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I love sweets. I mean I really love sweets. Cookies, cake, brownies, ice cream, pudding, cereal, candy, if it has sugar in it, I cannot resist it. That’s why I have to limit how much of it I keep in our house. If it’s there, I will eat it. This is an area of my life where I definitely lack self-control. I realize part of the problem is that the more I try to stay away from it the worse I get. For a while, I had a good solid run of limiting the amount of sweets I had been eating. But that’s only because I hadn’t been buying them and hadn’t really been a lot of places where they were offered. But then summer happened. Going to this bbq and that dinner and then this holiday came and that holiday came and the desserts were bountiful. I can definitely tell by the way my clothes fit (or don’t fit now) that I went overboard. This morning I got a revelation. The reason that I lose control is because I haven’t allowed myself to practice self-control. By keeping sweets out of the house, I really wasn’t practicing self-control or exercising discipline. I never had to make a conscious decision to not eat the sweets because they just weren’t there. If I ever want to be able to truly resist the temptation I have to actively say no to the temptation when it’s right in front of me. The more I practice resisting, the easier it will become and that is when I will truly achieve self-control.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
This weekend I took on the project to clean out my office. For a while, it wasn’t my office. It had actually become a dumping ground for dirty clothes, junk mail, and a host of other things that I either didn’t know what to do with or was just too lazy or busy to put a way. It was a complete mess. What was meant to be a space for productivity became a place of chaos and disorder. Not much unlike my mind.
As a wife, mother of two toddlers, full-time worker and church volunteer my life can be pretty hectic at times. I am a creative person so I get some pretty fun ideas swirling around in my head but because I am also very detailed oriented all of the little pieces to all of those fun puzzles start swirling around as well. When things get busy, my mind starts looking like my office did, a lot going on but everything is out of order and out of place.
So determined to get my life back on track, I decided it was time to clean out my office. It is amazing how much cleaning out and organizing the physical space helped my mental space as well. Now that everything is in place and in order, I am way more productive. I’m learning how much the atmosphere around you really does impact you. When I was surrounded by chaos and disorder, I tried to function in that space but all I really got was more chaos and disorder. But now that I’m working in a warm, uncluttered space, I can see clearly and function more productively. Do you need to change anything about the space around you?
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14: 33 (NIV)
I listened to a sermon today that had some really great points that I thought I would share. You could probably describe me as a control freak, type A personality or task oriented. These are great qualities to have because like Martha in the New Testament, I get things done. But sometimes I allow my plans to get in the way of God’s plan and this sermon was a great reminder to keep the main thing the main thing and that is making sure that whatever I do I need to spend time with Jesus. Here are some points from the sermon that really hit home for me. I hope they will help you too.
- Not everything that you don’t plan on happening is a distraction. Sometimes the things we have planned are the real distraction.
- It is illogical to believe that what is important to me should be important to everybody else.
- You trying to control somebody else’s priorities could be a cover up that you don’t have yours in order.
- Know the line where your responsibility ends and God’s sovereignty begins.
On my way to work this morning one of my favorite songs came on the radio. It is called Halfway by a band named 3For3. The lyrics say (At least this is what I hear):
You keep my heart beating when it’s broken
You keep me on the move
Even on my darkest days
You don’t love me half way.
You’re gonna finish everything you started
You’re gonna see it through
Even when the seasons change
You don’t love me half way.
I just wanted to use this opportunity to thank God for never loving me only half way. I also thank Him for songs that speak directly to me and can express the way I feel when I can’t put it into words myself.
This morning I had to pray and ask God for forgiveness. On my way to work, I frequently see the same woman standing on the side of the road asking for money. I have given her the customary dollar or two a couple times in the past but this morning I decided that since I had already helped her before, I wasn’t obligated to help her again today. But immediately as the red light turned to green and I proceeded through the intersection, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit. Who was I to say that this woman had been helped enough? I honestly had the thought cross my mind that if people keep giving her money at this intersection that she will just keep coming back for more. I don’t know anything about this woman or how she ended up in this situation but God told me it’s none of my business. But as a Christian, my business should be helping those that are in need. I believe I was tested today and I did not pass. I had the opportunity and the ability to help this woman, this child of God, but let my flesh get the best of me. There I was so richly blessed by God and I chose not to share those blessings. Giving her a couple of dollars wouldn’t have hardly been a sacrifice for me but what is more sad is that I missed the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with someone who was obviously in need. But I am grateful that God doesn’t think like me, that when I come to Him in need He doesn’t brush me off because He has helped me before. My prayer for myself and for other believers is that when we see someone in need, whether it be for money, guidance, time, or just love that we will be willing to give it however much it is needed just like God does for us.
We all get angry from time to time. As long as we interact with other human beings, or even just with ourselves, the temptation to become angry is inevitable. Knowing this, it is important to realize when you are angry and what to do when you reach your boiling point. Being angry in and of itself is not bad. It’s part of being human. It is how we handle our anger that has the potential to be an issue. The bible says to be angry but sin not (Ephesians 4:26). If you allow your anger to cause you hold grudges, speak ill of others, speak or act violently, or do anything you know is not of good character then you should determine a new way to deal with it.
I’ll share a couple of solutions that I have found work for me. The first is pray. I am very honest with God about my feelings. I tell Him exactly how angry I am and why I am angry. I then ask Him to help me calm down. If I am angry with a specific person, I also pray for them. I have found it is difficult to remain angry at someone while praying for them. How can I talk to God, who is so loving and forgiving when I am wrong and harbor ill feelings for someone else who I feel has wronged me? That seems a bit contradictory to me.
The next thing I do is I listen to worship music. I prefer music that invites the Holy Spirit into my heart. Songs with lyrics like “fill me up” or “have your way” really help me. If I am full of the Holy Spirit, there is no room for angry feelings. I find that listening to this kind of music really calms me down and even allows me to look back on the situation and recognize my part in any disagreement or discord.
God can get glory out of any situation. Especially ones where the devil thinks he may have won by causing you to get angry. But he can easily be defeated if you decide that you will not let your anger control you. It may not always be easy, but it is always possible!
If you have anything that helps you deal with your anger, please feel free to share in the comment section.
We went to a concert over the weekend and during a brief intermission a young guy came up to give the crowd a little information about the organization he was representing. Unfortunately, while he was talking, there were many side conversations going on. You could hear the rumbling from the crowd more than you could hear the young man on the stage. I had to really focus on him to hear what he was saying. This illustrates how life can sometimes get when God is trying to talk to us. There is so much going on in the world around us that tries to drown out His voice but we have to make an effort to hear Him. We have to tune out the things that distract us and tune in to God.
In John chapter 10, Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” He then said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” I think He made the two distinct statements intentionally. He first said His sheep “hear” His voice. Hear simply means to perceive a sound. I believe Jesus was saying that we must first recognize that He is speaking. He then said His sheep “listen” to His voice. Listen means to pay attention and heed and requires effort. You can hear something without trying but in order to listen it requires action on our part.
In life, there will always be distractions. There will always be people, places, and things competing for our attention. But if you want peace, joy, happiness, direction and understanding you have to make the effort to listen to what God is saying. Take just a moment to tune out the world so that you can tune in to the wonderful, loving, correcting, and uplifting message that God has for you.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
I am a Christian. This is not something that I’ve ever tried to hide or cover up. In fact, when I was younger, I know I didn’t get invited to participate in a lot of activities with my friends and sorority sisters because I was “the Christian”. I was never ashamed of who I was and I think people actually respected the fact that I stood firm on my beliefs. But somehow, I think I still missed the mark. I was being selfish with the Jesus that I loved and served so dearly. Meaning, I didn’t really share him with anybody. I was good at inviting people to church but always struggled with telling them about Jesus. But I have come to learn that the world doesn’t need “church”. The world needs Jesus. He is the source of all hope, the answer to our problems, the lover of our soul, the One we can turn to for help in any situation. I have learned that it is not religion that saves us, but our relationship with Jesus Christ. I can even speak on that personally.
I grew up in church. My family went to church Every. Single. Sunday. I sang in the choir, served on the usher board, taught Sunday School, was part of the youth mission, yes, I did it all. I knew all the bible stories and could even recite the books of the bible. I had all of the religion, but lacked the relationship. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for the foundation that I had because it helped me tremendously when I went through those crazy college years. Like a lot of people, I was out doing things I had no business doing with people I had no business doing them with. But eventually, the lifestyle I was living left me in a sad and lonely place. But it was Jesus that saved me. I mean He literally saved me. One time, I was in a very scary situation and I called on the name of Jesus and instantly things turned around (I will share that situation at another time). Jesus has not only physically saved me, but also emotionally and spiritually. Knowing that I have a purpose, knowing that I am loved, knowing that I can do all things through Him gives me such a powerful outlook on life. Things may not always go according to my plan, but I know that He has the master plan and it will all work out for my good. The best part of having a relationship with Jesus is knowing that when I leave this earth, I’ll get to live with Him in paradise. I do believe that hell is real, and I don’t want to take any chances when it comes to spending eternity there.
I am so glad that someone took the time to tell me about Jesus. If I never heard about Him and then took the time to get to know Him, I shudder to think about where I would be in my life right now (and if I would even be alive). I wrote all of this to say, if you know Jesus please tell somebody about Him. You could help save a life. If you don’t know Jesus but want to, just ask me how to meet Him. He’s one of my best friends!
2010 was not my year. I struggled financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. So much to the point that I hated my life. Not so much that I wanted to harm myself, but I actually had thoughts that if I did die, it really wouldn’t be that bad because it would be an escape from a life that I really had no desire to live any longer. I honestly didn’t care whether or not I lived to see another day. But I thank God that he cared enough for me to pull me out of that frame of my mind. In the midst of my despair I felt him trying to pull me closer to himself and the closer I got to back to him, the more hope I gained back each day. Though what I was going through was difficult, God allowed me to see that it was not in vain.
For most of my life, I never had to struggle with anything. I never really studied hard but I always made good grades. I never really worked hard, but I always had money. I was always well liked and had friends. I grew up with both parents in the home and I was surrounded by a great big loving extended family. Yes, my life was great and it was easy. But it wasn’t because of anything I did and it certainly wasn’t because I was living upright and holy because I wasn’t. It was only because of God’s grace, mercy, and favor. Because I had never really been through anything in life, I really didn’t understand other people and why they let their problems get them down. But today, I see with new eyes why we shouldn’t judge others.
You never really know what a person is going through until you’ve walked in their shoes. We can’t condemn the alcoholic because we haven’t experienced the pain they are trying to soothe with every drink. We can’t condemn the promiscuous young man or woman because we haven’t faced the rejection and loneliness they are trying to protect themselves from. We can’t judge the person who buys a $300 designer handbag or a $200 pair of sneakers before they pay the light bill because we can’t feel the reality of poverty they are trying to escape. I’m not saying that any of these things is the right thing to do, but having experienced each of these scenarios, I can no longer judge the person who does these things because I’ve felt the sting of the pain and understand why they do what they do.
Our Christian response should not be condemnation but instead putting on the love of Christ to help them through it. Instead of cutting people down for their sins, we have to minister to that broken place. Sin is used as a band-aid fix but band-aids can only hold for so long before they fall off. Another problem with band-aids is that they don’t heal wounds, they merely cover them up. And when some wounds, both physical and spiritual, are left untreated they only get worse. But I’m thankful that God gives us more than a box of band-aids to fix our problems. He gives us the cure for every sin-sick disease we have. And that cure is Jesus Christ.
In a nation where everyone wants to make it big, we have to remember to not allow our successes to overshadow the One who brings about the success. For the last few days, I have had the Jimmy Needham song “Being Small” stuck in my head. The lyrics replay over and over through my mind reminding me why I am here on this earth. It’s not to be successful, or to be well-known, or well-liked. My purpose is to glorify God.
The words of the song say, “Whenever I climb too high, keep my feet on the ground. And if I get full of me, turn me upside down.” I love these lyrics because they are a timely reminder that my life is not about me. Right now, I’m in my late-twenties and I have had a great life that is destined to get better. I purchased my house at the age of 22, I completed my MBA by 25, and I have a promising career at one of the largest private firms in the country. Most of all I am married to a wonderful man and have a beautiful baby girl. But I can’t take the credit for any of my achievements. It is only by God’s grace and favor that I am where I am today. Thinking that I did it all on my own would only set me up for eminent failure in the long run because God will make it so that no flesh should glory in His presence. But if I point to Him as the key to my success, not only will He be glorified, there is blessing in it for me too.
My favorite line of the song is “You know pride and not just summer come before the fall, so if it’s you that’s getting bigger I don’t mind being small.” If I allow pride to puff me up, everything I stand on will crumble because there is no solid foundation to support me. The bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. If I allow Him to get the glory, I know he will hold me up through every situation, both good and bad. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I have to get out of the way so that the world won’t see me, but so they can see the Savior.