Tuesday, September 2, 2014

People Watching

We were separated by the Columbia River. On the Oregon side, I was headed west toward Seaside. On the Washington side he was driving his semi west to parts unknown. Apparently we were traveling at the same rate of speed. At regular intervals I checked my counterpart to see how he was doing.

Still there. 

The highway would wind through trees or veer away from the river. But when we came to a straight stretch, I would glance to my right. Sure enough … he was still there.

He had no idea he was being watched.

Life is like that. We never know who might be observing us. The obvious ones are spouses and children … parents and sometimes neighbors. Churches are notorious for people watching. Co-workers may be very aware of your actions, even though they never acknowledge it.

But what about the cashier where you consistently purchase your groceries? Or maybe someone you say hi to at the gym? It may be years later when they own up to their curiosity about your life. What are they seeing?

For those who may be watching me, my prayer is they see Jesus in me.

“And you yourself must be an example to them…” Titus 2:7 (NLT)



Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Right Kind of Friend

Is school back in session where you live? When I was growing up, school never started until after Labor Day. But here in the South, where the days are hot and muggy, August is as good a time as any to return to reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic.

Heading back to school usually means buying new clothes, trying out for sports teams, and making new friends. Friendships are critically important (click to tweet). And the right friends can be an excellent influence on your kids: giving them encouragement, and challenging them to do their best. But the wrong friends can spell disaster.

Characteristics of friendship

The Bible gives us a glimpse of what a great friendship looks like:

…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1b
They were kindred spirits. What made their friendship something special?

*They challenged one another to do what was right. Their friendship was built on a love for the Lord. (1 Samuel 20:42)

*They looked out for each other. (1 Samuel 19:2)

*They encouraged one another during the difficult times. (1 Samuel 23:16)

David and Jonathan knew what true friendship was all about.

Your turn

As your kids head back to school, help them understand how to choose the right kind of friends. And how to be a good friend. The school environment can be difficult to navigate, but godly friends can make all the difference (click to tweet).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for showing me examples of friendship in Your Word. Help me  teach my kids to choose godly friends and to be the right kind of friend to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



*Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker and is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. She lives in sunny Georgia with her husband and daughter, two dogs and two cats. Visit her on the web and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking.  Connect with  her on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fruity

The Fruit of the Spirit. I've often pondered these two verses from Galatians. There is much to desire in them. I've even decided to pick, shall we say, a "fruit a week," and work on it in particular, attempting to better look like my Savior.

In case you aren't aware, this is (excuse the pun) a fruitless endeavor. I can't make myself exhibit this fruit any more than I can "make myself" acceptable to God.

In reviewing this passage, especially the first verse, I consulted several translations. Look at what I found in the Amplified Version. If you would, pay special attention to the first part of verse 22.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. Galatians 5:22-23 AMP
First, note that it is the fruit...is - not the fruit, or fruits, are. These are not individual things to "work on." It's one fruit. This is not a list of character traits that we need to strive for to be more like Jesus, or to please Him. It is, for lack of a better term, a package deal.
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Next, look at what "it" is. This fruit comes from the Holy Spirit - God Himself. And it is "the work which His presence within accomplishes." We do not accomplish it on our own, any more than we earn our salvation. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and lives with in us. And like a seed planted in the ground, He produces a crop within us--His own fruit.

Every person who is a child of God has this fruit within us--all of it. And, through a process of growth and yielding to the Spirit and God's will in our lives, each facet of it will bloom, showing outward evidence of the Spirit that lives within us.
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It's easy to look at this list of Spiritual fruit and think "I really need to work on 'fill in the blank.'" But that's not what it's about. What we need to do is "work on" giving the Spirit control. Once cultivated by the Master Gardener, the fruit will come.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your precious Word, and for sending Your Spirit to live within us and bear fruit, the Fruit of Your Spirit, through us. Help me to yield to You and allow this Fruit to blossom within me. Let others see this wonderful Fruit and know that it is You who produced it. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20 Beautiful Things


Today I want to give a shout out to my friend, Laurie Wallin. She’s an encourager extraordinaire. Laurie gave me permission to share these affirming truths that are true about you…

20 Beautiful Things That Are True About You

1)      You’re capable (Philippians 4:16).
2)      You’re stronger than you think (see #1).
3)      You can forgive (Matthew 6:14).
4)      You’re uniquely gifted for this moment (Ephesians 4:11-16).
5)      You are valuable (Matthew 13:45-46).
6)      You can be generous (2 Corinthians 9:7).
7)      You’re beautiful (Song of Solomon 4:7).
8)      You’re smarter than you think (Isaiah 1:18).
9)      You are loved (John 15:13).
10)  You are desirable (Song of Solomon 4:7).
11)  You matter (Luke 19:1-10).
12)  You’re braver than you think (Matthew 14:29).
13)  You are creative (Genesis 1:26).
14)  You are accepted (Ephesians 1:6).
15)  You are part of something bigger than yourself (Matthew 28:19).
16)  You’re redeemed (Ephesians 1:7).
17)  You are special (1 Peter 2:9).
18)  You’re not finished yet (Philippians 3:12).
19)  You are weird (in a good way. 1 Peter 2:9).
20)  You are wonderful (Psalm 139:14).




Father God, help us to internalize these truths found in Your Word. Then guide us as we share them to encourage hurting people throughout the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Okra is Gross--Don't Even Try to Change My Mind

Not long ago, I posted this status on Facebook:  


In the hours following that post, I had dozens of posts in response. Some people agreed with me—vegetables are gross, they said. Most people disagreed, however, and they tried to win me over to the veggie side with mouth-watering descriptions (and even pictures) of their favorite vegetable dishes. Small, good-natured disputes broke out between the veggie-lovers and the sane people. Side arguments occurred over the merits of mayo over ketchup.

It was all in fun, and no feelings were hurt.

But it got me thinking in another direction.

No matter how the veggie folks tried, nothing they said convinced me to try a fried green tomato or a cucumber and radish sandwich. My mind is made up—I will not be moved. And although I didn’t try to pull any vegetable-eaters to my side (other than a single, unconvincing “ew” about olives), I’m sure such an attempt would have been equally useless.

How many of us have been pulled into similar disputes on Facebook or some other media forum about something far more serious than okra and squash? I know that I have—I’ve even instigated some of them. The internet gives us a safe place to argue: we aren’t in danger of actual physical confrontation, and if we hitch onto a conversation started by a friend of a friend of a friend, we’re virtually anonymous—those people don’t know us, so we aren’t accountable in any way for what we’ve said.

So we post something about a social, political, or spiritual issue—and for most of us, there’s considerable overlap there—and then the wars begin.

The thing is…no matter how convincing I think I am (facts, statistics, scientific studies, news articles from reliable sources, personal testimonies, scripture verses), I will never convince someone who believes the other thing. In fact, several months ago I asked that very question on Facebook: If you firmly believe in something—let’s call it Schmoople—and someone showed you all sorts of evidence against Schmoople—would you change your mind? Overwhelmingly, everyone who responded said no. Schmoople is Schmoople, and nothing will shake my belief.

And really—is the computer the best setting for this kind of conversation? If I want to convince someone about the truth of my belief—social, political, spiritual, or vegetable—the best way to do this is to cultivate a relationship with her, to make her some (fair trade) brownies and coffee, to love her. If Schmoople comes up—and if it’s truly important—we can discuss it within our loving relationship.


So I’m not going to do it anymore. When people post things I disagree with, I will bite my tongue. I’m not posting things that will be incendiary. It’s just not loving. I’ll still “like” things that I agree with, because I want people to know where I stand, but I’m not going to start arguments, and I’m sure not going to pitch in just so my voice can be heard. That’s the exact opposite of humble, and I don’t want to be that any more.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pride and Humility

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
Ever wondered why, when you're doing good things for God, they don't always work out? Why your efforts to bring folks to Christ, for instance, or raise support to be a missionary are such a struggle? Ever had a great lesson to teach your Sunday school class, but you got tongue-tied, or the kids refused to listen?

There are several possible reasons, of course. God's timing. Outside circumstances.  The hearer isn't ready. And that's just a few. But there's one that perhaps you don't consider too often.
Could it be that God is opposing you?
I don't know about you, but just because I'm doing the Lord's work doesn't mean I'm in His will. My motives are not always right in His eyes. I write for selfish reasons. I serve to be praised. I pray to look good. I share the gospel to "increase my numbers." I help my husband in hopes he'll help me back.
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I think, in brief, that my reasons are more important than God's.  I'm looking to make MYSELF increase, whether I realize it or not. And that is displeasing to the Lord. And though He sometimes allows us to succeed despite our attitudes, it is not always so. Sometimes, when our pride is our motive, He opposes us, and the work we are doing. And it doesn't succeed.

But if we humble ourselves and do His work for His glory, then perhaps He will show us favor and give us the victory - in HIS name.

Heavenly Father, I know that my motives are not always pure, and that sometimes THAT is the reason my ministry is unsuccessful. Help me, Lord, to do everything for You, and with the motives You wish me to have, because then, no matter the outcome, I know I will be in Your will. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When a Beach Blanket is more than a Beach Blanket


A package arrived in the mail the other day. My wonderful sister-in-law, she who never forgets, sent me a birthday gift.




It’s a beach blanket. Folds into a nifty carrying case. Zipper closure. Waterproof backing. And the best part?






The colors.



Because prior to the arrival of this gift, here’s what we’ve been using as a beach blanket.






Look closely. Unlike the vibrant colors of the new one, our old one is the color of …. sand.



Think about it. A sand-colored beach blanket. 



What’s the point?



It was never intended as a beach blanket. It’s an old blanket that got relegated to the car trunk and then pulled out for trips to the beach. 

It really hasn’t worked well. 



You want a beach blanket that will designate your claim to the beach. Something that says, “Hey, this is our 5 square feet of beach for the day. Watch where you’re kicking that sand!”



The old one didn’t do it.





You want something that will keep the moisture off of your precious hineys when you sit on it.



Another blanket failure.



Something easy to carry down to the water.



Nope.



Something that’s attractive.



Nope again.



You want something that will at least do the job.



Just barely.



But now we have the real thing. The packaging told me so.  It’s a “beach blanket.” Meant for the beach.



Territory designator? Check.


Waterproof? Check.


Easy carry?  Check.


Pretty?  Double check.



Since I’m prone to think too deeply about everyday objects, I look at this beach blanket and my mind goes here:



#1. My sister-in-law really is amazing and I really, really need to be better about remembering her birthday.



#2. When it comes to my faith, am I more like the old beach blanket or the new one? Have I become like the dull, sandy-colored blanket that quietly blends in with the surroundings, barely functioning? Or am I more like the new model-



bold with color, 

Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14


equipped to do the job, 

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13


ready to stake a claim? 

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14


And when God makes his next move, which type of blanket is he going to pick to take on the journey? 


In his loving service,

LuAnn Kern





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