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. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Devotional Week - Day 5

Heart of a Champion Devotional
Day 5 - Victor

But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Definition of Victor: a person who defeats an enemy, a winner

Wanting to win is a big part of sports. When the game begins, so does the race towards victory. Points are scored and eventually the scoreboard declares a winner. You’re either victorious or defeated. Usually as a season goes by, you experience both.

There is one who’s never walked through a loss – Jesus! He is the Victor! We don’t know if He ever played a sport, but the Bible tells us He’s won a battle! Friend, He defeated death!
When we confess Him as Lord and Savior, we gain the victory as well. Trusting in Jesus is a win for us. We won’t get a medal or trophy, but we will experience abundant life on earth and gain an eternal home in heaven! 

What is the biggest victory you have won?

Have you experienced the victory of Jesus?

Jesus, I’m so grateful for your victory. Win or lose in athletics may I always rejoice in what You have done. In your name, Amen.

Work-Out – Read Romans 10:9. Have you done this? If not, will you do it today?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Devotional Week - Day 4

Heart of a Champion Devotional
Day 4 - Disciplinarian

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Hebrews 12:6

Definition of Disciplinarian: one who enforces order

Have you ever had to run sprints or do push-ups after a bad game? Has a coach ever corrected your attitude or behavior? Being disciplined, or corrected, is never fun in the moment, but if the coach is doing it for the right reason, good will come. He or she is doing this because they care and want what is best for you.

God loves us more than anyone and as our heavenly Father, He too will sometimes discipline us. Just like on the playing field, it will be best to accept the correction and change because of it. When the discipline comes, on the court and in life, let’s not focus on the pain it may initially bring, but on the love of the One who brings it. God wants us to succeed and He knows when we get off track; may we remember that when we are being disciplined! 

How do you respond to discipline?

How can you better respond to discipline?

God, thank you for loving me as your child and for disciplining me too. Help me respond to it rightly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Work-Out – Read Hebrews 12:7-12. What do you learn about God’s discipline?