Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Daunted "Calling"

Christians are always talking about their "calling in life".  It is one of those "Christian-ease" things to say.  Granted, it isn't just talk and stuff made up by those awe-inspiring, faithful people, it is a Bible-based saying.  But even so, it is one of those things that always makes me go, 'Hmmm."

Today Peter tells us to be all the more eager to make our calling and elections sure.  For if you do these things (add to our faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love) you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:10-11)

I think if we are striving to do all of these in increasing measure it is easy to find our calling.  It is just hard to do all of those things all the time.  Doesn't that make you super-thankful for grace?  Like the other day, I totally failed on the brotherly kindness thing when I gossiped with a friend.  But God gave me the opportunity to increase that skill yesterday when a gal I was frustrated with for not holding up her end of a position she signed up for needed yet more help.  Instead of telling her to get it done herself like she should have in the first place, God gave me the grace I needed to extend to her and help her out.  In the end, none of it is a big deal anyway and was able to avoid another 'spiritual spanking.'

I feel as if right now I am fulfilling the calling God gave me, to be a wife and mother.  But I often wonder what my calling will be down the road.  Yes, I will always be a wife and mother, but feel as if there is more to come once my children have moved on.  It is reassuring to know that as long as I am following in His ways and these fruits as well as the fruits of the Spirit I will never fall.  Notice it doesn't say "never have hard things come my way" but I will be able to stand through these hard things through the faith and grace He has given me.

Do you often wonder if you have found your calling?  Maybe you need to stop searching for only your calling and first search your to increase your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  God tells us that our calling will follow.

What are your thoughts on God's calling in your life?  I'd love to know as it is a topic I love to/have a lot to learn about.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ineffective and Unproductive

Ineffective: not adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

Unproductive: not to to provide, furnish, or supply.

2 Peter 1:8 tells us "For if your possess these qualities {faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love v.5-7} in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The last thing I want to be in my faith is ineffective.  What good is faith if it is not accomplishing its purpose or producing a result?  What good is it if my faith does not provide or supply what I need?  Useless. 

This is where I think the line is drawn between "church attenders" and "true believers".  Now far be it from me to be able to make the judgement as to who is whom in these two categories, but the categories exist nonetheless. 

Church attenders by my definition are the ones who are regular and active church members who have all of the head knowledge.  They are there because they are expected to be or because it is all they have ever known.  But the true heart decision to follow Christ and have a real relationship with Him has never been made.  This is an ineffective faith.  It will not produce the fruit of a deep and meaningful knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  My heart aches for people who fall into this category.  They think they know all that they need to know, but yet miss the big picture of it all.  They are happy just where they are attending church and doing their duty, but typically there is no growth, no increasing measure.

Again, it is truly beyond my wisdom whether or not their knowledge and faithfulness to the church and the concept of Christ will attain them entrance into heaven, but I lean towards doubting its certainty.  Christ says He must "know us" in order to write our names down in His Book of Life and if the true relationship with Him is never established, how does He get to know us.  But then again, He says "all those who believe" will gain entrance into heaven. So, is the head knowledge and belief in Christ enough?  This is something I struggle with, as I feel much of my family falls into this category and feels that it is. 

And of course, true believers are those who trust in the Lord with all of their hearts.  They spend time with him in prayer and in His Word.  Their belief in Christ changes them to the core of their very being.  They know who He is and He knows them.  Granted, there are many different levels to this belief and knowledge in Christ. New believers are just starting on this journey and life-long believers have an understanding I can only hope for one day. That is why Peter tells us we will possess these qualities in increasing measure.  I don't think we will fully know Christ until we meet Him face to face. 

But isn't that a good thing?  I think it is exciting to think that I can keep learning each and every day and never get bored with it.  Never reach the end of the learning potential.  Never 'graduate'.  It means I can read the Bible over and over again and learn something new each and every time.  I can go through life situations, stumbling blocks and celebrations and see God in them in a different way every time one comes my way. 

It is a long list of wonderful attributes to aim for; things I stumble over time and time again.  But isn't one of them perseverance?  Increasing measure.  Just keep moving on and being effective and productive.  We may fail time and time again, but all He asks is that we don't give up, just do a little bit better next time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spiritual Spanking

This is a funny title a friend told me about the other day that fit what I was sharing with her.

Earlier yesterday, (I meant to get all this blogged yesterday, but didn't) I was blessed with a wonderful conversation with a friend.  However, I was kinda naughty on said phone call as well.  I was gossiping.  Gossip is not a title I want, or frequently earn.  I try my hardest to keep my conversations friendly and change the subject if the need arises.  However, this time, I failed.  (I have been getting F's a lot lately, yikes!)

We were chatting along nicely and she was telling me about an experience with some friends she had in the past few weeks.  These same friends had been a little rude to me earlier this summer (this was my perception of the interaction anyway).  Well, since they had been nice to her and rude to me I felt the little green monster well up inside and I decided to tell her as much.  One thing led to another and we were singling out some people and going on and on.  I could feel little tugs telling me to stop and that what I was saying might not even be the full truth, but I chose not to listen and to go on.

Eventually the conversation ended, thankfully (not that I wanted to stop talking to my friend, but that it ended the gossip session), because I had another call come in that I needed to take.  After that, I felt terrible.  I knew I was wrong.  I saw my friend just about an hour later that day and apologized for what I had done.  I asked for forgiveness.  I gave her permission to shut me up if I ever started doing it again in a conversation with her.

Then, at my quiet time I sat down and asked forgiveness from the Lord and for help in reigning in my tongue the next time my jealousy took over or the desire to gossip arose.

Then came the 'spiritual spanking' in the form of God's Word (now that I know a fun little term for these moments, I recognize I receive them quite frequently!)
2 Peter 1:5-7  For this very reason {vs 4 says to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires}, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

All the above things I failed to do in this conversation with my friend.  My gossiping was not good.  It did not show my knowledge of God and His Word, thus it didn't show any qualities of godliness.  I didn't practice self-control with the jealously arose.  I did not persevere through the urge to gossip.  And gossip is definitely not kind to my brothers or showing love. 

I totally caved to the corruption of this world and my evil desires.  Praise God for this verse that I can recite to myself next time the idea of gossip might pass through my head. 

There is a little meme thing floating around facebook and pinterest lately that says "Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it."  I want this to be true of me.  Thus, I need to start practicing the verses above with hopeless abandon.  Won't you join me?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Already There

As I sat and prayed before I started reading my Bible today I asked God for a lot of things.  I need energy to get through the rest of the day.  I need calmness to deal with my youngest's potty issues.  I need motivation to not stay on the couch when I am done and get the rest of the things finished in  my house.  I need Him to fill me.  I need Him to get it all done.

I have been at home for three days now by myself.  I don't know how single mothers do it.  I tip my hat to them.  Daddy is off on his yearly fishing trip, so I am flying solo.  Not only that, but I agreed to take on an extra day of daycare kids during this solo run, so I have had two to three extra kids during the day all three of these days.  I need God's help to finish it out.  Daddy comes home tomorrow afternoon.  Praise. The. Lord.

Anyway, after praying for all these things and repeatedly asking for Him to help me through it all, I flip open my Bible to my next verse in 2 Peter.  Now, after having taken 3 days to get through the first 2 verses, I figured I might have to read a little while to get a little 'nugget' this time.  Wrong.

God has a great sense of humor.  Don't you agree?  Here is what I read in 2 Peter 1:3

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness."

Nailed it. 

Of course, should I have ever doubted He would?  Seriously, He gives us just what we need.  The thing that got me in this verse is not that He still needs to give it to me, but that He already has.  And, just like yesterday, it comes through our knowledge of Him. 

He has given me everything I need for life and godliness.  Becoming more like Him is what I need right now.  God never lacks energy.  He never lacks calmness when it is needed most and He never lacks motivation.  I lack all these things, not because He hasn't granted me these talents, but because I fail to use the power He has given me through Him.  I fail to do these things because I fail to get to know Him better.  I fail to succeed in all of these areas because I don't seek Him first. 

Through Him all that I truly need is already there.  I just need to realize it and utilize it in the way that He has planned for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ours for the Taking

Its another one-verse day.  Like I said, it might take me a while to get through 2 Peter at this rate. 

Verse 2 tells us "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."

Grace: favor or goodwill, mercy or pardon.  Peace: freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity.  Good things, yes?

These are granted to us in abundance through the knowledge of Him. 

Now, the pardon (grace) of our sins is ours at first acceptance of Christ and the favor He has given us through His blood.  But peace is another story.  You can't just accept Christ, keep doing life the way you were before, and expect things to be all honky dory.  It doesn't work that way.

This Christian life stuff takes work.  It takes time and it takes a knowledge of Him to fully reap all the benefits.  I don't know about you, but peace sounds awful good to me.  Here, Paul tells me I can get it abundantly by knowing God. 

Sure, I know Him.  I was raised in the church and have been faithfully following Him for 13 years now on my own.  The kind of peace Paul is talking about comes from knowing God on a truly personal level.  Really knowing Him.  Resting in His presence.  Giving Him full and complete control of whatever may come your way.

Does this kind of peace mean that my kids won't fight or disobey, or that hard things will never happen to me?  Heavens, no.  It just means that through knowing Him, when these things happen I can find peace in knowing that He is in control, knowing that if I seek His will for my life through thick and thin, I will be able to peacefully come to the other side a stronger person. 

Knowing Him comes from these hard times.  It comes from having no where else to turn and having no other option but to give it up to Him.  It comes from spending time with Him.  In prayer.  In His Word.  In fellowship with others who know Him.  It is a lifestyle.

So, go find your grace and peace in abundance.  He is just waiting to give it to you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Got a Big Ol' F on that one

I just screwed up.  Big time.  And I thank God for His mercies and His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of children.

We have been having a really hard time with my youngest daughter lately.  She potty trained almost a year ago.  A whole year.  But lately she has decided (and she has done this off and on throughout this whole year) that it takes too much work to stop what she is doing and go to the bathroom.  So, she just goes in her pants.  Not enough, mind you, to leave a puddle or get completely soaked, she stops herself before that point.  But just enough to get her undies and pants wet, enough that she has to be changed. 

I don't know if you have ever been through this, but you can not imagine how frustrating this is.  We have tried everything.  Reminding her to go.  Taking her to the bathroom.  Making sure she knows what a good girl she is when she does make it to the potty.  Spanking her when she doesn't go on the potty.  Taking away privileges.  And just about anything else we can think of.

Today was another one of those days, as was yesterday.  The day we went to LegoLand in Kansas City, she had six accidents like this SIX.  In four hours nonetheless.  I am at my wits end.  I am tired of picking her up only to realize she is wet.  Or looking down at her playing and seeing that all too familiar wet spot between her legs.  When I picked her up to carry her upstairs and tuck her into bed for nap today, she was wet.  I already had to change her once this morning.  I snapped.  I lost it.  I was mad.  I yelled (a lot, think ugly, mad-red mama face).  I spanked her when I was still angry (which I never do) and I made her sit on the toilet for 10 minutes (which is a long time for a 2 1/2-year-old who still has to hold them self up on the seat).  The 10 minutes was mostly for me to cool off, but I told her she had to sit there so that she could remember what she was supposed to do and where she was supposed to do it.  Lastly, I took away her "mines" (her security blankets that she is very, very attached to).

So after I finally got her cleaned up, changed and tucked into bed I crashed on my couch and just asked God, "Why?"  Why is she being so difficult.  Why can't she figure it out?  Why does it make me so angry?  Why did I just scream at my baby?  I was so mad at myself at this point for how I had treated her, I had to ask for forgiveness. 

Still fuming inside though, I knew I needed something to calm me down.  Prayer and music do that for me.  So I flipped open my computer and turned on  Praying all the while, I just kept asking how I deal with my anger and the issue at hand.  And what do you know?  "Blessings" by Laura Story was the first song on. 

Through this song God reminded me of two things: 1.  If a little potty training issue is the worst thing going on in my life right now, I am blessed and 2.  Even if it is a small thing, I have to bring it to Him, rely on His strength and wisdom to get me through and remember that, like the song says, the trials of this life could be His mercies in disguise.

God is so good.  He knew exactly what I needed to hear.  Even if it doesn't solve the problem, it helps give me perspective. 

So, please don't judge me for losing my cool with my daughter.  Help a poor mama out.  Do you have any suggestions?  Is there something I'm not thinking of.  Do I just need to put her back in diapers?  Even if you don't have the answer, will you do me a favor and pray for me (and her) on this issue.  I don't know what else to do, that is all I have left.

Thanks for "listening".  I needed to get that out.  And now I need to go apologize to and love on my baby girl. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not Mine, but Given to Me

Again, the Holy Spirit nudged me to slow down today.  Read it and take it in.

2 Peter 1:1b "To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:"  (at this rate it might take me a year to get through 2 Peter).

Praise God for His righteousness and a precious faith.  The think that got me in this part of the verse was that we  have received our faith.  That word made me stop and think.  Now, received is not a word I need to look up to have to know the definition of or even the specifics of.  It means to take or accept something that has been given to you (I am sure there are other, more fancy definitions, but you get my laymo version here).

Up until I stopped and read this verse I had always thought of faith as something that was mine.  It was a decision I made when I decided to accept Christ and what He did for me.  But, here, in this verse it says that faith is also something that was given to me.

When I stop and think about it, it is so very true.  Faith is something that God gave me.  Why would I ever be conceited enough to think I could have something like that on my own?  God planted faith into my very being.  It is part of who we all are.  We just have to make the choice to accept it, to take it into our possession, to make it part of our daily lives.

We also have to realize that this God-given faith is not something we can do on our own once we have accepted it.  As we grow in this faith, we have to stop and realize many times that we don't often have enough, but have to rely on God to fill us.  We have to remember that He is the "author and perfecter of our faith".  So we can't think that we can do it all by ourselves.  It is from Him.  Once we accept it, it doesn't mean that He is separated from it, but that we are now on the faith 'team' together.

Have you made the choice to accept the faith you have been given?  To accept the precious gift of righteousness given to us by the blood of Christ?  It isn't anything you can do on your own, or make better, or be good enough to receive.  It is already there for you.  You just have to accept it and He will accept you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stopping the "Skimming"

I am finally moving on from 1 Peter.  It took me a while, but I finished it up and am very thankful to have learned a great deal from it.

So, I just naturally went on to 2 Peter.  Usually, I open up a new book of the Bible and kind of skim over the little greeting that always fills the first couple of verses.  You know, the one the often introduces who the author is and where said author says "hello" to the people to whom he is writing. 

Well, I was doing that today once again, and the Holy Spirit nudged me to stop it.  Stop and actually read it.  See what it says and how it might effect what you are about to read or something else applicable like that.

Here, Peter introduces himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.  It made me stop and think what I am "of Jesus Christ".  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  I am a child of Jesus Christ.  I am a believer in Jesus Christ.  All great things that make me who I am.

However, it also made me stop and think about the things I should be "of Jesus Christ" but often choose to skip over as well because they are a little harder.  I should always be an evangelist of Jesus Christ.  I should be a servant of Jesus Christ.  I should be a defender of Jesus Christ.  And I am sure there are many, many more.

So, what are your "of Jesus Christ" labels?   What do you want them to be or which ones do you often find yourself shying away from?

God calls us to be His hands and feet for whatever might need to be done for His Glory on this earth.  It is time we start reading the things we often find mundane (like introductions) and doing the things we are called to do. 

Monday, September 3, 2012


You know when God says something twice, you had better listen up.

Well, within two chapters of 1 Peter God has mentioned self-control.  First in 1 Peter 4:7 where he tells us to be clear minded and self-controlled so that we can pray and now in 5:8, telling us to be self-controlled and alert because the devil is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.

What a picture, right?  The devil roaming around like a lion searching for its prey to take down and dismember.  Scary if you ask me.

This world can be a scary place.  There is so much going on.  So many bad things happen to good people and bad things happening around the world. 

So why does self-control and alertness help us in this world?  I had to do some thinking and praying on this one. Here is what the Holy Spirit showed me and since this little topic has come up twice now, I figured I'd better pay attention.

Each of us has weaknesses that pull us down.  Little things that pull us a little more towards the devil's side and away from our closeness to God.  Now, as Christians we can't be separated from the love of God as long as we still believe in Him, but the more we let our weaknesses pull us away, the fellowship we have with Him and dedication we have towards Him are put in danger.

We have to ask God for help.  We can't just think that we can handle these little dilemmas on our own.  The devil wants nothing else but to pull us over to his side, so he is going to use what he can against us, and what better areas to prowl than where we are easily sucked in?

So, if nothing else, this little nudge from God, His repeating something to me to get my attention, shows me to stop and pray about what exactly my flaws may lie and where I need the most help from Him to build resistance.

How about you?  Do you know where your shortcomings lie when it comes to self-control?  Have you stopped to ask Him about what they are and for His help in overcoming them?

As a little added note, dont' you just love the imagery Peter is using in this chapter.  We go from sheperding sheep to watching out for lions on the prowl.  Life is a jungle, people!