Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33, ESV

As I finished reading my toddler her bible before bed on Friday night, I noticed as I was marking the page that the next story was about Jesus walking on the water. And I suddenly got the impulse to share it with you. Why? Maybe, because with all the panic going on around us–all the waves and wind–we need to remind ourselves that we serve the One who not only walks on the waves, but He who controls and calms the storms that rage around us (Matthew 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27).

Nothing takes God by surprise. He’s got everything under control and there’s no reason to live in fear and anxiety. We just have to trust that God will protect and provide during this time. In other words, our eyes need to stay focused on the Savior, rather than the waves. This may have just been something I needed to remember, but I thought I’d share anyways. Have a good week y’all, turn off the news, and get outside. Don’t stress. Pray.

God bless. 💕

Feed My Sheep

I mentioned in my last post, that I’ve been using the First 5 app to study the book of Ezekiel. Well, as I was reading Ezekiel 34, last week, I had the strangest intermingling of deja vu and conviction, and I realized it was because the chapter mirrored a statement I’d studied in the book of John, when I was going through Lysa TerKeurst’s study, Finding I Am.

Basically, and I encourage you to read it for yourself, God is telling the teachers of the law–whom He calls shepherds–that they’ve been selfishly neglecting their flock. They were feeding themselves (and getting fat), but not feeding their sheep; and they let the sheep wander off and didn’t call them back or search them out (Ezekiel 34:1-10).

The Lord goes on to say that He, Himself will seek them out, feed them, and heal them (Ezekiel 34:11-24). This was all fulfilled when Christ was sent into the world to seek and save the lost; hence, the reason He calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” (Luke 19:10; John 10:11-18). However, another verse that came to mind as I read Ezekiel 34, was the conversation between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~ John 21:15-17, ESV 

And I thought, that for those of us who claim to love the Lord, are we feeding His lambs & sheep, and are we tending to His flock? Are we seeking out those who’ve wandered away? Or are we just getting fat as we consume His Word?

I’m going to be honest right now, this is a challenge for me, because 1) I’m often not consuming as much of the Word as I’d prefer, due to littles at home, and 2) reaching out to others can be challenging, for that same reason. But nothing is too difficult for God! Recently, a friend who’s pretty much walked away from the church, came to my mind, and I thought about calling her up, but never got around to it. And a few days later guess who I bumped into at Target?! Talk about God-ordained.

The Great Commission wasn’t a recommendation, it was a command (Matthew 28:19-20). If we claim that we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul but aren’t loving our neighbor as ourselves, we’re not really being obedient (Luke 10:27-37). And the Word says that if we love the Lord we will be obedient (John 14:15, 14:21-24).

I know we’re all busy. I know we have children, families, jobs, and ministries to attend to, but let’s lot neglect the calling on our lives to live in obedience, share the gospel, and shower those around us in love and prayer. It may not look the same for all of us. It could just be inviting that friend over for dinner, bringing them a meal, or watching their child(ren) so they can have a date night, or some time alone. Or maybe, they just need someone to chat with who will speak truth, in love, into their lives; or to observe your family as you display Christ in your home. It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. God will work in, and through anything and everything you offer Him.

At the end of the day, people can tell how sincere we are by our actions. Are we authentic? Are we growing in the Word? Are we sharing the Word? Are we seeking the lost? Are we praying over and maintaining relationships with those who’ve walked away? I pray that God open our eyes so that we may all see where we fall short, and ask that He reveal new opportunitie for us to share His love, goodness, and hope.

For His Glory

The first few months after having a baby are a whirlwind of activity. We’ve discussed this before, that as a new mom you just miss out on a lot, so I’m not going to go into it again. However, I do want to mention that when you’re running around with two little ones all day, it can be very difficult to focus on any one thing or task, so I’ve been struggling to come up with ideas and, probably more importantly, the TIME to write.

That being said, I have been using the Proverbs 31 app, First 5, to study the Word during the week, most days. (We’re currently studying the book of Ezekiel.) Although, to be completely honest, some days it’s a real struggle to get up before anybody else to read/study. Half the time I don’t succeed, and/or my 2 1/2 year old interrupts my quiet time, or the baby wakes for a feeding. But that’s life. And I just keep trying to remain in the Word during this season of life.

Anyways, the other night, as I was showering, I was brainstorming things I’ve been meaning to write about. (I always have ideas, but never have a pen & paper available to help me develop them.) But that night, I realized that, while I could write about about managing our home and/or finances, cooking healthy meals on a budget, music, or culture…my most important goal regarding anything I share here, is for me to reflect the heart of the Father.

There are a lot of other articles, books, blogs, or vlogs on YouTube you could follow–and I follow a few–that focus on everything you could imagine. From beauty and makeup, to food and health, family, homeschooling, homesteading and homemaking, etc. But if we’re honest, they focus on what’s temporary. What I want, is for you, my readers, to experience the love and grace of God! I want you to know that our purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do. I want us to recognize that there is eternal value in the seemingly ordinary things of life.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a part of our church’s worship team, and we had a worship night and training a week ago. A question was asked about our definition of worship and this is mine: Praising God for Who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s promised, through all aspects of life. Including, but not limited to, music, songs, poetry, the raising of our children, in our marriages, work, etc. Basically, worship is a lifestyle.

Therefore, whether we’re discussing Scripture, finances, managing our household, or homeschooling, the underscoring theme is that everything we do, we do for the glory of God, as an act of worship, and to establish His Kingdom (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Samuel 15:22; John 4:23; Matthew 6:33).

So walk with me on this journey, and feel free to ask questions, because I want you to understand that we’re not here to “live our best life,” as the world likes to say; but to glorify God with the life we’ve been given; and to honor Him in everything we say and do. And, as Paul said to the Philippians, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

Spiritual Immaturity

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV

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The Church is no stranger to jealousy and dissension, but as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 3, it’s actually a sign of spiritual immaturity. He repeats his comment about following certain teachers, from chapter 1, but this time makes it a point to say that no matter who we follow, the foundation of what we believe must be Christ; and each teacher and pastor simply builds upon that foundation. It’s God who provides the growth. In other words, we each have a part to play within the body of Christ, but it’s God who really does the work. We are all equally important and equipped by Him to complete the tasks He’s assigned to us; no one’s role is bigger or better than another, just different, and all have the same goal: to preach Christ crucified.

Paul goes on to say, in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, that our works (faith in action) will one day be tested by fire. These verses make me think of the story of the three little pigs. You know how you have one pig that builds a house of straw; one, a house of sticks; and another, a house of bricks; and only the house of bricks is left standing? Why is that? I believe it was because two of the pigs refused to put in any real effort, or thought, into what they were building: a home that would stand the test of time. I think as believers we can fall into this same line of thinking. We may serve, but with the wrong mindset. Our purpose should be to build the Church–to add to the kingdom–but sometimes we feel the task we’ve been issued is too small or insignificant, or we just do it to check it off a list, instead of focusing on the big picture. According to this passage our salvation isn’t necessarily at stake, but apparently another heavenly reward will be denied. I can’t help but wonder what that might be. What might we miss out on, because our hearts and minds weren’t fully in line with God’s heart?

Again, our goal as believers is to worship the one true God with our lives; and if we truly believe in the message of the gospel, we can’t help but share it with the people around us. And that is God’s heart! That all would come to Him and be saved! When jealousy and strife enter the church, they do more to tear down the Church, than to build it up. So, let us allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work in us and ask that He help us see the bigger picture, and the greater goal we’re working towards. Finally, let us stop worrying about who has a bigger or better role in the plan of God, because what matters most is the attitude of our heart, as we shower the love of God on our neighbors and point them towards Christ.

Just Speak

I read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 aloud, to my baby a few days ago. She refused to nap when I wanted to read the Word, but I’m kind of glad she did. Because once I read it aloud, I began to dissect it aloud, as well–lol, as though my 6-week-old would understand. Basically, Paul was saying that he didn’t come to the church at Corinth prepared with a fancy speech or message. He simply came with the Gospel Truth: Christ died for our sins.

And what was impressed upon me, was he was scared when he spoke; but he allowed God to speak through him, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wasn’t worried about having all the right words, because he was trusting that the Holy Spirit, in His infinite wisdom, knew precisely what He was doing.

Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, to describe the wisdom of God, which we who believe in the Lord, have been given through the Holy Spirit. It’s only through the Spirit of God, that lives in us, that we can read the Word and understand the heart of the Father; because the Holy Spirit and the Father are One. An unbeliever cannot comprehend the things of God, because the Spirit of God doesn’t live within him and make things clear to him. In other words, things are hidden to the unbeliever, in the same the way the parables of Jesus–found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke–were hidden to the crowd. But remember, Jesus revealed the meanings of the parables to His closest disciples; as the Holy Spirit does with us. The Spirit gives us insight and discernment, not of this world; therefore, those of this natural world cannot judge us for acting in accordance with the Holy Spirit.

So, what have I gathered from these verses? That we should just open up our mouths and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t be worried about sounding foolish, or not having practiced our speech; because the Spirit is going to use us and reveal the Truth to those whose hearts are ready. And we shouldn’t be discouraged by those who would judge or ridicule us for our beliefs, because they lack understanding of spiritual things.

Christ: The Wisdom and Power of God

As I read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 last week, a number of things crossed my mind. First, “…the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” is a good reminder that the idea of God sending His Son to die for our sins seems foolish to those who have no relationship with Christ. But to those of us who believe, we recognize the importance of this decision and its life-giving impact on our souls.

To unbelievers it seems simply unbelievable that God would love the world so much that He would give up something as precious as His one and only Son for us. It’s unbelievable to them, because they cannot imagine doing it themselves, and struggle to understand when they see others actually love in a similar manner. In fact, sacrifice, forgiveness and reconciliation are often such foreign concepts to the unbeliever, that when it occurs they simply can’t accept it; they think there must be some ulterior motive behind the act.

Secondly, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God,” (vs 27-29). We see this as evidenced in Jesus; a Savior, born into the world as a lowly babe in a stable. He didn’t come from a wealthy or influential family, but He was the power and wisdom of God personified.

I also can’t help but think of others considered insignificant, meek, or simple…ordinary people like you and I, that God uses to exemplify His glory. For example, remember when God chose Gideon to save Israel, and the angel spoke to him, “the Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:11, ESV)? And after having been told that God would help him lead Israel from the hand of their enemy, how did Gideon reply? He said, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house,” (Judges 6:15, ESV, emphasis added). If you want to know how this story ends you should read Judges 6-8; but I can tell you, God uses Gideon.

Again, God uses the weak and foolish things of this world to shame the wise and strong. And He continues to do so today! So often we respond to the callings God places on our lives in a similar manner: who am I? I’m just a _____. BUT GOD is telling us it’s not on us, it’s through HIM.

I always say, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about obedience.” This stems from my personal experiences with perfectionism, which, in the past, have kept me from walking in obedience. I believed the lie, that if I couldn’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all. However, God isn’t calling us to be perfect, He just wants us to act in obedience and allow Him to shape and perfect that which is beyond our ability.

Lastly, I note that God chooses to use the foolish, weak, low and despised for a reason. Because if He chose the wise, the strong, powerful, and well-loved they would be tempted to boast in, and of themselves; and God wants us to recognize His power and authority. Now, I do believe that people of power and influence can be used by God if they walk humbly before Him (Proverbs 18:12, 22:4, 27:2; James 4:6, 10; Luke 14:11; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3-4). Unfortunately, it’s more common for those of power and influence to downplay the role of God in their lives, because they’re afraid to lose the very power and influence God gave them. But they were given for a purpose, and when we don’t use the gifts God gives, we run the risk of losing them.

“Momming” in the Early Years

Being a mom during the early years is SO hard. Whether you’re a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom, whose only time away from your child(ren) is when they’re sleeping; or a mom working outside the home, who doesn’t get to spend nearly as much time with your child(ren) as you’d like, doesn’t matter. Raising little ones is mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining.

It’d be so easy as a busy mom to let my exhaustion get the best of me, and use it as an excuse to be lazy in my walk with Christ, but I can’t. And neither should you! As moms of littles we miss a lot of church. When we give birth we stay home for the first few weeks; we may miss service to nurse/feed our babies; and later, when our children are sick, we end up staying home with them so they don’t infect other children. We often end up either serving in the nursery, or getting stuck in there with our own clingy child. We may miss out on bible studies, women’s events, prayer meetings, outreach opportunities–the list goes on–and we often end up feeling distant from God.

Honestly, it can be incredibly discouraging. However, this is exactly the reason why we must fight, scrape for, and cling to the moments we can get alone with our heavenly Father. We need His strength and encouragement, we need His Words of Truth to teach and discipline us, and His peace to rule our hearts on a daily basis. This means we must make Him a priority in our lives, even if it means getting up early to study the Word before our children get up; giving up a hour of evening television so we can pray; or holding off on a household task, so we can finish a Bible study or book we’ve been working on.

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Don’t give up momma! You’re not alone. You’re not insignificant. You have purpose. We are children of God, doing exactly what He designed us for. And in each season He develops us further into what He desires us to be. While we love our children immensely, our lives should not revolve around them, nor should they keep us from seeking the Lord, during any season.

There are ways for us to use our time more wisely…As a nursing mom, I found myself scrolling through social media a lot while feeding, so I added a bible app to my phone, that way I could read Scripture, instead. As a mom of a toddler, I find getting up before my little one, is the best time for me to spend time with the Lord. I’m most alert, focused, and less rushed in the morning. (During her afternoon nap is my second option–of course, it’s not as predictable, since she’s been fighting her naps, lately.) Since I’m currently pregnant with my second, I’ve been mulling over more options besides my bible app, such as podcasts, and online bible studies. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely; but it’s worth it!

What I don’t want any of us to fall into the trap of believing, is the lie that we’re “just” moms. This is a time for us to continue learning and growing, and allowing God to use us, both inside and outside our homes. One of the most well-known passages of Scripture regarding women and motherhood can be found in Proverbs 31:10-31.

It’s easy to read this passage and get caught up in all the woman does for her family; however, the most important verse is 31, which states, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” We can be as productive and successful as anybody in this world, but it’s our relationship with Christ that sets us apart. He is what matters most. He determines our steps, guides us and gives us understanding. He teaches us patience and gives us wisdom in dealing with our household, our finances, our husband, children, and every other decision and relationship in our lives. But we must stay connected to our source of Life; the True vine.

If we find that our lives are too busy to make time to meet with God, we may need to take a step back, re-prioritize, and cut some things from our lives; because if something else comes before our relationship with Christ, then we’ve made it an idol in our lives.

Lastly, I’ve been finishing up a study by Lysa TerKeurst, “Finding I AM,” and one of my (many) takeaways was that God can use what little we have to do something significant for the cause of the Kingdom. We may not be able to do everything we want to during this season, but we can do something. And we shouldn’t let anything, including unmet expectations, or unanswered prayers, prevent us from seeing what God has placed right in front of our noses. It may be a challenging time to use every talent God has given us, but it may be the perfect time to allow God to use us in small ways, right where we are. I know it’s cliché, but bloom where you’re planted ladies! But, I reiterate, we cannot pour, we cannot serve, we cannot do anything, apart from God.

Make Him your priority.

I AM the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:5, ESV