To Be...Intentional to Leave a Legacy.

"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children."
Proverbs 13:22
March 16

Grandchildren truly are a blessing. This godly grandfather is passing on a variety of legacies to his grandchildren, but joke telling and bringing about laughter is probably what they will best remember him for. Oh, he is loved by the little folks!

Happy Birthday Papa!

To Be...Established by God

When winter meets spring.
March 15
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."  
Proverbs 16:9
Oh, the plans we make! I had packed up the snowman decorations too early in anticipation of Easter.  The snow came and so did the grandsons, so I rushed and pulled out a few festive snowmen, placing them amongst the Easter decor!

The Proverb above is so true. How many plans have we made in our lives without consulting the Lord?  Oh, the mistakes I could have avoided.  My paths could have been a lot straighter.

"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:6

How many times do we cry out "Why Lord?"  Just this week I did this and God gave me a thought felt answer in Mark Batterson's book Draw the Circle.

"This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in him."  John 9:3
(Referencing the blind man and people questioning Jesus on why this happened to him.)

Batterson writes: "Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get out of our circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.  I'm certainly not suggesting we shouldn't pray deliverance prayers, but there are times we need to pray prevailing prayers.  We need to ask God to give us the grace to sustain, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on.

We are often so anxious to get out of difficult, painful, or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. We're so fixated on getting out of them, we don't get anything out of them.  We fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to grow in us.  We're so focused on God changing our circumstances that we never allow God to change us!
If we're completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God's glory.  We want to pray away every problem, but those short-sighted prayers would short-circuit God's perfect plan...The best answer is what brings God the most glory."

You have established this day Lord!  Show us how to walk in it.

To Be...Referenced Well

March 14
Friday night, my husband headed to a nearby funeral home to attend the visitation for a friend's father. The crowd was staggering and the wait long to offer condolences and remember a man, who loved the Lord and his family.  As people had the time to speak, they were able to reference this man very well, because of the way he had lived.

"He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer."  Acts 10:1-2

Listen as Paul references a high standard for leaders in the church.
"An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity...and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or food or sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience....Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.  Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own household. 1 Timothy 3:1-12

How does one live like that?  God doesn't call us to do it on our own sinful accord. He equips us with the Holy Spirit and lays out in His Word specific steps to take.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

I love how Paul goes on to say in this book, don't think more highly of yourself than you should!  God's the one who creates us, calls us and equips us.  No need to get puffed up or we will soon be falling down.

A wonderful epitaph could be written for some of my favorite people from Romans 12:9-18

They lived without hypocrisy, hated what is evil and clung tightly to what is good. They were devoted to others in brotherly/sisterly love, giving preference to them in the way they honored them.  They kept on keeping on, praised and served the Lord with enthusiasm. They rejoiced in hope, persevered in the tough times and prayed and prayed and prayed.  If a fellow believer needed help they were Johnny on the spot and they offered hospitality without grumbling. Come on in y'all!
How 'bout some sweet tea?

They held their tongues from hurtful words and learned early how to bless even those who were hateful to them. If you had a reason to celebrate, they were right there beside you with their pom poms, jumping for joy, but when the tears would come they handed out tissues for both of you.

There was nothing snooty about them. They knew the names of the baker, the butcher and the UPS man! Never once did I hear of them paying back evil for evil, but instead they were fence menders wishing everyone would live at peace with one another.

They were people who pointed others to Jesus.

To Be...Comforted

March 13
Last week I had the privilege of spending time with a friend, who was actively dying after a long battle with lung cancer.  In that situation, I'm always taken back to the last hours with my parents before they finished their earthly journey and I'm thankful for the people who comforted me.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."     2 Corinthians 1:3-4
That same day I received a text from a forever friend requesting prayer for a breast cancer biopsy. This friend is always so life giving that I'm struggling thinking of the battle that may lay ahead.  In her text she said to me, "Remember, we are to be thankful for our trials. You were with your stroke."

She was a step ahead of me with her faith walk.   No, she was miles ahead of me. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:2-3

Then yesterday afternoon, one of the loveliest, filled with southern charm, God-fearing, sits on her front porch doing Bible study as a light to the whole neighborhood, standing firm in the faith mentors I've ever been privileged to call my friend, shared the results of blood work she had done last week. She's been diagnosed with leukemia and has been given six months to live.  "I want to be found faithful to bring God glory through this," she said on the phone.

"We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it." Proverbs 16:9

Life is a lot, I often say, but it is never too much for God to work through and weave something beautiful from.

Currently our pastor is preaching a series entitled, "Words from the Cross."  The powerful statements that Jesus makes surrounding his crucifixion. "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do," to those yelling "Crucify him!"  "Today, you will be in paradise," to the thief on another cross.  "Woman, behold your son (to his mother Mary, referencing John)...Behold, your mother. (Requesting John take care of Mary as if she was his mother)."
All this words point outward towards others. They are not about Jesus, who is in excruciating pain and would seem to have some major needs himself.  Likewise, life is not all about us, but about how we are called to life a life for Christ.  That requires knowing who God is, trusting in his plans and looking past our needs to be able to comfort others.  

Holy Spirit, fill us up to be comforters!


To Be...Like Minded while Out in the World

Our grandson's self portrait!
March 12

Had one of those days recently where you tell God, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”  Won’t go into specifics, but I came home wounded from one situation and emotionally spent from another conversation.  My husband texted to check on me knowing I was facing some possibly uncomfortable situations that day.  I told him I was too tired to talk and was crawling up in the lap of Jesus.  Picking up my daily scripture card, I read a very fitting verse.  Thank You, Jesus
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:30-31 

As I sat before the Lord, the words like minded came to mind.  So I plugged them into Biblegateway

"...then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."  Philippians 2:2

"Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mine, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you."  Greet one another with a holy kiss."  2 Corinthians 13:11-12

"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

After I read 1 Peter 3:8 I thanked God for the Body of Believers.  Those who are a safety zone.  No matter our personal differences, the bond of Christ helps us to handle one another gingerly and with compassion and I am so thankful for that.

Thinking, I’d rather just hang out with like-minded people, I tossed that idea quickly up to the Lord, but then immediately I knew that wouldn't jive with “taking the gospel to the lost, loving our enemies or praying for those who persecute you.”  So, I plugged in “of the world” and came up with Jesus speaking in  John 15:19  Checked it out in The Message too.

If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me.  If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own.  But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.”

That helped me to remember the battle.  Staying in quiet mode, God took me back to earlier that same day, before the pain was unleashed. I was led to pray over a woman (totally unrelated to the others and not someone I know well). I had heard her son was facing a possible cancer diagnosis and God placed her all alone in a public place with me, so I offered to pray. She fell into my arms crying. There was the blessing others moment we are called to participate in and guess who doesn’t like blessings in the name of Jesus being spewed out?  Yup, so he reared his ugly head and lashed out at me. 

The other thing I did with this quiet retreat was to put on Christian radio and God spoke through Matt Redman's song "Blessed Be Your Name" God strengthened me and allowed me to surface to praise mode, which is where we should be whatever our circumstances.

Love to each of you and the strength of the Lord be your’s whatever is coming your way this week.
Blessed Be Your Name In the land that is plentiful  Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out, I'll  Turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's 'all as it should be’ Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering  Though there's pain in the offering  Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I'll  Turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name, oh
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name

To Be....Filled Up

March 9
After a meal my husband often says, "I went to the ATM machine."  Ate Too Much!  It's easy to fill up at the dinner table, at the gas pump, or a grocery cart, but how often do we take advantage of the opportunity to be filled up by the Holy Spirit.  Old and New Testament Christians, who have gone before, us can testify to the reality of the Holy Spirit!  He's a gift that keeps on giving, but we have to empty ourselves of "us" to give Him the room to fill us up!  This world would look much differently if we lived within His power and not our own.

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have chosen Bezalel...I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.'" Exodus 31:1-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Acts 1:8

"After they (Peter and John) prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."  Acts 4:31

Paul prayed and we can pray likewise today for one another:
"May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.  We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives..."  Colossians 1:9

Come Holy Spirit come!

To Be...In Community

March 8
Sunday after Sunday, our pastor reminds us of the importance to be in community. To worship together and to join a connect group and fellowship with one another during the week.  God did not create us to walk this earth alone.  Jesus called the twelve disciples and they were told to go make more disciples and establish churches where believers could encourage one another.

"The concept of self-reliance is wholly foreign to the Christian faith. We are created to need God and others.  We are designed for interdependence and community. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian...Trade self-reliance for the gift of dependence on the Spirit and interdependence with the saints."  Jen Wilkins

A great example of this is in Exodus 18 where Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, is speaking wisdom over him recognizing his potential burn out. He's advising Moses on sharing the load with other qualified men.

"Moses' father in law replied, 'What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.  Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you...So it will be easier for you, and they will bear burden with you.  If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure."
Exodus 18:17, 22-23

Paul was in the church planting business!  He had some great guidelines for helping Christian community flourish.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mine, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you."  Greet one another with a holy kiss."  2 Corinthians 13:11-12

In addition to helping carry the work load, to encouraging one another and living in peace, singing praise and praying together; we are called upon to speak truth and remind one another of what is to come!

"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words."  1 Thessalonians 4:17-18