Where did you go?! I mean seriously, it was SNOWING yesterday! I think you stuck around for what, one day?!
I should be mad at you, really, I should. But instead, I’m going to remember what you were like last year, and let the rest of the world in on a few of my favorite things about you....
Never mind, that’s what I was going to do, but I’m still too upset at you to think about those things. So, I’m letting you go, something I should have done a long time before now. I’ll accept the fact that I won’t be seeing you again until next year, and trust that God has a plan even for you.
Goodbye, Fall, see you next year.
Not quite sure if I’m happy to see you yet or not, but I’m still working on “being content in all things,” and yes, that means you.
Now, when I think of you, I think of pretty lights, hot chocolate, Christmas trees, family traditions, warm meals, Christmas carols, giving gifts, baby Jesus, His story, and oh, so many other things! But you see, we haven’t even stepped into the first day of November yet and already you have me bewitched by thinking of the Christmas Holidays!
So, dear Winter, I’m saying goodbye to you as well.
But don’t worry, we’ll meet up again soon.
You’ve surely got me confused this year. There’s no gently falling leaves, beautiful weather or morning walks. But I’m determined, (even though it’s not Thanksgiving yet) to, “give thanks in all things.” Because, we shouldn’t just be thankful during Thanksgiving.
1 Thessalonians 5:18"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Because of that, we’re going to do things a little differently this Tuesday. I’m going to list some of my favorite November memories.
(Alright, Fall, you win. Since these memories don't actually take place in November, you'll be included a little too.)
So without further adu:
My favorite memories about Fall are definitely the day we'd take to travel to some of our favorite places.
We'd get up early that morning, traveling a while away to get to our first stop:
Burt's Farm & the Pumpkin Patch
We'd wander around the giant pumpkins (which at that time were almost bigger than us!) until we found just the right spot to take some pictures.
On occasion, we'd hop on the hay ride as well.
We had such a blast and the day was just getting started!
We'd then stop at:
Mercier Orchards (were we'd get apple pies and each pick out our own lollipop)
The next stop would be:
Amicalola falls (we'd have a picnic and follow a short trail to view the prettiest water fall ever!)
Sometimes we'd head over to Fort Mountain and hike up to the overlook.
I don't think I can pick a favorite memory out of those days. It was all so much fun! But there was always something really special about ending our day like we did.
We'd head over to Fields of the Woods and climb up the hundreds of stairs, observing the Ten Commandments on the lawn. We'd then climb up into the building that looked every bit like a castle to me then!
We'd walk among the miniature replicas of Golgotha, the Tomb, and a few others.
And then we'd drive up the mountain a little ways and watch the sunset, surrounded by flags placed in the shape of a cross.
Without doubt, that day was a day we all looked forward to. They are memories that none of us are likely to forget.
Each of those stops will always hold a special place in my heart.
"Memories made to last, are memories we'll hold fast."
And I can say without a doubt, that I won't be letting go of these memories anytime soon.
Did you enjoy that small window into our life?
Would you be interested in seeing posts like this everyone once in a while?
Let me know in the comments and I'd be happy to schedule a few posts like this!
May the Lord bless you all as you go about serving Him this week.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee.
The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
The Fruit of the Spirit is...
Perhaps one of the most longed-for feelings in the world. Peace from war, peace from strife between family members and coworkers, peace from the past, peace for the present, peace for the future. Peace from doctors’ visits or bad news from your physician. Peace from those restless nights and constant pain.
It’s not a secret that we all long for peace. We all desire to live in a world where there isn’t war or pain, where fathers don’t leave their children and husbands and wives stay like they were meant to be; together.
But because of the fall, that kind of world isn’t possible. We will be able to experience that kind of home someday in Heaven. But until then, what can we do to live in contentment? What can we do to bring peace not only to ourselves, but also those around us?
Here are a few verses that we’re going to be looking at today:
"So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Oh, there are SO many good scriptures about peace. It's impossible to list them all!
Given the advice and wisdom we’ve learned from the verses above, what are some ways that we can bring peace not only to ourselves, but also those around us?
1. Learn from Abram’s example
Abram was being a peacemaker when he offered in Genesis to take the side that was left. He told them to take the land they chose and he would have the other. Shouldn’t we be that way as well? Instead of arguing about who gets the bigger slice of cake, or who gets to choose the slice first, let’s be quick to give up the better half, and not only that, but do what Abram did and say, “you choose first. I’ll take the leftovers.”
2. Isaiah’s advice
In Isaiah, we’re given some amazing and comforting advice. He says that if our minds are stayed on the Lord and if we trust Him, then He will keep us in perfect peace. What are some ways we can keep our minds on Him? Meditation on heavenly things, counting our blessings, memorizing scriptures, reading our Bibles and staying consistently in prayer are a few ideas.
3. I AM with you
John 14:27 is one of my all-time favorite verses! When I read it I always imagine a little child, scared and trembling in his father’s arms. But the child’s fears quickly subside when his father, in a gentle voice, soothes, “don’t be afraid, child. There’s nothing to fear. I’m right here, I’ll take care of you.” In this same way, our Heavenly Father is telling us, “don’t fear, child. I have left my peace with you and have promised to take care of you. There’s no reason to fear, for I am with you always.”
4. A “world overcomer”
John 16:33 is another one of my favorite verses! Because in it, we see that yes, we will have trouble and we will have trials and tribulation, but we can also have peace in the midst of it. Why? Because our “peace giver” is not only our Heavenly Father, He’s a “world overcomer!” He’s conquered death and given us life! He’s more powerful than Captain America and Superman combined. He’s the best there is and ever will be! And there’s a certain sense of peace and happiness that fills my soul when I can point to all He’s done and with a smile of pride say, “You’ve read about that miraculous Man? Yeah, He’s my Father.”
5. A command
Perhaps the most overlooked commands in the Bible. Paul isn’t just reminding us to take everything to God in prayer, he’s telling us NOT to be anxious. He’s telling us that it’s a SIN to fret over the future and not trust that God will take care of us. I can’t stress how important it is to take everything to God in prayer. This step is by far one of the most influential steps in order to obtain peace. How do I know that? Well, besides the fact that I’ve tried it and know for a fact that it works, it's a promise in God's Word. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s work on something this week. Let’s try our best to take everything to Him in prayer. The moment we get scared, stressed or overwhelmed, let’s bring it to the Lord and let His peace wash over us.
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and take these things to heart.
Let's all be joyful, willing, servants of our King.
Is there something special that gives you peace? Do you have any favorite scriptures on this topic? I’d LOVE to hear them!
The Fruit of the Spirit is...
Joy. That ever-familiar word that the dictionary describes as, “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
Given that definition, I think it would be safe to say that joy is brought about by doing things that make us happy and give us pleasure. The only problem is, the world has turned our pleasure seeking and happiness into a quest for the next big adventure, the next great food item, or other delightful activities. And while none of these things in itself are wrong, our joy shouldn’t be fulfilled through these things. Riches, wealth, worldly goods, they shouldn’t be used to fill our longing of joy. Yes, they can be used to bring us joy, but the joy it brings is not true joy. Your children, spouse, food, fun; we can’t rely on these things to bring us joy. Because, when children disobey, or spouses don’t act in the way we think they should, when the food is gone and the fun is over…your joy is gone with it, evaporated. That’s one way you can tell if you have true joy living inside of you.
Are you only happy when you’re doing one of those things listed above? Does your joy end when the adventure does?
Then it might be time we take a look at true joy, how it can be defined, and how we can readily have that available in our lives.
Scriptures that talk about joy:
Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
James 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
First Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
John 16:22 “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”
Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
So what are some ways that true joy can be harvested in our lives?
I’m a fan of that acrostic above, because it’s so true. True joy is brought about when we’re putting Jesus first, others second and ourselves last.
So what are some ways that we can obtain true joy?
1. Jesus First: Put Him first by making Him a part of your morning
We all know that Jesus is with us every moment of every day. But how many times do we actually acknowledge that? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Wouldn’t it be great if we woke up, grabbed our Bible, and dove into the Word of God right away? Wouldn’t it be amazing if the first thing on our mind was Jesus, and other heavenly thoughts? Try something this week. If you aren’t already in the habit of having your Bible and prayer time first thing in the morning, try doing it for a little while. When we dwell on Jesus right away, our little troubles don’t seem so big anymore, our big tasks don’t seem quite as daunting, and we’re given an extra strength and boost that helps us through the day. True joy is brought about when we put Him first.
2. Others Second: Put others second by putting them before yourself
This one might be the hardest one of all for many of us. If only it could be as easy as grabbing your Bible and setting some time aside to read it. Putting others before ourselves takes time, practice, and a lot of prayer. We’re in a society that teaches us to put ourselves first, to take care of our own needs before assisting others. And while some of that might hold a grain of truth, we really should be thinking about others first and foremost. What are some ways we can do this? It might be as simple as giving up that last slice of cake, or letting someone have the more comfortable chair in the living room. It might be something harder, like stopping a certain habit because you know it gets on someone else’s nerves. It could be demonstrated by washing the dishes after supper, or putting a load of laundry on even though it isn’t your responsibility. Putting others first also comes through acts of serving, like the couple I listed above. Putting others first is having a heart of compassion. When someone is hurting, try to be the first one there to see how you can help them. Don’t we all feel better when we’re helping others? True joy is brought about when we put others before ourselves.
3. Yourself Last: Think of yourself last in everything
If we’re following these guidelines above, then we will be putting ourselves last! If we’re making a conscience effort to put Jesus first, others second and ourselves last, true joy will be evoked.
So take some time this week and reflect upon JOY (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.)
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and let’s start by taking these things to heart.
Let's all be joyful, willing, servants of our King.
“It’s good enough.”
How many times do we, as Christians, utter that phrase? We tackle a task, only to say towards the end, “that’s good enough.”
But good enough for what? And good enough for whom?
If a football player is required to do warmups for 20 minutes, and he only does 15 (because he gets tired) and declares, “that’s good enough,” is it really?
Good enough for what? And good enough for whom?
This morning I made my bed as usual. (If there’s one thing I used to have OCD about, it’s my bed.)
I had strict instructions and goals when making my bed. The comforter hangs over the bed only so much. The pillows must be fluffed (and there are six of them); you get the picture.
I’ve instilled this OCD in my 8-yearold sister. That’s probably part of the reason why I don’t have it anymore.
In fact, she’s the one who brought to my attention this morning that the comforter wasn’t hanging perfectly straight over the side of the bed. And because I didn’t feel like fixing it, what was my response? You guessed it. “It’s good enough.”
Which got me thinking. Good enough for what? And good enough for whom?
Who do we make our beds for? Who do we cook our meals for? Who do we do the laundry for? The answer’s not me, or us. It’s not our husbands, or our families.
The answer is Christ.
We work for Christ.
We play for Christ.
We do everything for Christ.
We don’t (or shouldn’t) do things to receive praise from man. We should do everything with only one figure in mind, Christ.
Those aren’t my words either. Take a look at this verse in Ephesians:
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,” EPHESIANS 6:7
And a few more speaking on this topic:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” COLOSSIANS 3:23
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31
This one right here is humbling:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” GALATIANS 1:10
Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians, that if we are serving man rather than God, we aren’t servants of Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I would never want to fall under that category!
How do we make certain that we aren’t serving man rather than God? And if we are, how do we stop it?
Do we even know the difference?
How do we know for sure if we are serving man rather than Christ?
Well, for starters, serving the Lord means we are not serving ourselves.
Serving the Lord means we are not primarily serving others.
Don’t get me wrong, serving others is definitely not a sin, in fact we are commanded to serve others:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” GALATIANS 5:13
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 PETER 4:10
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ROMANS 12: 9-13
In fact, when we’re serving others, we are serving God!
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” MATTHEW 25:40
What brings us pleasure? How do we please ourselves?
It could be ice cream, movies, food, shopping, reading, the possibilities are endless.
These are some of the ways we serve ourselves rather than God.
Am I implying that it’s wrong to shop? Wrong to eat? Wrong to watch movies? No, we would die if we didn’t eat, and we should definitely wear clothes!
What I am saying is this: Enjoying a bowl of ice cream is not necessarily wrong (unless we’re being gluttons, which in that case, it’s sin) but often, we aren’t serving Christ while doing so.
Imagine yourself with a mop in one hand, and a mop bucket in the other (for some people, this may be difficult).
Now imagine yourself mopping a floor and doing the best job you’ve ever done before.
Why are you doing this? Because your boss is going to be looking over it later.
You stand back and admire your work.
The floor shines so brightly you almost have to look away.
It looks better than it ever has, if you do say so yourself.
Then your supervisor comes to look it over.
Maybe it’s your father, maybe it’s your mother, maybe it’s a sibling, or a boss. Whoever it may be, you’ve been waiting for this moment with great expectation.
What are you waiting for?
Praise. Adoration. Encouragement.
After receiving it, you go happily on your way, rejoicing in another task well done.
But let’s rewind for a minute, back to where we were before the supervisor came to look over your work.
Let’s say he comes, but he doesn’t offer you any praise, adoration or encouragement.
Let’s imagine he doesn’t say anything at all.
He glances at your work, gives a half nod of approval and goes on his way.
How does that make you feel?
Why would his reaction have such an effect on you?
Because you were mopping the floor for him.
You were working for him, you were serving him, and when you didn’t get the reaction you’d expected, you became discouraged.
You see, if you would have mopped the floor for Christ, doing your best, not expecting praise, or anything else in return, you would have had no reason to grow discouraged because of your overseer’s reaction.
Children could win the prize at being the best man pleasers in the world.
They do things to please their parents and they blossom under praise and encouragement. It’s a part of who they are.
But as they grow older, they must be taught they aren’t doing these things to please their parents, but they are doing it to please the Lord.
And when children do things to please the Lord, it also pleases their parents!
Even the best, most sacrificial things (if done to please men) are worth nothing in God’s eyes.
I love to give gifts. I love seeing the smile spread over a little child’s face, or the joy on an adult’s.
Gift-giving is contagious, and I can truthfully say I love giving gifts much more than I enjoy receiving them.
But I didn’t use to have such a good attitude about giving gifts. In fact, I used to give gifts to please man, rather than God.
An exciting idea formed when I was around twelve-years-old.
I wanted to collect Bibles to give to people in need.
I started out using my own money, but the Lord soon blessed me by other family members and friends who mailed Bibles and sent money.
I was ecstatic!
Many times, as a child, our Thanksgivings would be spent serving the homeless in our community.
It was something we all looked forward to with great excitement.
It was such fun to serve others and enjoy the feeling of purpose.
It was around Thanksgiving when I first had the chance to give out some of these Bibles.
The gym was set up with tables to serve the homeless a hot Thanksgiving meal, and we had many volunteers.
Timidly, I approached a table and handed a lady a Bible.
My mother, not very far behind me, became my spokeswoman, and talked with the lady for a few minutes while I listened.
Giving away Bibles became a favorite thing to do, and I found homes for every Bible that came into my possession.
Family members and friends were quick to offer encouragement and praise, and I soaked it all in.
It wasn’t until a few months later, that I discovered something was wrong.
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel like I did when I first started giving away Bibles.
And then I noticed something else. The praise I had gotten from friends and family members had slowly waned, and with it, went my joyful desire to give away those Bibles.
That was when I realized something else.
My Bible giving days may have started out with an innocent motive. But I had let the praise of man enter my heart and turn my motives around. I had slowly, but surely, become a man pleaser.
So, I stopped giving away Bibles.
Why? Because my motive was all wrong. And until I could fix it, I decided to stop giving away Bibles.
That may not have been the wisest decision, but as a twelve-year-old, it was the best one I could think of.
Since then, I’ve learned that giving gifts for God’s glory, reaps a much better reward than giving them to receive praise from man.
Just as working for Christ, and working to serve Him, rather than man, is not only Biblical, but it also makes us feel better in the process.
(Oh, and we’ve also went back to giving away Bibles, in bags we put together for the homeless!)
Are we serving man, rather than God?
If the answer is “yes,” then we must ask the Lord’s forgiveness and endeavor to change our perspective.
Here are a few tips to help in that process:
So instead of saying, “I have to go fold this load of laundry,” try saying, “I get to fold this load of laundry.” It will not only make you feel better, because you are taking the godly approach and being thankful, but you’ll also be amazed at what it does to you psychologically!
Let’s make it a daily practice to work on these things and endeavor to serve Christ with our whole heart.
Let’s not do things “good enough” for Christ. Let’s do things to the best of our ability.
He deserves our very best.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Before we go any further, we must define what love is. To figure that out, it’s easiest to first find out what love isn’t. Love isn’t a feeling.
When Paul lists love as one of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, he isn’t talking about that feeling you have towards your children or spouse. He isn’t talking about the emotions you feel towards football or your favorite foods. We say all the time, “Oh, I love _____.” But it isn’t love we’re feeling towards these things, or people.
Love isn’t a feeling. It’s an action.
And the greatest act of love was shown when Jesus laid down His life for His children. That is love.
Are you loving your spouse? Are you loving your children or siblings? Since we’ve already discussed how love isn’t a feeling, then how can we make sure we’re loving each other as God is commanding us too? You can’t just “love” someone without taking action. That wouldn’t be true love.
So what is true love?
First, we’re going to look at the world's definition of love, and then we’re going to look at Christ’s.
The World’s definition:
What a stark contrast between the two! Which one would you rather be shown? Just the definition with feeling, or the one with action?
Now, since we’ve covered what it means to actually love, how do we make sure we’re loving each other as Christ loves us?
Here are five battle tested ways to turn your love into action.
1. Show kindness to everyone around you.
This can mean just stepping aside and letting someone else go first in line, or showing a generous amount of consideration for someone else’s feelings or needs.
2. Don’t be envious of others.
We must always rejoice with those who succeed. We shouldn’t be jealous of them or hardhearted because they are succeeding and we’re not.
3. Don’t behave rudely.
We must hold our tongues and keep from slandering others with our words or actions.
4. Don’t seek your own.
We should always want the best for other people. We should be willing to hand over the last slice of cake, or give up the comfiest chair. We shouldn’t make the plans revolve around us without thinking of other people.
5. Do not be easily provoked, or rejoice in other’s iniquity.
We shouldn’t always be right on the edge, ready to strike at those who do us harm. We should be tenderhearted and have thick skin, not being easily irritated. When others fall, we shouldn’t rejoice. That’s what the devil does. When others are being punished because of something they did wrong, we should feel badly for them.
As we go about our week, let’s take a moment to show love towards someone. Let’s turn our love into action.
And let us all remember:
God loved us SO much that He sent His Only Son to die for us so that we might live with Him in Heaven for eternity. Jesus loved us SO much that He gave His life so that we might be saved from the coming destruction.
What an immeasurable amount of love! And we’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve it.
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and let’s start by taking these things to heart and truly loving one another.