Sunday, October 23, 2011

Complacency or "For want of a nail"

Today was one of those, "I'm unmotivated" mornings. Actually, the entire weekend has been that way. I've got a lot that needs to be done, but I don't really want to do anything - except maybe play games on Facebook. I did finally manage yesterday to tackle a couple of the items on my list and "Surprise!" they didn't take nearly as long as I feared they would. You'd think that those small victories would have motivated me this morning, but they didn't. Instead I found myself just sitting there, staring at the computer and thinking to myself, "I just don't want to get up and get dressed to go to church this morning. I can miss one day - it's not that big of a deal." Then I read my devotional for today....

In this morning's devotion, the author mentioned that the enemy strikes us in our area of weakness. Yikes - I knew immediately what my area was - complacency! You know - that place where you get comfortable and just don't want to do anything. I'm not talking about comfortable on the couch - although that is a pretty good picture of the situation. I'm talking about comfortable with the way things are in your life but unwilling to do much of anything to keep them that way. I kind of picture someone floating along in a row boat, figuring they are in a good spot so they just stop rowing. Only problem is, boats don't tend to just stay - they drift!

I figured I was getting a bit of kick in the pants reminding me that I did indeed need to make the effort to get to church, so I picked my lazy self up and got ready to go. Once there, I listened to the worship song and one verse just jumped out at me - "We offer all to the one who saves..." Was I really offering all? If I offer my life as a sacrifice, how can I then say, "but You don't really need/want this's such a tiny thing." Can I say, "I just don't feel like doing this today" if I am a sacrifice? I'm not much of a sacrifice if I just keep on climbing off the altar and doing my own thing, now am I?

It's not that I am trying to be rebellious, I just figure my small part in the whole doesn't make any real difference. I can just sit this one out and it will be no big deal. Then I remembered this old proverb (no idea when the last time was I actually heard this so it MUST have been the Holy Spirit that brought it to my memory. It's not a Bible type proverb, but wise all the same.) 

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

To me it may seem like such a small part, but if God wants it, how can I refuse? I want to learn to   live my life in such a way that I realize EVERY part is His and live my life as worship to Him. Can I have the same attitude in going to work as I do in going to church - that both are an act of worship? Can cleaning my house become as much an act of worship as singing in the choir (something you really don't want me to do by the way.) Can I even view exercise as an act of worship, giving Him the very best I have to give?

As I mentioned, the enemy attacks in our area of weakness, and for me that's complacency - taking things for granted. I wonder, have I become so familiar with church, the scripture, worship,  and those in my church family that I am taking them for granted...thinking they will always be there? What about in my work? Have I become complacent? Complacency at work leads to mistakes and missed opportunities. Complacency in relationships leads to not knowing one another and drifting apart. Complacency with eating habits can lead to unhealthy weight gain or issues with your health. Complacency in exercise can lead to loss of muscle mass and the ability to lead an active life. I can't really think of any area of my life where complacency leads to something good.

So what do I do? According to Romans 12, I need to offer up my ENTIRE life as a sacrifice and not become complacent...not conform to this world. I can't let the enemy convince me that some area is unimportant or that my small "nail" won't make much difference at all. It's time to get up off my spiritual, emotional, or actual couch and start living like a sacrifice....TODAY!

Romans 12

The Message (MSG) Place Your Life Before God
 1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Choot 'um! Choot 'um again!

I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is watching the tv show, Swamp People. (Those of you who share my addiction will recognize that is where I got the title for this blog.) It's not the shooting of the alligators I enjoy, but I do love watching the interactions of the people....but that's not really the topic of this blog. This blog is about a dream I had a few nights ago.

Now, I don't often remember my dreams and some are nothing more than my brain processing the random thoughts from my day, but sometimes I know the moment I wake up that a dream had just a bit more meaning...a bit of truth hidden within.

In my dream, I discovered we had rats hiding in a pile of clothes in my house. These weren't ordinary rats, but white and black ones - and they were BIG! They looked like the one we'd had for a pet a few years back, but these were not tame by any means. They were up to no good!

That is when my dream took a strange turn (like a bunch of white and black rats wasn't strange enough.) I took out my handgun and started to shoot at the rats. I only hit them about once out of every three shots and before long I ran out of ammunition! (Okay, in case you haven't figured it out - the strange part would be me even HOLDING a handgun, much less shooting it!)

I knew I had to get more ammo, so I ran to the hardware store and they handed me their last box. When I got back home, the cats were running away because the rats were taking over! This was even stranger since I don't OWN any cats! Time to get serious. I opened my new box of ammo only to discover I had a box of staples for a staple gun, not bullets for a regular gun. This wasn't going to do me much good unless I'm at REALLY close range. It was about that time that I woke up.

Now, I'm not really all that good at interpreting dreams, but as I give it just a little thought, I think I may know what this one meant.

We have an enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy...and he's pretty sneaky. He comes in wherever we leave an opening. We have power to defeat that enemy...the only problem is we don't have enough ammunition for the job. We're either firing blanks or nothing at all. Our ammunition is the Word of God that we have taken the time to memorize and hide in our hearts for the time when it is needed. I know I have been feeling the nudge to spend more time memorizing this year...something I have not taken nearly enough time to do. When I needed it most, I had to scramble and all I came up with were "staples" - good, but not what was needed in the situation.

I've been feeling for a while that God is up to something big...and I've also noticed that the enemy seems to be taking a lot of cheap shots at God's people. That shouldn't surprise anyone. If we can tell God is up to something, the enemy can tell it as well and as always he's doing all he can to stop the move. Our job is to make sure that during this time we spend time in the Word and make sure we are prepared for whatever comes our way.

In the words of my friends from Louisiana, we must be prepared to "Choot 'um" and that means being prepared through study of God's Word. I don't want to be caught with an empty gun in this battle...and I want to be sure that I hit 'um right between the eyes.

Ephesians 6:12

New International Version (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

The Message (MSG)
 3-6The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The missing stick thingy....

It was EARLY yesterday morning and I was already in my car and on my way. How early? Well, I discovered that God doesn't even turn on the lights until 6:30 and that was still a ways off! Still, I'd promised a friend I'd help as a volunteer at the Mighty Magnolia Triathalon here in South Mississippi. I was definitely tired since I'd been up late the night before taking my daughter to an out of town football game, still - a promise is a promise, so I was on my way. I almost stopped for coffee, but I was running a bit late and my friend assured me there'd be coffee waiting.
I finally found the race site (in the middle of nowhere it seemed...actually it wasn't that far but did I mention that God still hadn't turned on the lights yet?) I made my way to the volunteer tent where I received my t-shirt and this question - Do you know how to use one of those big percolator coffee pots? Well, the answer was no, but how complicated could it be? Coffee was my favorite beverage so while I was no barista, I was sure I could figure out how to make it.

I found the pot and tentively took the lid off and looked inside. Okay, I'd figure this out. It makes 45 cups so I'd just do the math. Another volunteer arrived with the water and I was just about to begin when it hit me - something was missing. I looked and looked for the little "stick-thing" that holds up the pan that holds the grounds only I couldn't find it. We all started searching, but still no stick-thingy. It looked like we'd have to go without my beloved coffee.

I wasn't really upset - I had already had a couple of cups before I left home, but the missing stick-thingy played on my mind for the next few hours. I was telling my husband about it when it finally hit me - today's random thought.

It had been pretty tough to drag myself out of my bed that morning at 4:30. I was tired and could have easily shrugged off going to help, but I had promised....and I don't like breaking my word. But what if we'd all decided that our part was so small it wouldn't really make much of a difference? Well, then we'd have been a bit like that coffee pot with one tiny missing part. It wasn't a huge part, but without it coffee just wasn't going to happen. I don't mind saying it - we all suffered for the absence of that one missing part.

Often in the body of Christ, we get to feeling like we're just not that needed. Maybe we stay home from church, or don't volunteer - or volunteer and then don't show up, or a hundred other times when we feel like it's okay for us to just sit it out. Then, whether we know it or not, we become like that missing stick-thingy and everyone suffers at least a bit.

Now I realize that God gives us seasons of rest and sometimes things happen that keep us from keeping our word to our commitments, but most of the time we just don't show up...either physically or emotionally. Yet someone is counting on us to be there...we are not just some unimportant little piece. We are the stick-thingy and without us coffee is just not going to happen!

I don't know if you ever feel like you could just move and no one would notice, or that you could just stop coming and it really wouldn't make much of a difference at all. But that's not how it works - we are one body, jointly fit together for a purpose. You are important to those around you and mostly to God. Find your spot and show up! After all, that's half the battle...and we need that coffee!

Romans 12:3 - 8
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. "

1 Corinthians 12:4 - 6
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just the facts, Ma'm

I just got back from a class to train me about diabetes management. You see, I was diagnosed just a few weeks ago with Type 1 diabetes. Yes, I know that is the type that you usually find in kids - I guess I'm just a kid at heart...or at pancreas. Anyway, I find that I am now being bombarded with LOTS of information to help me manage my diabetes and keep things where they need to be.

Don't get me wrong, I am very glad to have information to help me learn about my new way of life, but in tonight's class I decided that there is a very fine line between fear and facts.

You see, there are things I need to know; but if I'm not careful, those very facts can play on the "what if's" of my mind and cause fear. I hear information upon information about the complications associated with diabetes - heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, loss of limbs - the list just goes on and on. I went into the class to learn about how to eat and walked out with a ton of stuff about what could go wrong! I listened to others in the class talk about a barrage of tests and wondered - why am I not more concerned?

I decided it is because I'm learning to discern the difference between the facts and fear. The facts are I will be insulin dependant for the rest of my life, which I plan to make sure is a LONG one by the way! The facts are that I need to be vigilant and take good care of my health. (To be honest, I consider this a blessing! This diagnosis has made me FINALLY start caring for this gift God gave me!) The facts are that I will need to adjust some things...but those facts are so much different than fear.

I got to thinking how much this is like spiritual matters as well. It is a fact that we have an enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. I do need to be aware of that, but it does not mean I need have any fear. I have a Savior who has overcome the enemy! My Lord came that I might have life and have it abundantly! Are you seeing how this works?

There is a fine line between looking at the facts and allowing those facts to cause me to live in fear. You see, I know a secret - facts change but my God does not!

Don't believe me? It was a fact when I was a kid that no man had walked on the moon - that fact changed before I was in second grade! It was a fact that at one time, man could not fly; but thanks to thinkers like the Wright brothers, that fact is just no longer true! It was a fact that if you wanted to communicate with someone on the other side of the world, you would have to send a letter that could take weeks to arrive . That fact changed (in the past few years!) and now we talk "face to face" via skype on a regular basis. Yep, facts change.

So what is staring at you right now, taunting you and trying to get you to fear? Is it finances - yep they can look pretty bad. Is it health - we've had a few trials in that area in the past month. Is it relationships - we've had our share of rough patches there, too...anyone with teenagers will say AMEN to that! But all those "facts" are prone to change. I will choose to trust in an unchanging God who loves me and has promised He will NEVER forsake me!

Come to think of it - it was a FACT that they crucified my Lord on Calvary. It was a FACT that they buried Him in a borrowed tomb (I can't think of anyone else who could just "borrow" a tomb.) It was a FACT that for three days He was dead....but praise God - facts change!

There is a fine line between facts and fear....and I think I'll be keeping my focus on my Lord and FAITH that He will do what He promised He would do. He loves us - and that's one fact that won't be changing!

Have a great Friday ya'll! Share the good news with someone that you doesn't matter what the facts say - you know the One who is greater!

John 10:10 (Message)
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NIV)
God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

 2 Tim. 1:7 (NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I love leftovers - especially from restaurants. I don't hesitate to ask for a "doggie box" to take home and look forward to eating those leftovers the next day for lunch.

Today I was listening to K-Love radio and they were talking about a little boy and his lunch. You know the one - he gave his lunch to feed the multitudes. We all know the part about how Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed the 5000...but what about that little boy? What would this story look like from the boy's point of view?

Now anyone who has boys in their home knows that they can eat - a LOT! Convincing a boy to give up his lunch is pretty impressive. I had to wonder, what was going through that young man's mind when the disciples came and asked for his food.  Did he deny he had any? Was he tempted to say no? Was he excited to share?

Here is the account from the book of Mark, chapter 6:
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and get a little rest." For there was constant coming and going. They didn't even have time to eat.
 32-34So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.
 35-36When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: "We are a long way out in the country, and it's very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper."
 37Jesus said, "You do it. Fix supper for them."
   They replied, "Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?"
 38But he was quite serious. "How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory."
   That didn't take long. "Five," they said, "plus two fish."
 39-44Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.

Now imagine that young man - surrounded by over 5000 people and he's the only one with lunch. What would have happened if he'd decided to eat that lunch instead of sharing? But he didn't - he gave. 

That had to have been hard on him, not knowing what he'd do now that he'd given his food away. I have always imagined that he wasn't really that well off and the food he had might have been a stretch for his mom to prepare. It probably was about the size of 5 little rolls and 2 small bream, not much bigger than sardines. He'd probably been looking forward to it all day...and now someone asked him to trust them and hand it over. I know I look forward to my lunch all day - if someone asked me to give it up I'm not sure I would do so without being one really cranky person! Still, somehow this boy looked beyond his own desires and he shared.

Then came the miracle - 5000 were fed and there were 12 baskets of leftovers! Can you imagine the look on his mom's face when that boy brought home that much food? We aren't told that he took all the leftovers, but it just seems like something God would do. I bet those leftovers didn't even go bad and lasted for weeks! I know, none of that is in the story...but I have a very vivid imagination.

I feel like that boy sometimes. I feel like I have so little, and I then I hear God ask me to give. A big part of me wants to consume it myself or share only with my family. I want to hoard what little I have in fear that I won't have enough...yet God calls me to open my hand and share, trusting that He will take care of the rest. (That's about the time when an extra bill or two rolls in, by the way.)

I have heard it said that giving is planting a seed and any good farmer knows, you don't eat your seed - not if you want a harvest to come. I am not one of those "name it and claim it" kind of people and even talking about giving makes me a bit uncomfortable. Yet I can't seem to get away from this word right now. God is asking us to sacrifice and trust that He can take our little and make it much for the kingdom of God...and I have to believe that means we'll have plenty "left over" for what we need.

You know, leftovers never looked so good to me. Now to work on the courage to open my hand and just give.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And then came Monday...

You know, one of the toughest parts of writing this blog is walking it out. I mean, most of these posts come from whatever is going on in my life and sometimes that gets messy!

Take my last post for example, "Scared No More." It seemed simple enough. I felt like I was doing pretty good at this whole running to the Father and resting in His arms. I could clearly hear His voice prompting me to trust Him...and then came Monday.

When I say it was a rough day, that doesn't even begin to cover it. Little did I know when I got up that morning just how my faith would be tested. Now, I know God doesn't tempt us, but I'm pretty sure He does a lot of testing. It's that whole sifting process that Jesus told Peter about, and trust me - it's not comfortable. I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that I had a couple of questions for God. I mean, I knew I'd heard Him on Sunday but what was the deal with Monday?

Then I read a post by a fellow blogger that hit me right between the eyes. Here's a quote from her blog: {Lord, forgive me for my unbelief. Show me how to have true faith; believing in the unseen, despite my circumstances. Your word says that what I say flows from what is in my heart (Luke 6:45b). Change my heart. Where I have spoken death over my situation; forgive me. Transform my thinking today so that I will not be separated from You because of unbelief. Examine my heart, and if I don't recognize my own unbelief, gently show me, and lead me to repentence. You know what is in the darkness, because the light dwells with you (Daniel 2:22). In Jesus Name, set us free from unbelief today}. /

There is was in black and white....I didn't believe. Oh, I SAID I believed, but did I really? I knew I was safe in the Father's arms - so why was I still worrying? I knew He had promised that He would take care of things - so why wasn't I resting? I knew He could be trusted with every part of my life from my family to my finances - so why did I have this knot in my stomach?

In the process of all that was happening that seemed like it just couldn't be from God, the layers of my heart were being peeled back and truth was being revealed. Had I never had my faith tested, I would not have known just how much I didn't believe and God wouldn't have been able to increase my faith. God never reveals something to us that He isn't ready and willing to fix if we'll let Him. He loves me so much that He is unwilling to allow me to live in this state of unbelief (where I only THINK I am trusting Him.)

I want to truly be able to rest in my Father's arms. I want to be able to look fear in the face and laugh. Let's be honest, I want to be able to look my check book in the face and laugh!

I know I heard my Father say, "Trust Me." I guess that means even on a Monday.

Luke 22:31-34 "Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I've prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start."
33Peter said, "Master, I'm ready for anything with you. I'd go to jail for you. I'd die for you!"
34Jesus said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scared no more...

Have you ever noticed what a child does when they get scared? They immediately turn their face away from what frightens them and they turn toward their parent. If they are close enough, they bury that sweet little face in their parents skirt or pants leg; or if they are lucky enough to be in the loving arms of their mom or dad, they bury their face in their parent's shoulder.

The other night at a football game, I watched a small child with her mom. They were sitting right in front of us and even though the game was a good one, at times watching that little girl was far more entertaining than even what was happening on the field. That little girl first looked at EVERYONE around her, sizing them up as to whether or not she liked them sitting so close to her. Some she decidedly did not like!

After a while, however, she started to relax. She smiled, charmed, talked, and even played peek-a-boo with those around her. She wasn't afraid of anything! Why would she be? She was safe in her mother's arms. As the night wore on, it was obvious that she was growing so tired. She simply placed her little head on her mom's shoulder and closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

By the time the game was over, I saw a LOT of little ones, sound asleep and being carried safely toward home in their parent's arms.

It really doesn't take much to see where this random thought is going. Right now we live in a society that is full of noise, distraction, and sometimes things that could make us very much afraid....but we don't have to be. We can rest in our loving Father's arms, free from the worry.

Those sweet children weren't worrying about where they would find clothes, how they would get food, how they would pay the bills, what tomorrow would hold. They didn't have to - their parent had that all under control.

I think I want to learn to live more like those little children - able to rest completely no matter what is going on around me. I'll let my Father worry about all that other stuff. Last time I checked, He was much better equipped to handle all that than I was. If I should find myself in a situation that frightens me and I realize I've wandered away from Him, I plan on running as fast as my little legs will carry me so I can "hide" in His robes.

Whatever situation you may find yourself in, and I realize some of them can be pretty scary, know that you can find a place of peace and rest in your Father's arms today. There is no need to be afraid - He's got you.

May you find peace and rest in our Father's loving arms today. Turn away from what scares you and look instead into His precious and wonderful face.

John 14:27 (NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Matthew 18 (MSG)

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.

Matthew 23:37 (NIV)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.