Friday, April 10, 2015

Prayer Warrior

It seems I have a little prayer warrior under my roof. Over the past year, Kendrick has really grown in his prayer life.

It began when we were praying for baby, Josiah Crum, his birth and his heart. He has had the opportunity to pray for so many others who needed healing and God's help over this year.

Never once did he quit or get tired of praying for the same people over and over again. It's a lesson my adult brain needs to learn.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

He also has such a sweet way with words. His Kindergarten teacher lost her baby at the very end of her pregnancy this year and Kendrick prays for "her heart not to be sad."

This week his namesake, Charles Kendrick Watts, passed away on Wednesday. Charles was one of my Dad's dear college friends. (Charles is on the far left. Dad is second from the right)

His daughter, Marion was my good college friend. Today we are flying to go visit the family. I have talked to the kids about who Mr. Charles was and showed them a pic of Him and my Dad at my wedding. As we prayed last night, he prayed for Marion and asked God to tell her, "it's ok, he's with me now."

I pray that God continues to encourage my Kendrick as a prayer warrior and I appreciate the lesson God is teaching me through my little one.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 40 of My Lenten Journey

40. My Life

For the past few weeks I have dug deeper and learned more about how I need Jesus to help me. It's been really good and insightful.

To sum up, I just need to let Jesus into every nook and cranny of my life and live for him, because he died for me.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

It's time to pick up my cross.

He is risen! Happy Easter!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhonew

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 39 of My Lenten Journey

39. Sorrow

Wow!  This one is heavy, literally.  It is everything of the past 39 days packaged up together in one messy bundle.  Sin, any sin brings sorrow.  However, sorrow leads to good things and that is why today is so important.

Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.  For you became sorrowful as God intended...Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day that Jesus was whipped, beaten, disrespected, and mocked. He was made to drag a cross up a hill, then his hands and feet were nailed to it and a crown of sharp thorns shoved onto his head. Jesus took on all this pain, suffering and sorrow so that we could be free of our sins.  He paid the penalty. God outlined this and foreshadowed it through the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.  Leviticus 17:11

This grace that God has offered us is free and for the taking.  All we have to do is trust and believe in Him, that Jesus died on the cross, was dead and buried and on the third day rose again conquering sin and death forever.  From prophesy to apostle, it has been written:

He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all the faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth.  Isaiah 25:8

Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:54-57

So the world sits in sorrow and those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior will continue to sorrow.  If not actually now, the future is guaranteed to be full of it.  The number of times the Bible says "What sorrow awaits..." is numerous.  It's a warning!
Don't wait around until you cannot bear your sorrow any longer or it is too late.

What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!  Isaiah 5:18

Today, I thank Jesus that he has taken the sorrow from my life on a Friday long ago.  He has turned my mourning into gladness and given me joy and comfort instead of sorrow.

Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well.  I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  Jeremiah 31:13

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 38 of My Lenten Journey

38. Self -sufficiency

Let me be clear.  I'm not talking about that I need to not be independent and instead lean on others for assistance.  I mean trusting and depending upon God and not solely on myself.  Self-sufficiency is similar to pride which I spoke of last week.  It is thinking you can do something, anything all on your own and you don't need God.  I would say the extreme example would be an atheist.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  2 Corinthians 3:5

It's having a different kind of work ethic.  I do all I can in my physical state like it is all me, but I trust God to supply all my needs, because I can do nothing in my own strength.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work:  2 Corinthians 9:8

Back in the 90's watching Friends one of the characters had a theme song, maybe Phoebe?  Anyway, I adopted a theme song for myself as I began to teach in my early years.  It was "I Have Confidence" from the movie version of the Sound of Music.  It talks all about having confidence in yourself.
While that was all well and good and it built up my courage to face some very tough classroom challenges, I was missing something--trust and confidence in God.  Now one of my favorite verses is what I pray each time I step into a classroom.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

It's so very close and similar, but it is acknowledging where our strength and courage and endurance comes from--Jesus Christ.  I can do nothing in my own strength in doing God's will.  I need his help. It boils down to trusting God at the basic level and acknowledging him, giving him the glory. 

But, he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 37 of My Lenten Journey

37.  Selfishness

The root of many of the sins that I have wanted to slough off over the past 36 days quite simply boils down to one thing--selfishness.  I think this is the biggest problem that I have as well as society in general.  We tend to put ourselves before anyone else.  "I" and "me" are pronouns too often used.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Psalm 119:36

As a newly wed wife, I began to understand what it meant to put others first.  But, God really began speaking to me about it when I became a mother.  Nothing quite says "put me first" than a newborn baby/toddler/child.  As my counselor sister-in-law states, "You do need some self-care time." But, this is different than selfishness. That self care time comes after the taking care of others is done.  As my kids have become older and more independent, I might have backslid on this a tad.  I need to refocus especially when it comes to activities that the boys enjoy and I don't.

Indeed there are those who are last who will be first and first who will be last.  Luke 13:30 

However, I don't serve my family and do things for them because I want to be first in heaven.  I do it out of love.  Sometimes I must remind myself of this and ask God to change my heart when someone has just whined to me or when someone leaves their dirty clothes on the floor, for example.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to our own interest but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3-4

God has a mission for you and me and it is bigger than ourselves.  What we must remember is that the part we play is not the reward.  Stages in life will come and go.  But, the only way for it to conclude well is if in our hearts Jesus has increased and our selfishness has decreased.  It's not about me, it's all about Him.

He must become greater; I must become less.  John 3:30

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 36 of My Lenten Journey

36.  Ungratefulness

Another word for ungratefulness is ingratitude and the opposite is being thankful.  I must confess--
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not Christmas.  (Easter is a close 2nd).  I feel like I am pretty good at thanking God, but I can always do more!  There are times, I am sure that I have not acknowledged and been ungrateful to God in a situation!

Jesus notices the ungratefulness of 9 lepers in the story from Luke 17:11-19. After telling the lepers to, "Go show yourselves to the priests," they were cleansed.  Only one of them came back, praising God and throwing himself at Jesus' feet thanking him.  Jesus then asks,

"Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other 9?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except for this foreigner?  Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."  Luke 17:17-19

We are ungrateful people by nature.  We come from a long line of ungrateful people.  Take a look at the Israelites making their way out of Egypt.  How many times does the Bible record that they not only didn't thank God, but they grumbled about their circumstance?  At least 5 times!  Even though it seems they are complaining to Moses, they are ultimately complaining about God's provision for them.

Moses also said, " You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him.  Who are we?  You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord."  Exodus 16:8

This ungratefulness stems from another sin that I'll discuss for tomorrow, so stay tuned....

How do we fix this problem of ingratitude? By thanking God through prayer on a daily/hourly basis. It's not hard; it just takes discipline to stop and remember to just do it, like before a meal.  Am I the best at doing it constantly?  Do I forget?  Yes!  But, I ask God to help me do better.

When I pray, especially with the kids, we use a formula to help us remember how to pray and be thankful.  We do this out loud in the car as we go to school in the morning, each of us taking turns in each "category."  Sometimes we do it at night as a family.  But, this formula also helps us all stay on track and not wander around lost, not knowing what to say.

First, we praise God for his attributes--who he is, what he has done.  This usually sounds like "We praise you because you are ____________ (the King of kings, forgiving, our Comforter, Omniscient, Our Shepherd and Savior, painter of the skies!  You get the idea.) Or it could be "You are ________."

Second, we thank you for ____________.  It can literally be anything.  Go ahead try it!  It can be tiny or huge.  It can seem insignificant or silly to God, but I bet it's actually not.  Sometimes we thank God for hot air balloons as we see them on our drive to school.  The key:  just thank him!

Third, we ask for help, forgiveness and blessing.  It's sometimes help for a test, or wisdom for decisions for Dad at the office, or healing for a family member, or joy in teaching for the kid's teachers. Sometimes it's me saying, "Please forgive me for yelling at the kids as we got in the car today."

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful, especially when I need to humble myself to be forgiven.  Lasts when I need to be thankful the most!  But usually when I just put forth any inkling of effort, I tend to feel better.  God asks us to be thankful in ALL circumstances.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Either way, God just wants to hear from us and the Bible says a ton about being thankful.  It's easy!
Try it!  And, the best thing to be thankful for is what he did for us this coming Friday on the cross.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 35 of My Lenten Journey

35.  Envy

Envy is coveting. Covet is number 10 of the 10 Commandments.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house.  You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male of female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Exodus 20:17

God has blessed us far more than what we deserve and beyond measure.  Therefore, physically, I have very little envy for "things."  My envy comes in the form of emotional desires.  For example, when I notice that some one who has a zeal for God that is more than my own, I become envious. Or, maybe God has blessed someone with a gift of humor and I think, "I wish I was funnier and wittier...."

At envy's core it is not being content and satisfied with what God has given me.  God made me who I am and gave me a special purpose.  He doesn't want me to be like someone else, but to just be satisfied with the way he made ME!

You desire but do not have, so you kill.  You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  James 4:2

In beating down the sin of envy in our hearts, we need God's help.  He even tells us to ask him! Through prayer and petition, I can overcome and be content with the way he made me.

The challenge I also have before me is raising my children to understand how blessed they are and that they must work for what they desire.  And, we haven't always had plenty.  I find myself holding things back from my boys things that other kids might get automatically so that they learn to either work hard or be content with what they have.  I grew up in a family that had enough, but not plenty. There were some hard times, but we were content.  When Stephen and I were newly married and I was putting him through dental school, we ate Pasta Roni all the time and penny-pinched.  No matter where we are, I want my kids to understand--either be content or ask God and work hard.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:12

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  Proverbs 14:30

Thank you, God for blessing us with plenty and being able to give back to you generously.