Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day 10 of My Lenten Journey

10.  Over-commitment

Over commitment and busyness and it's antithesis of laziness are both huge issues in our lives today. I struggle with this on a daily basis.  Not having a daily steady "job," I vacillate between the two. Some days I fill my hours with busy stuff and say "yes" to too many things when other times I could care less and just sit on my couch.  On a daily basis on the way to school, the kids and I pray in the car.  One of my petitions is to help me prioritize everyday to do what He would have me do.  On days when I don't do this, I can totally tell a difference, in a bad way!

In Exodus 18,  Moses was overwhelmed and over committed.  At the time, everyone came to him to settle disputes.  It sounds great, except for the fact that he was leading over 2 million people.  He was hearing arguments from sun up to sun down and it was just too much to handle.  Good for him that he had wise counsel from his father-in-law, Jethro.  Moses listened to him and chose capable leaders to hear the smaller disputes while Moses continued with the bigger ones.

The question is: is it a calling or over-commitment?  Is God asking us to do something or are we just saying yes just because?   Knowing if it is your calling, well, that's a whole other topic for another time!  But, there is a distinction between activity and doing the work and will called by God and if it is, how to execute it.

So, the idea is to listen for God's direction and do less better and accomplish more. When you commit, do it fully.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.   1 Corinthians 15:58

The idea is to prioritize-God, family, work.  I will continue to ask for God's help in prioritizing and to seek his will EVERYDAY.  Don't be over-commited, but be fully and steadfast in our commitment to God's work and will he has for our lives.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 9 of My Lenten Journey

9.  Guilt

Remade paper from my guilt and sin. 
This one is heavy.  Literally.  It's the monkey on your back when you have been justly convicted or blamed either by others or the Holy Spirit.  Even when you have asked and been forgiven, this piece of mess can really hang on.  But, as Frozen states, you need to "let it go."

The best example/visual I have experienced was at a MOPS group in Sugar Land while we were living there.  There was a lady who spoke and talked about one of her particular sins.  As she spoke it hit home and I was convicted.  Then she told us how she took old paper products and made new beautiful papers out of them.  Next she asked us to write our sin on a piece of paper.  She told us to fold it up or tear it up and that she wouldn't read them.  The next process was to immerse the paper in water.   Following the "baptism" she would put them all in a blender to make pulp and start the process to make new beautiful paper.  I still have this paper in my Bible today.

"Therefore, anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation!  The old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

It was a great way to confess that guilt, take on God's forgiveness and then let it go.  Do I ever think of that sin and feel guilty?  I do think about it, but now because recognized that there is no need for guilt and I have given it to God and asked for forgiveness, it is SOOOO much better.

Is there some guilt that is weighing on you?  Confesse it; write it down.  Tear it up.  Ask forgiveness and soak it in water.  Put it in the blender.  It's gone.

"Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hears sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."  Hebrews 10:19-23

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 8 of My Lenten Journey

8.  Blame  

I am not going to pass the buck.  I will take responsibility for my actions.

Blame appeared early in the Bible.  Adam was quick to lay blame on Eve for eating the fruit.  But, ultimately, Adam chose to take that bite.  It didn't stop there.  The Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for having to stay in the wilderness when they were sinful worshiping the golden calf among other instances.  Martha even blamed Jesus saying her brother would not have died, had Jesus been there.

Blaming others has been a human characteristic since the fall.  Little has changed because we are sinful people and God can justly blame us.  (Oh, that one little change was Jesus!)

"But God found fault with the people and said:  The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah."  Hebrews 8:8

Thankfully we can deal with this blame through confession and asking forgiveness, just like any other sin.

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;  so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." Psalm 51:3-4

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in CHRIST God forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32

Another way to look at blame is as Christians we should live blameless lives, meaning without fault or sin.

"Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression."  Psalm 19:13

Are we perfect?  No.  Will God help us and forgive us?  Yes, but only if we believe in his son, Jesus who died on the cross in our place giving us eternal life.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God." Philipians 1:9-11

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 7 of My Lenten Journey

7. Comparison

Guilty as charged.  I do tend to compare myself or judge myself in one way or another on a daily basis.  I shouldn't.  Whether it is Pinterest or Facebook or how I look or my weight, I compare myself to others.  God doesn't compare us on the surface level.  He made each one of us unique and different in our own ways and knows us so deeply.

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:30-31

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well."  Psalm 139"13-14

When it comes to serving God, the only one who gets to judge us and compare us is God, himself.  I love how The Message version of the Bible puts this in 1 Corinthians 4:1-4

"Don't imagine us leaders to be something we aren't.  We are servants of Christ, not his masters.  We are guides into God's most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.  The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge.  It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion.  I don't even rank myself.  Comparisons in these matters are pointless.  I'm not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn't mean much.  The Master makes that judgement."

So the challenge is to throw off the coat of comparison and just serve Christ.  Don't worry what others think.  Care about what God thinks.

"Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else."
Galatians 6:2-4

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day 6 of My Lenten Journey

6.  Pleasing people

I can't please everyone, all the time.  And, there is only One that I should seek to please anyway.

Pleasing God is spoken of in the Bible countless times.  It's also been written, blogged and preached about so much as well.

So, I'll just end with my favorites.

Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Galatians 1:10

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  Colossians 3:23

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 5 of My Lenten Journey

5.  Retirement

This is an interesting one.  There is only one place in the Bible that speaks of retirement.

The Lord said to Moses, "This applies to the Levites:  Men 25 years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, but at the age of 50, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work."  Numbers 8:23-26

Nice.  Age 50 would be a great age to "retire."  But, notice they are still to assist their brothers.

The real idea, I think, is that I am here for a reason.  I have a purpose to influence others for Christ, by word, example or deed.  So, what retirement really means in the Christian sense is not to give in, give up or quit working for Christ even when it is hard and no matter how old I am.

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  2 Corinthians 4:1

Does this mean I need to tell every single person I meet every day that Jesus loves them?  Does it mean that I need to run off to outer Mongolia and be a missionary?  It could be those things.

But, more than likely it is the fact that I have 4 young eyes watching my every move.  I have 4 little ears listening to my every word.  Yes, I have influence and interaction with 100s on a daily basis through Facebook and other social media and I have face to face interaction with several dozen a day. But, the ones that really count are right under my own roof.

One day they will move out and my circle of influence will shift, but the point is don't ever give up on working for Christ.   Part of my prayer each day is to let my light shine in this dark world.  There is no retirement in being a Christian.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.  Acts 20:24

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Day 4 Lenten Journey

Epilogue:  It seems that today's and Thursday's attitude adjustment for Lent go hand in hand.  Two days ago we were talking about comfort zones.  Today it is patience.  I determined that I was being patient to see where God would ask me to take a big decision and step out of my comfort zone.  On Thursday afternoon he came knocking in my email and then confirmed the need on Friday morning.

Thursday afternoon I received an email asking me to do a 12 week elementary music substitution job
starting on August 17th.  You might say, that's not out of your comfort zone.  But, it is the longest job I've done by 5 weeks.  After 6 weeks, I'm usually done, period.  Not to mention, ELEMENTARY!!!!  That job is HARD, y'all.  It's taxing physically, vocally and mentally.   We are talking almost 900 kids from K-6th grade.  And, not to mention I would miss 8 weeks of my BSF Bible Study where they are beginning the new study on Revelation.

Well, that's when it dawned on me that God is pulling on me hard.  I had a face-to-face with said teacher Friday morning.  She proceeded to tell me--"I asked around about other music subs and no one gave me a name except yours.  Not just any sub can do this job!"  It was as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through this teacher saying, "Jennifer, this is why I pulled you out of BSF leadership 2 years ago to begin doing maternity leave for music teachers.  I have given you the gift of teaching and music to be a blessing to others.  This is where I can use you better."  

Then it hit me harder.  I am being SELFISH, AGAIN!  I am being selfish to want to do the BSF study on Revelation.  It's one of my favorite books of the Bible.  But the thing is, I have done a mini-study of it with BSF at a retreat 3 years ago.  I would also be taking up precious space in the class where there will be such a great need with so many wanting to get back in with this new study.  And, why should I take up space when I can still have access to the materials through Stephen and the kid's class.  I can still benefit in this way.

So, I didn't have to wait and be patient to hear God's call to step out of my comfort zone very long.  I will answer the call with an affirmative and pray for God's strength and endurance to run the race and fight the good fight of elementary school music.

On to today's attitude adjustment....

4.  Impatience

This one seems pretty easy to interpret and I definitely need to apply this one on an everyday basis, surface level.

Let's start here.  Where do we find our patience?  It doesn't come on our own accord or of our own efforts.    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22  We must ask God to give us this blessing.  Usually on our morning car prayers on the way to school I'm either asking him for these or thanking him.

Another one of my favorites is Colossians 3:12.  Clothe yourself in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  This one is on our chalkboard next to the back door to the garage for a very good reason.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the place where I need the most patience is getting out the door with kids.  I think I have the perfect timing and then BOOM, someone can't find their tennis shoes. Someone is missing their lunch.  Someone can't find their baseball bag.  Someone has lost their library book.  Where my fuse is the shortest is getting into the car and getting somewhere on time. There are other times it shows up too, though it is most always kid related.

The point is, I need to chose to be patient.  I need to not be impatient.  I need to stop.  Pray immediately and ask God for the Holy Spirit's fruit of patience.  It's as easy as that for me.

For you, it may be something else entirely.  The other patience the Bible speaks of is waiting on the Lord like I was speaking about earlier.  There are SO many wonderful verses for this.

But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  Psalm 40:1

God is good to those that wait for him, to the soul that seek him.  Lamentations 3:25

Another aspect of being patient, is waiting on God's perfect timing.  I have had plenty of those opportunities in my 20's and 30's.  Thankfully, we are in a fine holding pattern for the time being with nothing pressing.  But, maybe you are waiting to find that perfect someone to spend your life with, waiting to become pregnant or give birth, waiting for a job opportunity.  Possibly you are waiting to have your house sell or to buy a new one.  Maybe it is waiting for healing physically or emotionally.

Whatever yours is, it is worth waiting for God's perfect timing because he will always have it right.

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

Though, this is what we are ALL waiting for on God's timing--His second coming.

Be patient, then brothers and sisters until the Lord's coming.  The farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.  James 5: 7-8

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

Come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22:20

I will continue to wait patiently on him, but come Lord Jesus.  This world and I are ready.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Day 3 of My Lenten Journey

3.  Feelings of unworthiness

In my youth, I (of course) sang in our church choir.  It is where I had many a scripture written on my heart in the form of song.

These words have stuck with me and through troubling times of feeling like I am not worthy of God's love, I always revert back to this Psalm.  So for today, I'll just leave you to pray this Psalm and know that God loved us so much that he gave his one and only son to die for whoever believes that they will not persih but have everlasting life.  I am worthy.  

Psalm 139

1             You have searched me, Lord

                    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand

    when I awake, I am still with you.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Day 2 of My Lenten Journey

Yesterday was such a great experience of letting go and repentance.  We had a our Lenten service at church after a quick Chipolte dinner.  As Kendrick and I were in line to get our ashes, he gave me the sweetest hug and I asked him if he knew why we were doing this.  We talked about how God made Adam from dirt and that our bodies will return to dust again one day but that God's spirit lives in us forever.

Their biggest question though was after getting their cross--"Does my cross look like a cross or a smudge?"  It's a good question, actually.

Does our life and actions look like and follow Christ or is it just kinda, sorta something that resembles it?  Whoa!  That leads me to today's Lent offering.

2.  My Comfort Zone

At first on the surface I thought, I have really stepped out of my comfort zone lately.  I whacked my hair off shorter than ever and dyed it for the first time.  Or maybe it is taking on my new business in sales.  I have NEVER been in sales and talking to people like that is extremely uncomfortable.  Then I thought, well, that is just like the world and what Satan wants my comfort zone to be--selfish. That's not what we are looking for here.  It's not about me.

The Bible speaks MUCH about "comfort."  

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.  Isaiah 66:13

It seems the opposite is not necessarily un-comfortable in the Bible, but more distress.  But, let's take a look at some people from the Bible.  Here are some instances where stepping out of the "comfort zone" can be seen.

Example 1:  Abraham- God asked Abraham to step out of his "comfort zone" when God said in Genesis 22:2, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love-Isaac-and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering."  That would definitely be out of my comfort zone.  How about you?  But, he did as God commanded.  Abraham trusted God and passed the comfort zone test.  God instead provided a lamb for the offering.

Example 2:  Moses- God appeared to Moses in the burning bush asking him to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  In Exodus 4:10-12, Moses says besides being a leader and going against who raised him and going back to where he just killed someone, this speaking thing is totally out of his comfort zone.

Moses said to the Lord, "Pardon your servant, Lord  I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue."  The Lord said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths?  Who makes them deaf or mute?  Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not, I the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

Wow.  He asks us to step out of our comfort zone for HIS glory and and he will be right there to help us and provide what we need.  Not my glory.

Example 3- Job.  No man on earth has ever been put out of his comfort zone like Job.  God didn't even ask Job.  He allowed it all to happen, because he knew Job's heart.  After just the start of the trouble and distress and extreme UN-comfortableness, Job still praised God.   In Job 1:21 Job says, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."  Then after 42 chapters of distress, anguish and grief Job says in 42:2, "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted."  Again this is a man that trusted God to take care of him outside of his "comfort zone" and was rewarded in the end.  Job's life reflected the glory of God.  Job PRAISED God for his lack of comfort.

What about the New Testament?

Example 4- Simon Peter, James and John.  In Luke 5:10-11 Jesus says to them, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.  Fishing was their livelihood.  How would they make money, eat, live?  They stepped out of their comfort zone to follow Jesus.

There are countless other examples in the Bible to follow in order to step out of my "comfort zone" and follow the path that God is directing me.  Sometimes those are big decisions like when I was asked to teach BSF (pre-schoolers, I might add--I'm a middle school teacher) and present what I do with children to a crowd of 300 women!  (Yikes that was out of my comfort zone, but it was totally a Moses moment.)  Sometimes, it is in the everyday moments, tiny decisions, and reactions where we choose to respond with a smile and confidence in Christ, picking up our cross and following him, even when it is hard.

Now the question is, where is God asking me to step out of my own "comfort zone" to glorify Him. Right now, I am in a period of waiting and listening for the big decisions.  But, daily it is Mark 8:34. My comfort zone is outside of my selfish, human nature.  DENY MYSELF, take up my cross and follow Him.  It's hard, no doubt.  It's choosing to do what He is asking you to do, not what is easy and comfortable.

Do I always want to spend my Sunday afternoons teaching Children's Choir?  No, but I do it for His glory.  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."  Colossians 3:23  Could I just tell my child that we shouldn't argue and call people names at school and then just ground him for a bit?  I could, but what better way is to take the effort and pull out the Bible and show him how humble and silent Moses was when Miriam was so mean to him in Numbers 12.

So for now, I'll keep my heart and ears open to where God is asking me to step out of my "comfort zone"  knowing that he will provide what I need and be with me.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Lenten Journey

I haven't blogged in awhile. This means that while I may have some great thoughts and such I haven't truly dwelled on them or lived them out because I haven't professed them out loud, publicly.

So here I am trying to become accountable this Lenten season.

Everyone talks about "giving something up." I typically don't. And when I found this list of 40 things, I accepted the challenge.

I decided I would blog about how each one affected my life and see how it is addressed in the Bible.

So here goes....(remember the 40 days does NOT include the Sundays. Those are days of rest.).

1. Fear of failure

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26

At first, I thought- "oh, this one doesn't apply to me." I'm mean, I don't have a job any more where I am held responsible for performance. I'm not in school trying to keep my grades up.

I seem to have it pretty easy.

Then how quickly Satan snuck in.

But I have prayed for you Simon (Peter), that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 12:32.

My faith. Yes, I sometimes I have fear of failing there, for sure. "Did I say the right thing to that friend to reflect an attribute of God?" "I can't believe I didn't stand up for Jesus and say something defending Him in that situation." There are even some (quickly fleeting, I might add) thoughts sometimes of "is this all true?"

I was reminded of my children.

How many times have I thought, "I'm such a BAD mom." "What if I am saying the wrong thing, punishing the wrong way, letting something slide...." You name it, I have thought it. Failure as a parent. It's a REAL thing.

I was reminded of my husband.

How many times have I thought, "Why does he love me?" "Do I do enough for him or do I grumble or complain too much and that's what he hears when he comes home?" "I don't think I say 'I love you' enough." Again, you name it. It's been in my head.

Then there is the outside worldly failure. This is the pressure to get it all done. Plan that big Spring Fling at the kids' school. Organize my sorority reunion. Get my BSF lesson done. Arriving to after school activities on time. I could go on and on.

Fear of failure is in my head and probably yours and it comes for every which where!

These thoughts are not my thoughts or yours, they are Satan's. Today I give it back to him, forever.

But, the fact remains sometimes we DO fail. But, we don’t succeed without experiencing some failure. Look at babies learning to walk. The good news is that God's loving kindness and mercy is still there for us, just like it was for Simon Peter when he failed.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. Lamentations 3:22

So, today I'm letting go and letting God. I will work like is it all me, but I will trust that it's all Him. No need to fear failure. It's ok-fail/fall forward.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5

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