Monday, April 30, 2012

Selfish Quarreling

Today, Jame asks a pretty good question.  "What causes fights and quarrels among you?" (4:1).  He, in his bold writing style, answers the question as well.  They come from the desires within us.  Selfish ones. 

Makes you think a bit.  Have I ever been in an argument where selfish motives weren't behind it?  I can't really think of many.  I might have been defending a belief or someone else a time or two, but in the end, the root of an argument is to win the person over to your side or defend yourself. 

It is so hard not to always put ourselves, our wants, needs and thoughts, first.  Oh, as a mother and wife, I have learned quickly that my needs often come behind those of my family, but my selfish desires still often win.  I am quick to get frustrated with my kids because their messes inconvenience me and cause me more work, even though they are easily cleaned up and gave my kids great entertainment in the process of making them.  I have thoughts of my husband being lazy when he asks me to take care of something for him because it will take a few minutes of of my time for the day, or when I get upset with him for not helping me do something that I need to do (can we say double standard?).  But these things, that often lead to short little squabbles could be so easily avoided if I would just get over myself.

Later in these verses James says, "When you ask {God}, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you my spend what you get on your pleasures."

In light of what I just stated, it makes me think of the many times I have muttered the little selfish prayer, "Just 20 minutes, Lord."  Twenty minutes to myself with no responsibilities, no one saying, "Mommy!", nothing to clean, nothing to think about that needs to be done.  Just 20 minutes for me.  Yep.  I don't usually receive these 20 minutes because of my selfish motives.  I want to spend this 20 minutes on me; playing on the computer, reading a mindless book, taking a nap.

God has placed me in a role of service to my family.  It is how I serve Him as well.  So every second of serving them, I should consider joy.  Now, I am not saying that 20 minutes to myself is sinning or not needed, but definitely not something I should feel like I 'deserve' because I work so hard.  I am guessing if I worked harder and more efficiently, with more joy in my heart, these 20 minutes might come around more often as a smile to me from my Heavenly Father, pleased with my work.  Guess I better get my butt off the couch and off my computer and get to work for the day....

Buckets!  It is totally crazy how God uses my ramblings (which started off with me having no idea where I was going with this quarrelling stuff and ended in me serving more joyfully) to teach me so much.  Thanks for sticking with me as I think through my keyboard.  :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dangerous Territory

I come to section in James I have heard and thought about many times.  This is what I consider "dangerous territory" for my daily quiet times in the Bible.  It is so easy to mull over them and quickly pass them thinking, "Been there.  Figured it out.  Lets move on."

But God so often has different things for us to learn each and every time we come upon a section of scripture.  The section I speak of today is 2:14-26 where James speaks of faith and deeds.

A very needed part of scripture for every Christian to think on.  As the popular Christian song says, "Faith without action is dead."  For how real is our faith if it is not followed up in actions and deeds.  If we bottle up our faith inside and do nothing about it, how does it grow?  Is stagnant faith even really faith at all?  These are the things I often think on and read about when studying these verses.  Thankfully, my good friend Jen H. has taught me to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance when I read these scriptures.  To ask Him to open my eyes and heart to something new, for something I wouldn't see on my own.

He did just that.

The part that got me most this time was 15 and 16 where he mentions passing by hungry people and wishing them well but doing nothing about it.  If you have been reading my posts for the last months you know I have been diving into this kind of thing and wondering where God is taking me on this journey.  I think this time He is telling me that I have the faith in this area and am searching in the right direction, but my actions are lacking.

I have had all sorts of ideas and thoughts on what to do with this new passion God has given me for the least of His flock, but I haven't done anything more than think on it.  Time to get a little more serious, Shauna.  I can hear Him saying it in these Words.  I have been doing the faith part.  Reading more about it, getting more informed softening my heart for its appearances, and finding the scripture that applies to it.  But I have done absolutely nothing to put it into action.

I keep using the excuse that I don't know what He wants me to do yet.  I keep thinking that I don't think my husband is quite on board with me just yet, and I keep praying that he will be.  (Now before you think of my hubby as heartless, its just that we haven't really taken the time -yes, not doing the actions again- to really sit and talk about it a lot to where I can even let him know exactly where I am)   As I type that out, I think that might be the first action I need to is that for God answering a prayer.  There isn't much I can do in this area without my husband on board, so get him on board I must.  (Thanks for riding along with me on that little epiphany.)

So, chat with the hubby I will.  Then, more actions must follow.  I'll give you an update when I have one....that way you can hold me accountable.

Monday, April 16, 2012


"It is just a tiny, little thing.  Not a big deal at all."  A thought that often crosses my mind when I want to get away with a small discrepancy.  It is easy to excuse myself if it doesn't really hurt anyone or cause any problems.

But, clearly, sin is sin.  No matter how big or small.  Every ounce of it separates us from God.  So, even if I tell just a little white lie so as to not get in trouble with my husband for forgetting to pick up what he wanted at the store, I am as guilty as a man who committed murder.  Seems a little harsh? Yes.  But James makes it clear in 2:11 "For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,'  also said, 'Do not murder.'"   God also commanded us, "Do not lie."  So guilty I am.

Ouch.  As guilty as a murderer is hard to swallow.  Makes you think twice about things you might see as little. Seriously, I just need to tell my husband I didn't want to walk clear across WalMart for a little thing of glue with 3 kids in tow.  Being stuck in the sinner category with a murderer is a much worse consequence than having my husband disappointed in me (I guess the best alternative would be to suck it up and serve my husband by getting his glue, but that is another topic for another day.)

Sure, I am not one who goes about my day consciously committing 'little sins', but I am human and I sin daily.  I raise my voice in anger at my kids.  Guilty.  I covet what I see a girlfriend has that I think is just too cute.  Guilty.  I put other things higher on my priority list than God.  Guilty.  And so much more.

"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one part is guilty of breaking all of it." . James 2:10

Guilty indeed.

Thankfully, God is gracious and I can be forgiven, so can the adulterer, the murderer and anyone else who believes in His Son's atoning blood.  God is good.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Judging a Book By It's Cover and That Kind of Thing

 Moving on in James this week, he hits me again.  I've decided I like James.  He is pretty forthright, honest and non-flowery.  That is my kind of writer.  We just finished up the first chapter and I already have 6 different highlighted sections (new Bible, so I get new highlights!).  Moving on to chapter two, verses 1-7 and I am already convicted.

James tells us not to show favoritism.  Don't give a man in fine clothes wearing gold rings the nicest seat in the temple and leave the man dressed in rags to sit on the floor.  God has chosen those who the world sees as poor to be rich in faith and the rich often exploit us.

Who says the Bible hasn't stood the test of time?  I am so guilty of this.  If in a new group of people or moms I often gravitate to the moms who look most like me; decently dressed, make-up on, hair done, all matchy-matchy (well I try to look presentable most of the time, but you get the gist of what I am trying to convey here).  If I see a gal come in looking a little 'disheveled' or in obviously worn clothes, etc., I automatically put up a sensor that tells myself, "What would I have in common with her?  What would I say?" and all those kinds of excuses.

Oh man, typing this out makes me feel so guilty.  I am awful.  But it is the truth.  I judge a book by its cover.  Completely.  How many awesome relationships and learning experiences have I missed out on just because I think I won't have anything in common with a woman in a 'lesser' state than I?  How much could I have learned?  How much could my heart have opened?

God has really been working on me in these areas lately.  Loving the poor, the widowed, the oppressed, the orphan.  So here He is again, showing up and telling me how to love.  Stop judging them, girl.  Just give them My love and I will guide you.  Who cares if you feel a little bit uncomfortable at first?  Who said it was all supposed to be comfy and easy?

So, time for some life application.  I hope I will pass the test when the time comes.  I want to show Him I understand the love He has shown us by sharing it with those that might need it the most.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shut Your Mouth....

Oh how many times do I think this thought in my head?  I am a talker.  I like to be part of the conversation and I usually always have something very worth wile to contribute (cough, cough).  That is just me.  Oh how I struggle with what James tells us in Chapter 1 verse 19: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (OK, so I struggle with the anger part with my kids too, but lets just dwell on one issue today.  Just for the sake of my ego.)

I do like to be there for friends and family.  I love to hear about their days, their joys, their struggles.  I want to know what is going on.  But for some reason, I always have something to add or to share of my own, and, sadly, the thought usually comes to me 'mid-their-story'.  So what do I do?  Yep.  I usually interrupt or wait for the first silent moment to interject my two cents. 

I have prayed a lot for God to help me with this.  I want Him to make me a better listener and I have seen changes.  Just in being aware that this is a problem area for me I catch myself in 'interrupt-mode' and keep my tongue wrangled in.  I can't say it makes me a much better listener though because as I sit and nod and smile, I am thinking, "Keep your mouth shut, you don't need to share that now,"  and other things to convince myself that what they are sharing with me is much more important that my little quip or experience wanting to jump out of my mouth.

So, when it comes to James 1:19 I am a work in progress.  I want to be the kind of friend people come to and share their hearts, not the one they know their story will get interrupted by or the one they'll end up listening to instead. 

I guess it comes down to being who God made me to be, an outgoing, chatty girl, but learning when the appropriate time is to shut my mouth and put others before my own personality needs.

How about you?  Are you a good listener or a talker?  Any tips for me?

If you have fallen prey to my running mouth, I apologize for not listening better and I promise to do better in the future.  Please give me another chance.  I am really working on this and seeking help from the Holy Spirit to reign in my tongue. 

We'll get to the anger issue another day.... ;)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Worthy Living

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul urges us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. 

I am I the only 30-something year old that thinks she hasn't really figured out this 'calling' thing?  Yes, I know I am doing the calling of motherhood currently, and I love it (most of the time).  I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love seeing my children grow and learn and be naughty (OK maybe not so much that one).  I love teaching them about Jesus and hearing the words come back out of their mouths.  Just last night at supper my 2-year-old was saying the prayer for us and the first words out of her mouth were, "Dear God, we thank you for Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.  I pray he gets better."  Kid you not.  Exact words.  It is moments like these that melt my heart and help me see my current calling is worth those times I shut myself in the bathroom and cry. (She then went on praying for our pastor - who just had heart surgery - that he would get better, went back to Jesus on the cross, thanked Him for macaroni and that it would also get better....I tried not to take that as a stab to my cooking.)

Anyway, I digress....

I sat here and thought about the word 'calling' for a bit. defines calling as: vocation, profession, or trade; a call or summons; a strong impulse or inclination. (I also tried to look it up in Greek/English translations, but didn't get very far with that.  I am still learning how to correctly do that advanced task.) These didn't really answer my questions either. So, I just sat thinking about the calling God gives us and wondering why I feel like I don't really think being a mom is my final calling.  The more I thought and prayed on it, I kind of had this feeling that I was missing something.

You see, I was looking for a calling to be a specific task or job-type thing I will do later in life after the majority of the 'mom' stuff is done. (Yes, I know it will never be fully 'done' but there will be a time when my three children won't require so much of my time and I will need something else to do to fill it.)   I think the Spirit was nudging me to think more openly instead of so specific.  With all my reading on taking care of the poor and orphaned and oppressed lately I have really been wanting some direction and I think I was trying to take this calling thing to that place as well. 

I think the calling we are given as Christians is all the same.  We are to bring glory to God.  As Paul continues to say in the following verses "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you  were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." vs 2-6.  These are the instructions He gives us on how to do that, along with the rest of His Word.

We have been called to be His children through our faith in him.  Cleansed by His grace.  No matter what we do, if we do it with hearts intent on bringing Him the glory, we can't go wrong.  If we do it with humbleness and patience and love, we will please Him. 

It might not be the specific answer I am still looking for, but at least an answer for today.  My calling is to bring glory to Him through love because of the grace He has given me.  As long as my heart is in this 100% the specific tasks of this calling will become clear in His time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Messing With My Head

OK.  So I read this post from Jen Hatmaker's blog today, apparently an excerpt taken from her book, 7.  Which I have on my shelf, and will get to as soon as I finish her book Interrupted.  (Hey, I have told you I am totally obsessed with her already, does this really surprise you?)  I have to tell you this 1st part to get to the 2nd part....

Anyway, Interrupted is totally messing with my head and my heart.  It is all about how we are all so vastly and richly blessed and how Jesus really wants us to live our lives like He did.  It is ever so popular to ask "What Would Jesus Do"  but we always want the comfortable answer. 

We are so busy blessing the blessed and living our Christian lives in the fast lane that the real life of Jesus is lost to us.  Jesus preached to the poor and the sinners.  He fed the hungry.  He begged us to do the same in so many places in the Bible.  Yet, so many of us miss it totally.  We are perfectly fine with throwing a $20 in the collection plate, or bringing a bag of canned goods to donate so that we can check off the 'give to the needy' box on our guilt list.


I am totally guilty of all of this.  It is all I do.  Heck, I am in complete denial/oblivion of what it is really like in the world.  I don't even see it in my comfy, cozy little small town life. 

But Interrupted is opening my eyes.  It is completely messing me up and making me question everything. 

You will have to bear with me though as I haven't figured out what I am supposed to do with it yet.  I have no clue where God is leading me with this, except to open my eyes and prepare me to leave my cozy little space I currently occupy.

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in , or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."  Matt 25:34-40

And now for the 2nd part....

Our reading for Modern Girls was Eph 3:14-21. 

Eph 3:16-17 says: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ my dwell in your hearts through faith.

I pray for THIS.  That He will give me the strength and power through is Spirit so deep inside me that Christ fully dwells in my heart through my faith.  Because if I allow for this to happen, how can I not do His will?  How can I not love the 'least of these'.  His purpose for me in realizing all of the filthy richness that is in my life and the needless poverty, hunger and loneliness in others will become clear to me. 

I am still clueless and it brings tears to my eyes that I realize what is going on, but don't know how to act on it.  I don't know what to do.  Thankfully, vs 20 reassures me.  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."  Praise God for that.  He will make it clear to me in His time.  I just have to keep watching for His guidance with my hands open and my heart ready.