Disciplined Busyness

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

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

What exactly are we trying to accomplish? Is anything really getting done? Who are we trying to keep up with? How does anyone find God’s peace if life is a rat race? How do we give God’s best when we are exhausted? How can we hear Him if busy is our common response to, how are you? How do we come up for air?  Am I?

These thoughts came pouring out of me as I observed people when I was out getting some groceries. People ran around pushing carts in a flurry, yelling at children, running into people instead of breathing a second and letting them pass, throwing things in the cart like they could never shop again. And sighing heavily when the lines were long. I wonder if it occurs to people that they are a part of the line too? I got these pictures of hamsters in a wheel, endlessly spinning, creating the same result.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is me and I don’t speak these things to just judge or condemn others. I am questioning my own habits and life. I awoke this morning thinking about discipline and how when I am undisciplined, it brings such damaging consequences. Busyness is sometimes a precursor to this lack of discipline. When we don’t seek God to fill us first, we find everything else to try to whet the appetite of our empty souls.

If I fall into the day headfirst without seeking God and choose to get right onto my device instead of on my knees before Him, I can use information as a substitute for Jesus. Jim Richards says, “In order for me to want Kingdom life, I’ve got to want it more than I want anything else. So I need to do whatever it takes for me to connect with Him everyday.”

I think busyness becomes a symptom of our emptiness. We live in an age of information. We don’t have to go any further to find most answers than by a search on our phone, right at our fingertips. There is always that one next thing to go to, one more thing to read, one more thing to watch and unless we are careful and disciplined in our choices, we will get on that wheel, spinning, trying endlessly to fill ourselves. Yet when we take time before our day starts to seek Him and ask for His perspective and be available for the things He wants for us in that day, the rest of the day will be more ordered.

I understand that there are times when we will be busy or extra things get added to our plate. If we have sought after God, we are better able to discern what are God things and what are just good things. I believe the enemy is king at distraction and in this day and age, it does not take much to pull us away from the things that are important. Is seeking God a discipline you want to add into your life? The bible has much to say about the wisdom of discipline or how foolish we are when we don’t practice it.

Proverbs 5:23,”For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.”

Proverbs 10:17, “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores connection leads others astray.”

Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” (tell it like it is Solomon!)

Proverbs 19:20,”Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

This is just a sampling, I encourage you to study the word discipline and see what God has to say to you.  Reading this blog can shine a light into God’s truth but it doesn’t substitute for an encounter with your heavenly Father. It can teach you and perhaps change your perspective but it cannot change your heart, only God’s word and having an intimate relationship with Him can. Dig into it today and seek His heart. He is waiting.

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Encourage Yourself

“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6

walklikejesusI spoke to a lot of people today who were discouraged and were needing some encouragement. I am beginning to think that the words encourage yourself in the Lord are a lifeline. There will often be times when no one is around to give you the boost that you need. To press in and receive God’s heart in a lot of situations requires us to find answers in His Word and not from those around us. Human as we are, we are quick to ask someone or wait for someone to pull us up by our bootstraps.

I think it is the same with any kind of discipline or relationship. There comes a point where we need to take responsibility and not expect everyone to do the work for us. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when our hearts may take more than encouraging ourselves in Him, but I think this is a discipline worth learning. We can’t count on others to keep us alive spiritually. It is kind of like me asking you to keep my marriage in a good place. Nobody else can do that for me. Or for you.

I remember when I first became a Christian. My Mom was a prayer warrior. So whenever I had an issue or a prayer request, I would call her and ask her to pray. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t do it myself. I hadn’t been raised to press in to things and if they seemed too hard, I would ask someone else to do it or look for an easy solution. I tell you I am still reaping the consequences of that kind of thinking. Perseverance was not a quality that was instilled in me. I learned the hard way when my Mom passed away that in order to have relationship with Jesus, I needed to talk to Him myself.

I really had no idea that I relied on her encouragement and prayers as much as I did until the silence ensued after she died. Encouraging ourselves is not just blowing smoke to ourselves and being positive but to dig in deep, lift your eyes up to the hills and let God be the one that brings the encouragement. Our words need to be filled with His truth and not used to speak defeat over our lives.

Chuck Norris wrote the foreword to a book called Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris, he wrote, “Today we live in a culture that promotes comfort, not challenges. Everything is about finding ways to escape hardship, avoid pain and dodge duty. In the past, young people were expected to make significant contributions to society.” The Harris twins write about combatting the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility. I think this statement speaks loudly of what our culture has been doing in the last generation. Out of brokenness, this vacation from responsibility mentality has carried over into our lives as adults.

Hence, it has carried over into our spiritual lives with an expectation that God will just do things or a miracle will bail us out (not that miracles aren’t possible but they don’t teach us as process can) or that someone else will help to carry this responsibility. I think our spiritual, emotional and physical lives will come to a standstill or spin on a hamster wheel until we really take the bull by the horns per se. I am preaching at myself too.

The story in 1 Samuel 30 finds David coming back from being turned away from fighting with the Philistines only to discover that the Amalekites had burned Ziklag and taken their wives and children. David’s men in their distress talked about killing him even though David had experienced the same losses. Instead of giving in to blaming, David sought his encouragement from the Lord and looked for a solution in Him. Because he took this stance and listened to the Lord’s wisdom, they were able to recover every person.

David chose to be encouraged in the Lord. This meant pressing in and seeking Him in the midst of trouble. He could have easily given in to the blame or the hurt of rejection by His brothers/soldiers, or just the difficulty of the situation. He talked to God himself. Often, that is just what we need to do, talk to Him ourselves.

There is a song called Encourage Yourself by Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers. encourageThese are some of the words. We are more than conquerors. Don’t let the enemy speak lies into your discouragement. Don’t take a vacation from your responsibility to encourage yourself in the Lord. By learning this, encouragement will be quick on your tongue to speak to others that need it or to teach them how to seek it.

Psalm 10:17, “You Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry.”

Homeward Bound

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:14‬ ‭NLT

Today we are traveling home from Saskatoon to Regina and ironically it marks the 6 year anniversary that we moved today. It ended up being one of the more difficult things that I have ever done.  God has been so faithful though. I had lived in Saskatoon for 25 years with a huge community of people. Other than my in-laws, I had no connections in Regina. Our son was in grade 4 and our two girls were already finished school. So it was just my husband, myself and him and Owen adjusted the best. There may be something to the adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ Or at least it takes old dogs longer to settle. 

God was faithful in teaching me during that transition about leaning on Him. For a good 6 months that is all I knew to be true. I knew to make this move took trusting Him with all I thought I had but then adjusting took even more. 

And in it all I was reminded as the verse says above that wherever we are on earth is not really our home. Knowing Jesus, promises me that I will have an eternal home. But my forever home is not here and that is exciting news. 

Recently someone asked me if Regina felt like home more than Saskatoon. I realized that it did but it was more because of the people than the place. (I still like the city of Saskatoon better) Although my heart still aches for my children and close friends, God has multiplied our connections here to be deep and life-giving. 

The reason we were in Saskatoon this weekend was to attend a 50th anniversary celebration. Wade and I joked that we were celebrating something they had accomplished and it was longer than we had been alive! What an incredible testimony it was to watch how God had been faithful throughout their marriage and that they gave Him all the honour and glory. We were able to connect with two other couples who had been dear friends and who all were instrumental in my baby stages of knowing Jesus. 

As we caught up and heard stories of triumph and hardship, it was also a good reminder that our bodies will not be eternal either. 

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.”

2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1-6, 8-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When we first moved, I would never have imagined the incredible community God would give us here. And the opportunities to serve Him in ways beyond our imagination. So what am I trying to say? 

His ways are best and it was a good reminder as I pondered all of this to trust Him wherever we were at and in whatever stage of life. His plans are good. We aren’t here forever and He has created us to make an impact wherever we are and whatever He calls us to do. Our major assignment on this earth is to Love God and love people and that is not limited to a geographical location. So no matter where you are and what state your body is in, God is not limited to time and space and He has great rewards for those who know Him. 

I can only imagine. 

Live Loved 

The Word of God is transformative. It changes our lives if we let it. As Solomon says above, there is a time for everything under the sun. Yet his theme throughout this book is that after having it all, wisdom, wealth, anything he wanted, it is all meaningless. He concludes his musings with, 

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”‭‭ Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:13-14‬ ‭NIV

Solomon realized there was a time for everything but realized ‘things’ did not have any eternal value. We cannot be fulfilled with stuff. We try pretty hard to do that though don’t we? Solomon realized fearing God was the answer and by keeping His commandments we could be satisfied. 

Last night my great friend Niki Williams spoke to a crowd of many, about how to Live Loved. She is passionate for her Saviour Jesus, she has a huge gift of faith and inspired us all to live passionately for the One that created us. She encouraged us to have a sold out relationship, go to Jesus, as though to a best friend.

‘Every page is a love story,’ she said and to get up everyday excited and anticipating what that will look like. 

I think our stuff and seeking after wrong things keeps us complacent from living sold out. It is like any relationship we have, it takes intention and deliberate actions to keep it healthy, vibrant and life-giving. 

Oswald chambers said, “Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centred that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Himself.”

How are you surrendered to your relationship with Jesus? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? How do you reconcile your things and time for those with eternal value? Are you going for God Himself? Or just the ‘benefits’ of Him? 

“You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”

Psalm‬ ‭39:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Make good use of the time you have been given. Make an impact, share the love of Jesus, seek your Saviour. Your time is but a breath. Niki defined Live Loved as ‘to remain alive with an intense feeling of deep affection.’ Are you? 

#nikiwilliamsspeaks

Shameless Humility

Luke 18:9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Today I get the privilege to cheer on one of my best friends as she steps on stage to share God’s love with others. It has been such an honour to walk beside her in this part of our journey and watch God transform her and grow her gifts. She was created to speak and tell stories. One of the most valuable lessons God has taught me,  is to celebrate the worth in people. Their worth has nothing to do with me and their uniqueness and value are a  necessary part of making the world the way it is. God created them for a specific purpose and I am not supposed to be like them because I have a specific purpose too.

It is so imperative to receive our value from God. Yesterday my friend sent me Meghan Trainor’s video – Me Too, intended to make me laugh which it did and groove a little. It is catchy, we joked it would be our jam. One of the lines says “If I was you, I’d want to be me too.” What makes that funnier is neither of us would say that and really mean it. Ironically though, comparison is an area that I needed healing in and even up to a few months ago, this trap still kept me captive.

In my own insecurity I could be like a chameleon, changing colours to fit the various personalities around me. It was actually quite exhausting not knowing who I was enough to be confident in how God had created me. So many times I was paralyzed by not thinking I had any value, comparing to qualities I thought were ‘better than mine’. But as I heard Dr. Jim Richards say today,’ If God is not our source our value fluctuates based on the behaviour of other people we have identified with.  If our source is God, our value never changes because He doesn’t, nor does His evaluation of us change.’

Celebrating others and gratitude are two of the greatest gifts and counteractions we can put into motion to stomp out comparison or jealousy. I have found the most freedom here. You can’t curse and bless at the same time. It is practicing these tools that gives us strength to press in when those things may rise up. It will happen because we are human but we can bring these areas to God and allow Him to heal the brokenness. I love what Amanda Crabb said, “You can paint your walls but if there is no restoration, the mold and the cracks will seep through.”

Humility will keep us looking at Jesus. There is a reason God gave us this command,”You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” Exodus 20:17

Lighten up, life is hard enough, celebrate someone, cheer them on, accentuate the great qualities in them, speak life right into the places they may be doubting. And when your flesh rises up and wants something it wasn’t meant to have, turn it into blessing. Do not let the devil win any longer. You are enough because God made you that way. I think this line was in the movie God’s Not Dead 2, “The only difference between you and someone you envy is you settle for less.”

As Dr. Richards so aptly said, “The more we accept Jesus’ interpretations of who God truly is and He becomes our Source, then we will begin to effortlessly transform into His likeness.”

Stay away from the donkeys!

Lord, help us to keep our eyes on you. Father help us to see the beautiful and unique ways you have made others to contribute to your world. Give us words to celebrate  and speak life to them. Lord thank you for amazing grace and your mercies which are new everyday. Help us to lay down our flesh that may rise up in jealousy or discontentment. Thank you Lord that you have made us unique and created a specific way to make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Freak

 

Revelation 5:8, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”

I used to call her a Jesus freak. Now I am one. Jesus found her living on the streets. She was divorced, alone and homeless and everyday Jesus with skin on told her she was valuable and God loved her. Everyday she struggled with mental illness, fought for her rights, fought for her freedom from psychiatric wards, fought the diagnosis. Everyday she told Jesus with skin on where to go with colourful language. She kept coming back though, for the food, the clothing, the shelter, the fellowship. The loneliness was too much to bear. God couldn’t possibly love her after all the things she had done. Where was God in all the hurt she had experienced, in the torment of her soul?

One day, her heart opened, just a little. Relentless, unconditional love will do this. She realized this was what was missing in her life and heart. She realized the love of God did not depend on her or what she did or didn’t do. She chose Him and fell headfirst into a love affair with Her Saviour. She accepted His forgiveness. Her already generous heart opened even more to pour out God’s love onto the hurting, the homeless, the addicted, the incarcerated. There was no place she was afraid to go with Him. There was no one she was afraid to tell. She had experienced the fullness of His love and grace and she wanted the same for everyone she met, especially her children.

Her prayers opened the heavens, encouraged, brought healing and raised the dead. They were mighty and many. They were captured and even now bear fruit. They poured over people like holy water and opened their eyes to how God saw them. Her time living for Him was short but it was effective in living out the gospel to many. Despite her devotion, the demons continued to haunt her. She was the ultimate example of how God works despite ourselves. In her illness, it brought humility and through the brokenness she was able to minister to others. She believed in His healing for everyone but herself.

She encountered Jesus in the ordinary and because of Him, her life and ministry to others became extraordinary. Her suffering was great but in that there was a profound awakening of her gifts to be compassionate beyond anything I have ever seen. She left a spiritual legacy and mantle and the answers to her prayers started to become visible. She was persistent in her petitions that others would know Him.

I, the Jesus freak, am a direct answer to the wake of her legacy. My Mama prayed for me, everyday, for seven years. We got to love Him together for 6 years until her mind was overtaken. I wish I knew then what I know now about inner healing and her illness and the help she could have had. I don’t live in that regret though, it wasn’t my job to save her. I loved her the best way I knew how at the time.

She paved the way for me with her prayers to experience the greatest love of my life. Jesus. To know there is more than just ordinary life. To know there is hope and redemption and a way to eternal life. To desire these things for my children, and now grandchildren, the ones I love and really all of God’s children.

I found a sweet gift yesterday. I took one of my bibles to our church for the prayer room. We have an amazing women’s event called Live Loved tomorrow night. So if you are reading this and you can come, please message me. Yes this is a shameless plug because you will hear some of these truths I talked about here. Anyway for some God reason, I opened the front cover and there was a note from my sweet Mama. Written in 1996, 5 years before I chose Jesus. She spoke of her heart’s desire that one day I would be a sister/daughter in Christ. I remember the day I called to tell her I was, she nearly flew to the moon.

There is no greater joy than to see your children walk with the One who created them. There is no greater gift we can give them than to teach them His ways. There is no greater legacy we can leave behind than our prayers and our love of our Saviour.

I used to think she was looney because it was outside of the realm of my truth. But God…Like I said, relentless, unconditional love gets in a heart.

mom

 

Shameless Belief

Please read Mark 9:14-29bible-1238612_640

Belief is defined as acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone of something. Pistevo is Greek, it is a verb meaning persuasion, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation. I love that it is an action word in the Greek language meaning it is not passive but something that is chosen. It is a great reminder that even if something doesn’t feel like it is true, when we know it is, we can push past our flesh and choose to believe. Growing in faith is a daily process of renewing our trust in Jesus.

I know sometimes we read the stories in the bible and pass quick judgment about someone’s struggles or wonder what they were thinking,  forgetting that we have insight because these things have occurred. Hindsight is 20/20 and even so the Word of God is active and alive (Hebrews 4:12)so fresh revelation can happen all the time. I have to say I am quite encouraged by the fact that these chosen people had struggles and we can learn from them.

I preach to myself often as I am writing, I am quite aware I am far from perfect. Even this week as I write about how we believe, being shameless as God’s child, in His righteousness, in surrender, in trust and yet there are areas of my life that I struggleto fully give to Him. My 10 lbs that needs to be 30, that seems to want to be my friend and stay. My eating habits that so quickly cave to unhealthy, my discipline, or lack of it with spending money and in time writing. Do I believe that God can help me to fully engage with the self-discipline fruit of the Spirit that He has implanted in me? Obviously not completely! These are areas that I continually need to surrender and trust that I am redeemed in these places and choose to believe that, going forward, one painful but necessary step at a time.

My heart is for these things but as Joyce Meyer so lovingly says, ‘We don’t need a wishbone, we need a backbone.’ So I cry out, Lord I do believe, help me in my unbelief and step toward Him and my goals. And yes it takes our co-operation to ignite the gifts He has given us, we need to be willing. This is why the story that is told in 3 of the gospels about Jesus healing a demon possessed boy encourages me. We can want something with our hearts but can be aware there are parts that aren’t fully believing it.

Mark is the only gospel writer that tells the part of the story of the boy’s father. The anguish he was experiencing watching his son possessed must have been unimaginable. With great desperation, he cried out for Jesus to do something, adding ‘if you can’. “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Aware of his own doubt –“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,” I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:23,24

Imagine the grace Jesus extended in this situation, not only did He heal this boy and bring a new level of trust and surrender to this man, but He encouraged and taught his disciples. They had been unable to drive this demon out and Jesus had called them an unbelieving generation, the very ones who had been experiencing the life of Jesus, walking with Him.

These are the stories that encourage my heart, that my condition of unbelief is common to man but that Jesus does great and amazing things in people’s hearts. And we don’t have to stay there. We can engage in the daily process of renewing, being faithful and obedient and desiring more. I have heard often that Jesus loves us the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us there.

In Elijah House ministry training , co-founder John Sandford says the inner healing they teach is to ‘evangelize the unbelieving areas of the believers’ heart.’ I learned in this training that there are many ways that we protect our hearts from hurt and sometimes those things close us off from fully engaging in relationships and life. But as Jesus said, ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’

I can trust Him in my areas of discipline, you can trust Him to come and meet you in whatever area you are having trouble believing for. Sit with Him and seek out what parts need persuasion. Be honest in surrendering your struggles (He knows them anyway)

Pray with me please;

Lord, you know us better than anyone. Please come Father and highlight these areas that we are not fully believing you. Please help us to surrender the things that keep us stuck in our unbelief. Lord we cannot do this without you and you say that everything is possible for those who believe. To the best of our abilities we believe but we need you to evangelize those unbelieving parts with your truth Lord. Please come Lord Jesus and meet with us. Thank you that you are for us and not against us and your heart is to make us more like you. So take these molds of clay and form us Lord, heal us, let us be displays of your glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

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