Created for Relationship

When God created the world, He did so with Relationship at its core. Humanity was created in order to be in Relationship with God, and in Relationship with one another.

If either one of these Relationship Dynamics is off track, then our emotional, mental and spiritual health is out of balance. We begin to try to fill the holes with many other things: money, sex, material possessions, power over others … the list goes on.

If both of these Relationship Dynamics are in good working order, then we are able to grow into mature Christians, who are in turn able to give to others who are in need.

Those are the simply basics of how life works.

When God created Adam and Eve, there was perfect union with both God and with each other. The two people walked with God in the garden, talking with Him and being open and honest with each other. Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is not only about no clothes. This is two people being completely intimate physically, but also emotionally. They were in harmony. They were vulnerable with each other, not hiding anything. They “knew” each other completely. There was no shame.

We were created to be in that kind of Relationship with both God and others. To be open and honest. To be intimate. To be accepted.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the world is. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39

Everything in life comes down to these two Relationships.

We must be reconciled to God. We must ask His forgiveness and we must cultivate a daily relationship with Him.

We must reconnect with others. We must care for each other, forgive each other, reach out in love and support for each other.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax.gov

So how do we do this? Jesus gives us this very important directive in living our lives. “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:13   

James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

We know what God wants for us and what we need – Intimate and Honest Relationship.

We know the first step in getting those Relationships. Prayer. Talk to God. Admit that you need Relationship and ask Him to help you restore them.

That is asking in Jesus’ Name and He will do it.

Is there a Relationship in your life that needs restoring? Start working on it today.

Shame/Fear/Self-Doubt

“You can’t do it.”

“Half the people will laugh at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”

Image from: lifehack.org

These voices -and many others just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.

I am working on a large project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings return?

What exactly am I feeling?

Shame? Self-doubt? Fear? Timidity? Yes, I think so.

Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (either real or perceived)

Self-doubt = lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.

Fear = of disgrace, embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.

Timidity = a lack of courage or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.

Image from: https://dailybreadforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/shame.jpg?w=798&h=600&crop=1

I push the thoughts back into the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.

Where do these thoughts come from?

My mother was very much this way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed. Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.

Yet – I am an adult now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.

Insight for Living has a devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our Weaknesses.

With a big, hearty smile, Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.

Really? What a relief it would be!

Instead of pushing back those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.

Yes, it is true. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be.

I will do my best. I will ask for help.

I will take everything to God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!

Now! Time to get back to work on this project. It will be great!

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

I was reading a blog the other day that was very sad.

This person told about breaking up with their boyfriend, then going to a terrible party, getting drunk, then feeling miserable about her life. One bad incident triggered three miserable events.

I realize that this happens often, to both men and women.

But why?

There is an old country/western song that said,

 “Looking for love in all the wrong places, Looking for love in too many faces, Searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of.”

Looking for love. That is the very essence of who we are.

Why? Because God created us that way.

God planted deep within our hearts a powerful yearning for authentic love. That yearning was intended to bring us closer to Him. It was also intended to bring us into families. Children desire love above all else. Women long for a deep relationship with one strong man. Men long for a deep relationship with one tender woman. We want to be special. We long for commitment and security in one intimate relationship.

When those longings are not fulfilled, our lives crash. After my own divorce, I hit rock bottom.

The song goes on to say, “Playin’ a fool’s game, hopin’ to win.” And “I did everything I could to get me through the night.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. God has longings too. He longs for us to turn toward Him so He can pour His love out on us. He longs to provide the relationships we desire.

God will hear.

It took me lots of time before I realized I just needed more of God. When I rededicated my life to Him, He filled my life to overflowing with Love!

But we have to ask. Try it. Start talking to Him today. The Name of Jesus is very powerful. Ask in Jesus’ name for what you need. God will hear.

You must be willing to set your pride down and admit where you have gone wrong. God will hear.

Have you experienced God’s love? Share your story here.

Satisfying the Soul

 

 

nature red forest leaves

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Billy Graham published a daily devotional titled Hope for Each Day, Words of Wisdom and Faith. My husband and I have been reading it together this year, usually at breakfast. November 5 was a particularly powerful entry that I wanted to share with you. 

November 5, Satisfying the Soul

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35

The Bible teaches that a person is more than just a body–each of us is actually a living soul! Our souls are created in the image of God. God Himself has implanted His own nature within us!

Just as our bodies have certain characteristics and appetites, so do our souls. The characteristics of the soul include intelligence, emotions, and will. The human soul or spirit longs for peace, contentment, and happiness. Most of all, the soul has an appetite for God–a yearning to be reconciled to its Creator and to have fellowship with Him forever.

In our world, we give most of our attention to satisfying the appetites of the body and practically none to the soul. Consequently we are one-sided. We become fat physically and materially, while spiritually we are lean, weak, and anemic.

The soul actually demands as much attention as the body. It demands fellowship and communion with God. It demands worship, quietness, and meditation. Nothing but God ever completely satisfies, because the soul was made for God. Don’t starve your soul.

HOPE FOR TODAY  When was the last time you intentionally denied yourself food, drink, or rest? Be sure to tend to your soul’s needs just as attentively.

(Billy Graham)

To satisfy my soul I read scripture daily and spend time telling God about my day, my thoughts and my relationships. I try to remember to ask Him often what He would have me do. Sometimes a few days will slip by in which I haven’t connected with Him. I get too busy to stop and read, or other people take my whole day and I fall into bed exhausted without even speaking to God. Then my soul gets hungry.

What do you do that feeds your soul?

God Heard Me

Psalm 116: 1-2

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Both verses make it clear. Because God heard me, therefore I love him. Cause and effect.

Love and trust grow between two people when they genuinely hear one another.

God Hears Us

When I feel that God is far away from me, that’s when I know I need to pour out my heart to Him. One time when I was going through a particularly difficult situation, I dedicated every evening to Him. I gave away my T.V. and spent every evening reading scripture and praying. Sometimes hours would go by when it felt like only a few minutes. Did God immediately solve all my problems? No. But I did feel His presence in powerful ways! I cried out to Him in pain for 18 months. Then He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

When you are in desperate straits, pour it all on God. He wants to hear it.

Speak to Him in the silence of the night.

Cry out to Him throughout the day.

Pray while you take a fast walk through a park or go for a hike. The added exercise will combine with your prayers and amazing things will happen.

We Must Hear Others

Love and trust grow between spouses when they genuinely hear one another. Listening to our spouses shows that we love them and that they are important to us. When our spouses feel that love, their love for us will also grow.

Friends also need our undivided attention. Our lives have become overfull of activities and social media which means little time is left for deep friendships. God created us for relationships with other people, face to face relationships. Texting is convenient but it will never replace loving someone enough to sit down and look them in the eye and say, “I am here for you.”

Listening is not an easy thing to do. Lynda D. Elliott, in her book The Counsel of a Friend, said, “Listening may appear easy or even passive, but really ‘hearing’ another person may be the hardest work you will do.”

How to Listen:

  1. Pray first – Ask God to help you truly hear that other person.
  2. Focus on them – Set aside your own thoughts and judgements.
  3. Watch – Look for body language that reflects their thoughts and feelings.
  4. Notice – Take note of their feelings. Are they feeling angry, sad, guilty, frustrated, hopeless or something else?

 

Listen beyond their words. What is in their heart? Don’t try to “fix” them or their problem. If they want advice, they will ask for it. Till then just listen. Just love.

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Desiring God

Several months ago, I stumbled across an amazing website: desiringgod.org.

Daily articles are written by solid, mature and wise Christians. The articles range from practical everyday topics to deep devotionals that touch our hearts. Some examples of recent articles are:

Oct. 4 – Do You Pray Against Temptation?

Oct. 3 – The Most Repeated Verse in the Bible

Oct. 2 – What Will Make Our Children Happy?

Oct. 1 – What Does Prophecy Look Like Today?

Dec. 21, 2016 – What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas (Okay, so it’s not recent but you must agree, it is essential.)

Besides articles desiringgod.org has a myriad of resources for everyone, from the business person to the stay-at-home parent, from students to ministry leaders. In their own words, here is their mission:

Most people in the world have no experience of deep and abiding joy.

Even though it is something we all desperately long for, the assurance that true happiness can be known — fully and forever — is a hope that billions of people live every day without. This is a tragedy.

Desiring God is on a mission to change that.

We aim to help people everywhere embrace a profound truth that changes everything about life and eternity:

You were created for something greater than yourself. You were formed for something awesome and magnificent.

You were made to know glory — God’s glory. And the deepest longings of the human heart can be fully satisfied by pursuing that glory. In fact, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Thank you to all the staff who put so much time and work into encouraging us in our daily walk!

What is your favorite Christian website?

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Friended Me

This new CBS television series premiered last week.  When I first saw the title that old groan ran through me. Hollywood takes a vital subject like God and usually makes a royal mess of it. They either mock God and the Christian faith or belittle the morals that He teaches us.

My groans echoed through the house, but I turned the T.V. on anyway. If it was to be a slam on the Christian faith, at least I would be able to rebut it with my friends and family. Maybe the show would have some redeeming value.

I was very pleasantly surprised! The characters are genuinely trying to help others in need. They are cute and perky, giving great energy to the story. The writing kept the pace moving quickly without resorting to sexual comments or over the top explosions every thirty seconds. The story gave us some delightful twists and turns, yet also told stories that happen to real people. We all have broken relationships that need mending. We all need encouragement when we are down.

The story also does a great job of asking the important questions about God. Is He there? How do I know? Why did my mom die so tragically? What does God want from me? God does not want us to blindly accept someone else’s faith as our own. He wants us to search for Him. He wants us to ask the hard questions. Talk to Him. Read the Bible for yourself. Ask Him to show Himself. He loves you more than you can imagine!

A huge “Thank You!” goes out to CBS for creating a show that uplifts and entertains at the same time.

Going to Egypt

Jeremiah 39 – 43

Locked in chains, he was pulled along with the other prisoners. They were filthy and starving. The smell alone was enough to make him wretch. They stumbled down the broken streets. Jerusalem, his home, had just fallen to the Babylonians. It was 586 BC and the prophesied fall of Judah had finally come. Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

The captain of the guard rode his horse up and down the columns of captives being marched to Babylon. He shouted orders to his guards, first in one direction, then in another. His eyes fell on Jeremiah the prophet. “This is all God’s work.” He told Jeremiah. “The disobedience of your people has brought the justice of God. But today I will free you from the chains on your wrists. You may choose anywhere to live. Don’t worry, you will be taken care of wherever you decide to go.”

Jeremiah, along with the others who had been left behind, settled under the newly appointed governor, Gedaliah (GEH-dah-li-uh). He promised peace and security. The few remaining people moved into the empty towns. They worked the vineyards and the orchards. The wine and fruit they harvested overflowed.

A top officer for the deposed king, Ishmael had eluded the Babylonian army.  He returned to meet with the new governor, to talk of the country and the people, to share a meal. Between the second and third courses Ishmael and his men rose, drew their swords and struck down Gedaliah.

News of the murder spread like wildfire. The people could talk of nothing else. “Why did he do it? Surely the Babylonians will make us pay! They will come and burn the fields and vineyards. They will carry us off to exile along with the others! We should run away. Quick, we can get half way to Egypt before they get here.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Ask Jeremiah the Prophet what we should do!”

They went as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“Please, Jeremiah. Pray that God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. We will do everything God says. Whether we like it or not, we promise to obey.”

Jeremiah locked himself into his prayer closet, fasting and praying.

One day. Two days. Three days…Ten days. Then Jeremiah heard from God.

He spoke to them as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“This is what God says to you. ‘If you stay, I will bless you greatly, your enemy will have compassion on you. If you disobey and run off to Egypt, your enemy will overtake you and you will never see your land again. Do not go to Egypt.’”

The arrogant men stepped forward. “Jeremiah, you are lying! This is a trick. We are going to Egypt.”

 

How often do we pray for God’s will and direction in our lives? How often do we rationalize away our obedience? God’s judgement came on Judah because of their disobedience and when the people ran away to Egypt they took their disobedience with them. God promised them that if they went to Egypt, they would never see their homeland again. The Babylonians did indeed invade Egypt in 568-567 BC.

Lesson From Jeremiah

  1. Commit time to prayer. Jeremiah did not hear instantly from God. He spent days praying and listening. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. Never stop praying. Luke 18:1-8
  2. Listen for God’s voice. Prayer is conversation. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we listen. Still your busy thoughts and turn your attention to God, wait expectantly for His answer. Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:1
  3. Obey. Instead of looking at your own circumstances, worried and fretting, take God’s hand and walk in obedience. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. John 14:23

 

Bullets of Satan

Why is it that accusatory thoughts repeatedly float through my mind?

Laying in bed in the early morning, just waking up, the room gradually growing light. The thoughts begin their work.

Remember when the kids were small, how you over punished them that one day? That was terrible. You were a terrible mother.

            Remember when you were in college, there was that one study group with that girl you didn’t like? You sure told her off, that was so unchristian like. She will always remember you as the mean one.

Remember how you were so demanding of your ex-husband? No wonder he couldn’t put up with you. You ruined that marriage.

If I let myself begin my day after this barrage, I find that I take out my hurt feelings on my family and friends. Yes, I have made mistakes in my life, I do have regrets. But no, I was not a terrible mother, I did not ruin my marriage. Those are lies that Satan builds out of our humanness. Those bullets of Satan change me into a demanding and unforgiving person.

When I refuse to accept those lies, turn to Scripture and ask for God’s help—everything changes. Christ fills me with a love for others, and myself. I turn my thoughts to the new creation that God has made in me.

Remember last week when you gave groceries to that single mother and her kids? You were a godly friend.

Remember the forgiveness you have received through Christ and in turn forgave that harsh word that flew out of your friend’s mouth.

Remember when you taught Sunday School and the kids were amazed at the story of Gideon? You passed on the Word and the Love.

Laying in bed at night, just before I fall asleep, the bullets of Satan also begin their work. No! I refuse to listen. And you can too.

I pull out my Bible and read. Satan’s bullets disappear.

Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

 

Excerpt from: Conversations with Mother Teresa, A Personal Portrait of the Saint, Her Mission, and Her Great Love For God  by Renzo Allegri

 

“You should come visit us in Calcutta,” she said. “You could better understand the real spirit of our community and understand the profound significance of the work Jesus has called us to do.”

“I would like to visit Calcutta,” I said. “I should definitely come. If you give me your address and phone number there, I will write to you and come for a visit.”

Mother Teresa took the notebook that I had nearby, which I carry to jot down my thoughts. She opened it to a blank page and wrote her address. Then, smiling, she told me; “One day in America, I met an important person who was very rich. He gave me his business card and asked for mine. ‘I don’t have one,’ I told him. ‘What?’ he exclaimed, surprised. ‘A famous woman like you should have business cards. In America the people who count pay close attention to those. I advise you to get some as soon as possible, and you will see that they are very useful.’

“I listened to that man and had some cards made. But I did not put my title and credentials on them since I do not have any. I am less than nothing. Instead, I wrote a few sentences that represent the principles I live by.”

Mother Teresa rummaged through the pockets of her sari and took out one of the cards and gave it to me. It was a dull blue rectangle of poor-quality paper with words in English:

 

The fruit of SILENCE is Prayer.

The fruit of PRAYER is Faith.

The fruit of FAITH is Love.

The fruit of LOVE is Service.

The fruit of SERVICE is Peace.

 

On the left side of the card, there were two hands folded in prayer.

“This card,” she explained, “allows me to follow the custom of important people whom I often encounter. They give me their card, and I give them mine. That way I can share a good thought, a good message. Who knows if someone reading these lines might not reflect on the importance and significance? I can do some good in this way too.”