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Before I Say Yes

Guys, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Totally. In fact, the wagon is so far ahead of me that I’m now running behind trying to catch up, gasping for breath. What wagon, you ask? The NO wagon.

I don’t know about you but opportunities to serve and help out are like flies on a hot day. They are swarming around me. And by nature I’m very much a YES! person. That word jumps into my mouth before I can choke it down. But over the past couple of years, I’ve had to watch it. My body and brain have been through a lot and I’ve had to step away from a lot of commitments. I learned to say NO.

Until recently, that is. Christmas came around and suddenly I found myself doing all these things. New Year and my schedule is packed. How did this happen? I ask myself. Ah, I fell off the NO bandwagon. Let me be clear that all of these are GOOD things! All of them! Some of them were asked of me, some I volunteered for, and some nobody volunteered for so I…ummm… volunteered for.

An idea that’s pretty popular in my church (and I think a lot of others too) right now is to “say YES before God asks you.” I first heard this phrase in relation to missions. And I get it- really, I do. I understand the heart attitude it’s driving at. The attitude that gives up what you desire in order to obey the Lord. The attitude that made Isaiah say, “Here I am! Send me.”

But sometimes, the RIGHT answer is NO. This is a rarely taught concept in the church. I was telling my schedule to someone the other day and he said to me, “You know you don’t have to save the world every month, right?” That really stuck with me. It is okay and sometimes RIGHT to say NO to good things. I would rather do a few things excellently than all things half way. Or more accurately, I would rather do a few things excellently and not have to take a week to recover every month because I’ve drained myself of everything I have.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would be wise to have a plan. A decision-making plan. So I literally wrote one up the other morning. It’s pretty simple:

Before saying YES:

  1. Have I prayed about it?
  2. Does this honor and glorify God?
  3. Does this move me towards my life goals for this year?
  4. Does this conflict with any previous commitments and/or work schedule?
  5. Is the THOUGHT of this already stressing me out?

This has been SO helpful for me already! Freeing really! The first two are musts, the third is almost a must. That fourth is negotiable. My schedule is flexible but I want to stay committed to the things I’ve said YES to first. The Bible actually has a lot to say on following through on your word. (Eccl. 5:5, Matt. 5:33-37, Num. 30:1-2) So that’s important to me. That last one is a big one for me. Stress is a huge thing for someone with epilepsy and constant headaches. If just thinking about committing to something is giving me more stress, it’s probably not a good idea to do it. I’ve found the stress doesn’t go away, but usually increases. ๐Ÿ™‚

I want to be wise with the time and energy that’s been given to me. It’s not endless (believe me, I KNOW.) So if I say NO to something you ask me to do, you can know that I’ve thought it through and prayed about it and it’s almost NEVER because I don’t want to do it. I just can’t always say YES.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in growing

 

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Delighting in the Lord (Link)

Gooood Morning! Here’s my latest guest post over at Guys with Bibles! Have a fabulous day!

Delighting in the Lord

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Secured by God

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently on salvation, mine in particular. Whenever I used to tell people my testimony, I would always start it out with, “Well, it’s pretty boring…” But one day I was really convicted by that. I realized that ANY time God takes a dead person and breathes new life into them and gives them the gift of salvation, it’s INCREDIBLE! It’s MIRACULOUS and AMAZING! Who am I to call God’s work boring??!

So I’m here to tell you a story of Amazing Grace. To be quite honest, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in Jesus as my Savior. I know there must have been, but I don’t recall that. I actually remember being in 1st grade or so and my Sunday School teacher told us the gospel and asked who all in the class believed it. Well of course I did! So I raised my hand. And then she had all of us close our eyes and pray “THE” prayer after her. You know what I mean. And I literally remember sitting there and telling God that I thought this was silly and didn’t understand why I needed to pray this because I was already saved. Those 6 year old minds. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s only been recently that I’ve realized what a huge blessing I’ve had all these years. I know A LOT of people that struggle with doubt and I never did growing up. Ever. God says it. That ends it. It’s true. God is who he says he is. It was pretty simple. I never doubted the Bible or my salvation.

2018 was hard. God and I alone know it. And let me tell you folks, it’s extra hard to be on three medications that cause depression. A sinful heart is enough to handle without that! And I struggled a lot last year. In my loneliness and desperation to be close to God, I worked soย hard. I worked myself to a frazzle praying and doing my devotions because I so desperately wanted to feel that Presence that was once there.

And there came ONE awful day. The first and only day in my life where I have questioned my salvation. Suddenly I looked at how hard I was “working” and verses and sermons flew through my mind and one single thought crept in out of nowhere, “You don’t understand salvation at all.”

I have been through many bad days but none as bad as that one. I can’t even describe the hopelessness and darkness that I felt on that day. And I felt powerless against it. No matter what Scripture I read or what I forced myself to think, nothing helped.

It wasn’t until very late that night that God gave me the thought I needed:
“You know what? I don’t understand it. It’s waaaay beyond me. But even if I wasn’t saved before, God can save me right now.”ย With a rush every assurance came back. And with a immensely grateful heart I thanked God that my salvation was secured by him and not by me!

As I reflected the next day, I wrote in my journal that I never wanted to have another day like that again. It was terrible and confusing. But I can see how God has used that one day. I have NEVER been able to understand how people doubt God or salvation. But now I have a small point of reference, of empathy, of feeling. A way that connects me with my friends and helps me pray for them better, with a hugely humbled heart.

So take heart friends! I know the journey can be hard and thoughts creep in! God is ALWAYS faithful- that’s the ONE thing I’m positive of.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2019 in salvation

 

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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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Marveling with the Wise

Welcome to my favorite day of the whole year, Christmas Eve! I mean, sure, Christmas is great, but Christmas Eve is where it’s at people. And my favorite part of my favorite day are Candlelit Christmas Eve services, which I will get to enjoy tonight with my family- I’m sooooo excited!

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? I don’t watch Christmas movies except during this time so it’s a tough job to cram them all in right now. And while I have many, MANY ones that I love, my absolute favorite is The Nativity Story. There’s a very particular reason I love that movie and it’s all about the wise men. This is the best scene of the whole movie:

Hmmm…gives me the chills. When that last magi finally realizes who is before him and falls to his knees to present his gift. He knows what sacrifice has been made- God has come in human form. The frankincense points to another sacrifice- Jesus dying on the cross for us. It’s a beautiful picture.

In my devotions the other day I read this verse, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.” John 5:20 The verses immediately after it talk about salvation and God bringing life back to those who are dead (again, salvation!)

And sometimes, I wonder if we have lost our marvel. Do we look at God’s incredible work in the manger and on the cross and take it for granted? Or are we like those wise men and fall before Christ in wonder and worship?

Merry Christmas, friends! May we all remember why we are celebrating today and tomorrow and marvel at our Lord!

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Christmas

 

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Pressuring Missionaries

Almost every week at my church we have what we call a Ministry Minute. They can be about all sorts of things like missionary updates, outreach opportunities, community events we are helping with, etc. It’s to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on and how they can be involved. But recently we’ve started doing something really cool: we’ve been able to Skype our overseas missionaries during that time and get their updates directly from them. It’s super neat. Way to go, Tech Team!

A couple of Sundays ago, we were Skyping a couple in Spain (ok, just how awesome is that?) and a thought occurred to me as they were telling us ways that God was working through them.

We expect a lot from our missionaries. I was sitting listening with this huge smile on my face and suddenly I felt how much pressure these people must feel from us. (My smile probably whipped right off as I worked this out in my head.)

But think about it. Missionaries come back to the States to either raise support or they may be on a break but everyone everywhere wants to know what God is doing and how he’s working. You know what? What if they are in a spiritual desert?? What if they feel like they are preaching to stones and NO ONE is responding? Would they feel like they could be honest with us?

Also, do we ask people in our own church those questions with the same earnestness? Do you want to know what the Lord is doing in your friends’ lives just as much or are you only interested in the far away?

I’ve been thinking this over and been feeling a little bit more compassionate towards the missionaries I know this week. The more I thought about it, I realized it really applies to anyone working in ministry! They aren’t Jesus. They are people who need to be loved and encouraged just as much as you and I and are often far away from everyone they know. Maybe pray a little more for them as Christmas comes next week.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2018 in church

 

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