Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Prepared Heart

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

I mentioned in my post last week that I am a planner, so it should come as no surprise that I began Wednesday to plan our Saturday trip to visit our daughter at college. We were going to make the 2-hour drive north about mid-day visit some, go to the homecoming game and then come home that night. Since it was such a short trip, you would not think there would be much to plan but there was. See the weather around here has been crazy lately. Fall is here but summer has not quiet decide it is ready to leave. With these two varied seasons pushing each other around you just never, know when a rain shower or even a thunderstorm will pop up. So with all that in mind I made sure that I packed a rain jacket, a sweatshirt, cushions to sit on, quarters to give her for laundry and a few other things she might need. I planned out what I was going to wear, what time we needed to leave and even the radio station in that area so we could listen to other football games. We had a great time spending time with Samantha and letting her show us around campus some. Her team won in a close exciting game.

The next morning as I was getting dressed for church I thought back to Saturday of all the preparation I had made for just an event that would only last a few hours. I made sure that every ‘what if’ was covered. I had my full focus on making sure that we enjoyed our time to the fullest extent that we could. Now with that in mind, I begin reviewing my Sunday morning routines. I am not as attentive to in preparing myself for church. Yes, I get up and make sure that my clothes are ironed, that my hair is fixed and my make-up is applied. However, I do not always make sure that my heart is prepared. I do not take the time to develop my attitude to be grateful. I do not focus on walking into that sanctuary to praise God for all He has done for me that week. Although I would tell you that God speaks to me through the words the pastor speaks, I do not always go expecting to hear from God. How would me worship, praise and life change if I spent as much time on Sunday morning preparing for church as I did preparing for that ball game on Saturday?

So how am I suppose to prepare for church? I think it begins way before Sunday morning. These are the things that I will be more diligent in:

  • Daily quiet time

  • Prayer – prayers of thanksgiving and repentance

  • Expect that God WILL speak to you

These few simply steps can prepare the soil of my heart for whatever seeds the Lord wants to plant during worship service.

What steps do you take to prepare your heart for worship ?


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mission of Hope

Today I so very humbled to be asked to speak at the Mission of Hope in Dora, Alabama. The Mission is a local 501c3 clothes closet and food bank. Every 1st and 4th Thursday they open both their doors and their hearts to the surrounding community. They offer food for the body and nutriment for the soul. Today they served over 100 families. Families that are hurting. Yes, they are hurting because of the economics of our day but some have deeper hurts. These are not wounds that a pair of shoes or a bag of non-perishables can heal. Some wounds have come quickly due to a job loss or an unforeseen divorce. There are also old wounds that have been have been cut deeper and deeper over time. Wounds caused by physical abuse, drug abuse and years of neglect. Yet, no matter their hurts, they all come together twice a month and the truth of Christ is spoken into their lives. While handing out bags of food or looking for some winter clothing for a child the volunteers make sure they show every person love and respect without showing any favoritism.

For me to be allowed to share with them all that God has done in my life was such an honor. I left my house this morning thinking that I was going to be a small God "blessing" to them but instead He used them to be a blessing to me and to teach me. As I walked up to the building the clients where lined up outside waiting to register and many of the greeted me with a smile and a "Good Morning". Then after I shared my testimony several made a point to come hug me and let me know they enjoyed it. However, the thing that pierced my heart the most was as I stood in the front of that room with over 100 sets of eyes looking at me I realize that who these people really were. God reminded me that they were just the same as me, my family, and my friends. They, like me, were children that God was calls out to. My heart realized that even though the world wants to divide us into segments we are all just sinners in need of a Savior. To Him we are not black or white, we are not rich or poor, we are not this or that but we are simply a heart that at it purest form is seeking after Him.

I pray that I never forget the lesson that I learned today. That I never look at another person with my shaded human eyes. That God will always allow me to see people and circumstances with His eyes only.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Agenda ... Changed

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

I am a list person, one that loves to have a plan, and has to know the agenda for the event before I attend. I even begin asking my husband mid-week what his plans are for the weekend. Maybe it is that I want to feel like I have some control issue. Maybe it is just a “have to know” issue. No matter what the reason is, I always feel uneasy walking into the unknown situations. I just want to be prepared for anything that may come up. Growing up I, like many little girls, had my wedding and my marriage all planned. I had plans for my career. I had plans for my kids. I had a plan...but God (those two small words both thrill me and terrify me) had different plans than we do for our lives.

• I never planned on my mother in law, one of my closest mentors, passing away while my kids were still young.
• I never planned on Mike having a heart attack at 42 and having to change our lifestyle because of it.
• I never planned on my dad having to fight cancer.
• I never planned on so many things that we are facing both personally and as a nation.

However, as I study the bible more I realized that God is not only in the life changing business but He also changes plans.

• Noah never planned to built an ark
• Abraham never planned on becoming the father of a new nation
• David didn't just wake up one morning as a teenager and plan to
become the king
• Esther never planned to be used by God to stop the genocide of her people
• Mary never planned to be pregnant outside of marriage
• Peter never planned to ever leave his fishing business
• Paul never planned that one day he would travel around the nation
spreading the news of Jesus
and John the Baptist ushered Jesus in as Lord. In John's mind, Jesus had come to be a Warrior King. That He would be the one that would set Israel free from the bondage and oppression of the Romans. But God (there are those two words again) had other plans.

God not only changed the plans of those people He changed their hearts. He taught them lessons. The restored to them more than what they thought they had lost.

What plan are you holding on to that God wants to change? Are you willing to step out and follow Him even when you do not know the plan?


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Winner is....

amycloud !!!! Thanks to everyone who entered and made this first give-away but an encouraging and learning experience for me.

amy, please forward your mailing address to amypboyd@bellsouth.net and I will put your book in the mail first thing Monday morning.

I have to run now because my little girl is home from college and I am spending the evening washing her clothes while she catches up with friend. Then we will be able to sit tomorrow and talk. What are your plans for the weekend ?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anniversary Gifts

As I mentioned in this post last week, today is mine and my husband's 24th wedding anniversary. We agreed many years ago that we would no longer buy gifts for one another but instead would purchase something for the family to use. This year it is a small video camera. I also have a gift for one of you. See the end of this post for details.

Mike and I had known each other most of our lives. We attended the same school, he had played football with my brother and we had some of the same friends. Finally one day when I was about 15 he stayed around after football practice for me to finish with band and asked me out. I quickly told him I would go out with him if he got a hair cut. (He claims now that is why he lost all the hair he had). That was late on a Thursday evening and when he showed up at school on Friday morning his hair was cut. That is when I know we might have something. We dated for the next three years and got married when I graduated from high school. As I told you in my last post the beginning few year we had our difficulties as we learned not only to live together but also to live with a new baby that was born just a year and 3 months after our wedding. As aggravating as the toothpaste was, we or should I say I had bigger issues that I had to deal with. As much as I knew Mike loved me, I still had trouble believing that I was lovable. As often as he told me I was beautiful I did not believe I was. No matter how much he praised my cook, cleaning, mothering or anything else I just did not feel I was good enough in any of these areas to keep him in the marriage. Therefore, every small disagreement became more than it should have been.

Most of the disruptions in our marriage came from the lies Satan had convinced me of. Lies that I continually told myself. It was not until 2002 in a small rural church when I was introduced to the Truth, to God that I was able to combat the lies that bombarded me daily. I can not say that I never have those thoughts, that I never speak a negative word to myself but I can let you know that with the Word of God-the Bible I have a sword to weld. I know that if it had not been for God and His words of truth we would not be celebrating 24 years today.

Here is what God says about you:

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 6:19
You are the apple of His eye. Zec.2:8
You are in the palm of the Lord’s Hand Isa. 49:16
You are covered by the shadow of His Hand Isa. 51:6
You are loved by God as much as He loves Jesus John 17:23
You are complete in Him. Col.2:10
You are accepted in Him. Eph 1:6

I pray that you will hide these words (and more) in your heart to be able to fight the Father of Lies when he comes at you.

Now, for my anniversary gift to one of you: Another book outside the Bible that has help me to fight this battle is "Soul Talk, Soul Talk" by Jennifer Rothschild. Jennifer has a message for every woman: Words are powerful. Especially the words women speak to themselves. All too often, what they say to themselves when they lie in bed at night or look in the mirror in the morning is not even close to the words God wants them to speak to their souls.

I have 3 ways for you to win Jennifer's book:
1) Leave a comment today telling me what you continue to tell yourself that you know is not a truth from God. I will pray for God to show you a specific promise in His word for you combat that lie with whenever it comes to you mind.
2) Become a follower of my blog through either Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs on the left sidebar.
3) Share a link to my blog on either Facebook, Twitter, your own blog or all three.
**Winner will be picked at random on Friday, September 16,2011 at 12:00 PM CMT.**

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Squeezing the toothpaste

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of

them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18

Since mine and my hubby’s 24th wedding anniversary is coming up next week, we took advantage of a rainy day to reminisce about the early years of our marriage. For months before we said our I Do’s we had discussed and came to agreement on how we would handle most of the major issues that we would have to deal with in joining our two lives into one. Major issues like who would handle the finances, where we would spend the various holidays, if/when to have children and how their discipline would be handled. Those things were easy to address and work through but after just a few month of living together we realize that the little things we had not anticipated were the things that were causing the most conflict. They are things that now seem so silly and ridicules but back then they caused major strife. I remember us having heated discussions over things like how T-shirts were to be folded, if the toothpaste was to be squeezed from the bottom or if it was okay to just squeeze it in the middle, and of the big one was if he had to always make sure the toilet seat was down. These type disagreements faired up every so often for about a year until we decided that we needed do something to settle this. So we sat at the dinner table and each took turns pointing out things that the other one did that just got on our last nerve and set us off. Through honest discussion and open hearts we were able to come up with some solutions to our problems. For the T-shirt the easiest thing was that we would just each fold our own in which ever manner we chose. Then we decided that we would have to have two tubes of toothpaste. I could squeeze mine from the bottom while Mike could haphazardly squeeze his from the middle. Finally, I had to just resign myself to the fact that I need to check the toilet seat each time. If we had not come together, opening discussed the problems, and realized that we saw and did things differently, I am not sure we would be celebrating 24 years together. Now that is not to say that the next day or even today that I won’t walk into the bathroom and find that the agreements made had been broken. And I have to honestly admit that it still bothers me but because of us talking through it face to face in a calm matter, I know that these slip ups do not mean that he doesn’t love me or does it on purpose to upset me. These are just different ways of doing things. These things are such silly things to allow to tear apart a marriage.

As the body of Christ we, too, are commanded in 1 Cor 12:12-18 to be united. The verse does not say we have to become like robots, all doing the same things in the same way. We have to realize that we are all created to fulfill the plan that God has both for our life personally and the life of us as the church body corporately. Let’s face it there are always those in our family (rather it is our blood relatives or those in our faith family) that will just get on our nerves. They may do things differently. They may say things differently. They may be the ones that are doing the jobs that that are seen. While other may do the “behind the scenes” jobs. However, just because our ways are different does not make either way wrong. No matter where the toothpaste is squeezed from it still get the paste on the brush. It is the end result that makes the difference not always how we get there. As Christians we are all working to reach the world with the gospel. We may be the elderly widow that can’t go on the mission trip but we can donate to the youth when they go. We may not have the gift to sing a solo but we can worship with the one that does. We may not feel called to teach but we can encourage the one who does. Each of us have a role to play just like each part of our physical body have a role to play.

Are you willing to let someone squeeze the middle

of the toothpaste instead of the end ?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are you Plumb ?

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. Amos 7:7

This past Sunday our pastor began his sermon by asking, “Do you believe God can use everyday ordinary situations to teach you powerful biblical lessons?” Of course, the entire congregation agreed that yes He could. Pastor went on to explain that last week he had moved his satellite dish from one place on his house to another. He had worked with it all afternoon but no matter what he did, he got not find the right angle that would receive the signal. Finally, he decided to give up, eat supper and maybe work on it the next afternoon. During the night he was kept awake. He continued to mull over this problem in his mind to try to find the solution. Since he was awake (and he could not watch TV), he went into his office to pray and study his bible. It was during this quiet time that he was able to hear from God. God prompted him to turn to Amos 3. As Pastor read over the text about the plumb line, he came to understand a couple of things. One was practical daily application and the other a biblical “forever” lesson. First, as he moved his dish and reset it in the new position on his house he did not adjust the base to plumb. Without the base properly set then it receiver was not pointing in the direction to pick up the signal from the satellite. See if it is off just a few centimeters at the base then it is a long way off out in space. The second lesson (and the one God really wanted Pastor and all of us to learn) was/is that Jesus is our plumb line. He is the one we are to measure up to.

Being plumb is a construction term that refers to being straight up and down. A plumb line is a string with a weigh on the end. When you hold the string at the top the weight makes the line hang down straight. Today carpenters tend to use a level more often than the plumb line to make sure the construction is straight and level but the concept is the same. As Pastor explained that Jesus is our plumb line, I began to ask myself a few questions:

How out of plumb am I?
What areas do I need to allow God to bring into plumb?
Whom have I used as my plumb line?
Will I ever be plumb?

These questions continued to roll over and over in my head through out the evening. I wondered, “God I am so out of plumb and unlevel, how will I ever get to where I should be? I quietly felt His answer, “allow me to adjust you a little at a time.” It was then that I thought about the old table I was refinishing, it did not sit level. Once I determined which leg was causing the out of balance,I flipped the table upside down, sand on the leg for a few minutes and then stand it back up right. I laid the level across the top. If the level bubble did not come to rest between the marks then I would once again sand the bottom of the erred leg. It took several time of doing this until the table finally sat level. See, I did not just take out a saw and start cutting away at the leg because it is better to take off a little at the time. God deals with us the same way. He gently moves us closer to plumb a little at a time. I am thankful that He loves me enough to not allow me to remain out of plumb.

Are you allow God to work to make you plumb ?