all for Jesus ...

"What about you? What precious perfume is locked inside your heart that could be lavished on our Lord? The little treasures you and I struggle to hold on to may hold back opportunities to worship Him with extravagant praise, releasing ministry and service to Him that will bless all those around us." Angela Munizzi

Friday, September 10, 2010

prince poppycock

america does have talent! though i may not agree with his personal choices or world views, i cannot deny that he is gifted - and his stints on america's got talent have returned our attention to, and increased our appreciation of, operatic voices, theatrical staging, acting, and showmanship.

prince poppycock has a show that keeps people talking about it, which makes me wonder ...

what can believers do for the kingdom of God that will keep people talking? what will capture the interest of not only america but the entire world? how can we show the world that Jesus loves them? by how we live our lives and relate to others, definitely. but what else can happen through the Spirit of God in us?

any ideas? feel free to share ...

weekly gem #5

"yesterday is gone. tomorrow has not yet come. we have only today. let us begin." Mother Teresa

my weekly gem comes from God's continual reminder that i must choose to follow Him today and, as stated by mother teresa, for me to begin. while God calls me to choose each day whom i will serve, He also is looking for the results of that choice - which is shown in my actions. it's easy to say, "i choose You, Lord." but too often my lifestyle says, "i choose me."

i've been reading deuteronomy 11, which you can read here. this chapter talks about the rewards  of obedience. verse 8 especially hit home, which says, "you shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it."

God has made promises to me. there are lands that i need to cross into and possess. there are those predestined appointments that i have with others who need to know the love of Jesus. but if i'm not always paying attention to what God is asking of me, i may miss out on what the Spirit is doing. what a waste!

so God, help me to be looking out for Your, to choose Your will, and act upon it. help me not to be distracted by yesterday, tomorrow, or anything that steers me away from you today. let me begin ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

weekly gem #4

"The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock; never a building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray."  Anonymous

The gem that God has given me this week is a reminder of the importance of regularly gathering and worshiping with other believers. For various reasons, I have been unable to attend church for the past few weeks. What I miss the most are not the various aspects of the service, though I love to worship, hear the Word, tithe, etc., but the people. We are the church. I am the church.

Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that my presence in church doesn't matter that much - that things go on just the same without me being there. There is some truth in that statement, but it does not take into account what God says about the importance of fellowship.

We read in Acts 2:42 that the early church "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Further into the New Testament, the church is compared to the human body. You can read about it here. While this scripture talks about spiritual gifting, it also speaks of how we need one another - that we are a unit who, together, glorifies God. Every part of the body, every person, has his or her own job to do and each one is significant.

When I am absent from church on a Sunday morning, I am not merely missing a service. My absence takes away from our church body. I am not there to pray for and with others. I cannot weep with those who mourn or dance with the joyful. My voice is not lifted up in agreement with those of my church family while bringing praise and glory to God. I do receive the fresh message God gives to us. Even if I "listen to the tape" during the week, it does not compare with being there to experience the moving of the Holy Spirit.

God specifically asks us not to neglect meeting together as believers. In Hebrews 10:19-25, it says:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

What better place to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" than in God's house?

And so I look forward to this coming Sunday not only as a person who is hungry for more of the life God gives freely to me, but is also hungry to see more of His life and light in everyone else.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

weekly gem #3

"but godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 timothy 6:6.

i've found myself thinking about this passage of scripture a lot this week. you can read it here.

this chapter of the bible talks about our lot in life. am i satisfied with what God has provided? how often do i cry, "foul!" because i am not happy with how my life is going? is it God's fault or my fault? will having more money (or more of whatever - you can fill in the           as it applies to you) "fix" things for me or truly improve my situation? it's so easy to think that sometimes!

there are truths contained in this chapter of timothy that are quite common. i bring nothing into this world and can take nothing out of it. the love of money is the root of all evil. "stuff" won't make me happy. but what often is overlooked - what will satisfy me - is also stated when timothy says: "pursue righteousness."

pursuing righteousness is where the blend of godliness and contentment mingle to create an existence that is not satisfied with just being - but having a life filled with both purpose and meaning.

when my sight is set on God and living according to what He thinks is best, i am satisfied. i don't worry about what i don't have. i can see that God is in control of the circumstances of my life. when i hurt, i can rest in Him and allow Him to comfort me. God fills my cup until it overflows. why does He do this? not only for my benefit, but that i can reach out to others. to "do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (vs. 18)

this is only possible because my needs are met in God. what i offer to others is not me, but God living inside of me. as i pursue Him, He can, in turn, work through me to love others. how awesome is that!

don't be satisfied with material contentment ... go for godliness! amazing things will happen ...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

wednesday check in

sunday's gem has been most helpful so far. looking for the "hand of providence" is a full-time job because God is EVERYWHERE!!! how wonderful is that, eh?

meanwhile, last week's gem is still living and active. though my bathroom still needs my undivided attention, i have been straightening up other areas of the house. why am i avoiding something i actually like to clean? i know that i am often afraid to achieve goals. it's an area i hate to struggle with, but it's funny because many times i will accomplish so many other things while avoiding what i should do. procrastination? yes, unfortunately.

i think i get in the mad rush to do other things because it makes me feel better about myself while giving in to the fear of doing the thing that needs doing. i set a goal, but instead of embracing my inner nike to "just do it" (which isn't always easy, but cleaning our bathroom certainly is) and work through the fear, i scurry to do many other "good things" and say, "whew! at least i'm getting stuff done."

there is light on the horizon because God is faithful! each moment i have a choice to follow Him - and i'm always glad when i do, even when the going gets hard. i'm glad God understands me perfectly - so much more than i understand myself! His hand will always be there for me to hold ... to receive His strength. can't do anything without it!!!

His mercies are new every morning. God, help me to obey as i follow You - now and always.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

sunday gem #2

though unable to attend church today, God is always faithful! my gem from this morning comes from a book i've been reading: "guide to domestic happiness." as a new collector of unique books, i'm happy to say that this book was written some time during the mid-1800's, which well explains the title!  :^)

what i love about reading books from this period is that the author's words are filled with scriptural references, acknowledging a real and necessary reliance on God. for example, this observation is given to a man named philetus who has questions about how to marry a suitable wife:

"every serious and considerate man must trace the marks of an invisible hand in all the variegated paths of life. he must acknowledge that it is not in man who walketh to direct his steps; yea, he will rejoice to find they are ordered by the Lord, who delighteth in his way. and were we more observant of the hand of providence, many of our inquiries would be needless: we should see the path marked out before us; and if at any time through mistake we should turn either to the right hand or to the left, we should hear a still small voice whispering behind, 'this is the way, walk ye in it.'"

what a gem! not only the reminder that our steps are ordered by God, but to note "and were we more observant of the hand of providence, many of our inquiries would be needless."

how many times does God guide me with His hand and i'm simply not paying attention? more often than i'd care to confess. sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in circumstances and become distracted by feelings, wondering what my next step should be. all the while, in reality, His hand is upon me - holding me fast - waiting for me to look and listen to Him.

God, help me to daily look to You and pay attention to all the ways in which You guide me! just think of what i could do with the time i'll save by not engaging in "needless inquiries."

i could clean the bathroom, which, as you know, was my goal for last week. what a step that will be toward domestic happiness! i didn't do it last week ... instead, allowing myself to remain caught up in other things. but God's mercies are new every morning, and our bathroom awaits ...

NOT our bathroom! for illustrative purposes only.

Friday, August 13, 2010

the top 7 answers are on the board ...

confession:  i love to play games.

of course, i mean this literally. chess, checkers, parcheesi, dominoes, cards. you name it and i'm up for it. unfortunately, playing games falls into the "i'm the only one who likes to play" category in my circle of family and friends. years ago i would watch jeopardy and wheel of fortune regularly, but really ... who wants to arrange their schedule around watching television? not me!

but thanks to the world wide web, and particularly facebook, i am inundated with more games than i will ever have time to play. one of my recent faves is family feud. if you are unfamiliar with it, you can read all about it here. (what would i do without wiki?)

i was playing last night and, for the first time, i was stumped by a question. out of seven answers, i wound up with a big, fat goose egg. zippo. nada.

what was that tough question, you ask?

"name a secret that you should always keep from your spouse." 

huh? whajasay?

i sat perplexed, not knowing what to type in response. it was the wording of the question that baffled me. i can't imagine anything that "i should always keep" from gary. why would i? he's my husband. he's my best friend. we've been married for almost 16 years. why would i want to keep something from him? the thought is ludicrous - it's like saying, "it's okay to be dishonest."

finally, i gave it my best guess:  "a surprise party."  i thought that had to be one of the answers. nope.

the "correct" answers included, "weight, affairs, spending habits, dating history, and real age." the other two answers were so bizarre that i can't even remember them. people really think they need to hide this stuff? out of all the answers, there wasn't one that i haven't shared with gary. (of course, "affairs" doesn't apply!)

then i felt very sad. sad that couples would feel the need to hide things from one another. sad that the world thinks it's okay to be dishonest with the people who love you ... with those that we are bound to love - especially in marriage, "in sickness and in health, for better and for worse."

even if a mistake is made (i.e., i couldn't resist buying those clothes on sale!), isn't it better to 'fess up and deal with it? and, tragically, if an affair were to happen ... you "should" keep that from your spouse?!?!

if you can't trust your husband/wife, who can you trust?

would i want my husband to keep any of those things from me? never!

the game moved on to the next round and so did i. but my prayers remain for those who are deluded in our fallen world where lies are treated lightly as game show fodder. that is the opposite of the truth setting us free, which is what God wants for all of us.

in reality, we all sometimes feel like this ...

... and we find, in God and in the people He places in our lives, that not only do they "not run away" - but they draw closer to us and help bring us freedom from the secrets hiding in the dark. once someone is exposed in God's light, they find out a glorious truth:  there is nothing that needs to be hidden.

maybe the "secrets you should always keep" mindset is part of the reason why families feud?