Now for Later

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Hope you had a Merry Christmas! We had a lot of laughter as well as mellow moments this past week. I embraced both. I don’t know about you but my days were so messed up with Christmas Day falling on a Saturday. When I woke up Sunday morning, I realized church was that day. I wanted to sleep in and skip my tea time with God on the porch. I rationalized, I have church so I’ll get my God time then. Thankfully, I pushed that thought aside and still found time with God before church. There are two things wrong with my thinking: 1) I am counting when I take time with God (a check list item) and 2) I think church is enough to meet my spiritual needs (once a week with God).

Daily connecting with God is necessary to live a robust, full Christian life. To quote my pastor from Sunday’s sermon, “If you don’t spend time with God at 8 am, you won’t have the patience you need for the meeting you have at 3 pm that day.” In other words, God provides all you need when you order your day with Him. When you are connected to God, you gain perspective, peace, tools, and all you need for the day. When I don’t spend my morning with a moment in God’s presence (your moment could be 5 minutes or 30 minutes), I am living in my own strength that day. I can do this for a bit. Eventually, my humanness shines through. To allow God to shine through me, I need time with Him daily. Some days, I need to connect more than once. That’s even better. Reality, making the time now makes life better later.

How do you connect with God daily? I know most of you have seen my tea with God pictures. I don’t do this to brag. I post my pictures to remind my friends and acquaintances to take a moment and be with God. Create a routine to remind yourself to be with God daily. For me, it’s tea on my porch. It’s a habit/ritual/routine that is part of my daily life. Some of you may need a note on your bathroom mirror to remind you. Others, an alarm on your phone or a calendar entry to schedule the time will help. Eventually, connecting daily with God will become second nature. Until then, do whatever it takes to get there.

This week we start a New Year. 2022 is on Saturday. For many, that means a New Year’s Resolution. Perfect time to fold in this new habit. I have blogged on this topic many times before. Today, my hope is to explain the why. You won’t have the spiritual tools (fruit of the spirit) to manage your day. You can only be so patient on your own. You can only be so loving on your own. You can only be so kind on your own. Someone (or something) will trigger your humanness and you will fail (or sin) in your response to life. When you are filled with the spirit (you took time to connect to God and remind yourself you are loved, forgiven, chosen, valued, and have the power of His spirit in you), you will be less likely to fail (sin) or more likely to recognize it and stop it if you do fail (sin) and make amends. Make sense?

Friends, connect to God daily!

 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

~ Matthew 6:33 NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Wake up

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Merry Christmas week! We celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, God’s Son! Hallelujah!

Pastor Tate quoted the following verse on Sunday.

For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5 NIV

The weeping that lasts for a night ends when we wake up. Wake up doesn’t mean 6 am or 8 am or noon if you are a teenager. Wake up means when we wake up to Jesus and let Him rule our life. Wow. Hearing that definition has rocked my world. The days I weep may last a while. The rejoicing comes when I find joy in Jesus.

When we go thought hard times, we should grieve and weep. Holding it in is not healthy. Let it out. Release the feelings. God will hold you through it. Don’t try to be OK when you aren’t. However, make sure you wake up at some point. Wake up to the truth that Jesus is holding you. Wake up to the promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Wake up to the power of joy – peace in the midst of hard circumstances.

If you are weeping, it can last the night. Night is as long as you make it. It’s fine to stay a sleep for a season but wake up to that rejoicing. Find the joy. The Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World” says

Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room. And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing.

This is the rejoicing. Jesus has come. He died, rose again and has prepared a place for us with Him for all eternity. That’s the joy. Life on earth is tough. We are renewed in Him day by day. When we wake up, we can rejoice. We are still struggling and may be in the same circumstances, but we have hope in Him. The eternal glory outweighs it all.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Wake up to Jesus and rejoicing. Let your weeping last for a night, but then wake up.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

‘Tis the Season

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‘Tis the Season for:

  1. Busyness
  2. Stress
  3. Spending too much money
  4. Guilt
  5. Frustration
  6. Overindulging
  7. Rushing from event to event
  8. Perfectionism

Is that your season this year? I hope not. I have a few of those items I am working hard to fight off. I don’t want it to be a typical season for me. Last year we were forced to slow down and make gatherings meaningful. Last year was all about Covid safety, doing less, attending nothing due to lock downs, and a minimal Christmas. We did Christmas in shifts at my parents home. We met by family group on the patio, chatted through masks with my parents, and opened gifts. This year we plan to be in person. Of course, mom won’t be there this year since she passed in January of 2021. This season will be different.

What did last year’s Covid Christmas teach me? Slow down. Make gifts meaningful. Allow time for talking and connection. Don’t eat too much, spend too much, or stress too much. This year, I hope to invest in time with each family member by having a focused conversation. I hope to laugh a lot. I know I will cry some. I am not doing a ton of events even though there are options. I’m hunkering down with my kids, closest friends, church family, and God. I am connecting each day with Him or else the list above will become reality. Let’s make this season different.

‘Tis the Season for:

  1. Slowing down
  2. Peace
  3. Budgeting
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Letting go of expectations
  6. Wise choices
  7. Intentional connections
  8. Grace

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness

    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this. ~ Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Advent: Peace

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I must confess, my advent practice has slipped this year. I have the candles out but haven’t had anyone home on a Sunday night dinner to light the candles. However, I am still observing advent in other ways – our season of waiting for the birth of Jesus and anticipating His return. Pastor Fields’ spoke about peace this past Sunday. He said “peace is the absence of fear.”

I am a fearful person. I work hard to not sit in fear each day. I connect with God, seek His strength and press on every day. If peace is the absence of fear, when I am not in God’s presence and His strength, I am not peaceful. I realize how I need God more and more every day. I can go a few days, even a few weeks on my own strength but end up running back to His open arms. However, there is no peace in those seasons when I am not daily connected to Him.

Pastor Fields’ taught on Joseph, the husband of Mary. Jesus’ earthly dad. Rarely does Joseph get playtime at church. Glad he did. When the angel told Joseph not to be afraid, it was right before he gave him a command to marry Mary. Joseph had much to be afraid of. When he chose God’s path, not his understandable path of getting out of the situation, Joseph found peace. Joseph wasn’t told his circumstances would change. He was just told to obey. He did. His life didn’t get easier, it got harder. Yikes. When we face hard circumstances, we want out. Sometimes, God wants us to walk through it, holding His hand. This obedience, brings peace. Most of all, this peace brings great testimony to who God is. People say “how are you so peaceful in the midst of this crazy season?” God. The answer is God. He gets the glory.

Do you find yourself in circumstances you want out of? I do. I have asked Him to release me for a while now. Nope. For now, walk through it. Release the fear and obey. Peace comes when I do that. Peace leaves me when I complain and struggle. I plan to keep walking in obedience. I will stumble, and grumble. I will regain my footing, and my peace. This week, release your fear, obey and ask God to show Himself to you in real ways as you walk through the circumstances of life. You will find peace.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:4-7″ NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!