Why is it we can remember a hurt from years ago but forget a favor that was just done for us?
Why is it nine people can say you look great but you only remember the one person who said that it was not an attractive look for you?
Personally I think it is because we get to ‘me focused’ and are then prone to emphasize the negative.
I have heard it said that it takes repeating something seven times in order for people to remember. Now I don’t know how they figure these things out or if that is even true. What I do know is that truth needs to be repeated. In a world where lies and negativity abound, truth needs to be repeated!
“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” (2Peter 1:12 NASB)
What things? He is reminding them to make every effort to be growing – to not become lazy in their walk with Christ.
I relate to Peter in the Bible. He was a man of action. His zeal was evident in the way he lived. He was a man of diligence. Whether it was fishing, mending nets, professing his loyalty to Jesus, or taking the sword to defend Jesus in the garden, Peter took action. He lived in the moment.
It is with this attitude that Peter tells his fellow Christians to apply all diligence – to make every effort to be growing in our walk with God. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t purpose in our heart to grow we can so easily slide into becoming stagnant or stale – something far less than God intends for us.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2Peter 1:5-8 NASB)
We are saved by faith (Eph 2:8) – yet faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) We are given precious promises and the power of Christ living in us that we cannot/should not sit back and coast.
ADD TO YOUR FAITH!
MORAL EXCELLENCE – VIRTUE – life reflecting the character of Jesus — Christ-likeness
We don’t have to look far to see examples of society lacking moral excellence. As Christians we grow in virtue by our personal and continuous encounters with Christ – by reading the Word, praying and spending time in worship.
KNOWLEDGE – insight, understanding – learning God’s truth and putting it into practice in our lives
‘that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection‘ (Phil 3:10)
Since it is possible that knowledge could lead to pride, self-control is the next on the list.
The false teachers of Peter’s day taught that knowledge released them from the need for self-control. Peter proclaims that true knowledge leads to self-control.
SELF-CONTROL (TEMPERANCE, ALERT DISCIPLINE) – controlling your feelings (passions) instead of being controlled by them.
For a Christian, self-control is submitting to the control of Christ who dwells in you. We then have the power to endure difficulties.
PATIENCE (PERSEVERANCE, ENDURANCE, STEADFAST) – don’t quit!
The only way to grow in patience is to be in a situation where patience is needed. Patience is unmoved by the difficulty, holds out hope, bears the trial with the unwavering mindset that God is still in control, and resists the pressures (greed, envy, selfishness, negativity) of the world.
GODLINESS (REVERENT WONDER) – aware of God in every aspect of life.
As my husband says often, “We should be cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in our lives,” for truly God is everywhere. May our eyes be opened.
Worshiping God outwardly is a part of godliness. Loving, exalting, magnifying and adoring Him in our heart is also part of it. Our whole self being in awe of who God is.
BROTHERLY KINDNESS – this is directed at the household of faith.
Brotherly kindness is an emphasis put on the responsibility toward other believers. Showing brotherly kindness means avoiding those things that might destroy unity such as: gossip, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, looking down on another, showing favoritism… We are all a work in progress. Let us come along side our brothers/sisters in Christ and encourage them. Kindness goes a long ways.
LOVE – This is universal — all people – those of the household of faith, our enemies, those who are difficult to love… all mankind
We are called to be growing in our love for all people. What it comes down to is a right attitude and behavior towards others.
There you have it. The Word gives us seven things that are to be increasing in our lives if we want to be useful and fruitful.
Over the years as I have looked at this list, a different quality seems to be highlighted each time. Yes, that is the one God is working on in me at that time. As you read over this list, which one is God speaking to you about? With all diligence – let’s grow!
til next time
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I just finished the book “Redeemed” by Kerry Clarensau. At one point she talks about trusting God’s love enough to walk through a difficult place looking for a way to share God’s love.
This got me thinking about how I handle suffering/trouble/pain/trials.
Long ago I read a book about pain. One line still lives in my thoughts.
Pain is inevitable, misery is not.
Another quote that is especially meaningful to me is one by Hannah Whitall Smith.
In acceptance lieth peace.
I looked up trouble in the NIV and found 172 references. Some trouble we bring on ourselves by making poor choices, sometimes choices others make affect us, and some pain comes for reasons we may not know this side of heaven.
John 16:33 (NIV)“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This catch phrase has been a handy reminder for me. God is in control and He is at work. I can accept whatever suffering comes my way knowing that I don’t face it alone. Also living in the truth is vital to walking a life of victory. It is truth that sets us free. (John 8:32)
Unrealistic expectations can bring frustration and discouragement. When I recognize that it is what it is and that it didn’t take God by surprise, I can face it with confidence knowing that God is in control.
Here are some steps that I have found helpful in dealing with pain.
“Anyone that intends to come with Me has to be lead. You’re not in the drivers seat-I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to find yourself, your true self. ” Luke 9:23-25 MSG
Submit/ yield to God. I once again declare my allegiance to the King of Kings. I remind myself that I am nothing without Him and with Him I can do whatever I need to do in this situation. Proverbs 3:6 (NIV) “in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.“
Stop and face it— Denial is not our friend. So often we want to run or try to escape the pain.
“Everything you avoid or run away from has power over you, but everything you press through, in Christ, you can conquer!” Joyce Meyer
Trust God – Psalm 56:3 (NIV) “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Guard against worry. Worry is the opposite of trust.
Continue to do good – Psalm 37:3a (NIV) “Trust in the Lord and do good...“
In Your grace, which is sufficient for me, I am going forward. (2 Corinthians 12:9) In my weakness You, O Lord, are strong. This too shall pass and when I am on the other side of this trial, may I be more like Your Son. To God be the glory!!
til next time
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Today my husband and I begin our 24th year in ministry at the same location.
I am in awe of the wonderful things that have taken place as I look back over 23 years of ministry in one place. What an incredible journey it has been thus far. Celebrating the little things as well as the big things has always been important to me. I am also grateful that through the challenges, God is faithful.
I was asked once how long I had stayed at any job? While ministry is so much more than a job, it is still a day in – day out responsibility. Only someone who is involved in full-time ministry truly understands what is required. That said, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Being where God wants you, doing what He wants you to do is the greatest joy!
Ministry is and always has been my first priority in whatever job I found myself. After all, we are to “work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters.” (Colossians 3:23) As Christians, we should be the very best employee we can be.
God places us where He wants us to shine. (Isaiah 60:1) He places us where we can grow. He uses us to be His hand extended to those around us, wherever we find ourselves. It is never just about the job. For the Christian, it is so much more.
Jeremiah 29:11 (TLB)
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Today is a new day. Yesterday has come and gone. Tomorrow isn’t here, but today is what we have. Let’s choose to make the most of it.
til next time
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If I asked how are you, what would your answer be?
Busy? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Bored?
What are the demands on your life?
Do you find that you are in a constant state of ‘rush’?
Does it seem that one task is not even close to being done when the next task is demanding attention?
Sometimes life meets us coming and going. Sometimes I eat on the run. Other times I find myself with more to do and night has come.
Awhile back I was talking with a friend about the importance of answering the call to “Come away” and how easy it can be to ignore that call or put off that call. Who has time for that anyway?
Mark 6:31 (NASB) “And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)
In our Impact class we were talking about using ordinary tasks to incorporate more time in prayer. Driving to work is a wonderful opportunity to talk with God about the day, the issues you are facing, and about the people you will come in contact with that day. God is already on the scene but we must learn to cultivate an awareness of His presence.
A long time ago I started working in my kitchen with Joyce Meyer. It seemed that there just never was enough time/energy to cook and clean up. My attitude reflected this. What was I to do? Continue to struggle?
I receive a new CD every month from Joyce. I have numerous CD sets of hers that someday I was going to take time to listen to, so I decided to pop one in. Wa La, the kitchen is no longer an issue. Thus Joyce Meyer and I do dishes together. Taking an ordinary thing but making it extraordinary. Win win!!
Another ordinary task that has become a moment of solitude in my day is the restroom. Might sound kind of strange to you, until you try it. When I need a moment to remind myself that God is greater and He is already working on whatever it is I am facing, I close the door, take a breath, and connect with Him. What a difference a couple of minutes makes.
Going for walks is another ordinary task that can easily become a prayer walk. It is amazing how your neighborhood changes when you begin to pray for your neighbors.
Yet while all of these things are helpful, the call to me to “come away to a secluded place” was greater than just the ordinary places. Maybe that will mean getting up a half hour earlier. It could mean turning off the tv and going to a quiet place instead.
I thought when I was no longer bi-vocational that time would just present itself. After all, I was not going to fill up my calendar. Dropping into bed at night dog tired would be a thing of the past. The plan was to take the first two weeks to regroup and adjust.
The first week was horrible. I actually found myself wishing I was working. The down time I had so desperately looked forward to was not going as planned. Life was still coming at me fast.
It was then that the call came in loud and clear. “Come away with me to a quiet place.”
And I did!
What ordinary things do you turn into extraordinary?
When was the last time you went away to a quiet place?
til next time
Every had that feeling that someone was indirectly talking about you and yet they didn’t have a clue? They may mean well but sometimes in an attempt to help – they actually cause pain. If you don’t understand something – please ask – don’t assume.
Some people have the gift of encouragement and some people have room for improvement.
I have had people assume that our life is problem free. Really? We are fighting on the front lines of a spiritual war against an enemy who seeks to destroy and devour. We are standing up for truth, justice, and morality. We believe in the power of prayer and we point people to God. Still think that is going to be a problem free life?
What we do have is a relationship with all mighty God that sustains us, comforts us, fills us with hope and washes over us with peace. No problem is too great for our God.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, worship pastor, Sunday school teacher, counselor, church bookkeeper and secretary, billing and insurance claims specialist at an eye clinic, and I am available to people. When I am home, I spend my evenings working until 10:00 – many times til 11:30, or you will find me crashed on the couch exhausted.
My husband is a pastor and a college teacher. He has turned into a great cook – partially out of necessity. Three days a week I do not have time or energy to cook.
We both struggle with overworking. It saddens me to see this trait has developed in our children. They also set aside time for fun – I pray this continues.
Early on in our ministry I learned a very valuable lesson. People may have great ideas but it is not up to me (or my husband) to carry out those great ideas. Having an idea is the easy part. Carrying out that idea requires commitment.
Being over committed is an area that I struggle with. I read a face book status today that reminded me of this — “The need is the call.” That kind of statement, taken to heart, can cause me to stretch myself too thin. Every where I look there are needs. Yet I know that God is not calling me to be the answer for each need and become so busy that I miss the opportunities that God has in store for today.
That said, there are times that I hear an idea and it resonates in my heart. I know that I want to be a key part of it. Last year we did a girls night in for all ages. It wasn’t my idea but I wanted to be involved in seeing it through. It was fantastic. It was energizing!
This week is our very busiest week at the eye clinic where I work. It comes at a very inconvenient time for me. Yet it is what it is.
It has brought to the forefront of my thinking that I have too many irons in the fire. That right there can burn up the joy and rest that God so wants to be evident in my daily life.
For a long time I tried to remove irons, but then other irons would just find their way back in the fire. I am real good at picking up things others lay down. So I have come up with a new plan. I am going to throw water on the fire at 9:00 every night. That may not sound like a big deal to you but it is huge to me and it is a little scary.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
til next time
Life is what happens while you are making other plans. How true that is.
I’ve been thinking about growing old. It kind of sneaks up on a person.
age 7 or 8 — I am playing football on the road in front of our house. I didn’t think about just how stupid that was. That is until I skinned up my knee. Ouch! The scar has gotten smaller with age. The memory of the event, quite possibly, has grown with age.
age 16 -17 — Ah, freedom! I have a license to drive. The world is my playground. OK, maybe not the world, but certainly a 25 mile radius!
Choices were all around me. As I look back I clearly see the hand of God protecting me on lots of occasions. i.e. My boyfriend, who was taking me to my Junior prom, ended up in jail for drug possession one week before prom. Try explaining that one to your God-fearing, church going, loving parents. Truth is I did not know that he was selling. (It did explain some questions that I had. Like how he could afford his Cadillac and the fact that he always seemed to have money.)
That whole process made me very aware of the importance of relationships and the company you keep.
age 26 – 27 I have married my best friend and we have the most adorable twin boys. Life has taken on a whole new dimension. Again the hand of God is evident in our lives over and over again. i.e. My sister, the boys and I were in her little red Pinto traveling down the highway when we hit a patch of ice. The car is sliding sideways down the road headed right for a vehicle that had stopped. Just as we were about to hit the other car, our car swerved around it. I can still see the driver’s eyes as we passed by. Think what you want, but I know that it was God.
age 37-38 The boys are growing up and it is time for me to take the next step in my life. I went through the process required to be an official minister. At that time the church was going through some issues. I was stretched in ways that I had not been familiar with before. Again the hand of God in my life. Sometimes He works in miraculous ways. Other times He takes our hand and walks us through.
the 40’s found us empty nesters for a while. That was harder than I imagined. Big changes took place. God walked us through. It is exciting to see the men that our boys have turned into. Why does it seem like just yesterday we were playing trucks or reading books together?
I am truly enjoying having my son and daughter live with us while they are in transition. It is a new chapter in all our lives. The house is bustling with activity once again.
Life marches on and truly waits for no man.
I am approaching that 50 mark. Some days I just don’t know how that can possibly be. Then there are other days.
Lately I have been aware of how people older than I behave. I have said on many occasions, usually at work, that I do not want to be like that when I grow up. Then I think of my Opal. She turned 100 last year. I want to be like her when I grow up. She is proof that you don’t have to be cantankerous and unhappy as you age.
Growing old does kind of sneak up on you. I am grateful that through all the years God’s grace has been indeed more than enough. With each situation my faith grows.
I know this next decade will be an exciting journey.
til next time
It seems that everyone I talk to is under stress. For some it is one or two really huge things. For others it is a bunch of little things that have piled up on top of each other causing an overwhelming sense of despair. Whatever it is — stress seems to dominate many conversations.
Much stress is a result of poor decisions. Sometimes we make bad decisions and sometimes those around us make bad decisions that causes us stress.
Relationships are a huge source of stress. Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is great advice for reducing stress. We cannot control another person, but we do have control over what we say and do.
Family dynamics can be a huge source of stress. Whether it is spouse, children, grandchildren, in-laws, siblings, etc — their actions can have an impact on the whole family. This one, in one way or another, seems to be the most common. Maybe it is because we can choose to step away from friends who stir up strife, but family will always be family.
I consider it one of the highest compliments I can receive when someone implies that they don’t think I have any stress. Now it may take me awhile to process it but the end result is that it is a compliment.
For the record, ministers are not immune from stress. Truth is, they have the ‘usual’ stress that comes with living and then there is the stress involved in ministry.
There is a spiritual battle going on. Ministers lead by example and are right there on the front lines. If the enemy can take out the minister and/or family, he has won a great victory. Much damage is done to the cause of Christ when a minister falls.
So what can you do about stress? Take ownership of your own actions. Whatever is happening to you – you are still responsible for how you handle it.
The Serenity Prayer is a wonderful tool. Use it! Be sure to read the rest of the prayer.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Truth is stress will always be a part of life. How you handle it will determine if you live stressed out or you live with purpose. Don’t forget – God has a plan and He is in control.
He will work all things out for the good to those who love Him. This is a promise we can depend on. God isn’t stressed about whatever is going on and He wants us to lean on Him and trust Him.
Is it easy? Not always. But it can be done. This is why I consider it a huge compliment when people imply I have no stress.
til next time
As a proclaimer of the Gospel I have found that I operate in one of basically two roles.
Stir the pot or still the storm.
There are right ways to do this and most certainly wrong ways to do this.
Sometimes Christians fall into the trap of complacency. It is real easy to go from that to a rut. Once there the passion and joy of life is pretty much buried under the load of just going through the motions. This is where stirring the pot comes in.
If you are cooking something (especially if it has milk in it) that has come to a boil and it is to simmer awhile – it needs to be stirred. If you leave it alone, a film can form on the top and it can scorch on the bottom. When that happens you pretty much need to start over.
Paul speaks of the need for reminders. Many times he repeated “Rejoice in the Lord”. Why? I think because our pot needed stirring. Reminding us that no matter what was going on around us, Christ is in us and with us. We have hope! Hang on! Make a choice to enjoy today!
Stirring the pot — encouraging others to take a stand, be a warrior at all costs, don’t give in to compromise. When we are in the ‘flames of adversity’ pot stirrers are needed to remind us to do the right thing, to not give up, to shake off complacency and stir up love and good works.
However, there are those who stir the pot in a negative way. I won’t talk much about that here. We all know people who stir things up alright – causing all kinds of problems for the kingdom of God. One day each person will answer for the things that he/she said and did. Question to ask yourself — Are you building up or tearing down?
Don’t let it be said of you that He/she doesn’t play well with others.
Stilling the storm — Jesus spoke to the wind and the waves and said, “Peace be still”.
Much of my ministry is found in calming storms. People have all kinds of trials and pain. Sometimes people are nasty because they are speaking out of pain that I know nothing about. Bringing peace into the midst of a storm is essential to harmony and growth. I recognized a long time ago that I need grace and mercy always and so I strive to extend grace and mercy to others.
Scripture says in Heb 12:14 “Make every effort to live at peace with all men…” Calming the storm means that I look for ways to bring peace and calm into the situation. Allowing God to ‘open’ my eyes to seeing people as He sees them really helps me to do this. Also reminding myself that the scripture doesn’t say if they are at peace with me be at peace with them. It tells me to do what I can to live in peace. (Psalms 119:165 “Great peace have they that love Thy law and NOTHING shall offend them.”)
The negative side of calming the storm is to pacify someone with words they want to hear but either are not true or aren’t heartfelt. We all know people who ‘humor’ others but then later tear them down with their words. Another negative way is by telling someone you agree with them but then doing something later that shows you most certainly didn’t agree with them. Although this may divert a storm momentarily, it will return with vengeance. (Be a person of your word – that right there will divert many a storm from ever happening.
Be a person people can trust.)
With each new day I don’t know which one will be needed most – pot stirring or storm stilling but what I do know is that each person is precious to God.
til next time
This morning we had a missionary and his wife share with us what they have seen God doing in Nigeria. This is the third time that he has been with us. Each time is better than the last time. Why? Because with each visit, I see the hand of the living God actively at work.
Life where they were at in Nigeria is not even close to life in small town, rural Iowa. I take for granted running water, for that matter even clean drinking water. When was the last time you went to the sink and thought about the need to boil the water first?
Then there is electricity. I hate it when a storm knocks out the power. Yet, for them, a short period of time when they have power is a huge thing.
Oh, I have it so good. Like right now I don’t feel like cooking (yup that isn’t a shock) and so Curt has gone to pick up pizza. Hmm, how good is that?
Well this morning the missionary shared with us some pictures. I love pictures. The last one was of a group of people. One of them was his dear friend – a native pastor.
Here’s the thing that really got to me this morning. I wasn’t expecting the story he shared of his friend. Here’s what happened. A group of angry men surrounded his house. (I could tell you what group they belong to but that isn’t really the issue). He runs out of the house and trips in a hole in the ground. The men surround him and beat him. That isn’t enough though. They then cut off his legs and his arms and set his body on fire. This happened just last November.
Our missionary speaker, fighting back the tears says, “I am going to miss my friend.”
Why did they kill him? Why were those men so angry?
This man was proclaiming Jesus. Yes, this man was a true martyr. This wasn’t years and years ago. It was just last November.
I am a minister of the gospel. I proclaim Jesus. I have it so good.
This mans murder was a sobering thought for me. I have been struggling with some pretty heavy issues in my life lately. Yet, all of them pale in comparison to what this man faced and what his family is facing without him.
May I be about my Father’s business and not let minor inconveniences distract me. After all, compared to eternity it is all pretty minor. What isn’t minor is where people will spend eternity.
til next time