Friday, June 12, 2015

Summertime Slow Down

Sleeping late, slow sips of coffee, reading a good book, and staying in PJs longer are some of the perks summertime provides around here. It's a much slower life style.

Some may call this "a lazy lifestyle," but there's nothing lazy about slowing and simplifying. In fact, I would say it's harder to live slow.

When we speed through life we miss so much that God has to show and tell us.

We miss quality time in the Word of God.
We miss the warm sun shining on our faces.
We miss the birds singing and the cool blades of grass under our bare feet.

Last evening, in my small corner of the world, my family of four gathered around the dinner table, ate a meal together, and had great conversation. A rare event these days with my family going in four different directions. My son lives on his own, works, and will finish his Master's Degree in July. My daughter still lives at home, but has her own schedule as a rising junior in college, coaching a competition cheer squad, and nannying.

My husband's work pace picks up a little as the temperature rises. He's part owner in a third generation family heating and air business, and more business means more money to pay the bills. We tell people we have to pray for extreme temps, really cold or really hot, to make money. It's sad, but people only call when they are too hot or too cold.

My schedule has slowed with no piano teaching and no Bible study teaching this summer. I'm not even doing a book club. I've found that I need to slow to grow.

A good friend shared with me she was going to re-read One Thousand Gifts during her time off from teaching school. Since it's a book I can never read enough, I've added it again to my summer reading list.

One of my favorite quotes from this book is...

Life is not an emergency. (Ann Voskamp)

Speeding through the summer is not what I need to do. Time flies fast enough on its own without my help. I need to slow, grow, and count more gifts. But I cannot do that if I don't simplify. Instead of filling my summer with countless activities, I need to be intentional about opening my eyes, ears, and heart to the things of God. I need to be alert to the incredible wonders He desires to share with me.

Counting helps me slow and grow.

#1301 - penning gifts to page
#1302 - photographing gifts
#1303 - a 2nd cup of coffee, slowly sipped

Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD. (Psalm 105:3b NKJV)

Slow your life this summer. Look and listen intently for what God is showing you and teaching you through His Word, His creation, and His Church. Spend time slowly with family, friends, and with those who sharpen you spiritually. Study, read, explore, learn. And above all else, grow deeper in love with Jesus.

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Join the Conversation

This past weekend, I took a group of ladies on a Listening Tour through Genesis, Exodus, 1 Samuel, Matthew, Luke, and John researching how God has spoken to individuals through the ages. We looked at Adam, Moses, Joseph, Samuel, Zacharias, Mary, and Joseph (Jesus' earthly father).

Every conversation we examined, God initiated. At the core of each conversation was the Person of Jesus Christ.

No matter the historical time frame, Old Testament, New Testament, each conversation was all about the glory of God, His Son, the radiance of God's glory (Hebrews 1:3).

The Red Thread, woven all throughout God's Word, His Story of Redemption, is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

Our relationship with the Redeemer and our knowledge of His Word helps us recognize His voice.

In Genesis 3, Eve listened to the Deceiver's voice through the voice of the serpent. She allowed doubt to slither into and through her mind, and because of her disbelief, she acted in disobedience to God.

Moses heard the Redeemer's voice (the Angel of the LORD) coming from a burning bush in Exodus chapter 3.  Acknowledging he was standing on holy ground, Moses listened, took off his sandals, talked with the Redeemer, believed, and then responded in obedience.

In John 10, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says that His sheep know His voice. Sheep will not follow a stranger's voice. They only obey the voice of the one they trust.

Today, God speaks to His sheep, His people, through a spiritual hearing aid. His name? The Holy Spirit. After we receive the Redeemer, Jesus Christ's gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our spirit. We house the presence of God Almighty. We are His tabernacle and we are always on holy ground. We have access to His holy presence because of the blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, but because we still live in the flesh, we still sin. So, we have to remove our sandals, our hinderances, our sin, consistently, to continue in holy conversation. As we grow in our salvation, we will sin less and less, becoming more and more like Jesus.

The Core of the conversation remains the same - God's glory, Jesus, the Son.

The Spirit's role is to mold us; to speak comfort, conviction, instruction; to teach, interpret, and guide us to obey the Word (voice) of God. He is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Lessons I've learned in listening to voice of the Holy Spirit have stretched and grown my faith in ways I never thought possible. I've learned the more I lean in, the clearer His voice becomes. The better my hearing is, the more obedient I become. The more obedient I am, the more joy I have in experiencing life to the full. (John 10:10)

So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

God initiated conversations all throughout His Word. Each time, He made His presence known, and as His presence was acknowledged, He dealt with the hinderances in the relationship first. Once the unbelief was removed, and God had their undivided attention, the conversation continued.

To enter into the already initiated conversation with our Redeemer, we must:

  • Sense His holy presence.
  • Confess any sin hindering the relationship.
  • Repent of the sin revealed.
  • Say, "Here I am, Lord. Speak to my heart."
  • Obey what we hear.
The summer break provides many of us time to refresh and refine our spiritual listening skills. How are you going to spend your summer? He's waiting for you to lean in and listen well.

My Pleasure,

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When It Rains Hard and Fast

When it rains hard and fast, it can be a little scary. With all of the media coverage on the Texas floods, last night's hard and fast rain put me a little on edge.

My daughter had been at a friend's house and was planning to drive home later. When she texted that she was getting ready to leave, my heart started racing, my prayers were going up non-stop, and my faith moved into full throttle trust mode.

God has her. Trust Him to take care of her.

I texted her back with instructions not to drive through large amounts of water and to be very careful. Within a few minutes, my cell phone sounded a flood alert! The rain was coming down harder than ever as lightning flashed and thunder continued to rumble, so I texted her again, praying she hadn't left yet.

I told her about the flood alert and that the roads were very dangerous. She needed to stay put if she hadn't already left.

She texted me back quickly to say that I was right and she would just stay at her friend's house for the night.

Next prayer uttered, "Thank You, Jesus."

My heart slowed to a normal pace, and I laid my head on my pillow knowing she was safe and sound. The rain continued to pour down outside, but a sweet peace began to pour over me inside.

Life can come at us hard and fast. Our heart rate quickly increases, pounding our chest cavity and resounding in our ears. Our breaths become shorter and shallower, and anxious thoughts race through our minds. What if this or that happens? What if? What if? What if?

The moment our circumstances move into neutral, not knowing which way life may shift, the emotions begin rolling in hard and fast.

How do we stay steady and ready for the "come what may"?  How do we stay calm and press on when the situation is uncertain?

We pray. We breathe. We quote God's promises back to Him. We're honest and tell God exactly how we feel. We believe. We have faith. We trust.

Control is something we really never have hold of in any situation, but we do have a God-given gift of common sense and He expects us to use it as well as trust Him in everything.

Common sense told me, "Text Madison and tell her to stay put." Faith told me, "She belongs to God and He will take care of her no matter what."

The child of God is given the option to trust or bust. Trust is always the best option and the one that comes with a peace that surpasses human understanding.

My Pleasure,