To Do or Not to Do… that is the question

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How many of you find yourself asking this question of yourself far too often? There is no doubt we live in a world that demands much of us … but how do we determine when we do stop taking on more things?

This question has haunted me for most of my adult life. I am a go-getter and generally have a lot of energy to do that go-getting! That personality trait readily side-steps me when asked to consider new opportunities. Saying “yes” or offering to do more is far too easy for me. I am ashamed to admit, that often I don’t even think to ask the Lord whether I should commit to a new opportunity or not.

That life-long tendency to do more and more is partly because of my disposition and partly because of my gift of helps… but that doesn’t mean that since God made me this way it is OK to pack my minutes, hours, days, weeks and months full of “doing”.

On the other hand, we are here on this earth to be used, encourage, help and guide. I do not want to waste a minute that I could be doing something for the “family business”,  the business I am a part of because I am a daughter of the King – the God of the universe. (Our pastor talked about being part of THE family business earlier this year and I just loved it! I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it, Pastor Shaun.)

Balance: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

As with so many things in our lives, balance is a key word. I tend to be like a teeter totter…and I am sure many of you do too. AND, of course, that is the opposite of living with balance. So, where does balance come from? It comes from prayer and meditation on scripture. In fact, I will so bold as to say, I believe that is the ONLY place balance comes from. Praying with an open mind and spirit asking what significance/obligation I am to have in any situation is key to living my daily Christian life out with purpose and balance.

Significance: the quality of being worthy of attention; importance

Until just a few years ago, I pretty much defaulted to believing that any new task or obligation presented to me held significance for me. That was actually very haughty of me… thinking I was somehow gifted and well-suited enough to need to give attention and/or bring importance to everything and anything that came across my path. However, there ARE some things that I AM to bring significance to. The Lord is the only one that can reveal that me as I pray and ask for guidance and then chew on His Word. God promises wisdom to those who ask in James 1:5-6 “ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” -ESV

All that is required of me is to ask, and listen for the answer. Colossians 3:23 says that whatever I do, I am to “do heartily as until the Lord and not as unto men.” Note, if does not say that that I am to do everything! It says that out of everything I could do… the things I actually do should be done heartily (with my full-heart, soul and strength). It is impossible to do that if I am over-committed, over-worked and thus exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Once I know if I am to have any significance in something, the next prayer should be, what then is my obligation to be?

Obligation: an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment

When the Lord answers my prayer of “should I any significance in this?” with a “Yes”, it may not mean I am take on the full obligation. Or, perhaps it does. That is why I must go back to the Lord and ask what amount of commitment and involvement I am to obligate myself to. This is very freeing, because when I know the Lord is directing me, I am released to be who He desires me to be… not who someone else wants me to be, or who I think I need to be. Guilt cannot glom onto me because I know I am doing, or not doing, exacting what my Jesus has led me to do.

Just like me, all of you are faced with opportunities. Prayer and scripture can direct us in the way we should go, keeping balance and JOY in our lives as we serve our Lord. That never-ending question “To Do or Not To Do?” loses it haunting power when we let Jesus direct our paths

America, America God Shed His Grace on Thee

“America the Beautiful” was written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893.

Of course, it goes without saying that, the things going on in our country at that time were very different from the things going on now. Yet, these words are still full of meaning and should evoke great emotion from those of us privileged enough to live in this great country.

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O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

As election day draws near, PRAY for our nation as individual citizens voting and for those in leadership. America is truly the only nation ever founded by citizens desiring religious freedom to practice Christianity. How much greater than any other nations demise might America’s be if we do not turn back to the God of our forefathers and founders and cry out for Him to save our nation?!

God, please shed your grace on America!

(If you have never seen the movie “Monumental” by Kirk Cameron – it is a must-see!)

Reposturing Spirit Part II

 

This second post relating some of what I shared in Reposturing Mind, Spirit, Body event back in April is going to look at two spiritual “postures” we find ourselves in…bowed and sitting. These are good postures, but there is another that isn’t. How many times a day do you find yourself slouched or bent under the weight of life? Although this is something that is normal and very human, it is not a good posture to be in. The good news is that this is where God meets us and reminds us that we are His sacred daughters – and admonishes us to reposture.

The Lord prompts us to keep “reposturing” a very present thought; because He desires us to have a posture spiritually that shows us God’s glory! (Re-read the last post for a refresher on His glory.)
During daily prayer and Biblical meditation we may be postured in many spiritual positions.

We start our time bowed in humble quietness before Majesty Himself as we pray bringing our adoration, personal concerns and desires, before Him reading small bite-sized pieces of scripture and chewing on it slowly (meditating) we begin digesting what is there for us personally for where we are at that moment.

We are bowed in humble quietness before Majesty Himself waiting for Him!

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

The psalmist says that wonderful things happen when we wait for the Lord. BUT, waiting for the Lord is one of the hardest things to do. Part of that is our own impatience, but I also believe that Satan knows that when we truly wait for the Lord to act and do in our lives – great and mighty things happen! This scripture tells us that waiting for the Lord makes us strong and gives our hearts courage.  That is why the evil one does his best to keep our minds and hearts stirred up, fretting…planning…preparing… anything but QUIETLY WAITING!

Let me share a very long waiting period in my life. I won’t go into a lot of detail other than to say that no one in the Western medicine arena nor in the alternative medicine arena could figure me out medically! When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had five primary tumors simultaneously in one quarter of one breast. This was so unheard of that my doctors agreed that a lifetime of digestive problems must have something to do with this. I was run through a battery of tests and – they found something that very much explained this somewhat bizarre diagnosis. However, as the days, weeks and years went on – it was apparent that they had only found a piece of the puzzle to my health problems. I prayed for healing, I had others pray for me for healing and I trusted God to heal me, but it didn’t happen. I waited another 23 years following cancer to get the final pieces of the puzzles. And they came at a time when I was bowed before God, telling Him that I was willing to keep waiting on Him but really didn’t think we would ever get a resolution. I had resigned myself to this possibly being “a thorn in my flesh” to keep me relying on God as He taught me in the midst of pain and discomfort. It was at that exact same time that a new alternative provider was recommended to me. Like I said, I really didn’t have any strength or desire to investigate any further…but after praying about it, felt I was to make an appointment. Within about 20 minutes of me going into the appointment in late January of 2017, this practitioner made a supposition about what was wrong with me – AND, with some testing she was proven correct. Now, a year and a half later I have been free from digestive pain much of the time and also seen several other health issues get much better. Why I had to wait so long, I don’t know, but even when I had pretty much given up, the Lord continued to encourage me to wait on Him. As I bowed before Him He stepped in and directed me.
After we have bowed, prayed and waited on the Lord, we move to learning and feasting on the truths of the Bible, or perhaps studying a Biblically-based book or doing a Bible study lesson. This is a sitting position – and God, again meets us there! He is Almighty God and His Word reminds us that sitting is a good posture to have spiritually.
* Ezekiel was sitting when God showed him the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37: 1-28
* Mary sat at Jesus’ feet in Mark 9:36-37
* Jesus asks his disciples to sit in the Garden of Gethsemane before he separated himself to pray in Matthew 26:36

Sitting denotes intimate fellowship and it connotes not being in a hurry

When we are in a posture of sitting we can have intimate fellowship with whomever we are talking to. It is easier to be engaged, and stay engaged in whatever we are hearing when we are sitting. Think about when you are being told something uplifting and wonderful. Do you quickly walk away from that conversation or stay engaged, hanging on to every word? OR, if you are being given detailed instructions… and you begin to move mentally to the first step of the instructions instead of listening and focusing carefully on ALL the instructions, it is much more likely you will not be able to follow the instructions properly. That is how I see the position of sitting spiritually.

Between 1986 and 1994 the Lord kept teaching me in a spiritual lesson. That spiritual lesson was that He loved me. He couldn’t love me more and He wouldn’t love me less. It was a wonderful lesson, but because I thought I had learned this lesson thoroughly I tried to move on to other lessons. It seemed to me that I should be moving onto other – MORE PROFOUND spiritual lessons. But, He would not let me move on. He kept me right where He wanted me continuing to whisper “I Love You” each day and at every crossroad.

It was at the end of those eight years that I was diagnosed with cancer. He knew I needed to know He loved me without a shadow of a doubt for the journey I would be taking…so, he kept me sitting, having intimate fellowship with Him. When it seemed that I should be moving on to standing, God was saying “not yet”. I have often described my cancer journey as a romance with God – not because it was an easy, enjoyable time, but because I KNEW HE LOVED ME beyond a shadow of a doubt and would see me through whether that was as a cancer victor… or in glory.

Here is one more thought on the posture of sitting spiritually. Sitting is a prerequisite to standing. No baby has ever stood without first sitting up for many months. That is because sitting develops our spines enabling us to not only stand, but to stay in a standing position for long periods of time. In my next post I will focus on the posture of spiritual standing and running.

Until then, are you are bent beneath the load of life? I would encourage you to exchange that posture for one of being bowed low in God’s presence: waiting and sitting intimately with Him. Time spent in bowed position before the Lord brings about reposturing spiritually. …and best of all, He does the work! It is just our job to be still.

Prayer Anyone?

I have had the privilege of praying with three good friends this past week over the phone. Each time I am allowed to go before the throne of God on behalf of another I am blessed beyond words!

Here is the irony… My mother was a real prayer warrior and I always rather resented it because I felt it took time away from being with my sister and me as we grew up.   I admit my mother, as a prayer warrior, looked very different than I do. She was quite ill and unable to do a lot outside the house and so she spent hours every day in her bedroom chair praying and reading her Bible. I am overcommitted most of the time, so when someone asks me to pray for them or about something they are facing, sometimes I only have a moment to breathe a quick prayer as I drive or head back to work on the computer. As I am writing this post, I realize that perhaps it was not mother being a prayer warrior that I resented, but rather the fact that she her health didn’t allow my sister and I to experience life with our mother like most of our childhood friends got to. But I have lived a long time really not wanting to ever be a prayer warrior because of these memories.

I have a daily devotional book by C John Miller titled Saving Grace. A few days ago the daily reading scripture was from Matthew 6:9-10 where Jesus says: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Halfway down the page C John Miller writes, “Prayer is partnership together and with the Father. It’s the most daring thing you can do. The devil wants to convince us that it’s boring, routine, and doesn’t accomplish much, if anything. This is a lie. Prayer is where we… ask God to transform the hearts and lives of us an those around us, and ask Him to reshape the world into what He’s design it to be.”

What incredible words! Praying is the most daring thing we can do because we are partnering with the God of the universe in agreement regarding every potential situation humankind can experience and asking Him to show up and do something supernatural! If the devil can keep us from using this most powerful weapon then we are rendered helpless in the face of life’s challenges. No wonder we are called upon to be prayer “warriors”. We are fighting a war that wages in our hearts and minds telling us not to pray for a multitude of reasons. You and I who dare to pray are prayer warriors!

If I can pray with you about something, please write “pray for me” in the comment section of this post. I will respond to the comment with how you can get in touch with me for prayer.

Let me close with the words to a song we sang in Sunday School when I was growing up. “Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone; dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known”. Daniel was known from the time he was a teenage boy as a man who prayed.

He DARED!

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Words…the 5 W’s and God

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I struggle with the propensity to talk too much.  I do not often spew unkind words or unhelpful words; nonetheless I can identify with a text balloon that is jammed to the bursting point.  It is something I have prayed about, chided myself over, followed various disciplines regarding… and only rarely do I feel that my amount of talking is “just right”!  Are you like me?

We live in a world of words.  According to a 2013 post on a language blog, males average 7,000 words per day and females from 10,000-20000.  However, both sexes average only about 500-700 words of actual value (these are words which are intended to communicate something of importance to another person).  That is a sad statistic, but not one that is terribly shocking.

Even if you are not a person who is prone to talk too much, I bet you still struggle with idle chatter at times because it is often expected of you.  We are a society that feels talk is a measurement of our level of involvement, commitment, intelligence, devotion… and the list goes on.  So, is there a way to limit not only our idle chatter, and also increase the number of words we say each day that have actual value?  I believe both objectives are worthy and attainable.

What if, before we opened our mouths to speak, we mentally ran the 5 W’s through our minds?  How might that change what we say and how much we say?  Would it also increase the number of words that had actual value?  Let me add one more element to this concept.  What if during that mental moment of thinking through the who, what, where, when and why – we also prayed for God to give us clarity and insight to speak only words of value.

I am struggling with how to explain what I am trying to convey, but I think using an acting auditioning technique will help.  Many years ago, I was taught to look at every script I was given for an acting audition from a who, what, where, when, why viewpoint.  You see, I needed to focus on who I was in the script – and who I was talking to; what I was talking about; where I was when I was talking about it  and when it was (these two parts were up to me to decide the scenario); and finally why I was talking about it.  Acting audiion scripts do not include idle chatter.  They are to the point generally lasting only 60 seconds.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that we can never just relax and chat.  Goodness, life would be far too regimented if that were the case.  But, we all know that many conversations need to be – and CAN be – more focused and valuable.

I am challenging myself to really focus on what words will be of actual value in a conversation AND trust God to impress me with what to speak.  Will you accept the challenge also?  The outcome would be making idle chatter extinct and increasing our words of actual value exponentially.

It is, of course, much easier said than done – but my deepest desire is to talk less and… when I do talk, make sure my words have actual value!  Lord hear my prayer.  Amen.