I love a beautifully landscaped yard. The neighbor to our west has one of the most beautiful yards in town. It comes with a price tag. He is constantly doing something with his yard. Yet if you ask him, he will tell you that he thoroughly enjoys it.
Time — it takes time and lots of it.
I enjoy working in the dirt. That is why we have so many flower gardens. When I worked for the school, I had summers off and time was not an issue. Early mornings would find me out in the dirt. I loved it.
Then my job changed. I no longer have summers off. Time became an issue. These days the weeds seem to mock me.
This patio section is done – well at least for now. In addition to my own weeds there are the weeds at the church. If no one steps up to take care of them then it gets added to my list of things to do. Green grass is now my favorite tool in landscaping.
One thing about weeds – they just keep coming. If left attended, they will take over.
So it is with our lives. If we allow weeds (worry, doubt, fear, sin…..) to grow, they will take over. Before we know it our joy and peace will be replaced with sorrow and stress.
How do we control the weeds in our lives?
By staying plugged in to Jesus – spending time in the Word, prayer (which involves both speaking and listening – be still and know that He is God! Psalm 46:10), gathering with others for worship and instruction (preaching) Heb 10:25, cultivating an awareness of the presence of Christ in your daily life….
By allowing God to prune us – get rid of those things that displease Him, those things that get in the way, those things that will only cause us pain….
I often pray this scripture from Psalm 139:23-24 (AMP)
“23 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
By growing in the fruit of the Spirit — Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG) “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
Have the weeds taken over your life?
til next time
Why is it that two people can be at the same church service and one of them leaves refreshed and the other leaves unchanged?
Why is that one person can only complain about the worship service and the other person entered the very throne room and was changed during worship?
How about the person who is bored during church? Is it really boring or has that person missed the whole point of church?
Church is a gathering of people for the purpose of joining together for worship, uniting together in prayer, and hearing the preaching of the Word so that they can apply it to their day-to-day lives. Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” We gather together to give and receive. It is not a spectator sport. As you leave our church you pass under a sign that says “You are now entering your mission field.”
More important than winning a drawing was the presence of God that filled that place and filled my life to over flowing.
The music was powerful –”From the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows, Your glory will be known.” That’s it. No matter what is going on let God’s glory be known. Let God’s grace be known. Let God be praised and let that be evident in our lives.
I went with an expectant heart and God met me there is a powerful way. He does that you know, meet you at church in a special, powerful way. (God is always with us but there is a special anointing of His presence when we gather together for church.) As you enter into worship and give God your attention, seeking Him –He will speak to you through the music, prayer and the Word.
Here are a few things that spoke to my situation.
God doesn’t change His purpose when the storms come. Just because trouble comes, God hasn’t changed His mind. Storms are opportunities for God to demonstrate His power. You don’t know the availability of God’s grace until you step into it. Being wounded in ministry is a sign that you love. –Laurie Hoyt
Crucible — 2 Kings 4 Every life and ministry will face heated crucibles. You don’t get to decide what it will be, when it will be or where. You decide how you respond. What you have is God’s starting point. Every crucible is an opportunity for answers to emerge. –Gary Hoyt
My heart goes out to those people who attend church but miss the opportunity for God’s presence to make a difference in whatever they are dealing with. Even if you don’t know the songs, or the songs are old, or they are too fast or slow, don’t let that stop you from engaging in worship. Worship is warfare!
With all the technology that we have at our finger prints - guard against that becoming a distraction from what God would speak to you during the service.
I can use my iPod for Bible reading but I, personally, cannot post a quote from the service on facebook without getting pulled in to facebook – at least a little. It becomes a distraction. Another thing I find is that I have to sit up front. I am way too distracted by movement.
What distracts you? Guard against those distractions. Find what works for you to be able to give your attention to worship, prayer and the preaching of the Word. You will be glad you did.
But most of all come to church bringing a sacrifice of praise with an expectant heart and you will be changed (strengthened, equipped, refreshed) in the presence of a Holy God.
til next time
My husband and I pastor a small town church in rural Iowa. There have been many changes in the 20+ years we have been here, both in the church and the community.
When we first came here the church was on the edge of town with a house on one side and fields on the other three sides. In the fall we would be surrounded by corn. It truly was rural Iowa.
Now one field has been turned into a car dealership and houses have lined the back of the property. We still have a field on one side that has had hay planted for the last couple of years. The owner is holding out – for what exactly – I am not sure, but it is prime property.
Recently I started a new Sunday School class. Since we are short on teachers I have combined classes. While I do think that there is a lot to be said for having classes that are specific for a particular age. I also think that sometimes we separate too much. There is a lot to be gleamed from having people of varying ages in a group.
As I thought about what it was that I wanted to focus on I came up with four things.
1. First God loves me — what does that mean?
2. Loving Jesus — how do I do that?
3. Loving me — why is this important?
4. Loving others — why and how?
It is my desire that as a group we will grow in our understanding of God’s love, fall in love even more with Jesus, learn to truly love ourselves and then take all of that and Rock our World with love.
I just couldn’t come up with a group name. I think Facebook is a wonderful tool. I put it out there that I was looking for a name. I got a lot of really good ideas. Our new name — Impact!! It is exactly what the group is about – making an impact on our little corner of the world.
We have seen many changes in the past 20 years. The best changes have been those involving people who are letting God work in them and through them. Truth is we impact people everyday. Hopefully that impact is for good.
til next time
I wrote about reminders awhile back (click here to read it.)
Now this doesn’t mean I don’t have a good life. In fact, just the opposite is true. I have a great life – a full life.
Yet, I can get so focused on others that I forget to take time for me. While helping others does indeed make me happy, it is also important that I take time out for me too.
The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
My life is full. I am surrounded with all sorts of blessings from God. However, I can find myself so immersed in whatever I am doing that I forget to truly enjoy it.
Laziness is not now, nor has ever been, a trait of mine. In fact, I often think that my mother set the bar too high. She didn’t sit down to rest until all the work was done. Well, in my occupation the work is never done so I have had a hard time learning to find that rest. God is calling me daily to a life of balance. It begins with changing my focus. It is not about accomplishing the mission but enjoying the process.
Here is my other Hobby Lobby purchase.
As a Christian there is no better life. Yet I see Christians that are practically miserable. Lack of trust or disobedience are among the top things that can cause a Christian to be miserable. How that must grieve the Father’s heart. Jesus came that we would have life and life abundantly. (John 10:10)
When I reflect on my life, I am in awe of the way God reveals Himself to me. So often it is in the every day miracles. His fingerprints are all around me. How sad when I allow myself to be too busy to notice.
Sometimes I wonder if my zeal for life is evident. I can get so caught up in the task at hand that I am clearly in the zone. My daily list of things to get done before going to bed can set me in a driven state that can become void of enjoyment if I am not careful.
I love my life. I love the way God orchestrates little things and big things. I join my voice with Matthew West’s in singing “I don’t want to go through the motions.” Life is meant to be enjoyed!
til next time
There was a saying, back when I was a child, that I would hear spoken often. Looking back now I think it was just an excuse they used so that they could ignore the need to grow spiritually.
Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.
I remember wondering what they were talking about. As far as I could tell that just wasn’t a possibility. After all what would ‘heavenly minded’ look like?
Wouldn’t it be that if you were truly heavenly minded that your love for Jesus would shine through in everything that you do? Wouldn’t it mean that you would want to share that hope both in word and by your actions every where you went? Wouldn’t it mean that your life would stand out; there would be a noticeable difference? Wouldn’t it mean that you were indeed someone who would be full of earthly good? After all you would be following in Jesus’ footprints. You would be walking in love and growing in your ability to walk in love.
It is my belief that the quote should go like this.
Don’t be so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good.
Now this I understand. Sadly I have witnessed this in the lives of some people who would rather stay in their sin than lay it at Jesus’ feet and walk in obedience. The things of this world seem to consume their thoughts.
It is also sad when Ministers of the Gospel fall into this category. They demonstrate it by watering down the Gospel. How that must grieve God.
Instead of seeing just how close they can get to Jesus, for some the trend seems to be to get as close to the world and its ways as they can and still call themselves Christian. Compromising their beliefs seems to be a small price to pay to be ‘relevant’.
While I am all for being relevant, I look to Jesus as my example. He did not compromise. Yet He was able to share love and reach those who were hurting. There was no blending in when it came to Jesus. He stood out and yes, some didn’t like that at all. Oh but so many more were impacted for all eternity. The truth of the Gospel is truly life changing.
Being heavenly minded will inspire us to be more earthly good. This I truly believe. Colossians 3 tells us to set our minds on heavenly things. We are to place our focus on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2) As we grow in Him our influence on those around us will grow. We will make a difference.
Sometimes I get tired. One more thing becomes one more thing and then one more thing and I think surely enough already. Yet even when I am worn out I know that God has rest for me. I will see Redemption win!! It is worth it! I won’t compromise! I will continue to be so heavenly minded that I am full of earthly good!
What about you?
Sometimes the cost is high. Sometimes life is hard, but hold on. Don’t give up. Look up! Jesus will indeed help you to make a difference in your part of the world. Even in the midst of the hard trials, we have hope and can offer hope.
As for me, I want to be more like Jesus today then I was yesterday.
I want to be so heavenly minded that I am very much full of earthly good!
til next time
I need reminders. Maybe it is because life is full or maybe it is because I tend to get sidetracked easy. The older I get the more I need them. Perimenopause certainly has changed up my life. Wow, what an adventure!
I have this reminder on my monitor.
Yesterday was a long day. I am grateful for the strength that God so freely poured into me. I kept going when I really just wanted to go back to bed. I did not act upon the feelings that tried to control me. I did not resort to unkindness. I hung on to the truth that God is faithful and He is in control. Yes, I even did what my dad always told me to do. If you have to do something anyway you might as well do it with a smile.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.
Yesterday is over. I can’t change one bit of it. I refuse to let it control my day today. How sad that so many people live in past hurts.
The Lord is my portion.
So whatever happened yesterday I encourage you to not let it ruin today. If yesterday was a challenging day, remind yourself that today is a new day. “This is the day the Lord has made” — choose to rejoice and be glad. After all it is a choice.
If you are going to think about the events of yesterday – remind yourself that God was right there with you throughout the whole day. His fingerprints are everywhere. He will work all things out for your good. How? I am sure I don’t know, but God is true to His Word and He will work things out. Keep trusting.
If you are going to dwell on something – dwell on the fact that God loves you.
And lastly if you are going to live through today (and most of us are) then truly live in the moments of today. Life is meant to be lived fully. Jesus came that we would have abundant life. (John 10:10) Let Him be your guide today!
til next time
How did you ring in the New Year?
In the past we have participated in youth lock-ins, getting together with friends, having a quiet evening at home, or lately it has been ringing in the new year fast asleep.
I expected that I would be home easy by 11:00 and fast asleep by midnight. After all, I am usually asleep on the couch by 8:00 on Mondays.
We had a great turnout – over half of our average Sunday morning attendance.
Good friends, good food, and games made for a wonderful couple of hours.
Then it was time for worship. What a wonderful way to end 2012. This year has had its share of challenges, but it has also been a year filled with the blessings of God.
One of the final challenges of the year came with the start of worship. The projector refused to work. I spent the first few songs trying to get it to work. Praise God we have an updated chorus book that we could use.
I finally decided that the projector just wasn’t going to work and I was not going to waste another moment on it. It was time for praising.
We had a time of worship, communion, more worship, a time of prayer, Curt shared and then he officially closed the service. However, there were those of us who were just not ready to be done. So we sang the last set of songs. With 15 minutes left before midnight and our last song on the list had been sung, Pat suggested we sing – “I will ride” and Kent requested “I see the Lord”. We entered 2013 singing “and I cry Holy, Holy is the Lord, and the temple is filled with the glory of God…….”
By the 19th song our voices had been stretched and I am sure our worship leaders fingers were feeling it but you couldn’t tell it as we rocked the house.
What a great way to usher in the New Year!
Whatever 2013 holds, I know that God will work all things out for my good because I trust in Him. (Romans 8:28) He will help me through the challenges. He will carry me when I just can’t seem to go on. His mercies and grace are new every morning. There are many wonderful blessings in store for me. He holds me in the palm of His hand and I am safe. All of these things are for you also if you give Him your life. Even as we sang last night “yes Lord, I will ride with you………..yes, Lord. Yes, Lord.”
I look forward to the future but I will live in each moment for today is the day the Lord has made. (Psalm 118:24) I hope that you will rejoice with me and be glad.
til next time
The other day I was riding in the car with Curt and I expressed to him that I was tired. Nothing new about that statement. I have been feeling worn out a lot lately. It seems like I wake up with very little – if any energy.
Then I said something to him that even surprised me.
I said, “No, it isn’t tired. I am weary. I think this is what weary feels like.”
Before he could say anything a song came on the radio. In the silence this is what I heard.
“I am tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing…………….”
Tenth Avenue North — Worn from their Struggle tour
“”I know that You can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left. Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and worn.”
I don’t understand it. I am very familiar with the scripture in Galatians (6:9) “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” and in 2 Thessalonians (3:13) “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.” I have quoted both of these numerous times.
Yet I also know that God says in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Very much in need of rest.
I don’t get weary. At least I didn’t used to get weary. Tired, sure but that is not the same as weary. This new realization seemed to have knocked the breath right out of me. As if that wasn’t enough then this part of the song came on.
“I’m worn even before the day begins. I’m worn, I’ve lost my will to fight. I’m worn so heaven come and flood my eyes. Let me see redemption win…….”
The writer of this song understands. What’s even more important is that God understands.
I am weary of the weight of my mom’s illness (dementia), my overall work load, pay checks being short, the intense spiritual battle that comes from pastoring a small town church, insurance rates rising, being short-staffed for months at work, the pressure to always be ‘bubbly’, perimenopausal symptoms, the diet/exercise health issue, and then there are the petty issues that never used to bother me.
However, none of that means God is unaware or doesn’t care.
“I know that You can give me rest. So I cry out with all I have left. Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and worn.”
Weary. I don’t like it. This is uncharted territory for me. Yet I know that God will see me through this. He will even use all of this for my good, some how some way. I am grateful that I gave up needing to know the why’s and how’s a long time ago. I just need to know (and I do know) that God will make a way. In the meantime He will carry me until I am once again able to walk beside Him.
He will see you through your valley also and when necessary He will carry you!
So if you happen to notice that I am just not my usual self please don’t mention it. It really does put pressure on me that I have found only tires me out more. Instead just give me a hug and speak an encouraging word. I will be sure to respond with an encouraging word for you too. Isn’t that what helping each other is really all about?
This too shall pass and I am confident that I will be the better for it. To God be the glory!!!
til next time
(I blog because it helps me to put on paper what is going on in my life. God uses that to help me more clearly see what is good and what needs to change. I am constantly amazed at the goodness of God!)
Time waits for no man.
Everyone gets the same 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.
The Mayan calendar stops on December 21 — do I find this significant? Do I think that the world will really end on the 21st? No! Clearly without a doubt — no!
Yet sometimes time seems to stand still:
the senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary
while waiting with my step dad for the ambulance to arrive during his stroke
of course time seemed to stand still during the days following 9-11
Isn’t it funny how eight hours at work can seem to drag on and on but those same eight hours elsewhere can fly by?
Why does it seem that time is ticking faster than it ever did before? Why is it that I feel that I am moving slower than I ever did before?
Houston we have a problem.
As a pastor/pastor’s wife of a small town church there are many behind the scene things that need to take place and lately there doesn’t seem to be enough time or energy. I used to be so good at multitasking. Not so much anymore. (In fact, my son just reminded me that I was about to burn the meat on the stove. Oy!)
In ministry if you are not careful, it can overwhelm you. Even if you are careful (be not weary in doing good….) there will still be days when your feelings will try to over run you. Sometimes the thought of quitting seems so much easier than the thought of pushing through the emotion. Good thing I learned a long time ago to not make any life changing decisions while dealing with emotional overload.
This morning was one of those weary days for me. Maybe it is peri-menopause which has officially messed up my sleeping pattern. (Have I mentioned that I do not function well on little sleep?) Maybe it is due to too much work related things this week. Maybe it is a whole host of little things that seem to pile up on top of each other. (Thank you Larry for helping to lower the flag.)
The why is really not the issue. It is the ‘how am I going to handle this’ that is important.
I am grateful for such a wonderful worship team. They make it easy to join right in and place your focus on the One who is truly worthy of our worship.
The songs for today were: A couple Christmas carols and Amazing Grace (my chains are gone), Blessed be your name (You give and take away), To God be the glory, and In the presence of Jehovah.
“In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace. Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, in the presence of the King.”
After worship Christy got up to sing the song “A baby changes everything.” It was evident that she sang it with all her heart and soul. What a powerful song! While she was singing God reminded me that ‘this’ was why I do what I do. This is why it is worth the price.
Jesus changes everything.
Sharing my love for Him with others
getting to witness God at work in their lives
yes, it is why I do what I do.
Jesus changes everything!
I would have rather had Christy’s performance of the song but this one will have to do.
til next time