Hope

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Experts are predicting a rise in pregnancies, divorce, and domestic violence. Sheltering at home will lead some couples to draw closer and others to draw apart. If you are married, make sure you are one of the couples who use this time to draw closer – you don’t have to get pregnant – just take advantage of your spouse being home in time for dinner now. If you are a family with children at home, will this lead to a closeness or a breakdown. I have 3 teens at home. We have had moments of delight (smores by the firepit, fun dinner conversations, etc.) and moments of pure tension (we sure know how to push each other’s buttons). This season can bring good or harm to your family. The goal is good.

What am I doing to bring good to my family? I am taking advantage of when my teens want to talk. Usually teenagers are willing to engage maybe an hour or so a week. I often miss the window because I’m working, preparing dinner or something. Now, when I see the window of opportunity, I stop and engage. I realize I have plenty of time to finish work later. I can watch that Netflix show anytime now. When my kid is talking to me on his/her own free will, I stop and soak it in and engage. Parents look for that opportunity and seize it. If you have littles, you just want them to stop talking. I understand. Seize the moments when they nap or find an activity to engage themselves in for 30 minutes. Use that time to sneak away to grab tea, read God’s Word or listen to a sermon online.

We are all figuring this out together. There are no experts on this. This is unprecedented. I don’t have answers but I have hope. I listened to a sermon from Christian Assembly today. Pastor Tom was talking about those who have great faith should be shining right now. Encourage those who are feeling weak in their faith. Drag people up to your level of peace. Put your hope and confidence out there for others to see and inspire to. This is your moment to shine and shine the light on Jesus. So if you have a lot of hope, post it on Facebook, call a friend to share it, talk about it with your kids, direct others to your source of hope. Even those who know and love Jesus are struggling. We are all at different levels of faith. However, we are all equally loved by Jesus!  Whatever you have, give it.

We had a cool God moment this week. Our church has started a help line and you sign up if you can help or if you need help. Our family can help. We were asked to deliver toilet paper to a member of our church who can’t get out to get it. We dropped off a 4 pack on our way to say hello to my parents (while staying 6 feet away from my parents.) When we arrived, my dad walked out with a 12 pack of toilet paper for me. God had multiplied my gift 3x and gave it back to me. I pointed out the economy of God to my kids on the drive home. I said, “It doesn’t always happen that you get back 3x what you give but when it does, it’s truly God!”

What if you gave your hope to someone and it multiplied 3x? 3 more people encouraged. Then they encourage 3x – 9 more people encouraged. Then 27 more people encouraged. And so on. God isn’t into addition, He does multiplication. Let your hope multiply. Let’s get out there friends and share our hope with others. Encourage people with a scripture. Pray for them on the phone. Pray for them over text. If you can only give a tiny bit, give it. If you are thriving in your faith, give that. Let’s multiply the hope out there. If you have a bad day, be a receiver. If you are having a good day, be a giver. Praying you have more days as a giver!

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Walking With God

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In one of the online sermons I heard this week, the concept of walking with God was discussed. It led me to ask myself am I walking with God daily? These definitions further intrigued me.

The definition of walking by Google is:

  1. move at a regular pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once.
  2.  guide, accompany, or escort (someone) on foot.

Definition #1: The definition “am I moving at a regular pace” with God implies action not standing still. If I am walking with God. I am growing and advancing and learning. What I really found fascinating is the concept of never having both feet off the ground at once. What does that mean in a walk with God? To me, it means, I’m not out of control or acting impulsive. I am seeking God’s direction and wisdom. One foot always planted firmly in His Truth.

Definition #2: This is where the definition really connects us to God. Is He my guide when I make decisions? Is He always with me (the answer is yes but do I acknowledge that He’s with me)? Is He my escort (someone who cares for me and my needs daily) or do I let Him in just when I need something?

Walking with God is daily. Right now we have no excuse not to connect with Him daily. I am still working full time just from home. However, my commute is gone which gives me more down time. What will I do with the extra down time? One is spend it with my kids who are all stuck at home too. Another is to spend it with God and growing. Online there are free Bible Study videos, concerts by Christian artists and most every church sermon is there too now. Dive into this season of slowing down and Walk with God.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns: Just a Closer Walk With Thee. It’s simple truth.

I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee
Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be
When my feeble life is o’er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore
Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Fear, NOT!

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I am a fearful person. It’s my nature. It is how I was raised. I jump to worse case scenarios. When I was learning how to be a computer programmer, one of my professors literally would bang on the keyboard when he was “testing” our work. He said our programs need to be built to handle every situation. This led me further down the road of looking for all things that could go wrong. In grade school, I remember seeing a commercial for a TV movie called “Earthquake.” However, I didn’t realize it was for a show. I believed that on Monday at 8 p.m. we were having an earthquake. I kept this fear inside for almost a week when I finally told my mom. She assured me it was a movie and not reality. Fear likes to hide in the dark. You want to lessen it’s power? Speak it aloud. Bring it to light.

Many of us are dealing with fear, whether it’s our nature or not. This Corona Virus crisis is crazy. This has never happened before in our country. No one knows what’s next or what to even guess is next. I have 2 of my kids home for at least 2 weeks (probably more). My college kid is coming home this week most likely for the entire spring quarter and summer. I am still working but thankfully from home. No clue what each day holds. I get daily emails from my kids’ schools with updates. It is overwhelming.

What does this mean for me? Every hour or so I am dealing with calming my fears and asking God to replace them with peace. It’s mentally exhausting.

What does this mean for you? You may be dealing with fear at this level for the first time in your life. Let me share with you how I deal with it. It may help you too.

  1. Identifying the fear is one of the first steps. Sometimes I just find myself to be short tempered or easily upset. When I can identify what is behind those emotions, I often find fear.
  2. Speak against it. Name it. Call it what it is – a LIE. When I am afraid, I am believing the lie that God is not in charge anymore. That’s never true. God is always on His throne and in charge. You may be wondering what I mean by speak against it. When I wake up at night and am fearful, I literally say aloud “Jesus help me and remove the lies of the enemy.” It calms me and brings me peace.
  3. Pray. I did say a prayer in #2 but I’ll emphasize it again – pray. Nothing fancy just “bring me peace,” “help me Lord,” or whatever works for you.
  4. If you know a scripture that’ll help, read it or recite it in your head. “For the word of God is alive and active.” ~ Hebrews 4:12 NIV
  5. Tell a safe friend. Don’t suffer alone. I am sometimes embarrassed to share my fears with others ’cause some of them are “silly” to most people. However, every time I have shared with a friend I trust, the power of the fear is reduced. “Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.”
  6. Lastly, slow down. When you are running so fast, you can’t process what you are feeling. You are usually running from it. Take a breath. Sit and sip tea. Read a chapter in a book (any book will do). The goal is to slow down and let your mind rest.

I could list scripture that will help with fear and finding peace but I’m not. You find it. Dive into God’s Word. Search for the word peace or fear or comfort. See what you uncover. How about sharing your scriptures in the comments of this blog? I will leave you with one verse that always helps:

Be still and know that I am God ~ Psalm 46:10

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

 

Let your Yes be Yes

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I said Amen over 15 times today in the sermon. I am a big advocate for being a truth teller. Someone who lies to me, loses respect in my eyes. When you lie to me, it takes a lot to regain my trust. Today’s passage in Matthew 5:37 NIV says

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

Being a woman, or man, of your word is a rare thing these days. Ever have a co-worker not get something done? They will give you 100 excuses rather than just admit that they didn’t prioritize it. What about your kids doing their chores? I hear more excuses than owning they didn’t follow-through. Maybe a friend lied about her reason for not meeting with you and you found out. How much damage did that do to your friendship?

If your yes is yes and your no is no, excuses aren’t necessary. If something keeps you from completing your yes, communicating ahead of time is necessary. Excuses after the fact are empty. A heads-up goes a long way to protect your integrity, and the relationship.

Integrity is the key word here. Google dictionary defines integrity as:

  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. the state of being whole and undivided.

I like #2. If you are whole and undivided in your love of Jesus, you will have integrity. If your being and self worth is defined by how God sees you, you will have integrity. If you are doubting your worth, you may struggle in integrity. If you are divided in what your priorities are, you may weaken in integrity. Be whole and undivided in your pursuit of Christ and integrity follows. Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No!

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives

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This is a new book by my friend, Kathy Collard Miller and her husband, Larry Miller. Read on to discover more of what you will uncover in this book and a guest blog from Kathy and Larry.

Want to know God better? Want to know yourself better?

God asks many questions in the Bible—Old and New Testaments. Why? His questions serve the purpose of revealing who he is and the motives of the person he is addressing.

Can you see God’s intention when he asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” He helps them realize he knows their physical location and the condition of their hearts.

Can you see twelve-year-old Jesus’s purpose when he asks Mary and Joseph, “Why were you looking for me?” Jesus reminds them he is God and points to their distrust of his father God.

Those are only a few of the insights you’ll gain from the 100 devotions in God’s Intriguing Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives authored by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller. These devotionals make biblical stories come alive and provide both inspirational and practical ideas, along with biblical depth. Two discussion questions are included with each devotion, along with a short prayer. This book is perfect for both individuals and couples.

What were you discussing on the way?

Mark 9:33

By Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

At one point or another, every parent wants to scream (or actually does), “How many times do I have to tell you? Why don’t you get it?”

Jesus has every human reason to respond harshly in multiple situations. Keep in mind he is the best possible teacher and preacher the world has ever known. Everything he says is understandable and clear. But the ears of the disciples are blocked by the worried rumblings within their minds and hearts. Their fear is shouting more loudly and fueling limited understanding more convincingly than God’s truth.

In spite of the disciples’ resistance, Jesus is patient. After the disciples discuss among themselves which one of them will be the greatest in the coming kingdom on earth, Jesus asks his question. They must feel shocked and exposed. How does he know what we were talking about?

In the midst of their surprise, Jesus doesn’t scream, “Peter, John, and the rest of you. How many times do I have to tell you the fulfillment of the kingdom is not a physical one but a spiritual one?”

Jesus has just clearly told them he is going to die at the hands of enemies, but he will rise again. Then we’re told, “But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him” (Mark 9:32).

How sad. They didn’t yet have confidence in Jesus’s kindness. We can only guess at the unpleasant reaction they expected from Jesus. We all have fears of asking and exposing our ignorance based on the lies we believe about who Jesus is. Additionally, we have painful experiences from an authority figure who responded to us with frustration.

Jesus kindly takes the initiative, asking them before they bring up the issue. He doesn’t want them to live in uncertainty and tension—and lies.

They arrive in Capernaum and he asks, “What were you discussing on the way?” They are quiet, maybe feeling ashamed, not wanting to reveal their selfish pride. The desire to be first in the earthly kingdom has clouded their ability to hear Jesus speak truth about the eternal kingdom.

Then in verse 35, Jesus “sat down and called the twelve” (Mark 9:35). “Gather round, guys. Let’s talk.” No ranting and raving. No impatience. No harsh words. He deals with their misunderstanding calmly even knowing they still won’t completely understand. Then he pulls out a child from the crowd as a visual object lesson to teach the principle.

Shockingly, John says, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” (Mark 9:38). We are surprised John is the one speaking. Notice he says “us” not “you.” We would envision him as trusting his Master’s crowd control abilities. Maybe John’s love for Jesus makes him protective, territorial, even for the whole group.

But any of us can succumb to putting our foot in our mouth. And when we do, we can be assured Jesus is kind and will respond with patience, just like he did with John.

  • What is your favorite story in the Bible about God’s kindness?
  • Is it easy or hard for you to “hear” God as if he is harsh and frustrated? Why do you think so?

Understanding Father, I praise you for your kind nature which empowers you to never respond in frustration. Thank you for looking at my heart and kindly responding with help and encouragement.

The Millers have been in ministry since 1978 as speakers, authors, and lay counselors. They married in 1970 and God empowered them to overcome the dysfunctional marriage and family they had developed early in their marriage. Larry is a retired police lieutenant from Huntington Beach Police Department. Both individually and as a couple they have authored over 55 books and spoken in nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents and grandparents. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

This guest blog is adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives

Order here God’s Intriguing Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives.

www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and https://www.facebook.com/larry.miller.3532?

Twitter: @KathyCMiller and @LarryMiller

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Instagram: KathyCollardMiller and Larryspeak1

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

One Minute

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If you haven’t seen “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with Tom Hanks, you should. You will finish the show feeling encouraged, challenged and loved. Mr. Rogers was an incredible man. He truly modeled Christ to all he met. His intentionality touched the hearts of many. This movie showcased that tender, genuine heart of love that he had.

One scene that challenged me took place in a diner. Mr. Rogers asks his friend to sit quietly for one minute before they began their meal. He promised to watch his watch to not make it any longer. The minute of silence led his guest to tears. People don’t sit in silence that long. I am sure Mr. Rogers was praying during that minute.

I read an article that when Mr. Rogers received his Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 he asked the audience at the Emmy’s to “take ten seconds of silence to think of the people who have helped you become who you are.” After a moment of nervous laughter, people began to cry and understand the power of taking time to be silent and in this case, focus on those who helped along the way.

My challenge to you, sit for one minute in silence. Allow yourself to focus on a topic as he encouraged (people who have helped you along your journey) or just be silent. Set a timer to prevent you from watching the clock. Maybe, consider adding it to your daily routine. One minute of silence before breakfast, or lunch or dinner.

Dream Big! Pray Big!