Thursday, February 14, 2019

Some Valentine Love That Lasts

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Happy Valentine's Day!  It's a day of flowers, chocolate, romance for many. For others it's a hard reminder of some things we may long for - true love. This can also be a time when one is grieving that the pain intensifies. But Valentine's love fades as we look beyond the expressions of one day to the true love we receive from God.

I Corinthians 13 is known as the 'love chapter' of the Bible. It describes love and what it looks like from the inside out. As Paul the author of this chapter talks about love, the Greek word he uses is agape - which describes a love that is based on the deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved. This kind of love goes against human inclination. It is a giving, selfless, expect-nothing-in-return kind of love. This love means determining what is best for another person and then doing it. This is the kind of love that God shows to us. 

So wherever you find yourself today on the 'valentine scale' - feeling greatly loved by the expressions of the day, or that lacking, longing or loss, remember the love God has for you. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." He loves with an everlasting love that seeks our best. He will never leave us or forsake us. These are love promises from His Word that will last much longer than flowers or candy!  

Friday, February 1, 2019

Realistic Resolutions

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January has ended and the euphoria of Happy New Year has probably faded. Do you remember the excitement of the newness of a new year that was actually just a few weeks ago? The new plans and direction we wanted for our lives?  Incorporating new habits and steps to meet those new goals can prove to be quite a challenge! It takes a lot of work, diligence and discipline. The struggles we face while pursuing a goal reveal how much or how little we desire the end result.

But, instead of beating ourselves up, let's take a realistic evaluation as there are still 11 months left of 2019. The daily grind of life can drowned out or quiet those resolutions that quickened in our hearts. But, a fact is, every year we should expect more than the year before. It's called growth. It means removing obstacles and limitations and trusting God for new heights. This is not about performing for God. Instead it is about moving further toward God's design for you to represent Him in all areas of your life. The more we set and meet expectations based on His design, the more fruitful and fulfilling our life will be. Let us demonstrate to the world the excellence of our God by making His expectations our own. 

Three major areas where we can grow that will affect us the most are Time, Talent and Treasure.  Here are a few questions for us to ponder and challenge ourselves.

1. Time: How can you set a higher bar in 2019 for how you use and manage your time in ways that reflect the character of God? Psalms 90:12 - So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
2. Talent: If you challenged yourself to better invest your heart, soul, mind and strength for God, what would that look like? 
3. Treasure: How would you like to change your patterns of working, saving, investing and giving in 2019? II Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Instead of setting ourselves up for failure (which resolutions tend to do), may we seek God for an action plan for our lives. What are ways to begin with these three areas that we can trust God to help us meet this year?

"We never grow closer to God when we just live life." Francis Chan

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Consider the Color of Your Life and Influence

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Decorating your home is one of the ways to create a space that speaks and is all about YOU - your likes, your tastes, your style. The styles we use decorate are probably varied but they each suit our individual tastes, style and atmosphere that makes our homes unique. 

Although I don't have a creative eye or decor inspiration, there is an atmosphere of comfort, cozy and home that I enjoy attempting to create through home decor. In the past, there has never been a theme to follow, but a pattern of simply finding things that I liked and filling my home with them. All colors, all styles that were put together with items were usually found at discount stores. Then as the years went by, I found Hobby Lobby and Kirkands, stores that take home decor up a notch. 

A new home brought my interest in decorating beyond what looked good in the store to create a color pattern and eventually a theme that I loved - rustic, farmhouse, turquoise and brown colors. Now I had some creativity and inspiration to work with. 

With a husband and only sons in the home, I am the only one who considers the decor, The men take care of the outside chores, the inside in my area of responsibility. Thankfully, I have a sister in law who is knowledgeable, skilled and passionate about creating beautiful spaces in the home. When I get stumped trying to achieve a certain look, she will come to the rescue and walk me through the best choices to help achieve the look I"m striving for. 

Recently during one of those 'help' visits, we hung a few new pieces, filled dark corners with mirrors to reflect light, updated pictures, sconces, candles and brought some nice transformation. Then she offered some suggestions....

Have you ever heard of 'the color wheel'? I had not, this was brand new to me!  She quickly enlightened me.

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A color wheel is "A color wheel or colour circle is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc". In simple language, it assists in allowing your colors to flow instead of competing with each other. Although I had a dominant color theme, the small various accents hindered and competed with the main color and didn't produce a natural color flow.  By following a few of her expert suggestions, my living room now has a beautiful natural flow of beauty. 

It always amazes me how a spiritual parallel can be drawn from everyday life situations. In a book I am reading "Yes, No and Maybe - Living with the God of Immeasurably More." the current chapter was focused on the thought to 'Consider Before Committing'.

Most women have full plates and embrace a variety of roles. There is always something to be done, somewhere to go, a need to meet, a chore to do, someone to see. Life can find us flitting around like a hummingbird, but achieving very little. We can be busy doing, but not being effective.

What is something you desire to 'color your life' with?  We all have something we are passionate about, something that drives us to grow, learn and share. What if we were to say that is your 'main color'. Once we determine and set the main color in decorating, the color wheel shows what colors are complimentary and what colors clash. Once we determine our main 'color in life', we can deliberately choose complimentary things that enhance our passion instead of things that hinder or confuse what we are seeking to become. 

For the Christian woman, the love of God should be our main color, sharing and spreading that love flows from God's heart. If activities pop up that distract us, there is that battle for the flow. What we seek is a more relaxed life. Not lazy, but relaxed in a confident way that God will direct us to the right ministry assignments and guard us from the wrong ones. "Consideration is the bridge between frenzy and freedom."

Prayer is the first step in considering. Ask we bring the need, opportunity or responsibility before God, He will help us determine our role. Prayer is how we ask, listening to God is how we know. It's in the pause of praying and listening to His Word that we can discern His direction.  

May we seek to be prayerful, confident, relaxed women who seek God as the main color of our life and pursue His direction and color our worlds beautifully. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Brotherly Love

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Recently at a wedding of a lifelong friend of one of my sons, I chuckled to myself as the groom was standing in front of the church, waiting on his bride and his brother who was the best man came up the stairs to take his place and gave him the ''elbow bump'. All moms of sons understand this physical connection brothers give one another, the touch or nudge with a shoulder, elbow or any limb that can connect with the target!  

Having three sons, I now understand it is a sign of affection, it is how they express in action their brotherhood. But, when my boys were growing, they could not pass each other anywhere in the house without bumping, nudging or shouldering one another. If the receiver was not in a good mood, a lot more action came about!   This picture is one of my favorites as it was taken right after church. They were all dressed up, but still all boys!

The night of the wedding I was speaking of, my middle son was involved in an accident. His older brother immediately after hearing the news, traveled down a few hours from his where he now lives with his own home and family. When the circumstances count, brotherly love is one strong bond.  They will be there for one another. 

As Christians, the Bible encourages us to have a 'brotherly love'. The love that endures through daily irritations but can also become fierce in times of another's need. Here are a few Scriptures regarding brotherly love:
  
Romans 12:10 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Hebrews 13:1 ESV
Let brotherly love continue.

John 13:34 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV
Let brotherly love continue.

1 John 4:11 ESV
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

A definition of this type of love is found at Wikipedia;  Brotherly love in the biblical sense is an extension of the natural affection associated with near kin, toward the greater community of fellow believers, that goes beyond the mere duty in Leviticus 19:18 to "love thy neighbour as thyself", and shows itself as "unfeigned love" from a "pure heart", that extends an unconditional hand of friendship that loves when not loved back, that gives without getting, and that ever looks for what is best in others.

What does this 'brotherly love' look like for the Christian?

1. Put Them First
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Phil. 2:3)
Self-denial lives at the center of love. True love denies self and supports another. Putting others first should be more than an act of humility, but an act of affection. It's not that we think so little of ourselves, but that we feel so warmly toward our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are happy to lay aside our interests and preferences so that another may experience blessing.

2. Seek Their Good
"always seek to do good to one another" (1 Thess. 5:15)
Love does more than put someone else first. One's desires may be destructive, or their path may lead to danger. Love will seek their good, their betterment, their advancement. The questions we ask must be, "How can I personally help my brother do well?" "How can I serve my sister so that she prospers in faith and life?"

3. Listen to Them
"be quick to hear" (James 1:19)
Love listens. Just as God hears us when we call to him, so must we listen to others. We need to listen in order to gain understanding either of truth, or of the one speaking. Until we listen to another we are ill-equipped to know their needs and seek their good.

4. Include Them
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Pet. 4:9)
Hospitality is a welcoming of others into your life. Love includes; it draws near to others and invites them in. It will not dismiss people because they are different or difficult, but will pursue them and offer them a place at the table. Love looks around, sees the uninvolved or unknown, and extends a hand of welcome.

5. Encourage Them with the Gospel
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thess. 5:11)
Love doesn't flatter, but it does encourage. Biblical encouragement is a kind of preaching; a gospel word offered to those who need it. Love points people to Jesus Christ, in whom we see love in its brightest display. Those around you need to hear how the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, remains good news for them today. It's not just for the lost. It is for the found. For without it we drift back to false hopes, doubts, and fears.

6. Pray for Them
"pray for one another" (James 5:16)
If you love your brothers and sisters you will pray for them. It is sad that we so often quickly promise, "I'll pray for you!" only to walk away and never approach God on their behalf. Even sadder is that those who need the prayer are happy enough with the false promise. They appreciate the nice thought, and think it's better than nothing. But it's not. It's just nothing. Love prays. It seeks God's action in their lives. It pleads with God for greater grace on behalf of others. And to this God responds.

Showing that brotherly love can be a true challenge.  But as we seek to obey God and follow His commands, He can put a love for others in our hearts that we cannot muster up on our own. May our prayer be to love others as He does.  With this kind of love flowing, our world will be a better place.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Living Out Christmas All Year Long

'Christmas' day has now past. In our home, we are blessed to have a few days off from work and are using that time to do a few household projects, rest and simply catch up from the busy Christmas season.

In December, we were blessed to open our hearts and home to several 'families' that we cherish in our lives.  Open homes begin with open hearts and true hospitality comes from a heart that welcomes and makes the guest feel like part of the family. 

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Church Deacon Family - we serve in the church alongside these precious people.

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Work Family - What a blessing when your co-workers feel like family!

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Simply Family - The people God placed us with - a true gift.



The time spent together was wonderful, the food fabulous, the gifts have been opened and now a New Year is right around the corner. As we count our blessings and ride the nostalgic wave of Christmas  a question to ponder could be “What difference will Christmas make today and for the next 363 days?”

This poem came across my email and is a vivid reminder to take time for others. The words we love to speak at Christmas - peace, love, joy, goodwill to man aren't just beautiful holiday words, they can bring life to others we encounter.  They can also be active and alive all through the year. When our lives are intentional and our eyes are open to the needs of others, the spirit of Christmas (rooted in Christ) remains all through the year. 

Christmas Continues
Ginger Jurries
When the flurry of gifting is stilled,
When the guests have all gone home,
When the decorations are well tucked away,
When the pageants have had their day,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the hurting,
To encourage the downtrodden,
To invite the stranger,
To bring peace to our families,
To join our hearts in worship and song.
Today, who do you know who is lost, or hurting, or lonely? Is there someone with whom you need to make peace?
Help us Lord, to join you as you do the work of repairing God’s world.  Amen.