Category Archives: Love
It’s been a while 😉
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few months now….continually shuffling it around on my ‘to do’ list. Right now it is about 3 am and I have been up for about two hours now. Sleep is elusive.
I went to my spot and sat there talking to God. Asking Him why I haven’t been consistent with some of my responsibilities and why keeping up the momentum to keep on being productive is so hard? I even shed a few tears. God simply said “You already have the tools.”
Don’t you just love Him? You don’t get anything else until you complete that last thing.
So, I wiped my face, virtual pen in hand and now listening to the taps of my key board while my people are sleeping. Determined to cross this off the list.
On June 17th we welcomed to our family the sweetest baby boy 🙂 He came promptly on his due date, which just happened to be my mother’s birthday (wonderful gift 🙂 ) and he is my father’s name sake. There is a 13 year gap between him and his sister so this felt like a new and not merely different experience.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned from his birth and since….
It’s offering time!!!
Many have been turned off or avoid the church because of methods employed for giving and offerings. Yes?
Sometime last year I took part in a focus study group for my pastor as he was completing his doctoral project on GIVING. We were given a handbook and a diary to write our reflections, thoughts, and feelings after every session. Like everyone else, the sacrifice of time was worth it to show support and love. As a Christian, the topic of giving is not unfamiliar, so I was expecting more information as a refresher. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
The first two sessions covered rudimentary information; Old Testament faithfuls like Abraham and Jacob, tithes, agrarian vs monetary systems etc. But I believe it was the third session that caused a massive struggle. We learned that Tithing was NOT required. Huh? What do you mean? I’ve always known about the 10% that I was supposed to give, and within the past few years had gotten to the point of giving that consistently, so what was this all about?
I looked at the scriptures in my handbook Leviticus 27:30-33, Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Malachi through different eyes. I felt a little flustered as I read because it is very nerve wrecking when something that one believes as foundational is challenged.
Leviticus 27 talked about being able to redeem one’s tithes if the giver so chose. In Deuteronomy the giver was to have a celebration with the tithe as thanksgiving to God. And also to take care of the Levites since they had no land (they served in the temple). In Malachi? Well, the key here is not “Will a man rob God?”…..but “How shall we return?” (v.7). God was done with the Priests and was not going to accept any offerings from their hands; they were bringing Him lame and sick animals etc. The priests were not upholding the laws of what was to be sacrificed to God. We no longer sacrifice animals….Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.
At this point I was thinking of every place in the bible that I could find something about tithing; Abraham and Jacob! Well, I looked at that and obviously they both chose to give a tithe before there was any law. Abraham in Genesis 14:20 and Jacob in Genesis 28:22. They both did it out of love for God and his faithfulness. I couldn’t find anything that substantiated mandatory tithing in the New Testament. There is nothing to redeem….Jesus already DID that!!
I went home grappling with what this meant. I did some more research and realized that this information is out there but I have NEVER heard anyone speak on this. Understandably so, because there is a fear that if people know they don’t HAVE to give, then they wouldn’t!
I sat on my little foot stool in my closet and thought to myself “Man, if I don’t HAVE to give I can save a lot of money!”. As soon as the thought left my mind God asked “Were you giving because you LOVE ME, or just because you thought you were obligated to?”
I sat there for a long time digesting this.
Obligation never equals love. Love is doing it when I have a clear choice not to.
My heart changed in that moment. God has been so good to me! And especially faithful.
I have the opportunity to appreciate God just as Abraham and Jacob did when they decided what they would give without a legal standard.
I thanked God for the opportunity to check myself. It’s easy to SAY we love and trust God until we are faced with putting it to the test. I couldn’t imagine the courage, trust in and love for God that my Pastor had to work through to first embrace this information and then share it. He risked people stopping their giving, because they didn’t HAVE to. But, giving is a form of worship and must be as natural as singing, reading scripture and prayer. There is a basket at the door and you can drop an offering of your choosing (if you so choose), on the way in or on the way out.
Ten percent is merely a barometer. Some choose that as their minimum offering to God, but it can be more or less. Plus whatever the Holy Spirit prompts.
There is SO much to say in this post, but it is better summed up in the book Cheerfully. A book prompted by this study after more research and a compilation of the findings.
Our pastor graduated as scheduled but completed the doctoral process a changed man.
We each completed the study, experiencing a myriad of emotions with this new knowledge. Some anger, some acceptance, some struggling with sharing this information to their own congregations.
The TRUTH is what it is: God loves a cheerful giver! Giving to God based on love is Worship. A cheerful giver is motivated from within not based on any external stimulation.
SO, that thing about GIVING…? Make sure you do it CHEERFULLY!!! 🙂
Have a great week!
It was my second climb up Crowders Mountain for the year. But it was a solo trip this time. The day had no sun making a showing and lots of grey clouds, but they in no way reflected my mood. Just some me time, God time…..actually ‘time’ wasn’t even a factor 🙂 I have come to realize that waiting for someone to do the things that I like to do might keep me waiting forever, or worse yet, give me an excuse not to do it at all….so I packed my backpack, camera and tripod in tow, and headed out.
Craig Groeschel’s ‘Soul Detox’ is at the top of my reading queue and this was one of the reasons I made this trip. A soul detox captivated my mind 😉 Detox by definition is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Many of us detox our bodies, or if we don’t, we need to. It’s almost like a good ‘spring cleaning’. Giving our bodies a chance to reset and reboot.
A soul detox is a chance to get rid of soul pollutants. Negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative language, negative people and negative perspectives. Thoughts and feelings that go unchecked which cause anger, bitterness and resentment. Television shows that add nothing to your personal growth. People that drain you…who always have something negative going on. Busyness; never a moment to be still and reflect; to check in with your self and evaluate. To see if you’ve lost yourself in this thing called life.
A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone who was about to retire after 30 years. I asked her what was she going to do and she said “Find myself. I have lost myself over the years”. I didn’t want that. I wanted to learn to have all of me present in the moment.
Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your zeal, or as my partner at work puts it, being in a ‘rut’? Our soul is the essence of who we are. It is what makes us sing, dance, laugh, smile, love, glow, give, care, share, press on, keep hope alive, dream, our eyes sparkle…..
It doesn’t require a lot. Just taking a day or two to see how being around certain people make you feel, how listening to certain music makes you feel, how engaging in certain conversations make you feel. Do you feel positive and inspired, do you feel motivated, do you feel energized, do you feel closer to God? If not, Unplug.
Rest, walk, run, pray, swim, read, journal, cry, wonder, turn the TV off, turn off electronics, enjoy nature, take a vacation or a ‘stay’cation, make a gratitude list, date yourself, no more secrets, find accountability, surround yourself with positivity, embrace change and just be…..
Today we celebrate Good Friday….a ‘good’ Friday for us, but it was not so ‘good’ of a Friday for Christ. Sometimes I don’t think the magnitude of what Jesus did for us really sinks in.
About fourteen years ago I was able to take a tour of Jerusalem, Israel. I was deployed with the military and we had stopped in Haifa, Israel; I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour Jerusalem.
In the past couple of months I have done more studying on the significance of this week than ever before, in preparation for a sermon on Palm Sunday and one last night; Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. It really made me think back on this trip many years ago, being just a babe in Christ then.
Last night we celebrated Communion as Christ did with his disciples. But the gospel of John recorded that Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples (John 13). The one thing I remembered from my trip was that it was hot and dusty. Back then they wore sandals everywhere so foot washing was normal. But it was considered a menial task and one only the lowliest of slaves did. But Jesus, the ultimate servant, did it. Showing us that we are supposed to serve each other with humility. Like Rick Warren says, “humility is no thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”.
I guess I am in somewhat of a reflective mood at the moment. Because sometimes I don’t think watching the Passion movies and reading about the crucifixion really causes the magnitude of the price paid for our sins to sink in. I really think reflecting on what that personally means for each of us is what is most humbling.
It’s not just watching it unfold on the screen, but personally knowing that it’s my addiction on that cross, my lies on the cross, my fornication on the cross, my abortion on the cross, my hatred on the cross, my unforgiveness on the cross etc….and He paid it all! What does the cross mean to you?
May each of you have a wonderful celebration on Resurrection Sunday.
“She slipped into a coma and she’s not breathing on her own.
She went in to get a blood clot removed and a piece of it traveled to her lungs. She was without oxygen for about an hour. She’s my best friend and I asked God not to take her. He could take whoever else he wanted, but not her!
She has been through so much, the loss of a child, a number of current ailments and as I looked at her on that bed, she looked so tired Jackie. I wanted God to heal her, I didn’t want to lose her, she has been a great friend to me from day one and I wanted her with me. But as I stood there, God said I was being selfish. Selfish!
She had actually received Christ a couple days prior. And God said to me “she’s saved”. I prayed for God to have His will. He is able to heal, but sometimes that’s not His will. I am at peace inside either way; I can’t even explain it, Jackie.”
I listened quietly. My mind recalling our bible study two days prior. My pastor had talked about being in sync with God’s will. Especially syncing with His will when a loved one is going through an affliction, when an elderly parent is sick and in pain, and when we have to watch our children endure growing pains etc.
While in that study, one of the brothers talked about his elderly mother being in the hospital. Every time she was admitted he would pray for God not take her. He didn’t want to lose his mother. She would be in pain, incoherent and out of it at times. But she finally told him, quite clearly, that she was tired. He said he knew what that meant.
I listened quietly on that day too. It is truly in these scenarios when my spirit is the calmest. I am sure footed on the sovereignty of God, but there is a finesse that only God has when He tells someone they are being selfish in such a situation.
I can honestly say I was thankful I was on the listening end; with soothing words and an I love you.
Sometimes we pray for a thing and the way God goes about it is most definitely not the way we want Him to.
Sometimes the answer to the prayer is no.
‘What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears…what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? (Laura Story’s ‘Blessings’)
My heart aches with encouragement right now. For the praying friend who waits patiently for her best friend to awaken from her deep sleep. For the sister who just buried her mother a day ago. For the person struggling with a new diagnosis of pain. For the mother and father trying not to intervene on the process God is taking their child through.
I think on my talks with God when my own best friend was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I badly needed His perspective.
Accepting God’s will might pain us at times, but I truly can offer no better alternative.
Be a support today, smile, encourage, pray, give, be there, listen, hug and give an I love you. It makes a difference 🙂
Today my husband and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary; and let me say that the year has flown by! 🙂 I reminisce to when we were dating. Being a single christian is a challenge for so many. It was a challenge for me. I remember when the conviction became strong because I was singing on the Praise team and sleeping with my husband (then boyfriend). The decision to become abstinent was not an easy one. It was not the popular decision and at that time marriage was no where in the future. I had to stand on what the word of God said regardless of what my flesh said.
I remember to this day when I told him that God was convicting me and we should stop having sex. I really didn’t know what his reaction would be. He was raised the same way but he said he wasn’t as convicted as I was. After thinking it over for three days (three of the longest days of my life), he said “I am not as convicted as you are but what we have is valuable and for me to ask you to change your mind is to ask you to choose me over God and I can’t ask you to do that”…..God had already said he was a keeper 🙂
The first year was challenging, we had one slip up. I realized that I had to surrender fully to this decision and focus. So I buckled down…the flesh is a beast if you don’t put some boundaries and parameters in place. That meant no kissing, no romance novels, no sleeping over, staying away from certain movies etc.
For two years before we got married, we remained abstinent. Our love and friendship deepened and I realize that this is what God intended the single/marriage process to be about. If your relationship is built on God, love, trust, respect and friendship,…then sex is just the icing on the cake.
Within those two years I taught the youth at my church. This held me even more accountable. I didn’t want to taint my testimony of the change God was working in me, neither did I want to be a hypocrite before them. We even started purity sessions with them; ‘true love waits’.
Well my husband surprised me with a beautiful diamond ring on Christmas eve of 2011 🙂 It was worth the wait.I am typically laid back and didn’t want to make a big deal. But then I realized that so many of my brothers and sisters struggle in this area and it’s worth celebrating when we take a stand for God and God comes through (so many times the negative things get highlighted). It is worth the wait…and when we take a stand for God, He will always take a stand for us.
This post is littered with photos taken through out my wedding process. I love photos!! My husband is not a big photo guy, so I used our free engagement shoot and the girls and I did a 70’s themed shoot. We had a blast 🙂
God is awesome, my marriage is a blessing, God didn’t just give me the person that I needed, He gave me the person that I wanted as well. It’s truly a blessing. And I realize that the more I surrender to God the better my marriage is. I pray that God will enable me to continue to be his ‘good’ thing.
When we take a stand for God, He will take a stand for us 🙂
Happy Anniversary to my forever guy, I love you. ♥
We have these Advanced Bible Study sessions at my church on the second Tuesday of every month and I love being there because it is fun to study and then sit down with my brothers and sisters and share what we come up with on different topics. Our topic tonight was Friends/Friendships. This is a topic that is dear to me and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and some of the points we came up with.
A friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Someone said a friend is someone (other than family) that they love above normal. Someone else said a friend is someone they love just as if they were family. For most of us we throw the word around loosely and we have no real criteria to figure out who gets that special place in our lives. For some of us friendships are conditional and we only give what we hope to get back.
I personally believe in friendships; they require loyalty and investment. I think that a friendship is guided by love. And love is two things to me: unconditional and selfless. For friendships to thrive, the love has to be mutual. There are a few things that are critically important to friendships: Read the rest of this entry »
This morning I woke up to Jason Nelson’s, ‘I’m nothing without You’, in my spirit. I couldn’t shake it so I decided to blog about it. I am nothing without You God!
Today is the 4th of July and the nation is celebrating independence and freedom. I remember us talking in bible study yesterday about how we love our independence. Most of us are taught to be self reliant and not to ask people for anything; get your own stuff. I would even say that as adults we celebrate our independence. But when God steps in and says “you’re NOTHING without Me”, we struggle. We have a hard time yielding our will to Him; to move from self-reliant to God-reliant. Read the rest of this entry »
Today I was sitting in noon day Bible Study and we were talking about Luke 19:45-48. My pastor began speaking on the topic of the church being a house of prayer. We all got to discussing how the church as a whole has lost the effectiveness of prayer as a true offensive weapon. But even in our own prayer lives we don’t seek after God like we should. We don’t make the necessary sacrifices to check in with God for our every move.
We don’t see God in our everything. We don’t yearn after Him to where we want to stay in constant communication with Him. In all honesty, I believe some of us don’t even like to pray. It makes us uncomfortable, we don’t know what to say or how to say it. We’re worried about what it will sound like and even what it should sound like. We have these thoughts that if God knows everything, then why is there a need to pray? We cast that down in the name of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »