Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's the little things...

So how many times do we look for completion in ONE major step? Life doesn't happen like that.  There are choices made, both good and bad, activities to be enjoyed or regretted, friendships to make and enemies inevitably created.  We don't take the time to smell the flowers....LITERALLY.  When's the last time that you sat and just watched kids playing, that were not your own? Or just sat outside and really soaked in the sun with or without your friends and just let the time pass by?  I know I have had moments where I've sat outside in my little patio area and just written (for a blog) or just been out people watching and I've started to notice the smaller details.  We are sometimes pushed to do something grand or spectacular to make huge impressions on people when if we got their opinions those aren't the things that would mean the most to them.  It's the little things that count....a hello, a hug, your time.  Not a huge announcement every time you speak to them (when it's only about 2 times a year) or just remembering a birthday (which thanks to FB, it's harder to forget since they remind you). 

We gloss over and undermine the effort it may have taken that person to get up the courage to do that small thing and we make them feel as if they aren't important with what they have done to/for us. When we do that, it does nothing but discourage them and make them feel as if they're not appreciated.  We need to remember to thank those who do for us and mean it. They may not be doing it for any attention or thank you's but it will be a boost to their self confidence and it doesn't cost us anything but some honesty.  

It takes bricks to build a building, many drops to fill a swimming pool, fibers to make a shirt and friends to build a lifetime of memories...every little bit counts.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Fake the Holy.....

So last night at VBS part of the subject was living a Holiness lifestyle.  The conversation was about how the church has become so much like the world in different areas and how we need to remain separate from the world in our dress, actions, lifestyles (remember we're representing Christ/Jesus/God/Holy Spirit who is the only way to Heaven).  Well one of the things that came up was about the importance of living a holy lifestyle and I started thinking that I've seen people "fake the Holy". (Holy meaning your lifestyle/relationship with God.)  People want to fit in with the church folk so bad that they will fake it instead of realizing that you can't fake it if you have a real relationship with God. Bible reading and prayer life are things that help build that relationship on the foundation of salvation. And the sad part about faking the Holy is that it might not be just the lifestyle that is being faked....but the persons actual salvation may be faked too...so much church activities and spiritual emotion that they just completely bypassed salvation and are trying to "live their way into" salvation.  That's where we not only become a hinderance to ourselves but to other who are assuming that we are living the real deal.

People catch the Holy Ghost and show however it is in them to show it, they dress a certain way, talk a certain way (using all the big dictionary words....or at least the "big" church/clergy/spiritual sounding words), go to certain events....and while that may all contribute to their holiness lifestyle, you will find some who "fake the Holy".  **Now a side note about catching that Holy Ghost: some cry, some shout, some pace, some sway, some get quiet and just sit with closed eyes, some take a victory lap.  Everybody reacts in a different way and it is not my job to judge someone on their abundance OR lack of show of emotion or otherwise....God may speak to them differently than how he speaks to me.  I can't say that people don't look repentant enough if they're going through something....that's not my place...

People will read a bible verse of the day, a commentary or paraphrase of scripture and consider their Bible reading done.  Memorizing scripture, but not ingesting it into their lifestyles to change them for the better.  They will consider their prayer life to consist of saying grace and praying when in trouble.....but no....that's not enough.  My habitual prayer time has become during my commute to work...I usually don't listen to the radio or CDs but instead ride with all the noise off....with my phone ringer off....and God and I get in about a good 30-minute talk...if I actually get to be off then it's a 30 minute, no tv/internet/distraction first thing after I get up.

It doesn't matter how many times you fast, how many times you pray, how you praise, how you worship, the things you deny yourself in the name of God, how many verses you can recite, what church conventions or convocations you go to if you are FAKING THE HOLY...Stop lying to yourself and get right with God.  When you truly realize how good God is to us, you're reminded of how much we have in him and that right there makes you want to have the right kind of relationship with him...

Reminder: I'm So Blessed

This morning I roll over to hit the snooze on my cell phone, whose alarm tone is a rooster crowing.....I lay there with one eye open looking at the blinds thinking, "Man, it's nice and sunny already......today is going to be a good day....."  I proceed to pull myself up out of bed, get ready and dressed, leave a quick good morning note to everyone on Facebook and get out the door.  As I'm driving to work, I'm singing along with a WOW Gospel CD and it hits me like a truck.....I'm truly blessed.  When I was younger, I did so many things for myself, not really caring about how I may have affected others and God allowed me to live in a great and supportive family.  He gave me a wakeup call when I had my open heart surgery at 19 and you would think that I would have gotten it right then.....but no.  I think that's when I got worse....I didn't party in high school...or when I first got into college...man, I didn't even date until I was 19...and I had put homeboy on probation for a year before I would date him (seriously, you could ask him), haha....But in my early 20's there are two or three years whose activities are a complete blur.  I can remember where I was working or where I was going to school but I know I was involved in activities outside of church that were damaging to my witness for Christ. 

I have always been a person who is not afraid to make new friends wherever I am, but when partying and drinking every weekend, I'm sure my parents prayer life was getting a workout. But over the years of making the wrong choices, I was still active in my church in various ministries.  Too many times the Holy Spirit was giving me a good 1-2-kick and I would ignore it as nothing, refusing to see it for what it was. In 2003-2005 there were some tough family issues that had come up to be dealt with and in 2006 when I had my car acident (which was the death of my first Honda) the light finally came on.  (The accident was not even the slightest bit alcohol or partying related, I worked out of town so I was up at 3:45 am and after work I had been to a banquet that lasted very late into the night.) I had a very close brush with death and was able to walk away from my totalled car with just major bruising.  It wasn't until I realized outright that my other actions will completely damage me if I didn't make a change and get right with God that I started rethinking friendships and relationships. I think that it definitely helped me to reimmerse myself in the right kind of relationships with people who were a good influence.  It helped for me to also go get involved in community ministries and put my outgoing personality to use in a good way. 

Now, I'm married, with two wonderful step kids who I love dearly.  My parents, sibling and inlaws are all doing well (even though I wish I could see them all more often).  I have a college education and a good job that still allows me time to pursue my hobbies (all artsy type hobbies...lol) and I'm finally starting to see what in the world God wants me to do for him.  Now, I'm not saying that it's easy street from here on out.  I still have a life to live daily that will have it's share of worries, trials, disappointments and heartbreak. But as I keep my focus where it needs to be (on God and what he has for me to do), I can still say, I'm so blessed.  He could have let me get alcohol poisioning, die in a drunk driving accident, be assaulted at a party/club or claimed my life back while I was out "living my life" but He didn't.

Now I wake up in a state I never thought I'd live in with a new group of friends and relationships, a job I would have never guessed to have, and doing what I believe God has for me to do......all I can keep saying to myself is.....Man, I'm So Blessed.

Don't put off to tomorrow what you know you need to do today....cause tomorrow's not promised, and thinking about that, neither is later today....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Because I Said So.....

How many of us remember when we would ask our parents WHY we had to do a task, chore or anything and their answer was "Because I Said So....."? I remember asking why things had to be done a certain way, why my way wasn't good enough or why it mattered when I did it.....haha, I'm sure at some point I gave my parents a headache. There was always a lesson to be learned by doing whatever it was the way they were instructing us to do it. Usually they would explain to us in GREAT detail the lesson they 1) hoped we would have learned and 2) hope that we would apply in our future choices and actions.

Well, many times we go through life questioning God the same way.  While I sit in the middle of what is a test offollowing my flesh vs. God's will for my life, I find myself wondering "God, why do I have to do it your way?" His answer: "Because I Said So.....And that's all you need to know."  And even though I want to cry, scream at and doubt God, I simply realize that HE is already working out my issues for me.  When I look around at my situation and circumstances and think "Why me?", "Because I Said So....." rings in my ears and reminds me that He won't put on me more than I can bear at ANY TIME. His grace is sufficient for me.  He keeps love in my heart, understanding in my mind, a song in my spirit, my feet from running and my determination complete.

I have to remember God's Sovereignty that nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my Heavenly Father.  So now when we come up against opposition and we know how to handle it the way God has shown us, we can go from hearing "Because I Said So....." as a curse and look at it as a blessing in the making.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Facades (How, why and the price we pay)

How many times have we talked to people and they say things like "I'm (this)" or "I'm (that)" like they need to hype themselves up for us to know who they are.  If we are a woman/man of God, our actions, words and beliefs should show others that.

How can we say we love God and we still demolish his temple, our bodies?  Drinking, smoking, cheating (emotional, verbally, or physically), backbiting, being envious....why?  We put up facades of being something we are not....It may be the facade of being a good person when we're busy living in sin with no thought of changing. We act like we're so innocent but we live doing things that bring shame to ourselves and even to those who have led to believe we are who we appear to be. On the other hand we may try to appear worldly when we have given our lives to Christ.  We try to act like they do, talk like they do, party like they do, live like they do.  In our minds we know we have to go to church on Sunday morning but we're spending our Saturday nights clubbing until the lights come on.....you think I'm talking about you? No, I was talking about myself that time....I used to but not anymore.

We may have up a facade so we can enjoy "guilty pleasures".  For example, all of you know I'm married, and many know that my hubby is on a long assignment to Korea. Now at my workplace, I let my coworkers (male and female) know that I'm married by talking about my spouse, saying I'm married and wearing my wedding band.  If I wanted to I could not mention my spouse, not wear my ring, deny the fact that marriage is for life..or just flirt with my male coworkers. If I was attempting to do that I would be putting his trust in me on the line, and my reputation, my character and my marriage in jeopardy.  I would be leading others on to get from them whatever emotional, mental or physical needs I have fulfilled. While my thinking would be, "well, my husband will never find out, God already knows and I will be held accountable for what I've done. I would be leading them to believe a facade.  I'm NOT single, I am MARRIED and I  LOVE my husband and I don't want it any other way. Am I saying that we're perfect? No, but we are trying to do right by each other and God.

Now some of you may be saying "well that's not me", well it could be gambling, drinking, pornography, compulsive shopping or putting other things before our personal relationship with Christ. If it is shopping, I may feel like I have to have the newest everything....everything the celebrities have.....and in the process run up outrageous shopping bills. That may be fueled by the desire to fit in and be accepted. In any case living a facade is living a lie and we need to make sure that we're living as honestly as possible....we should want to live right as an example of Christ.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Say what we mean and Mean what we say

So many times we can be having a conversation with someone and they ask us for our honest opinion on something and we tell them what we THINK they want to hear instead of just being honest.  Other times when we are mad, we say things we do not mean to the other party to hurt them emotionally.

There is a difference between:
1) speaking the truth in love and the other party rejecting it and
2) speaking the truth and using it to shame the other person

The difference is in how we say/use it.  We should never say something trying to shame/convict someone into doing the right thing.  We should also not just go around speaking the truth in love without tact.  A little tact can go a long way.. We may have to preface what we say with "This may sound wrong but..." or "I cannot think of any other way to say this but..." but we should always make an attempt to be tactful.

On the other hand of saying what we mean, we need to mean what we say.  If we have no intention of helping someone do something, we should not tell them that we will.  In an attempt to make ourselves look better (to look like we care or plan on helping) we make ourselves look just like those who do not help or care at all.  In the end the people who approach us for help know not to ask us for anything because we never follow through.  Even if we are very capable of doing whatever the task is, they STILL will have issues trusting what we say, because we've never shown them that we can follow through, show up or help.  They will hear one thing out our mouths and see another from our actions.  Even worse is that when we really do want to help and show up, people are surprised because we actually followed through which makes us feel worse that we cannot be depended on.

Sometimes when we truly want to help or show up, we have just spread ourselves too thin to be everywhere all the time.  I remember I used to go all over the place to do things with my friends and I had to stop myself from committing to everything just to keep everyone happy.  I had to realize that I spent so much time staying busy that I would have to break engagements just to have time to myself.  I know that sometimes I would have so many things on my plate that I would miss events and would have to go back and apologize later....

Every now and then we just need to remember to speak to people the way we want to be spoken to ourselves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Killing Old Habits vs. Giving them New Life

We have all had bad habits.  We say we need to get rid of them, we need to come back to Jesus, we need to live as a better example to someone else....But how many times do we go back repeatedly and instead of standing strong in the mindset of doing what is right, we wallow and splash in the mindset of doing wrong and if not the wrong thing, then at least we have a defeated attitude..

So many times we say " I am determined to not (fill in the blank), and I am going to (fill in the blank) to make it better so I don't continue to do it" and that is where we stop.  SAYING things do not put them into action, DOING things put them in action.  Last time I checked, God is the only person that can make things happen instantly just by speaking it.

We cannot claim to be doing away with old habits if we constantly and secretly feed them, keeping them tucked away in crevices where no light can fall on them.  We've all heard the saying that what's done in the dark comes to light.  Well how would we feel if some of those hidden things were to be exposed on TV like how celebrities and government officials are exposed.  Forget a level that high...how about just being exposed to our families, friends, church, workplace?

Giving our habits new life by finding ways to keep them barely alive so we can indulge in the wrong kind of pleasure is something that may not be seen by others, but always seen by God.  Now this can be a number of wrong pleasures....it could be sexual misconduct, using emotional dependence (knowing what to say to someone to pull on their heartstrings to get a pity party whenever you want attention), mental control (knowing  how to manipulate people so you can get out of doing things yourself) or many other things.

When we say that we are killing an old habit, we need to banish it from our lives and stop making excuses of why we can't stop repeating it. We forget that when we say that "we can't because...." God always says " But I can......"

How is God supposed to bless us in our lives if we continue to harbor our greenhouse filled with little pots of bad habits....we look at them as just little seeds that aren't doing anything.  God sees it as something that will take root and grow and before we know it, it will outgrow the little area of our life that we are trying to restrict it to and take over other areas....