Christian Life · Empty life · obedience

Faithful & Full

empty tank

Running on empty is not a good thing.

Years ago when I was single, I was driving in town and all of the sudden my car sputtered, coughed, and then STOPPED.

I know nothing about cars, so I had no idea what the problem could be, but I assumed I had engine trouble.

I was teaching at a Christian school far away from my parents, so I called my pastor and told him my car was dead and I needed help.  He came to my rescue and the first question he asked was,

“Do you have gas in your tank?”
“Oh yes, I have gas,”  I replied.

My dad always said he doesn’t feel sorry for anyone who runs out of gas because you can see if you need to fill up!  I tried to live by the good principle of keeping the tank full, and was sure that I hadn’t stooped to this negligent nature of not watching how empty my tank really was!

So, after my pastor did all the checking he could on the engine, he decided to look at the gas tank level.  It was on empty.  I can still remember the embarrassment I felt.  No matter how much I said the tank had gas, the truth was eventually revealed.

Empty is never good.  Think about it…

  • Empty cupboards
  • Empty house
  • Empty wallet
  • Empty life
    or even
  • Empty words

Proverbs 20:6

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness:
but a faithful man who can find?

Proclaiming our own goodness is using empty words.  They come from the person who says they’re full, but they’re running on empty.

  • I go to church.
    • But their life is their own the rest of the week.
  • I’m a good person.
    • But they fail to realize that all are sinners in need of a Savior.
  • I’m better than _______.
    • They compare themselves to others instead of God’s standard.
  • I’m a Christian.
    • But they live their life as they please.
    • There’s little desire to grow, to be in God’s Word, or to talk to God in a relational way.
    • In a trial they fall apart.
    • In difficulty they are weak because they are far from God and they operate in their own strength and get what they can do, rather than what God wants to do.
    • They look just like an unbeliever in their lifestyle, their activities, conversations and desires.

If we’re honest, we all run on “empty” from time to time.  The encouragement here in this Proverb is not to say you’re full, when you’re really not.  We must be honest and admit the need.  When we confess the need we call it what God calls it – this is repenting and turning from our own way.  Then we open our arms and embrace God’s way instead.  We allow Him to fill us and enable us to be faithful. You can keep your “tank” filled by reading His Word and talking with Him.  Keep short accounts of your sin. Obey whatever He tells you to do.  Your heart will be filled with His joy and His life!

Let’s not be like foolish I was, running on empty and thinking I could boast about being full.  Let’s admit our emptiness and allow the Lord to sweetly come to our rescue!

The emptiness you feel can only be met in Christ.  If He is already your Savior, tell Him your need and your heart’s longing.  He promises to fill us with His presence and peace.  If you’ve never trusted in Him to be your Savior for your sin, tell Him you want to have a relationship with Him, that you know you’re a sinner and need Him to save you.

Rather than boasting while on empty, let’s stay faithful and full!

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Christian Life · obedience

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!

red golashes a.jpg

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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Christian Life · Church · Cooking · Encouragement · friends · ministry · obedience

When My Obedience Looked Like Disobedience

pumpkin bread 1

Every week for over a year, I have met with a small group of women  from my church for a time of prayer.   On a week morning we gathered together in our church’s counseling room, chair bumping into chair, and we shared one another’s burdens and we prayed for our church. We prayed for the lost. We praised our God.  We wept together.  We rejoiced when the pleas to God had been answered.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.

But then I had to stop going.

The Lord began tugging at my heart with a burden for the shut-in of our church, for the sick, for the stragglers who visited, then were missing.  I wanted to do something for them that would be helpful and practical.  The Lord brought to my mind the thought of cooking or baking for these folks and periodically taking meals or treats for them to enjoy.  But with an already full schedule,  each day obligated to this or that, how would I ever accomplish this?  I began to pray and seek God’s direction.

One day my husband and I went on a little afternoon excursion away from home.  We had time to sit and talk and share our hearts.  I poured out to him the burden God had given me, and the frustration of not knowing how I could serve others from my home and my kitchen when every day was so full.  God gave him such wisdom and it was so clear to him as he said,

God has given you a burden to use your home to serve Him.  You need to focus your ministry out of our house.  You can pray in our home as well as at church.  Ask others to join you, if they’d like.  You all could pray and then cook together.  It’s what you love to do, and God is the One who has placed that burden on your heart.  Do it!

I felt as though a burden had been lifted off of me, and I knew at that moment that this was exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  But that meant that I could no longer attend the morning prayer meeting at church.  My next thought was, “What will my friends think?  It looks so unspiritual to stop going to prayer meeting!”  But I knew that my not going to this morning prayer time was in obedience to what God was asking me to do.  When I shared this with my prayer group, they rejoiced with me, as I should have known they would!

It’s so easy to think that I have to do it all. It’s easy to put the guilt on myself and worry about what others will think if my obedience looks like disobedience.  But God’s Word says~

The fear of man brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25

I could’ve let my fear keep me at our weekly prayer time (not a bad thing) but I would have missed out on the blessing that this step of obedience has brought!  From the very first morning when I began this new cooking ministry, I had absolute peace that I was obeying God!  My heart was filled with the joy God gives AFTER we obey.  We want it before the obedience, don’t we? After all, it would make it a little easier!  But no, we obey, then God gives joy!

It was truly hard to say “No” to that weekly prayer time in order that I could say “Yes” to this burden of baking, cooking and visiting our church folk. Another wonderful thing is that some of the ladies have been able to join me.  We stop and pray for each person we’re taking a meal to.  We cook and stir up delicious food, and then we deliver it.  It has been wonderful…even if it did start out looking like disobedience!

Do you ever feel like you’re responsible for doing it all?  There’s freedom in listening to God’s directives and obeying Him.  He gave us gifts to use that will never be contrary to His Word.  Are you serving Him in obedience?  There’s no greater joy!

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children · Church · Family life · Motherhood · obedience · Parenting

Training Your Preschooler to Sit in Church

Summer is nearly over and this is my last week to repost some old posts.  This week I’m highlighting some of the most popular ones. I trust you’ll find something here that you never read, or that you need to be reminded of!  The first one is about teaching your children to sit quietly in church.  Have your kids mastered it?  If not, here are some suggestions…

 

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You looked so forward to being in church last Sunday, but by the time the service was over you had wrangled with your preschooler in the pew, your blouse was spotted with juice drops, the floor was littered with Goldfish Crackers, and you’re more ready for a deserted island alone without food or water than you are for the Sweet By and By!

Been there? Most of us have! But there is hope for you and your child to be able to sit through an entire service and actually hear the message and get a blessing out of it! Read on!

The picture below is the best place to train your preschool-aged child to learn to sit in church…

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This is your living room or family room couch. That’s right, the best place to train your child about church is in your own home. If you wait until Sunday morning to try to teach them to sit down rather than run the aisles and to whisper, rather than shout out their requests, you’re headed for disaster and major frustration. Here are my suggestions for training a preschool-aged child to sit in church:

  1. Clear the area you’re going to sit in and make it free of  distractions. TV is off and toys are stashed away.
  2. Get one or two quiet activities like a Bible flannel book or other quiet book, and perhaps one quiet toy like a coloring book and a few crayons (no markers!). These toys will be reserved only for your Quiet Time, so they’re “new” each time they’re brought out. Purchase or make several books/quiet toys to keep only for this teaching time and Sundays. Take a look at this! Find similar ideas on Pinterest!
  3. pocket sized magnetic fishing set | doodle craft - would be great little addition for quiet bag at church
    This is a magnetic fishing pond! Super easy to make and super fun for your child. Also super cheap!
  4. Set the timer for five minutes to start. Gather yourself and your child and tell him he is going to sit on the couch with you until the timer goes off. Give him one book or toy and tell him he may play with it while you sit on the couch, but that he may not get down or talk. It’s time to listen. Show him how to sit, and remind him this is QUIET TIME. Tell him If he talks the toy will get taken away – he must play without talking.
  5. Turn on a Podcast of your pastor, if available. If your pastor’s sermons aren’t online, use another broadcast. Have your Bible out and you sit still and listen.
  6. When/if your child starts talking, try not to answer with words, but put your finger to your lips and shake your head “no.” Don’t answer a question for those five minutes. Give a couple silent warnings the first couple of days, but after two heads shaken, take the toy away as you promised you would do. If the child throws a fit or screams, take him out of the room, go to his bedroom or yours and remind him what you’re asking. If he continues to disobey you may need to apply loving discipline to correct his disobedience. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Prov 29:15
  7. When the timer goes off, discuss how they did. “You talked to Mommy, but remember, this is Quiet Time; time to listen to pastor preach. Or, “Yay! You sat so quietly and played! I’m so proud of you and so is God! We got to listen to Pastor preach and that makes God happy!”
  8. The next day and for the whole week, keep up with the five minutes. The next week extend it to ten minutes. Keep at this until you’ve worked up to 30 minutes. A three or four year-old will be able to sit and play without food for thirty minutes. They’ll wiggle, they’ll sigh, but don’t give in and don’t give up! It will be worth it!
  9. If you have more than one child, have a separate bag for each child. Give only one toy at a time, and have each child on either side of you. Be consistent! If they talk, warn once, then remove the toy.
  10. If they throw a fit, discipline in another room, but then bring them back in and complete the five minutes. This will be the same routine once you take them into the service at church.  If they disobey, you must discipline, and it shouldn’t be just that you go out and play in the foyer – that’s what they want! Either discipline, then bring them back to the back row where you were wisely seated, or sit out there with your arms around them so they are not able to get down and play.
  11. Make this training time at home something to look forward to – not a miserable drudgery. That can be accomplished by the activity you choose to put into the bag, but again – just a quiet toy – not treats or lots of toys. Make it biblical, if you can, so they’re also “hearing about God.”

Who knows? You might even glean some wonderful Truths during your at home Quiet Times! It won’t be long – just a couple of months until you’re able to sit in church and actually enjoy the service. You know what? Your child will enjoy it a whole lot more, too!

Any questions? Any other suggestions?

Lovingly,

friends · Mentoring · obedience

Endurance of a Counselor

Image result for pioneer club sewing badge

I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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