Becoming an Expert

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Song of Solomon 3:7-8 says, “Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon; sixty mighty men around it, of the mighty men of Israel. All of them are wielders of the sword, expert in war; each man has his sword at his side. Guarding against the terrors of the night.”

As I came across these verses last week, I realized that to be an expert in war, you have to have had some incredible experiences in battle. I thought about the battles that I would have rather not been through and the battles I would rather my family not have had to face, but I also realized that if we didn’t experience those battles, we would not become the experts in war God would have us to be.

We have to have battles before we can become experts.

Notice as well that these men surrounding the King held their own sword at their side. This reminded me that I need my own relationship with Christ. I can’t depend on someone else’s sword and expect to win my own, personal battles. I have to have my own sword ready to go. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that our sword is the Word of God. I have to know Scripture, memorize Scripture, and know how to use it in battle. How exciting to know that Word isn’t just for information and to make us feel good, but to train and use in warfare!

Notice as well how close these experts in war were to the King. This shows us that being close to Christ is a requirment for becoming an expert in battle. When we follow Christ, we will see conflict. Christ Himself tells us to not be surprised when the world hates us because it hated Him (John 15:18-19). Sometimes, I think we have told ourselves that the closer we get to Christ the easier life will be. In one sense, we are absolutely right. The closer we are to Christ, the easier issues will be to handle because we are in agreement with Him and His power is enabling us to handle whatever He allows in our paths, but it does not mean that our paths will be clear of all problems.

As we start our weekend, let’s remember that battles are ways for us to become the experts in war that God has called us to be. Let’s remember that when one of our family members is facing difficulties we are called to encourage them in prayer, asking God to help them learn what they need to learn in that particular battle. I know that’s hard. I know we just want to pray to get them out of the fray, but for them to be the experts they need to be, the men and women that God has called them to become, they must carry their own sword and use it as battles arise.

Battles are tough and let me be clear… I don’t like them, but knowing that they serve a purpose in our own lives and in the lives of our loved ones helps, doesn’t it? Knowing that each battle makes us more adept at wielding our swords, knowing that each battle draws us closer to our King, is beautiful to think about. So, let’s choose to be thankful for our battles today knowing that each has a purpose, each has a lesson and before you know it we will become experts in war as God intended.

My Story

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*Image by Popular Mechanics

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Success is Inevitable

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The author of this exact quote is unknown, but I love it. It reminds me of First Thessalonians 5:24 -“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” In other words, success is inevitable… when it’s God’s call on your life.

Has He called you to coach?

Has He called you to teach?

Has He called you to write?

Has He called you to raise those kiddos?

Has He called you to sing your heart out?

Has He called you to tend to your home on a full-time basis?

Has He called you to tend a sick loved one?

How about going to the mission field (close to home, or abroad)?

Has He called you to drive a school bus, deliver mail, or maybe even clean windows?

Whatever He has called you to do…rest in the fact that success is inevitable. No striving. No freaking out. Only simple obedience, faith and trust in Him is necessary. He will bring it to pass. It’s not only a great quote…it’s Scriptural.

Rest in that truth this week and know that no matter what circumstances may look like in this moment, when God has called you and you have answered, “Yes”, success is inevitable. Don’t proceed with caution. Proceed in faith knowing that your God has more for you than you ever imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

Being Salt and Light

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As I was reading a book by Neta Jackson a few weeks ago, I came across an explanation that I’ve pondered for quite a while. In her book series, Souled Out Sisters, one of Ms. Jackson’s characters describes “salt people” as people who make a situation taste better and “light people” as people who bring clarity and not confusion. I liked that…a lot.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

If you know me at all, you know I love my salt and if you have been around me enough, you also know I love windows because I adore light. Both salt and light add joy to my life. So, why I’ve had trouble with being salt and light in this world is beyond me! I think I’ve tried to make it more difficult than it really is. If salt is simply making a situation more palatable, (as Ms. Jackson’s character explained) we can all do that. It’s not as complicated as I’ve thought.

If attitudes are going south, we can express an encouraging word. If everyone is exhausted, we can be the wise one and suggest a breather, or offer a bag of almonds to help energize the situation. If fear is invading, cover the situation with prayer. Such simple things make life more appetizing, and that’s being salt in this world.

Same with light. If being light in a situation brings clarity instead of confusion, then we can pray for wisdom, and know we will receive it because James1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”

How neat is that? Jesus didn’t just give us a command and leave us to figure out how to fulfill it on our own. He tells us how to receive the clarity we need in each situation in order to be light. It’s called wisdom. How do we receive the wisdom we need for clarity? The book of James tells us we ask God for it. Simple stuff. He gives us the needed wisdom, which gives us the needed clarity, which gives us the needed light to share. Love it!

Oftentimes, I feel like I’ve been more pepper than salt, and more darkness than light, but I’m encouraged by this simple way of looking at being children of light and salt-a-holics in this world. Through Christ, we can bring clarity. Through Christ, we can make life full of flavor for those around us. So, let’s do it. Let’s be salt and light wherever we go.

*image by bbc.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

Meet A Friend Day

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Hey Everybody!

One of the things I like most about being a Christian is the community of friends that over time become as close as, or even closer, than family. So, this week I’ve decided to introduce you to a great friend and choir buddy of mine. She’s a published author (many times over) and a faithful blogger. Click on the link below to read her blog for this week. Enjoy!

Diana’s blog

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** Clipart by Clipart Panda

Who Needs a Map?

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I’m not what you would call a naturally flexible person. In fact, my husband has been known to call me “road map girl” because I like to know where I’m going…all the time.

I like to not only know where I’m headed on a trip, but also where life will take us in general. I mean who wouldn’t want to know whether they were moving in the next year, or staying put? Who wouldn’t like to know if they were going to be at the same job this time next year?

Life just doesn’t work that way though, does it? Abraham didn’t get a map, Joseph didn’t get a map, Jonah got a map and didn’t use it, Jesus’ mother didn’t get a map, and I sure didn’t get one either.

I used to only want a mapped out experience, but as I am maturing (ahem) I’m finding I want adventure. I want new experiences.  I’m finding that not having a map doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lost. It simply means I’m enjoying the moment I’m in.

When I have a map, my focus is in the wrong place. When I have a map, my eyes are downward, trying to figure out the next step. But, when my map is gone, my eyes are looking up. Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I will life up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” This is where my eyes should be…on the Lord, not on some map.

When I’m not too busy trying to figure out where I’m going, I realize where I am and it’s always wonderful. Always. Because God is here. Hebrews 13:5 says, “…be content with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.” This verse tells me to be content with where I am because God is here and that’s all I need.

One step forward and two steps back? No problem. God is here.

A marathon? No problem. God is here.

Several mountains to climb? No problem. God is here.

An adventure is eyes wide open to everything around me. A map leads to seeing one thing…the map. Did you notice the picture above? All around the guy holding the map is an adventure waiting to happen, but all he can see is his map. Sad, isn’t it? Eventually, he’s going to have to look up to see if he’s arrived, but he’s missing the journey. He’s missing the adventure. He’s missing the here and now. He’s missing everything… but his map!

I want to stop being “road map girl”. I want the adventure that God has for me, the plan that only He can decipher, and the map only He can read. I want the adventure that He’s called me to and in order to see it I have to take my eyes off the map and turn my eyes to Him.

You in?

Seeking Hearts Ministries 

** Photo by muddymatches.co.uk

 

So Over It…

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I admit it, when I saw the song list for Sunday I was disappointed. Most of the songs were right on (in my opinion) except the last one…the one I have sung over and over and over again. I remember thinking, “I am so over this song.” I’ve actually even written a blog about this song before. Ironic, huh?

So, what’s the song? Got you curious, haven’t I? Don’t gasp too loudly, but it’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. I know, it’s a great song. It’s even brought traditional churches to tears, but I’ve just heard it one too many times…or, so I thought.

As I was practicing said song, God reminded me that I may know all the words, but I still wasn’t living chain free. He reminded me that I sometimes still wear shackles that He broke off of me many years ago. He knew I needed the reminder because He knew that I had replaced the freedom that His very Son gave me with panic, fear and dread this very week. He knew I was vulnerable to the Enemy’s attacks and that a few fiery darts had hit their mark. He knew I needed to be reminded that my chains truly are gone.

Galatians 5:1 teaches us that, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

Why did Christ set me free? Was it so I could do good works? Was it because I’m this awesome person who deserves freedom? No. Christ set me free so that I could live in freedom. That’s it. That’s the only reason. His great love, His amazing grace, His mercy that is new every morning, just wants me to be free.

If I received a letter in my mailbox this week that my mortgage was paid off, how many more payments do you think I would make? You guessed it…none. I would be completely free from that debt. Christ is telling us in Galatians that our mortgage, our debt, is gone for all time, yet we find ourselves still making payments.

Spiritually speaking, I still think I need to make a payment to stay free. That’s kind of nuts, isn’t it? But, it’s often how I live. The chains that Christ broke off of me still entice me. My mind thinks it’s better to have a freak out than to rest in Him. My brain thinks watching Netflix will be better to fall asleep to than reading His Word and praying for others as I drift off into oblivion. My body thinks that depending on comfort food instead of drawing on His strength will somehow make things better.

At times, I’m still choosing shackles instead of freedom. I may be sick of the song, but the message still needs to be heard.

…”My chains are gone. I’ve been set free…”

So, as I sing this song that I’ve heard over and over again this Sunday, I pray that it truly is a testimony of my life…not just in that moment, but when I go home as well. I pray that I’m not thinking “When is this going to be over?”, but I will truly give God glory for setting me free. I pray that the next time you see me all you see are wrists that are shackle free, ankles that are unfettered and gratefulness oozing out of every pore for the One who sets us all free.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** picture by Getty images

 

 

 

 

Staying Connected

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John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”

In Andrew Murray’s book Absolute Surrender, Murray says that the branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In other words, the branch doesn’t have to worry with where its nourishment will come from. It doesn’t concern itself with how much fruit it’s producing. It doesn’t even have to fret over what the future will look like. The branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In Scripture, this state of being connected is also called abiding.

Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand, describes abiding as sitting in a chair. When you sit, he explains, you have faith the chair will hold you up. Your whole weight is depending on the chair.

I love that picture! It sounds easy. After all, I sit in chairs all the time. But, I confess, spiritually speaking, sitting, abiding, staying connected to the Vine does not come naturally. In this season of my life though, I am learning that this truly is the best way to live.

When I am connected to the Vine, to Jesus Christ alone, when I am abiding in Him, I am not filled with stress, I am filled with Him – His strength, His joy, His love.

So, whatever results happen (or don’t) I’m great with… because it’s all up to Him. If He decides I need lots of strength for what He has for me today? No problem. I’m attached to Him already, so I already have what I need at my disposal.

If He decides it’s time for me to forgive? No problem. His forgiveness is already flowing through me.

Need some love today? No problem. His love is already in me.

See how simple it is? Yet, most of the time, we make it so complicated.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” He goes on to say in verse 30 of this same chapter, “…For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let’s choose the easy path today, the less complicated perfect will of our Father and simply stay connected to our Vine, Jesus. Let’s sit in His presence, breathe Him in and destress knowing He’s got it all and simply abide as He has called us to knowing that all the branch has to do is stay connected to the Vine. He does the rest.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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** Photo by Kerry Vale Vineyard  “Adopt a Vine”

Lesson Three – Grace is Better than White Knuckles

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Lesson Three – Grace is better than white knuckles.

During this season of lessons, my husband has been out-of-town …a lot. I know many couples deal with this on a continual basis, but for us it’s a new season and a hard thing for us to cope with. We are one of those weird couples that actually love spending time together.

Before this season, I didn’t realize that when you only have a few days a week together (if you’re lucky) there is a lot of pressure on being happy the whole time and making the most of every moment together. A lot of expectations develop that neither realize… until they aren’t met.

A few weeks into this new season, I realized I didn’t want to look back at this time in our lives with regret. I realized that even though we will miss each other, I wanted to be able to go through this season with grace. I had no doubt we would survive this time as a couple, but I didn’t want to bare knuckle my way through it. I wanted this to be a time of grace in action. I knew grace was there with me in the moment, God promises that, but I realized I wasn’t taking advantage of it.

My husband and I began to pray and ask God how to get through this time in our lives with grace instead of stress and He gave us some great ideas. We now have connection points that we can count on.

Are there still some hard days? Yes.

Are weekends still high stressed? Sometimes, but we are choosing to accept the grace that God has for us in this season.

I am learning to release my tight grip on what I believe life should look like right now so that my knuckles are no longer white and His grace is abundant. I’m learning that for me… “getting a grip” actually means letting go.

God can do the same for you. Whether you are in a relationship that is strained, a school program that seems overwhelming, a time of busyness, or a time of relaxation, there is grace for this season. You really can loosen your grip, choose grace and allow God to do His thing.

2 Corinthians 12:9– “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness…”

Lesson Three – Grace is better than white knuckles.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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Lesson Two – No Parent is Perfect

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Lesson Two – No parent is perfect.

This lesson has been especially hard for me over the last few months. As my youngest son (now 16) has been asked to give his testimony at times, his story has included how my husband’s and I’s choices have affected him through the years. I love his transparency, but OUCH! …sometimes it’s painful to hear what your child has had to “get over” because of choices we’ve made as parents.

I confess, when we started to homeschool our children, I thought we would be so close as a family that a lot of issues would naturally disappear. Some issues did disappear, but the truth is, others took their place.

After I heard my youngest son’s testimony a few months ago, I went through a time where I rethought every parenting decision we had ever made. But, as I continued to lay my “freak out” at the feet of Jesus, He reminded me that even if we had made different decisions, we still would not be perfect parents. Only our Heavenly Father is perfect. If we had made different decisions, our children would just have something else to “get over”.

I love who my children are becoming. They are thoughtful, insightful, wise, opinionated leaders who will ask questions until they get answers. They are amazing, but that’s not because every parental decision we made was perfect. It’s because our faithful Father continues to mold them into who He wants them to be, not what I imagined for their futures.

They have their own story with God. It’s different than mine. It’s different than anyone else’s on this entire planet and I’ve had to learn that their story includes “getting over” decisions that their parents made…that I made.

Lesson two has been hard for me to accept, but so freeing. My husband and I will continue to pray over every parental decision we make regarding our children and pray for them as individuals as they find their own paths, but every decision we make will not be perfect. Decisions we make with careful prayer and consideration today may just be the decisions they have to “get over” tomorrow.

I’m learning (as humbling as this is) that God will use the imperfections of my children’s parents to mold and teach them in ways only He can. I’m learning that just as I’ve needed to cling to Romans 8:28 throughout my own life, they will need to cling to it as well. They will come through “getting over” decisions that their imperfect parents made knowing “…that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”

Lesson two – No parent is perfect.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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