I just finished this Bible Study and it was an awesome one! There were a few quotes that I had saved on my computer to blog about, but I never got to them. But I didn’t want to lose these thoughts, so I share them below as thoughts for your morning.
Obedience to God is often wrought with a slew of obstacles that persuade us to change our minds. I used to think that my choice to obey in any given situation was a one-time decision, but now I realize that obedience might mean having to make that same choice several times a week, a month or a year. – Kelly Minter, Ruth, p. 24
I don’t think that Ruth’s or Joseph’s determined obedience had much to do with will power at all, and to think so only encourages us to live by our own strength and self-righteousness.
(In these stories] we simply cannot miss the fact that …obedience stems from their commitment to God. This is an enormous truth that will sustain us through times of temptation and trial that urge us to forsake the path that we are on. We won’t be able to last if our motivation is based on anything but our relationship with God. …only a love for Christ will sustain a long term commitment to obedience. Kelly Minter, Ruth, p.25
For more information on this Bible Study as well as Kelly’s other works, please visit her website. (http://www.kellyminter.com)
One of the things that I have been blessed by in Florida is a few close friends that God has given me through my Wednesday Morning Women’s Bible Study. The blessing is a little bit of a surprise to me in several ways. Over my life, my friends have tended to come from work or school, but now that I am no longer working or going to school, I expected friendships would take longer to develop.
Second, when I do make friends, they tend to be casual/social friends that I enjoy being with, but I never really let get too close to me. I can probably count on two hands the number of friends in my life that I have let get really close to my heart, friends with whom I could share anything. They were rich friendships with human beings who God put in my life, but they have also been the relationships with the greatest heartbreak. When you open your life up to someone, it is a lot harder when a confidence is broken or when a close friend, often by relocation or death, just disappears. Subconsciously, I think that the loss of close friendships has made it much more difficult for me to open my heart to new ones.
But here I am in Florida and I feel God is pushing me in that direction – to trust Him and not be afraid to open up and share my life with my new found friends. I also think that God is trying to teach me to depend on Him above all else for the close emotional intimacy that I need in my life.
One of my new close friends whom God has blessed me with is Shellie. I can’t even begin to describe the richness that Shellie and several others here in Florida have brought to my life. Shellie owns one of the local magazines here in Parkland that focuses on community and family life and she asked me to write an article for the January edition. The article focuses on dealing with grief in the New Year and you can find it on page 5 (Its All About Community) of the following link. I thought I would share it here as well.
Spectator Magazine — January 2010
… for a long time to come.
It has been a big year of transition for us as we moved from Texas to Florida, but personally it has been a year of lessons learned about the workings of God in my life and how He uses each of us (through all of our faults) to make a difference in His work on this earth.
A lot of my lessons learned in 2009 have also helped me shape some goals for 2010. The good thing about writing them down is that they also hold me accountable. So here goes….
In 2010, I want to be:
- Less judgmental of others both in my words and in my thoughts. Even though I was raised knowing and understanding verses such as “Judge not, or you will be judged (Matthew 7:1) and “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7), I also live in a society where judging and condemning others is way too acceptable. The older I get and the more mistakes I make in life, I realize that if these verses are the standard by which I live, then I need to focus my thoughts on giving grace and forgiveness to others rather than judging others or their deeds.
- More affectionate with my family. My girls are both in middle school this year, and next year one of them moves on to high school. I am blessed in that they are still very affectionate girls. They love to snuggle on the couch with their Daddy and watch NCIS or run into his arms when he comes home at night. As they have grown older some of the snuggly love has gone away, but not totally. I know someday it will. For now I need to make sure that my other priorities don’t get in the way of spending time with my family and letting them know that I really love them.
- More focused on discovering how God wants to use my life. This year more than others, I realize that my prayers have been for specific actions that I feel I need, or want, God to take. “Lord, please help our house sell or please let the kids find friends in their new school or please heal a sick friend.” But as I’ve studied the characters in the Old Testament, Moses (and Sarah), Ruth and Boaz (and Naomi), Joseph (an his brothers) and David, one thing pops out about every story to me. God had a big picture plan for each of their lives that changed the world. He used each of them (even through the speed bumps of their sinful actions) to make a heavenly impact on earth. And each of their individual stories has an abundance of personal blessings as a result.
This year I want my prayers to be more focused on finding God’s direction for my life than satisfying my immediate needs and desires. I do believe that God cares deeply about my day-to-day needs (and desires), but I have to wonder if He is just waiting for my faith to grow enough so I will move beyond my day to day worries and will trust Him to take care of them as a part of the “big picture” Will He has for my life.
In a Twitter post this morning, Kay Warren shared: “Renewal is rooted in faith, not in resolutions. I cannot make a new me or a new you, but Christ can make you new and me new. – Frank Harrington
While 2009 has been a year of personal challenges for me, in the end, it is a year for which I am very thankful. I have moved from working 50 to 60 hours a week to serving as a stay at home mom. While I still hate housework, I love the time I have to spend time with God everyday and to get a decent level of exercise. I’ve lost about 20 lbs. since I’ve left Texas and am just about down to my pre-baby weight! I usually get a 5-mile walk in each day. I also try to spend a few days a week with Jillian Michaels. I’m still working on having positive thoughts about those experiences. 🙂
Wherever your New Year finds you, I pray that you know that you have a God that loves you unconditionally, separate and apart from what you feel about yourself or how others see you. And for each and every one of us, God has a big picture plan of how He’d like to use both you and me for His heavenly purpose on earth. If we just have the faith to let Him.
Happy New Year!
It’s Christmas Eve. The Maccubbin’s are in Virginia with our extended family. Tonight we will have 9 children and 7 adults (and 2 dogs) all-camping out in a 2000 square foot house so that we can be together on Christmas morning. I think we should start taking bets on what time the kids will wake up on Christmas morning!
I wonder if this is what Bethlehem was like on Christmas Eve. The no-room-in-the-inn story is taking on a whole new meaning here tonight. At least none of us have to deliver a baby tonight!
And while its cold here, we got to experience the warmth of a traditional candlelight service and enjoy dinner with a portion of the extended family that we will be spending the next week or so with. This year this family is especially thankful for what we have.
Christmas, maybe more than any other holiday, makes us aware of the passing of time. Those we have lost during the year are more notably missed as we step through the yearly traditions without them.
But Christmas is also a reminder of the gift that God gave us. A gift that will never leave us or let us down, as those we love on earth inevitably do. Every Christmas, as long as we are here on earth, we can celebrate Jesus Christ, who cared enough about having a personal relationship with each of us that he came to earth to live just as we do, so that for the rest of our lives we can have an intimate relationship with Him.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
One of the things that I have struggled with throughout my life is the need to be in control. I think this is why I will never make a good management candidate. I have a very hard time letting go. I guess I feel if I have my hands or my input on a process or project then I know it will come out ok, and if it doesn’t then I did my best and the only one to blame is me.
I also believe this need to be in control is genetic. I inherited it from my mother. I remember times in my childhood when I would confide in her about a problem I was having at school or with a particular situation. She would immediately jump in and try to solve it for me – meeting with teachers or other parties who had power to resolve the problem. In most cases, this usually just made things worse. Most of the time, I just needed to have her listen while I talked through what I was concerned about.
I think the lessons of my youth have made me a more hands off parent than my kids would sometimes like. When they complain about kids cursing on the bus instead of trying to change that, I remind them that they will always encounter people who curse in life and they need learn how to “live in the world, but not be of the world.” And think of the opportunities that they have to share Christ with their unsaved friends on their way to and from school. God might be opening doors for them that they would be missing out on if I drove them to school everyday!
But when it comes to my work and my friends, I have a lot of growing to do with regards to giving God control and not getting in his way. One of the sermons that has resonated most with me since I’ve been in South Florida was preached by Pastor Tom Albright on one of our first weeks at Church by the Glades. Tom talked about how powerful the Kingdom of God was because of the entire team of Christians that God uses to accomplish His Will. When I am powerless to affect change in a particular situation I need to pray that God will “use the whole team” to accomplish His Will in His Time. I like the idea that God can use other Christians that I may not even know to answer my prayers.
That requires me to be willing to give it all over to God. To have complete trust and faith to let go and let God have control. It means that even though I may not be able to see the result, I need to have faith that God is using others on “the team” to answer my prayers and to accomplish His Will, in His Time and for His Glory.
And for me it may mean accepting the feeling of being powerless to affect change.
While getting involved makes me feel better, in most cases, it usually makes things worse. And I’m sure it causes God a lot of extra work making up for the additional problems I generate when I try “to help Him” answer my prayers. It is one of the many weaknesses that God is continuing to work on in me and I am reminded that if I don’t spend time with Him everyday, Satan will surely use my weaknesses to defeat me.