Am I Just a Hearer and not a Doer?

I’ve been studying Daniel with Proverbs 31 Ministries and the book of James with Jen Wilkin.  Both of these books are filled with life giving wisdom. I wouldn’t normally study these two books together and I don’t really know how it came about, but it did.  When I’m in between studies at church, I pick up studies from some of my favorite teachers. Sometimes it is hard to choose, and I dive into more than one. Here are some things God has been writing on my heart through Daniel and James.

I’m in a place of  wanting nothing but Jesus. You might say this wanting is worthy.  But, is it?   How do we go from wanting to doing?  Doing nothing but the business of our Lord.  I study, read, journal, pray, go to church, but yet there are still times my flesh fails.  I hear Jesus’ words ringing, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Am I just a hearer and not a doer?  Oh Jesus, I want to move into a place where the failings are less and less. I desire to trust you completely with my family, ministry and even my frail heart.  I want to be mature and complete , lacking nothing just as James speaks of in chapter 1.  But, the more days that pile up behind me, heartache is evident and rejoicing in all things sometimes is awfully difficult. So, when my soul is parched and my flesh is weak, what shall I do? I feel as though I’m doing most of the right things, but yet my heart feels far from you.

The truths I hear the Lord whispering as I study his word are:

~Do not turn to worldly comforts. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  James 4:4  The worldly things my flesh turns to will never quench my thirsty soul.

~Do not isolate.  He who [willfully] separates himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. Proverbs 18:1 I need God and his people.

~Keep reading God’s Word. If you can’t concentrate to read, listen to wise Godly teaching. Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalms 119:105

~Love and serve others.  Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.  James 2:8  Serving takes the focus off of me. It’s not about me;  it’s all about Jesus our wonderful gracious Savior who loves us despite these selfish crises we go through.  He’s loving me, teaching me and guiding me even now.  He hasn’t left me, even in my selfishness.

~Walk in obedience, even if your heart doesn’t feel ready.  Be a doer of the word, not just a hearer only.  James 1:22  Never have I looked back and regretted being obedient to the Lord.

~Remember and recite God’s promises.  God is faithful.  God is good.  He is almighty.  He is everlasting.  The Lord provides for and protects his children.  He saves.  God loves us.

You will see God’s mighty hand working good.  When we humbly submit ourselves to the Spirit’s instruction, the Lord does a good work in us and through us. Hang in there brothers and sisters!  Hold onto the Lord’s hand.  He is working miracles!  Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego can attest to these miracles.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted and obeyed in awfully hard circumstances with bravery.  Oh and James he was straight forward when addressing the persecuted Jewish Christians of the early church. He told them exactly how they should live.  If you haven’t read these two books of the Bible, read them, maybe not at the same time, but they are worth your time.

Lord, forgive us when our flesh is weak and we fail you.  Help us become mature and complete in you.  May we obey and be brave under difficult circumstances.  And help us obey your direct calls of obedience you call us to in the book of James. May we be hearers and doers of your word.

Buried with Christ in Baptism and Raised to New Life

My decision to be baptized by immersion came with much thought, study and prayer. This has been on my heart and mind for 12 years. I know, not exactly quick to obey. I am a living testimony that God is patient.

I was saved by Jesus at church camp in grade school. One sweaty night in an open tabernacle, I believed Jesus was real and believed He died to save me from my sin. With all kinds of emotion, I walked down the isle and prayed with a counselor. My baptism though, has always been confusing and fuzzy to me. As I began to learn about the importance of baptism and the symbolism of being immersed, how could I not want to express my faith in Christ in this way?

Baptism is a beautiful representation of what happens when we place our faith and hope in Christ. I was saved the moment I believed. Now, I just want to show off what Christ has done for me. When we’re baptized, we’re reminded of what Jesus did for us. When we go down into the water, we’re reminded of Jesus’ death on the cross and His payment for our sins. But when we come out of the water, we’re reminded that three days later, Jesus rose from the dead! 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us if we’re in Christ, we’re new creations. Baptism reminds us the old is gone, and the new has come!

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Yes, this is an act of obedience for me, but it is also my honor and joy to show others through baptism what Christ has done for me. He died for me. He saved me from sin and death. He rose to life and He has made me new. All glory to God!

I pray you too know that Jesus loves you and died to save you. I pray you remember your baptism if you’ve been baptized. I pray that if you have not been baptized or if your baptism is confusing or fuzzy, that you would begin to search scripture and pray about being baptized. God is faithful to guide us and give us answers and it’s never too late.

Teacups and Treasures

Where do you find treasure?

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Today was our Women’s Spring Tea at church.  This is such a neat gathering.  Women of all ages gather to sip tea, chat and enjoy being women.  I love to watch God orchestrate each women’s gifts.  Because seriously if this was left up to me, it would never get done.  We have gifted decorators, ladies that are great at serving food to large amounts of people, and women who will stay until every dish is clean, dry and put away.

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After getting my belly full, I was privileged to give a word of encouragement.

So, where do you find treasure?  Well, we look for treasure in many places:

the mall,

some may search garage sales,

the Internet,

Netflix,

friends,

maybe even a boyfriend or husband.

I have sought treasure in all of these places.  The list could go on.

BUT, the Bible tells us in Colossians 2:3,

“in CHRIST are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God].”

And Proverbs 2:1-11 says,

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.”

When we search for treasures hidden in CHRIST (the only treasure that matters), we gain wisdom, knowledge of God, protection, direction, guidance, and JOY, lasting JOY! So, let’s search for treasure in CHRIST.

How and where do we search? We search in the Bible, God’s Holy Word.  Treasures hidden in CHRIST sparkle in our lives as we uncover them in his Word.  We seek our Lord in prayer and we do not neglect meeting with other believers.  I pray you have been encouraged by these scriptures to seek treasure in CHRIST.  Read his Word, go to Him on your knees and fellowship with other believers.  These treasures in CHRIST will sparkle forever.

I leave you with the lyrics to a song that was playing this morning while I got ready.

I searched through the Earth for something that could satisfy
A peace for the hurt I had buried deep inside
Knees on the floor, I finally found everything I needed
You lifted my soul and opened up my eyes
And I never knew anything lasts forever
Till I found You, till I found You
I never dreamed anything could be better
Till I found You, till I found You
You’re rewriting my story
And I’m brand new like a morning
Oh, I never knew anything lasts forever
Till I found You
Till I Found You by Phil Wickham
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Help Me Regain My Passion in 2019

I didn’t even know the devil had slipped in and slowly began dampening my fire, my passion to seek the Lord and pray.  How could this happen?  I love the Lord.  I am learning it does happen and if it has not happened it more than likely will happen.  I could blame this on lots of things, busyness, laziness, or my dear friends and pastors moving but the truth is Satan would love nothing more than to squash my passion.  Life is busy, sometimes awfully hard and we get tired but Lord help us recognize our enemy’s strategies and pray.

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In the last couple of month, the Lord has been pressing upon my heart to pray.  I reached out to a trusted sister in Christ and asked her if she knew of any good books on prayer.  She sent me an awesome message on prayer (I’ll post the link below, it’s long but well worth your time) and recommended the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.

I am on page 39 of this book and the Lord has revealed to me that a very real enemy has been strategizing and schemeing to steal my passion.  My passion is my desire, my “want to”.  My “want to” to read His Word, pray and keep fighting the good fight.  People around me might not have recognized it and even I myself wasn’t fully aware but I believe that was part of the enemy’s plan.  Slowly.  Sneaky.  Tricky.  But our God is greater than Satan’s measly schemes.

This is my prayer as I go into 2019.

God, thank you for always being faithful.  You are so good to me.  Thank you for loving me always and saving me from sin and death.  You have given me life, abundant life.  Thank you for sisters in Christ that point me in the right direction.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the enemy’s plan to steal and destroy my passion.

Lord, please forgive me of my sin.  Forgive me for spending more time on my phone than seeking You.  Forgive me for focusing on things that don’t matter around our house, like dirty windows.  Forgive me for being “me” focused and taking my eyes off of You.

Please help me regain my passion.  Only you can do this Lord.  I can’t will it back or work hard enough to earn it back.  You seeded a passion in my heart for me to love and serve you many years ago and only you can loosen the hard soil around my heart today.  Please create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Give me a desire to seek you and pray.  Help me choose you over other worthless things.  Help me recover and regain my passion, my purpose, my want to, my desire.  You gave me a heart to know you.  I am yours and you are my God.  I return to you with my whole heart.  I want to love you with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind and with all of my strength.

You have said, ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezek. 36:26

I believe this God.  I expect this.  Great is Your faithfulness!

Link to message I referred to:

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2F40F5wMbjugE%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1pxp5bDB2ylLOVXLfmdqKP20bZAwtiWAfooRO-kAuT1I_TkE1FPiu_vgE&h=AT3CdSa8AEUTLStgROz_yAdeD56SEJbWokmzjcjldzepaxCJGRS4oSWuR83ZI1Ieu9oD-SmUYI0LcwWFOxz7d1Xm9l2eyJVGc3g49H7MxXD7Kkxw-HIRGyjDoUxf71fMMYMNMQ8

Grace Upon Grace

As I sit in my cozy chair reflecting on Thanksgiving, I am grateful for…

treasured time with family and friends

cousins

sunny weather to play basketball in the driveway

friendly competitive card games

my patient father-in-law playing uno over and over with the little girls

delicious food

Sweet Caroline’s gluten free bakery (right here in our small town of Oklahoma) What a sweet treat from the Lord!

leftovers

my mom answering all my cooking questions

my sister-in-law cooking with me

double ovens

the Bible app reading plans during busy seasons of life

sisters in Christ that pray for me and my family

my dear husband asking how he can help ❤️

movies and shopping with my sweet daughter and niece

my Thanksgiving baby (our son)

the guys being able to hunt deer

naps

coffee

the dishes, laundry and mess

and much much more.

God is so good and provides all that we need and so much more.  The Lord knew it was a desire of my heart to have yummy gluten free treats for our son this Thanksgiving and what a precious gift Sweet Caroline’s bakery was to us.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now glory be to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.”  Philippians 4:19-20

I feel somewhat like Paul in verse 18, “At the moment I have all I need- more than I need!”  Lord, I pray that you help us to be thankful in plenty or little.  May we be grateful for these blessings BUT none compare to YOU.  Forgive us when we take You and your blessings for granted.  All good things come from you.

I will forever be grateful and overwhelmed by the love of Christ.  The sinner I am deserved death, yet He has given me life, abuntant overflowing life. He loves me and knows me.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

I am GRATEFUL for…

the kindness of God our Father

His son Jesus Christ

the gift of the Holy Spirit

His holy inspired Word

mercies new everyday

grace upon grace!

“For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]. For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  ‭‭JOHN‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Do you know this grace?

Gracious Lord, help us live a life of thanksgiving that will glorify you.  Thank you for your saving grace!

Grandma Bess

For those of us that called her Grandma, we experienced the love of Christ in her presence: kindness, compassion, gentleness, patience, wisdom, selflessness, forgiveness, never in a hurry but most of all, we knew she loved us dearly.  She had a perfect way of caring for us.  We all wanted to be at Grandma Bess’s house.  Quite possibly because she would play Uno and Skip Bo over and over, pick pretty flowers and strawberries in her garden with us and nourish our creative side by crafting with us into the wee hours of the night.  She had a gift of making something out of nothing with just the right amount of sparkle, glitter or puff paint.   Maybe we wanted to be there because she would watch and judge our performances on the brick wall in front of her house again and again, let us sip coffee in tiny cups (mainly milk and sugar because too much black coffee would make your knees turn black), and allow us to play dress up in her night gowns and Kay’s bridesmaid dresses.  Then after all that fun, we would lay our head in her lap and she would scratch our backs as long as we would lay there.

She always said yes to sleepovers or long walks.  The out of town grandkids always looked forward to spending a week at her house in the summer, seven days of pure spoiling.  She would even help us come up with a list, for our parents, of reasons why we should stay longer.

Holidays at Grandma’s were always a great time.  We will cherish memories of kickball in the backyard, Christmas gifts made by her delicate hands, talent shows where we could shine in front of the whole family, much laughter during the dirty Santa games, anticipating who would win the Christmas bear from the drawing, and even the hole that got knocked in the wall in the garage by Tod and Mat.

Grandma truly enjoyed making things for us.  Each one of us can remember stockings, Halloween costumes, Chi Omega stuff, wedding pretties, baby blankets, pants being taken up or a zipper being fixed at the last minute.  Grandma Bess sewed and crocheted with much love.  It never was a burden.  It was her delight.

May these memories continue to bring a smile to our face as we strive to pass on this beautiful heritage.  Thank you Grandma Bess for loving us like Jesus loves us, unconditionally.  It is an honor to call you Grandma.  We will miss you dearly.

Tomatoes and Chickenfoot

“Are they almost here? Are they almost here?”

“How far are they?”

These questions kept ringing through the living room.

Papa and Grandma’s headlights finally sparkled through the window.  It was going to be a weekend of homemade food, canning lessons and chickenfoot.

The following morning first thing, the gals went to the farmer’s market.  We brought home tomatoes, peppers, onion, squash, okra, cucumbers and even some Christmas lima beans.  Shortly after unloading all the fresh veggies, the work and lessons began.  We blanched tomatoes, peeled tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, chopped peppers until we were choked up, and chopped onions until tears were flowing.  Thank the Lord for a food processor.  We all pitched in and helped.  I hope I always remember Kate’s youthful excitement to lend a hand in the kitchen.  She is an expert tomato peeler.  Next, we sprinkled in seasonings and let it simmer in a giant cooker.  This looked like enough hot sauce for a small army.

Then when the peppers and onions were soft the canning began.  Lathan used Grandma’s funnel to neatly pour hot sauce into each pint sized jar.  We placed lids on them, screwed rings on the jars and put them in my great grandmother’s pressure cooker.  A pressure cooker is a giant pot that builds enough pressure to seal the lids.  This is the oldest tool in my kitchen and it still works great.  That ole saying, they don’t make things like they used to, is sometimes true.

Mother said, “You have to make sure you screw this lid on exactly right or it will blow.”

I have learned this lesson the hard way.  My mom reminded me of a time in college when my sister in law and I failed to get the lid on correctly.  Green beans and glass erupted everywhere but luckily no one was hurt.

I got the lid on the pressure cooker and we waited for the pressure to build.  When the pressure came down and the jars were sealed, we wiped the jars off and lined them up on the counter.  We canned about 60 jars of hot sauce and 16 jars of tomatoes.

As a family we shared yummy meals and meaningful conversation.  Lathan discovered he liked fried squash and figured out how to beat Papa at chickenfoot. This is a weekend I will cherish and I hope my kids store it in their wonderful memory box.  When you can, spend the weekend with people that mean the most to you.  Cook.  Eat together.  Play games.  Share stories.