Okay, so I am currently on a diet. I started it, let’s see…around 1992. I should be nearly invisible by now, I know, but nursing school, marriage and 3 kids need to be taken into account. As well as 25 years of holidays and birthdays. I probably should just be happy with my current weight considering all that, right? (Joking aside and truth be told it isn’t about my size, it is the idolization of food in my life. I’m on a quest to stop bowing to my stomach and seeking consolation in calories [see Phil. 3:19 and 1 Cor. 10:31]).
It was brought to my attention that when I diet, it affects the whole family. I don’t cook as often and I don’t buy as much food (flee temptation!). I also don’t bake if I can help it (don’t mix up and eat temptation raw, that should be in the Bible too). My 12 year old, Peyton, takes notice of all of this. He is where I got the title. For the first few weeks of my diet, he would proclaim to anyone who would listen, “Mom is on a diet, so ALL of us are STARVING!” He wanted everyone to know he was suffering and I was responsible.
Peyton has lightened up a little on the complaints (Easter candy helped), but it made me realize the influence we moms have on our homes. Do the “little” things we do really affect the family that much? The clear and decisive answer is YES! But I think you already knew that. How many of us have tried to take a night off of cooking and suddenly everyone is irritable and confused (You didn’t make dinner? What are we supposed to eat?!?). When we are having a bad day and get grumpy, how long is it before everyone in the house is grumpy and having a bad day? Yes, we wives and moms have great, influential power over our families. But…we need to be very careful with that “power”.
Ladies, this blog today is not about food or dieting. It is actually about starving. Some of you are starving yourselves and in effect starving your families too. How do I know this? Well, I have been talking to some of you. And I have observed some of you. And I have been listening to many of you. And I have seen the Facebook posts. Some of you are emaciated and your family is suffering. They may not shout, “Mom isn’t reading her Bible, so all of us are starving for encouragement, grace and love!” But they are expressing it one way or another if you are paying attention.
When we skip (or skimp) on reading our Bible there will be effects. God tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt.4:4) and “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63). God’s Word is the Source of life, that makes it essential for living.
Separating yourself from the living waters of God will cause you to dry up and produce thorns, these thorns will pierce those around you. It is difficult and painful to love a thorn bush. Don’t make your husband and children try to do that. Stop the insanity of denying yourself what you most deeply need. Exercise your faith and dive in. Let your soul be refreshed and replenished with God’s Word. Begin to produce fruit that will bless those around you.
Read Psalm 19:7-8, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”. In just a few consecutive lines we get a glimpse of the value of reading God’s Word - it revives, makes wise, brings joy to the heart and enlightens our eyes! This is what we need in our homes.
Stop the starving. Love those around you well by reaching for scripture throughout your day. Just like oxygen on an airplane, put yours on first so that you can then help the ones you love. Act like God’s word is your lifeline and like you can’t survive without it…because you can’t. I have not met a single person on earth who is too busy to read the Bible and you won’t be the first. No excuses.
The best thing you can do to help your man, encourage your child, love a screaming baby, fold laundry with joy, discipline with wisdom, or fill a house with grace is to read God’s Word daily. It is only God’s Word that can accomplish these ordinary, yet divine purposes in our lives. If mom has joy in her heart and praise for God on her lips, her husband and children will be blessed by it. Her home will be a sanctuary and a place of peace and God will be glorified.
The worst feeling in the world is feeling stupid. I know because I’ve been there too many times for my liking. Math and chemistry come to mind and the Rubik’s cube my son got for Christmas. Not even my time online with “Fixing your Rubik’s Cube for Dummies” could help me. Ugh.
There is one area that I want to encourage you to focus on in the coming year. It is not your waistline, spending habits or being nicer to others (a usual resolution of a friend of mine, obviously not as successful as she would like to be each year). You need to become WISE. You need to resolve to learn more about God in 2017. Specifically, Jesus Christ.
Before we get deeper into this, let me give you some wonderful news right up front. It is found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When you seek to know God first and foremost, he takes care of the rest. He will provide for your needs and help you live a better life according to his Word. Could it be that you have gotten it backwards all these years?? Yes. Yes you have. Pursuing outside, worldly goals without first establishing your heart in Christ will always drive you further away from God and further away from happiness. Seek God first.
Now let’s dive in. You need to know Jesus in a personal way. No more depending on pastors, priests, deacons, parents, friends, or pretty Instagram quotes for your spiritual guidance and pseudo biblical knowledge. Time to stand on your own two feet, ladies. Time to be independent in your understanding of who Jesus is, what he has done and what that means to you personally. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10. Think of fearing God (understanding who he is and the power and authority he possesses over you) as the gateway into wisdom. In other words you cannot have wisdom without first knowing God. So get to know him or stay stupid (“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7b).
No friend, priest or pastor will be there with you when you go before God, no one to point to and say, “I believe in everything he/she does.” Nope, God will not ask if you know him, he will TELL you if you know him or not (more accurately, whether you are known by him or not). “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 7:23 and 25:30. However, for those who have become wise through the irresistible grace of God, Jesus will be right there speaking to the Father on your behalf. “Yes, I know her, she is mine, I paid for her sins with my blood.” God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21.
God is such a merciful God that he wrote all about himself using 40 different authors over a span of around 1500 years to give you a good picture of who he is. The book he wrote is the Bible and now is when you should begin reading it. Seek him (“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13). Get to know Jesus right away in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now, listen closely to this part. If someone, ANYONE, tries to stop you from reading the Words of God (saying you won’t understand them, you might interpret them wrongly, the Bible is inaccurate, the Bible is incomplete without the extra papal writings, etc.). Tell them to GET LOST, away with that sort of medieval suppression! What they are keeping you from are the words of eternal life (take it from Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” John 6:68). Women, think clearly here. Why in nearly every other area of your life will you declare that you are independent yet when it comes to the Bible you willingly hand over the reins, telling someone else to think for you? Knock it off! Pick up the Bible and read the book of Luke for goodness sake. Give the world your backside and run towards God.
Finding wisdom and awakening to who Christ is, is the most glorious, life-change anyone could ever dream of. Make 2017 different, make it the year you become wise… the year that changes every other year to come…forever.
End note: For any of you who are not sure where to start or maybe don’t even own a good bible, talk to me. Message me, call me, email me. I can provide both a bible and guidance. That is my passion and mission, to educate women in understanding the Bible and who Jesus is. There is nothing more important.
Christmas is here, and I love it. I love the whole sensory overload of the season. I love the lights and music, eating tree-shaped cookies and even the late night wrapping sessions while watching absurdly corny movies. The best part is celebrating with friends and family. But what is it we are really celebrating again? Oh, that’s right…Jesus. That accounts for the whole “Christ”mas thing.
What the heck does it look like to celebrate Jesus? Let’s be honest, we struggle with this. Is it simply saying grace before meals? “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”? Is it singing religious music, putting up a nativity, going to church on Christmas Eve? Even if we do all of these things (which are good) it still feels seriously inadequate. We have a God that “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. A few verses of “Joy to the World” in church is not going to cut it.
We need to get one thing straight right away, God does not need our attention or our good works. He is not a pansy-god who thrives on human interaction or human charity. He is fully God on his own, lacking nothing. Conversely, we humans desperately need God. We lack everything, including the ability to save ourselves from hell. The son of God, Jesus, paid the death penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God. Therefore if we know Christ and believe in what he did for us, we can celebrate him at Christmas (and always). Exclusive? Absolutely. If you are excluded as an unbeliever, you have no reason to rejoice. Enjoy the corny movies and the cookies, that is as good as your lot gets.
For the rest of us, we need to celebrate Jesus. Let’s get to the “how”. I’ll make it easy to understand: open the Bible and read it, then do what it says. There you go, “How to Love God 101”. God has kindly written down for us: who he is, what he has done, how much he loves us, what will happen if we reject him, future events and, in light of all of this, how we should live right now. How is reading the Bible better than singing or prayer? God reveals himself through his word, if you don’t know his word, you do not know him. If you don’t know him, you cannot pray or sing to him with a heart that honors him. He is far away from you (Proverbs 15:29), no amount of “O, Come Let Us Adore Him” will get you closer to him. Listen to Christ when he says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28.
When we pick up the Bible to read God’s word, this is an act of desire on our part. We are desiring to know him more, to understand and see him. In essence, we are reaching out our arms to our Father asking him for wisdom, mercy, and love. Saying, “Please, God, give me more of you!” God doesn’t need us, but he loves us and knows the best thing for us is to become more like Jesus. When we model Christ, we honor God and exult him as holy. When we hold out our arms to God, he reaches out to us as well. No, strike that, his arms were open before ours, he is already stretching grace-filled arms out to us. We need to respond by grabbing his hands and joyfully being gathered to his heart as we enjoy his presence and listen attentively as he speaks to us.
That is celebrating Jesus, reading his Words and doing what it says. We often do just the opposite in December, we set our Bibles aside and rush around greedily shopping, planning and cooking. We may sing louder, give more and be at more parties, but then the emptiness comes. We feel drained, broken and tired. It is no wonder people try to “fix” themselves as soon as the New Year arrives. They have been grasping and consuming lifeless dust. Keep this simple verse running through your mind this season and forever, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a. It has served me well over the years as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. It is truly life’s mission.
So begin now, read God’s word like never before. Get up earlier, stay up later, attend Bible studies and services. Be taught and study on your own. Be filled with what is truly good. Start the New Year overflowing with hope and joy; not because you will change but because you have already beenchanged by the power of God’s written voice. This alone will cause you to pray in sincerity, sing heartfelt praises, to give generously and to joyously fellowship like never before. This will cause you to do Christmas differently. You will truly be celebrating Jesus.
Not exactly the words you expect to read so soon after the first of the year I suppose. However I mean it – eat already, girl! First, I don’t care what your weight is or what your current diet plan is (no, really I don’t). If people would be as concerned about their standing before God as they are about that number on the scale in the morning the world would be a much healthier place in the ways that really count (see 1 Tim. 1:8). Eat for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). That’s all you need to practice (yes, I struggle with this too, but realize it is a heart issue above all).
My mother used to tell me how my Grandma June would occasionally set their table for supper when they were young. She would prepare the meal and set a plate out for each person: my mother, her two brothers and herself. Food would fill the plates of the children, but on her own plate Grandma June would set her big black Bible. While the children ate, she read the Word of God. All were feasting.
This is the second and more important way I am encouraging you to eat. Consume the written Words of God. I’m not sure if Grandma June was fasting to conserve money, lose weight, or out of pure devotion to God. However, I do know she LOVED the Word of God. She consumed it readily and stored it within her heart like David in Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” I told you last week of her passion for Jesus; this passion only comes through deep devotion to God’s Word.
This is a beautiful picture of depending on God to provide our sustenance, our daily bread. A plate set out and a Bible on top. Did that speak volumes to her children? You can bet it did. In this action she was stating that God’s Word was more important to her than food and through it she found her strength and all she needed to continue on. She ate it up.
You eat up too, Ladies. So many of you are emaciated. Whether your waistline is thick or thin, whether your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, whether you attend church or not. We wander around and discuss the dust (aka food) we consume or don’t consume and do nothing to fix the problem of our true starvation. Continually suffering from a preventable disease for no good reason. The cure lies covered in dust on our bookshelves or even at times in our very hands. We may take a small sampling on Sunday mornings yet decide to starve ourselves throughout the week.
We wonder why we are weak and don’t feel up for the task of living this life. Always seeking strength through other avenues; trying to fill that Jesus shaped whole in our soul with more dust (food, hobbies, TV, love).
Stop. Go to the table and eat. Not just a crumb here and there, gorge yourself on it. God’s Word is an anomaly. The more we get the more we want. If you don’t feel a craving for Scripture, here is what to do:
1 – Pray for God to give you the desire, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” Do you think it is God’s will that you read the Bible? Absolutely! Ask already.
2 – Read it anyway, read God’s Word whether you feel like it or not. Someone who is truly starving eventually loses their appetite for food, it is an illness, and it can kill you (it kills thousands every day). Read whether you feel like it or not, trusting God that his word brings life. “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” Psalm 119:25
Grandma June read her Bible not just at the dinner table but nearly everywhere. She would heartily agree with David’s 176 verses of adoration in Psalms 119. How appropriate that in God’s Word the longest chapter contained in it is a love song about that very Word!
Eat, ladies, and stop starving. Fill your body with the life giving words of God. Like Peter when Jesus asked if he wanted to stay with him or go, reply, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
I recently gave the gift of pencils to 34 women at a women’s retreat, two apiece. I tied a ribbon around them, curled it up and put them in a gift bag. I couldn’t wait to hand them out, I had been excited for months.
These were no ordinary pencils. They were black Ticonderoga pencils, “The World’s BEST PENCIL” (exactly what it says on the box they come in). I have to agree with their biased advertising.
You see, these are the pencils I have been using for years to write in my Bible. I nearly always have one (or three) of them stuck between my pages. I have come to a point where I can’t concentrate on what I read if I don’t have a pencil in my hand. It honestly drives me crazy.
When I have a pencil I can underline verses I want to remember, circle words that are important and need emphases, add notes in the margins, draw arrows for reference, star my favorite verses, sketch wings when necessary (had to have been at the retreat), and add question marks for things I just don’t get.
How do any of you survive without one? Fortunately, 34 of you ladies don’t have to worry about this any longer.
Some of you have heard me go on about this before and may be rolling your eyes right about now, but you will have to get used to it. I will be talking about keeping a pencil in your Bible till I die. Or a pen if you must.
The Bible, of course, is the awesome, perfect and powerful words of God written for our benefit. A pencil is the tool that causes intentional engagement with those words on our part. It is hard to explain until you put into practice for a while.
Marking with a pencil as you read causes you to pick out parts that are important to remember and areas that you want to revisit. It makes it much easier to find certain scriptures when you need to. You will feel personally engaged in what you are reading and you will find yourself remembering more since you took the time to pause and take notice.
Many people have asked me my specific process for studying the Bible. I often give them an odd look and tell them, I just sit with my study Bible and my pencil and go at it. They return my odd look and ask if I can direct them to a more specific resource. I have a couple solid ones I recommend, but not before trying to convince them that they need to learn how to wrestle first.
Pray, read your Bible and use your pencil. Wrestle with scripture, build your muscles, and be determined.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4.
Instructions written for us to build endurance and offer encouragement and hope. I’m all in for that. God’s Word is a deep source of treasure and my pencil is like the pick axe, helping me to mine understanding and gain wisdom. Enough with the metaphors? I can’t help it, it is SO good.
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22. In God’s word I find life and I want all I can get. I feel the healing that comes from time spent connecting with God through the words he wrote for me. I can’t ever get enough.
I told the ladies at the retreat that day that I wanted them to hear my voice when they looked at their pencils. They needed to hear me saying to them, “Read your Bible, write in your Bible!” My prayer is that they have done just that and someday I know they will be glad they did. It changed my life long ago… not the pencil used, but the Words of God they highlighted.
Grab your Bible, your pencil and get to it, Ladies! Read your Bible, write in your Bible!
“There are never enough hours in the day!” Ladies, do you find yourself saying that often? I sure do. As if God has given us more work than we are able to complete in the 24 hours he has given us to do it in. Something in our day usually has to give, we simply can’t (or won’t) get everything done. Too often what gets pushed off our schedule is time in the Bible or prayer. By the end of the day we are spent and exhausted and tell ourselves that it just can’t happen today, but maybe with a little luck tomorrow will be better. There is always tomorrow… or next week… or next year…
There is no way around it, you only have 24 hours in a day, that will never change (okay, daylight savings time messes things up twice a year, but it evens out). God is perfect, so how he set up our measure of time and the hours set in a day is also perfect. You don’t need more time. That is not our problem. I fully believe that if we were given 30 hours in a day we would still find ourselves in the same position and asking for more. Do not accuse God of being stingy in his blessing of giving you any time at all.
I believe God desires us to have this sense of limited time, a sense that time is flying by. Why? Well for one, I can feel it every day of my life. I am amazed at how quickly the weeks go by, how fast my children grow, and how the years slip by faster and faster. More importantly, I see it in Scripture. God gives us many reminders of how limited our time here on Earth is. Here are just a couple:
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” – Psalms 39:4
Having the knowledge that our earthly time truly is short and purposefully designed that way by God should lead us to some important conclusions.
First, we need to use our time wisely. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Understand the will of God so that you can walk through life in wisdom.
We get this wisdom from God’s Word, so Bible reading needs to be at the top of your list instead of at the bottom. We need to prioritize our days carefully. Some items on our agenda will have to be removed to make room for what is truly important. This could mean forgoing the baseball or softball tournament teams so your family can be in church on Sundays. This may mean getting rid of television so that it is no longer a distraction for you or your family. How you spend your days is how you spend your life, therefore “look carefully then how you walk” as instructed.
Secondly, we need to live for our eternal life not our earthly life. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2. This breath of a life is not worth living for, not worth spending our riches and resources on, not worth giving our soul for. We need to invest all of our treasures in Heaven (Matt. 6:20). We need to spend ourselves on what will last forever. For
Christians, this earth is just a temporary stop before we go to our forever home in Heaven; send your goods on ahead of you instead of hoarding dust here. For non-Christians, this place is as good as you get, dust is as good as you can ever hope for.
Finally, we need to understand that the minutes of our lives are like sand pouring through an hourglass; and we don’t know how much sand we have left. We need to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to our loved ones and to the nations. This is the work we need to be about (Matt. 28:19). We shouldn’t wait for a better time; there may not be more time. Let the urgency of this affect the way you live each day. Proclaim Christ always.
Let Psalms 90:12 be your prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Limited time on earth is truly a great blessing from God. If we belong to him we should long to be with him in glory, not toiling away here on earth. We should yearn to be home. Today I enCOURAGE you to praise God that your days are flying by, praise God that we are but a mist and so very fleeting, praise God that we will be soon be with him in glory! Revelation 22:20 - “’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Easter weekend has passed and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. The remnants of a busy weekend remain visible all over my house. Thousands of plastic eggs from the city egg hunt are stacked in boxes in the corner, Easter baskets and the treasures that they originally held are scattered on the dining room table. I am still catching up on laundry and the housework that was ignored for other activities. Candy wrappers seem to be everywhere, why did I buy all that candy again?
With the holiday over we can begin to focus on spring projects, gardening ideas and plans for the summer. A nice break from the extra celebrations, services and gatherings. I’m sure that is what the disciples were thinking when all the commotion Jesus had caused subsided. Jesus did the work he had promised to do: he died, rose again and then ascended into Heaven where he belonged. They finally had time to put in a new vineyard, redecorate the messy upper room and go fishing. What a relief to have that crazy Passover celebration behind them.
What did the early Christians do after Jesus left them? How can we know what the apostles were busy with after all this took place?
How convenient that a book was written to address these very questions (and many more). It falls right in proper order after the recordings of the life of Jesus found in the gospels and is entitled “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles.” The Bible comes through again.
Check out Acts 1:8, as Jesus is ascending into Heaven he promises that they (the apostles) “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in all Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Sounds like Jesus had some serious work for these men to do.
After this the disciples head back to Jerusalem and enter into an upper room. The names of all the apostles are listed and then we read in verse 14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” The first thing they did was to meet together and seek God in prayer. We need to continue to meet together through church services, Bible studies and times of fellowship. We also need to be in prayer and seeking God’s will, strength and wisdom.
Not many days later was the day of Pentecost, another Jewish festival. The disciples of Jesus were once again gathered together, “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” Acts 2:2, 4. The promised Helper had come, the Spirit of God to dwell within the believers. The Holy Spirit that teaches us (John 14:26), helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and empowers us to do God’s will (John 14:15-16) and produce good spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Yes, this same Holy Spirit dwells in believers today. If you are a true follower of Jesus, these promises of the Holy Spirit are for you just like they were for the disciples long ago. Believe it and act accordingly.
In the days, weeks and years that followed the awesome commotion of Jesus Christ on earth these men became bold and courageously preached the gospel, evangelized the nations and changed history forever. They did not take a season off, they did not let up; they followed hard after Christ giving everything they had in full surrender to his will. What a beautiful example for us today.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, it was a decisive victory over death and over our Enemy. However, it is not the ending, it is the means to a beautiful beginning. We need to be more intentional than ever before in maturing in our knowledge of Christ and growing the Kingdom of God, we should never let up in this area. I enCOURAGE you to not lay back and relax spiritually after celebrating Easter, but to dig in and seek Christ with renewed passion this season and always.