Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Restless Soul

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Today’s church service was powerful – in pretty much every sense of the word. First, however, I should rewind.  When I got to church this morning, I was not at ease.  I was frustrated, and feeling pulled in about a thousand different directions.  I was not depressed, angry or even happy really.  I was just there, seemingly going through the motions.  I was frustrated about a particular situation, and was letting that get in my head.  I was allowing it to take my focus off of Him.  Each time a friend spoke to me, I was fairly noncommittal, and probably seemed uninterested.  Simply put, I was just not at peace. That, however, would soon change.

Our praise and worship team started the service beautifully.  Unfortunately, my heart just wasn’t in it at first.  Then, as I stood there, I made a conscious decision to forgive some people involved in the situation that had been frustrating me.  I asked God to help me.  Right then and there, it was as if God’s presence dropped right into the room.  He was already there, but became real to me as I was standing there.  As I was listening to the music, and letting the words speak to my heart and bring peace.  As I stood there, in full surrender to Him, I began to pray.  I prayed for the upcoming service, our pastor, the praise team, as well as every person in the service – and all those not in attendance even.  I had a sense of urgency for people, all of the sudden.  Had I not made the conscious decision to get my heart in the right place, and to forgive a situation I didn’t feel needed forgiving, I would not have followed His direction to pray.  I would have remained not at peace.

Today, we started a new series, Soul Detox – which is loosely based on Pastor Craig Groeschel’s book “Soul Detox.”  Today our pastor spoke about the restless soul.  We do not take the time to simply rest – to be still before God.  It is paramount that we learn to just be still before God.  Pastor Lance spoke about having been challenged to take five minutes to just rest his thoughts, and to just focus on God, and Him alone.  At the initial glance, it looks like that would be so easy.  However, think about it.  If I’m being honest, I’d have to realize that it’s harder than you’d imagine to just sit and be still.  I realize that I’d likely approach the five minute challenge with the best of intentions.  However, when it came down to it, I think I’d be like many people.  I’d start, then think about all those other things I should, could or would be doing if not sitting right there, right then.  Just to sit and think about God shouldn’t be difficult.  You (and by you, I mean me) should allow yourself to just think on His goodness.  Dwell on Him, and listen for anything He might put on your heart.  God loves us with a crazy, and passionate love. I’m going to try this challenge (later, because of course I have something to do right now! Ironic, isn’t it!?) and just allow my focus to be on Him – to just spend time in His presence.  At the end of today’s church service, we took a moment of silence to just allow our hearts and minds to focus on Him.  What a sweet presence filled the room.  His love was real, and was with each and every person in there.  Talk about life change becoming possible for so many people – week after week.

Whatever you do, just don’t allow life to get you so busy, that you are unable to make God a priority, and take any time for Him.  He is the best friend you’ll ever have, and the most loving father you’ll ever know.  Make it a priority to just be still in His presence, and to rest in Him. Just as so many things in life are the result of a conscious decision, so is this.  You have to take the time, make it a priority or it won’t get done.  I have been living proof of this in action — or rather NOT in action sometimes!  Take the time – your life will be blessed as a result.

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Disappointment Happens

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Let’s have a down to earth conversation for a moment.  Most everything I’ve written about has had a positive thought process behind it.  However, I’d like to take a moment and just be personal with a couple things.  First, I will echo something I’ve touched on before. Life isn’t always going to be perfect. There will be ups, and there will be downs.  It’s how we react to those ups and downs that define our character.

Something happened yesterday afternoon that really bothered me. A decision was made, and a situation brought to light that was/is completely out of my hands. Even still, I walked away very disappointed. I had several thoughts about being heard – about my opinion and/or thoughts being taken into consideration in the equation. I felt as if what I had to say didn’t really matter, and ultimately wasn’t important. With tears in my eyes, I made it clear how I felt, and that I was upset. I am not great at making my thoughts known, much less fighting for them. When something doesn’t go my way, I tend to just let it slide and go on about life. This time, I chose to be honest, and just explain how the situation made me feel.  Ultimately, it still didn’t matter, but I know I did what I could.

Having said all that – let’s put this in a practical example to draw a parallel to a situation in life and how people react to disappointment. Let’s say you are a member of a church, and something happens with another member, or a message is taught that you do not agree with.  You have three choices.  1) You walk away and decide to leave the church, 2) You decide to stay, but remain unhappy about the situation, or 3) You make a conscious decision to forgive those responsible.  How would you respond? As I sit here pondering this hypothetical situation, I realize it would somewhat depend on what the “crime” in question is. In thinking, if I’m being honest, I think I’d be somewhere between 2 and 3 at first.

The point I’d like to explore is this. I was talking to a friend about a similar situation that happened in her organization. She chose to stay, but lost a friend when they got offended and chose to leave. I can’t tell you how much this happens in places all around us. Take the church situation, for example. Many people would not hesitate to leave a church, knowing they can find a new one “just as good” as where they are leaving. I challenge this, though. If you are in a place that you know God has led you to be a part of, leaving over a disagreement would be foolish – plain and simple.

Think of it this way. Assuming you live in the United States (if not, here’s a shout out to all my non-US friends!!) there is likely something you disagree with from our government. Maybe you don’t agree with our President, or another person in leadership. Would you decide that it’s just too offensive, and pack your bags – moving to the next best country…and when this happens again, your human nature insists you pick up and move again, and again.  Do you see a pattern here?

I realize it may be a silly analogy to some, but is it really?  Think about it. In this “all about me” consumer driven society we live in, it’s far to easy to give up and move on when things don’t go as planned.  I say all that to say this – figure out the things in life that are important to you.  Stand by them, and stand behind them. Don’t, however, give up on them at the hint of trouble.  Be willing to look at things from all sides, and just remain flexible.

Time for a Joke: Everyday Life in Atlanta, GA

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I got this via email, and found it too good to not pass along!
This is for anyone who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, has ever lived in Atlanta, has ever visited Atlanta, ever plans to visit Atlanta, knows anyone who already lives in Atlanta, or knows anyone who has ever heard of Atlanta.

Atlanta is composed mostly of one-way streets. The only way to get out of downtown Atlanta, is to turnaround and start over when you reach Greenville, South Carolina.

All directions start with, “Go down Peachtree” and include the phrase, “When you get to the Waffle House.” except if you happen to be in Cobb County, where all directions begin with, “Keep going until you get to the Big Chicken.”

Peachtree Street has no beginning, and no end, and is not to be confused with:
Peachtree Circle
Peachtree Place
Peachtree Lane
Peachtree Road
Peachtree Parkway
Peachtree Run
Peachtree Terrace
Peachtree Avenue
Peachtree Commons
Peachtree Battle
Peachtree Corners
New Peachtree
Old Peachtree
West Peachtree
Peachtree-Dunwoody
Peachtree-Chamblee
Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
[46 streets have Peachtree in their name]

Atlantans only know their way to work and their way home. If you ask anyone for directions, they will always send you down Peachtree.

Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Coke is all they drink there so don’t ask for any other soft drink unless it’s made by Coca-Cola. Even if you want something other than a Coca-Cola, it’s still called Coke.

The gates at Atlanta ‘s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are about 32 miles away from the Main Concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.

The 8 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The 5 p.m. rush hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. (Don’t forget the lunch time rush hour!)

Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 a.m. Saturday.

Only a native can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is ” pawntz duh LEE-awn.”

And yes, they have a street named simply, “Boulevard.”

The falling of one raindrop causes all drivers to immediately forget all traffic rules. If a single snowflake falls, the city is paralyzed for three days
and it’s on all the channels as a news flash every 15 minutes for a week. Overnight, all grocery stores will be sold out of milk, bread, bottled
water, toilet paper, and beer.

I-285, is the interstate loop that encircles Atlanta. It has a posted speed limit of 55 mph, but you have to maintain 80 mph just to keep from getting run over, and is known to truckers as “The Watermelon 500.”

Don’t believe the directional markers on highways: I-285 is marked “East” and “West” but you may actually be going North or South at any given time. The locals identify the direction by referring to the “Inner Loop” and the “Outer Loop .”

If you travel on Hwy 92 North, you will actually be going southeast.

Never buy a ladder or mattress in Atlanta. Just go to one of the interstates and you will soon find one in the middle of the road.

The last thing you want to do is give another driver the finger, unless your car is armored, your trigger finger is itchy and your AK-47 has a full clip.

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.

There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Georgia .

There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Georgia, plus a couple no one has seen before.

If it grows, it will scratch or stick you. If it crawls, it will bite you. If you are standing outdoors and notice a vine trying to wrap itself around
your leg, you have about 20 seconds to escape, before you are completely captured and covered with Kudzu.

It’s not a shopping cart, it’s a buggy.

“Fixinto” is one word (I’m fixinto go to the store) – also can be pronounced “Fixinta”.

Sweet Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you’re 2 years old.

“Jeet?” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?”

“How’s Momma-nem” means: “How’s Mother and all of the other children and other members of the family doing?”

Now if you understand these jokes, forward them to your friends from Atlanta, Georgia, and those who just wish they were.

His Love is Sufficient – But, Do You Believe It?

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“His love is sufficient.”  That is a phrase many people know, or at least have heard many, many times. It speaks of God and his love for all of humanity. It speaks of the overwhelming love that He so freely offers and wants us to have. We are quick to mention that it is sufficient, but let me ask – do you really believe that?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it really is something to ponder. Do you really believe that His love truly is sufficient? Or, are you like many other people (myself included) who tend to think such sentiments are fine and good for everyone else – while somehow being unworthy? Do you really ALLOW his love to be sufficient? Do you believe that you are a child of our God, loved and adored by Him? If you do, then His love IS and WILL REMAIN sufficient. His love will cover all – all your needs, wants, desires.

I have had the pleasure of many thought-provoking conversations recently. A friend pointed something out and asked a question that should make anyone think. “Do you love God?” Well, yes. Of course I do. “Why do you love God?” (Think on that one for a quick reply – I had lots of reasons, many of which were hard to verbalize.) My friend then mentioned that, in His word, God says, “If you love me, you will follow my commands.”  Okay, I get that. He gives us directives – and to show our love means listening to those and living by them. But, my friend also brought up another point. “To love Him means you KNOW Him.” Then followed that with, “…and how do you really KNOW Him?” You talk to Him, you share your heart, and open yourself to knowing His. In doing this, you also study His Word – you open up and emerse yourself in the Bible. It is not something you do out of some man-made requirement. Instead, you read it to KNOW God – to learn all you can about His character, and who He truly is. That line of thinking was very powerful for me. It is a no-brainer to/for some, but I needed this reminder. Yes, I know what the Bible is. Yes, I do read it. But, it is not – nor has it been – my lifeline, my method of getting to know my Father.

Another reminder God shared through a friend today was that God truly loves each and every one of us – simply because we are His children. Do we deserve it? Are we worthy? Absolutely not. But, remember that NOTHING you did yesterday, today, or will do tomorrow will keep His love from you. He went to the cross and died so that you and I could be forgiven. We are not expected to be perfect, and it is – once again – okay to NOT be okay!

Having A Church Family – Priceless!

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I just wanted to share something with all who take the time to read this.  I’ve been thinking, and something really touched me last night.  I have realized what having a church FAMILY really means.  As I mentioned in a recent entry, I have recently (end of April, 2012) started attending Skyline Church.  Being a part of a church family is about so much more than I am used to. It’s so much more than just the four walls of a church building.  It’s so much more than all the members you see once a week.  It’s about being there for other people, and about allowing them to be there for you.  It’s about doing this thing called life together – every day of the week, not just on Sunday mornings. It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus – with each other, well as with our greater community and beyond. I just haven’t ever been a part of a church family that I have connected with and allowed to become family.

Yesterday, I spent the greater part of the day in the emergency room.  I was having random chest pain, was a bit light-headed, and my pulse and blood pressure were fairly elevated.  So, I reached out and asked for prayer.  The first reply was, “of course” but then what quickly followed was “what can we do to help?”  They asked if I needed help with the kids, etc.  Several people also reached back to let me know they’re praying for me, and asked just showed love.  I realized right then and there, how much this is more than people I see each week – it’s the body of Christ, and a true family.

I’m floored by the amount of love God has for me, as is evident in the people He has in my life.  I’m blessed to do life with them.  Thanking God for the passion and love for people, as displayed by my church family – for me, for each other, and for the community – reaching the world.

I said all that to just say something I’ve touched on before.  If you are not a part of a church family, I highly suggest you make it a priority to find one.  Don’t just go to a church, be a active part of the church.  Get involved.  Reach out to others, and allow them to reach back. It’ll change your life.

The Mindset of a Child

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Sometimes being a parent can be all sorts of delightful fun – full of good times and bad. I would like to explore the reasoning of / from a child. Recently, one of my children had a small meltdown of sorts. It is not “the norm” for him, but here is how our morning went for a little while… “Mom, you’re just so mean….Mom you just don’t GET me…Mom it’s not fair….you’re always asking me to do things I don’t want to do!” It started off with a simple request on my part, which was followed by his being disobedient and not following simple directives. As I assured him that privelages (such as TV, playing with friends, etc.) would be taken away if his attitude and choices did not change, he assured me he did not care. It was hard to sit back and allow him to make his own choices. But, I did. And, I let him figure out the hard way, that there are consequences to those same choices. It is all about self control, and taking responsibility to / for your own actions.

It was during all of this that I drew a parallel. I took the time, and thought things through on an entirely different level. I looked at how many people, myself included, are often inclined to talk and react to God – the creator of the Heavens and the Earth – the One who gave His only son to die on a cross, so that we might live – the One who loved us THAT much – – Yes, Him! I began thinking of Him in that loving role as our Father, our Daddy. And, upon thinking, I realized a great deal.

Just as I struggle sometimes as a parent to instill morals, values, ethics, etc. in my children, He struggles much in the same way. In one way or another, we (as children of the Most High God) rebel. In some way, we scream at Him – saying that He just doesn’t GET us. We turn our backs on Him, thinking that He is not concerned with our feelings. We get downright angry, letting him know that we do not think it’s fair that He is always daring to ask us to do things we don’t or might not want to do! I mean, how dare He!? And why?

Well, what I realized is that, much in the same way (but only on such a greater scale) that I love my own children, He loves us. So much. In the same way that I assure my children that nothing they can do or say will ever make me stop loving them, He does the same thing. His love for us is truly unconditional. He loves us with such a passion that it is hard to comprehend – even a fraction of that love. He yearns to share with us the same love we have for our children, only on such a greater more impressive scale. No one is capable of understanding His love. But, when you have gotten a glimpse at even a fraction of it, it is nothing short of life-changing. You cannot experience the presence of God and not be touched in some way, shape or form.

God loves us with a never-ending love. He KNOWS we will mess up, and loves us all the same. He understands that we are not perfect – but loves us simply because we are His kids. The mindset of a child can sometimes be “fun,” but the love of a parent to that same child – and the parallels it shows with our truly loving God is amazing.

Take the time today to get back to that child-like innocence in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. Open your heart, and cry out to God. Know that, no matter what, He is there, and He will listen.

The Next Time Someone Needs You – Just Be There!

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The following is a story I read online, author unknown.  I wanted to share – not because it’s an amazing and beautiful story (because it is) – but because it’s the way we should all strive to be.  To care that much…

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s …

limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.

Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, “Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this Gentleman’s Name? “

The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey………”

The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay.