Monday, November 30, 2009

Along for the Ride

Do you ever try to figure out God's next step in His plan for your life? Sometimes we as people do this. Its almost like children trying to guess what their parent's got them for Christmas. The anxiety of the unknown is so great that we try to get the answer before we are ready to receive it. Just like the children try to get the gifts before it is time for them to be bestowed upon them. Do you see any similarities here? I do. The children are being somewhat immature in their behavior because they "just can't wait", the thought of waiting is too much to bear. Yet, they DO wait (because their parents don't give them their Christmas presents early), and they do in fact survive. No emergency room visits because they were faint of heart by not getting those gifts early, right? Aren't we as adults sort of doing the same thing when we try to figure out where God is going with His plan? Wouldn't we waste less resources, time, and energy if we simply stepped back and said, "Ok, God. I don't understand. But I am along for the ride." My Pastor preached a similar vein of this recently and it got me thinking, "yes, we do need to trust God more!" Our plans are certainly not better than His. He knows the big picture (and we don't) so He has already taken all variables into account when formulating and carrying out His plan. Just like Isaiah 55:8 says, " ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." Don't we need to quit trying to re-imagine new ways, and instead trust Him in His ways? I guess in accepting this fact, the only thing we then need is a bit of prayer to help us to gain peace while we "take that ride". Say your prayer, and settle in , because when you look back, it may be a colorful ride that you'll be able to share with others someday of what a testament God is in your life :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Don't get yourself in a stinky situation

When my oldest daughter was about 2-3 years old she went to a Christian daycare center while I was at work. She had learned about the story of Jonah and the whale, and had some cute hand motions to go with the story. We started talking together about this story and in order to explain it in terms she could understand, I said that because of Jonah's disobedience (in not following God's orders to preach to the people of Nineveh), Jonah had gotten himself into a "stinky situation". She understood this because the belly of the whale must have been pretty smelly and stinky. So that stinky situation for Jonah was the result of his disobedience. I talked with her that she needed to make sure she didn't get herself into "stinky situations" by disobeying her parents as well. It was a great learning tool for a 2 year old, just as it is still a great learning example for adults. Sometimes we get "stinky" situations in our lives. Often it is never our fault, its our boss, our neighbor, our spouse, etc etc etc. Its never our fault. Or is it? Do you think its possible that maybe when things are not going our way, its because we are in fact doing it "our way" instead of God's way? If you'll remember, God's way is perfect. Ours is not [remember the Garden? God had a lovely plan for peace and harmony forever. We screwed it up by doing it 'our way' instead of following His directions and doing it His way.] Just something to think about.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gideon obeyed God (sometimes).
Great things were accomplished by God, through Gideon. Such as when the Midianites were defeated with only 300 men (Judges 6).
But Gideon did have moments where his obedience was not "second nature" or automatic, as seen in Judges 6:36-40. To paraphrase this is where Gideon asks God to "prove it to him" that he is going to be used by God to rescue Israel. His proof is that in the morning the wool will be wet but the ground will be dry. God proves it. Gideon still doesn't feel confident, so he asks again, but this time the opposite. The wool will be dry and the ground will be wet. Again God comes through. So Gideon is satisfied with this 'proof' or 'test' and he goes out to battle.
I think WE sometimes try to test God's work in our lives as well...
"I'll go on a mission trip"
"I'll pay my tithes more regularly"
"I'll start giving offerrings"

"you get me a raise or promotion"
"you erase my debt"
"you heal my body"

We shouldn't NEED to test God, or require proof from Him. We should simply love Him enough to obey His commands.
God wants to use us to do great things for His Kingdom, but first we need to be obedient to His Word to do that.
You may ask, well, what commands am I to obey? The answer lies in the Bible. Just start reading and a whole new world may be opened up to you. Even if you are not new to Bible reading, God can give you new 'eyes to see' what is there for you in this day and time. Have fun! ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turn on the slowcooker, Baby!

This title will make more sense as you read this post, but a while ago our church did a session on husbands and wives understanding each other. It had a lot of good information about how men typically perceive things and how women perceive things. It talked about our innate differences and how those differences complement each other to create a cohesive couple. It talked about how men were more visual, and women were more emotional. This explains why Playboy peaks men's interests, while Playgirl does not peak a woman's interest. It talked about how men typically, since they are visually-tuned, are ready for sex "at the drop of a hat". Especially if they see their wife naked. That typically doesn't do it for a woman. She needs a warm-up period. Like a soft touch on her back while she's making dinner, a thoughtful comment or gesture during the day, then when the "hanky panky" time arrives, she is certainly ready. These differences were described as a man being a microwave (instantly hot), while a woman was a slow-cooker (eventually hot). I don't know about you. But this description made me laugh so hard, not only because its funny, but because its so true!
So I thought I'd share this funny description with you, and maybe next time your hubby calls home from work he might say "Turn on the slowcooker, Baby, I'm coming home!" ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is your life changed?

Are you living the same way today that you lived before God became a part of your everyday life? I hope not. I hope that the love of Jesus has infiltrated you in such a way that you are different. Not just on the inside, but on the outside too. I hope that you are a shining example of God's love. I know people who are like this. I'm not sure if I should name names or not, so I guess I won't. But there is this elderly lady at my church who u can almost SEE God shining off of her. She is just so 'THERE'. I want to be there! I want people to be drawn in to me to see His gloriousness. What a testament that would be , don't you think? You almost wouldn't even have to say anything, God would just eminate from you. I guess when we are in heaven we will be like this, but I want to try to live like this now. Yes, there have been times where people around me have "picked up on" the fact that I was a Christian and maybe didn't do or say the things others did. But yet there are other times when I know I wasn't a good example of what a Christian should be. For example, one time while working I was in the attached garage to our office and I accidentally slammed my thumb in the car door. I (unfortunately) yelled out the loudest most vulgar curse word I know, then gritted my teeth in pain and finished my job. HOWEVER, my employee came running back to see if I was ok. That meant that he AND his customer had heard me. (How sad-what a sorry example I was setting). I was very disturbed this had happened, not so much that I had let my flesh (and words of my past) take over, but that in doing so I had just possibly broken the positive example I had been setting for this employee up to this point. I know he was a Christian as well, and although we didn't talk about our faith outright, we had 'noticed' the kinsmanship I guess u would call it, in each other. I was also his mentor to a degree (as well as his boss) so I was trying to teach him not only to be successful in our business but to do it with a Godly intent. On this day, all that seemed like it had shattered with that one word from my mouth. Now I don't know for sure how much this affected him. But I know if affected me. I know I was not setting a good example. So I share this to enlighten. If we make a stronger effort to put the past behind us and move forward in our walk with God, eventually God will talk to us and tell us what things from our past are not necessary or maybe good, for our future. Like our language, or the movies we see, or the books we read, or even the company we keep. God in fact 'convicted' me (there's a church term for ya) of Danielle Steele romance novels. I used to be addicted to those things. I had every one ever printed on my shelf and the moment a new came out I bought it and read it immediately. Shortly after I let God into my life I realized I really didn't need any of the new books coming out, and I didn't need to keep the old books I had. It wasn't that romance was bad. It was that in EVERY one of those books there was some form of premarital sex or emotional and/or physical adultery. God had showed me that this wasn't right. Up until that point I didn't know that it was necessarily 'wrong' (can u imagine?! I thought it was ok!). But in today's society, it really ISN'T thought of as THAT wrong! That's why we see it on almost every tv show from Friends to CSI. That was just something He showed me. I'm sure he'll show you different things. But if and when He does show you something (you may start to lose interest in it, or you may become more aware of the transgressions that before didn't seem to affect you, or you simply realize its not right and you don't want it a part of your life anymore), then I pray that you will listen and take heed. Make the adjustments necessary to change your life to live it more fully to honor God. I personally won't go see or watch a movie that involves adultery any more if I know its in there, because the movie loses all validity for me when the characters are doing something that God has spoken so strongly to me about. I don't want to support that storyline with my money, so I won't see it. Not everybody is going to have the same convictions I have, but that just happens to be one of mine so I shared it. Like I said earlier, I just hope that whatever God does tell you, you listen. A changed life, is proof that our commitment to God is real. Just like when you got married, you committed to your spouse and quit dating other people. Well, a committment to God will often cause changes in our life as well.

God will help you out of debt

Have you ever heard the Bible story about the widow's oil? Its found in 2 Kings 4. To paraphrase it here, a woman's husband had died. He owed a bunch of money to a man. She didn't have any money though, or any food. The man told her she had to pay it and if she didn't he would take her sons. She went and sought guidance from Elisha. He asked her what she had in her house (her resources). She said nothing but a few drops of oil. He told her to go ask all her neighbors for empty pots. Then to go in her house, close the door, and start filling the pots. She wasn't to stop until every pot was filled. She did this and as soon as the last pot was filled, the oil ran out. Elisha then told her to go sell the oil and use the money to payback the man with whom she had a debt. Then the extra money could be used for her and her sons. When it was all said and done, she had enough money to buy a lot of food for her and her sons, her sons weren't sent into slavery, and the debt was paid off.

In this story we can see that God, through Elisha, showed the widow how to pay off her debt. Often times, as was the case in this story, we have to put our 'hand to the plow' to fulfill God's work. We can't just sit and pray and hope it will be accomplished. We can pray, and God will DIRECT us HOW to accomplish it. Some sort of ACTION is usually required. The action isn't on God's part either. Its on OUR PART. God could have easily erased the debt from that man's memory. Or He could have multiplied the oil in her house by himself. But he wants us to have FAITH in Him, and that usually requires us to be tested in some sort of way. Its very easy to be 'faithful' when everything is right. But when things go wrong, that is when our faith really shows through. So instead of just multiplying the oil in her house, he required her to do something. She had to gather pots from her neighbors. Now you know as well as I do, that in a town like this, all the neighbors already knew her situation. They knew her husband died and they knew she had no money. So they would probably think she was crazy for asking for empty pots ("why do you need a pot, you don't have anything to put in it?!"). So it wasn't just action that was required such as walking door to door and carrying the pots. She had to humble herself to ask for something and not worry about what those people were thinking when she did it. Her trust in God had to be so great, that it would not be overshadowed by any discomfort that was caused by carrying out what she was told to do. Because she did this. She was obedient. God's blessings flowed, and flowed, and flowed, until there were no more pots to contain it. Only then did it stop. When we are stretching our faith, He will meet those needs just as He met the widow's needs. If He did it for her, He will do it for you. In Acts 10:34 Peter says "...of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons." This means if He did it for others, He will do it for you as well.
Deuteronomy 28:9 says "If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways, He will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do." Deuteronomy 28:12 continues, "He will open to you His wonderful treasury of rain in the heavens, to give you fine crops every season. He will bless everything you do; You shall lend to many nations, but shall not borrow from them." God wants you to be a LENDER, NOT A BORROWER. I like how when we keep this verse in context with the preceding verses (28:9), it is all related to our OBEDIENCE... connect the dots here... it takes ACTION on our part.
If we are OBEDIENT to God, we can be put in a position to become lenders, not borrowers. Remember... we can be put in a position to become lenders, not borrowers. This doesn't mean its going to happen overnight. It may take time. It also doesn't mean its going to happen to everybody. Your hand has to push the plow, your work is going to be involved. So its up to you whether you can or can't. If you are currently a borrower, work on paying off your debts. Once your debts are paid off, your obedience and faithfulness to God can allow you to then become the Lender. This isn't a fast-food, instant gratification scenario. It will take time to move from one position to the other. Keep pressing through and you will reach the goal of becoming debt-free.

Debt-cancellation is for today-its not just some neat OLD story from a book written a long time ago. Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He did it before (with the widow), He'll do it again!

God is willing and able to bless you with miracle debt cancellation. But I bet there is going to be some ACTION involved with it! ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

It takes practice

Proverbs 12:14 says, "People can get many good things by the words they say; the work of their hands also gives them many benefits."
We often work at something, such as knitting until we create something such as a blanket. The work of our hands produced a benefit. If we are cutting logs, we get the benefit of firewood. If we don't do either of these things well the first time, we practice until we get better at it, thus improving the resulting 'benefit' ie. the blanket or firewood. In the world today we have a very good understanding that in order to improve in an area we need to practice in that area. The music team at your church doesn't just jump up there every Sunday and perform great songs at the drop of a hat. They come in during the week and practice. If you lift weights or exercise, you will probably remember when you first started. You didn't do very well and you were really sore after the first day. But now after much 'practice' you are better at it and can lift heavier weights and go for extended periods of time while exercising. This happened to me with running. I began running with only 1 minute at a time. Then I increased it to 2 minutes, then 8 minutes, then 20. Eventually I practiced enough to be able to run a half marathon. A huge accomplishment for someone who grew up always believing that "I hate running". The benefits of practicing something are undisputable.
The funny thing is... tithing and giving offerrings can also be like this.
If you are not a consistent, regular tither [10% everytime, no questions asked] then this post can help you get to that point of becoming a consistent regular tither.

If you are a consistent, regular tither, I am glad you are obeying God's Word. But maybe your obedience stops at 10% and you need to get to that next level in you offerring, of freely giving all you can to help to spread the Word of God. Then this post can help to get you to that next level in your offerring.

This post is about practicing in order to make obeying God's Word easier.
Giving can be very easy, if you realize in your heart that you are simply obeying God. He loved us enough to give His Son to us, don't you think we could love Him enough to follow His Word?
By giving back to God (notice I say "giving back" this is because everything we have is provided to us by HIM. When we grasp hold of this, it is often easier to then release the hold we have on our pocketbook), by giving back to God we are giving into His Kingdom in order to help advance it.
So, whenever we start something new, we practice at it until it becomes "second nature" and we no longer have to think about it as we do it. If tithing, or giving offerrings, is new to you, then today is the day to start practicing. Each time you give, it will get easier and easier. Know that when we are obedient to God, we are pleasing Him. Also know that everything we have belongs to God already, so you are only returning to Him what is His anyway.

Don't worry if you stumble or fall at first. The first time Michael Jordan shot a freethrow he probably didn't sink it. However, he practiced and practiced and continued shooting them regardless. We have to do the same with our giving. If its not easy at first, don't give up. Simply keep trying. Keep practicing. It will get easier. Believe me, I know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The day my daughter saw an Angel

Years ago, when my daughter was about 3 years old we were traveling through Colorado on our way to my husband's annual elk hunting location. We had a bit of a caravan with us that year: my husband was driving our "retro-mobile" (old motorhome) with our dog in the front seat, I was driving a Suburban rental that we had just picked up in Denver (with my 3yr old daughter in the backseat), and my husband's parents were driving a truck with a trailer towing behind it carrying a bunch of hunting gear and probably a 4wheeler or two.

We had just left Denver and turned north off I-70 onto this pass (I forget the name), but it was going up the mountain and down the other side and it was all switch-back. It was very steep and the switch-back corners were very tight (for a motor home, and towed trailer), and the edges off the sides of the road just dropped to sheer cliffs (very few guardrails).

We started driving up it and hadn't gone very far when my daughter said to me, "Who's that man?"

I said "What man?" (as we are driving up the mountain and there are no people walking nearby.)

"THAT man!", she says, pointing.

"I don't see him", I say, "can you tell me where he is?"

She then points straight out the front window.

I (unfortunately) don't see anything. So I ask her "can you describe him?"

She doesn't really. To him, he's just a man, and at 3yrs old, she doesn't have much of a descriptive lingo. So, without much of a description, I say to her that he must be an angel. She just nods and we go on our way.

When we arrive at a stopping point I tell my mother-in-law what has happened. She is pretty happy about it and goes and tells her husband.

Her husband simply replies "He must have heard". She asks him what he means by that, and he explains that before we headed up the mountain pass he had prayed to God to send His angels to watch over us and get us safely over the treacherous pass.

Isn't God good?

I'm smiling right now remembering that time. I am so happy my daughter was able to experience God's power. I personally would love to experience being able to see God and His angels. Isn't it wonderful that the innocence of a child allowed her to really SEE. Yet, we sometimes as "logical, rational" adults aren't able to see the beauty of God's embrace. I would love to lose whatever it is that prevents me from seeing. Clear my eyes Lord, wash away the haze. Let me see clearly. Open my eyes!
Don't you too?
I know its not just the pure at heart (like a child) that can see God's work. I know of adults that have come face to face with spiritual beings. I, have not. I wish I have, and more importantly, I hope I do in the future. Oh, I can just imagine the touch that would have on my life! Can't you imagine it on yours too? I know how it felt to HEAR God for the first time, and to have Him prove to me that He was real (yes, I was a bit like Gideon I suppose). Its wonderful! Imagine how much MORE wonderful it would be to SEE AND HEAR! How Awesome!

Do you hesitate to think that maybe she didn't really see an angel? I don't, and never did for a second. The moment she told me, I KNEW what she was seeing, even though I couldn't see it myself. Do you want to know how I knew?

God's Word.

Its true.

Collossian 1:16 says, " Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see."
God has created everything (remember Genesis?). He created us for fellowship, and he created angels to worship Him and carry out His plans. Psalm 103:20-21 says, " Praise the Lord, you angels of His, you mighty creatures who carry out His plans, listening for each of His commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will."
That angel she saw was carrying out His plan. It was an answer to prayer (her Grandpa's prayer), to protect us and guide us safely through that pass. Psalm 91:11-12 also says, "He orders His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone". (Or a sheer cliff, in our case) :)
Isn't it reassuring to know that God is always there for you, always watching out for you. And He loves you so much, that even though He is all-powerful, He even has His 'security guards' look after you too!?
I like it.
Just remember that no matter what you are going though, whether it be a trying time with fertility issues, finances, health, your walk with God, or even a drive up a mountainside, God is there with you.
All the time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Blessed

My signature "tagline" for signing letters and cards for years has been "Be Blessed". One time my aunt mentioned that she struggled with this because she felt that God is the one who blesses us, so who was I to say "Be Blessed" , as if I was the one who was doing the blessing. After I explained my interpretation and view of this, she understood what I was really saying and was then ok with it. So let me explain... the motive behind me saying "Be Blessed", was that you would live in such a way, that God would pour out His blessings to you. I'm not acting like a "holy one" tapping you on the shoulder and saying "be blessed", as in "I bless you", but instead I am saying live your life according to God's Word, so that He can open the windows of Heaven to you and pour out His Blessings upon you! So in closing today, I say, BE BLESSED! ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Faith is the belief in things unseen

Some people have faith. Some people don't.

Some people believe in God. Some people don't.

Some people are at peace in all things. Some people aren't.

All of these second sentences above could have been replaced with "most people", instead of "some people", and still would have been true. Unfortunately.

We tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us. This is normal, you are going to pick your friends based on things you have in common and can share in. However, this sometimes causes us to lose touch with the rest of society who are very different from you. I was reminded of this recently when I shared some unpleasant news regarding a person's illness with two people who are very close to me. First, let me say the immediate family was dealing with the unexpected and sudden news of this illness. We believe in God and His miraculous healing powers. We believe he is all-knowing and has a voice with which He talks to His people when His people are willing to listen. We firmly believe that NOTHING is above God, and therefore NOTHING is too big for God to handle, including any illness. So when we were discussing and "handling" this sudden news, we never lost our faith that God could take care of it. We dissected the news and the consequential procedures that would be needed and tried to learn as much as we could about this illness. But we did not lose faith or act like death was at the door.

When I shared the news of this illness with these two people I was reminded of how different people are. My closest friend who probably IS my best friend because of our shared faith and the fact that we can talk about anything together and pray together, took the news with complete faith. (Just as the immediate family was handling it). She actually knows something about this illness so she had lots of informed, detailed questions. But she did not act like it was a death sentence or was un-treatable, or un-survivable, or hopeless. In contrast, when I told the other person, I could immediately hear it in their voice (the sense of grief, sorrow, pity that someone would have if they had no faith). They didn't SAY anything bad, but you could pick it up in their countenance and physical reaction. They do not know God and His amazing power the way the people who displayed faith know God. It actually saddens me that so many people purport to be "Christians" and "believe in God", yet they don't let Him into their lives to have control of it. Let me tell you something, when God is in control of your life, you will never feel out-of-control!

There is such a huge difference in knowing God exists, and having Him be a part of your daily life. I wish this person (and everyone...myself as well) had a stronger relationship with God.

I wish this person had enough faith in God to not have that pity in their voice. Nobody needs negativity. But everybody needs faith.

Faith gives us hope.

Faith gives us courage.

Faith gives us strength.

Faith can be unwaivering.

Its up to us how much faith we have and therefore how hopeful or hopeless we become in our lives. God is always there. He is always waiting for His sheep to come home. He is the shepherd, we are the sheep. Remember, a shepherd will always take care of his sheep. Have faith.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Life adjustment

Have you ever heard economists or financial analysts on the news talk about "market adjustments"? Its what happened with the housing market recently. Its when something gets so overblown or out of control, that in order to get it back right, it has to go in the other direction in an extreme way.

Sometimes people do this in their lives with their finances. Our society is unfortunately very "ok with" and "accepting" of "living beyond our means". Our government doesn't live within a budget and neither do most of Americans (sadly). Everyone is always trying to give you credit (buy it now, who cares if u can't afford it, u CAN afford $20 a month, can't you?). Everyone wants us to buy it on credit. Even the McDonalds commercials recently showed people using debit cards to pay for their food, and those who paid cash were frowned upon because it supposedly took more time so it slowed down the line. Can you believe the power of marketing?! Many people do!

When buying our first house, we qualified for X number of dollars. We wanted to look at cheaper houses so we would have some money left over to actually furnish it and have a refridgerator to eat out of, and yes, even have food to put in it. The mortgage lady kept trying to get us to use "all that we had qualified for" and get a more expensive house. We were like "no way, I don't want to be stretched so thin I can't afford to eat" (by the way we were and still are of the mentality of actually paying for something WHEN you buy it, not buying it on credit and then paying it off for 10 years). So for us it wasn't like we were going to buy our groceries and appliances on credit, we would buy them if we could afford them, and if we got a bigger house we didn't feel comfortable with our budget being so thin, so we bought a cheaper house. I know this still happens today, everywhere:houses, cars, you name it, someone will try to persuade you to "buy more". In reality we should just be buying what we "need" and not what we "want". By the way, needs are food to eat (groceries, not restaurants), clothes so as not to be naked (but not to be the most stylish person in the room-who really cares?Not God[about your style, that is] ), health (buying medicine because u are sick, not lets say, getting a luxury like a massage). A "car" may be a need if you have to get to work, but a car that is beyond your budget is not a "need", that's a "want". Snow boots for your kids might be a need if you live in Michigan and have snow 9 months out of the year. Snow boots for your kids are only a "want" if you live in Oklahoma and only get snow 2 days a year (keep the kids inside if you are afraid of wet toes-its only 2 days!). Are you getting my point? Sometimes we really have to look hard at what we think is a "need" versus what really might be a "want". As a society we have adopted this "I deserve it" and "I want it now (not when I can afford it)" mentality. It has hurt us as a nation, and definately hurts many people individually.

I remember after we had built our second house, we were hanging with friends and anytime my husband jokingly talked about buying something I would say "not until we get the pool". (We hadn't had enough money left over in the mortgage loan to build the pool at the same time as the house, so we had to wait to build the pool so that we could save up $30,000 to do the pool and all the fencing/landscaping/decking around it.) This went on for quite some time, and my comment was always the same "not until we get the pool" (we had a goal, and we were going to accomplish that goal before moving on to buying other things, you see). Well, one day, I guess my friend got tired of my comment, and she said to me "why don't you just build the pool already?!", and I answered quite simply "we don't have the money". She then laughed and said something like "oh, what a relief, you actually have money problems too!"
Now I didn't say anything at the time, although I probably should have (because it would have been a positive example for them), but the reason we never talked about "money problems" or things like that were because we didn't have any. We simply only bought what we had money to pay for without buying it on credit.{now I will clarify, you are probably thinking, "but you just talked about a mortgage, that's credit". Yes, we had a mortgage, student loans, and at that time we even had a car payment-but up until that point we didn't buy anything except houses, college, and cars on credit. And even today, the only "credit" we have are business loans and a very small mortgage that I am in fact working on paying off definately before my oldest child turns 15(that was my original goal), but probably even sooner than that (I love the feeling of sending in that 'last payment', it drives me to pay off anything I can as quickly as possible). So to get back to my point in this part of the story. We had a goal to buy that pool, but we wouldn't do it till we had the cash, so we were very focused on simply doing that and not getting sidetracked spending the money on other things so that we would have never reached our goal. Or heaven forbid, spending the money on other things, and then saying the pool was a "need" (HA-not even!) and buying it anyway with a loan. I'll tell you, one of the reasons we were so adamant about buying the pool with cash was because in the FIRST house we had built, we DID finance a pool. $400 a month-ugh! So discouraging to see what you REALLY pay for something when you don't pay cash for it-yuck! I guess I'm really just too cheap to want to pay any extra (interest) for something. So about 2-3 years after building the second house and starting to save for the pool we finally built it. Yes, with cash. I can't even begin to tell you the wonderful feeling it was to get in that pool the first time and feel that refreshing water, and look around and think "ahh, this is so relaxing, and there is NO monthly payment coming in the mail!" That part was probably even more stress-relieving than the water itself-ha ha. Let's face it, financial issues cause stress. That is one of the biggest problems marriages have today (but that's another post), so you can help to lessen your stress, and (thereby better your health), if you live within your means and not on "credit".

If you have made the mistake of living beyond your income by using credit cards and numerous loans, then you need to really think seriously about cutting back your lifestyle (needs vs wants) in order to get back into your budget. This is where the "market adjustment" comes in.

Now just like in the housing market that went to high (spent too much), when it adjusted it didn't just go back to regular pricing (living on a budget), it went way below (you are going to have to spend ALOT less than you earn in order to fix the overspending from before).
I had a friend who had decided to start getting their finances in order and they were going to quit "living beyond their means with credit cards". After a few months of living in the "market adjustment" period, he exasperately said one day "This really sucks living within our means!" (His words, not mine, ha ha). But what he didn't realize was that now he wasn't living WITHIN his means, he was living BELOW them, because of all the mistakes he had made ealier by living ABOVE them. So what I'm saying is, its not going to be easy to get a reality check and actually live on/within what your income is, when you've become accustomed to living beyond it. But this "sucky" period in necessary in order to make amends for what you did earlier. After a while, the "market", your budget, will even back out and it won't be so "sucky" anymore because you actually will be living WITHIN your means, not above them or below them. The time it takes will depend upon how long and how much you lived above, and how quickly you accept and embrace the new definition of "wants and needs". Its very do-able to live within your means when you can actually determine the difference between a want and a need.
I hope this post has been inspiring and motivating to you.

Right reason

I was up all night, fretting about a situation.
Real briefly for now, let me try to deposit this for anyone out there who might be able to use it...
Quit looking at the "return". Just make your deposits. Think of the economy and your 401k-it was very disheartening when the market took a dump. But the point of investments is long term savings for retirement, not immediate returns. Those who couldn't grasp that concept and pulled their money out (after already losing lots from the dump), never saw the realization of the gains that inevitably came when the market started to climb back up.
The same holds true for life. Keep putting your deposits in, don't think out or focus on the return. You need to remember God is in control of your life and as much as u may want to be in control, you are not supposed to be the king. He is. Quit overanalyzing it. I will also say this, you will probably not see the return you expect if you are "desperately expecting" it. Being desperate means you are too focused on the return and not on the intent, which should just be love. From experience I can say that 99% of the time when I give, I have absolutely NO interest or desire for all the blessings the Bible says will come my way. I simply do it because its my heart and it makes me happy to help others. Now, I am not perfect. So I will admit that I can recognize the 1% when I gave, and in the back of my mind a small voice started talking to me.(about how I could use that money elsewhere(for myself), or how I really need a breakthrough in a business, or something like that). Guess what? I shouldn't have given then. My heart wasn't totally into it-I was preoccupied with MY PROBLEMS instead of simply giving out of love to help someone else in their struggle. My sowing in that case was simply worthless. It won't and didn't produce anything because it was given with a "tainted motive".
If you aren't doing something out of pure love (absolutely NO desire for something to come out of it to benefit you) , then maybe u shouldn't even being doing it to begin with because it won't be fertile.
Something to think about.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Growing in hard times

James 1: 2-5 in the New Living Translation says, " Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking."

Did you notice James doesn't say IF its rough, he says WHEN its rough?

He assumes we will have trials, and it is possible to BENEFIT from them!

We need to make sure that we turn our hardships into times of learning and growth! Know that it is good for you and don't resent it, or resent God.


We can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its very easy to say we are a good parent, but do we act patience and loving even when times are stressful and the kids have pushed you to the brink? Or do we snap and yell? I know I personally have to consciously work on this area of my life ALL the time. I want to be the best mom possible. I want my kids to have positive wonderful memories of growing up. I don't want them (or their friends) to think of me and think of that non-happy, yelling lady. But, I have to make a huge effort to control my emotions and remain calm when their behavior and actions are not pleasing me. Its an everyday focus. Until we master something, it has to be our focus everyday. If you are struggling in an area, be sure to focus on overcoming it everyday, and when those situations arise that are going to test you, consciously make an effort to do the right thing. To react in such a way that would please God.

This character test can also be applied to tithing. Like I said earlier, we can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its easy to give when we have much. It takes more character and faith to freely give when we have not so much. (Remember the widow's mite? She gave a teeny, tiny bit, but it was SHE who gained Jesus' positive attention by her faithfulness and giving. Not the wealthy folks who had been giving out of their abundance. She was giving all she had, they were just giving their "extra". Her gift stretched her, and was therefore in faith. Their gifts were not stretching them at all, and therefore they were not exercising any sort of faith.

Charities are suffering everywhere in the U.S. right now because of the hardships people are experiencing in our society.
But growth will come to those who persevere and don't let the world's fears keep them from doing God's works and obeying His Word.

Instead of whining and complaining about our troubles we should see them as opportunities for growth. I always look back on hard times and realize how important that time/experience was to me in making me who I am today. During the hard time, I didn't always see the benefit of it, but looking back I don't wish it didn't happen, because it helped to mold and sculpt me into what I am now. It has helped me to grow. If we can look at a trying time WHILE we are in it and know it is helping us and molding us into more of God's image, I think it makes it easier to get through that trying time.
What I am saying is this, if you can know DURING the hardship that it will HELP YOU, it will be easier to walk through the hardship and easier to maintain your right-relationship with God through it too! It will always make you grow in your walk with God. You will learn and be better for it. God is always with you. Even in rough patches.
Don't be discouraged and give up.
Don't be discouraged and quit doing what is right in His sight.
During this economic downturn it is easy WITHOUT GOD to lose hope.
The difference is... WE HAVE GOD!
Therefore, we have hope!
Keep your faith strong.
Thank God for being with you even in hard times.
Just like James said in 1:5, Ask Him to help you solve your problems and give you the strength to endure them. And Make sure when you ask Him for direction and wisdom that you are ready to listen to HIM (James 1:6).
I pray that if you are going through a hardship, that is will pass quickly and that you will be stronger because of it. I also pray for God to use this season to help us to grow and to come to know Him more! And just as importantly, that we are a Godly example during our hardship, so that OTHERS will come to know Jesus, because of the light He has shown through us during difficult times!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only God has all the answers

This post is to try to be a helpful reply to the comments written regarding the last post on "Riches".

First off, as the title proclaims, ONLY God has all the answers. We boggle our minds trying to figure everything out for ourselves, but the truth is, we often waste a lot of time, because only God knows everything, and some day when we are in Heaven and it all becomes clear, we will go "hmmm, that makes perfect sense now God, I totally understand what you were doing and trying to accomplish in my life. Seems odd that I could have been so clueless back then". But truth is, some 'truths' won't be revealed to us until the time is right, so we essentially are 'clueless' until that time. I do know though, that God is in control and even when bad things happen (1. its because sin was let into our world through Adam and Eve's disobedience. and 2. because since sin IS in our world, God sometimes uses these trials to make us stronger.) He will never give us something we can't handle. He is always looking out for us. There are SO many directions to go in this "answer" to try to help you and quite honestly my mind is swirling with avenues to take. But if I wrote on each one right now, I'd be here till bedtime (and its morning now). So to hopefully, just give some food for thought and maybe help get in the right direction I am only going to hit on a couple of points, but I'm sure I can use these other 'avenues' for future posts (so stay tuned).

1. We've hit this briefly already. God is in control. YOU can't always figure everything out and that may just be something you have to learn to take in stride. God does have a plan though and like Ashley added in her comment, we are His stewards. He will only give us what we are capable of handling. Why do you think so many lottery winners wind up in dire straights after winning millions? They weren't ready for it. God knew that, and that's why He hadn't already put resources in their hands to help them become millionaires through Him. He knew they couldn't handle it. They weren't good stewards (yet). {I think everyone has an ability to grow in all areas of our walk with God, and therefore I think everyone has the ability to someday be a good steward of His kingdom if they aren't already}. By building up our stewardship little by little, we are proving faithful in our actions and therefore being blessed with more. Make sure you are being faithful with what God has ALREADY given you before asking for more.

2. When dealing with finances, tithing is the cornerstone. We can't expect to be blessed in our finances if our foundation is cracked. The Bible is very clear "bring all your tithes into the storehouse". The Bible is also very clear that a tithe is 10%. The Bible is clear on this, but some people don't want it to be, so they modify it to fit their plan instead, BUT we are to tithe off our gross, not our net income. Somebody once said if you want to tithe off your net income, then you better plan on getting a net blessing. Wouldn't you rather have a full blessing? To me tithing is black and white and I have lots of posts I can share on this, but two things are most important in tithing. 1. You HAVE to do it with a loving, grateful, honest heart. You CAN'T tithe expecting that return (that is indeed promised in the Bible) you can't put the money in the bucket and be thinking about the "windows of heaven opening and showering you with blessings that can't even fit in your barn/bank account". You HAVE to give your tithe JUST BECAUSE YOU LOVE GOD. Not for anything He can do for you. You don't want a friend who only hangs around you because you give them stuff and buy them lunch, right? Well, God doesn't want a son/daughter to hang around just for blessings either, He wants us to want to be with Him, JUST because we LOVE Him. Remember, that's why we were created. For fellowship with Him. He wants communion with us. He could have created robots just to worship Him. He created us with minds of our own so that we would CHOOSE Him. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve made a poor choice long ago, so that perfect world He created for all of us, is now tainted with sin, and yes, Satan does have some power in this world now (because we gave it to him). Which will bring us to my next point, but before I get there I've got to give you the second requirement of tithing... that is that you are obedient in it. You not only do it with the right heart, but you do it the way God told you to do it-10% of all your income (that's gross). Just write that tithe check immediately after you record your income check in your checkbook. That's what I do.
So there is no sense in praying or fasting for finances if we haven't obeyed God in the first place with our tithe. Honestly, when people come to my husband and I for financial guidance, the first thing he says to them is show me your tithes and show me your income. If you aren't doing that right, we are wasting each other's time, because there is nothing "I" can do to help you if you aren't first following God's Word in your finances. You have to get that right between you and God first.

3.The third point comes from that same book I'm reading (God is so good in His timing isn't He?) Its The Three Heavens by Mark Gorman. To summarize some, this book talks about 3 Heavens. Earth and us being in the first heaven. The physical one. The 3rd Heaven is where God is and where you will go when you die-its spiritual. The 2nd heaven is between the 1st and 3rd, it is also spiritual. That is where Satan is. Real briefly, Mark gave an example about prayer and why sometimes its seems like we are praying and not getting results (make sure your foundation is right first though!). He drew it out like this, you pray in the 1st heaven, and your prayer goes to the 3rd heaven. God always HEARS our prayers (the Bible tells us this so I know its true). Its like you reached your arm up to the 3rd Heaven, God put the answer to your prayer in your hand, and now all you have to do is bring your arm and hand back to the 1st heaven to receive your answer. However, satan is in the middle there and he doesn't want you to get your prayer answered. He CANNOT take your answer to prayer out of your hand of faith. He doesn't have the power or authority to do so. But since he can't do that he tries the next best thing, he delays it. He tries all sorts of things to slow down you receiving your answer. That's why sometimes it seems like we pray for something and we don't get our reply. God replied but satan stalled it. Now you say but God is bigger than satan, just kick him out and give me my answer (in due time!) but until then, satan is messing up stuff, just like how he messed with Adam and Eve, and because of this we've got to deal with it (for now), but God isn't letting satan push you beyond your limits, just like He didn't let him push Job beyond his limits. Keep your faith. Keep your foundation rock solid, and continue on in your walk, glorifying God all the way (nothing makes satan madder than God being glorified, so keep it up!)

4.Remember Job. Sometimes it looks like we are doing everything according to God's plan. We are obedient, our heart is right, and yet we still suffer hardships (yes, we know we will grow from them, but "come on God, enough already ", right?) Like I said earlier, in the end this will all be clear, but sometimes, there is no explanation we here on Earth can give and the explanations we do give might be wrong (Job's friends started saying "come on Job, WHAT have you done wrong, you need to repent" and he HADN'T done anything wrong). However, Job survived. And you will too. God NEVER tempts us, but he WILL test us. He won't test you beyond your abilities, and I always say "there must be someone in my future who I will be able to 'minister to' (in church terms, but truth is , just talk to and help through) in this area since I am now experiencing it. For example this happened to me with my miscarriage, maybe some day I'll write details on that, but for now, let's just say, that it became very clear to me shortly afterward what a servant I was of God to have gone through that, JUST to help someone else in their same circumstance. Before that, I completely could not relate to women who had difficulty in getting pregnant (I wasn't rude, I'd nod my head and try to be helpful, but I honestly couldn't relate-my first pregnancy had happened super quickly and I just hadn't experienced that part of life). Afterwards though, I now had experience to relate to them and therefore be helpful to them. And in my case, it wasn't as much as what I said to THEM when they were going through it, as it was HOW I walked when I was going through it. So all this to say, you may be being groomed for something in the future that will allow you to help someone else become stronger in their walk with God. And isn't that the whole point anyway? God wants us all to come to Him, so if we have to bear something that enables us to bring someone to God, don't you think its worth it? I do.

I hope this has helped. Obviously its long (and now I'm late-ha ha-oh well) but hopefully it may open the doors for you (and others reading this) to dig deeper into one of those 'avenues' to try to find YOUR answer that God has for You. Love you! So does He!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Wealthy people often give away what they have.
This is such a normal occurance with wealthy people, that Webster's has even created a name for it: philanthropist!
Well, you know what? God wants to give away His riches too!
He wants to give YOU good things. Matthew 7:11 says, "If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."

Our God is rich.
When you think of rich PEOPLE you probably think of stuff they own that qualifies them as being rich. Well, guess what?! God owns ALOT of STUFF!
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalms 50:10).
He owns the whole Earth (Psalms 24:1).
He owns all the silver and gold (Haggai 2:8).

A good, rich father would not want his own children to be poor. Just as so, our Father in Heaven, who is rich in so many ways, does not want us (His children) to be poor either. Neither poor in health, poor in finances, nor poor in faith. So remember that God is your Father, and he wants to share his riches with you. You just have to love God with all your heart and have enough faith to ask.

Don't chase the airplane

I am currently reading a book by Mark Gorman called "The Three Heavens: A study in spiritual warfare". Last night while I was reading this, this section popped out at me. I think it is worth sharing. The story goes like this... you are outside enjoying a beautiful day at the park with your family, when out of nowhere a little mechanical airplane starts zooming down on you and firebombing you essentially. You run for cover under a picnic table and next time it makes a dive at you you jump out and whack it with your hefty purse, thus smashing it to the ground. You settle back into enjoying time with your kids, when AGAIN another airplane starts zooming in and annoying your family. You would be wasting your time to continually chase these airplanes and knock them down.
What you need to be doing is looking for the guy with the remote control who is sending the airplanes.
We tend to do this in life sometimes, we are so focused on what is happening to us physically that we forget about the "guy with the remote control" (Satan) who is in control of the airplane. We should be fighting against him, not against his airplane. To quote what Mark wrote in his book... "We need to recognize that behind every problem in our lives, there is a guy with a remote control. We are in the physical realm, and he is in the spiritual realm. We spend most of our lives chasing airplanes, and the guy with the remote control goes free." ... to thus continue bombarding us with more airplanes.
When something isn't going right in your life, remember to go to God and ask for His guidance, to pray, and to speak against the devil and all of his minions. Don't let the guy with the remote control go free. Our words carry strength, bind him with words, and believe it. You will see results.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why begin?

This blog is intended to be used for sharing God's directions for our lives. I am not a Pastor, nor am I an "elder" in a church. I am a Christian who believes God's Word and tries to live it in my life daily. I hope to be a Godly example to others, and especially to my children so that they may grow up to be God-fearing, God-loving, Blessed people. My plan is to only use God's Word for these "Guides for your Life", but I'm not going to promise you that sometimes I won't throw in "common sense". The truth is though, most "common sense" can already be found in Proverbs! Its amazing, if you haven't read it ever, or lately, you should take a moment to read some or all of Proverbs. Its amazingly accurate, and applicable to today's life, and hilarious sometimes in its truthfullness about any situation. Such as the one about (paraphrased) "the lazy man shall eat no bread"... i.e. if you don't work, you don't eat. Simple as that. Pretty straightforward, eh? For someone who likes things in "black and white" and not much "gray", Proverbs is awesome! I hope you like it as much as I do.