“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which
being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4: 22-24
How many of you remember going to church camp, conferences, or even worship services and a leader would shout out; “ATTITUDE CHECK!”? The response from the participating group would be; “PRAISE THE LORD!”. In other words, it was a barometer of how the group was feeling and an encouragement for everyone involved to have a good time, to take part and be in fellowship with God.
Our attitude affects our every day living. If we look at life or what we are doing with doom and gloom, it is going to be just that….doom and gloom. However, if we wake up every day ready to receive the blessings God has planned for us and with a smile on our face and heart there is nothing in this world that can pull us down.
In my last blog post; We Need to Bow Down I share how we need to spend time in the presence of God and how we need to kneel before Him. We have to empty ourselves before God so that He can fill us up again. It is in this moment of holiness with Him that we open our hearts, we tell Him we trust Him and His plan for us, and we make ourselves vulnerable to life’s events whether they may be good or bad. In other words, it is this time of holiness that puts our attitude into check.
The theme of Thoughts From The Porch is “Encouraging words for a busy world.” As the technology age began to evolve, we were told that these tools would make life easier. And, most times technology does make life easier and better. After all, it has given people like me a chance to express ourselves, share the gospel to people we may not ever encounter in person, re-connect with friends and loved ones, and to get information easier and faster. Yet, it seems since the technology era has taken off, people are working more hours, people can’t leave work at work and bring it home because a lot of what they do is by computer and the computer has become more portable via the Smart phone/iPhone. Thus, this business can affect our attitude on life and to those around us. In other words, there are times when we need to take time out and have an attitude check.
If I were to shout out to you at this moment ” ATTITUDE CHECK!!”, what would your response be? Would you be saying “PRAISE THE LORD” no matter the circumstances you are facing or would your response be; “don’t even ask” ?
Life is busy. Life is stressful. The economy is rough for everyone right now. It seems more and more people are hurting and are sick. Yet, if we change our attitude on these issues, praising the Lord comes so much easier. Instead, let’s look at things this way:
Life is busy Life is full of blessings at the moment
Life is stressful Life has given me the opportunity to spend more time in my Father’s presence
The economy is rough for everyone right now The economy has given me opportunities to count my blessings all the more and to share my blessings with those less fortunate
People are hurting and sick I have the opportunity to lend a hand to someone, encourage someone to look UP!
You see, life is all about our perspective and our attitude. I love the story Zig Ziglar shares in the video below:
- Let Every Thing that Hath Breath Praise the LORD. (Ps. 150:6) (newchanginglife.wordpress.com)
- How A Great Attitude Can Change Your Life (mountainmoverscoaching.wordpress.com)
Several years ago I worked in a Christian Bookstore. When customers would come in and purchase bibles for themselves or for other people, it was customary to ask if they would like to have the bible imprinted. Imprinting meant using material to press down on the leather that would place the name on the bible for a lifetime.
In life we are constantly imprinting whether we realize it or not. How? We imprint by the words we speak, how we react in certain situations and how we carry ourselves on a daily basis. Through our imprinting, we show our true appearance. This appearance is what God sees ALL the time, our heart.
In the video above, a four-letter word flies out of the little boy’s mouth and the dad realizes he has made an impression on his son. The father’s eyes are opened to how much his son is watching his actions and listening to his words. The little boy expresses how much he wants to be like his daddy.
When we accept Christ into our lives, we are allowing God to imprint our hearts and lives. It is in this imprinting that we would desire to be just like our “daddy” God. We should want to walk in the steps of His Son, Christ and extend the grace that has been extended to us to those placed in our path’s.
As we journey through the days ahead, may we realize that people are watching us, our actions and listening to our words. We may never know who’s life we will be imprinting.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in the world, in conduct, in love in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Lord, You are the beginning, the end, and the very essence of love in me. Open my eyes to see as You see and love others through me.” Sandy Smith
I like frogs. It doesn’t make sense of why I like them because I would not dare pick one up because they are slimy. And, as a kid I was told I would get warts if I held one. Yet, there is something about them that intrigues me.
FROGS. Fully Rely On God’s Sovereignty. Each one of us has reached a crossroads in our life, a life changing decision, a one hundred and eighty turn in mid-stride of our journey, or a time when we felt that we were at the end of our rope. In these particular moments in life, we have a lot of “why” questions, and there may be a chance we had to make changes that we weren’t really ready to make. It is in these moments when we truly must simply Rely On God’s Sovereignty.
When I think about relying on God’s sovereignty, I think about Moses when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and out of slavery. Think about it. Here is a guy minding his own business and then one day God appears to him via a burning bush and tells Moses; “here is what I want you to do.” Can you imagine the butterflies in Moses’ stomach at that moment and possibly his blood pressure and pulse rate all going up at the same time? Yet, he relied on God and obeyed God and God’s authority.
Because Moses relied on God and obeyed, God’s people were led out of slavery and to a new land of freedom. In the process, however, the Israelites did not take a straight path to the Promise Land. There were moments when they doubted God and doubted Moses’ direction that was given by God. In the end, they make it to their destination.
Have you been tapped on the shoulder by God to change direction in your journey? Have you had something to happen that has put you at the end of your rope? Are you at that crossroads where you have to pick which direction you will take next? Is God calling you to do something that makes your heart race, your blood pressure go up and takes you totally out of your comfort zone? If your answer is yes to any of these questions , know that you are a child of a most Sovereign God who loves you very much. Listen to His direction and allow Him to guide you on your journey at this moment. Yes, you may get off course a time or two just as the Israelites did but know you can Fully Rely On God’s Sovereignty. God WILL get you to your destination.
Frogs. Another reason I like them is for the music they make on hot summer evenings. As I hear them sing along with the rest of God’s creatures, I am reminded of how they are relying on God for ALL of their needs. It is their song that reminds me that no matter what life brings or what new turns that come along, the God that I worship is a Sovereign God on whom I can fully rely on!
Teach me, LORD the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
Unplugging from blogging and tweeting for the rest of the year.
I will be back next year with many more new thoughts to share.
May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Season
Many blessings to you and yours in 2013!
- Countdown: My Top Ten Childhood Christmas Memories (darsba.wordpress.com)
It is that time of year again where we have multiple lists that we are checking off. These lists include added items to the usual grocery list, baking list, gift list, party list and the lists go on. You cannot imagine having yet another list. Yet, I am going to give you a list to remember this Christmas Season.
Things To Remember:
We all have to just sit down and rest at some point and time.
Take a deep breath.
It is in those deep breaths we can relax and inhale the joy and love of God into our souls.
Look at all that is around you.
Give thanks to God for the daily gifts that surround you.
Remember to keep it simple in the gift giving.
The most cherished gifts are not the most expensive but the ones where thought and love were put into them.
After all, God’s gift to us happened in a simple place to simple couple but He came with a lot of love.
- Gifts of Christmas – God with Us (essentialthingdevotions.com)
- How Advent Can Be Much More Than “The Christmas Season” (glennpackiam.typepad.com)
We have all had days when we ask; ‘where’s God?” or we just need a little pick-me-up to get through the rest of the day. Needless to say, we all have had things we really wanted to do or a trip we really wanted to take but it fell through and with that came disappointment. It is on these types of days and situations when God is more at work than we realize.
For example, today has been one of those days where I started the day out already exhausted. Exhausted from all that I have tried to accomplish before the Thanksgiving holiday. Yet, I had a list of things to do around the house and an errand to run in town. After, knocking a couple of things off my list around the house, I grabbed my keys and headed into town do that one “quick” errand which turned out to take more than a few minutes. “God, I just need a pick-me-up up, a hug or something to give me a little wind to help me through the rest of the day” is what I prayed as I was returning back home.
While eating a late lunch in front of the television, my little Smokey comes up and sits beside me. He looks up at me, smiles (yes, my dog smiles) and he gives me one of his winks. At that moment, I felt my spirit within fill up with warmth, my heart smiled and I got that extra bit of wind that I needed to get through the rest of the day. Not long after that, I decide to catch up on Facebook. In this catching up, I got the sweetest message of encouragement which was another wink from above.
Life sometimes gets hard, tiresome and frustrating. It seems more and more of us are facing some sort of challenge these days. Things happen and we don’t understand why. As a result, we may feel a sense of disappointment. Yet, it is in these moments when God is at work and He is looking out for us.
There have been experiences where we have sent up a breath prayer and sometime not long after the prayer was answered. Then there has been times where we sent up a prayer and it didn’t get answered but looking back we see why and are thankful that God was and is watching out for us. To go along with the answered and unanswered prayers, we have had an experience of disappointment or change of plans and didn’t understand at the moment why. Yet, we can look back and see where God was at work all through the situation. A lot of times we look back on these situations and see that God sent us a little wink and now we are thankful things fell into place like they did. In some cases, how the situation fell into place or the prayer was answered was far better than what we “thought” we wanted or wanted to do. We look back and see God’s blessings all the way through. Some of those “God Winks” may even give us a little goose bump that makes us feel good.
Every day God sends us a wink. We have to be in tuned to God being at work in our lives. We simply have to acknowledge that He is in control of ALL things and involved in ALL things.
A couple of years ago I became acquainted with the book, When God Winks At You by Squire Rushnell. In this book, Squire Rushnell shares many stories of God Winks in the midst of people’s ordinary lives. Some God Winks are answer to prayers. Other God Winks are where people changed their plans and in the midst of their disappointment of changed plans they saw God’s blessing and God looking out for their best interest. Take a look at the video:
It was after reading this book where I became even more in tuned to God at work in my life. I began seeing the God Winks that have taken place in my life and be attentive to the daily winks that may come my way. It seems just when I send up a breath prayer I receive a wink. Though it may not be the answer I was seeking but it is what put the pep back in my step and warmed my spirit.
One God Wink that I experienced not long ago was in a drive-thru at McDonald’s. Jim and I had finished dinner and cleaning up the kitchen when I looked at him and told him I had a craving for a chocolate dipped ice cream cone. Recently, our neighborhood McDonald’s had just begun serving the chocolate dipped cones. We grabbed the keys and headed for McDonald’s. “Go through the drive-thru” I told Jim because I didn’t see any sense in going in for just an ice cream cone. We pull up to the sign, give our order and the voice on the other side gives us our total and tells us to pull up to the first window. Jim pulls up to the window with money in hand to pay for our order. The girl leans out of the window with a big smile on her face and says; “there’s no charge. The car in front of you paid for your order.” Astonished, we pulled up to the next window to pick up our order. As we pulled away, I told Jim that was our God Wink for the evening and we needed to say thank-you to God. That one God Wink not only made us smile and end our day on a happy note, but you could tell the girl at the drive thru was warmed by what happened and so the domino effect went on.
The Christmas season is right on our heels. It is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” but it becomes one of the busiest and stressful time of year for many. It is so easy to get frustrated because we can’t find that item we want, we are stuck in traffic which is causing us to be late to an engagement, the crowds are getting on our nerves and the Christmas baking still has to be done while wrapping gifts and trimming the tree. Yes, overwhelming is a word used quite often this time of year.
This year, in the midst of the shopping, the baking and/or the frustrations,we need be sure we are in tuned to God, His voice and His being at work in our lives. We need to be attentive to what is going on around us because we never know when He might just send us that wink. And, when God sends that wink, be sure to send Him up a wink with a breath prayer of thanksgiving.
The LORD bless you and keep you,
The LORD make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance up you,
And give you peace.
“Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“Take a left up here where the cross roads meet.” Okay, take another left up at the next cross roads.” These were the directions I was giving my husband, Jim as I was giving him the nickel tour of one of the communities I grew up in during my father’s ministry. The previous evening I had attended a class reunion with classmates that I had not seen in thirty-four years.
After the nickel tour of the community and showing Jim the places I hung out and the homes I shared many memories, we went to the cemetery of the church where my dad was assigned. There I stood and read names of headstones and shared stories of how they touched my life and the memories made with their families and in their homes. As I shared these memories, God was gently reminding me of his presence in every step and moment of my life.
Jim and I made our way on over to the church grounds where we met up with my son, Drew and his wife Megan. From there, we entered the sanctuary where I had not sat in since attending a funeral of a dear sweet friend twenty plus years ago. I had my family to sit in the pew where my family sat as Dad preached his last sermon as pastor. Yet, as I told them to sit, I told myself that this time I would not be teary eyed as I was on that last day where my family told the congregation good-bye.
Yet, as the service began, I looked around the congregation remembering where certain families sat each Sunday. It was then when I realized the reality of time and life. Life has moved on. Life has changed. Some of those families have moved on to other beginnings themselves while others have gone to be in their eternal home. A wave of sadness and yet joy filled my heart once again. Sadness because these people were gone but joy because of how they touched my life as a young lady.
Some people would call it ironic but as a Christian I know it was all a God thing and His timing. Rev. Shirley Wright’s sermon title was “Standing Between You and God.” She shared about the rich man wanting to know more about the kingdom that we read in Mark 10:17-30. Her illustrations were crossroads. Rev. Wright shared how we all have experienced cross roads in our lives. These crossroads include the transitions in life and/or new beginnings.
“Be still my heart” is what I thought as I listened to the sermon. As the minister shared, I realized that God had placed me at the very place where I experienced pivotal crossroads in my life. I went from being a little girl to a young lady while at this church, began playing in band, experienced my first year of high school, had my first boyfriend and date. But the most important crossroad I experienced at this particular appointment is the moment I accepted Christ into my heart. It was on a camp meeting Sunday when I gave my life to Christ and asked Him to walk with me the rest of my days.
Yes, this past weekend I stood at the crossroads with God reminding me of how He has walked with me through many other crossroads in my lifetime. He showed me how these significant crossroads have impacted my life and made me who I am today. God reminded me at these cross roads that there are still many before me and He is still walking with me telling me which way to turn.
There are days when we don’t know how we are going to get through. There are crossroads where we are not sure if we should go straight or turn left or right. When these moments take place, go back to that significant crossroad where you invited Christ on your journey. You may not be able to go back in the physical sense as I did but go back in your mind/memory. Then, look at where you were and then see how far He has brought you. Then, gently take your Father’s hand and allow Him to lead you on through the crossroad before you.
Dedicated to the wonderful congregation Shiloh United Methodist Church and to the Saints who have gone before me.
- Stand at the Crossroads and Look (ericdykstra.typepad.com)
“Can’t wait!” “I’m getting excited!” “So excited that I will be seeing everyone!” are just a few of the postings on my Facebook that I have been seeing for several months. This coming weekend I will be attending a thirty year class reunion with a class I did not graduate with but have been invited to attend the reunion. In all reality, I have not seen most of these classmates in thirty-four years!
Okay. Now, I have you confused. You are thinking; “she’s going to a class reunion but she did not graduate with the class.” “Did she quit school?” In answer to these thoughts, is that I did go to school with this group of people from fifth grade to eighth grade. My dad was a minister and was re-appointed to a new congregation after I completed my eighth grade year.
Thanks to Facebook, I have been reunited with these classmates. Classmates that I have often wondered where life has taken them. I have literally not seen some of these classmates since the last day of school in eighth grade. Oh, my family and I did try to go back and visit. But, as we know, life gets busy, people move on and the visits became less and less frequent over time.
Yet, back in the Spring, I receive a message from one of these dear friends telling me about this reunion coming up. They wanted me to come be a part of the reunion even though I did not complete high school with them. I was told that they always considered me as part of their Class of 1982 family. When I received this message and comment, my heart was warmed.
As I reflect on this upcoming weekend and the comments/status updates that are being posted, I am reminded of another reunion. A reunion that we all are invited to attend. A gathering of friends where we should not want anyone left out. A party where ALL are included.
This reunion is heaven. It’s a banquet where we are ALL invited. Yet, as with all invitations, there is an RSVP. This RSVP is accepting Christ into our hearts. When we accept Christ into our lives, we are also making the commitment to be his servant/ambassador.
As we accept our invitation to have Christ live in us and us live for Christ, we need to make sure that others are invited. We must ask ourselves the question; “Is there someone I have always considered family that I want to see at this reunion?” Also, in our daily living, we need to show how exciting it will be to be a part of the Kingdom. Remember, as Christians, we are representatives of the Kingdom.
In our daily living in the days ahead, may we walk with the expressions of “Can’t wait!” “I’m so excited!” ” Looking forward to seeing everyone!” flowing out of hearts so others will see the joy of Christ’s Kingdom. We should be so on fire for the Lord that people will want to stop and ask if they can get an invitation.
Carry these verses in your heart as you journey in your faith walk.
” We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete.” 1 John 1: 3-4
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
My father-n-law was known by family and friends as “Mr. Fix It.” If something is broken, he could usually fix it when no one else could. It is amazing what he could do with super glue, duct tape and even with a wad of chewing gum. He could make fixing things look so easy.
There are times in our lives when we see someone doing something we don’t approve of and we want to change them to our way of thinking. Or, we think we know the whole picture of what is going on by just seeing only a few snippets without even getting to know the person/situation. In our perception, we think we need to jump in and fix the situation or person when really we can’t.
Then, there are those situations/persons who are really doing no wrong but they are not doing things like we would do them. They don’t live like we live our lives. It is different but not wrong.
Jim and I have always had a motto in our home that when someone does something that is totally different from our lifestyles we need to respect that person and there is no need to say anything. It is our responsibility to love the person. Yet, if we see it is something wrong that may lead to detriment, then it is within our right to speak up. But, when we speak up, we need to respond not react. Respond with love and with prayer going into the situation. Reacting with a knee jerk reaction can lead to even more detriment.
What happens when we react and try to fix it ourselves? We begin to carry a burden that was not meant for us to carry. Reacting and attempting to fix a person/situation causes worry in our lives that interrupts the blessings we could be giving and receiving. It causes sleepless nights. Attempting to fix and react also shows we lack faith in what God can do. Remember, God takes care of situations and people in His own time. And, from my experience when allowing God to be in control the outcomes are usually beautiful blessings that we would not experience if we kept trying to take care of the situation ourselves.
God gives us each day to live for his glory. He has never said; “here is a situation that I want you to fix.” Instead, he says; “give me the situation and let me take care of it.” Philippians 4:6-7 says it quite well:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
God does not want us to live a life of anxiety. He wants us to live in a life of peace. So, is someone doing something you know will bring detriment to their lives? Do what Philippians 4:6-7 says and that is to pray. Place the person/situation into God’s hands and allow him to the molding. It is in our letting go and letting God that strengthens and shows God our faith in him and what he can do.
Do you see someone doing something that is not the way your live and is not your lifestyle? Before reacting ask yourselves these questions: Is it really wrong? Is is part of their culture? Are they in their process of blooming? Accept the person/situation for who they are, love on them and lead them with a positive influence.
God did not put us here to be in the fixing business. Fixing is God’s place. Our responsibility is to place all things into the hands of God. Listen to his still small voice for guidance. Allow God to work on his time and not your time. Remember the Serenity Prayer?
God, grant me the SERENITY to accept
the things I cannot change, the courage to
change the things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.
Let’s show God our faith and place that person/situation into God’s hands. Allow God to give you wisdom of how you can be a positive influence to the person/situation. Remember, you can’t fix it but God can! TRUST HIM!
Have you had an experience where you wanted to fix someone or something but you placed the situation/person(s) into the Father’s hands. Then, in His time he did the repair work with beautiful blessings as an outcome? If so, share your story with me. I would love to hear from you.
“When you have clung to Jesus through pain and problems and experienced His amazing grace, you will find joy in Him.
Jo Ann Leavell
- Worry and Anxiety- How These Emotions Can Mess Life Up (gracefullwomen.com)
- What to Do While You Wait (The Power of Prayer Series, Part 2) (simplyjuliana.wordpress.com)