Saturday, April 27, 2019

My Scars Tell A Story

We all have a story to tell.  You know… you were born and then what?  What’s YOUR story?  Did you know that every story is different?  Not one is like another.  Each story is sprinkled with a mixture of good and bad times spanning the course of our lifetime.  I bet if I took a survey today I would find one thing that each of our stories has in common.  

I’m sure we have all experienced pain in one way or another in our lives... whether it was in our past or currently in the present.  It’s a part of our story.

Did you know that God wants to redeem every part of our story?
(Past, Present, and Future)

 Let me explain.  No matter what season we are facing in our faith walk, God wants us to continue to surrender our lives to Him...  when it’s easy and “in the midst of” the struggle!

There WILL be struggles!  If you haven’t faced them yet, you will!  I’m sorry to surprise you.  When they come, what will we do?  How will we respond? Will we CONTINUE to trust Him with our everything or give up all together?

Think about it… How have you responded in the past when you faced unexpected circumstances or situations? 
I have found that when I surrender “my struggle” to God…
(Whatever it is at the time), that He ALWAYS leverages it for good.

 What I mean is that… Something that may seem “bad” in my life, when placed in the hands of God, always ends up having an unexpected outcome of good. 

 That’s where the redeeming my story part comes in to play.  I have struggled with an autoimmune disease for almost 13 years now.  It is a disease that weakens my muscles.  At its worst I was bedridden for up to a year and lost 75 lbs in 4 months.  At its best I was able to complete a 5K walk… which is a big deal for those who struggle with muscle issues!  I’ve had lots of ups and downs, good seasons and bad, flare ups and remissions, but God has been faithful all the way through.

My husband said this recently at a worship service we had with our young adults and it totally caught me off guard… 
“It’s sometimes our SCARS that draw people to Jesus the most!”

In that moment the Holy Spirit hit me with the realization that one of my “SCARS” is my sickness.  I cannot even begin to count the number of people God has touched as a result of it.  People identify with my struggle and it opens doors for me to share God’s love with others freely.

Scars – Whether visible to the eye or hidden from others are something we all have in common.   I’m sure we have all experienced some kind of pain (whether physically or emotionally) at some point in our lives.

My husband could entertain you for hours with stories about the variety of scars he carries on his body… you would hear about barns, chickens, pitch forks, surgeries, horses, and the like.  I have scars too.  My most recent scar involves an altercation I had with a new kind of curling iron I was attempting to use on my hair.  Needless to say, we have decided to part ways.  My wrist has an unforgivable mark to remind me to this day.

                  “The good thing about scars is that if they heal up 
properly, they don’t hurt anymore.  They may look 
really bad, but the pain is all gone.”

I bet a lot of us have scars on the outside, but how many of us have scars on the INSIDE that others can’t see?  It could be scars of abandonment, betrayal, fear, rejection, or low-self esteem.  Or it could be scars of addictions, bad choices, broken relationships, or grief.  These kinds of scars are more personal and private.  They aren’t the kind of things we share with everyone.

I have experienced scars like this too.  SCARS… of miscarriage, rejection, cutting words that hurt deeply, broken relationships and the like.

My scars tell a story.  They are a reminder to me that God heals on the inside and out.

What stories do your scars tell?  Who have you had the opportunity to minister to as a result of them?

“Scars in a sense are past hurts that tell a story.  When we surrender
our lives to God, our scars will amazingly point people to Jesus!”

Jesus had scars too.  He faced excruciating pain on the cross… the nails in His hands and feet.  I can’t even imagine! 

Think about the Easter story… Jesus was raised from the dead (experiencing the ultimate healing) yet He still walked away with scars!  The power of death was conquered, but the SCARS remained.  God didn’t take them away!  They were not erased!  Why not? 

Jesus scars tell the story of salvation.  They are scars of HOPE!!!!
They are a reminder to us that healing is possible.   He understands pain and He cares.  He loves us!  Through Him we can find life and He promises to be with us through everything!  We are not alone!

Romans 5:8 says…
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

John 3:16 says…
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” (GNT)

My scars tell a story.  It’s a story of salvation, deliverance, freedom, life changing moments with Him, healing, and His faithfulness.  He has redeemed my past and present scars over and over again for good!  His scars tell a story that changed my life!

Where are you at in your story?  Have you surrendered your scars to Him or do you have open wounds that still need healing? 

Maybe you need to start with salvation… surrendering your everything to God and thanking Him for the precious gift He sent in Jesus to save you and bring life!

If that’s you or you need to recommit your life to God now, tell Him.  Talk to Him like you would your best friend and lay it all out before Him… the good, bad, and ugly.  Ask Him to wash you clean and come be Lord of your life.

My scars tell a story, His scars tell a story, what story will your scars tell?

“Scars in a sense are past hurts that tell a story.  When we surrender
our lives to God, our scars will amazingly point people to Jesus!”

God, thank you for the gift you gave in sending your son to die for me.  I can’t even imagine the pain He went through to make a way for me to experience true life and that abundantly.  Today I surrender my life to you… ugly scars and all.  I pray you would leverage them all for good to draw people to You.  Please redeem my story (past and present) for good.  I pray my story will inspire others to pursue you more.  Thank you that I’m never alone.  You are forever faithful and all over my story.  I love you forever.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What's in your wallet?

My boys LOVE basketball!  They always have and probably always will!  In fact, they both want to have some sort of career centered around it.  Me... I never liked basketball so much.  I didn't understand it.  Too many details to figure out for me to play the game.  I was the kind of girl who didn't like to play sports for fun ever.  I did my time in P.E. class in school to get the grade and moved on.

When I met my husband in college, he loved basketball too of course.  He loved to play and watch it.  I was bored with it all.  Once we got married, I told him when we had kids I would take the time to learn the game and he could be my teacher.  That way I would know how to cheer appropriately for my team.  LOL.

We have been a basketball family for 6 years now... well with me included this time.  I love to watch my boys play and for the most part now I understand the game.  This month marked my youngest son's last season of high school basketball.  It was sad to watch him finish his last game.  He has been a super star on the court.

This month is March Madness.  For those who aren't sports lovers, it's BASKETBALL month.  There are games going on all the time.  Everyone is trying to guess which college team will win the championship.  I'm still not into watching it on television so much, but I know enough basketball lingo to hold a decent (sports intelligent) conversation with my boys... I think. Recently I ran across an article about an incredible basketball legend I had to share with you.  His life is marked by the kind of character every man should possess.  His motivation and call to live at a greater level wasn't from what you would expect.  He was inspired by simple words scribbled on a piece of paper that rested inside his wallet as a daily reminder.

Wow!  What a powerful message for all of us!  That piece of wisdom was there for almost 90 years as a reminder to him.  What a legacy!  This reminds me of the credit card commercial that says... "What's in your wallet?"  If you could hold a paper full of encouraging words to inspire you for a lifetime in your purse or wallet, what would it say?  Be encouraged as you read these words of wisdom.

Living to leave a legacy,

Why I keep this late basketball coach's 

7-point creed in my wallet

(By Paul Batura)

“Coach Wooden” as he was known, has been gone for almost 9 years. When he died in June of 2010 at the age of 99, the highly-acclaimed basketball genius was lauded and feted as a sage of the sport, and rightly so.

But even nearly a decade following his death, the remarkable life of John Wooden can still teach us, and especially now in the midst of culture’s madness.  Up until his death, the collegiate hall of fame coach kept a folded-up index card in his wallet. On it was a handwritten 7-point creed that his father had given him as a graduation gift from elementary school.

How instrumental of a role did that small piece of cardstock play in the life of UCLA’s coach?  According to friend and NBA executive Pat Williams, it was instrumental.  “I believe,” wrote Williams, “the character and achievements of John Wooden can largely be traced to [that] piece of paper his father gave him on the day he graduated from the eighth grade at a little country grade school in Centerton, Indiana.”

Almost 100 years later, as political, economic, sociological and even spiritual battles rage white hot, we would be wise to also heed the adages of this 7-point creed:

1.  Be True to Yourself.  
Are you living someone else’s plan for your life? Nothing can stifle creativity like conformity and uniformity. What’s “your thing” – your unique ability? Nobody is here by accident. Everybody was placed on earth for a purpose. Be comfortable in your own skin and chase your dream.

2.  Make each day your masterpiece.
It almost sounds like a cliché, but everybody has the same amount of time each day (24 hours, 1440 minutes). Do you treat it like a rare gift?  On average, over 150,000 people die every day. Don’t take these hours for granted. The late Bil Keane, creator of the Family Circus cartoon, once poignantly observed, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery – but today is a gift, that’s why we call it ‘the present.’”  Don’t waste the day.

3.  Never leave until tomorrow what can be done today.
Charles Dickens once called procrastination the “thief of time” – and he was right.  We so often think tomorrow is going to be an extension of today, but it’s usually not. Rather than treat time like a blank check, think about it in finite terms – because today is all we’ve got.

4.  Help others.
Narcissism is destructive.  Care about others and practice blessed self-forgetfulness. As Dr. Tim Keller says, “Don’t think less of yourself – just think about yourself less.”  Call a friend, visit someone in the hospital, pick up trash in your neighborhood or volunteer in your community.

5.  Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
The late pastor Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “What goes down in the well comes up in the bucket.”  Be mindful of what you’re reading and watching. The apostle Paul probably put it best of all when he advised, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable  – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things and the God of peace will be with you.”

6.  Study friendship and make it a fine art.
It’s been said we become the product of the five people we spend the most time with. If that’s the case, are you picking your friends or letting your friends pick you?  The popular writer C.S. Lewis wrote about the origin of enjoyable company. “Friendship ... is born at the moment,” Lewis noted, “when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’” If you want to have good friends, take the time to be a good friend.

7.  Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day. Cultivating a discipline of prayer and a spirit of gratitude will transform your life. It was Albert Einstein who once opined, “There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” We are living in an age of daily miracles and many of us don’t even realize it.

As the curtain fell on his near century-long life, Coach Wooden reflected that while he tried to live up to his father's creed, he had nevertheless fallen short, saying he was more like the guy who once said, "I am not what I ought to be; Not what I want to be; Not what I am going to be, But I am thankful that I am better than I used to be."

A devout Christian, Wooden saw basketball for what it was – a game that pointed to something of greater significance in his life. "I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior."

A slip of paper with Wooden’s wisdom is now in my wallet, and it likewise reminds me that all the madness of this world is manageable – because all the madness is ultimately managed by a God who loves each one of us.

Paul J. Batura is vice president of communications at Focus on the Family

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The ONE gift everyone must have!

Christmas is just a week away!  Can you believe it?  I can’t!  Time has just flown by.  I’m not even finished Christmas shopping yet.  I’m usually on it, but not this year.  I’ve been shopping later than usual and as a result I’ve been bumping into a lot of grumpy shoppers and drivers.  It’s crazy!  Everywhere I go I’m afraid of getting hit… by other cars driving wildly, by shopping carts being rushed through the store to grab last minute deals, or actual shoppers who are pushing their way through the aisles unaware of those around them.  It doesn’t seem very fun or festive to me.

Gifts… what do you get those hard to buy people?  Whatever you end up getting is never what they like, want, or need.  You know those second hand stores, thrift shops, and Good Will stores have to be flooded after Christmas with unwanted items… or maybe everyone waits until their spring cleaning days to unload it all.  What a waste!

I’ve been thinking hard on this and I think I have come up with one gift everyone will like.  It’s a must have item for everyone!  So… be sure to add it to your Christmas list if you haven’t done so already.  It’s something that will make a long lasting impact on all who receive it, yet it cost us nothing.

What is it?  It’s something we can all do that is free and easy for most if they try… BE KIND!  I know it sounds silly, but how many of us look around while busying ourselves with the holidays to notice those around us.

Do you see the lonely ones who are celebrating this season with out a loved one this year?  Do you see those families who are being ripped a part by divorce?  Christmas will never be the same for them.  Do you see the sick who are struggling through wondering if this year will be their last?  Do you see the overwhelmed people looking for the perfect gifts all the while drowning in a sea of debt?  The broken, the hurting, the hopeless, the grieving, the lost… they are all there.

What can you do to reach them, love them, see them this holiday season?  BE KIND!   Ask God to help you be engaged in what is going on around you instead of being consumed with your list of things to do before Christmas comes.  Ask God to put people on your heart to pray for, send an encouraging note to, buy a meal for, visit, or call.  BE KIND every chance you get!  During this season especially kindness is rare. 

“In a season filled with selfishness,
Choose to BE KIND!”

Recently I went to the post office to mail out some Christmas packages.  I was hoping to mail them sooner, (because I knew the lines would be long at this time of year) but I got sick with the flu.  Normally it probably wouldn’t be a problem for most, but our post office is very small.  The lobby area is pretty much a narrow rectangle.  There are a bunch of individual post office boxes around it and a window where one lady sits to assist you.  While we wait for our turn in a single file line (that runs from the check out window to the door) people are coming and going like crazy.  They are checking their mail boxes (in front or behind you), grabbing boxes or envelopes to purchase, and dropping off mail.   Space is invaded often.  It is not a place for grumpy people to congregate… that’s for sure!

I may have been a little grumpy that day from being sick.  However, I didn’t act on my grumpiness, I just held it all in.  I was frustrated!  My mind was going wild with silent comments … “This is taking WAY too long!”  “Isn’t there anyone else back there who can help us?” “How dare that lady send out 8 boxes now!”  “Ugh!!!”  I didn’t feel good and I was feeling very impatient. 

After a few moments, I noticed a stir at the front of the line.  A young adult was ushered to a table near by to finish getting his box ready to go out.  He had a book he was trying to mail and nothing was ready.  He was completely unprepared.  I was shocked to see the people in line jump into high gear to assist him.  One lady gave him bubble wrap, another packing tape, and the man in front of me offered to help him wrap it all up to go.  I was surprised at their kindness and a little ashamed at my grouchy demeanor.  Even though I was sick, I still needed a lot more KINDNESS in my heart. 

Did you know that “kindness” is a fruit of the spirit?  As we grow in our relationship with God, kindness should naturally flow out of our lives.  If you are short on kindness lately, you might want to check in with your heavenly father.  He is a great gardener of our hearts.  He knows just what to do to get things growing right inside of us.

Galatians 5:22-23 says…
 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NLT)

Did you notice how KINDNESS is packed in their between patience and goodness?  I don’t think that was by accident.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a lot of “patience” to be KIND.  What about goodness?  What does that mean? It can be defined as an “uprightness in heart and life”.  If each fruit builds on the next (one naturally leading to the other), then we can assume that we can’t truly be good until we are first patient and KIND.

Do you want to see a spiritual revival break out in your city?  Stir up KINDNESS and let it grow in your heart and overflow to others.  Let’s be Jesus with skin on this holiday season!  Give the gift of BEING KIND! 

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Miss Her.

Recently I attended the funeral of an incredible woman.  Even though she lived a full life, we all still mourned her death.  Why?  …Because she had left an imprint on our hearts and made a profound difference in each of our lives.  With her gone, each of us would experience our own kind of emptiness.  Life would not be the same.

She lived to be ninety-three years old which is a huge achievement in and of itself.  Anna Patricia (Singmaster) Creek was married 47 years before her husband passed away.  She birthed 6 children… 4 boys and 2 girls.  She was grandmother to 13 precious angels, great-grandmother of 19, and great-great grandmother of 2.

She wore many hats and was called by many names. Some called her mom, sister, cousin, aunt, friend and more.  To me she was my grandma and to my boys their granny.  Even though she was ninety-three and I was… ahem a lot younger, we had a lot in common. Two things that come to mind immediately are the shapes of our faces (specifically the curves of the lower part of our cheeks.  You have to see a picture to really understand.  LOL) and the variety of ailments we struggled with daily.

In the last couple years she struggled a lot with her health.  Something was always aching or giving her fits.  I know because we lamented together.  I’m not as old as grandma was, but I struggle daily with an autoimmune disease that alters my life, interrupts my days, and begs for my attention constantly.

I think she told me all about her frustrations, because I truly understood.  I felt her pain.  I could relate.  I called her a lot to check on her and encourage her.  Battling with sickness can be lonely.  People get tired of hearing what ails you each day.  After awhile it can sound like a broken record… or at least we (the sick people) feel like it.  It’s refreshing to be able to share with someone who really understands.

We prayed together a lot.  I prayed for her.  I asked her before I ended my phone calls with her if there was anything I could pray with her about.  There was always something… her blurry eye, her swollen legs, her numb fingers or toes, or sometimes she simply had no words to share.  In those moments I prayed God would wrap His arms around her and hold her close.  She said she had no tears.  She couldn’t cry, but wished she could.

She always closed our time of prayer with a big “Thank You” and “I love you!”  I treasured our moments together.  I wish I could have seen her daily, but I lived 7 hours away.  The best I could give her was a weekly call to check on her. 

I remember calling one time and asking Grandma how she was doing.  She was frustrated.  She said nothing had changed.  She wished she had something new to tell me.  Everyday something different bugged her.  She didn’t know what to tell people when they asked how she was doing.  I told her I had a secret phrase I used for those who asked me.  It was a basic phrase that would work no matter what was going on with me health-wise that day.  Each day I ailed in a different way (the same as she did) so it was a hard question to answer.  When people asked how I was doing, I would always return their question with “I’m Hanging in there!”  She really liked that!  She repeated it several times with giggles.  I think she even wrote it down so she wouldn’t forget.

Even though my grandma struggled with her health, I don’t remember her always being this way.

When I was little she babysat me and my sister while my parents worked.  I remember the special walks we made to the nearby mall to visit my mom.  I walked beside my grandma as she pushed my sister in the stroller.  I remember Easter Egg hunts, coloring eggs, and on snowy days her giving me ziplock bags with rubber bands to put over my shoes so I could play outside. 

I remember the rain hats she wore… Where do you get these things?  I found some at an estate sale this summer and bought them.  Not that I am going to follow in her footsteps and wear them on rainy days… LOL.  I just wanted a reminder of her lying around the house. 

 … I remember hearing about her pocket book, her stories she liked to watch on TV, and oh how she loved those word books! 

She was always so good at keeping up with everyone’s special dates.  She loved to send cards for birthdays and anniversaries.  She really got upset at the end when she couldn’t keep up with everything. 

I loved to hear my grandma get tickled and giggle.  Some thing that really tickled her was when we talked about Betty White.  She loved her!  They were close in age so I often suggested that she could be acting too like Betty if she wanted to.  She would giggle in response.  Another giggle moment I would bring up randomly was when my husband danced her down the aisle at my sisters wedding.  He even spun her around.  It was a long aisle… LOL.  Hearing that high pitched squeal of delight was priceless.

One year my husband was asked to speak at a church in Kansas.  It was a quick trip up and back to minister there.  We made it a family event.  On our way home, we passed through a part of St. Louis (where my grandma lived).  We were in a hurry to get home because the kids had school in the morning.  It was late.  I begged my husband to go a little out of our way to be able to stop by to see my grandma.  I wanted to give her a quick hug and kiss before we headed home.  It had been a long time since I had seen her.  He obliged.  I called her to make sure she was home and asked if we could stop by.  She was shocked!  I loved the surprise on her face when we arrived.  Later she told my uncle how we had stopped by to see her unexpectedly and he wouldn’t believe her.  Well… not until he saw the picture I posted of our visit. 

We threw a surprise party for her 80th and 90th birthdays.  I loved seeing her expression as she became the center of attention.  She didn’t like it, but it blessed her.  For her 93rd birthday I decided to send her a bouquet of flowers.  I didn’t know what else to get her.  She had everything.  I found a small floral place nearby her house and ordered a reasonably priced bouquet of spring flowers.  I was hoping it would be a good size.  I had no idea when I ordered it that it would be SO huge!  It practically filled a whole table and barely fit into the vase.  She was overwhelmed and went on and on about them for weeks.  I’m so glad they brought her joy.

One memory toward the end of her life that still sticks with me today was our last prayer together.  She was in the hospital.  She struggled to eat, drink, and could barely talk.  Her voice was a whisper.  She was weak all over.  When I called someone had to hold the phone up to her ear for her.  I asked her how she was doing and she said… “I’m really bad Julie.”  I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes.  I prayed blessing, favor, healing, and peace.  When I was finished praying she spoke up louder than she had in days and said… “Thank You!”  I told her I loved her one last time as we closed our time together.  That was our last moment together.  I will treasure it forever.

My grandma had a life FULL of great memories.  At the funeral, we all sat and savored our own special times with her.  It was truly beautiful!

You can’t attend a funeral without becoming introspective about your own mortality.  Think about it…

What kind of life do you want to live?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for others to follow?  What do you want others to say about you at your funeral?  How do you want to be remembered?

Our choices today influence the memories left behind tomorrow.

James 4:14 says…
“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

We aren’t promised tomorrow.  We need to capture the gift of each day and spend it well.  Hug people more, speak words of encouragement, lavish love on others, give grace, forgive quickly, say “I love you” often and “I’m sorry”, and spend countless hours savoring the moments you have with the ones you love.  Live a life with no regrets… Cherish the memories made, the lives impacted, and the journey traveled. A life well spent is a life well lived.

Let’s make it our goal to become intentional about loving others well this year.

Living to leave a legacy,

God thank you for all of the special people you have placed in our lives.  They are such a blessing to us.  I pray today we would realize the treasure we have in those around us.  Help us to savor our moments with all of our loved ones.  Help us to live in such a way that others would remember us well.  Thank you for the blessing of today.  Please help us to live a life with no regrets.  We love you fiercely!  Amen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

“Have you asked Him what HE thinks?”

Have you ever met someone who was super indecisive?  Every single decision they made was overwhelming for them.  I mean I, myself, struggle with the big decisions, but when it comes to simple things like where to eat or what kind of ice cream flavor I want… it’s really no big deal!

Making decisions can be hard at times.  I get it!  There’s really no special training when it comes to decision making in life.  We learn as we go on the spot from our own bad choices or from those of others.  It’s a live and learn kind of process. 

When I was little, I remember learning quickly that touching a hot pan on the stove top hurts a lot and guess what?  I didn’t do it again after that.  Well… not intentionally.   I also learned that walking barefoot through a bunch of dandelions in the yard could open up the possibility of me stepping on a bee… which hurts too.  Hmmm… it seems like a lot of my life lessons have been gleaned from moments of pain.  Interesting?

The decisions we make on a daily basis really do matter!  As a matter of fact, sometimes our bad choices (if we aren’t careful) can turn in to life-long consequences that we have to live with forever! 

 The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!

 As believers, we should live differently when it comes to decision making.  We should want God to be smack dab in the center of our lives… at the core of who we are and everything we do.  That includes asking Him to help guide us to make “right” decisions.

Many times we rush ahead making decisions about things on the spot never even considering what God might think about it all!  Friend, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but God wants to be involved in our decision making process. 

I know, for many it seems a little crazy to ask God’s opinion about our decisions.  I mean how can we really know what He is thinking?  How can we hear His voice or even expect to know His will for our lives?  Is there a “Learning to hear God’s voice” book for dummies anywhere I can buy? 

I hear you friend.  I’ve been there too, but believe it or not God really can actually speak to us personally.  He’s done it for me time and time again.  Rarely is it ever in an audible voice, but there are lots of other ways God can speak to us and help direct our steps in the right direction. 

The first thing we need to do if we really want God’s help in making better decisions is … get to know Him better.   We need to recognize His voice above others.  I can say confidently after twenty five years of marriage that I can recognize my husband’s voice in a crowded room.  It is a unique sound to me.  We have talked often and I have listened intently to him…. So I am familiar with his voice.  (It helps that he is really loud and outgoing making his voice all the more undeniable!)

Connecting with God and growing a stronger relationship with Him takes time and effort.  If you aren’t spending time with Him, I will guarantee you that you won’t hear His voice or sense His leading when it comes to the choices you make.

James 4:8 says…
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you...” 

As we draw closer to Him by reading His word (The Bible), praying (talking to Him like we would a friend), and going to church (surrounding ourselves with others who love God), we will begin to discern His nudges, sense His promptings, and follow His leading in making right choices.

God speaks in many ways.  Here are a few He has used with me….

The Bible:  God uses His word to speak truth to our hearts for our everyday lives as we read it.   I like to read the book of Proverbs several times a year (one chapter a day over a month).  It’s a book of wisdom.  God’s words placed deep inside of us help us make wise decisions.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). 

Memorizing scripture helps us make wise decisions as well.  Whenever I have been struggling in the past, old scriptures I have memorized have always come back to my mind to encourage me at just the right time. 

Prayer:  Whatever decision we are seeking guidance on, we need to involve God in the process.  Ask His opinion.  Pray over all of the details involved for an extended period of time.  For major decisions I might pray a week or a month before deciding.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Don’t allow your emotions to lead you.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.  “…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13a).

The goal at the end of your focused prayer time should be a sense of God’s peace when you think about your decision.  If you feel uneasiness it may be God directing you AWAY from that particular decision. 

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17).
Other People:  God uses other people as instruments to encourage us, speak wisdom into our lives, and tell us the truth in love.  It is always good to have two or three people in our lives that we trust (that are godly examples to us) to confide in and confer with when we need wisdom.

Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others.” (Proverbs 15:22).

As we are seeking God’s direction in a particular area of our lives, we need to be open to asking those closest to us for wisdom and direction.  Don't just tell them what you are thinking about doing and ask them to pray.  Ask them the following question(s)…

1.  As a friend or mentor in my life, do you feel any hesitation or reservation in me doing this                particular thing?  If so, why?
2.  What wisdom do you have to offer me in this particular situation? 
3.  What are your thoughts about this area of my life?

Ask them to be completely honest with you. Be ready to receive, open to correction/godly wisdom, and prepared to love them no matter what they say.

In major decisions involving transition, our goal should be 100% positive responses.  If you get a variety of responses that aren't all positive, then you need to go back to your prayer room and seek God's face. A sense of peace should be the outcome in the end.

 Wisdom from others should only confirm to us what God has already 
been directing us to do.  God’s direction should be our primary goal.

Circumstances:  Sometimes circumstances can help lead us to right decisions.  Let me give you an example….

Years ago my husband and I were serving at a church as youth leaders while in college.  We were heavily involved… practically the unpaid assistant youth pastors.  Before we graduated we were offered a job as just that, but part-time. The only stipulation was that we would have to work as janitors for the church as well until they could afford to pay us.  They weren’t at a place to be able to hire us full-time.

It was an awesome church and we were up for the challenge, but we wanted God’s will.  We decided to pray for a week seeking God intently concerning all of this.  We knew even though it looked like an awesome opportunity, the right thing at the wrong time was still the wrong thing

We prayed separately and determined to share our thoughts with one another the following Sunday night.  That morning at church as we glanced down at the sermon title for the evening message, we were shocked at what it said.  The title was… “When God says GO!” 

With that message, plus our prayers, and the wisdom of others, God was beyond clear in His direction for us.  It was time for us to seek a full time ministry position even if that led us away from the church we loved.  Even though it didn’t make sense to us at the time (in the natural), we were committed to follow God’s leading. 

As I look back today, I can see His hand guiding us specifically to each place we went after that and all the people we encountered.   I am overwhelmed at God’s faithfulness to see us through and use us in ways we never dreamed possible for His glory.

“Circumstances”  I guess God likes to use this one a lot for me.  Maybe it’s because many times I’m too busy DOING things for Him that I don’t take time enough to really LISTEN. 

James 1:2-3 says…
“… when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…” 

The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!

I have had Christian friends who have made horrible choices that have landed them in jail, led them into affairs (that have destroyed their families), and gotten them wrapped up into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.  In the end, they discovered (after all of the consequences of their actions hit them) that it’s not where they really wanted to be.  When I think about it all, it baffles my mind. 

How did they get to that dark place when 
at one point they seemed so close to God?

It’s not something that happens overnight, friend!  It’s a slow process of us deafening our ears to God day by day.  It begins with us choosing to allow other things to come before Him or replace our time with Him in our lives.  The end result is that our hearts become far from God and our lives become centered completely on ourselves.  That’s a dangerous place to be!

I challenge you to draw close to God today.  Invite Him into every area of your lives (let nothing be off limits with Him).  Make the decision to keep Him first place in your life.  Ask for His help to make “right” decisions.  Ask others around you for wisdom.  The decisions we make really do matter!  Do you trust Him with the details of your life?  I dare you to try a new way of living… “Making decisions with God in mind”.  That is one decision you will never regret!

Living to leave a legacy,

God, I thank you that you want to be involved in my life.  I know You really do care about me.  Help me to make you a priority in my life.  I want to spend special time with You daily… reading your word, talking with you, and listening to your heart.  I want to draw closer to you and learn how to recognize your voice.  God please help me to use wisdom as I make decisions.  I pray your spirit would guide me daily.  Help me also to look to other godly people in my life to guide me in my big decision making times.  I pray that your peace would guide me in all that I do and that my decisions would honor you.  Thank you for your patience with me as I learn.  I love you with all of my heart!  Amen.