Let Me Tell You About My Ah-Ha Moment!

suprised meI absolutely LOVE serving the Lord!  It is not always easy and I’m never the most popular doing it.  However, I consider it a huge privilege every time He appoints me for a job.  I am finding that even though He uses me to share His message, it’s not because I’m a good teacher.  It is usually because He wants to teach me an important lesson.  Teachers often are the ones who learn the most when they teach!

This last month as I prepared for a retreat I spoke at yesterday and for the Bible study I taught after speaking, I struggled to get it done.  It seemed that my schedule was so hectic that when it came time to study and plan, I was WORN out!  As I worked on the final pieces Friday night, it dawned on me… “This lesson is for me!”

I have always been very timid about teaching the Bible as I feel very under-qualified to say the least.  However, I agreed to teach a lesson on Elijah that showed how when he allowed his physical condition to deteriorate—not getting enough rest, not eating right, and over-exerting himself to the max physically, his outlook on life became very bleak. Although he had one of the most arduous ministries in one of Israel’s darkest times, he allowed himself to become so tired that he literally found himself under a tree, all alone, whining…woe is me!  This was even after he had seen God do mighty things right in front of his eyes just a short time before that and knew better.  He was actually at a point in his ministry he simply wanted to be done and die.  He had lost sight of God and all of His power while he focused totally on himself, even to the point of believing he was the only believer left.  His perspective was not reality but his physical condition made him feel that it was.

I woke up the morning of the retreat and did my devotion as I typically do while I drink my first cup of coffee.  I was still feeling a little alone and concerned whether or not I was the right person to lead the Bible study.  However, as I read, right there in front of me was the scripture from my lesson I was teaching in 1 Kings 19:12 that afternoon.  It said, After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  I had been so busy lately that I was beginning to panic thinking God wasn’t going to be there for me when I taught the lesson even when I intellectually knew better.  However, He was faithful, once again, to show up Saturday morning in His quiet and calm way as I read the Bible.  This simple verse assured me instantly that He had it all under control.  He was going to meet me there and His Holy Spirit would guide me that day.  I was not alone!  I never was!  He was there all the time.  I was just too busy and tired lately to remember it!

Another part of the study went on to add the verse in 1Peter 5:8—Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  It is easy to teach others about the need to surround themselves with other Christians who will speak truth into their lives when their perspective is skewed for some reason or another.  However, I know that when I get tired, I’m the first to start pulling away from everyone in my world.  Just as the lion uses the tactic of separating its prey from the rest of the group so it can attack; so he does the same to believers when they allow themselves to become isolated because of tiredness, hurt feelings, illness, or for whatever reason when they pull away from others who would typically encourage them.

So this week’s lesson I learned is:

  1. I need to take care of myself physically…nutrition, rest and even exercise.  Ouch.  Had to say that last word…sorry.  If I don’t, I may find myself too distraught or unfocused to even know He is trying to get my attention.
  2. I need to have quiet times in my life so that when God whispers, I hear. If I wait for Him to shoot down a lighting strike or send a note on a string like Charlie the Tuna used to get…some of you young’ns won’t get that…go ask your mom…it will never come!  If my life is too busy and noisy…I may never hear His voice. I might even think He has abandoned me!
  3. I need to allow other people into my life so that when I get down and discouraged, they can help me get my perspective back on the truth.  If I isolate myself from others, my perspective might become something other than reality.

Thank you, Lord for your still small voice that speaks truth to me…even when I am supposed to be the teacher.  Although this is another busy week, I am going to be doing some rearranging.  I’m going to be saying “no” to some things while saying “yes” to some down time.  I am also going to make an effort to go to our small group that starts back up this week even when I don’t feel the strength to go.

Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?  Have you allowed yourself to be separated from the pack?  Are you taking the time to take care of yourself physically?  How about spiritually?  I pray that this week we all take the time to listen for God’s quiet direction in our lives.  Until next week…blessings!


What Are You Doing to Protect Your Home?

If you mention the word snake, it evokes definite reactions with each individual.  Some freak out and others get excited.  I am definitely on the freak out side of things and when I almost stepped on one this past week in my OWN HOUSE I thought I would die!  We noticed a few weeks ago that we more than likely had a mouse as something had eaten Jim’s almonds he stored in a baggie in his computer bag.  However, after setting a bunch of mouse traps everywhere and not catching anything, I was convinced it was an even larger animal.  I went to Lowe’s and bought a trap for bigger animals and was sure I was going to catch me a varmint.  I laid some almonds in the middle of that one and waited, but again, we caught nothing.

We couldn’t imagine what it might be so we began walking the perimeter of our home looking for eaves that had been pulled down in case of a raccoon or other possible entry points for a smaller animal such as a mouse.  Other than the small hole in the empty almond bag, there was no other sign or clue as to what it was.  On the outside of the house, there was a spot where the electricity comes into the home that had a possible gap where a smaller animal might be able to get through.  So, Jim sprayed some expanding foam stuff into the hole to ensure nothing else got in.  However, what we didn’t think about what might already be inside.  Now that we had made our home totally animal proof from the outside, we had also trapped anything that was already inside!

About a week later, we finally caught our mouse since he had nowhere else to go for food but our traps.  However, I never expected a snake too!  Apparently, according to our exterminator, the mouse came through the hole in the wall and the snake followed him in.  Then we plugged the hole, killed the mouse, and the snake came out because he got hungry.  Luckily a friend who lives nearby came to help me get the snake out of the house saving the day or I’d still be standing on the chair screaming for help!  I guess the joys of sitting in my office writing and watching the wildlife in the woods in our backyard comes with a price!  When you live this close, having even just a small spot on this big house where something can get through is all these animals needed to wreak major havoc in my life!

I think about that scenario and am reminded of how diligent we need to be in our Christian lives as well to ensure the enemy stays outside and does not come in.  Leaving just a small entry point for sin to enter in is all Satan needs to cause a lot of trouble in our lives.  What do you do when you see the enemy trying to get in?  Do you run and plug up the holes…perhaps by spending more time in prayer and Bible study?  Or do you stand on a chair screaming for someone else to come take care of it for you?  Do you have a good friend that you can call “911” to and have them help you find your way out of your mess?  That friend would be one who isn’t afraid to point out the areas in your life that might be open to the enemy.  Do you have traps set to alert you that the enemy is near?  These might be disciplines in your daily routines to help you measure whether you’re prepared for battle or not by the amount of time spent preparing.  Does the enemy take you seriously? It only takes one little sin to enter in and before you know it, a lot of others follow if you’re not alert at all times.

I hope you’ll take the time today to examine your spiritual house.  Are there areas you need to work on to ensure a more secure environment?  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the leaks in your foundation so that you can get them sealed up today!  Don’t find yourself holding an empty almond bag!  Rather, let your storehouses be full and your life be safe from the things that seek to cause trouble in your walk with God.  The enemy doesn’t stand a chance when your life is sealed up by the Blood of Jesus Christ!

1Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 121:7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

How Do You Deal With Stress?

What do you do when you get stressed out?  Maybe you don’t ever get stressed?  If we are honest, most of us would admit to have some level of stress in our lives at any given time.  When I am overwhelmed, my first reaction is to go to bed and sleep it off.  I know that probably isn’t the best way to deal with things because it really doesn’t deal with anything.  In fact, once I wake up, I have even more stress when I look in the mirror and see how messed up my hair got during my nap!

Yesterday morning, Jim and I were looking at our windows trying to figure out how we were going to wash them.  We’ve gotten quotes ranging from $285 to over $500.  That’s just nuts!  So, as we were looking out assessing our situation, I noticed something that moved on the ground below.  Low and behold it was a little adolescent robin taking a nap right out in the middle of the backyard!  Immediately, I had to go get my camera and run down there to get a picture.  However, the robin just wouldn’t cooperate.  It was all curled up in a ball sound asleep not hearing a thing going on around it.

As I got closer, it just slept.  I nudged it with a stick and it looked up at me like, “Don’t you know it’s Sunday morning?!  I’m sleeping in!” and then quickly tucked its head back under its wing before I could snap a photo.  I whistled thinking maybe a little bird talk would stir him—nothing.  There was nothing I was going to do to get a response out of this bird today.  I started thinking about how that bird often resembles me or others I know who would just rather curl up in a ball and forget the world instead of facing our fears and forging ahead.

How about you?  Have you tried and failed enough that it just doesn’t matter anymore?  Is God nudging you and whistling at you to no avail?  Perhaps if you’d pop your head out for a few minutes, you would realize there is a whole world out there just waiting for you to make your mark on it!  However, if you refuse to get up, trust God and hear His direction, you will always be ineffective.   It’s OK to take a few minutes to regroup when stress hits; but, don’t stay there long.  Nothing is going to change in life unless we are moving forward.  If you’re sleeping and ignoring life, you’re wasting time!  We have all of eternity to slow down.  However, we have very limited time on this earth and we must make the best of it while we are here.

I have seen a lot of wild animals around and have also heard about some living in my woods I don’t see.  All I could think about was how vulnerable this little robin was sound asleep in the middle of the lawn for all to see.  His inattentiveness to his surroundings may in the end cost him his life.  If he were going to check-out for a while, he should have at least done it hidden somewhere away from those that may lurk in the trees waiting for the opportunity to catch him off-guard and devour him.  Perhaps even while another bird friend stood watch nearby.

It’s a dangerous place for us as well when we tune God out and do our own thing.  We need to be listening, alert, attentive, surrounded by Godly friends and aware of our environment at all times.  If we give up on any of these things in our Christian walks, it is an opening for the enemy to move in and destroy.  The robin was lucky this time that I wasn’t a fox that was nudging him with my nose; rather, a curious human with a gentle stick.

How are you handling life today?  Are you checked-out, asleep in the grass, not worrying about what comes next?  Or are you pleading with God to nudge you and speak to you with wisdom from above to help you overcome?  Are you going to church and surrounding yourself with other believers who will watch over you as you travel through life’s struggles; or are you just sleeping in on Sunday morning and opening yourself up to the roaring lion of Satan to come and devour you as you slumber?

The choice is yours, as always.

1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Psalm 37:5

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.