Lots of Good Things are Just More Things

Lots of Good Things are Just More ThingsSo it has been a couple of days into my fast from social media, and just as I expected, God is using a highlighter, bold print and italics everywhere to make a statement to me.

Clarity is the nature of fasting.  If you have never before fasted, I challenge you to consider it. There is nothing like removing the things we rely upon and exchanging those experiences for reliance on the Lord to gain perspective–insight even–into what has been turning our wheels.

Thematic in purpose, the statements I am hearing at a heart-level from God all amount to the same point. For all the striving I have done in the past couple of years through various venues, the outcome is the same…it falls short of God’s best for me and my family.  It is not His heart for me.

They are all lots of GOOD things, sure.  But in effect, they are just MORE things that amount to NOTHING–nothing that will last.

Down the road, they are like tumbleweeds blowing across the field. Perhaps someone will spray paint it white for a snowman centerpiece on their dining room table. But they will never grasp what its original intent was in my hands nor will it carry on the same story. Not to say that it wasn’t good or beneficial.  It was!  But in the long run, it was ineffective and a distraction for me from my main purpose.

And what is my main purpose??  Ah now, that is a very good question–the BEST question even!  It is a question we all should ask ourselves…and take the time to listen for the answer. My main purpose is to be soft clay in God’s hands, ready to obey Him and willing to let Him shape and mold me for the path on which He has placed me.

What path?

The path is the one God has wrought–which I can choose or not choose at any time.

With whom and for whom?

Well first, I am His daughter. He knows me–through and through.  He loves me.  He is closer than my breath–no need for long distance. He thinks about me all the time.  He is constantly setting me up for success–not in the world’s eyes, no–but for the plans He has for me.  He makes a way in my desert.  He listens for my voice.  He loves to hear from me…and I talk with Him all the time. We are close, like that.

Then I am wife and best friend to my Chris. He loves me and makes me better than I am.  He causes me to laugh–all the time.  I only ever want to dream with him about our future. We are and have always (since we have known one another) been together in this journey with God, living before God. In tandem, we cycle through this race for the goal. We raise the bar for one another. We share words with our eyes all the time.  And we laugh at the same things, which no one else would get. We love each other deeply–in good times and in bad.  We are close, like that.

Then I am mother to four, wonderfully-made and diverse children. My main focus during these growing years for them is to keep my hand on the pulse of their hearts and to continually spur them on toward following God’s path for them. My Chris and I shape their hearts and hone their minds, so that they walk in the light of God’s best for them.  They will walk, as we do–so my job, too, is to keep honest before God and ask for His help in walking out some very difficult and also diverse trails. I share with them unconditional love.  I spend myself to teach them to love and serve by how I love and serve them. And I listen to them. I make time to be available to hear their hearts.

Everything and everyone that comes beyond these three points MUST align with the first three…must PROMOTE the first three.  With intention and purpose, I have choices to make about what makes up the rest. I cannot assume here that I have no choice.  I DO have a choice.  I cannot control the circumstances, no.  But I can control how and where I build–how and where I focus–how and where I steward every part of myself.

Because lots of good things are going on–opportunities have presented themselves, motives have come to light and goals, which may or may not support my main priority–I must choose among them.  So I have to ask myself, are these just MORE things or are they purposed for promoting my main agenda (those first three points)?

Along the same lines, I do believe we are to walk with God and do the next thing He brings.  The hardest part is determining if THIS is the next thing He has for me OR is this a distraction, which will diffuse my passion for the main things. How do we know?  Well, trial and error is not the best method here.  What I believe IS the best method can be found in James 1:5-8.  Ask God believingly for wisdom…

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Because rather than tumbleweeds, I want to forge some deep roots into the soil, which will develop a strong family tree that continually retrieves nutrients and bears not only MUCH fruit, but GOOD fruit–the lasting kind that will not blow away and be repurposed.

That, my  friends, is enough to keep me looking, walking and thriving — for it really does matter what I do and how I think and what I will be (not leaving those I love and care for in the hands of Que Sera Sera–what will be will be).  It matters for all eternity.

Choosing Best with Jesus’ Help,

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More Joy in One Ordinary Day

While reading The Message Bible, this verse that struck me as, “YES, THAT’S IT! That is exactly how I feel”

“Why is everyone hungry for more? ‘More, More,’ they say, ‘More, more.’ I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day.” Psalm 4:6-7 The Message

And it is so.

One year, about 7 years ago, nearly every gift I received had the word, “JOY” written on it. I really don’t know why. Was it something I lacked? Was it something I possessed? At the time, I pondered what the message meant to me.

As I think back upon it, I think the message meant that JOY was, is and will be God’s purpose for me. It is His purpose for you, as well.

 

The thing about JOY is this: it alters the outcome of a regular journey and impacts it in such a positive way that there must be an overflow somewhere to contain the whole of it. Joy fills and it also overspills. Joy impacts.



What if my choice for JOY changes the outcome of an otherwise difficult pathway?  It does. It will. I have tested this one over and over.

You may know me somewhat, or well or not at all. In my life, I have experienced much good. But also, I have experienced some really bad and really hard things, too (just like everybody). The thing is I don’t LIVE there. I don’t choose to live there nor do I want to live there.

I choose JOY. My default for any and all situations is to find the JOY in it. I must choose to not let feelings get in the way of it. It is the LIFE in those situations. It is the place where time and time again, I have found my Jesus in such a personal and life-altering way. He is the only One, who can take bankruptcy and make it something for which to be thankful.

For when He comes, He is the One infusing Life and infusing Joy and infusing Love and infusing Forgiveness and giving Perspective and Filling me to Fullness. It doesn’t matter your blood-type. His blood is for everyone–a universal Giver is He.

So am I in denial? You might think so. But I know the Truth and time and time and time and again, Truth in Christ has set me free. So I choose Joy.

You might say, well I’m not wired that way. Ask Jesus for a re-wire. Ask Him to come and change the part of you that chooses against Joy.

For another part of my thankfulness over the many hardships we have faced is this–I am still choosing Joy to cover each hardship. The joy of Christ in me is making me complete and full and thankful…and humble.  His Joy in me is changing the outcome.

Are we still in the midst of bankruptcy? Yes, we are. Is it still hard? YES! IT IS! But for some reason, I KNOW we will continue to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit with our heads held high and not in shame. I KNOW that Joy is making all the difference. Beyond the time when our bankruptcy is discharged in early 2012, we shall remember that we were slaves in Egypt, but our God has brought us out with a mighty hand and outstretched arm…and we shall joyfully tell our children and their children of the goodness of our God over our lives and over theirs.

May you choose His JOY, my friends!

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His Breath on My Table

Sometimes when I open the Word of God, I find that my mind wraps itself around something that it wants more of…so I grab a pen and paper, my handy Strong’s Concordance, Bible and Vine’s Expository Dictionary.

Then I begin to search deeper into the meanings of the words. Of course, my knowledge of Hebrew and Greek is nil to nothing. But I know that as I read His Word and look into the meanings from the concordance and dictionary, even I can glean some truth–a wonder indeed! The greater wonder is that anyone can do it with the right tools, the ability to read and the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

 

This morning, when I began to read, I found myself once again in Psalm 138. It has encouraged me so much lately. Just to know that the LORD will accomplish what concerns me is enough to apply to my worry and diminish it. But this morning, as I read in verse 3 the following: “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (NASB)


In the NIV, it said that God makes me bold and stouthearted. I began to question, just what makes a stout-hearted person? For I think, I need to be one. From what I could glean, I found something that even now, I am still thinking about…

 

In the KJV, Psalm 138:3 is as follows: “In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”
 

 

First of all, I encounter and accost (yes, it says that this form of cry out is to accost the person I meet, which means to approach and speak to often in a challenging or aggressive way) God and call out to Him by Name. I publish and read my need to Him.

 

God’s eye (His answer) is upon me. He pays attention to my need and responds. He begins to speak over my need, which is to accomplish what He speaks. God speaks, and it is done.

 

Then, God comes to me to refresh the tablet or table of my heart by breathing upon me anew with force. He urges, emboldens, makes sure and strengthens this breathing creature, me, with security, majesty, boldness, power, strength, might and loud praise.

 

So God brings a tempest of His breath in answer to my call. It is a mighty force that accomplishes His purpose. He exhales a new spirit in me…a spirit of boldness and strength. He repairs, rebuilds and renews my own broken spirit. At this point, I have a singleness of heart (Jeremiah 32:39), an undivided heart (Ezekiel 11:19-21), to do His will.

 

My heart, like a tablet, will glisten with the polish of God’s Hand. Like the new untouched snow, my heart is ready for His imprints all over…not haphazard imprints, no, PURPOSEFUL.

 

I don’t know about you, but today, I NEED a fresh breath of God upon my table. For sometimes, I find that I am afraid. Sometimes, I find that I’ve grown hard-hearted. So LORD, I pray that You will come and blow anew upon me. I am desperate for Your accomplishing Word over me.

 

‘Anyone else needing this today? Let’s boldly sing some loud praise to God, for He is Worthy, and He has given us a heart to do so!

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The Pantry

When we built our house, there was only one thing that I really demanded be included in the design….a walk-in pantry.  I had seen one in a model design and fell in love.  I knew from experience what it was like not to have enough storage in your kitchen and your home.  It’s frustrating, time and money consuming because you can never really see everything that is in the cabinets and closets.  You end up buying items that you later find you already had pushed to the back of the highest shelf.

My pantry is a long narrow room that runs along the back wall of my kitchen and just wide enough for shelves on one side, across the back and room to move around a bit.  It was perfect….for a while.

After time, I found myself, along with the rest of my family, using the pantry to store stuff that just didn’t seem to have another place to go.  Big, bulky pots and pans begin collecting on the floor toward the back of the pantry.  Then stuff got put in those pans and the pile started growing.  It got so bad that I could barely get to the very back of the pantry and what little walk way we had started becoming narrower.

Trash bags that had fallen from their designated spot on the shelf stayed on the floor for months.  No one bothered to pick them up and put them back, we just pushed them off to the side and figured we would eventually use them all up…so why put them away.  Then, after about the 10th time of almost falling after stepping on those bags…I decided to clean the pantry.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if you are in the right “room” of A Martha Heart.  What does the pantry have to do with Bible study and spending time at the Master’s feet?  Here it is!

The pantry was designed for a purpose, but because of my laziness and unconcern, it had lost its main purpose.  Don’t get me wrong…it was still usable, but not for what and how it was intended.  When I finished cleaning and re-organizing my pantry, I was amazed.  I threw away a huge trash bag full of “stuff” and out-dated food that had been hiding behind the good stuff.  When I walk into my pantry now I feel inspired to cook and shop effectively.  I know exactly what is in there and what is not.

Sometimes, my spiritual life becomes just like my pantry.

I was designed for purpose, God’s purpose.  When I first started really understanding God’s will for my life, I was on fire!  I was effective and useful.  After many years of my spiritual walk, at times I don’t feel so effective and useful.  I feel cluttered.

Stuff…good stuff, mind you…starts piling up in my spiritual life.  Church involvement, community activities, working, hobbies, even family…all good stuff…but sometimes they crowd out my real purpose.  And then there is all the trash I allow to build up in my life.

When I find myself “failing”, it’s time to clean out my spiritual pantry.  Some junk needs to be thrown out, some commitments need to be let go or downsized, my family needs to be “picked up off the floor and put on a protective shelf” (so to speak).

God wants to use me, but I can’t be effective and useful if I allow my life to become cluttered with unnecessary “pots and pans”.    Once I’ve “cleaned house”, I can see where I can be used by Him in the most effective and productive ways.

What is cluttering up your spiritual life?  Do you need to do some cleaning?

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them…Ephesians 2:10 hcsb

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