What do you value?

pope francis quoteWhat do you value?

That was the question posed by my Pastor in his Sunday sermon.  What do you value? 

As I pondered that question, (I ponder a lot) I knew I could answer that fairly quickly.  But, I also realized that what is important to me, what is valuable to me, has really narrowed down. 

Having ‘stuff’ just isn’t very important to me anymore. In fact, it has been my goal for the last several years to decrease the amount of stuff I have. 

Being important, noticed or included has become not so important.

I used to pray for wisdom all the time.  That was very important to me.  Wanting wisdom is a good thing.  But, wisdom has taught me that it is not the most valuable thing.

I quickly jotted down 3 things that I value the most right now.

FAITH:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. ~Hebrews 11:6(NLT)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~Proverbs 9:10(NIV)

My relationship with God is my number one priority. That relationship is the foundation of who I am.  I am built on that relationship.  Before hearing that Jesus loved me and accepting Him as my Lord and Savior, I was a broken mess.  My values were skewed.  My self-worth was predicated on unhealthy behaviors. I praise and thank God often for saving me when I was 18 years old, before I had children and totally screwed up their lives.  Sometime I shake just thinking about the path I was heading down and where that path would have taken my sons. The Holy Spirit rebuilt me.  Without faith in God and His goodness I am nothing.

 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Acts 17:28a (NIV)

PEOPLE

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

 “Who is my neighbor?” asked an expert in the Law in Luke chapter 10.  Jesus replied by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.  At the end of the story Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

My relationships with family, friends, co-workers, are getting more and more precious to me.  In the end, relationships are the only thing that you can take with you into eternity.  And, they are the only thing of true value that you leave behind.

It is very interesting to me that in the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus is teaching that we should be neighborly even with our enemy.

If you want to change the world treat others with mercy and show them the love of Christ.  We should be people of mercy.

Reaching out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate act of mercy.  After all, Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice to save them from a lost eternity.

pope francis quote 2The newly elected Pope, Pope Francis  said,  “living Holy Week following Jesus means learning how to come out of ourselves – as I said on Sunday – to reach out to others, to go to the outskirts of existence, to be the first to move towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, consolation and help. There is so much need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love! ” Full Text

HEALTH

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

My health has only recently become a major priority.  I suppose aging does that.  Not taking good care of my health and ignoring some health issues really began to hinder my ability to effectively serve others.  And, quite frankly, not taking good care of my health and my weight could indicate that I’m lacking in self-control and not caring for my “household”.  After all, isn’t the body our most basic of households?

For a time I began to worry that my recent (over the last year) intense focus on getting my health and weight under control was becoming too much of a priority.  I went to the Lord in prayer about it.  The Holy Spirit very quickly spoke to my spirit and said, “Laura, if you were treating cancer would you be asking me this question?”  I realized then that if the Holy Spirit would compare morbid obesity and diabetes with cancer, I needed to take them just as seriously.

Neglecting my health was not showing wisdom.  If I want to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ and have the energy to serve others and proclaim the Gospel, I need to make my health a priority.

FINALLY

Faith, People and Health are only 3 of my top values.  Health may not be one of the top 3. It’s just one of the most pressing right now.  I pray that FAITH, my relationship with God, and PEOPLE, reaching out to others with the Gospel and with mercy, will always top my list.

Come to the River

 

The way out

Sunday morning at church a friend noticed my shrinking body.  After establishing that I am purposely losing weight she asked me how I did it.  My answer, “I stopped eating what I shouldn’t be eating.”  She looked slightly disappointed in my answer.  I went on to say that doing so is the only way to lose weight. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a different answer?  Everybody is looking for a different answer.  Proclaiming to have a different answer is a multi-billion dollar industry. 

I have always wanted instant weight-loss.  I remember years and years (and years) ago I was convinced that God would miraculously make me skinny.  I dreamed of going to bed fat one night and wake up in the morning skinny.  I planned what I would do when I suddenly had no clothes that could fit me.  No surprise that this never happened.  Despite this fact, the Holy Spirit recently said to me, “Laura, one day you will wake up skinny… as long as you keep following the path that makes it happen.”  God has given me a way out of fathood.  It just isn’t the way I want it to be.   The formula is simple: eat less + move more.  Simple – yes.  Easy – no.  It requires discipline, self-denial, sacrifice, exercise, commitment and patience. 

It’s an old joke:

One day there was a preacher giving his sermon when all of a sudden it started raining really hard! After about an hour of non-stop rain, the congregation started evacuating the church because the whole church was flooding. But the preacher just stood there in the ankle-deep water. A guy in a car drove up to him and yelled. “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” But the preacher just replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” The man then said “Whatever!” and drove away.

The water was now knee-deep and a guy in a raft came over to the Preacher and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” Despite the second warning the Preacher just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” The man then said “Whatever!!” and rowed away in the orange raft. The water was now waist-deep and a guy in a power boat came to the Preacher and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” Despite the third warning the Preacher just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” With that the man said “Whatever!” and jetted away in the power boat.

Finally the water was now neck-deep and a guy in a helicopter came and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” The man still just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” And with that the man said “Whatever” and flew away. The water then got so deep that the Preacher was sucked under and drowned. When he opened his eyes he realized that he had died and gone to heaven. He then saw God and asked with great concern “God! Why didn’t you save me from that horrible flood?!?”

God replied, ” I sent you a car, a raft, a power boat, and a helicopter! What else did you want me to do?!”

There are so many circumstances in life that we cry out for God to rescue us from.  Usually His answer is, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21*)  But, for whatever reason, that way doesn’t appeal to us.  Maybe it’s dark and unknown.  Maybe it requires letting go.  Maybe we fear what people will say.  So, we choose not to take that path. We end up deeper in trouble, fatter, poorer, etc. And we wonder why God hasn’t rescued us.

I often hear people who are overwhelmed with their circumstances say, “God promises that He won’t give us more than we can bear.”  Yes, God gave us that promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

But that is only the first half of the verse.  Take a look at the second half:

But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

God provides us a way out.  It is still up to us to take that way.  The choice is ours.

*Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Psalm 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.

Praise the Lord O My Soul

Was It Really Worth It

Was the abuse really worth it?
By Catherine Dotts

Why is it when you cry out so loud and so hard just to be loved all you get is disrespected and hurt, put down and let go?
It makes you rethink
why you are even alive,
why God is still keeping you here,
why people even pretend to even want to be a part of your life
when they know as soon as you come back into their lives
their broken promises come back, and
the broken dreams come back, and
the physical and
mental and
emotional abuse
becomes an everyday part of life again.
It really makes you think of what kind of person you really are.
It makes you question yourself, and
makes you question your every move, and
your every word spoken.
It makes you question why,
when that knife was against your arm,
why didn’t you cut harder, or
when those pills were in your hand,
why didn’t you just swallow them, or
when that gun was to your head,
why didn’t you just pull the trigger?
When a person
physically and
mentally and
emotionally
abuses a person, the effects are way deeper than what you may see or what that person may say. One day, after that person has taken all the abuse their
heart
body
mind and
soul
can handle,
they will end up having the strength to
cut harder, or
swallow, or
even the strength to pull that trigger. And,
WHERE WILL THAT LEAVE YOU?
I can tell you, it will leave you wondering, “Was that person that bad that you had to make them undergo that
physical,
mental, and
emotional abuse?
Was it too hard to just love that person? Or, if love was not there, was it too hard to just walk away?”
Because I will tell you the pain of knowing that the abuse you gave to that one you love has now taken their life.
WAS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling.
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Help in your area

A Recipe for Unity

I was praying and expressing to God how much we need His Presence, His Holy Spirit moving in our church and in the lives of His people.  I was asking, “What are we missing?  What are we not getting right?”  A deep longing for a move from God rose up in me.  It was almost more than I could handle. I reached out to a brother in Christ over the internet and asked for prayer.   The intensity eased and after several minutes I walked up the hallway pondering how awesome it is that I can ask a believer thousands of miles away to pray for me.  Immediately the words of Psalm 133:1 came to my mind:

 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

After I sat back down at my computer I went to www.biblegateway.com in order to read the whole psalm.  And there it was: part of the answer I was seeking.

Psalm 133 (NASB)
A Song of Ascents, of David.
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.

The precious oil coming down upon Aaron speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit flows down upon believers when they are joined together in peace and unity.

What are some ways we can promote peace and unity?

Remember our common source

Every believer in Jesus Christ is saved by the same blood, the same sacrifice, the same grace… the same Savior.

Ephesians 4
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Acknowledge our common need

All believers are in process of sanctification.  None of us have “arrived”.  We must remember that we all have areas in our lives that require others to extend grace towards us.

Ephesians 3
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Recognize our common mission

Our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ is to glorify God and to spread the good news, the gospel.

Romans 15
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 28
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Know our common enemy

I read an article titled When the Church’s Enemy is the Church.  The Church is not our enemy. Our battle is not against our brothers and sisters sitting in the pew next to us.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

In John 17 it is recorded that Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church.

 John 17
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

If you want to see more of the Holy Spirit moving in your life and in your church, if you want to be effective in reaching the lost for Jesus, if you want to glorify Christ then foster unity and pray according to the example that Jesus gives us.

 

You Won t Relent Jesus Culture

Jesus Culture – One Thing Remains

After a controversial post it’s time for some worship.

Rich Mullins – Step By Step (Sometimes By Step) – Live

The Spirit of Prayer

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

In my January 17th blog post I wrote the following:

Are our prayers silenced because we think we need to use just the right words and sound eloquent in order for God to hear us? Romans 8:26-27 tells us that the Holy Spirit will help us pray when we have no words and can only utter groans.

“…True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.”  C. H. Spurgeon

Since then I have encountered that scripture in Romans 8 at least once a day.  Last night as my husband and I were reading devotions that scripture once again was cited.  Finally, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me that I needed to take some time, examine that portion of Romans a little deeper and then write about it.  It only took 14 days for me to get the message.

The most obvious point of Romans 8:26 is that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray when we know not what to pray.  After the revelation last night that perhaps the Holy Spirit wanted me to write about this He demonstrated in a mighty way His desire and ability to help me pray.

During the holidays we went to a family gathering.  As we were leaving I put my coat on, reached into my pocket and discovered that somebody had slipped a silver toned bracelet into my pocket.  It is a sweet gift.  I’m not positive as to who gave it to me but I suspect who it was.  The person who I believe is the giver had been on my heart a lot.  Unfortunately, the bracelet is too small for my wrist but it has resided in my coat pocket ever since.  Every time I encounter it there I use it as a point of contact and a reminder to pray for this loved one.  Most of the time I don’t know what to pray so I pray the usual blessings and thanksgivings for her life and family.

Last night, I again held that bracelet in my hands and prayed for her.  This time, however, there was a deep groaning and urgency in my spirit for her.  I didn’t know what to pray.  I asked the Holy Spirit to help me.  Nothing more happened right then.  Later, was when we had devotions and, like I said, Romans 8:26 was again referred to.

Early this morning I woke up about an hour and half before the alarm went off.  I looked at the clock and then went back to sleep.  As I was sleeping I had a very vivid dream in which I was praying fervently for and with the giver of the bracelet.  Part of the dream prayer involved me singing prayers over her.  As I was surfacing to wakefulness the prayers were still proceeding out of my heart.  I continued to pray for her as I lay awake waiting on the alarm.  Even now, hours later, I can clearly remember what I was praying.

I am truly amazed at the way the Holy Spirit bypassed my own thoughts and prejudices to help me pray.  His sweet presence throughout the dream and after I awoke left me with such a lightness of spirit.  The heaviness I felt last night when I attempted to pray is gone.  The Joy of the Lord has supplanted it.  I pray that the object of those prayers is experiencing that same joy this morning.