Are you willing to save a date in 2016 for me?

Our church is going to be studying the book of Philippians in the coming weeks, so today, Joel and I looked at the first chapter and just spent time discussing observations and ways to apply the content.

We both stopped on chapter 1, verse 27

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear that you are standing firm, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

Is my conduct worthy of the gospel?

  • honesty in dealing with others
  • genuine concern for students, co-workers, neighbors, family
  • my interactions with friends

How am I living out gospel truth, compassion, conviction, so that I can take opportunity to share what God has done to change and redeem my life?

I am recently full of questions about my faith more than any other time in my life.  These questions are driving me to desire to KNOW God more and more.  To EXPLORE Scripture, ASK questions, and APPROACH God with a humble mind, soul, and spirit.  To THINK about God.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us – AW Tozer

I want my conversations of 2016 to revolve around the quest for KNOWING God.

Can we make a date to share our thoughts and questions…to study together….to grow closer to each other by growing closer to God?

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Spoiler Alert – A look into my gift giving for this holiday season

I know….Christmas can’t be all about me, and I am working to make it something different, but I have a few things to really admit about my gift giving habits.

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Note: There is NOT one single gift wrapped and under this tree yet…3 more days to catch up

  1.  I REALLY do NOT have a problem wearing a load of patience when I go out shopping for gifts.  It’s my mantra…I will drive slowly, give other people their space, will plan on parking a mile from the store, will smile at those as I pass by, and will say thank you (by name) to all the cashiers, old and new,  who don’t know all the ins and outs of the registers they are working.
  2. I know that others really enjoy the shopping and the giving and the looks on others’ faces when they see them open their gifts….they look forward with anticipation and pleasure
  3. I fully appreciate that my husband is generally a master shopper and giver…can take less than 2 days and just gets it done…and for the most part does a PERFECT job
  4. I enjoy the decorations I see and the music I hear when I am out looking for gifts BUT ……
  5. Giving gifts raises my anxiety levels….and I have a family history of heart problems, so this can’t be a good thing, right???
  6. Despite paying attention to people and spending quality time in conversation throughout the year, I really do not chose well….this has been a real embarrassment throughout the years…..just ask my husband and my father-in-law about robes and iced tea makers.  Great intentions gone VERY BAD
  7. I can walk around a store 5-6 times, have a cart or armload of products after 30-40 minutes and then spend 5 minutes to quickly put them all back, leaving the store with nothing to show (except for perhaps something I found for myself, I have to admit…please don’t shake your head in shame)

I honestly contemplated this today as I passed by a couple of stores and simple drove on, not even wanting to go in because of the crowds driving around the parking lot.  Why do I have such issues?  It makes my holiday maddening and almost unenjoyable.

I reflected on the giving of gifts and how they are ultimately a reminder of the gift God gave to us through His perfect Son.  How difficult it must have been to offer up His only Son, for us…people who are greatly undeserving. (and I think my job is hard)

I work to justify my lack of interest in the gift giving….my subconscious tells me my efforts will fail so why am I trying.  I see how so many people are either so overly generous, how can I compete; or they give a small token that ends up so sentimental and special and fits the received party perfectly. I don’t feel I have that talent.

So, all this to say a brief warning to you out there who may receive something from me…or did not because I didn’t dare to try…I do think of you often.  I work to send smiles….I look for words to encourage you….I deliver a message with written symbols instead of a glossy bow that is tied up intricately…I will sit across from you at lunch or dinner or coffee and do my best to listen to all that is going on with your life…..I know it’s not the same, but it’s MY way of GIVING

Oh, and don’t even get me started with the wrapping……

What are your gift giving habits and tips? 

Just Journaling the Journey

After years of teaching, I know there are ebbs and flows.  There are weeks where there is smooth sailing and then there comes the torrential downpour, enormous waves, and behemoth stacks of unending tasks.

To this latter time, I give thought today

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. – II Peter 2:19

Today I am enslaved to the waves.

They have overwhelmed me.

They have discouraged me.

They have brought me to doubt my abilities in Christ.

They have depressed me.

So, Lord I pray with a humble heart

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

May I approach today with a flexible spirit.

May I lift my eyes to the one who knows the beginning from the end.

May I trust in His protection and not my view of the storm.

 

In what ways can you change your view of the storms you may be facing today?

Transportation decisions….and a lesson on Discipleship

So, I felt like I was caught between the 1800s and 2015 this morning.  Unfortunately for my husband, he has had to deal with 2 car issues this week.  Unfortunately for me, one of those was a flat tire this morning.  This meant that getting to church was going to pose a challenge – I could walk like they did years ago, or I could take advantage of the technological age and stream my church service online.  I chose the latter 🙂

Glad I didn’t just give up and find something else to do around the house or continue grading papers.  I stopped to spend some time with my church in non-conventional way.  Pastor Bruce Garner has spent the last two weeks stepping away from his expository methods and has been led to discuss the topic of discipleship.  While not new to this topic, I always love how the Holy Spirit uses the preaching and teaching of Crosspoint Church  to approach topics I have learned my whole life.  There’s usually new life breathed into topics that sometimes can become repetitive.  Just wanted to spend a few moments here to review for myself…and share with anyone who may need some of these great reminders.

  • Discipling, as demonstrated by Christ and the apostle Paul, goes beyond the gospel message; it deals with life to life engagement
  • Discipleship relationships require us to get close enough to care and requires intentional interaction and leadership
  • Just hoping something sticks isn’t good enough
  • The outcome is that believers become mature in Christ

I appreciated the visuals that my pastor reminded us of, as found in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians.  That disciple makers are likened unto nursing mothers and admonishing fathers.  This teaches me that

  • I am required to be inconvenienced at times.  Babies don’t just get fed according to a schedule all the time.  There are times when babies need immediate attention and care.  When there’s a need, a mother looks for it to be met.  When the lives of those I seek to disciple falls apart, they should know that I am there.
  • I need to be willing to encourage others to grow in Christ. We will both grow in maturity since there is a necessity to be an example of growth as well.
  • I can reach these needs through the strength that God so graciously provides (Colossians 1:29)

The value I took away from today’s message is summed up in these two thoughts.  “Both the message and the method of Jesus are sacred….  Participating in the life of others shouldn’t just be characterized by convenience but rather by mutual commitment. “

Take this time to reflect as I once again evaluate where I am in my relationship with Christ.  He calls me to dedicate myself to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20).  It’s not just a request…it’s an imperative, a command.  Where are we in commitment to this task?  It shouldn’t take as much consideration as I have given.  I should act.  It’s just that simple.

Find the whole message here. (the message should post in a day or two, but sermon 1 from last week is posted already – it’s a good start)

Seasons – Saturday’s Post for Five Minute Friday

We recognize seasons with celebration. Summer means flip flops and beach trips. Fall means Halloween is approaching with decorations and fall food. Spring is a time to plant new little seeds that we can visually and aromatically enjoy. Winter brings celebration of family and friends and the gift of Christ’s birth. While in California the visual differences between the changing seasons may not be as strikingly obvious as they are in other places, the mental changes definitely have their time. I just read the other day that Americans gain 8-10 pounds during the holidays. The inclination to bake and drink hot cocoa and gather with people around food definitely can play a toll on our healthy summer salad living.

We also go through “seasons of life,” as many refer to them. There may be days, weeks, months, or even years where life flows smoothly by. Jobs are a plenty, we enjoy our kids, we approach life with an overwhelming positive approach and take time to show gratitude. But. Then. Life. Turns. Difficult circumstances come and it’s a little more difficult to dedicate time to ministry or just see friends on a regular basis. A big project comes up at work, deterring us from making quality time for people or even to take care of ourselves.

I can easily become  grinch this time of year as I wrap up that last couple of weeks of school, working to get all my students motivated to stay the course.  Decorating and finding time to find gifts can stress me out….just look at the parking lots filled with cars (ain’t nobody got time for that).

Whatever it may be, I pray that I can remember the things that matter during this season of the year and of my life.  A husband who works hard. A daughter who strives to do well in school. A mother-in-law going through chemo. A dad overcoming heart issues. Family….they matter.  Students.  They matter. Some with deep concerns during the season they are in.  Friends. They matter.  Church. Inviting others to the hope and peace of Christ. It matters.

Five minute Friday : Table

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Right or wrong, our kitchen table isn’t always the place we come to eat. I generally come home and spread out my work at the table and use the dining room as an office. The great thing about my dining tables/office desks has been the memories of how I got them. Joel and I bought a new table together about a year ago. We had a good time together figuring out what table to get and have been pleased with the purchase  ( see the top left pic). This table replaced a table that we had for about 10 years. That table proved to be a blessing and a curse. Joel knew I wanted a table and so while I was away in Greece, he purchased the table (bottom right). He put the whole thing together by himself. I was so happy that we Had our first new table. It was functional and met the decor need I had at the time. But over the years , each of the chairs began falling apart. The screws would fall out onto the floor; then I would plead for joel to put them back together again, which he always graciously did.

that table reminds me of thoughtfulness, selflessness and care that has been a constant in my relationship with my husband. So blessed to have him in my life.

Five Minute Friday – What’s YOUR address?

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Today, I pause for Five Minutes to write and reflect…the nice thing for you as a reader is that my five minutes of writing is probably less than a minute of reading.  I hope that these moments can encourage, entertain, or just allow you to get to know me better.  Join in if you like….connect with Kate Motaung to find out more. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

This week’s Prompt:  DWELL

Ready….Set….Write

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  – Psalm 91:1

When I was younger, my pastor would spend the first weeks of each year in a different Psalm that coincided with the year.  (Psalm 91 was the series of sermons for 1991).  I will never forget the premise that he had that year was “What is your address?”  He used Psalm 91:1 as the central verse to remind us to set up our permanent dwelling abiding in the shelter and shadow of God.

 

It is there that we find

Peace 

Hope

Eternal Security

Protection from evil

Provision

Direction

Wisdom

Knowledge

Contentment

It is there that we escape

Doubt

Fear of man

Dissatisfaction

Lack of resources

 

As I think about my physical address and the home that I return to each day, I am reassured of the comfort it affords and how much more I want to make a DAILY CHOICE to seek my permanent emotional and mental DWELLing in the “Shelter of the Most High” and the “Shadow of the Almighty.”  What a greater comfort and peace awaits for me there!

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: From Dancing to Weariness….and Hopefully Back Again

Today, I pause for Five Minutes to write and reflect…the nice thing for you as a reader is that my five minutes of writing is probably less than a minute of reading.  I hope that these moments can encourage, entertain, or just allow you to get to know me better.  Join in if you like….connect with Kate Motaung to find out more. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.  Last week we danced, but today we show the weariness that sometimes accompanies and leads us to the dances in life.

I put on a good face because I don’t want to be a burden to others.  The smile.  The confidence.  The enthusiastic spirit.  Then.other.days…..I just let it out.  I become overwhelmed by the burdens and will begin to unload to anyone who pretends to listen.

I do this in cycles.  There are just some days where I the waves topple over and I can’t pretend that the weariness has not become more than I can handle.

The to-do list.  The worry.  The pain.  The insecurity.

B.U.T…I have a God, who promises…

28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11

God blesses me with friends and mentors who will listen to the weary cries for peace and the ability to escape.

Then I can get back on the mountain and begin the climb again.  This time, the burdens are still there, but they are easier to bear with the help of the Master burden bearer.

“Come Weary Saints” – Sovereign Grace

VERSE 1
Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Hide away in the love of Jesus

VERSE 2
Come, wandering souls, and find your home
Hide away in the love of Jesus
He offers the rest that you yearn to know
Hide away in the love of Jesus

BRIDGE
Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love
In the wounds of His grace
Hide away

VERSE 3
Come, guilty ones weighed down with sin
Hide away in the love of Jesus
The freedom you long for is found in Him
Hide away in the love of Jesus

VERSE 4
Come, hopeless hearts, do not despair
Hide away in the love of Jesus
For ten thousand joys await you there
Hide away in the love of Jesus

Didn’t even Know if I could Dance

Welcome to Five Minute Friday found by going to this site by Kate Motaung

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.  

Today’s prompt is DANCE

You have turned my mourning into dancing, Lord, now my feet are  filled with your praise.  You have clothed my spirit with a robe of JOY, you’ve cast my sorrow away.

I grew up listening to this fun song by Steve Green, but never really ever experienced the joyful part of dancing.  I know that pop culture tends to turn any good form of dancing into something that shouldn’t be a prominent part of a Christian’s life, but I think there is something to say about the exuberance and celebration that comes with dancing.  I grew up in a community where dancing was really prohibited in all forms and even our church worship tended to be extremely mellow.  We didn’t ever get “excited” about the words sung or show emotion when singing except for maybe the raised eyebrows and energy we could show on our faces.

With that being said, I came into my adulthood without ever really knowing if I could dance.  But in recent years, I have taken to demonstrating a few rhythmic moves.  Worship includes more than just a tap of the foot and when I hear a song on the radio (whether sacred or secular), I don’t mind being moved to MOVE a little.   I do have to admit that I don’t really have any moves for the dance floor; however, I will often take the opportunity to burn some calories and join in with friends as they raise their hands, shuffle their feet, and sing along to the melody.

“Dancing” and praising and showing the demonstration of the joy (for me personally in my Christian life) comes from being filled with a Spirit of celebration of the wonderful work of God and the way He has allowed me to overcome obstacles as well as be emotionally changed when I think of who He is, how He sent His Son, and the eternal life I now live through the risen Savior I serve.  (Last loooong sentence before the 5 minutes are up…..sorry that was probably not written effectively, but look past it to the message)

…now to enjoy my last sip of coffee and head to a wonderful Friday….dancing along the way.

 

 

Just Open the Book

#shereadstruth great reminders today of our position in Christ and the power that Scripture provides to us. No need to be a scholar or to feel guilt on days we can’t spend hours in the Word. Be willing to open it up, ask for The Holy Spirit to fill you with understanding, discernment, and knowledge and find the overwhelming comfort, instruction, hope, and guidance needed for each circumstance of life (great and small, simple or complicated)image

Find the She Reads Truth devotional here