Be Still

This summer I am journeying through the book, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver with a group of ladies at my church. It is within the pages of this book we are learning more about the importance of just sitting still. Joanna makes us think about the things that take our focus off of Jesus. She points out that we get caught up in the obligations of life. We get so caught up in life to the point  we fail  to spend time with the One who loves us and longs for fellowship with us.

Cover art

Before our session began yesterday, our class was all a chatter and laughter. It seemed we all had a laundry list of things to do.  Some of us had added to our list since our last meeting.  Someone commented how timely this study was for her. My response was yes, God knows what we need when we need it.”

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Mary and Martha

Most of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha.  Jesus has come into Mary and Martha’s home. Martha is all about details. She preparing the meal and all that goes with showing hospitality to guests. On the other hand, Mary is sitting in the family room at the feet of Jesus absorbing all He has to say. As we know, this does not set well with Martha.

The Scene

I can see it now. Martha trying to get the meal ready, the table set and all the preparations that go into entertaining guests.  As she is going full speed, she occasionally glances into the living room and there sits Mary. In her eyes Mary is doing nothing but sitting there.  After dropping something for the umpteenth time, and most likely burning her hand as she pulls something from the stove. Martha says to herself; ‘that does it! I’ve had enough!  I’m going to say something to Jesus. He will set Mary straight and get her in here to help.”

 

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The Confrontation

Can’t  you see Martha marching into the living room and nudging Jesus? She nudges Jesus and ask if she can have a side bar with him for a moment. They pull away from the group and Martha  lets loose on Jesus. She complains about all that has to be done for this dinner and all Mary is doing is sitting at his feet.

Jesus allows Martha to vent. All the while she is venting, I can see Jesus just snickering and nodding his head (which probably made Martha even more upset). Once she is  done with her complaint, he puts everything that is happening into perspective.

First, I am all but sure Jesus told Martha to simply calm down and breathe. He says; “Martha, Martha ( shaking his head and smiling as he talks to Martha) you are worried and upset about too many things, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. ”   (Luke 10:38-42) I am sure Martha was a bit taken back at first  with Jesus’ explanation to her.

 

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Can’t We All Relate?

Can we not all relate? As I re-read this scripture and write this post, I am snickering a bit myself. I snicker because it is very convicting to me. I can’t tell you the countless times I have hosted something in my home or away from home that the one person or persons I thought I could rely on to help was in the family room having a good time. Yes, I have summons someone over to a corner to vent. This person would basically tell me to take a chill pill and not to worry. My response has been;“not worry! Don’t you see what needs to be done?!” Yet, in the end, I pull myself up by the boot straps and continue on with duties at hand.

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The Lesson

Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet. Martha chose to get caught up in the details of the to-do list. When Martha confronts Jesus about this “problem” Jesus basically tells Martha that Mary has her priorities in order. Mary is doing what is most important and that’s taking time to sit with him. She is sitting still and absorbing all that Jesus has to say.

It is Summer. Summer is supposedly a time of rest and relaxation. However, it seems the Summer days get filled  up to capacity.  It is easy to get caught up in the to-do list and the details.   For me, it is easy to wake up and hit the floor running and start into the daily routine of stuff to do. I admit there are days when I skip over the quiet time and go right into the day. The end result is that I become weary and irritable.

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Sit Still

Yes, we all tend to fill our calendars to the maximum these days.  Our schedules get filled out of obligation, guilt, and let’s just say it….we have a fear of missing out. Our stacked schedules with no breathing room is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be in relationship with him. He longs for us to just stop and sit at the feet of his Son, Jesus. God wants us to be quiet and hear his gentle whispers in our heart.

Today, I encourage you to just simply stop. Turn off  anything  that may be a distraction and simply be quiet. Read some of your favorite scripture verses. Or, allow God to lead you to a Psalm or Proverb that you may need today.  It is amazing that when you sit still in the presence of God how he will lead you to the very words you need.

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As you sit in the quiet, listen to the voice of your Father. Allow, him to guide you as to what you need to do next. Give him your empty cup and allow him to fill it up with a renewed spirit. I also encourage you to journal the thoughts/whispers he says to your heart. Write a prayer to God giving him the request on your heart. Also, write out the blessings you have received. As you write out those requests, remember to leave them at the feet of Jesus. When you write out the blessings be sure to give God thanks and praise.

Once you begin deliberately taking time to sit with  Jesus, you will experience your out of kilter life get back into balance. This happens because you have invited God into the busyness of your life. You have allowed your Father to renew you and give you his whispers of encouragement. Most importantly, you have spent time in worship with your Father.  I love this quote in the book, Having A Mary Heart In A Martha World…….

 “When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse.”

Until next time, take time to be still with your Father.

Blessings,

April

 

PS You can follow me on Facebook. I have a Thoughts From The Porch Page (@thoughtsforabusyworld). 

 

 

 

 

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Remember Who You Are

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possessions, that you declare praises

of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:6

remembering-who-you-are-in-christ

Remember Who You Are

Remember who you are. Growing up in a minister’s home, these words were often to spoken to me as I would go out with friends or when I would be out with my family. Those spoken words meant behave yourself, use your manners and know that people are watching you.  In other words, my identity and reputation would be defined by my actions and by the words I would say.

Fast Forward

In 1987, I became a mom to a precious little boy named Drew. As I began to raise him and send him out, I soon heard my mom coming out of my mouth as he would leave the house. Remember who you are I would say to Drew as he would head out the door.  These words were spoken even more often as he began to drive, date and do more things without Jim and I around.

One evening, Drew asked why we kept repeating this phrase before he would leave the house. Jim and I explained that when he is out and about he is representing our home and what we stand for and what we don’t tolerate as a family. We also explained that we live in a small town and chances are we will know where he had been before he got home. Yes, we did know where he was and who with before he returned home on several occasions. Jim and I also explained that it is important of being mindful of how one acts and what one says because it also shows his  heart  condition and what he believed.

Drew is now grown with his own family. He and his wife have just had a  precious baby girl, Campbell over a month ago. As Jim and I watch Drew and Megan with Campbell, we can’t help not only hear the words of what we said to Drew as we raised him but also the voices of our parents are even stronger. The words, remember who you are seem to be even louder for me these days.

Conforming

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

“The cross before me, the world behind me.”

As of recent Jim and I watch very little “new” programs on television. Not long ago Jim and I  had tuned into a sitcom we thought would be entertaining. After about five minutes into it, we looked at each other and said, what is this world coming to? As we spit these words out of our mouths, we looked at each other and there was a moment of silence. Needless to say, we turned the program off.

Jim and I began to talk about how the world is so much different from it was when we were growing up. We were both born in the mid 1960’s, grew up in the seventies and graduated high school in the early 1980’s.  Back then our grandparents thought the world was going crazy.  Yet, I look back now and see how much simple life was than it is now.

It seems we have forgotten who we are, whose we are, what is right and as Christians we are facing intolerance of our faith. Not only are Christians facing intolerance of their faith but they are facing  pressures to conform to this world.  As I write this I am reminded of Romans 12:2

Do not conform to this pattern of this world

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Turning From The Faith

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As I write this post, I recall being a participant on the study of Daniel. Daniel 1:1-7. In this passage we learn of how God has handed King Nebuchadnezzar Judah.  In the process of this siege,  Nebuchadnezzar has ordered for the  young men from the royal family and noble families of the Israelites to be brought to serve in his court. The qualifications of these you men were they had to be   good-looking and who would most likely conform to his instructions and way of life.

It was the King’s plan to change these young men to conform to his rules, his lifestyle and to forget who they were meaning to take God out of their lives. Nebuchadnezzer expected these young men to bow to his gods. He went as far changing the names of these young men.  Their current names were names that represented God thus the need to change their names.

Through this process, the King ran into a snag. The snag was Daniel. Daniel refused to conform to the King’s ways. He refused to eat the same food as the King and to bow down to the King’s gods. As you read the book of Daniel, you will see where God showed up, used Daniel to turn the King’s heart around.

There Will Be A Day

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In my NIV Life Application Bible, Matthew 24’s sub heading is Jesus Teaches About the Future.  In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus comes out of the temple and the disciples call Jesus over to admire structure of the temple. They are impressed with the architecture. Yet, Jesus tells them the building is only temporary. As Matthew 24 continues Jesus warns the disciples ( including us) about there will come a time of false prophets, deception, Nation will rise against nation, and there will be famines. Jesus went on to explain to the disciples that they and we as Christians will be hated because of Him. Then in Matthew 24:13 he says what I believe is the most pivotal and important phrase, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Standing Firm

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It seems these days there is so much going on. People doing things out of greed, out for themselves, no concern for fellow-man, and manners seemed to be a thing of the past. I see families against one another and the list goes on. If you are on any type of social media you see such things every day. Our television shows and news also reflect this culture that has been created.  Thus, all the more reason that we as Christians need to stand firm in what we believe. Each morning when we rise,  we  need to pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment. Just as Daniel stood firm in his faith we must stand firm in ours.

Remember Who You Are

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Yes, as a child my mom would remind me each time I left the house to remember who I was and how my actions spoke loudly to those I would encounter. Today, as I go out and about my business, I realize even more so the importance of remembering who I am and who I represent. I don’t just represent my personal home and family but I represent God’s Kingdom.

1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are a chosen people and  a royal priesthood.  Each one of us  made the decision to step out of darkness and ways of the world to step into the light of Christ and represent His kingdom.  It is my prayer as we journey in the days ahead  that we remember who we are and whose we are and  our words and actions demonstrate what we believe.   Let there be no question of who we are in this world.

 

Don’t Let The Pirates Take You Down

pirates

On April 8, 2009 there was a cargo ship heading for Mombasa Kenya. The Captain of the Ship was Richard Phillips. The ship consisted of twenty crew members.  CNN breaks in with breaking news that this cargo ship had been boarded by modern-day pirates.

For those of you who know your geography, you know that the waters  this cargo ship was sailing are known for piracy. Therefore, it makes sense that Captains and crew members who sail ships through this area are trained in how to handle an attack by pirates. It is through this training that the captain stepped up not letting the pirates get the best of him.  It is also through this level of discipline that our trained armed forces were able to secure the release of  the Captain and his crew. The Captain was not going to allow these pirates to take him and his crew down. Determination, diligence and focus are how this crew and all those involved in the rescue were able to help bring about a positive outcome.

There are times in our lives where pirates board our lives. Situations happen out of the blue where the intentions are to bring us down and hurt us.  These pirates work with the pirates of negativity.  Their goal is to attack, steal and see how far down they can bring us down. They are ambassadors for Satan. They love to see a ship go down in a blaze of glory.  Much like the pirates who took that ship heading to Kenya, they are out for themselves and no one else.

pirates on ship

When these pirates attack we have to remain focused, determined, disciplined, and diligent on how we respond.  Just as the Captain and the crew were during those initial grueling hours of captivity, it is during these times when it is even more important that we stay focused on God’s word, hold tight to His hand and seek the good within the evil.

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There are times, however, when we do the opposite. Something bad/evil happens and we take off running. We run looking for answers in other places rather than seeking the answer from God. For some reason, we feel as though God isn’t going to make the outcome a positive one and he just doesn’t work fast enough for us. Thus, we go wondering to the wrong things for the answers. It is when we do this we are allowing the pirates to take us down. We are allowing them to sink our ship.

sinking ship

Saul is an example of allowing pirates to sink his ship. He was God’s ( The Captain’s) choice of being the first king of Israel. Samuel was instructed by God to anoint Saul as king. However, as time went on Saul began to be disobedient to God. As a result, he began running and looking for answers outside of going to God, listening for God and trusting God.  He went as far as looking for answers through mediums. Eventually, all of his  running, disobeying God and seeking answers outside of God got the better of him. He reached the point where he could not see beyond where he was standing and deliberately fell on his sword and killed himself.  He allowed the pirates of disobedience and hostility to take over his life and he went down not in a blaze of glory but in a glaze of tragedy.

There are going to be times when pirates are going to board our ship. They are going to try their best  to take us down. It is in those moments we need to realize that no matter how horrible the pirate is treating us or the situation is going God will use the situation for good if we acknowledge him and allow him. The key is that we have to grab tighter to his hand. We have to trust our Captain and realize he is at work in the situation even though we feel as though he is not there.  It is so important not to give into the temptation of running to other things and people looking for the answer(s) we think will fix the situation.

holding God's hand

May we be like Captain Phillips when the pirates board our ship. May we stay focused on God and diligent on how we respond. Also, may we have the following scriptures inscribed on our hearts and say them repeatedly to ourselves as we face those grueling hours of what feels like captivity. If we do this there is NO WAY the pirates can take us down and steal our joy in the LORD.

“And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Romans 8:28

“I can do ALL this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

In closing, I want to share a beautiful paragraph that is in my Life Application Bible. It sums up the theme of the book of Samuel. It is something I have copied into  my notes and look at it when those ugly pirates try to board my ship and take me down. I encourage you to print it and put it somewhere to have as an affirmation during those times ugly pirates are boarding your ship.

“God is at work in this world, even when we can’t see what he is doing. No matter what

kinds of pressures we must endure or how many changes we must face, God is ULTIMATELY

in control of our situation. Being confident in God’s sovereignty we can face the difficult situations

in our lives with BOLDNESS.”

Pirates of Negativity

“Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.”  2 Peter 2:1-2

“Everyone is a critic.” ” If you can’t say anything nice then just don’t say anything at all.”  These are a couple of sayings we have all heard at some point in our lifetime. In 1994 there was a popular cartoon called The Critic. The main character was a movie critic.  John Lovitz was the voice for the critic. It was somewhat of a parody of the critics who voiced their opinions of the movies on the big screen. Either they loved the movie or they did not recommend the movie.  If John Lovitz’s character didn’t like the movie, he simply said; “it stinks!.”

constructive criticism

There are times when constructive criticism  is essential. Usually we experience constructive criticism within the workplace, within a group and/or organization we are in and I would hope within our family. Constructive criticism should be positive. In other words, we tell the person what needs to be done different in such a way that we are building them up as we point them in a different direction. It doesn’t steal their joy or ruin their day.  I have known a few people who really have a the gift of constructive criticism. They do it in such a way that the person they are talking to don’t even realize that they have been pointed in a new direction as they change direction.

Johnny Depp

In my next few posts, I am going to be sharing about pirates. No, I am not talking about the pirates like we have read about or have seen Johnny Depp portray in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I will be writing about the pirates that are in our every day lives that steal from us.

The pirate of criticism or should I say negativity is one we all allow into our lives. There are some who allow these pirates into their hearts/lives more than others.  We all know someone or maybe we are that person that no matter what there is nothing good to say and they see the negative in every situation.  They critique Aunt Betty when she shows up at the family reunion, they critique Ms. Higginbotham about the dish she always brings to the cover dish dinner at church.  It can even come to the point that a person will critique how someone just walks into the room. They are angry birds!

three angry birds

It seems in media and all other social media/media  means there is negativity.  Over time I have heard so much negativity among friends, family and  in other areas that I actually had a meltdown. It breaks my heart to hear someone put someone down because they do something different from them. It makes me weary that we cannot accept one another for who they are and seek the goodness in their heart.  Just because someone does something different from us does not necessarily mean it is wrong. It just means it is different.

scott Fitzgerald

The more I have thought about the negativity that goes on the more I realized that this is us allowing Satan to have his way with us and our hearts. You see, Satan wants us to see the negative. It brings him joy to see us tear someone down instead of building someone up.  And, in the midst of the tearing down we are missing the blessing we may receive from the person we are criticizing. We are even missing the opportunity to share God’s wonderful grace.  Negativity is the  pirate that steals the joy we could be experiencing in that moment.

criticism robs

Yes, there are people that we struggle to  get along.  However, I feel as though God places those people in our lives to see ourselves a little better. They are placed in our lives to teach us patience and to learn a little more about grace. Though they rub us the wrong way and/or march to a different beat than us, we must remember that they are a Child of God just as we are a Child of God. They deserve to be respected just as we want to be respected.

influence on life

Growing up in a minister’s home there was the occasion where I would experience a  negative person. They seem to have  really known how I needed to live better than I did. It was hurtful and hard to deal with at times. However, it was in those moments my mom gave me the best advice she could have ever given me. She told me to always be nice.  I have carried this advice throughout my adulthood and have passed it on to my son.  By just being nice and  praying for the person, I have experienced a new kind of grace, joy and forgiveness. Thus, there is no burden to carry as we have when we allow the negativity get the better of us.

sign about friendship

The next time you find yourself about to spit something out negative about someone or something, stop, breath, count to ten and find something  positive to say instead.  Seek the person’s heart you are with and seek the blessing God has for you in that moment. Life is too short to be critical.  When it comes to negativity just think of John Lovitz’s character’s statement…”it stinks!’

“But encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3:13

May we all be a people who builds up for God’s Kingdom.

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Jesus Came Last Night

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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation , by prayer and petition with thanksgiving

present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds

In Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

God,

Thank you for the blessings of the day.

Please be with Jim and me as we walk our journey with you.

Surround us with your Holy Spirit as individuals and as a couple.

Place your Holy Spirit around our home and in our home so that those who

encounter us or pass our home will experience a peace that passes ALL understanding.

I share this portion of  a prayer that I pray each night before going to bed.  For me, there is no going to sleep or peaceful night’s sleep until I have said my prayers to God and place the night and the day ahead into his hands. Last night was no different with the exception that I was to the point of exhaustion that I literally just collapsed into my Father’s arms as I prayed.

life

In this process of  prayer time and writing, I am awaiting tests results. Life is happening with its twists and turns.  I haven’t felt well for most of the summer. Thus, prompting a visit to my doctor. Over the years we have known that I was border line lupus. Jim and I knew that there was a possibility that one day that those lab numbers could/would cross the line and a new and not wanted diagnoses would occur.  It is something that I am still trying to understand and get my head around.

On top of me not feeling well, we have found out that Jim’s father’s cancer has begun to be active again. Thus, Jim is taking more time off from work to go to take care of his Mom and Dad and to be with them at doctor’s visits. Neither Jim nor me begrudge Jim having to make these trips. It is just what you do for the people who brought you into this world and who have loved, nurtured and stood by your side in growing up and in watching you raise a family.

challenges

With both of these scenarios taking place simultaneously and trying to keep up with the activities we participate in with our church, small groups, work and community, it has become overwhelming at times.  Jim and I both have had to say no to some activities and put some things on hold until we can get a handle on all that is happening in our lives right now.  Yet, we have and will keep the faith and look up. There are days that our strength is nothing but the Lord’s doing and working in our lives.

Gods hand

As I said earlier I collapsed into my Father’s arms with exhaustion.  I poured out my heart to him and in doing so I was reminded of the two scriptures from John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7.  Despite all that is going on in the Hawkins home and the possibilities of what may come I know there is no need to be anxious because I have a loving Father walking by my side. This same Father is walking beside Jim as well and us as a couple.   Last night, I closed by asking the Father to allow me to fall asleep in his arms, and to feel that peace that he promises us in John.

Happy%20Cat

Then the indescribable happened.  laying on my side asleep facing Jim, I felt these arms wrap around all around me. As these arms wrapped around me, I felt this indescribable warmth. The arms that came around me and hugged me tight. This  was a hug I have ever experienced on this earth. I wish I could describe the way the arms felt and the warmth felt.  Yet, it is all beyond any words I can say or write. It is beyond comprehension. Though this hug is indescribable and beyond comprehension, I can say that there was that peace that passes all understanding promised from our Father that wrapped around me as I felt this hug.

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This morning I tried to tell Jim of this experience. There was a struggle for words to describe what I had felt in the night. As I struggled to describe the indescribable, I simply looked at Jim and said; “Jesus came last night. He hugged me. I felt His peace.” This morning I didn’t wake up healed or feeling different physically but I woke up with a new joy in my life despite all that is happening right now.  I don’t know what is in store for me or any of my family members in the days ahead.  However, I have been affirmed that Jim nor I are walking the journey alone. My Father who hugged me in the night is right there placing peace in ALL situations. And, it is a peace that passes ALL understanding and comprehension.

His eye is on the sparrow and I KNOW He watches me.”

If that one moment of peace and hug last night was indescribable, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like when I meet my Father face to face. Holy Goose Bumps!

Final Destination…..HEAVEN

 When Jim and I first heard this song, we laughed at the fact that the singer of this song shares how we all ‘want to go heaven but just not right now.’ Thus, he suggests that we put an extra twenty in the offering plate to buy us one more day and to cover what we have done.  Not only does he offer to put an extra twenty in the plate but he admits he is not ready to give up the life he is living. However in all reality, as Christians we know that the extra twenty isn’t going to buy us one more day and that going to heaven means putting the world behind us and living a life of Christ.

Since May of 2011, I have walked through several  sudden losses of people that totally kicked me in the stomach when they happened. From getting caught in rip tide, car accidents, and those who fell ill suddenly,  the times of many friends and family all came sooner than anyone imagined.  It has been through these tragedies that I have learned all the more how precious life is and how I need to be thankful for every day I wake up.  These incidents have also increased my awareness of my personal relationship with Christ and how I need to include Him in ALL that I do. Along with being thankful for waking up another day, working on my relationship with Christ, I am also reminded to cherish all the moments I can with family and friends. In other words, life is short and it is shorter than any of us realize!

Yes, “everybody wants to go to heaven but no one wants to go now.  just not right now.”  Yet, we need to be ready to go to heaven every day. The decision of when we go is NOT up to us. But the decision of getting there IS up to us.  The key to going to heaven is asking Christ to be our Lord and Savior. Once we have asked Him to be in our lives and heart, we must invite Him to walk with us every day and be in every thing we do. When we mess up, we need to go to Him for forgiveness.  Jesus tells us how we can get to heaven when he answers Thomas’ question about knowing the way. We find this response in John 14: 6.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth  and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

One thing I am certain about in regards to those who were taken from this earth all to soon is that they were ready for heaven. They walked with their Savior each and every day. You knew this by their smiles, their spirit and the lives they lived. As a matter of fact, one of these dear precious people had shared in my small group not long before she went home that when it was time she was ready to go to heaven. She anxiously awaited to meeting her Savior face to face.

“Everybody wants to go to heaven but no one wants to go now. “ But, are we ready to go to heaven when that time comes? Along with putting that’ extra twenty in the offering plate’, how about asking Christ to be in your heart and involved in your life. Thus, when your time comes, there is not a doubt in your mind you will meet Him face to face one day. Also, it will be without a doubt in those you leave behind your final destiny.

My challenge for you today is to thank God for giving you one more day.Then, cherish every minute of the day that has been given to you. Last but not least, to be in tuned into God at work in ALL that you do.

Most of all, remember these words: “the world behind me, the cross before me. I have decided to follow Jesus.” I am looking forward to meeting you one day at that final destination….HEAVEN!

Blessings

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One By One…Making A Difference  Thoughts From The Porch

Learning To Dance In The Rain         Thoughts From The Porch

I want to say thank you for the encouraging thoughts that you, the reader leave. As I am able, I love to respond. Please know, that I am taking a few days off for a little rest and relaxation with family and will respond to messages left as soon as I am back on my site.  It is my prayer that my readers take some time out to enjoy those who are dear to them. Blessings, April


Your Cheating Heart

In the last week, I have seen Facebook posts and comments from college students who are either gearing up for final exams or have just completed them. When I read these posts, I am taken back to my college days of one last look of notes before the professor enters the classroom and hands out the exams.

Before handing out the exams, the professors/teachers would make sure items were cleared from the desks.  Next, the professor would go over some pointers for the exam and/or explain some of the format. There were times when the exam was handed out that a professor would have an oath to sign on the first page of the test. This oath acknowledged that each student knew the consequences of cheating and that the work on that exam was indeed their own.

In the Christian life, exam time is never over. Our Professor has given us clear instructions of what is expected during this exam. Yet, sometimes a little review is needed.  One clear instruction He gives us in the beginning of instructing us in how to live our exam is in Exodus 20: 1-4; ” I am the Eternal your God, I lead you out of Egypt and liberated you from lives of slavery and oppression. You are NOT to serve any other gods before Me. You are NOT to make an image of anything in the heavens above, the earth below or the waters beneath.”

“No other gods before Me.”  In today’s society, it seems that there are many gods being worshiped and honored outside of our Creator. One that seems to be the most worshiped is money. People can’t have enough of it and/or they covet for things they cannot have because of lack of money. The mentality is; “Life will be complete if I have this or this amount in my bank account.” Yet, as the days go by, more and more people seem less and less content.

I heard a speaker the other day highlighting the world and the shape of the current economy. He gently reminded us that we are a nation that was founded UNDER GOD. But, it seems as we go through the exam, we forget that key answer to passing the exam. The speaker also reminded us that when we quit living Under God whether it be as a nation or as individuals, it will not be long before we fall. Gee, it looks like we are not doing so well. It looks like we have had cheating hearts. When we put other things before God, we are cheating on our relationship with Him.

Remember earlier when I mentioned the professor would have the student sign a statement before taking an exam saying you promised not to cheat and what the consequences were if a student did? Well, as children of God, and as Christians we have an oath we have signed with God with our heart. We are to promise we will not put ‘any other gods before Him.’ 

How are you doing with the exam? Is your heart cheating with the materialism of the world? Are you forgetting to review each morning the instruction book (The Bible)on how to live?

As each one of us goes through our day, let us remember that there is only ONE true GOD. He is our creator and our provider. May we remember money, material things and other ways of the world will not bring true contentment. The only way to have true contentment is to live the life of Christ.  So, begin each day with a review of the Good News, signing our pledge that we will allow God to lead us and that we promise not to cheat with the ways of the world. Let’s commit to walking with God to the very end.