When the World Spins Too Hard

29791636_2001769216752899_447675481154681519_nThere are seasons of life God brings us through that can be a bit overwhelming at times… I’ve been going through one of those seasons. Things go wrong, comments are made, there are challenges physically, emotionally and spiritually… it’s a hard place to be!

God says in His word to “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) but I had gotten to the point where I didn’t even know how to do that! It is so easy to become so overwhelmed by what is going on around me that I cannot even see the solution. I reached out to some, and didn’t find what I needed, and it was getting very discouraging!

 

Today I was challenged to find something that I could look to for the kind of comfort I needed. Not to depend on others, but to find something that I could do myself, between me and the Lord. In the past I have done prayer journaling, but at this point, I couldn’t even do that. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me, going through the list of all the common-sense ideas… but all I could think of was to get out. To remove myself from the situation that I was in because I was drowning in it.

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It wasn’t in a radical way, but I did have to recognize my inability to even see the solution. So suddenly I got the idea to bring my dog to the park. It was a random thought (Not! 🙂 I know now God gave it to me!), I’d never done it before, but I just knew that was what I needed to do. I got my keys, let her hop in the car, and we went. Something so simple…

 

 

There is something incredibly healing when you get away from everything and bathe yourself in the quiet of God’s creation! Just to walk and sit without anything in view to cloud the mind. It was such a place of quiet rest, and to just sit and be still before the Lord… to feel His presence embrace me and lift me up and give me words to pray.

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Coming home I was still exhausted (as was Tessa now!), still in pain, but it was good. There was a refreshing inside me. Proverbs 18:14 comes to mind, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” In getting so busy working on and worrying about my physical situation I failed to follow the simplest truths of God’s word and just rested in Him and allowed Him to renew my spirit.

 

So next time the world gets spinning ’round faster than I can handle it… I hope I remember the lesson I learned today!

 

What is something you do to renew your mind in Christ and gain peace and comfort when your world is spinning too hard for you?

 

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Moment by Moment

I may be the only person this way… but I kind of like knowing what is going on. I like having things figured out, no surprises, able to meet each thing that comes my way with proper expectation and drive to get it completed to the best of my ability. Unfortunately… life doesn’t always work that way.

When I was a teenager, I was taught to expect graduation, the “waiting years” and then marriage to a godly man and the bountiful and blessed life of a wife and mom. Fast forward about 15 years… and at age 30 I am still “waiting” (according to some people), still single, and have not the slightest idea about what lies ahead.

In some ways, I feel like I’m starting over, because for the most part up to this point, I’ve been following the expectations and suggestions of others. Get this job, go to school while you’ve got time, do this business, have these hobbies because you’re good at them… even my walk with Christ was according to what others expected up until the past year. This is not the way life should be lived!

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

One Moment at a Time

Last year I began a journey that has been the most terrifying, revealing and freeing journey I have ever experienced. It has been a journey of self-identity, learning who I am in Christ and how to see what HE wants for my life. It’s not a clear-cut plan… to be honest it has been very much the opposite!

But if there is one thing I have been learning, that is to take my life moment by moment. I have had so many abrupt changes and happenings I have come to the realization that I can make all the plans I want, but in the end, it is living in the moment, trusting God in the moment that I am currently in. Honestly, sometimes that’s ALL I can do! I am committed to taking my life moment by moment in God’s timing and God’s way, and in doing so, life is beginning to get simpler a little at a time. What blessings come from the simplicity that is in Christ and trusting in Him moment by moment!

Happy Resurrection Sunday!!

This morning I was taking a moment to pray and reflect, and I began to think about Christ’s sufferings for us and how they cannot be compared to anything in this world.

No matter what I go through, it is not to be compared to what it would be if I were to bear the punishment for my sins myself. My heart is healed from the pain and sorrow and suffering of guilt, and no matter what physical pain and suffering I go through, my heart is free, at peace and living in the completed work of Christ.

Praise my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His completed work at the cross!!!

When I Don’t Know What to Pray

Some people may look at my life and think that I’m perfect, that I’ve got it all, or that I’m “Wonder Woman” because of all the stuff I’ve been through. When I look at my life I see I’m weak, I’m worn, I’m broken and full of falling and failings before my Lord!

There are those times in our lives when God gives us the opportunity to reflect… in my case, a busted rib that has tied me down from work and life in general. I have had my moments of tears, anger, frustration and begging towards God. Life seems too hard to handle… I looked at my recent past, my present and my future with a big “WHY!!??”

I tried to pray, tried to understand, tried to see… and it just wasn’t happening. I tried sorting things out, making things work in my mind… but it didn’t work. I tried reaching out to friends and family, and though I got wonderful support, I didn’t get what I needed.

In the early hours of this morning I could do nothing else but reach for my Bible… again. And you know what? I discovered an amazing thing!

I read Psalm 139-143… every one of them prayers… complaints before the Lord… even specifically mentioned as such!

“I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.” (Psalm 142:2)

So you know what I did? I prayed every one of those chapters to the Lord in my heart. In each of those chapters was complaining, despair and frustration, a complete pouring out of the achings of the heart! But also in each of them was the reminder of God’s presence, care and knowledge of exactly what was going on inside and out of the writer.

I have begun to feel the frustration melt away… it’s not that everything is solved right now, or that everything will be perfect and rosy starting tomorrow, or that I know what is supposed to happen next! But I know that now it is in the right hands, as am I!

I am so thankful for those precious early morning moments. It was SUCH a blessing! I’ve learned a valuable lesson over again, and that is when my heart doesn’t know what to pray, let God put the words in my mouth.

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When My Heart is Overwhelmed

I think we all get to those points in our lives where everything around us is more than we can handle. We don’t understand why or how things will move forward and everything around us is confusing and dark. There are also those points in time where we ARE moving forward, everything around us is changing, our entire makeup and expectations are being molded into something very different than what we had previously thought possible.

I have been in that place recently… It seems that the past fourteen months have been a continuous whirl-wind of everything about me, inside and out, changing into something very different than what I had previously expected. God has been growing me so much in various areas, changing the way I think and feel, and through the transition there were times of bliss and excitement, but also times of deep pain and confusion.28056825_1981940938735727_5512076705119449587_n

This morning as I sat on my porch sipping my herbal tea, feeling the wind caress my hair and cheeks, I closed my eyes and was still before God.

“When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

These words flooded through my mind, giving me a sense of hope and peace. This has been an overwhelming week of reflection, letting go and personal commitment. SO much has happened in the past year that has brought a change in me that will be there for the rest of my life. I realize that in this past year God has changed me so much. He has opened my eyes to a new depth in my relationship in Him, what it means to focus on myself and who I am in and through Him, realizing my convictions and beliefs are to be my own and not based on anyone or anything else, and my responsibility and accountability with the Lord as an individual and not going through the thoughts and expectations of my family or church.

I guess in a sense, I finally got to the point where I was ready to “grow up.”

I am a woman of God… not perfect by any means… but loved and cherished by her Creator. I am a woman that has been tenderly brought through trials and testings to make her recognize that she is being specially molded by the Master Potter’s hands. I am a woman that has tendencies of failing and falling, but is lifted up again by the loving arms of the Caring Shepherd. I am a woman that can be beaten down by doubts, fears and worries but is comforted by her Heavenly Father. I am a woman that cries during times of pain, either physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally, but has her tears wiped away by the sacrificial hands of the Comforter.

When my heart is overwhelmed, He is there… and I can praise Him… I DO praise Him!

I praise the Lord for all He has done and is doing in my life. I praise Him… yes, even thank Him… for those dark and hard moments, because I know that it is through ALL of the times, good and bad, that He is working and growing me to become more of the woman of God He wants me to be.

The Problem with Possibilities and Relationships

Okay, it’s possible I could get in some “trouble” for this, but I’ve pretty much been sitting on this thought process for weeks. (I will be completely honest and say that I believe differently than most women in that the problem with many relationships and perspective relationships today are NOT primarily in the men’s department!) 😉

I may be long-winded a bit, but please bear with me a moment…

1. The Pre-concieved Problem

There are so many writings and teachings on how courtship/dating/relationships should be, and do you know what?? MOST of it is NOT BIBLICAL!! To be completely honest, there is NO biblical blueprint for how a relationship should work, other than that it is to be founded and ordained through Christ. There are SO many stories of God bringing people together throughout Scripture, history and testimonies of today that seem so bizarre, random, and in ways that no one would ever think about!

I know couples that have been blessed to meet through church, at the local grocery store, at conventions, on dating sites, and yes, one even found his wife by seeing a picture of her in someone else’s photo album! NO ONE can say in any of these cases that God did not work and did not bring them together. Why? Because there is NO SET WAY to have a relationship! God is a God of creativity, and I truly believe that nothing delights Him more than making a creative love story between a man and a woman with Him at the center.

Women especially have a tendency to hear something that seems the safest way to get a solid Christian husband, and will stick with it, and any other way is wrong. And yes, I’m speaking about ultra-conservative courting. The truth is, because of the iron mindset of those that follow this teaching, they miss out on many opportunities God brings their way to grow and learn and even possibly develop a relationship! There is no perfect way to do this! I was even dear friends with a lovely Christian young woman that followed all the steps in the “conservative courting manual.” Her and her husband’s family were both solid, conservative Christians, and their courtship was picture-perfect and beautiful. But not even a year into the marriage she was killed by her husband. You can set up as many safeguards and rules as you like, but it will not stop things from happening.

Being flexible and just following God’s lead and keeping Him as the foundation as He allows things to happen is always the best way to go. Don’t have a set way in your mind, just let go, be moldable and let God! He loves to mold blue and red clay to make purple!!

2. The Pattern Problem

Let’s be honest… how many of us have had a “list” for our future spouse? Most I’m sure! This also poses a problem for us for many reasons… first of all is because again, never in Scripture are we commanded to make a list… we ARE to seek Christ first and His righteousness, and know that all things will be added to us as He sees fit. Have you thought about the fact that if we are 100% focused on God and His leading in our lives, we will be 100% the person our spouse needs? Instead of looking around and seeing how this person does or does not fit the bill, we should be looking at ourselves and seeing how we line up with God’s word.

Secondly, our lists are not realistic for time… most of us have on our list attributes that most of the time only come from having been married for years. They are things we see in our parents or other godly married couples that we want in our marriage. Realistically, many of these things may be in our spouse in small part when we get married, but not nearly to the effect we want because that comes simply from BEING married! In truth some things are only learned by being in a marriage relationship for some people! My uncle had a list, and looking at the list to any unmarried person it was an amazing and godly woman he wanted to marry! And we would congratulate him on his list! My mom read the list however, and said, “Um… you know you’re wanting to marry a woman that has been married ten years, right??” He had to stop and REALLY think about it! When he finally let go of his list, he found an amazing and godly woman to marry… and you know what? She had very few of the things on his list!! But now… almost 30 years later… she has EVERYTHING on that list!!

Third, our lists are actually hypocritical! Listen carefully, as I don’t want to be misunderstood on this part… Reverse that list on yourself for a moment. During basic, everyday life, what are you like?? Do you have moments you’re angry? Mess up? Fall back into some struggle you *thought* you had conquered years ago? Areas you are stricter than your parents or church in? Not as strict? Are you different this year than you were last year? ARE YOU HUMAN???

This is the whole thing that gets me a little frustrated more than anything else I think. When we meet someone, and they are amazing, and seem to be lining up with our list, but then something happens, and we start to doubt whether or not they’re “the one,” take into consideration that God grows different people in different ways at different times! I had three friends, all three struggled in areas of modesty, the movies they watched and the music they listened to. Over a period of a few years, the Lord worked in each of them in ONE of those areas before anything else! So since Maggie still struggled with music and dress, but no longer watched movies that dishonored the Lord, do I say she’s not following the Lord like she needs to and thus should not be my friend? NO!! The Lord is working in her in those areas she needed it most! Not the areas I thought she needed most, but what God knew she needed most! The SAME THING IS TRUE IN A RELATIONSHIP!! We are learning each other. We are learning our strengths, our weaknesses, the ways we can encourage each other and the ways we can pray for each other! Being in a relationship and marriage is being a team and helping EACH OTHER!! Pretty much the main thing that should stop a relationship as far as differences go is doctorinal differences and the ways you would raise your children.

Small personal example: When I thought I was getting married, the man I was with wanted his kids to be able to celebrate Santa Clause. To begin with I REALLY wasn’t sure about it!! Was it a deal-breaker?? But then I started to realize… my parents started us out that way! It only took a few years for them to realize that they didn’t want to do that with their children because they felt like they were lying to them, so they stopped. My parents had been married, learned how to compromise, and it didn’t break their marriage, even though one of them hadn’t wanted to do so from the beginning! God gave me a peace about it, because I knew relationships are founded on a relationship with God and compromise and understanding for and towards each other.

Again, give God room to grow! You have areas you are not right in and need growth in, and SO WILL YOUR SPOUSE!!! It’s part of how God beautifully brings people together!

3. The Problem-Solving Problem

So I’m going to talk to the girls here a little, because this is a HUGE problem I’m seeing on SO MANY levels… And I’m afraid I’m unable to clearly explain it here… We women often complain how the men are not being men and stepping up or stepping forward… or how after we’re in a relationship they are failing to lead. Yes, that is a TINY part of the problem. But give me your ear a minute as I explain something, and please listen all the way through…

We are not allowing our men to be men! I mean, YES!! We want them to be men and lead, but look at this scenario a minute. We as women are designed to be helpers. We WANT to help and support and encourage men! This is good!! God created us that way! But we get in a relationship… we begin to get to know a man, and we’re excited, and they’re excited and everything seems to be going well… but then something happens, we’re not sure what, but they aren’t being as open as before, or things come up that cause us to wonder if they’re problems… But we are unaware that as we get to know him better our natural tendency to help kicks in. When he says or does something we know we can help him with, we jump in sharing ideas and thoughts! They are TRULY GOOD thoughts and ideas, and he loves them!! But… because we feel we are being helpful, we continue to “help,” unaware that the more we are “helping” the more we are “showing them” how they aren’t doing things the best way or that they are lacking in an area.

I was just listening to someone talking to her boyfriend the other day, and as they talked she got quiet and thoughtful, and then she said, “Well, I don’t know if you meant it this way, and I’m sure you were unaware of it, but this is how you came across…” and she proceeded to tell him how he had failed in his communication and how he could do better. Now, before you jump all over me for this… yes, she did it in the sweetest way possible. BUT… it happened several times over the course of the week. The fact is, she KNEW what he meant, but she was being “helpful” and correcting him, trying to “fix” him to be a better man. Is it no small wonder that he is struggling with his sense of ability and value as a man when he is being “helped” and “fixed” almost every time he does something questionable or unclear? Then this brings up other problems!! It was JUST THE TWO OF THEM TALKING… so there was no need to clarify unless she genuinely didn’t understand. And this is just one example of many I could give. Wordings like “I wish you ….” or “Do you think next time you could…” can cause men to feel under par or like they’re failing if they hear it a lot!

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t bring up stuff like this ever, especially if it is needful, but it should ALWAYS be prefaced with prayer, and if it’s something the Lord can do without “our help,” give it to him and wait and see what He does with it! If it’s a decision that needs to be made, give your thoughts, but in such a way that he is able to make the decision. We women many times are super creative and imaginative, so we can talk things through in such a way that our idea would naturally sound better… BUT we women, as much as we may not like to believe it, ARE DECEIVED much easier than men. For him to be able to lead, we have to give room for him to make unbiased decisions and recognize that he is the one leading in the friendship, the relationship, and ultimately the marriage.

My parents have learned through the years to be open to each other’s opinions. Even though we all know my dad has the final say, he takes my mom’s view into consideration. But one thing she has shared with all of us daughters is that the more she tries to press any issues, the more complicated their relationship gets. It is only when she is open to allowing him to lead, giving her opinion over to the Lord that she has complete peace in following my dad. Think about it! We trust God enough for the salvation of our very lives! Do we also trust Him to be able to lead and open the mind of our husband/suitor to follow God’s will?

4. The Prospecting Problem

How did you get to become best friends with your best friend? How did you become friends at all? Did you size up the person, have a list of questions and if they answered them all right, THEN and ONLY THEN you allowed yourselves to become friends?? Goodness no!! The most BEAUTIFUL relationships I have seen were those that were started simply by being brother and sister in Christ, then friends, then best friends! It happened NATURALLY!!! There was no forcing, no pressure… just being friends! This enabled them to realize who each other was as a brother or sister in Christ, and how important God was in a relationship. It also helped them to realize their value as friends. Last, but not least, it enabled them to be at a point where, when it was time, they were truly marrying their best friend.

It’s not that complicated people! 😀

What IS God’s Will?

For most of us one of the main aspects of our Christian life is trying to discern and find out God’s will. Oftentimes we hesitate when it comes to different aspects of living out our faith because we “don’t know what God’s will is for our lives.” In Hebrews 11:1 God tells us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If we could see forward and know each step in “God’s will” for our lives, where then would be our faith?

This Moment

Living by faith most often comes when we do NOT see the path ahead. One common strand in all walks of life in Christ is that it is filled with times of uncertainty, trials, waiting and times of what we view as “dead ends.” If this is one of the most common factors of a walk with Christ, does it not bring to light that this is one of the most common ways God leads His children?

Looking through scripture starting in Genesis, we see in literally EVERY story some person or persons at a point in time of their lives where they have no clue as to the path that lies ahead. Each had a day in time where they had a choice to make as God showed them one step or asked obedience in one area. Moses had no idea that when he headed back to Egypt that he would be leading around a complaintive and faithless people for forty years. Gideon had not the slightest inkling when he surrendered to leading the army of Israel that he would be tested even further by cutting that army to a mere 300 men, and then that they would defeat an army of thousands before they drew a sword! Time won’t suffice to tell of Abraham, David, Jonah, Ruth, Joseph, Paul, Timothy, Peter, Mary and SO many more, but it’s safe to say that none of these could “see God’s will” for their future lives. They had the promises of God, and His commandments in addition to the common sense He gave them, but outside of that they had no idea of the path before them.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 Sometimes God shows us the path, and this is what we generally think of when it comes to discovering God’s will for our lives. However, many times God’s will for us is simply the lamp at our feet. We see where we are standing, and as we step forward we see the next step, but the path ahead remains in obscure darkness. God’s will is not what will happen someday in the future, but rather where He has us today and at this very moment.

God's WillWith this in mind, how would that change the way we live out our moments of today? If this very moment in our life IS God’s will for us, would we change how we are living it? The best way to know if we are walking in God’s will is to examine our own hearts and minds and see where our focus is. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God; and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Oftentimes walking in God’s will is not about knowing what is ahead and how we will walk through it, but spending today examining ourselves, surrendering our body, mind, will and emotions fully and completely to the Lord and opening ourselves to His cleansing and sanctifying power.

As God opens up the doors of opportunity to serve and work in any capacity, we are responsible to be diligent in “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Even during the seasons of waiting, uncertainty and trials in our lives, we are not to be idle. As an example, a good waiter in any restaurant will be faithful in the little tasks that come simply by existing in the place where they have been placed, and they will be especially attentive to seek the desires and fulfill the wishes of the patrons. Waiting effectively is to be attentive to the ways we can remain faithful and diligent in our walk with the Lord, and as we are consistent in this we will discover that we are indeed living out God’s will for our lives.

If God’s will for us were something other than what we are living right now that means one of two things. Either we are in the wrong place, or God put us in the wrong place… and as God makes no mistakes, we know the latter is not true. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Again, God’s will for our lives is not somewhere in the future or how we will spend the rest of our lives, but rather the very moment we are living right now.

May we each open our hearts to the Lord and ask these questions:

-Am I depending on faith or sight to walk in God’s will for my life?

-Am I living God’s will for my life this very moment?

-Is there anything hindering from this moment being God’s will for my life?

-Am I willing to change what God shows me so that this very moment I am living in IS His will for my life?

-Am I willing to accept God’s will for today as His will for my life and leave His will for tomorrow in His hands?

Puzzle Pieces

I am an impatient person. I have a difficult time not knowing what is going on or how things will turn out. It is challenging for me to wait… have faith… and just trust in the Lord and His timing for my life.

The past several weeks have been some of the most challenging I’ve ever experienced, but through them, the Lord has been so faithful! I still don’t know His full plan for me during this time, but I have been striving to surrender everything to the Lord, asking Him to show me His will and way through it all. Over the past couple days the Lord has been bringing to mind bits and pieces of thoughts, things being shared with me and scripture verses. Between last night and this morning I was so blessed to see the Lord bringing those pieces together into a complete thought, a beautiful picture of what He is teaching me and growing me through. I know my problems aren’t all solved, but at the same time I know that all the troubles and trials of the past several weeks the Lord has been working together for my good, and I’m SO thankful!

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-28

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4

Puzzle Pieces

When He Calls Me to Walk on Water

This morning I was reading in Matthew 14 about when Jesus walked on the water out to His disciples in the boat in the storm, and how Peter walked out to Him. I’ve read this story one hundred times and yet it has never hit me with the impact it struck me with this morning. I saw how this very story happens in my own life.

In the midst of all the craziness and “storminess” of fears, temptations and uncertainties around me, Jesus approaches me, giving me the desire to go to him, in spite of how crazy and impossible it may seem to myself and those around me. But that desire is there. I Want to walkWANT to walk into the storm because I know that is where He is. Yes, it is scary and there are so many things, the wind, the waves, the pelting rain, SO many things that can distract me from drawing nigh to the Lord. But at the same time I can see how if ever I become distracted with the wind and begin to sink, the Lord is RIGHT HERE to reach out a grab me and pull me back to my feet. And it is all simply because he loves me. He WANTS me to come to Him, He WANTS me to be willing to walk onto the stormy sea because many times that is the only way He can continue to grow me in my faith and trust in Him and bring me to the place in my life that He wants me to be. He never leaves me alone in those stormy seas and is always just ahead, encouraging me to draw nigh, but at the same time is right beside me when I fall.

Also the Lord has been showing me how even in the thickest of storms, He gives me peace and confidence, because I know it is His will for me to walk on the waters to go to where He is leading me. The story of promisesAbraham has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can’t help but think about how many times he had to walk forward “into the stormy seas” by faith to follow where the Lord was leading him. Think about how many times the Lord called Abraham to step forward into the impossible! Going places and doing things that seemed impossible to not only Abraham, but also those around him. Yet, at the same time, Abraham stepped forward in faith, and the Lord led him through all of the unknown into His fulfilled promises to Abraham, precious and beautiful promises that only He could have fulfilled.

And kind of as a side note: I’ve been talking to a good friend recently about how it seems every time God is doing something amazing in my life the fears and temptations seem to increase. I truly believe this is because whenever the devil sees a person or situation with a lot of potential for glorifying and honoring the Lord, he tries to throw them off with doubts, fears and temptations… all of the “wind,” “waves” and “rain” that can distract them from focusing on and drawing nigh to Jesus. The harder the wind and rain, the more I know it is vital for me to keep pushing on and going where the Lord is leading me, because He has something precious and beautiful prepared for me, either in my walk with the Lord, in my physical life, or both!

I am so thankful for the “stormy seas” the Lord brings into my life, because I know that without them I would not grow as much in my faith and trust in the Lord, and also because they cause me walking on water of uncertaintyto draw even closer to the Lord and His will for my life. Yes, I struggle with doubts and fears about what lies ahead and around me. I also know that the Lord is faithful to His promises, and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. I know that He has blessing exceedingly abundant in store for me as I follow His will for my life. I know as I draw nigh to the Lord, He will draw nigh to me as well and even in the darkest, scariest storms of fears and doubts He is still using those times to teach me to walk by faith on the waters of uncertainty. The beauty of drawing nigh to Him and seeing what precious plans He has for my life is always worth the storm He brings me through, and because of this I can walk confidently through the wind, waves and rain without worry or fear as long as I keep my eyes on Him, resting in His love and strength, and ever mindful that what He promises He will do.

What an amazing and precious Lord I have!!

 

 

Exercising in Godliness

 

exercising-in-godlinessWith an upcoming new year, everyone is thinking about the year past, what has gone wrong, what has gone right, and resolutions are being made for the new year. Some people don’t set much in store for New Year’s Resolutions, some obsess over it, and some view it as a refreshing opportunity to get a new start. New beginnings are exciting, terrifying, encouraging and intimidating. They are an opportunity to test personal resolve and faith in God.

This past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. As I look back over it, I see many things I truly wish I had done differently, and other things that I cannot believe the Lord grew me through. There are many areas I’ve fallen in over and over again, yet at the same time there are areas that the Lord has given me almost complete (if not fully complete) victory in. There were many tears, fears and frustrations, but there have also been unmeasurable moments of joy, peace and excitement. God is SO good!

I know the past few weeks in particular I’ve been struggling with my daily walk with the Lord. Daily readings were a struggle, prayers seemed empty and Bible memorization was… non-existent. I was still trusting God, praying, and fighting through what I FELT to cling to what I KNEW was true of God and my relationship with Him. God always has a plan ready, and can use the smallest thing, a tiny word or a couple of innocent questions to electrify you and shock everything back into place. If anyone else had read them, it wouldn’t have made a difference, but when the God who knows every need of your heart places them in front of you, it is like a healing balm that smooths over the dull ache and gives healing and health to reach up and grasp with a new zeal that mercy and grace that is new every morning.

One of the things the Lord has blessed me with this year was the ability to get into martial arts. It’s something I always wanted to do, and I can see how immensely it is helping me physically. The past couple days I was thinking about how most New Year’s Resolutions circle around exercising, dieting and deal with bodily health. As I’ve personally been working through the physical challenges of martial arts, I find I have to work hard, train through and practice continually what I’m learning in order to progress. The more I practice and train in these areas, the more excited and confident I am about what I am doing.

The same is true of my relationship with the Lord. As I was focusing on the changes I was wanting to make in my relationship with the Lord this year, it was all of the normal “Reading, praying, memorizing” changes. But then something clicked. I looked up the word “exercise” in my concordance and found it.

“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” ~1 Timothy 4:7-8

Then ensued a pretty lengthy study, but the main points are what I’d like to share.

-“Bodily exercise profiteth little,” meaning it profits only the physical aspects of my life. This does not mean that I should not exercise, but that it only profits me in one area.

“Godliness is profitable to ALL things.” It reaches out and touches and influences EVERY area of my life, both in my life today and in my life that is to come.

Exercising godliness helps me to be more spiritually “awake.” (If you read the whole of chapter 4, or even the whole book of 1 Timothy, you can see this theme weaving throughout.) When I think of someone spiritually active, I can read 1 Timothy 4:12 into their life.

“…an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

There is this saying, “if you want it bad enough, you will go through anything bad to get it.” I think many times the reason I do not become more spiritually active in my life is because I do not determine in my heart and mind ahead of time that this is what I truly want. When I read a verse like this, deep down in my heart I know that this is the way I want to be above all else. When I decided to do martial arts, I determined to make the most I could of it with the time I had. My relationship with God is even more so. As I was thinking about this the past couple days I was almost bewildered at where to start. Well, thankfully God’s word gives me everything I need that “pertains to life and godliness,” so I kept reading, and wouldn’t you know it? I found the answer! 😉

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” ~1 Timothy 4:13,15

There it is right there, a whole list:

-Reading

-Exhortation (teaching and preaching)

-Doctrine (studying)

-Meditate (memorization)

And lastly,

GIVE THYSELF WHOLLY TO THEM

At church last night, Bro. Ben broke down a day and narrowed it down to how much “extra” time we have left in a day. Even on a day where I’m working a full day’s work, I still have 5 ½ “extra” hours left. Just think of what would happen if I spent even half of that time exercising in godliness?

Just for a second I wanted to touch at the flip side. The more “awake” I am in fleshly things, I am more “groggy” spiritually. I know different people have their fleshly weaknesses… for some it’s tv and movies, for others it’s video games, or social media, or books, or friends… anything. I know when I allow myself more time in the things that are not exercising in godliness, I’m a lot less likely to do my godliness exercises. Kind of like eating a huge meal of junk food at lunch and not feeling like exercising that evening. Then the next morning looking at those donuts sitting there on the table, and thinking you’ll exercise extra later to make up for it, and before you know it, it’s been a week (or month!) since you’ve exercised at all. The same thing goes for the fleshly things in life. They are a distraction from exercising in godliness.

At the end of every year for the past few years the Lord has given me a word that burned in my mind throughout the whole year. This past year the word was “change,” and boy! Was that the truth! The past few weeks I’ve had the words “hard work” in my mind. It’s kind of funny, because at first thought, hard work is not something particularly pleasant, but I am growing more and more excited about what God will do in my life in this next year. My “New Year’s Resolution” is to exercise myself in godliness and making it a personal goal for this year. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, and even a struggle at times, but I also know God is my strength to hold that resolve and it will be through His power alone that it will come to pass.

What is your New Year’s Resolution? Is there something I can pray for you for this up-coming year?