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!

Run YOUR Race

Head over to my podcast for 5 ways to RUN YOUR RACE!! Seeking God, Loving Others.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In 48 hours, I’ll be running my first marathon. I can’t believe that after almost 8 months of training it’s time. It’s time to run my race. My training has been interrupted more times than I care to remember but I’ve made it through.

I’ve learned so much over the past few months about both running and life. Many of the blog posts I’ve written were worked out during a run on the trails.

As I’ve been preparing for this race, I’ve come across Hebrews 12:1 quite a bit. In fact, the planner I use has a monthly verse and this month’s verse was Hebrews 12:1! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This verse is such a powerful reminder that each of us has our own race to run that God has marked out for us. But many of us are too busy looking at other people’s races and envying their results.

I’ve found it so freeing actually running my own race. Both physically and spiritually. I use a running app that is basically like Facebook but for runners. We can see our friends’ runs and comment and like but I’ve heard many people say they feel bad about their own run after seeing others’ stats.

When we compare ourselves to others, it actually slows us down in our own race. We end up doing too much too soon or losing focus on what God wants us to do.

If I look at and envy the free time my friend has while her kids are at school, I won’t be content in homeschooling my children even though it’s the race God has marked for me.

If I envy the lavish vacation someone on Facebook posts, I won’t be content with sticking to the financial goals God has marked out for my family.

When we run the race that God has marked out for us in our homes, business, career or family, we can trust that he has everything figured out.

I know a few people who have a running coach. If ever I win the lottery, that will be one of my splurges. A running coach can create a plan tailored specific to your goals. You don’t have to think about what workout you need to do or how far you need to run; you just look at your plan. And if something comes up that interferes with your training, your running coach adjusts things and moves them around.

Now, a running coach is not in my budget (yet) but I do have access to someone who has created a tailored plan for my life. I don’t have to worry about what city to live in or what job to take, I can just look at his plan. I don’t have to know how long it will take for my blog to get noticed or my book to get published. I can look at his plan and know that “he who began a good work will carry it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

When something interferes with my race, he can move things around so that “all things are working together for my good” (Romana 8:28). If you haven’t caught on, I’m talking about God! God has every detail of my life, and yours, mapped out and when we stay in our lane, stay in his word and stay in his presence, we WILL run our race and run it well.

Seasons Change; God Doesn’t

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.””
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s fall here in the Midwest, a season I had very little experience with growing up in Texas. I love this time of year. There is a street that we take to go to the library that we call “Tree Tunnel Road”. The trees on either side of the road meet above the road, like they are reacting out to each to each other. During the fall, the leaves trade their green wardrobe for yellows, orange, red and purple.

In a time when things can change overnight, it is reassuring to know that God is always the same. He is faithful and his great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4) are not conditioned on what is happening in the world. Take heart! His promises are still YES and AMEN!

Find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

Seek First

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you charge into the restroom full speed? Do you stretch? Meditate? Pray? Grab your phone? Every morning we are presented with a new opportunity to start the day off in a way that will fulfill us or drain us.

When we choose to put the things of God first, the rest of life will come together. I can always tell when I haven’t been seeking God first. It feels like little by little, the other areas of my life begin to crumble.

We don’t have to go back to flip phones or delete social apps from our devices, but what if we seek before scroll? What if we read a scripture before taking that selfie? What if we pray before we play that game? When we take care of our spirits, our bodies tend to line up as well.

Asking, Seeking and Knocking

““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” -Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

My son is a professional asker. He has no hesitation when asking to go somewhere, do something or buy something. And if the answer is no, he will wear you down slowly but sweetly! Eventually, he usually gets what he wants (within reason).

Many people think this scripture is about money and material things. We can ask God for ANYTHING! Need peace? Ask, seek and knock. What about joy? Ask, seek and knock. How about focus to get a few things finished? Ask, seek and knock.

God is concerned about we are concerned about. I bet he wished we would come to him with everything. Not just big, insurmountable problems but even things as small as a headache.

Find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

Choosing Peace

As I write this blog, I have a busy few days coming. Well, really a busy few weeks. I promise this is not a humble brag or me trying to flex a busy schedule on you, but in the next 3 weeks, I have my son’s 10th birthday, my mom flying into town, homeschool, gymnastics, blogging, podcasting, extracurriculars, my last weeks of marathon training and then running that marathon.

I don’t like busy. I don’t like a full calendar. I like lighting candles and sipping coffee. I like adult coloring and crossword puzzles. I like sitting in a blanket on my couch watching Bluey with my kids or without them. Bluey is a really great show!

I don’t like being busy because I feel like I have to choose between what I have to do and what I want to do. I have to choose what gets done and what doesn’t.

One thing that I am choosing every day is peace. I used to get really worked up when I had a busy season. I’d make lists of lists to make lists and cross out things on lists and tear up lists to make newer prettier ones. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a list! But it no longer stresses me out.

Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
‭‭

Every morning, I focus my mind on Christ and receive the peace of God. What does this look like for me? It’s pretty basic. Instead of worrying about the laundry that I have done, I played restaurant with my kids. Instead of trying to run a billion errands for my son’s sleepover, I asked my husband to help out. Instead of rushing through my kid’s school lesson, we went to the library and got done what we could.

I know some situations in life are thrown at us without us asking for them, but even in those instances, we can choose peace. We can make the decision before hand that we will not be overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, but be overwhelmed by the peace of God.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You can find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

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Training Tips

Check out my podcast, Seeking God, Loving Others! This weeks episode based on this blog: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000534243735

This week in my marathon training, I had a midweek 6 mile run and unintentionally chose a path that has a few hills. I’m a lazy runner if I’m being honest and typically, I try to find routes that stay pretty even or go down in elevation! But being that my November marathon does feature some intense hills, I know I have to get more effective at running them.

As I was running up a steep hill, I began to regret my decision. Hills are hard! Hills hurt. Hills take more effort. Hills slow you down. Why can’t all races be on a level course that requires little to no effort? You already know where I’m going with this, don’t you?!

Life does not progress on an even course. There are times when we are running well and times when all we can do is walk. There will be times when there is plenty and times when we get to practice contentment! We don’t always get to run downhill. Sometimes we will have to tackle hills.

Jesus told us this in John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Jesus wanted us to know that in this world, we will have trouble. Not we might have or could possibly have trouble. WILL. Look at his life! The Pharisees were constantly stalking his every move. The Sadduceus’ main mission in life was to try to trip him up. His own disciple turned him in to be arrested. The people laughed at and mocked him and don’t forget he was put on a cross by the same people who laid palm branches under him!

It’s easy to say we want to live like Jesus, but do we though!? Jesus was able to endure all of this and more because he had already put in the training. He had already practiced on the hills! 

Jesus spent time in prayer and fasting. He knew the Scriptures like no one else! He prioritized communion with his father. He surrounded himself with like minded people (although they sometimes got on his nerves!).

His life was neither smooth nor easy. And neither will ours be. I wish more than anything it could be, but instead of wishing for the impossible, I’d rather prepare for the inevitable. 

Just like I’m preparing my body to run 26.2 miles by eating properly, sleeping well, and training up for the distance, we can prepare our lives to weather the storms life will send. 

No matter what you are going through, know that God has given you everything you need to overcome. It won’t always be uphill.. But if you train for the difficult seasons by staying consistent in his word and staying connected to him, you will make it to the top.