Living Less Rushed

“No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety” Psalm 16:9 (NLT).

In my life I have been prone to rush. When I was in my mid-twenties, I juggled working full time and raising my daughter on my own. Most mornings, it was not an uncommon practice for me to hit the snooze button on my alarm several times before finally rising out of bed. Once I did manage to shower, dress myself and get my daughter breakfast, it was then a mad dash to see her off on the school bus and head in my car to work.

Once I made it in the car, it was also not uncommon for me to have my cup of Yoplait yogurt and spoon in hand to eat while I was waiting at stop lights. Then work began and at the end of the day, it was a mad dash to pick up my daughter from after school care, head home and get dinner on the table, so we could eat at a reasonable hour.

This pace often led to exhaustion by the end of the day. Many nights, after my daughter went to bed, I could be found sprawled out on the couch, half-asleep in front of my television.

Nowadays, I am married and life is more balanced. However, the tendency to rush is something that does creep up from time to time. For me, it usually happens when I have too many things on my to-do list. I have learned that the longer my list becomes, the more unraveled l become.

Looking closely at Deuteronomy Chapter 4, Moses urges the new generation to be careful in obeying God’s commands for them. He tells them, “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you” Deuteronomy 4:2 (NLT).

Here, Moses uses the terms “add” and “subtract” to emphasize the importance of following God’s Word exactly. He wants the new generation to understand that God’s Word is perfect and does not need to be changed. We see here how important it is for us to live our lives according to God’s Word. So many times we may be tempted to change the rules to suit our own needs or to simply ignore the rules all together. This is not the way God intended for us. He wants us to trust His way, because it is perfect.

Moses goes a step further to warn the new generation of being careful to not create any idols in their lives. Here, the people are warned to not put anyone or anything before God. “So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this” Deuteronomy 4:23 (NLT).

An idol can be anyone or anything. This makes me stop and reflect on what some of the “idols” are in my own life. Always having the need to be busy is definitely one at the top of the list. Often busyness leads to rushing – and from my own experience, rushing leads to burnout. If I have nothing left at the end of my day, then there isn’t a lot of time for me to spend it with God.

There are things I can do to be better in this area. I can give God some of my time. I’ve made it a practice to read from a devotional in the morning and also to read at least one chapter from the Bible later in the day. Making time in the Word has been such a blessing in my life. It gives me the direction and the assurance I need to face the battles I have to each day. Without it, I am relying on myself to navigate through life and eliminating God from it.

Spending time in prayer is also important. My prayer time is sporadic. That is something I’m constantly tweaking and working on these days. I’m not perfect at it, but there has been improvement. I have found prayer to be so beneficial. It is the only way to communicate with God and it is a necessary practice to thank Him for the blessings I receive everyday and to also present my requests to Him.

There is also using the word, “no.” As much as I would like to volunteer for every activity at my son’s school, it just is not realistic. Something has to give, and if I overload my schedule it will eventually be me. So, I have to pick and choose what’s important. Is what I want to add to my list honoring God? If I’m not sure, then I need to pray about it.

When I put these things into practice in my life, then it is much easier to navigate through it. Not only am I happier, but so are the people around me. Life becomes a lot less rushed and I am able to grow closer in my relationship to God – the only “Idol” I should have.

Dear Lord, thank You for the reminder of the importance of putting You first on the priority list. Forgive me for the times when I let the busyness of life get the better of me. Help me to shift my focus to You when I am distracted or in need of Your direction. Now that we are approaching the holidays, help me to stop and enjoy the time I have with my loved ones rather than rushing through it and missing out. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Growing Pains

”Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” James 1:2-3 (NLT).

Not feeling good enough is something I have always struggled with. In my youth, there was never something I felt that I really excelled at. It seemed to me that being successful was always defined as being good at sports or getting good grades or having a lot of friends – none of which came easily for me.

Physically, I was awkward and always the last to be picked for teams in gym class. Academically, I struggled to get A’s. Aside from reading and writing, which were subjects that I did excel in, other subjects required a lot more focus and discipline, and usually meant that I earned a “C” on my report card.

I didn’t have a lot of fond memories of grade school and middle school. At the school I attended, there was a large population of multi-ethnic families. If I was lucky enough to be invited to someone’s birthday party, I always felt like the outsider. All the girls seemed to have such a rough exterior all the time – like they felt they had something to prove. I always felt nervous, unsure of myself and just wanting so desperately to feel included and accepted by anyone.

Many girls I went to school with were a lot more outspoken and “street smart” than I was. It was not uncommon for girls to have physical fist fights outside of school before the bell rang. I really didn’t have many friends. There was one girl who I was friends with for quite awhile in middle school. We would go over to one another’s houses and she was someone I always thought was my best friend. One particular morning, before school started, I ran up to her to say “Hi,” but when I did, she turned her back to me and ignored me completely. She was talking to another girl who teased me a lot and they were whispering and chuckling. From that day on, she never acknowledged me. It felt like a knife had been stuck in my back and what was worse, I didn’t know why and it made me question my worth.

We learn in the last five chapters in the Second Book of Corinthians the importance of clinging to the truth of who we are as children of God. In chapter 10, the Apostle Paul finds himself being challenged by some of the Corinthians over what authority he had in preaching the Good News. Paul states, “Look at the obvious facts. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority” 2 Corinthians 10:7-8 (NLT).

Paul reminds his skeptics that his authority comes from the Lord. Paul was not concerned with the fact that others thought him to be “weak,” or his message to be “worthless.” He was only concerned about fulfilling God’s calling to him to spread the Good News and proclaim the Word to those that needed to hear it. In other words, he did not let the opinion of others define who he was. It only mattered to Paul who he was in God’s eyes.

After reading through this chapter, I can’t help but wonder how hard it must have been for Paul to listen to others question his authority and character. In chapter 12, Paul addresses the “thorn in his flesh.” Here, Paul acknowledges his pain and his desire to be free from it. Yet Paul also acknowledges receiving “wonderful revelations from God” and how he must endure through the pain. Paul says he prayed three different times for the thorn to be taken away and each time God told Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NLT). Paul’s response to God’s provision in the same verse is, “So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10 (NLT).

Paul wrestles with the thorn in his flesh, yet he decides to find joy in the pain. Why? Because, he knows God is in control and that He has a plan for Paul. It would’ve been so easy for Paul to give up and quit after all the “insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles” were thrown at him. But, he didn’t. That is the lesson in these chapters.

When someone challenges our worth, we can respond in many different ways. But, we first must ask ourselves what is truth? If I am listening to what others say about me and letting their perception of me effect what I perceive of myself, then is that truth? Or is truth when I am listening to what God says is true of me and forming who I am based on His truth? It comes down to choice. Like Paul we need to focus on the truth of who God says we are, and in the midst of pain and suffering, we need to search for the joy.

Heavenly Father, many times I have struggled with my sense of worth in this world. When I feel betrayed or criticized by others, often I do not look to You for reassurance. Please forgive me for the times I’ve forgotten that You are with me and that You are for me. Let the perceptions of others not dictate how I perceive myself and may I find my peace and identity in You. Bless those that wrestle with their own “thorns” and help them to seek You first amidst their struggle. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 

 

Dare to Imagine

“But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants” John 3:21 (NLT).

Last week I mustered up the strength to watch our last debate of this current political season. Many would ask, why bother? What is the point in listening to all of the name calling, mudslinging and sidestepping over the important issues concerning the future state of our country?

As much as I dread listening to it and watching it, I do also feel an obligation as a citizen of this country to use my voice and decide which candidate is best suited for the Office of President of the United States. After all, people gave their life just so that we have the right to use our voice. Our forefather’s fought tirelessly and diligently for this right, as well.

Having said that, I also chose to turn on the television to watch the debate after my son went to bed. Because, sadly, I knew there would be words and ideas expressed that are just not appropriate for his sensitive ears and impressionable eight-year old mind. It is frustrating, because as a parent, you’d like your children to be able to witness democracy at work. However, in these current times, it certainly doesn’t feel as if democracy is working at its best.

So, what is the answer? Do we just refuse to make a choice, because we don’t like our choices? Do we base our choice on the one issue that matters the most to us and ignore the rest? Do we just leave and move to another country?!?! It can leave one feeling helpless and hopeless over the responsibility of deciding who best would serve this country in the role of our President.

My Bible study time in the Second Book of Corinthians, Chapters 4 through 8, focuses on our responsibility as God’s children to give generously of ourselves in living out our faith as believers. In Chapter 8 of this book, Paul tells of the generosity displayed by the people in Macedonia in giving to help further the church. It is important to note that these people lived in extreme poverty. The churches were taken over by Rome and all of their wealth was conquered.

Paul explains to the Corinthian believers the level of generosity that the people of Macedonia had, in order to encourage them to display the same kind of generosity. “For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do” 2 Corinthians 8:3-5 (NLT).

These people gave “far more” than what they could afford and they “begged” for the privilege of sharing their gifts. Paul also notes that this kind of generosity is a reflection of the love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has for us by becoming man and offering us eternal life, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich” 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT).

The kind of love that Paul speaks of here is truly humbling. When I look at the current state of our world, it is not my first inclination to respond to it in a gracious manner. Sadly, my inclination is to want to turn off the news, cover my ears and hide under the bed covers until it’s all over.

However, I don’t think that is the proper response to the situation. We are all a part of this world and it is foolish to think that one person or even a whole group of people can tackle the overwhelmingly enormous amount of crises our nation faces today. So, where does that leave us? How do we move forward in the upcoming weeks as we face the decision of who our new President will be?

I believe the answer lies in the pages of these chapters. As Paul so eloquently points out in chapter 5, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT).

We are Christ’s ambassadors,” means that we represent Christ. If our nation were to turn to God and mirror the same kind of generosity that Christ so graciously displayed to us, than what a better place it could be! One of my favorite songs is “Imagine,” by John Lennon. As he says, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”

As I approach Election Day, looking at it through this kind of lens does leave me hopeful. Does it make me less fearful or more sure of who I want to see in office? No, not necessarily. However, there are things I can do that will help the situation rather than make it worse.

I can give. Giving doesn’t just have to do with money – it also has to do with time. Writing this blog is a way I can use my gift to hopefully draw someone closer to God and connecting to His word.

I can show grace. I might not agree with others’ opinions on the issues, but instead of whining and complaining, I can recognize that these are not perfect people. All of our leaders need grace – no matter how hard it might be to give it. I can use my own God-given gifts to make a difference. I might not agree with others’ opinions on the issues, but I can still use my voice and take a stand on whom I believe would best suit the office of the Present of the United States. The rest is not up to me – it is God’s to handle. Praise Him for that.

I can pray. There are things that will happen outside of my control that do not honor God. I can choose to get angry and stew about those things or I can lift up my anxieties to the only one in control and call upon Him.

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, it is important to remember why we are here. It is to love one another and to be Christ’s “ambassadors.” It is only then that this world can truly become a place where, as Lennon puts it, we can all be as one.

Father God, There is so much fear and trepidation over who will be best suited to run our country. Let us remember Your Word, as it tells us, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT). You are in control over everything. You are the light in the darkness and we need only to turn toward You to seek answers. Please guide our leaders and us, as Your people, to shine the same light and make a difference in the way that You intended us to. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Enduring Through the Struggle

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” Romans 5:3 (NLT).

They sent me to a little room, started the video and closed the door. A man appeared on the television screen, wearing a suit. He stood in an operating room and beside him was a metal table with various instruments laid out on it. Among them were large scissor-like tools, a huge needle and various others – all resembling what you’d expect if you were going to repair a barbed-wire fence. These tools were not going to be used to repair any fence, however. These were tools used to assist surgeons in performing a surgical abortion.

Within seconds of the video playing, I jumped up off the couch and began to yell for someone to come in and “turn it off!” I didn’t want to see another minute of it. When the young woman ran into the room, I proceeded to tell her that I didn’t need to watch anymore – that I knew I wasn’t going to have an abortion.

In First Corinthians chapters 15 through 16, the Apostle Paul teaches about the resurrection of Christ and of the dead, and how the people of Jerusalem were to give to the Church and prepare for his departure. Reading on, in Second Corinthians chapters 1 through 3, Paul addresses several other key principles of faith. The principle of God being a comfort to us all, is one of these key principles that it so important for us to reflect on.

The chapter begins in 2 Corinthians 1:1 where Paul addresses God’s church in Corinth. This was Paul’s fourth letter to the Corinthians. The people were not taking Paul’s instructions to heart and there were lots of divisions occurring within the church. Paul doesn’t waste any time letting the people know that God deserves our praise for the mercy he gives us, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort” 2 Corinthians 1:3 (NLT).

Paul continues in this chapter explaining that God comforts us, so that we will comfort others. He explains that it is through our trials that we receive God’s comfort. Paul says, “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer” 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NLT).  Here, Paul is saying that he endures his own suffering by encouraging others through the Gospel.

What an example of perseverance! Paul understood that God was using him to further His kingdom. His teachings in this chapter directly reflect what Christ did on the cross for us. Jesus suffered for us all, so that we can experience eternal life. In order to draw closer to Christ – we must also suffer. Paul acknowledges the fact that he was both “crushed and overwhelmed” by his own suffering and that he “expected to die” (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

The way Paul copes with his suffering is not by relying on himself, but relying on God (see 2 Corinthians 1: 8:9). He goes on to say in this same verse, “We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us” 2 Corinthians 1:9b (NLT).

Even though I knew pretty quickly that I did not wish to terminate my pregnancy, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tempted by the thought of doing so. I had so many terrifying fears – wondering whether I would be able to handle the pain of giving birth, wondering whether my baby would be healthy, wondering whether I would have complications, wondering whether I was ready to be mother. The thought that it could all go away by enduring one surgical procedure was tempting. However, there was this horrible feeling that gnawed at the pit of my stomach every time I envisioned me actually going through with that procedure.

At that time, I did not have the relationship with God that I do today. However, I remember asking God for help many times. Now that I know God and understand how much He loves me, I truly believe God spoke to me at that very turbulent time in my life. I believe that He was with me through every step, giving me the strength I needed to endure the pregnancy and birth of my daughter.

There were many people whom I encountered during those 9 months that were so sensitive and encouraging – that kept telling me I was strong and brave. God was working through those people. They encouraged me through my trial and in turn I was strengthened.

My baby was born on February 18, 1992. I remember her body all covered in pink as they pulled her out of mine – screaming and a healthy 8 pounds even. I remember my Mother crying and thanking God in that delivery room. I also remember feeling terrified, relieved and exhausted all at the same time.

The road hasn’t been easy since the day she was born. My days were often full of stress and anxiety, loneliness and isolation, struggle and the fear of making ends meet. Yet, during all of it we were taken care of. My parents supported me by helping me take care of my daughter, so I could work and finish school. All the people I encountered that helped me get through College enabled me to earn my degree. Because of my endurance and the support of others, I was able to pay my rent, my bills and provide for my child’s needs.

Had I chosen not to endure, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the many blessings I have from the privilege of being her mother. My experience is something I will always look at as a way of drawing me closer to God and His way of drawing me closer to Him.

Heavenly Father, I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to You for blessing me with the gift of becoming a mother. Thank You for reminding us through Paul’s teaching that our struggles give us the opportunity to draw nearer to You. Please bless all of the women who face unplanned pregnancies. May they feel the power of Your Spirit guiding them to a place where they can endure through the struggle. Also, dear Lord, please bless the women who have made the choice to endure an abortion. Help them find redemption and forgiveness through You and may Your grace help ease their pain and suffering. For it is only through You that we can receive the peace and comfort we seek. In Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.

Winning Isn’t Everything

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT).

Even though most would not describe me as a super competitive person, I will admit that I like winning. As both of my children and husband can attest, when we all sit down to a good board game like “Sorry” or “Monopoly,” I am frequently the one that protests the most when I am sent “home” or “to jail.”

Unfortunately, my tendency to want to win doesn’t just end at “family game night.” It can also occur when I’m having a discussion with my husband on what paint colors or fabrics go best with the room we are redecorating, or when I am reminding my son of the importance of making the bed with the sheets fitted, so that they don’t wrinkle.

What happens when I don’t win or get my way isn’t always so pretty either. Words often fly out of my mouth that are not truthful or are hurtful. My desire for wanting the other person to see things my way often takes over and inevitably a fight or tears ensue as a result.

During my Bible Study time this past week in First Corinthians Chapters 10 through 14, Paul emphasizes the importance of making daily choices that honor God and His will for us. He covers important topics, such as: the danger in creating idols in our lives, how to properly worship in our daily lives and in sharing the Lord’s supper, honoring our personal spiritual gifts, and worshipping for the benefit of all involved – to name just a few.

In Chapter 13, Paul addresses the importance of love and loving others. He so eloquently states in the very first verse of this Chapter, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT).

How often do I sound like a “noisy gong” or “clanging cymbal?” Regrettably, more times than I can count. How different would the outcome be if I chose to speak words of love to others rather than words of hurt or frustration over wanting others to understand my feelings?

When I approach others with a “me” focus, the lines become quite blurry. Suddenly, I am making myself the most important thing in the equation. It’s not something I do intentionally, of course, but it damages the core of who I am and who God wants me to be. No good comes out of it and the people I love most are the ones who get hurt the most.

Is it worth the trade off?

In closing the chapter, Paul states, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 12-13 (NLT).

When I find myself in situations where I want to win, I can choose to be a sore loser or to lose gracefully. Throughout Paul’s lessons in these Chapters, we learn first-hand of the rewards in losing gracefully. After all, Christ certainly has given us His grace and it is not something we have earned or deserve. “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” 1 John 4:9-10 (NLT).

Love needs to come from a giving nature. It is not something that we are entitled to or earn. When I look at love through that lens, it is much easier to let go of my need to win or to have others see my way. At the end of the day, I can rest in knowing that I made a choice that honors the kind of love my Heavenly Father has for me, which in turn honors the best of me. After all, don’t my loved ones deserve my best?

Heavenly Father, Thank You for the humble reminder of what it means to love through your Word. Please forgive me for the times that I lose sight of that truth and focus on winning the fight, instead of losing gracefully. Remove any part of me that places my desires above yours. Thank you for the blessings of my loved ones in my life. Help me to always speak words of love and truth to them and others. I ask these things in Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.

God Meets Us Where We Are

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith” Galatians 6:10 (NLT).

I remember my first meeting vividly. There were two other Mom’s sitting beside me at the table who had already known each other for quite awhile. It started with polite, “how do-you-do’s,” “where are you from?” and “how many children do you have?”

We met at a local Starbucks and each woman there began sharing certain Bible verses that had made an impact on what they were going through in their life. I remember one of them asking me what version my Bible was. I had brought with me a Bible a counselor and friend had given me when I was going through my teenage pregnancy. But, what version it was I had no idea. The truth was that I had never really opened it, other than highlighting a couple of verses that she had suggested I reflect on during the time – which I had not done. It was obvious these women knew more than I did and it wasn’t long before I began to question – to myself – whether or not I really belonged there.

In First Corinthians Chapters 5 through 9, the Apostle Paul confronts issues such as: disorder within the Church, handling disputes within the Church, instructions on Christian marriages, and instructions on the freedom believers have within the Church. For me, perhaps the most powerful message is in Chapter 9, where Paul says, “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ” 1 Corinthians 9:19 (NLT).

Paul explains what he meant when he used the term “slave,” in the very next verse, “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law” 1 Corinthians 9:20 (NLT). Paul gave up his personal freedoms and completely followed God in order to bring more people to Christ.

I imagine Paul’s life was not easy and that it must have taken a great amount of discipline to live with others that were different or believed in things that he himself did not. But, as he states a little earlier in this Chapter, “Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NLT). It was Paul’s desire to preach the Word of God to others that did not know Him, and it was through God’s gift to Paul that he was able to do it so enthusiastically and willingly.

When I began my journey as a believer, it was slow starting. I believed in God – that much I knew. But, I didn’t know Him. The pastor at my Church had been preaching on the importance of getting involved in a small group/bible study. I really didn’t know anything about it. I did know, however, that I longed to connect with a group of women that wanted to know God more, like I did. It was that desire for “connection” that ultimately led me to give it a try.

Even though those first few meetings felt awkward for me and I felt much like a fish out of water, the more I went, the more comfortable I began to feel. It was refreshing to listen to a group of women really talk about life. Everything wasn’t just fine all of the time. These women had real issues that they faced every day, just like me. We didn’t have answers either. We did, however, have God’s Word.

I am blessed to say that I still continue to meet with these women. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringing, yet we all come together and agree to meet each other where we are in our lives.

Now, I am happy to say, I have a Bible that is worn, bent and used from all of the flipping and page flagging that I continue to put it through week after week. My time with all of my “Sisters-in-Christ,” as I like to call them is something I don’t dread but need, desperately.

It is in community that we learn from one another and grow. It is through the Word that we are taught the tools how to do it.

Dear Lord, Thank You for teaching us the importance of meeting others where they are. We all have differences, but through You we are one in the same. Please help us to see one another through Christ’s eyes. Help us to connect and grow with one another through Your Word, so we are able to reflect the love of Your Son to the people we meet in our everyday lives. Thank you for the blessings of fellowship and the blessings of friendship that I have in my life. May I never take for granted all of the gifts that have come from Your never-ending love for me. In Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.

Remembering Who I Am

“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace” 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT).

From the time I have been little I’ve loved books. I was always a reader and one of the places I visited frequently from the time I was very young was the library.

One of my favorite memories as a child was walking up and down the aisles of books in the children’s section, picking several of them up, touching the cover, taking in the colorful artwork and illustrations – and I loved the idea that I got to take home as many books as I could carry.

Reading led to my love for writing – something I used to do quite frequently in my youth. Then, sometime after high school began I stopped writing. My life became immersed in my friendships and relationships with boys. Things at home weren’t going well and I was acting out and making bad choices. That eventually led to a teenage pregnancy and then life got real busy…

***

This past week, I finished reading the last chapter in the Book of Romans (Chapter 16), and continued on in First Corinthians Chapters 1 through 4. In these chapters, we see the Apostle Paul’s commitment and passion to reach the new believers and teach them of the importance on becoming a united body in Christ. His letter to the Corinthians dealt with facing the struggles they were having in the Church; and also, the complacency in their own faith as new believers.

In Chapter 3 of First Corinthians, Paul describes the new believers as “infants in Christ.” The point he is trying to make by saying this is that even though they had the knowledge of God’s Word and instruction, they were living like “people of the world” rather than a people of God. Paul challenges you and me here to live our lives beyond being controlled by our “worldly” desires. Just as infants need to go beyond milk and grow toward taking in “solid food,” so do we, as believers, need to be mature in our faith and in our knowledge of God’s Word.

These chapters in Corinthians, are a reminder to believers that we need to stop being complacent and start growing in our relationship with the Lord. As Paul teaches, we do this by surrendering to the Holy Spirit all of our sin. When we do this, we allow God to be first in our lives and we do not allow the things of this world to dictate how we live.

For me, I am deeply challenged to forge relationships in my life that hold God at the center of it – rather than putting myself in situations that draw me farther away from God. This is hard when you still have relationships with people who do not know God. I have found myself being put into situations with people I care deeply about that make me uncomfortable and that I know do not honor how God intends for me to live.

In these situations, I need to set boundaries. I don’t have to participate in activities or situations that, I feel, would not honor God. While this is good for me and my relationship with God, it is also hard and may mean that I may have to distance myself from those that I care about. It also means that I may have to step out of my “comfort zone” to experience the benefits of living out God’s way in my life.

Since I have been baptized a child of God (just over a year now), both me and my family have experienced many positive changes and life transformations. But, in order to experience those, we’ve had to “sacrifice” and give up old habits that were not best suiting us.

The biggest change, for me, though has been my devoted time spent in the Word. My commitment to getting back to writing and writing about God’s Word has been such an important step in my growth as a Christian. I have had wonderful people in my life both in and outside of Church who are so encouraging and motivating me to want to keep using my God-given gift. Most importantly, I have grown closer to God.

There is so much good in just letting go of the things or people in your life that are weighing you down. It may not feel good in the beginning, but I can honestly say in the end it is worth the struggle, and it reminds you who you really are – a child of God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminder of how important it is to put You in the forefront of our lives. Let your Holy Spirit fill us with the courage and strength to make healthy changes in our lives that will allow us to grow in You and not push You farther away. It is a daily decision to turn to You. Help us commit to that decision and surrender to Your Spirit. As it says in Your Word, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT). Let us live by Your Word and always remember the benefit it has in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.