Seven Questions Before You Take Your Next Step

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I’ll never forget the funny experience from a few years back.  I was in Nova Scotia to speak at a Ladies’ Retreat – at a special place in my heart with dear ladies I’ve grown to love  (Hello to my Canadian friends!).  It was early spring, and when I left Tennessee it was nice enough to wear white jeans for the journey.  I knew it would still be winter in Canada, so I packed appropriate clothing for my time there, however, my luggage didn’t arrive when I did!

The first difficulty I had to deal with was the “Muck” – the deep, wells of mud that needed to be traversed in order to go from my lodging to any other building on the campsite.  Remember, I was wearing WHITE JEANS.  One of the sweet ladies there loaned me a pair of red galoshes.  So, I tucked my pants into a pair of high socks, slipped my feet into that way-too-big pair of galoshes and headed out the door of my cabin in order to make my way over to the main building where the retreat would take place.  I’ve probably never taken such cautious steps as I did that day, attempting to keep my white pants white, and my feet under me, rather than over my head!

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It was slippery.

It was wet.

It was hilarious!

But I carefully and slowly planted each step into the tracks made by others before me, and somehow I managed to make it to my destination unspotted from the brownish/blackish slime!

That picture of careful footing is truly the attitude and heart I need to have every day, and especially when making decisions.  Ephesians 5:15 tells us to Walk circumspectly (wisely). Proverbs 4:26 reminds us to Ponder the path of our feet.  If you’re at a crossroads and seeking God’s will for choices, here are seven questions that are certainly not exhaustive, but a place where you might start searching to walk wisely, giving careful attention to where you’re putting your foot.

  1. Will this step be one of obedience or disobedience?
  2. Will this step help or hinder my testimony as a child of God?
  3. Will this step help or hinder others from knowing my God?
  4. Will this step push me closer to the Lord or farther away?
  5. Would I invite Jesus to join me in this step, or would I be ashamed?
  6. Could I ask a godly person to pray with me about this step?
  7. Would I turn away from this if it was revealed to me as a wrong choice?

We all want to make it to our destination unspotted from the muck of ungodly choices, and the best part is that the Lord has gone before us to guide our feet.  Don’t stress over the difficulty of the journey; God is there and will keep your steps on the right path as you place one foot in front of the other in obedience to His revealed will.  As a matter of fact, the best part is that this drawing close to God is truly part of the journey.

Are you carefully making wise, godly choices TODAY?

P.S. Don’t wear white jeans in Canada until June!  Lesson learned! Ha!

Walk wisely,

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My Dressing Room

I love outfit posts and I think many other women do too!  But there is one part of dressing that has to come first, and that’s the preparing of our heart for the day before us.  It’s the most important part of my day and I thought I’d share a little glimpse of how I spend that time.

I may add that I often also read a devotional type book and review memory verses that I’m either learning or just keeping fresh in my mind.  What  a rich time this is each day, and oh, what I miss when I hurry past it!

Next week a post is coming that will answer the question, “How do I know what to read in the Bible each day?”

Do you have a Quiet time?  If so, what do you do?  

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The Antidote To Fear

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A couple weeks ago I unknowingly stepped into a patch of Poison Oak.  It tricked me with its leaves that had turned from green to red. I looked at it, reached for it and took it home with me! I can’t even describe to you the discomfort I had on my arms and legs for days afterward.  It sent me to Urgent Care to get an antidote for its poison.  What soothing relief the medication brought!

There is another poison that is spreading that’s worse than what I experienced.  It’s called FEAR.  America grieves once again for the loss of innocent lives. We weep with the families and the church who lost dear ones in the shooting during the Sunday church service.  While these tragedies sadden us, they also cause fear to spread in our hearts like the poison oak.  We ask ourselves and maybe also say it to others,

Are we safe anywhere these days?

Folks are asking, If you can’t even attend church without the fear of being gunned down, where can you feel safe?

On Facebook I saw these comments:

I carry to church. Someone should always be armed and ready these days.

We put some new security policies in place tonight, and we will be adding to it.

How sad. There are no safe places anymore

Whether we agree with these responses or not, we’d all probably admit to the feeling of pure vulnerability and FEAR. How do we respond?  What should we do today, tomorrow or next Sunday when we head to church?

The answer came so clearly from one of our visiting missionaries on Sunday.  He said:

Fearing the Lord is the antidote for fear.  If I fear man, it will affect my behavior.  The fear of God should be greater than any other fear.

To fear God is to have a conscious awareness of Him and His presence.

Therefore, if I fear Him, I’ll be aware that He is with me when I am at church, the park, the auditorium or in any other place.  Knowing God is there and thinking about that truth will alleviate any fear of man, because God is greater.  It also reminds me of other important truths:

  • He can protect me.
  • He loves me.
  • He knows the future.
  • He will give grace.
  • He will give strength.

The fear of God comes from the knowledge of His Word.  It is there that we learn His attributes that give us confidence and true peace – even in these turbulent days.

No one wants to face a terrifying time like the dear folks in Texas, but if we live in fear, and under the shadow of these kind of acts, we will miss out on each day God gives us to love and fear Him with a holy fear.  He is greater.

Don’t fear men.  Fear God.  It’s the only medicine for the poison of fear of men.

Is fear ruling your heart?  Ask God to give you a holy fear of Him instead.

Lovingly,

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The Lens of Truth

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Last weekend my husband and I took a drive into the mountains where we spent two nights away.  It was a sunny day, and I rode along with my sunglasses on, “Ooo-ing” and “Ahhh-ing” over the colors of the trees as we climbed the higher altitude.

At some point during our drive, I took my glasses off, only to discover that my colored lenses had really enhanced the autumn hues.  The  trees were pretty, but not peaked yet, as I had thought.   My colored lenses had changed the scenery to look even better than real life! Taking it a step further –  I liked the difference those glasses made so much that I took the picture above from behind its lenses!

Hmmm, don’t I prefer to look through those kind of colored lenses at myself when there is a possibility that I have not responded correctly to a situation?!  I much rather believe that I am justified in my anger, have a right to refuse to forgive, to enjoy my laziness, neglect to share the Gospel, or to tell a friend about what someone did to me. Colored lenses in place.  Everything’s beautiful!  I’m just fine, thank you!

Pulling off the colored lenses and seeing things as they really are means seeing the truth as revealed in God’s Word – the truth about the condition of my heart.

Every word of God is pure:

he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Proverbs 30:5

I open God’s Word and the clear, beautiful Truth shines in, bringing conviction.  I see my sin as it really is.  Why?  Because God’s Word is pure, true, right.  Shining up against my sin, I see the result of my ugly choices and how they distort and change the real condition of my life before my Savior Who loves me enough to point out my sin and protect me from further consequences.

Now it’s decision time – will I obey or continue to fool myself with the colored lenses of self-adulation?

I will confess.  I will turn from the error and see what needs to be forsaken.  And you know what?  God allows confession and getting things right to be the most beautiful part of my day.  I can then see His grace shining through, allowing me to walk in victory, and for His glory, to point to the cross!

From now on, when I view the beauty of the scenery, I’ll enjoy the additional intensity my colored lenses give, but will remember how much better it is to view myself through the clear lens of Truth found in God’s Word!

Is there a sin in your life that you are justifying?  How does it line up with God’s Word?  I pray you’ll see the need to look at it clearly  and honestly and get things right between you and the Lord, if necessary.  It’s a beautiful sight to see a believer in fellowship with God!

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Lean In

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Is there anything more precious than having a sweet baby lean against you?  And if you get the blessing of rocking them to sleep, you know when they’ve drifted off because they become as limp as a forgotten houseplant and they lean all their weight on you.

Recently I’ve heard several people use the term, “Lean in” when referring to trusting in the Lord during a hard time.

I love that!

It conjures up in my mind the picture of that little baby leaning in so hard that they rest completely on the one holding them.  Isn’t that exactly what we need to do with our dear Savior?

I don’t know what burden you’re carrying today, but can I encourage you to lean in with all your heart, your emotion, your baggage, and burdens?  Lean in until you feel your weight being transferred to Him.  Allow the Lord to carry you and your struggles today, and then enjoy the rest that will follow!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him (lean on Him), and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5,6

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Finding the Will of God

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High school students taking geometry class have no concerns as to whether or not they’ll come up with the right answers for these math problems.  Oh, they’re no good at formulas, theorems, and postulates, because they either skipped class or perusing Facebook during class, but it’s no big deal!  Why?  They have every confidence that to get the answers all they have to do is ask Google!!

That sad scenario was passed on to me from a long-time geometry teacher recently.  He said that his students don’t study or put time into learning the in’s and out’s of geometry when they feel sure that Google can give them the answers for homework or tests.  He reminded them that they are sadly mistaken.  In order to do well in his class, they need to spend some time alone with their book, their notes, assignment their homework.

Before we get too hard on those failing freshmen, perhaps we need to check and see how we go about getting our answers.  Oh, we might not need formulas for geometric shapes, but how do we go about getting directives from God?  When we need to know His will, aren’t we often eager to just find the quickest way to hear it?

I think of Elijah when he was on the mountain.  Do you remember the story?  He had been running from Jezebel – the wicked queen who was hunting his life.  God told him to go stand out on the mountain.

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Elijah thought he would see God in Big ways – a wind, an earthquake, a fire, but no.  God didn’t speak to him in BIG ways – he spoke in a still, small voice.

What truth does this show us?  We might want to know God’s will so much, and we think (or even say!),

If God would just show me what to do, I’d do it!  Can’t He just tell me what I’m supposed to do?

But God doesn’t write it in the sky.  He doesn’t thunder His voice to us while we’re sleeping.  So, how does God reveal His will to us? 

It comes when we do what Elijah did.

  • Get alone with God.  We must take the time regularly to set ourselves apart with the Lord so that we might be still.
  • Don’t do all the talking.  We need to open His Word and read.  What to read?  Start with the psalms and pray them back to God.  Praise Him.  Love Him.  Sing to Him.  Ask Him what/where you should read next.  Be still and listen for the Spirit of God to direct your thoughts.  Read after asking God to illumine the Word to your heart.
  • Pray about what you don’t understand. One day when I was studying the life of Elijah, I got to the part of the story that we’re talking about today.  I didn’t understand it.  So, I prayed and asked   “Lord, what does this mean?  Why did you tell Elijah to go out on the mountain?  What about the wind, earthquake and fire?”  Then I sat still and listened.  I continued to read the passage silently.  It was then that God showed me…
    In order to hear my voice, you must seek me in the Quiet Place – not in grand miracles or loud demonstrations of my power.  Listen for my voice, still and soft. 

Maybe that passage has always been easy for you, but when God showed me that Truth, I wept and rejoiced over its understanding.  How simple.  How profound.  There are no 1,2,3 steps to get an answer from God.  God loves us enough that in order to show us His will, He wants to have a relationship.  We draw near.  We read His Word and come to know Him.  We listen.  Then we learn.  We get up from our Quiet place after who knows how many hours, or days, not just knowing His will, but also being so close to Him that we’re not afraid to go do it!

Elijah got his marching orders from God that day.  So will you and I, when we do what that geometry student needs to do – take time to draw near and listen to the Teacher.

If you’re seeking God’s will, don’t go ask people.  Don’t look for a quick way to find the answer.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

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What to Do When You Don’t Reach Your Goals

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My LG phone has set up a Health app for me.  I didn’t really want it, but I went ahead and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day.  The frustrating thing about it is that I don’t have my phone with me every second of the day!  There may be hours that it’s sitting on the counter charging while I’m running all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, inside, outside, working like a horse, while my phone is sitting there sneering at me, not logging one single step.  At the end of the month I got the message you see pictured above,

You didn’t reach your goal last month.

It may be helpful to change your goal to 9,000.

But you know, even though I know that this app isn’t correct, this message made me think.  Sadly, I’m afraid that is my heart’s inclination when something is hard. Change my goal. You see, then I can feel better about myself.  We each have two choices ~

Lower the goal and feel good about me

or

Raise the bar and feel good!

That doesn’t apply only to physical health goals, it applies in all areas of life.  But let’s think about one area in particular – our Christian life.  Do we…

  • set a goal to read through the Bible?
  • sign up to attend a 12-week Bible study?
  • commit to witness to the lost?
  • agree to help with a ministry at church?
  • volunteer teach a Sunday school class?
  • realize we need to pray more?
  • pledge to give to Faith Promise missions or to tithe faithfully

Then things happen.  Life gets busy.  We feel overwhelmed.  We get caught up with other responsibilities and we carelessly lay aside the commitments we made.  We get the mental message:

You might want to lower your goals.

After all, it would be easier.  It would make life less complicated.  We might feel better about our self.

But not really.

When we have set a spiritual goal for ourselves and then the Holy Spirit brings it to our mind, unlike my Health app, He will always be accurate.  He knows.  He sees.  Oh, not to make us miserable, but to help us, like the 10,000 steps would benefit me.  He desires to bring us to a place of obedience.

So when you realize you’ve missed the goal, all you have to do is start again.  When this new month rolls around in a few days, I’ll have another clean slate with my LG Health app!  Our gracious God forgives and wipes the slate clean when we tell Him we’ve messed up again and we need His help! 

As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

What spiritual goal have  you set aside? What responsibility have you shirked?  Perhaps this post is the Lord’s gentle way of nudging you to get you back on track.  Confess it, ask for His help to do it, and then take the next step in following through. We don’t live our Christian life based on feelings, but when you obey He gives joy, so you will indeed be feeling better when you get back on track!

Oh, and look at the message I just got on my phone…

 

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Another lesson for me is, wear something with pockets so my phone will track every single step I take!!

Do you have spiritual goals you need to give attention to?  Start back today!

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