God’s Response to Spilled Milk

Back in the days when I had seven boys around my dinner table every night, there was a high probability that something would get spilled. And during the season when we were foster parents and had nine boys at the table it was almost a given that there would be a clean-up necessary during the meal.

Our youngest foster son was three when he came to live with us. He was a precious little guy who needed lots of love and patience. One night at the dinner table, he not only spilled his milk but spilled his brother’s at the same time. Waving his arms around as he told us something he was excited about, he bumped both cups at the same time and milk went everywhere.

The horrified look on his face broke my heart. He expected major consequences for his actions, but that wasn’t how we operated at our house. We simply cleaned it up, poured another glass of milk for each of the boys, and went on with the meal.

I think this is how God wants us to expect Him to respond when we do something that makes a mess. Instead of His response being,  “now look what you’ve done!” I believe He comes alongside us and says,” Here, let me help you clean up this mess.”

As a mom, I know that sometimes my patience wears thin and I may respond more harshly than I would like, but God never runs out of patience with us. He is always ready to help us with the messes that we or others create in our lives.

How do I know this? Because God showed us that this is how He works. He saw what we’d done and sent Jesus to help us clean up the mess. If He was willing to do that, we can be assured there is no mess we can make that He will not help clean up.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

 

Take the Stairs

At the mall, my husband and I take the stairs as often as possible. We avoid escalators and elevators because we know we need exercise whenever we can get it. Sometimes we get funny looks when we choose to climb a flight of stairs while other shoppers relax as they ride effortlessly to the next level. As they ride, those other folks can casually look around, taking in all the distractions happening in every direction. We, on the other hand, must pay attention to our climb or risk losing our footing and taking a tumble.

I believe our life in the Lord is the same way. God didn’t design our walk with him to be a mindless ride where we glide along without a thought of where we’re going or how we’re getting there. He intended for us to invest some effort into growing in our relationship with him. He meant for us to focus on our daily walk with each step. We aren’t supposed to begin our life with Christ by taking that first step toward him as we take the first step on an escalator and then just relax and enjoy the ride.

The destination is important, but what we invest in the journey we take to get there is of immeasurable value.

Choose today to be intentional in your relationship with Christ. Choose today to take the stairs.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14(ESV)

One Brick at a Time

 

What if your life was like a brick wall? One brick would represent each day that you live—each one adding to the wall that tells the story of your life.

Scripture has many references to walls. In most cases, they represent the strength of a city or a nation. Some references speak of building up the walls and providing protection while in others the picture is of a nation being destroyed as its walls are demolished. There is strength in a well-built wall.

What if each day you wasted left a hole in your wall? Would you have gaping holes? But let’s not get rigid about this—some holes might be perfectly acceptable. After all, a few windows here and there might add a nice touch.

But, if wasted days are holes and you accumulate too many, you would weaken the whole wall.

What counts as a wasted day? Perhaps one where you spend more time on yourself than on others. Maybe a day where you procrastinate and never really accomplish what you set out to do. Or it might be times when you spend the day nursing hurt feelings or holding a grudge.

We don’t always get it right, but each day we can purpose in our hearts to be faithful and continue building.
One brick at a time.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16(ESV)

Do You Feel Heard?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who you knew wasn’t listening? They may have been distracted by activity around them or perhaps they were in pain or worrying about something else happening in their life. We can excuse those things because we all have stuff to deal with and sometimes lose our focus.

There is a similar conversation that may be more challenging and hurtful. It’s the conversation with someone who isn’t listening because they’re too busy thinking about what they’re going to say next. They’re so focused on the importance of what they want to say that they can’t really listen to you. This situation is addressed in Proverbs 18:2.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (ESV)

Sometimes we can be so self-centered that we don’t even realize what we’re doing but God doesn’t let us use that as an excuse. In James 1:19 it says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (ESV)

Still, we are human and we will continue to make mistakes. But there is good news! God is never distracted when we talk to Him. He isn’t in pain; he isn’t worried; he isn’t distracted by what else is happening at the moment. And the funny thing about this? God isn’t focused on what He wants to say—even though His words are THE most important words in the Universe!

God is focused on you. He wants to hear every word you say. He wants you to come to Him with every care and every prayer. You can talk to Him without concern that He isn’t interested. Try it!

“I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2(ESV)

Are You Staying the Same?

I volunteer in the guest services ministry at my church on Sunday mornings. As I stand under a bright orange tent at one of the many entrances of the building, I watch for the people to arrive, looking for first-time visitors. At first, folks begin to trickle in, just a few at a time. At a certain point, usually about fifteen minutes before the service begins, I can look across the parking lot and see a steady stream of people all moving toward me. They come in couples or groups and some come alone. I greet each one with a smile and say good morning.

Today, one man looked at me and said, “You just can’t stop smiling, can you?” He was right. I couldn’t stop smiling as I saw so many of God’s people coming to His house to worship together. It was a beautiful morning, much cooler than what we’d experienced for several months, and many of us were cheerful. But it wasn’t the weather that made me smile. It was knowing that God’s people were gathering together.

After the rush was over and the service had started, there were still a few stragglers who came quickly up the sidewalk; I welcomed them as they hurried into the building.

Then it got quiet, and I thought about the people I had greeted. Some smiled and responded to my words. Others nodded and glanced away. There were also those who refused to make eye contact at all (I don’t judge them, they are probably introverts like me!)

The people going in were of all different walks of life, different ages, and different marital statuses. They were also at different levels of understanding of the things of God. I thought about how God saw each person who had passed my greeting station and I realized something important.

God doesn’t care what we’re like when we walk IN the doors. He doesn’t care how we compare to the people walking behind or in front of us. He cares about what has changed in us and what we’re like when we walk back OUT the doors. His purpose is for each of us to change when we encounter His presence and the teaching of His word. He never stops helping us grow.

Did you go to church on Sunday? Did you leave changed, never to be the same again? If not, God was speaking, were you listening?

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:28 (ESV)





Stay Away From the Edge

Have you ever hiked in the mountains? Two years ago I had a son get married in the mountains of Tennessee. Since I’ve lived most of my life in rather flat places and now live in Florida, where it’s very flat, I’ve always had a fascination with mountains.

During our trip to Tennessee, we took some time to visit one of my son’s favorite viewing spots. We drove up and up a winding road and finally came out on the top of a mountain with a breathtaking view.

As we walked along the boardwalk to the viewing platform, I could see spindly little trees determined to grow out of the crevices in the rocks. I could see the many variations of green as I gazed across the mountain range, and since it was the beginning of fall, there were splashes of oranges and yellows.

I walked to the edge of the platform and leaned against the fence to look way down into the valley below. Suddenly I realized that I wouldn’t be able to stand where I was without the fence! I’d never have the courage to stand so near the edge without some sort of barrier.

The Lord showed me a beautiful truth at that moment. God wants us to experience great pleasure and joy in this life. He has so much to share with us while we are on earth, but He’s put safeguards in place to keep us from falling; barriers to keep us safe. We are not to flirt with sin, so He desires to keep us away from the edge. While there are times we must be near the edge, perhaps in ministry to others, we must always take care to stay behind the fence.

We can also use this picture to understand how accountability works. Are there areas in your life where temptation is great and you find yourself dangerously close to the edge? That’s the time to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ and ask them to help you build a fence.

God doesn’t use fences to hold you captive; He does it to keep you from falling. It’s for your good that there are barriers in your life.  

“Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25(HCSB)


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Transparent for God’s Glory

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman about how much I love to journal. I said it was good to get things in writing as it often made the issue seem smaller when I could look at the words on paper.

Then I said something about how it was also important to share our struggles with others because it could be helpful for them.
Everyone needs to know they aren’t the only ones going through challenges. Tell Your Story

Then the woman said she felt that often it was better to stick with the journaling and not share your issues with others because it could be embarrassing for both you and your listener. Embarrassing?

As I’ve thought about this, I have to say I disagree. I keep thinking of that verse that talks about being a fool for Christ. In First Corinthians 4 Paul is talking about the way the apostles have been made a spectacle for God. He says they are fools for Christ while the Corinthians see themselves as wise and distinguished. The church was more concerned about their own reputation than they were about God’s.

It’s certainly easier to keep quiet and not draw attention to yourself, but when you do that, you miss the chance to give God glory. If you never share your struggles, then when you have a breakthrough, or God does something spectacular, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves because no one knew what was happening BEFORE God intervened. For God to Get the Glory

Preserving our reputation will always interfere with what God is doing. Being aware of how we represent Him as ambassadors of Christ is the reputation we should be concerned about.


 “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” – 1 Peter 4:14(ESV)

“We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!”
1 Corinthians 4:10(ESV)

What God Really Wants for Your Life








Still Waters

Do you ever feel lonely? Do you think you don’t fit in? Do you compare yourself to others and discover that you fall short? Do you wonder if you’ll ever amount to anything? How about feeling restless or lacking in direction?

Do any of these questions cause you to nod your head? You are not alone.  But God knows the answers to all of them. Renewal.

God wants to revive your strength. He promises to restore your soul and to renew your mind. The questions come from a heart that is weary. When you are physically tired, don’t you find yourself less patient, less interested, less focused? Your body is telling you that you require rest. When you allow your body to be refreshed, your strength to be restored. It’s the same with your spirit. When you need refreshing, you become vulnerable to the enemy’s lies.

No one loves you. You don’t fit in. You’ll never amount to anything. You are a failure. The lies grow louder when your spirit needs to be renewed. God tells us how to get the refreshment we need. The answer is resting in His presence.

What does God really want for your life? Renewal. Take some time today to allow God to restore your spirit.

 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”Matthew 11:29 (ESV)

Do You Think Like a Criminal?

I recently attended a mandatory training for prison ministry in the State of Florida. It’s an annual requirement for all volunteers. It’s a rather routine session reviewing the rules for those entering a prison compound. We definitely went over the rules and there are many of them! The rules are for the safety of the volunteers as well as the staff and inmates. And as often happens, I found something that has application in our Christian walk.

I learned a new phrase. Criminogenic thinking. It means exactly what it sounds like. Thinking like a criminal. We could get into a detailed discussion about what that means, and how they measure it. There are studies done to evaluate how much a person thinks like a criminal and the likelihood of them actually committing a crime.

After the meeting, I began thinking about what the presenter had said. She summed up the concept like this:

“Criminogenic thinking means going around the rules to get what you want.”

How many of us are guilty of bending the rules from time to time? Of justifying our actions as “not that bad’, or” not hurting anyone.”

I did a little research on my own and found some additional ways that criminals think. And after studying these a bit, I came up with some Christian behaviors that sound pretty similar.

Closed Channel Thinking – “Good at pointing out the faults of others.” This is what we call judging!

Victimstance – “Blaming others for our circumstances.” How about “my church isn’t feeding me so I’m not growing.”

Views self as a good person – “When we refuse to acknowledge our own faults.” Or, refuse to acknowledge our own SIN. “At least we don’t do (fill in the blank).”

Lack of effort – “Unwilling to do anything they find boring or disagreeable.” This is the avoidance of suffering and a lack of obedience.

So I ask you, do you think like a criminal? Perhaps you find this offensive. Perhaps it’s uncomfortable seeing yourself in that light. But look at it from God’s perspective. We all have sinned. We all think like sinners. The criminal justice system didn’t come up with these defining behaviors on their own. Their list is based on moral principles that, whether they admit it or not, came from God’s standards.

Just as those working in corrections try to retrain the thought patterns of offenders to keep them from being repeat-offenders, God gave us His Word to retrain the thought patterns of sinners (us) so we would not repeat our sinful behavior. His “rules” are for our good. We must allow God’s Word to change the way we think. We need to stop going around the rules, thinking they apply to others but not to us. Scripture is full of encouragement that will transform us if we allow it.

Here are a few verses to get you started.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (ESV)

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”– Romans 8:6 (ESV)

Why Are You Waiting?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called, What Are You Waiting For? It was about how God had already given us the command to go tell others about Him but we often don’t.

Lately, God has been talking to me about a different kind of waiting. This time it’s more about seizing the day. We often have an opportunity to do something that brings glory to God and it isn’t necessarily talking about the Gospel. Now don’t get me wrong, sharing the Gospel is the primary activity we have here on earth, but sometimes God directs us to do other things and we procrastinate.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “one of these days I need to…” What keeps you from following through and actually making a plan to DO it? We could be talking about things like washing the windows or cleaning the garage. But it could be something much bigger. How about visiting that elderly neighbor to see if they need any work done around their home? Or perhaps you know a single mom who would appreciate an evening to herself while you entertain her children.

How many times have you had good intentions to make a difference in someone else’s life but you allow yourself to say, “one of these days I need to…” and then get busy and forget about it.

I know of an older, childless couple who regularly volunteers to entertain more than a dozen young children while their single moms enjoy bible study together. And there is the young man who mows and trims for his elderly neighbor at no charge. I’m sure you know of other examples of people going out of their way to serve others.

It may take a little effort to search out these opportunities to serve, but then again, maybe you could just ask God. I’m sure He has some great ideas!

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)