Thursday, September 12, 2019

Willing to be a Walk-On

Well, our focus on HUMILITY is coming to an end and as we wrap this up, I pray this post serves as a bit of a pep talk for you! These words from nearly 3 years ago hold Truth that can transform. As I continue to be involved in athletics, I see the utter importance and great need for humility. Friend, this isn't just true in the games we play, but it's essential in the life we live! May we each humble our hearts today!

From November 14, 2016 -

You could say it was the weekend of the walk-on here in Iowa. Friday night my girls and I traveled to Ames to watch the ISU Cyclones; the teams did not disappoint. It was my basketball loving girls first time in a big arena so watching them was about as much fun as watching the games. Their eyes got big and their dreams grew bigger. We had much to talk about, but today I want to share one thought that went a bit deeper. 

Have you ever thought much about walk-ons? If you're not a sports fan, your answer will be a quick "no". And even if you enjoy the game, walk-ons probably don't have much of your attention, but this weekend my girls and I spent time talking about this important role and I've spent even more time thinking about it. I pray you will do the same, but first I want to ask you a question - "Are you willing to be a walk-on?" 

As you think about this question, let me share a few more thoughts...

Like I told my girls, a walk-on has an important role. It's said that a team is only as strong as it's weakest player. A walk-on may not get much time on the floor when the lights are on and stands are full, but they are vital when it comes to practice. They help the starters get better. Though people don't know or flock to these players like they do the All-Americans or even know their name like some of the starters and key reserves, they still have skills. Walking on is not something just anybody can a way coaches choose these players too. 

My daughters understood this, but their little competitive selves struggled with the idea of sitting on the bench. They are only in 4th and 6th grade but already love to play the game and had a hard time imagining doing all that work, going to all the practices and just sitting on the bench. After hearing their thoughts, I reminded them of the importance of teamwork and the fact that playing basketball has to be about something bigger than themselves. Walk-ons are truly athletes who love the game, have the desire to be part of a program and are often humble. They are willing to give up the glory and must make a financial sacrifice to follow a dream.

This conversation continued and went deeper as we talked about being a walk-on for a team other than the Cyclones. Let me add to the question I asked earlier, "Are you willing to be a walk-on for Christ?" 

Will you lay down your dreams and desires so He can get the glory? Are you willing to work behind the scenes while other brothers and sisters get the spotlight? Will you sacrifice financially and personally to follow where He leads? Are you willing to work hard, put in extra time even if nobody ever knows your name? Will you humble yourself, play your role and trust God's plan? 

Friend, those are all simple questions to state, but can be challenging to really answer honestly. I know my girls aren't the only ones with big dreams and desires...we're all human, our flesh wants to be noticed, some of us are competitive and we want to play. But in all of this we must remember God is good...He is a coach who has chosen us. He doesn't have 5 star recruits and walk-ons, His team consists of sons and daughters. He knows our name, our role and our potential. Trust Him, "play" for Him. 

A few thoughts from His Word to support this thinking - 

"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:21,27)
Friend, every member of a basketball team is important regardless of stats and in the same way every member the body of Christ is important regardless of roles. 

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last-so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." (John 15:16) When it feels like the world forgets us we must remember the bigger picture - God has chosen us!! He has work for us to do and even if it doesn't look like we expected or dreamed about we must give Him our all and our best!!

"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 14:11) Like I said it takes humility to be a walk-on. A friend's son is currently experiencing his freshman year as walk-on and I have to guess this is not what his dream looked like as a child - sure he dreamed of being a D1 player, but we don't dream about sitting on the bench. Thankfully as we mature our understanding grows and so does our willingness to accept reality. He is grateful for the role God's given him on this team and I pray we all feel the same as we humble ourselves and embrace our role on God's team. 

A few final encouraging words - these words from God's Word are true. Friday night Stu, the beloved walk-on at Iowa State, enjoyed a few minutes on the court. The crowd cheered when he took the floor and then erupted when he scored. He's put in his time, accepted his role and found some success. Then on Saturday night, another walk-on here in Iowa, was given time in the national light. Keith Duncan, a freshman walk-on kicker for the Hawkeyes, nailed the game winning field goal to knock off the mighty Michigan Wolverines. 

Friend, when you and I humble ourselves for our Father in Heaven He will give us more than success on the basketball court or football field. He will bless our obedience and give us eternal rewards. And like all walk-ons know more importantly than individual success, God will get the glory and His kingdom will grow!!!

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be on your team. Help each and everyone of us embrace the role you give to us. Help us die to self so that we can live for you. May we surrender our dreams and pursue your plans. Transform our thinking and renew our minds. Equip us to live for you and you alone. Lord, humble our hearts and let your perfect plan unfold. May we always remember the privilege it is to be used by you. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Word of the Week - Humility

Our look at humility continues! I pray you think this is a good thing! May these words about our word for the week speak to your heart and encourage you to do what God is calling you to! 

From March 11, 2014 -

Nearly 10 days ago, one of the key words I wrote down as I took notes at church was humility. This is a concept that is connected to faith quite often, but that day I didn't reflect on it too much. Then two days later I found myself struggling with insecurity...doubting my voice mattered and thinking my role wasn't that important. I knew this thinking was wrong, so in attempt to correct my thoughts I pulled out my Bible and journal. 

I came across the word - HUMILITY and was reminded this type of thinking was not humility. There was a time in my life when I considered my insecurity a form of humility, but I've learned that is not the case. Friend, we can be prideful in a quiet, dangerous way. Insecurity is a form of selfishness and that is never a type of humility!

So in that moment, I was reminded to let go of my insecurities and tune out the lies I was listening to so that I could humble myself before God. As I did this, He led me to believe His thoughts more than my own. He reminded me I was created for a purpose, I have a voice that matters and He was in control. 

Then He lead me into a situation I never expected and had left me anxious, but as I surrendered my will and trusted His plan (and listened to my husband's encouraging words) He filled me with peace. I was in a place where I couldn't do it, but looking back I know that is exactly where I needed to be because then God can!!

God did what He needed to do and showed me this "situation" was about so much more than it outwardly seemed...I trust God spoke through me, but more than that He spoke to me. He showed me I still struggle with insecurity and truly living as the one He created me to be. For the last 5 years, He's led me on a journey to discover who I am and has put it on my heart to share the story.

I have a book proposal, two notebooks full of scripture and stories, but I also have a heart overflowing with  doubts. I've told myself, "There are plenty of books on this topic...mine isn't needed. I don't have time. I don't have the skill. I don't have the platform." The reasons are endless and they do explain why I haven't written, but as I humbly sat with this before God I was reminded they don't excuse my disobedience.

If I want to live as a humble servant of Christ, I need to do what He asks. Even when it doesn't make sense. Even when nobody else knows. Even when it seems impossible. Friend, humility is at the core of Christianity and it is essential if we want to live in obedience. Not just when it comes to writing a book or Bible study, but especially as we live our lives!!

The day following this heart to heart with God I received a new book and I did what I always the acknowledgements and then turn to the last few pages. On the final page I read this, "Jill, humble yourself so that..." and the tears started to fall. The word I'd scribbled on my sermon outline was now cemented on my heart. 

A new entry was made in my journal and God kept speaking to my heart through His Word. Perhaps He has something to say to you -

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5-6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Friend, I'm not sure if HUMILITY needs to be your word this week, but let me encourage you to consider thinking about it. Insert your name in this blank "_____________, humble yourself so that..." Pray about this and God will give you plenty of opportunities to live it out!! And if you've mastered this, I invite you to pray for me!! Thank you friend! It's a joy to humbly walk through life with you!!

"If you are humble, nothing will touch you, 
neither praise nor disgrace, 
because you know what you are." 
Mother Teresa" 

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Lesson in Humility

Hello friends! Last week I shared a post and devotional about humility and it got me thinking. This is a topic I've studied before, but it seemed it was one God wanted me to revisit, so I did. For the next three days, I'll be sharing a bit more about the topic. I invite you to join me! I pray God uses my stories and teachings to draw you into His Word!!

                                                     From November 4, 2015 -

This picture is not real clear because it's a picture I didn't want to take. Actually I didn't take it, because it's a vision of something I'd like to forget, but my husband did capture the moment on his old cell phone and for the sake of this post, I'll share it with you.

Last week, I offered to go with my husband as he took wagons from our farm to another field. Once we arrived he decided to fill the wagons and we enjoyed a little uninterrupted conversation in the combine. All was going well. Then he suggested I drive the tractor while he combined so we could unload on the go. We were finishing up and he told me to pull the wagons on the road and pick him up on the other end of the field. Sounded simple enough.

I turned out of the field onto the end rows, glanced back and saw the tire crack off. It seemed to happen in slow motion, but there was nothing I could do as I next watched the wagon tip and bushel upon bushel of corn flow out. I was sick. My husband was heading the opposite way, so he saw nothing. I didn't have my phone so I couldn't call him. So what did I do? Sat there and cried for awhile.

I felt terrible. I'd made a huge mess. I glanced out the tractor cab and saw dollars on the ground instead of corn. Eventually, I saw Job start making his way towards me. I got out of the tractor and saw everything up close and started to cry again. I walked to him sobbing and shaking.

"Just relax. It's going to be OK," were his first words to me. He assured me it wasn't something I had done and was a mishap he'd actually experienced before. At this point, the rain started to fall and his brother was on his way with the skidloader, our kids and shovels.

We jumped in the combine and my stomach continued to churn as I remembered I was supposed to lead Titus24U that evening and share about humility. I told Job, "I'm going to call Jackie and tell her I can't do it." He assured me it would be fine and that I would be going.

Once we met up with the clean-up crew I felt terrible all over again. Here I'd made the mess, but they were sending me home to lead Bible study while they would get soaked scooping up grain. My little Jaylyn saw the distressed look on my face and reminded me, "Mommy, it's not your fault."

As I headed home much went through my mind..."Sometimes God humbles us in our humility." "It takes humility to receive grace." And "If we want our kids to be humble, we'd better live out humility." Friend, we do need to humble ourselves in order to die to self and obey God.

I'd been knee deep in study of this topic that is broad and deep and He used this experience to continue the lesson. Friend, let me ask you - what is humility? What does a humble person look like? I think we can all give general answers and examples, but Biblically this is a big, important topic that can be somewhat hard to understand.

Prior to my study, I would have said humility is the opposite of pride. It's NOT that cocky NFL player who is all about me. This is true, but there is so much more. Andrew Murray said, "Pride is the lack of humility," which I thought was an interesting perspective. Especially when I connect it with a Susie Larson quote - "Insecurity is a form of selfishness, which is pride."

Now for someone who's battled insecurity for most of my life this quote hit home. For years, I at times labeled my insecurity - my shyness, my lack of confidence, my fear of speaking up, my worry about what others thought, as humility. And friend, that is SO wrong.

Humility is all about God, not me. Humility is an emptying of self. Being humble requires confidence, in Christ. Humble people focus on God, not self. When we're humble we acknowledge God as Creator and remember we are simply His creation. In Greek, humility means to submit self, a meek, gentle and lowly state.

Humility is needed to learn and teach, lead and follow, give and receive, help and be helped, share and listen, receive criticism and rightly confront, serve and be served, ask and offer. Humility is necessary if we want to be like Jesus...the one who was HUMBLE.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God 
something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing 
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" 
Philippians 2:5-8

Friend, there is so much more I could say, but I believe it will mean more if God is the one talking, so I'm going to do something a bit different and leave you with some homework. Everytime I sat down to search the Scriptures and dig into God's Word on this topic, He spoke to my heart...and convicted it too. That's not necessarily an easy thing, but let me assure you it is a good thing. 

If you're up for the challenge, here's some notes from our local Titus24U gathering that will get you started. I encourage you to humble yourself and ask God to teach you and transform you! I pray your lesson won't include a mess like the one I described above!! Feel free to print this out. I'd love to hear what God teaches you, so be sure to comment. I believe this lesson in humility will last a lifetime, so if we can learn from each other, we perhaps can avoid some humiliation and grow in our humility!

A Short Study on Humility
Words From Others
“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis
“Humility is the proper estimate of one’s self.” Charles Spurgeon
“The level of our faith matches the depth of our humility.”
“Lack of humility often is the cause of much of our difficulty.”
“Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; Humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God.” (Bible notes - Luke 1:48)

Words from God
As you read these Scriptures think about these questions - "What do they tell you about humility? Where does humility come from? What does it lead to? Is it necessary for a believer? Why?"

Proverbs 3:34, 11:2, 13:10 29:23  
Jeremiah 6:16-19
Psalms 25:9        
Isaiah 57:15
Philippians 2:3-11        
1 Peter 5:5-6
Colossians 2:18-23, 3:12                
Ephesians 4:1-2

Examples of Humility
As you read of these influential people, take note of the role humility played in their life.
Abraham - Genesis 18:27-32
Jacob - Genesis 32:10
Moses - Ex. 3:11
Joshua - Joshua 7:6
Job - Job 42:2-6
Elizabeth - Luke 1:43
Jesus - Matthew 11:29
Paul - Acts 20:19

Humility Homework
Define humility -

Describe a humble person -

Think about your roles - What does humility look like in each of them?

Humility is a matter of heart…take some time and examine yours -
Am I humble?
Do I serve with joy?
Do I compare myself with others?
Am I jealous? Do I envy?
Do I strive for praise? Long for approval?
Do I react wrongly when others are praised?
Do I forgive? Do I accept forgiveness?
Do I judge?
Am I humble in seemingly insignificant daily tasks?
Do I desire to be more humble?
How can I grow in humility?

Write a Prayer for Humility (Verses to consider- Ps. 26:2, 51:10, Jer. 18:6, Is. 66:2, 1 Peter 3:3-4)

Friday, September 6, 2019


Welcome to those of you joining me from The Encouragement Cafe where I am again sharing about humility. If you'd like to read my devotion titled, "What is that?" click HERE.

This piece from the past was timely for me once again, so I dug a bit deeper and found a few more on humility. If it's a topic you'd like to learn more about I invite you to read my next few posts from the past - 

As I wrote, we must understand humility if we are going to live humbly. Though I wrote the words in the devotional months ago, God recently taught me a lesson about this...last weekend to be exact.

My husband, Job, is an elder at our small county church, which means once every few months he is in charge of setting up communion. This role means I am responsible for making a loaf of bread...something that is NOT a gift of mine.

By Saturday afternoon, I had successfully made two loaves of bread...the kids were thrilled to enjoy one for supper and I did what every mom of hungry kids would do with the other - hide it! Time came for baths and the bedtime routine, so I set the bread out on the counter knowing it'd be easy for Job to find when he left to set up.

With baths over I dressed Jesse, my 3 year old, and sent him off; then I did the same with Jed, my 5 year old. As I finished cleaning up I heard Jed, "Mom, come quick, Jesse eatin bread!!!!"

Instantly, I knew exactly what had happened. I entered the kitchen to find this...

A flood of thoughts entered my mind, but it all came down to, "What are we going to do?" Minutes later Job  came in and his first reaction was far different than mine...he laughed, which only added to my frustration. At 8:30 I put the kids to bed and then returned to the kitchen.

Thankfully I had one more loaf of frozen bread dough; I found the directions and moved forward with the fastest baking plan. At 11:30 PM I opened the oven and found what I called, a "Humpty Dumpty" loaf of bread...I don't know what happened, but it looked bad.

Honestly I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn't fall. I knew there was nothing I could do so I went to bed...a short time later Job came in from a late night in the field. He saw the bread, didn't say a word and then I asked him, "What are we going to do?" He assured me it would be alright.

I went to sleep asking God to work it out...I wasn't sure how that would happen - I'd already contacted my three bread making friends, we are an hour from the nearest store that would have a loaf of homemade looking bread and church was at 8:30. Yet there was a part of me that knew it would be alright.

At 4 AM I woke up and knew I was to get up and try again. This time I found a recipe for my bread machine, prayed as I added the ingredients and returned to bed asking God to do it. By 6 I was back up, put the dough in pans and let it rise. During this time, my brother-in-law stopped by and asked for the communion bread...Job had asked him to take it to church. I wrapped up the "Humpty Dumpty" loaf and Satan reminded me I wasn't cut out to be an elder's wife.

Time kept ticking away as I did the dishes, while I stood at the sink I thought about the devotions I was sharing this week - both were on the topic of humility. I specifically got to thinking about what humility really is and more specifically what it should like in the situation I was in. God had me, a recovering people pleaser with a life long approval addiction, on this one. "Why was I making another loaf of bread?" was the question He put on my heart.

I would like to say it was because communion is important, it's a holy sacrament and something I want to do right to honor God. I also remembered the widow how didn't give much, but gave all she had and wondered if God was telling me my messed up loaf was enough. Friend, those things are all true, but I know I was also worried about what others would think.

So when my daughter looked at the nice freshly baked loaves of bread and asked, "Which one are you going to take to church?" I simply responded, "I might not take either one." She, the girl who inherited a bit of my addiction, was shocked and asked, "Why?"

I told her what God had been showing me about humility and how I really didn't know my answer to His question. Then I explained how our actions might look humble, but if they come from a prideful heart it's not humility at all. She looked at me a bit confused and then left to get ready for church.

After our conversation, I had peace about the whole situation and was prepared to leave it in my husband's hands...thinking he'd say it wasn't a big deal, nobody would notice and we didn't have time to switch it anyway.

He came in from chores, entered the kitchen, and called to me in the other room, "Why don't you run this loaf down to the church right now." I didn't ask any questions and then did what he said...I knew submitting to my husband was the humble thing to do.

Time for church came and after a powerful sermon we took part in the breaking of the bread. As our pastor echoed Jesus' words from the last supper and lifted the loaf of bread...I had peace. I had heard God's voice at 4 AM, followed His directions and made the bread for Him. I gave Him the best of what I had and He was pleased with my perseverance.

He wants and deserves our best...friends that's not always easy and rarely does it come without trouble, but if we humble ourselves it is possible. When we do this He will bless our obedience and be glorified by our actions.

Friend, I pray you are encouraged to really think about what humility is...may we never forget that it is directly connected to the fear of the Lord. May we move past worrying about what others expect and focus on giving God what He deserves. What does God deserve from you today? Your obedience, your praise, your thankfulness, your heart, your time, your money, your 5th loaf of bread? I don't know, but God does - ask Him and then pray for the humility to make it happen!

A few more thoughts on humility -
"God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." Martin Luther

"Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility." Jonathon Edwards

"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves - one above another - and the taller we grow, the easier we can reach them. Now I find that God's gifts are on shelves - and the lower we stoop, the more we get." F.B. Meyer

"He who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11

" grace to the humble...Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up." James 4:6,10

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Now that I know...

Just over a week ago, I attended and helped with the ReNEWed Life Women's Event. Like I shared in my previous post, God did and said much. Our focus was "Knowing God and Making Him Known." In the days that followed, God reminded me that as I get to know Him, I will better understand my identity in Christ. This is a wonderful truth, but it can be a slow process.

I know God is my Creator, but I don't always see myself as His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) I know God is my Father, but I don't always feel like His chosen child. (Romans 8:15) I know God is Jehovah Rapha, our great healer, but sometimes health concerns cause me to worry. (Exodus 15:26) I also know God is called Jehovah Jireh, our provider, but at times I try to take care of myself. (Genesis 22:14)

Do you see a trend here? I do. The other night as I cried out to the One who hears my prayers, He answered. Knowing the names of God are important and it's vital to know His attributes as well. But my friend, knowledge is not enough. We must let this knowledge move from our heads to our heart.

Once we know something, we have a choice to make - Do we believe it?

For instance -

I know God has a purpose and plan for all of His I believe this is true for me?

I know God fearfully and wonderfully created each I believe He did this with me?

I know God can do the I believe that's true for my circumstances?

I know God provides peace and I believe He will do that for me?

Could you make a similar statement? It's OK if you do, but it's important to deal with the questions we ask. I've found myself thinking about this a lot. One question has led to more -

What do I believe? How can I believe more? Can I believe better? What does it mean to believe? What truths do I know? Do I live like they are true?

Believing is important for us as believers and the Bible talks about it much, so I intend to study this a bit more and dig a bit deeper. There are things I know and believe, but there are also clearly areas where I still doubt. So for now, I will do what the dad in Scripture did and pray, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation - knowing truth, but struggling to believe it? How have you come to believe what you know? I encourage you to share your stories. Be honest about your struggles.

I also think we must continue the journey we addressed at our recent women's event - as we get to know God better, we will come to trust Him more. Don't settle for knowing facts about God when you can know Him. Friend, this walk of faith is a journey. We learn and we grow; we struggle and we persevere. We experience hills and valleys. We ask questions and find answers. We seek God and will always find Him. We learn new things and realize there's more we don't know.

So I encourage you to think about what you know about God and then ask yourself if you believe it.  If we want to live out our call to make God known, knowing Him is not enough - we must believe because when we do we will trust and obey Him, which the world will see!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Peeling Onions & Building Towers

The name of this post might seem a bit odd, but I hope you stick with me to hear a bit of my heart. This past weekend I was blessed to be part of the ReNEWed Life Women's was an amazing day of teaching and testimony. God was present and He was glorified. Women were touched and I pray transformed.

Our theme for the day was "Knowing God and Making Him Known." This is a broad, important topic. One that God has used in my life as we prepared and clearly He did the same for our speaker, Stephanie Shott. My dear friend and sister in Christ brought us powerful teaching and God has continued the lesson in the days that have passed. He's linked this new knowledge with a past struggle.

If you've read my blog more than once, you most likely know I've battled insecurities. Over time God has transformed my thinking and healed my heart and I've made progress. I no longer struggle with some things like I use to, but this past week I realized the battle is not over. The devil doesn't play the "you're not good enough card" as much anymore, but the thought "you don't belong" and "you're less than" has entered my mind.

God brought this to my attention before our women's event, but He moved the struggle from something I was simply aware of to something I needed to deal with following it. I watched my teenage daughter respond to a certain situation and she did it just like me. Tears fill my eyes as I type that line because it's a trait I don't want her to inherit. I clearly need to teach her some more Truth, but I must let it transform me as I do.

So that brings me to the first phrase in the title of this blog - "Peeling Onions." That's not my favorite job in the kitchen, but at times it must be done. When it is, it takes time and causes tears. I'm here to tell you peeling onions doesn't just happen in the kitchen; sometimes it happens in my heart.

As God uses His living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12), He peels away layers of lies. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." This powerful and purposeful word cuts to the heart and changes me from the inside out. Just like peeling onions, it's a process that takes time and can cause tears. This can feel painful in the moment, so I must remember it is priceless in the big picture.

Digging into God's Word and letting Him transform my heart and renew my mind has amazing effects. My life and perspective can change, the example I set will be different and most importantly I will get to know Him more, which leads me to the second phrase in the title of this post - "Building Towers."

When our children were younger they all enjoyed building towers. I recall the smiles on their faces as they'd add a block and the fun they had as their tower grew and grew. I don't remember the last time we did that, but this past weekend I learned about something else we can be building.

In her message on knowing God, Stephanie Shott taught us about His names. Did you know there are over 900 of them? Each one has a purpose. There are definitely some we are more familiar with than others and there are 2 that are clearly foundational. Saturday we learned much about Yahweh (Exodus 6:3-5) and I AM (Exodus 3:14-15.) God is who He is and He will be who He will be. He is the self-existent God. He is a covenant making and keeping God.

These names weren't new to me...I've called out to them and received peace because of them, but I can build on them. Knowing God exists and keeps promises is vital to my faith, but knowing Him as Abba Father and Jehovah Jireh strengthens my belief. My kids use to add blocks to make their tower taller, in the same way as I know more of God's names my understanding grows deeper and my relationship with Him gets better.

As I build this tower of names in my mind and get to better know my Father in heaven, He will peel off layers of my heart so I can better make Him known here on earth. Does that sound like something you'd like to do? Open your Bible and ask God to reveal Himself to you in the pages of His Word. He created us to know Him and has called us to make Him known. Make it your mission today!

"but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:24)

"that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings..." (Philippians 3:10)

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Look At, & Lesson From, the Farm

Hello, a big welcome to those of you joining me from Encouragement Cafe today! It's a joy to share my devotional, "An Encouraging Example" with you. It can be amazing to think about the power examples play in our lives.

As a former Algebra teacher I know examples played an important role in the classroom. As a current coach, I know they make a difference on the basketball court. As a mom, I daily see the impact our words and actions have on young hearts and minds. Examples are important and really from each one we can learn. Hopefully, we live lives that show others what to do and I pray we have the discernment to know when an example gives a lesson in what not to do.

Examples come in various forms and from numerous places. My post today is a bit different than most, but it's one God has had on my heart all summer. I pray He has a message for you here today!!

A while back someone was visiting our farm and we gave them a little tour. First off our dog Fritz greeted them, then they saw the cows and the calves. We entered the barn to see sheep, baby turkeys and pigs. Once outside there were more cattle, chickens and a coon dog.

As we made our way around, a song started to play in my head. You can probably guess it was Old McDonalds Farm! We were missing a horse, cat and duck, but otherwise we about had it covered. 

Now, if you haven't visited a farm lately this may not seem like a big deal, but friend farms today are different than they were 30 years ago. Most of today's farms are pretty one dimensional, the days of diversity have seemed to disappear. In my grandparents' days situations like ours were the norm - diversity helped with changing markets, but today specialization is the way to go. 

Our diversity has less to do with income and more to do with our 5 children's varied interests and projects. I'm grateful for all they learn and the work ethic life on the farm provides, but I'm also thankful for the spiritual insight I gain and the powerful lessons I learn. 

Here's the insight I've gleaned from our "Old McDonald's Farm" - diversity is necessary in our spiritual lives. Many farms today just produce crops, while others just raise cattle and still others only produce hogs. This may work in the agricultural world, but as believers we cannot become one dimensional.  

Is your life busy? Mine is too! Does your schedule get crazy? Same here! Are you ever tempted to cut something out? Me too! 

Sometimes cutting back is exactly what we need to do. We must be good stewards of our time, but we can't allow busyness to allow us to become one dimensional in our faith. As disciples of Christ there are disciplines we need to carry out. Now this will look different in different seasons, but we can't go the way of the modern farm and specialize in one area while we forget all the others. 

We can't rely on a weekly Sunday church service to sustain us. We need more than an online Bible study to feed us. Praying before a meal alone won't strengthen our faith. Just like our farm has various animals and crops, we must have multiple dimensions to our faith life. 

Here are a few to focus on! As you read them, pause for a moment and think about the role this discipline plays in your faith walk. Is it part of your life? Is it something new you need to add? Or something you need to strengthen?

Prayer - "Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints..." Ephesians 6:18

Bible Reading - "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." 2 Timothy 3:16

Fellowship - "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

Church Attendance - "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42

Worship - "And Jesus answered him, “It is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." Luke 4:8

Life on a farm can be a bit crazy, but giving a tour with all our livestock is more exciting than when we only have a few animals on the farm. Our lives as a believer will be better lived as we practice each of these disciplines. Our God is great and mighty, we will grow to know Him more and better as we practice diversity and forget about specializing!! 

Heavenly Father, I'm so thankful that you are always with me and you are always working. You teach us in powerful and personal ways. Thank you for this look at and lesson from the farm. May I diversify my faith life...don't let me allow one area to drown out others. I need to pray and I need to worship. I need to read the Bible on my own, but I also benefit from fellowshipping with others. Give wisdom as to how each of these important disciplines can fit into my life. Continue to encourage me as I walk in faith. Bring others across my path who will set an example for me. Equip me to set an example for others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.