Th Sufficiency of His Grace

I have fallen off the wagon a bit. I guess I haven’t fallen completely off but I’m dragging behind the wagon by my ponytail! The past few weeks have been busy with sickness, houseguests, back to homeschool, activities, basement renovation, and a host of other obligations, both fun and not as much.

This who know me, know that I’m a bit of a time management guru. I’ve given myself that title but few would disagree. I pride myself in being productive but over scheduled. Being organized but flexible. So when things get a little off plan/schedule my usual inclination is to get frustrated and irritable.

But as a Christian seeking God and desiring to me like him and not being conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2), I’m learning that every issue, natural or spiritual, has a biblical solution. When I feel overwhelmed by life and I all have to do, I remember that 1 Peter 5:7 invites me to cast my cares on Jesus. Because guess what.. He cares about me!

When I find myself entertaining negative thoughts, I employ Philippians 4:8 and think on things that are pure and lovely and true. Lately, I’ve been depending on 2 Corinthians 12:9, where the apostle Paul reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I don’t have to do it all or be it all, but instead can rest in the grace of God and allow his grace to help focus on what really matters.

There will always be things to do, laundry to fold, houses to clean, pets to care for, kids to drive around, but we NEVER have to do these things in our own strength. That’s why so many people are burned out. We can do them in the strength of Lord. We can do them by giving ourselves grace and accepting the grace of God.

Return, Remove, Restore

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
    If you remove wickedness far from your tent… Job 22:23

This week is a busy week for me. I’m getting my message ready for our women’s meeting at church which is returning from a summer break. I’m also preparing for homeschool to restart next week, and if that wasn’t enough, we just got a new kitten the day we returned from vacation! But I’m in a planning, back to school type of mood so my message for the ladies this Friday will tie in with that!

I love that God can use whatever we have going on to speak to us and maybe even help someone else. I’ve been reading a passage in the book of Job for a lot of the summer. It’s found in Job 22 (verses 21-28). My pastor/father in law quotes this passage often and it has become one of my favorites, but I want to zero in on one verse. The 23rd verse gives us a formula for restoration.

Math is one of my favorite subjects. It can be really simple, IF you know the basics. Math was not my son’s favorite subject. When we started homeschooling, he would dread math time. But as we slowed down and focused on the basics of memorizing math facts and seeing the patterns in them, he began to love it! He loved that there are rues to math that apply every time.

As I was ready this passage in Job, I began to think about patterns in the Bible. The children of Israel (yes, them again!) had a pattern they would fall into often. Get complacent in their faith, turn to idols and instant gratification, fall into sin, regret their disobedience and the consequences of it, cry out to God, get forgiven and restored, repeat.

This happened over and over and then over again in the Bible. But God’s response was always the same. His formula always worked and it’s found in Job 22:23. RETURN, REMOVE, RESTORE.

If the people would return their hearts to him and remove wickedness from their lives, he would restore them. This is the same promise he gave Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. God commanded his people to return to him (pray and seek), to remove wickedness from their lives (turn from their wicked ways), and he would restore them (I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land).

In the spirit of back to school, here is our formula: Return + Remove = Restoration

The formula has worked throughout scripture. Look at the prodigal son. He returned to his father, he removed his pride and arrogance, and he was restored to his position as a son. But there are also instances were people tried to only use part of the formula. Many of the kings in the Old Testament were counted as doing right in the eyes of the Lord. They returned to him and encourage the people to do so. But I noticed a phrase that kept reappearing: “But they failed to remove the high places”. The kings would return to God but would to get rid of the places of idol worship that would distract the people of God from serving him fully.

Many of us don’t physically go to the temple of an idol and make sacrifices. But everyday, we make spiritual sacrifices while we worship at the alters of busyness, technology, complacency, greed, discontent, criticism and whatever else I didn’t name that fits you! If we want to see restoration in a certain area of our life, we have to apply the formula. And yes, it always works!

In your finances: RETURN your tithe to the Lord and learn how to be a good manager of what he’s given you. REMOVE unnecessary spending, overspending, debt and a poverty mentality and prioritize saving and investing and RESTORE your ability to experience financial freedom.

In your health: RETURN your body to God as a temple you want to take care of. REMOVE unhealthy eating habits and negative patterns surrounding food. Your health will be RESTORED and you can live a life full of energy and unnecessary heath issues.

In your walk with God: RETURN to God by daily prayer and reading his Word. REMOVE distractions keeping you from spending time with him (turn your phone off, go outside for a walk, put in your noise cancelling headphones!). See your spirit restored and your faith grow.

I could go on forever, but you get the point! God wants his children to prosper and be in good health. He wants us to serve him and others and be a blessing to everyone we encounter. And we do that by living restored, redeemed lives. What are do you need restoration in? Take some time and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover it. I need to restore my daily time with God. I’ve allowed the busyness of summer activities to distract me from some of the habits and routines I normally have in place. I’ll be asking the Holy Spirit to help me to be consistent in my time with God. Let me know in the comments what the Holy Spirit is guiding you to restore.

You Know Who You Are.. Be That

I’d love to tell you I received this revelation while sitting on my back deck during my quiet time, with my Bible open, a cup of coffee, and my notebook. But I didn’t. I got it while watching the TV show Blue Bloods.

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Blue Bloods, when I heard the line “You know who you are; be that” from Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, known IRL as Tom Selleck. Blue Bloods is a crime drama following a family of law enforcement officers in serving the city of New York in different capacities. The show is in it’s twelfth season and I’ve been a fan now for years.

In this particular episode, a detective who had spent time previously working for the commissioner was shot in the field. Commissioner Reagan rushes to the hospital and catches her before she’s rushed into surgery. She is bleeding, holding her wound, and looks terrified and that’s when he tells her, “You know who you are; be that.”

Listen.. whoever told you that you can only hear from God sitting in a meadow with a journal may need to expand their idea of how God works! God can use anything to talk to us. Look in the Bible! Angels, Burning bushes, donkeys, children.. The truth is that as long as we’re listening, he’ll speak.

This line has captivated my thoughts now for a bit. Sometimes I feel like we are constantly searching for this ideal self. We read books about how to be better, look better, feel better, and do better but as children of God, we can obtain all of this and more in his word.

When we know who we are (children of God) we can simply be that (heirs to the promise). We are heirs to God’s promise of grace, freedom, love, acceptance, favor, and the list goes on. We have the mind of Christ! We only have to know that we do and use it.

I’ve stopped chasing this imaginary future self who looks a certain way or does certain things and have decided to just be who I am.. a beloved child of God. I’m leaning on who I am in him and trusting him to show me what’s missing (and abounding) in my life. So know who you are today.. and Be That!!

Everything is Alright

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

A few years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to close on our home is Southeast Wisconsin. We had moved from Houston, Texas to be closer to his family and after months of living in an apartment so small that I could see everyone no matter what room they were in, we were excited to get a bit more space. The day of the closing, we were sitting in the car when he got a call from the lender that they were unable to verify his employment and needed a contact to do so before we closed.

No problem, right? Well, he was set to resign in 5 days. And he didn’t have another job! I could see his demeanor change. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. I asked him if everything was alright and he said, “Yes. Let’s go in the bank.” To make a long story short, his employer verified he worked there, we closed on the home, and despite resigning 3 times, he now works remotely for the same company.

There has been a lot of resistant towards positive confessions or affirmations. Many people think declaring positive statements are naive or just wishful thinking. I’m not here to argue as to whether or not they work, but I do know that the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that “the tongue has the power of life and death.” The Bible also says in Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

I read an amazing book last year by Jon Acuff called Soundracks. He talks about replacing negative patterns of thinking with helpful, positive ones, or as he calls them new soundtracks. This idea is not new. Philippians 4:8 encourages us to think positively as well. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

In 2 Kings 4, there is an account of someone who did just that. Instead of focusing on what was going wrong, the Shunammite woman (I talked about her in my blog Make Room) confesses boldly “Everything is alright!” when literally everything was falling apart. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about her story and the incredible testimony of God’s provision, healing, and restoration in her life.

But until then, I want to encourage you to start confessing God’s promises over your life. Here are a few I rehearse regularly. you can borrow them!

  • Jesus is with me, and he is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • I am well able (Numbers 13:30)
  • His joy is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
  • He carries my cares (1 Peter 5:7)
  • I am the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Make Room

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

There is an amazing story in 2 Kings 4 that I’ve read a number of times. We meet a woman who isn’t even named but whose story stretches across a few chapters in this book. The Bible calls her the Shunammite and while we don’t a lot about her background, the story gives us a few details that helps us to get to know her better.

I won’t quote the entire passage, but it’s found in 2 Kings 4:8-17. I’ll paraphrase for the sake of time, but make sure you read it for yourself! One of the biggest mistakes Christians make are believing everything they’re told so please do your homework.

In this story, the prophet Elisha is a frequent visitor to the land of Shunem and a wealthy woman and her husband often host him for meals. The woman suggests to her husband that they should make a room on the top of their home so he has a place to stay whenever he stops by. While laying in his new room, Elisha asks his servant, Gehazi, what they should do for this woman to thank her for her hospitality.

She tells them she doesn’t need anything, but Gehazi tells Elisha she doesn’t have any children and her husband is old. He tells the Shunammite that at this time next year, she will have a son. And just as he said, it happened.

I love this story. It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I say that about a lot of stories but hands down, I think this is it. At least until I come across another one I love! God has really been nudging me to get uncomfortable lately. To step outside of my little world and really look for opportunities to be a blessing to someone. There are 3 things the Shunammite woman did in this story that have encouraged me to be more mindful about how we treat and serve others.

SHE PROVIDED NOURISHMENT AND REFRESHING In November 2021, I ran my first marathon (you can read about it here!). Every 2 miles or so along the course, there were aid stations set up for runners. Aid stations had volunteers that provided water, gatorade, fruit, energy gels, or medical help for anyone who needed it. There were helpful, kind people there to help the runners keep going. One of the stations I ran through had a hockey team that formed a bridge with their hands for runners to go under as they yelled our names and cheered us on.

This woman provided an aid station for Elisha. She made sure that when he was in town, he had somewhere to go to be refreshed and energized (2 Kings 4:8). This is a practice that we have to return to as the body of Christ. When people come in contact with us, they should leave feeling refreshed and encouraged.

We have the responsibility as the people of the Way to feed them the love of Jesus, kindness, faith, the word of God, encouragement. But far too many Christians feed others their opinions. We set up aid stations with our ideas, political beliefs, and judgments. So instead of leaving feeling refreshed and strengthen, people leave feeling unseen and malnourished.

When we give people the life giving, soul quenching truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will leave us with the hope for change. Proverbs 11:25 says “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

SHE LOOKED FOR AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A BLESSING

This week, I planned to get up early to get some things done. I have a hard time writing at home so I like to go across the street to the coffee shop to write without distractions, then head over to the gym. I packed my bag the night before but couldn’t find my headphones. I knew I had brought them upstairs but couldn’t find them anywhere.

I looked in my kids’ room, the office, under my pillow. I looked in the closet and even the in the bathroom drawers. Nothing! I finally gave up and decided to work headphone free. Gross.

When I cam back home, I tried to find them one more time. Lo and behold, I found them under a lone sock on my dresser. After more minutes than I cared to spend looking for them, I had finally found them. What’s my point? We have to look for an opportunity to be a blessing.

The Shunammite woman (I wish she had a name; I’m tired of typing that!) didn’t wait for Elisha to come to her! She urged him to come to her home. She approached him. A lot of times, we expect people to come to our places of worship, bursting down the door to hear about Jesus.

Can I tell you a secret? They’re not coming. People who don’t know Jesus are not usually running into churches just because they drove by one. They are running into you and me, at Walmart, at the gas station, at the pharmacy, at our kids’ schools. We have to urge them to come. We have to look for an opportunity to bless them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-16 says,‬ “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Every time we leave our home, there is an opportunity to bless someone. But we’ve got to be on the look out.

SHE MADE AN INVESTMENT, EXPECTING NO RETURN I don’t know how many of you have ever invested in the stock market but I’m sure you know that the point of investing is to get more back. You expect a return. When a farmer plants corn, he expects to get more corn.

But in this story, this woman makes an investment into someone’s life without expecting anything in return. the Bible tells us that when we sow generously, we will reap generously, but that shouldn’t be the reason we sow. We give out of our love for God, not because of what we can get from him.

Theologians believe that this woman and her husband actually built a room on their roof. My husband and I are remodeling our basement right now, and let me tell you it is a lot of work! We’re building walls, a bathroom, doing electrical work, windows, lightening, like everything! So imagine that when this couple decided to make a room, it took both time and money to put it together.

She not only made a room for him, but furnished it as well. According to my trusted sources at Google, it costs on the low end about $10,000 to remodel and furnish a bedroom. That’s a big investment. And she did it because she wanted to honor Elisha, not get something from him. As a prophet who was known for performing miracles and hearing from God, I’m sure he was used to always doing things for people, but this woman wanted to do something for him.

Philippians 2:3 reminds to “Do nothing out of  selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” There will be times when God will prompt us to pour into someone that would never be able to repay us, and that’s ok. He sees our hearts and our work. We read in the story that because of her kindness and generosity, she was rewarded.

Moe then ever people need to experience the love of God and the life changing truth of his word. It won’t come just from church services and programs, prayer meetings and planning sessions, but from radical hospitality and opening our homes and hearts to other. Next week, I want to share someone’s story who did exactly that.

‭‭

Saying Yes to God

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

We’ve declared this a Year of Yes for God. We’ve identified the distractions and how to overcome them. So how do we actually say yes? Thankfully the answers are found in the book of James.

Yield – We have to yield to God. This is the first directive we’re given in James 4. Yielding is another way to say submit. Submission is the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. I’ve heard it described as coming under the mission of another. To be sub/under another’s mission. 

When we drive, there are yield signs. Yield doesn’t mean to slow down. The yield sign is telling us that there is something else already happening. There are cars already moving at high speeds and if you are entering, you need to join in with what’s already happening.

When we submit to God, we are agreeing to join in with what he has going on. We agree to do what he wants us to do. Micah 6:8 is one place in the word that tells us what God requires of us. God requires that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

When you walk with someone you get to know them. One of my closest friends I have is because we ran together. We started to train for a race together and during that time, we got to know each other on a deeper level. 

Enter His Presence– James encourages us to come near to God. When we come near to God, we enter his presence.God’s presence is not some mystical place or weird room with candles and soft music.God’s presence is wherever you prepare for it. His presence can be at your dining room table as you read your devotional. His presence can be in your car while you praise on your way to work.

When we come near to God, we are showing him that not only do we trust him, but he can trust us. 

Sacrifice– And here comes the hard part. Look at James 4:9 “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” None of that stuff is fun! But honestly, saying yes to God often requires sacrifice.

Saying yes to something requires saying no to something else. Saying yes to attending worship service consistently requires saying no to staying up all night on Saturday. Saying yes to making time to read your Bible requires saying no to binge watching your favorite show. Saying yes to managing your finances requires saying no to overspending and accumulating debt.

Saying yes is not always easy either, but saying yes to God, whatever he asks is always most beneficial. God has asked me to do a lot of things outside of my comfort zone, but every time I’ve said yes, I’ve never regretted it.

Whether God has asked you to start a ministry, focus on getting out of debt, serve as a foster parent, or minister to single mothers, I can assure you that your yes will not be in vain.

Distractions in the Year of Yes

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

We were riding to church on a cold morning recently and my son asked me what my last name was before his dad and I got married. I was deep into explaining the importance of keeping my maiden name in my new married name when he interrupted, “I just saw a dog’s breath in the air!”

In a moment’s notice, he went from caring to hear about our family history to watching a dog breathe in the cold air. I was shattered!

But aren’t we all like this? Especially this time of the year if you’re reading this in January. We can be so focused on our New Year’s Resolutions. We’re hitting the gym, reading our Bible, eating better. Until we get distracted.

This is one of Satan’s favorite tools to use against God’s people: distraction. He may not get us to curse someone out or lie to your spouse, but he can get us distracted. His first recorded deception is of him distracting Eve from what God said.

When we get to heaven, I think Eve is going to go off on everyone who’s used her as an example of distraction. But we’re the same. God instructed them not to eat from one tree. God has given us instructions that we gloss over all of the time. Instructions regarding our finances, health, children, we take as optional suggestions.

I have a few ways that often distract us from giving God our best yes. And you know how I roll; they all start with S! Remember, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes???) so The enemy just revamps things as times change.

Social Distractions – You had to know it was coming! Never in the history of man have we actually been able to carry distractions everywhere we go. When I’m talking about social distractions, I’m referring specifically to social media.

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and whatever else is out there or coming has stolen so much time from people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting at a table with people and instead of engaging in conversation, they are scrolling.

We are so concerned with what everyone is doing when as people of Faith, we should be worried about what God is doing. Paul tells us in “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,” (1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬). But social media encourages us to do the exact opposite. We are in other people’s business and not working with our hands. I guess swiping could be considered work by the scientific definition but I’m not going there!

Aaron, the first priest of Israel and brother of Moses, had a major social distraction. In Exodus 32, he was so concerned with what the people wanted that he helped create a golden calf for them to worship. When Moses was taking too long on the mountain talking to God, Aaron collected their gold jewelry and melted it to form a calf to serve as their god.

When Moses came down from the mountain, he said to his brother “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?””
(‭‭Exodus‬ ‭32:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬) I love Aaron’s response in the next verses! He blamed the people and then lied. Really, you should read the Bible. It can be hilarious!

But isn’t that what Eve did? Isn’t that what we do? We rarely take responsibility for our distractions. We try to justify them or make excuses. My pastor from my previous church would say an excuse is a dressed lie with a hat on.

I’m currently practicing a time of fasting and prayer and one thing I cut out in addition to coffee, meat, sweets and intimate relations is social media and TV. I’m already not a huge consumer of either but I can get sucked in rather quickly if I allow myself. But by putting those things aside for a period, I’ve found myself talking to God more and in his word.

Schedule Distractions – Here is a sample of an average day for me in November 2019:

  • 7am- Kids to school
  • 8am husband to work (we had one car for 4 months!)
  • 8:30-11:30 Work at coffee shop
  • 11:45-12:45pm School Organization meeting
  • 1-2pm work out
  • 2pm pick up kids
  • 3pm Cook dinner and clean
  • 5pm Showers for church or rehearsal
  • 6pm Church or rehearsal
  • 7pm Church or rehearsal
  • 9pm Veg on couch until I can get upstairs

I was busy and overwhelmed and this didn’t include gymnastics and birthday parties and my stuff! But I recognized it. I began to trim back my schedule until I wasn’t busy and overwhelmed anymore. I cut out extra things I was involved in that didn’t fulfill me or add value to where I was going until all that was left was what was essential.

Busyness isn’t a new problem. When Jesus was visiting his friends in Luke 10, one sat at his feet listening to him while the other bustled around in busyness. She was so busy serving the Lord that she didn’t have time to sit with him. She was so busy preparing that she didn’t stop to praise the one she was preparing for.

I don’t know what your schedule is like but I can almost bet there are things in it that are not benefiting you. I’ve learned I don’t have to go to every party and I don’t need a reason why. Our schedules should work for us, not us for them.

Take a look at your current schedule. If you don’t have time to do things for God and for yourself, it’s too full. I heard this quote “If you are too busy to pray, you are busier than God wants you to be.” -Wanda Brunstetter.

Satisfaction Distraction – We all want to feel comfortable and satisfied but when our satisfaction distracts us from saying yes to God, something is wrong. I live in Green Bay Packer country in Wisconsin. I’m not lying when I say that our church has less attendees on the Sundays the Packers play. Some people are just more interested in being entertained than coming to worship. Its mean but it’s true.

We satisfy our desire for more sleep by skipping our morning prayer time. We satisfy our desire for sugary snacks by choosing a cupcake over an apple. We satisfy our desire for worldly materials by going into debt for things we don’t need rather than managing our money well. Every day we make choices based on what will satisfy us, not on what will sustain us.

But the Bible tells us these things will never satisfy us, only God can. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”
(‭‭Psalms‬ ‭145:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

But don’t feel bad. I’m certainly not trying to make you feel that way. I just want us to be aware of the traps we can easily fall into when we take our eyes off of Jesus. Paul had to correct the church at Corinth for the same things. But they were really going crazy!

The Corinthian church was full of new believers who were leaving an old way of life for a new life in Christ. But they were struggling! They were suing each other, people were creating divides based on spiritual positioning, and they had some major sexual immorality going on!

Paul corrected this church and let them know that while being satisfied is not necessarily a sin, not everything we do to satisfy ourselves is helpful.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23

I ran across a wonderful acronym just this week. Think before you speak. And for our use, I’ll say think before you speak or do.

  • TRUE- Is it true?
  • HELPFUL- Is it helpful?
  • INSPIRING- Is it inspiring?
  • NECESSARY- Is it necessary?
  • KIND- Is it kind?

Let’s agree to not let distraction rule over us in 2022. Examine your life to see what area you struggle most in and ask God to help you set boundaries so you can give him your best yes.

A Year of Yes

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

I recently watched the movie “Yes Day” with my kids. I was hesitant to watch it because I didn’t want them getting any ideas! The premise of the movie is that for one day the parents agree to say yes to everything their children ask. The parents set a few rules about how much money could be spent and a distance they could travel, but other than that the answer had to be yes.

The morning of the Yes Day, the kids enter the room with a poster board containing their 5 Big Asks that were to be revealed later. And the movie continues with a lot of foolishness and falls and family fun ending with a good lesson and maybe a tear or two shed. As I was watching this movie, I began to wonder if this is how we sometimes approach God.

We want a YES DAY from Him. And not just a YES DAY, but a YES LIFE. We want every request answered the way we want it and within our timeframe. I have a very active imagination so I imagine myself entering heaven with a bright green poster board, approaching God’s throne: “Here are my Big Asks for you, Lord. I want more money than I know what to do with. I want my kids to be smart and talented and get into a good college. I want my business to be booming! I want my marriage to be picture perfect. And can you please keep me healthy despite the trash I continue to consume everyday? Oh and I ask this in Jesus’ name, so now you have to do it.”

I don’t think any of us would really approach God like this. At least I hope not! But I wonder if he ever feels like we do? As a parent, there are times when I do. I have actually told my kids “Do not ask me for anything for the rest of the night!”. I don’t think God would say that; he’s far more patient than I am!

But as I thought more about this, I began to wonder what would happen if we gave a YES DAY to God? What if whatever Big Asks God had for us, we did them. What if when we saw the homeless person and felt the pull to buy them dinner, we did it? What if we prayed for the cashier at Walmart that is clearly having a bad day?

In September 2015, I was at a conference hosted by my church called “Say Yes”. If you haven’t been to a Women’s Conference, I highly recommend you try one out. It’s on my to do list for this year. But during the praise and worship, I clearly heard the voice of God tell me, specifically, He needed me to say yes. I can’t explain it but I could feel that whatever I would be saying yes to was going to be big.

Three months later, my husband asked if I would be interested in moving across the country to his hometown. I already knew the answer. I knew this was what God was telling me to say yes to. A few months after moving, my father in law/pastor asked me to start a Women’s Ministry at the church. I was terrified but I said yes.

I’m reminded of another woman in the Bible who knew what it was like to say yes. Mary, the mother of our Savior, was approached by an angel of the Lord at a very inconvenient time. She was preparing for her wedding to a carpenter and I’m sure she wasn’t expecting this interruption. But what began as an interruption became a life changing invitation.

Mary had questions. Oftentimes when we’re asked to do something for God we will have questions. Google has spoiled us! We can get the answer to any question in a matter of seconds. How tall is Jennifer Aniston? (She’s 5’5″, I know you wanted to know!) Thankfully, God is gracious and doesn’t want us in the dark. We don’t always get the full details but there are times when God tells us exactly what to do.

In the first chapter of Luke, Mary asks the angel how could she become the mother of the Messiah since she is a virgin. The angel tells her “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

Then Mary gave the answer I believe God desires from all of his children. “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38). Now I don’t know anyone with a servant nor have I met a servant, but I do know that servants serve. Servants respond to the call of their master with yes.

One of our greatest examples in scriptures, the apostle Paul, who wrote almost half of the New Testament, opened many of his letters introducing himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” (See Romans, Philippians, and Titus). And Paul was next level! He started churches, taught people how to live a God-centered life, proclaimed the gospel to the Gentiles, all this while being imprisoned, shipwrecked and victim to an occasional beating for doing these things to further the kingdom!

But like Mary, Paul knew the benefit of being a servant of God. They both knew that obedience was better than sacrifice. Servants say yes. Servants seek to please their master. Jesus himself came to serve. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We don’t even have to give our lives for many, only to one. But I won’t lie to you. It’s becoming increasingly harder to say yes to the things of God. There are so many distractions that even 25 years ago weren’t an issue. We have to be even more deliberate about how we spend our time so we can give God our best yes.

Next week, I’ll continue this line of thinking with “Being Distracted from a Year of Yes”. There are things that the enemy uses, and not all of them are bad, that can cause us to miss out on the opportunity to give God a Year of Yes.

Building the Temple: Pt 3 Take Care to Prepare

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

My mom just flew in to visit the kids after Christmas. I had to buy some new sheets for the room she sleeps in because the old ones were well, old. Aside from this, I didn’t do much to prepare for her visit. Now, if I’m honest, I don’t ever take a lot of time preparing for her to come. She visits sooo much! And I’m glad.. she’s my kids’ best friend. She comes so much that she has a library card here!

But typically when someone comes to visit my home, I take some time preparing for them. Washing sheets and towels and probably doing extra cleaning that I don’t normally do, as if they’re going to under the shelf in my pantry! I stock up on groceries and coffee and try to have an idea of what to do for entertainment. If you’re like me, you make a list of everything that needs to get done before guests arrive. It becomes a part time job!

If we do all of this preparing for guests to stay in our homes for 3 or 4 days, how much more preparation should we make for the 365 days that each year brings? Now that the holiday season is winding down, we have a great opportunity to prepare our lives for the new year. Whether you have gigantic, almost impossible goals or smaller, more practical ones, I guarantee you will be more likely to succeed if you take some time to prepare.

It’s easy to make a list of what you’d like to see in your life, but the preparation comes in when you figure out HOW you will accomplish this list. “I want to read the Bible more” is a great goal for the new year, but it’s not enough? What time of day do you want to read? What books of the Bible will you read? How many verses will you read? How many chapters? I know it seems like a lot but if you don’t prepare for how you will carry out your plans, you are leaving your success up for chance.

When Solomon started building the temple, he not only followed the plans given to him by his father, David, he made other preparations. He gathered the people of Israel to seek God and gathered horses and chariots and all of the supplies necessary to complete the temple (2 Chronicles 1).

He wasn’t leaving the building of the temple of God up to chance. Look at what he said in 2 Chronicles 2:5. “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods.”

The temple that God has given us (our bodies) should be great. Our families should be great. Our finances should be great. Our relationships should be great. Our churches should be great. Why? Because our God is great! You don’t have to have all of the answers, because you can seek the God who has them. But you can take some time to prepare as best as you can and leave the rest to Him.

Happy New Year!

Building the Temple: Pt 2 Plan to Prosper

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s here! It’s finally here. My Christmas gift from my husband just came in the mail. Most people wouldn’t be excited to get the same gift every year but I like consistency!

For the past few years, I’ve been using the Christian Planner. This isn’t sponsored but people at the Christian Planner, feel free to hit me up! I use this planner because it allowed me to go from carrying around a to do journal, sermon note journal, budget journal and planner to having one place to keep all of these things.

So every year, this is what I ask my husband to get me for Christmas. There is nothing more sas tidying than opening a new, fresh, empty planner. I mean, there are but I just really love this planner!

Like the New Year, my new planner is a chance to start fresh. For many of us, the next few weeks are either going to be the groundwork for a great new future or the continuation of a stagnant, unproductive, mediocre life.

I know that sounds rough but it’s true. One of my favorite quotes says, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Some people take this to the extreme and try to plan out every detail of their day and life, making them a slave to their plans. You also have the person who makes no plan at all and proudly, albeit mistakenly, labels it as spontaneity.

Either side of the extreme is not beneficial and will have you further away from your goals than you would hope.

Did you know God was a planner? He told Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬)‬‬

And we are supposed to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). If God has taken time to make plans for us, we should take time to make plans for our lives to steer them in the direction that gives him glory in every area of our lives.

Make sure you check out the podcast where we go a bit deeper into how you can plan for your best year!

Next week, we’ll talk about the next step: Take Care to Prepare.