Monthly Archives: June 2012

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.
-Phaedrus (Roman poet)

It was a warm summer night. I was in the front yard greeting my boys as they arrived home from the neighbors house. I noticed a car drive by. Thought nothing of it. Had to clean my car out, so as I walked to my van, I noticed that same car drive by. “Hmm.. that’s strange,” I thought. And I proceeded to clean out my van, all the while noticing a white Lexus circling my block and even slowing down every now and then in front of my house!

Neither my husband was home nor my neighbor/brother in law. Now it had been at least 15 circles. I’m definitely feeling uneasy and protective. I was cleaning out my sons baseball items from the van, so I conveniently grabbed the baseball bat (merely for intimidation purposes, because a 5’2 brunette with a bat might cause ‘wanna-be’ criminals to move elsewhere!). This time when the car circled, I walked out to the end of my driveway, bat in hand, and gave my best evil eye as the white Lexus with dark tinted windows drove off.

By now, I’m considering who to call or tell. There were several neighbors in and out and I almost caught myself saying, “Hey, have you seen this car that’s been circling our neighborhood?” As to get the whole neighborhood involved in this mystery. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not yet. I contemplated calling the police. I had tried to get the license plate number, but it was getting too dark.

I went into the house. Locked all the doors. Checked all the window locks. I went upstairs to close the blinds on my boys windows, just in case we were being watched. I veered through the blinds and this white Lexus continued to circle us! I sat on my upstairs patio thinking, “Surely he’ll know I’m on to him.”

Finally, the white Lexus really begins to slow in front of my house; tapping on the breaks ever so slowly. My heart is beating. My mind races. And then, it happens.

He pulls into the house across the street (and down one, not directly across!). And to my utter embarrassment, he was my neighbor! He was following his wife and two other ladies and their 3 small children as they were out walking. He was just making sure they were safe! Ha!

Well, I really hope he doesn’t remember my evil glares or intimidating stares with my baseball bat! And I’m SO glad I didn’t get the police involved! (That could’ve been awkward!)

Have you ever let your imagination run wild? When you really thought something was something that it really was not? But you were fixated on it and couldn’t get it out of your mind? What about when you felt like someone did or said something that really bothered you and you were so upset about it- but they had no idea and actually never meant what you thought! Or if you’ve texted or called someone and they didn’t return your call (or text), your mind starts playing tricks on you. “They must be upset with me,” you think. And you try to think of ways you might have offended them. Or you think, “I guess they really don’t want to talk to me” when in actuality, it just might be a really busy week for them and have nothing to do with you!

Before we get ourselves all worked up about something we ‘think’ to be true, it would be wise to get all of the facts before we are quick to judge someone (or in my case, before I call the cops!).

Lord, help us to not be quick to judge what we think is true, but instead gives us wisdom and discernment. And help us not to take matters into our own hands but to trust that you are working out everything for the good, for those who love You. Help us today to keep our eyes on You, not on our circumstances around us. And above all, let love and compassion guide and direct our steps.

                         in Jesus name, amen.

1 Peter 3:8- Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Not Worshiping People and Giving Thanks

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. I’m nowhere near done, because I’m really trying to chew on it and highlight from it. The book has definitely caused me to really go deeper in the area of being thankful on a day to day basis (I thought I already was, but this is a whole new level).

In my quiet time today I read Acts 14:8-18. In it, I read four more reason to be thankful. In this particular passage Paul and Barnabas were preaching boldly in Lystra and Derbe. Paul had noticed a man in the crowd that had been lame since birth and had never walked.Verse 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

When the crowd saw what they had done, they began to worship Barnabas and Paul, as if they themselves were gods!

Verse 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

There are two lessons I took away this morning from these passages (well, many more, but 2 that I will highlight today).

Lesson #1 Don’t Worship People- For some reason, people still worship people as if they were gods because their gifts are more easily seen than others. Verse 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you!” Lord help us to not worship people regardless of their popularity, income level, or gifts! Respect and love- but never worship.

Lesson #2 Give Thanks- Paul mentions 4 things that we ought to not only be thankful for, but that ought to be reminders that God himself is with us today: (1) Rain (2) Crops (3) Food to eat and (4) Filling our hearts with joy

Lord, I pray today that You would show us if we’ve put people on a pedestal that only You should be on; if we’ve thought of them as higher than we ought. Forgive us Lord. You alone are made to be worshiped! Thank you that you surround us with daily reminders of Your presence. Now continue to fill our hearts with joy as we worship You and You alone. We give you thanks for all of the beauty that surrounds us each day. Amen

To Him Be the Glory

“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.” ― Francis Chan

I was reading through Acts yesterday and read something that really got my attention. It’s the story about King Herod. At the time King Herod was persecuting Christians. He was about to address the crowd and give a speech.

Act 12:22-23 NIV- On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

The Message Translation is a little stronger in wording, and say’s it this way:

Acts 12:22-23 MSG (The Death of Herod)

 20-22But things went from bad to worse for Herod. Now people from Tyre and Sidon put him on the warpath. But they got Blastus, King Herod’s right-hand man, to put in a good word for them and got a delegation together to iron things out. Because they were dependent on Judea for food supplies, they couldn’t afford to let this go on too long. On the day set for their meeting, Herod, robed in pomposity, took his place on the throne and regaled them with a lot of hot air. The people played their part to the hilt and shouted flatteries: “The voice of God! The voice of God!” 23That was the last straw. God had had enough of Herod’s arrogance and sent an angel to strike him down. Herod had given God no credit for anything. Down he went. Rotten to the core, a maggoty old man if there ever was one, he died.
       The John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible say’s this, “because he gave not glory to God; or as the Jewish historian says, because he reproved not the flatterers, nor rejected their impious flattery, but tacitly took that to himself, which belonged to God.”
       Be careful. Being in areas of leadership, ministry, speaking, on stage, or perhaps anything else God uses you to do. People will praise your work (because you have allowed God to work through you). But be careful not to let pride or arrogance get in the way. If you are not careful, you might be deceived to think YOU have done something great in your own power or strength. It is the Lord who gives and takes away (Job 1:21). Never forget ‘Who’ has given you these talents and gifts and be quick to give Him all the glory and honor that is due to Him.
To God be ALL the glory! Amen!

Stop Trying

Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.

Corrie Ten Boom

I’m constantly trying. Trying to consistently work out. Trying to keep in touch with others. Trying not to raise my voice in anger at my children. Trying to juggle all of life’s demands. Trying to be all that I can be (no, this isn’t an army ad). Do you ever feel like you are always trying? I want to be able to do everything. I want to be good enough, wise enough, rested enough, balanced enough, loving enough, spiritual enough, involved enough … ENOUGH!

Unfortunately, my desire to be enough leaves me exhausted. Spent. Lord, will I ever be able to do this? Will I ever be fully enough to carry out what I feel like I’m called to carry out? I try. And I will be the first to admit—at times I fall completely flat on my face.

For many of us, we can say, “Oh yes, God is my strength!” But do our lives line up with that statement? If He really is, then why are we trying so hard?

Not in your own strength, for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing & creating in you the power & desire), both to will & to work for His good pleasure, satisfaction & delight. (Philippians 2:13)

We can either live our lives ‘self-sufficient’ or ‘God-sufficient’. Self-sufficient is when we are trusting in our own abilities and strengths to get us through. We have been so used to saying things like, “I can do this on my own” or “I don’t need help, I’ve got this” or “I can handle this” that we leave little to no room for God to work in that situation. As women, we like to have control, or at least ‘feel’ like we’re in control. And one of two things can then happen when we’re self-sufficient. When we accomplish something in our own strength, guess who gets all the glory? We do (look at me).

The second thing that can happen when we’re self-sufficient is that we fail miserably, and then wonder why. We say things like, “I thought it was God’s will.” And it very well might have been Him you heard from originally, but you took the reins and tried to do it in your own strength.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live ‘God-sufficient’. That means that God is sufficient; I can rely on His strength for my life. I’m done trying to do it on my own, trying to do it in my own strength. His strength is sufficient for me. He is enough.

I was recently tested in this area of trusting the Lord to come through in His strength. Throughout this year, I’ve prayed at different times for the Lord to use me in the area of prophecy (why not?). Then this month the staff was asked to come out and prophesy over the graduating seniors. Well, I’ve never stepped out in this area before. I told our friend, who is the youth pastor, that I would have my kids so if it would be easier for my husband to just go, that would be fine.

She asked a friend to sit with our kids so that I could go. I remember at first not feeling all that prepared and I specifically remember praying that day, “Lord, this is to encourage & exhort your people. If you have a word for them, then by all means, use me, but I take all the pressure off of myself, because it’s not about me.” And guess what? He was able to use a willing vessel that was completely dependent on Him!

The times where I’ve felt the Lord move the most were the times when I’ve just told the Lord, “I can’t do this on my own. If you don’t show up then it’s not going to happen.” And then I have to trust Him enough to know that if I’m walking out what He’s calling me to do, He will show up. He has always been faithful to come in with His strength, wisdom, and anointing.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

In the area of striving in your relationship with God, remember this: We can’t love Him in our own strength, we can’t will ourselves enough to abide in Him, we can’t serve Him in our own efforts; our priorities and our perspective will mess it up. The key is to come to Him in your weakness, in your failure, in your brokenness and ask Him to cause you to love Him, ask Him to cause you to want Him, and ask Him to cause you to abide in Him.

I read this from Joyce Meyer:Most of us desire the good life God has planned for us, but we recognize areas in our lives that need to be changed. Many times you set out to make those changes, yet in spite of your best efforts, you seem powerless to make it happen. Trying to bring about change through your own strength and plans will always result in frustration. God is waiting for you to stop trying to change and start trusting Him to change you. If you need to make changes in your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior, understand that you can’t do it by yourself. Spend time with God and ask for His help … After all, if He can’t do it, it can’t be done. But He can … and He will.”

Jesus, I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can’t do it, and I need You. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe You are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don’t, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way in me.

(Prayer by Francis Chan)

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Oh Summer… You’re So Hot!

I LOVE summer. I love everything (with the exception of Texas humidity) about summer. When I think about summer, I think about watermelon, and chicken salad sandwiches, and juice boxes, and chips, and swimming (lots of swimming), and movies, and ice pops- I  could go on, I’m sure. I also love tank tops and flip flops, but those are almost year round here in South Texas. 🙂

I also love a little more freedom to enjoy the kids in the summer. Don’t get me wrong- we still stay busy. As Children’s Pastors, one of our highlights of the summer is 2 weeks of Vacation Bible School. But, with no more uniforms to wash, or lunches to make, or homework for hours, there’s just something about summer that allows you to let your guard down a little and enjoy the season of sunshine.

This summer, I am trying to be a little more intentional. The Lord has really put it on my heart to pour a little more into my kids, especially my Noah. I have a friend who has a journal and writes in it to her kids and will read from it every now and then. I made my journals today- one for the boys and one for Hope, my 12 year old. For the boys I really want to encourage them in their walk with the Lord- with scriptures and also just write stuff from my heart to them. I want to touch on peer pressure, how to treat girls, being respectful, and different things like that. Here’s the boys journal:

For Hope, I want to write things to encourage her in her walk with the Lord, I want her to know Gods love for her and for her to realize the beautiful gem she is. I will also encourage her in lots of other girl stuff! And share my heart a little about some stuff I had to go through, so that hopefully she doesn’t make some of the same mistakes. I’m so excited about how hers turned out!

I also made 3 smaller individual journals that we are simply calling their Summer Journals. I got inspired from Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts‘ and wanted them to at least write one thing per day that they’re thankful for this summer. At first when I told the kids I was making them a thankful journal, Noah, my 10 year old said, “huh?” He asked if he could journal about ‘regular’ stuff too (he’s my writer). So I added in a section for journaling too. And the 3rd and final section is a special spot for them to write to mom & dad (us) if they want to say or ask something. I told them we would randomly check it through-out the summer and write them back. On these, I simply glued cardstock with mod podge and used tabs from Smashbox (Bought both at Michaels). Tomorrow night I’m going to let them decorate however they want with stamps & stickers. Here are our summer journals before the kids decorate them:

And these are the Smashbox tabs:

Here’s section one, Journal:

Here’s section two, Thankful Heart:

And third and final section, Talk to Us:

Okay- and final Summer Fun Project. I love reading and my kids seem to enjoy it too! This year Noah got nominated highest reading points in ALL of Elementary. Let’s just say, I was one proud mamma! I really wanted to encourage them to read over the summer without them feeling like, oh, more work, ya know? So I came up with a plan. We have our own Summer Reading Program! Every time they read an age appropriate chapter book, they get to pick out a toy from the reading treasure box. I went to Michaels and rummaged through their dollar bins. No prize was over $2.00. Then I made a checklist where they write down the books as they read them (simple on Word document). They have already started their summer reading!

Here’s the Reading Treasure Chest:

And here’s our sheet where they log their books:

And here’s the inside of the Reading Treasure Chest. This might also be used if they do something above and beyond this summer- but for now, it’s reading:

Anywho- I’ve rambled enough about my excitement for summer. Be blessed and visit me again soon for my list of kids books for the summer and my own personal summer reading books!