's hard.  I know.  It's a daily struggle not to laugh at an off color remark or joke.  It's a daily struggle to pattern our lives based on godly principles.  Even the psalmist didn't have it all together.  Kind David was messed up!  He went through times when he was not a godly example, but God never gave up on him, just like He will never give up on us.  We can be redeemed, but we have to want it.  We have to try.  Yes, we may stumble and fall, but with help from God, we can persevere.

On a final note, this has been a really tough day for me and tomorrow doesn't look too promising, either.  I covet your prayers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Working on ourselves....

Playing catchup again....

 Card #1 (top)  I will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and esteem others more highly than myself.
Scripture reference:  "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."  Philippians 2: 3-4

There's an old song thats says, "Oh, Lord it's hard to be humble..."  I know it's just a silly song, but it does have some truth to it.  It is tough to humble ourselves, not before God, but before other people.  It's our human nature to want to "impress others", but at what cost?  When you start trying to impress others you get into a game of "one-upmanship".  Sadly, this is all too common.  I overheard some teenagers talking one day about when they become engaged, and one you lady said, "If I don't get at least a carat solitaire I'm not going to marry him."  When has the size of an engagement ring become more important than the sentiment behind it?   Our society is quickly become selfish, thinking only of what I can get that is better than so-and-so's and make them jealous.  We have become a society that looks at possessions instead of people.  I don't know about you, but I want to be more interested in the people.  

I'm in a habit of highlighting scriptures and making notes in my Bible when something really speaks to me.   This particular passage in Philippians held some importance....I had notes in the margin.  There were words "Imitating Christ's Humility" and "Jesus came to seek and serve".  Jesus, who could have used all his infinite power to rule the world as a king instead chose to humble himself.  A man who would save the world was not too proud to wash the dirty feet of a fisherman....a very humbling gesture.  Why, then, are we so prideful of ourselves? I fall into that trap.  I'm prideful, especially toward certain ones.  I shouldn't be.  I am working on myself in this area, too.  I want to be able to be happy for  others and whatever blessings they are given.  I don't want to be jealous and boastful.

Card #2  I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
Scripture reference: "Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."  Colossians 3:13

I have one word for this one....OUCH!  Talk about stepping on my toes!  Forgiveness is completely letting go of all the wrong things, big or petty, that others have done to you.  I have forgiven people for really, really hurtful things they did to me.  Even though the hurt and the pain of the incident is still there, the anger I felt toward them is gone.  It heals the soul to forgive.  Though I have forgiven some, there are others for whom I still harbor much anger and bitterness, and while I may say I want to forgive them a little part of me just isn't ready to let go.  I know this isn't the best thing.  I know I'm only causing myself more pain and grief by hanging on to the crap; why can't I just let it go?   Another question, why do some people forgive so much easier than others?  I've been told I forgive people too easily, but so did Jesus, and shouldn't our main goal be to be more like Him?  More work for me to do on myself.  I can't change others, but I can change myself.

Oh, and if that scripture stepped on your toes as much as it did mine, then maybe our feet are in the wrong place....

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is a tough one...

I had good intentions and determinations when I started this little series Sunday night, but I've been blindsided by a few things this week.  I feel as though satan doesn't want these one here, so I'm going to be that much more determined to get this out!  Prayers would be appreciated...lots of prayers.

I don't know if you can read these, since I'm 3 days behind I decided not to flood the blog with pictures, but combine 3 days into one photo...but, I also took a photo of the backs which have the scriptures on them.  I have one that will be going on my bathroom mirror very soon.  I need some encouragement right now.

Top to bottom:  "I will champion God's model for womanhood and teach it to my children"  the scripture reference:  "Your beauty should come from within you- the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God."  1 Peter 3:4

Card #2:  "I will live as a woman answerable to God and faithfully committed to His Word"
scripture reference:  "I have rejoiced in Your laws as much as in riches.  I will study Your commandments and reflect on Your ways.  I will delight in Your decrees and not forget Your word."  Psalm 119:14

Card #3:  "I will seek to devote the best of myself to the primary roles God has entrusted to me."
scripture reference:  "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:17

When I started working on this post several hours ago I thought I knew what I wanted to write...now I'm at a loss for words.  My heart is hurting.  In the last few days I have spent more time on my knees than I have in the last few months.  I'm ashamed of that.  Maybe if I would have spent more time in prayer things wouldn't be so....I can't even find an adjective that accurately describes how I'm feeling at this moment.  

I am to blame.  I strayed from God's instructions to becoming a godly woman, wife, and mother.  I thought I had it all together.  I don't.  I have realized that no matter what may come I can always rely of the faithfulness of God.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  As I posted on Facebook a day or so ago, there is a song that has been in my head constantly.  At times when I'm ready to break down completely I hear the song "Not for a Moment (After All) by Meredith Andrews.  God speaks to me through music.  Even though it seems like I'm being slammed from every direction, I know He will never leave me.  He will be my strength and if I continue to lean on the LORD, and have faith that He will use whatever may come to His glory, we will be okay.  My Mama Hopper used to tell us that God wouldn't put on us more than we can handle.  It may seem cliche to some, but I know she was right.  He is refining me like silver and won't let me out of the fire until He can see His reflection in me.  I'm just a slow learner.  I'm working on that.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Uniquely You - Resolutions, day 2

The scripture to go along with today's card is from Jeremiah and is one of my favorites:  "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb.  Before you were born I set you apart."  Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

Wow!  I don't claim to be a Bible scholar, far from it, but I believe when you allow God to speak to you He will share His infinite wisdom and reveal treasure after treasure.   It's comforting to know that God had a plan for us from the beginning of time.  No one is on this earth by accident!  Though there are some who may try to convince us of that, they are wrong.  (don't argue)  God DOES NOT make mistakes.  He has never made a mistake, and He has placed each and every person here for a reason.   You have a purpose, what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to use your talents or lose your talents?

So many times we allow ourselves to be held back by fear.  I know I have.  I'm often afraid to put myself out there because I don't want to fail.  Many times I feel like there are people just waiting and watching for me to mess up....and I often don't disappoint them, but I can't let the opinions of others hold be back from a blessing.  (I'm preaching to myself here)

Now, let's talk about talents.  Aren't you glad we don't all have the same talent?  This world would be a boring place if we all did the same thing.  There would be no uniqueness.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my talents are (at 46 I'm a slow learner), and to put those talents to good use.  I don't know if you could call it a talent, but I love to sing.  The Bible does, after all, tell us to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" it does not say "...and in the right key at all times"  (whew, I'm so glad!)  Music isn't the only talent, though.  There are those who teach, and preach, and encourage (like the card lady at our church).  There are people who are wonderful organizers (like my mother, but that gene never developed in me, darn it!), and writers, and bus drivers, and people who are fantastic with children!  We have people in our church who can cook (and that's a handy skill to have in a Baptist church.....the Baptists will know what I mean) who feed Awana kids every Wednesday night.  There are great builders, carpenters, and wood workers, and electricians, and masons...  The list goes on and on.  Just because your talent (skill or ability) isn't one of those seen by everyone in the congregation doesn't mean that you aren't an important asset to the Kingdom of heaven.  Every single person contributes in his or her own way to make the church grow.  Without you something would be missing.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD! (yes, you!)  Embrace your gifts!

Now it's time to get real.  Look at the last part of the devotion card "and celebrate the distinctions He has placed in others."  Honestly, there are times when that's a little hard to do.  There are times when I'm envious of another person's gifts.  I find myself wishing I could sing like her, or speak like him, (or organize like my mamma) and I start trying to find ways to tear that person down. (yeah, she can sing, but those shoes are tacky!)  Don't say you haven't done it, too.  We all have, it's our sin nature.  If I catch myself doing this I have to quickly ask God to change my heart, because the problem isn't with someone else, it's me.  I am learning to use my gifts (or will when I find them) and delight in the gifts of others.  We can be a blessing to one another just as God intended us to be. (just my 2 cents)

One last thought...  Over the last year or two I have had the opportunity to sing with 3 amazing ladies.  Pam, Kathy, and Kelly have become good friends and we have formed a little quartet  "4 His Praise" (Kathy's mom came up with that....I just decorated it).  It is when I sing with those girls that I feel such a renewing of my spirit because I know they have such hearts for the Lord and we all have a common goal, to give Him the glory and the praise, and maybe touch a heart that really needs Him.  You never know how God will reach a person, so use your talents.

There is a quote I have hanging in my classroom: "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be quiet if the only birds who sang were those who sang best." Eleanor Roosevelt.  

I would be thrilled if you have made it all the way to the end of this post and would share your talents, ideas, or encouragement.   We are all working toward a common goal, spreading the gospel, so let's share some joy for the journey.

Oh yeah, if you want us to sing for you just let me know. :)  (shameless plug for our quartet, just in case you didn't get that.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013


A few months ago I picked up a little box of cards at the Lifeway Store.  The cards go along with the movie Courageous and are resolution cards for women.  This has been a really crappy week (or six) and after John's sermon series this morning on new beginnings, I was happy to find these little devotional cards.  It's part of my new beginning and I am going to do my best to blog each of the 40 days of devotions along with my personal feelings for that particular card/devotion.  

If I needed further proof that God knows exactly where I am, this little card was it.  Honestly, it made me nervous.  I wanted to stick this card in the middle of the deck and deal with it another day, but this is the one I need right this moment.

Memory Verse:  "True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth."  1 Timothy 6:6
I read the card and said, "Really?"  Why do I want to celebrate this season of life when it's one of the crappy ones?  Right now there is NOTHING I feel like celebrating.  I feel like a pressure cooker ready to blow, seriously!  I don't dare ask God what else because I'm afraid there will be something else!  This is going to be really hard for me to celebrate, but I am trying to see the positives.  Although, if someone tells me, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger!" may find out exactly how strong a right hook I have.    I'm looking for something profound and spiritual to say right now, but I've got nothing.  I know I should embrace the trials; I know the Puritans thought the worse the trials the more honor, but I'm not a Puritan...I'm a Baptist and I don't like struggles and trials.  I want things to go smoothly.  I want the house to be filled with joy, and love, and laughter....but that isn't the season we're in right now.  Right now it's stress, and silence, and fear....and I don't know what to do to fix it.  

All I know to do at this season of life is pray.  I pray that I will hear God's voice, and I will listen to His wisdom, and He will make it better and carry us into a season of joy.