Christian Karma?!?

god's loveSometimes my thoughts are misguided. Sometimes, I begin to believe the lie that somehow God owes me something. I believe the lie that all the blessings in my life are due to some good I’ve done.

Living in Central Asia where Karma is the way of life… I’ve realized that though we as Christians say we don’t believe in Karma, this is far from how we live.

In our own ways, we believe that if we do good, if we are a kind person, if we read and study our Bibles, then God will bless us. On the other hand, we believe that if we fail God and sin, if we don’t spend time with God. Then He is somehow angry with us, and will withhold all that is good.

Thus Christian Karma…

When the amazing reality is, That on my best day and on my worst day, God’s love for me does not change!!!

As I was reading in Deuteronomy yesterday, I came across this verse, He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. (Deut. 10:21)

Over and over in this passage, Moses is stressing to the Israelites as they are getting ready to enter the promised land, that God has chosen them, not because they are anyone special, but because He is God. He tells them that all that God has done in bringing them through the wilderness, defeating their enemies… all of this is not due to them, it is for His name, His glory.

The same is true for us Christian… all the good in our lives is not based on us. It is based on the goodness and greatness of our God. And all the bad, all the problems. These too are not based on us, they are based on the fact that we live in a sinful, fallen world, where bad things happen.

True, God disciplines those He loves. True, God allows trials in our lives to teach us, to train us, to make us more like Christ.

But, to always believe that the problems in our lives are based somehow on our actions, is not so.

Likewise, to always believe that the good in our lives is based on us earning favor with God, is not true.

We serve an amazing, gracious, merciful God, who chooses who He will have favor upon, and whom He will not.

It is called grace.

So what, if how we live does not affect what God does, then why live godly, why live holy?

Because we are commanded to be holy as He is holy.

And when we begin to grasp the awesome truth that our righteousness has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Jesus… we will want to do nothing more than live lives pleasing to our God.

How then do you live?

Do you practice this Christian Karma, believing you have to live and do certain things to earn God’s blessings?

Or are you resting on the truth that when God looks at you… He see’s the blood of Jesus, who took your place, and set you free from sin and death.

Dear sister, He is your praise and He is your God!!!

All we have, all we are, we owe to Him.

 

 

 

Gray Hairs and Birthdays

I pulled two gray hairs out today.thG2HN27RC

I’ll be 36 on Saturday.

I have three kids 11, 10 and 6.

And I realize more than ever, how fast this life is slipping away.

And I want more than ever for my life to count.

I want it to be lived to the fullest for the glory of God.

Growing up, it was always about what I wanted.

I wanted to be a lawyer in NYC.

I wanted all the pleasures of this world.

Now, I want what God has planned for me.

I want His desires to be my desires.

I want to train my kids up in the Lord.

I want them to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

To be used of God however, He chooses.

Life is quickly passing us all by.

Are we content to let the days, weeks, months pass into years.

Are we content to crave after the things this world has to offer.

Or do we want our lives to count?

Do we want to crave God and all He has to offer?

Gray hairs, birthdays and our children have a way of showing us the reality of life.

And, “As much as I want an umbrella drink by the ocean somewhere, I just as much don’t want to waste a minute.”- Jeanie Allen

 

Because God IS God….. deep breath!!

God isDeep Breath: In Christ — no matter the road, the storm, the story — we always know the outcome. Our Savior: surrounds. Our future: secure. Our joy: certain. Ann Voskamp

I have needed to take many deep breaths this week,this month,this year.

When I’ve felt overwhelmed, deep breath.

When I’ve been afraid, deep breath.

When I’ve wanted to quit, deep breath.

When I’ve been …………, deep breath.

But, I’m learning that no matter the situation, circumstance or problem.

God IS!!!

He is in control, He is on His throne. The Lord is my strong tower.

He goes before me and behind me.

And He knows best.

Not a thing in this crazy world or in my crazy life takes Him by surprise.

In fact, He knows each event before it takes place.

The God of the Universe, who knows the number of hairs on my head and whose thoughts for me outnumber the grains of the sand.

He is GOD!

Remembering who He is, brings calm.

Remembering who He is, brings peace.

Knowing God is faithful and powerful, allows me to take deep breaths and just rest in HIM.

Knowing the Lord is good, brings joy to my heart.

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” Job 19:25

Yes, indeed, my Redeemer, My God, My Savior lives and because of this, no matter what, I can rest in and trust in HIM.

Ah, deep breath, He is God!

Practical Ways to get in Shape Spiritually

imagesWe know we should be Getting in Shape Spiritually, so that we may “discipline (our) bodies, and make it (our) slave (1 Cor. 9:27).” We also know that we have been called to “discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness (I Tim 4:7).” So today, lets us focus on how to do this practically. Applying the truths of God’s Word to our every day life. For James makes it clear that our faith will be shown through our works. It is not enough to just know the truths, unless we also live them.

Making our bodies our slaves

1. This will mean establishing new habits. For instance, I realize I have trained my body to think it needs more sleep than it actually does. Therefore, I must habitually work to get up early each day until a new habit is formed.

2.  This will mean denying ourselves. One of the best ways to do this is to think of that daily indulgence you comfort yourself with. This could be coffee, chocolate, Cokes etc. Now, instead of giving into this indulgence, deny yourself. Each time the craving comes upon you, pray instead. Another way of doing this is fasting for a meal or for a day. As we deny ourselves physical things, we will also learn to deny our flesh. Each time we yield ourselves to the Spirit and allow Him to control, we deny ourselves.

3.  This will include spiritual weights. Just as it is impossible for an athlete to get into shape apart from exercise. We too must lift our spiritual weights in order to get into shape. These include daily Bible study, prayer and meditation.

4. This will require complete dependence upon the Lord. In our flesh, we will not naturally deny ourselves or look to Him. Therefore, we must depend upon Him to be our help and our strength.

5. Patience will be needed. Spiritual transformation will not take place overnight. We will all mess up, we will all fail to deny ourselves and fail in our goal of establishing new habits, the key is not to give up. Keep trying, keep confessing and keep depending on Him.

The promise:  “You will seek  Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

Though we may fail, God will never fail. For He is always faithful to His Word.

Getting in Shape Spiritually

boxing“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:27

Discipline, most of us shudder at the word. We detest it and certainly do not intentionally inflict it.

This past week, I have lacked discipline in getting up on time, in my eating, in exercise or lack there of it and spiritually. Due to this, I have thought often about this word and began to pray that the Lord would show me what Paul meant by this and how to apply it in my own life.

The greek word here is hopopiazo, which literally means to buffet or batter. In this verse the word is used in present tense which signifies that this was Paul’s continual practice. This was no one time event, but was inflicted daily. Paul knew how weak his flesh was and he knew how much he needed the Lord and for the Lord to work in Him.  Paul disciplined his body so that instead of being a slave to it and its desires, his body was a slave to Him. doing only that which He allowed. In Romans 6:12-14 Paul paints a vivid picture of this when he says, “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lust and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourself to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”                                                                                               

In reality however, most of us are slaves to our bodies and it’s desires. John McArthur said, “Most people, including many Christians are instead slaves to their bodies. Their bodies tell their minds what to do. Their bodies decide when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat. When to sleep and when to get up. An athlete can’t do this. He follows the training rules, not his body. He runs when he’d rather be resting. He eats a balanced meal when he’d rather have a chocolate sundae. He goes to bed when he’d rather stay up and he gets up early to train, when he’d rather stay in bed. An athlete leads his body, he does not follow it. It is his clave and not the other way around.” I’m not sure about you, but as I read the above, I realized how much a slave I am to my body. Eating what it wants, doing what feels best, being lazy instead of working hard. Sleeping in instead of getting up early to pray.

Paul said he disciplines his body, making it his slave. Meaning he sought the Spirit to bring his body, his flesh into a state of servitude. He did this by, denying his flesh, taking us his cross, and following Jesus. Instead of doing what his body craved, he pressed on to do the will of God. Most of us don’t like to deny ourselves and we live in a culture that says indulge yourself and tells us we deserve the best. The Bible’s concept is then very foreign. For though we know a banana would be better than chocolate, we give into the indulgence. Though we know it’s be best to rise early to pray, we press the snooze button and go back to sleep. Though we know we are supposed to put others first, we selfishly think only of ourselves.

Today in church, our pastor preached on I Timothy 4:7 where Paul tells Timothy not to have anything to do with worldly fables, instead to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Pointing out that most of us want the Lord’s blessing, His mercy and His grace, but we want them just given to us without any effort on our part. The Christian life takes works, it takes surrender, it takes discipline. But don’t miss this for this is huge. It is God who begins the work (salvation) and it is God who completes the work in and through us (sanctification) as well. As we yield ourselves to Him through Bible study, prayer and meditation, it is the Lord who then works in us through His Word to make us more like Christ! Awesome! Let us then be committed to spiritual discipline that the Lord may work in us to produce this godliness. May we as Jesus said, deny ourselves, not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. That we may enjoy intimate fellowship with the Lord and so we may glorify Him.

 

When you just want to go back to bed…..

imagesWhat do you do when it is only 10 am and you just want to crawl back in bed. When you have mornings when everything that can go wrong, goes wrong and nothing sounds better than escaping back to our covers.

Being a home school mom of three, I well know these mornings. Mornings of trying to teach/referee three vivacious kids, who have more energy in their pinky than I do all together. Mornings when even after that third cup of coffee, you still feel tired and worn out. It is on such days, God has taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Just Breathdoodles-just-breathe-raindrops-text-window-Favim.com-58894

When it gets too much and your nerves are shot, close your eyes and breath. Take a deep, deep breath and however many needed to refocus. I’m always amazed how much this deep breath helps in the midst of frustration.“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).”

2. Give Thankspraise

It is at such moments that it is easy to lose our cool. To gripe and to complain. Yet, this is the moment when we have a great opportunity to deny self and praise our Lord. What peace and joy are ours when we choose to be thankful rather than complain.

So thank Him for the kids who may be driving you crazy. Thank Him for the dog who peed the floor. Thank Him for the clothes that must be washed. For the house that though has to be cleaned provides you shelter. There is always a reason to give thanks. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (2 Thes. 5:18).”

3. Prayprayer

The Lord often allows such mornings to show us how much we are in need of Him. To get our eyes off of self and fully upon Him. Even if only for two minutes, get away. Close the door, lock it if needed and cry out to the Lord. If you are driving and unable to really get away, wherever you are, cry out to Him. Ask Him for His grace and His strength to see you through. The Lord longs to give us these good gifts and is only waiting to hear our humble cry. As you pray and release your frustrations to the Lord, He provides the peace to keep on keeping on. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always…(1 Chron. 16:11).”

There are days, when this is needed more than once. Days when not just in the morning but throughout the day. Deep breaths, praise offering and prayer are all that carry me through. Yet, I have found that as I do these things and rely upon Him, I find joy and peace in His presence. As I allow the Spirit to guide and control me, I am less likely to fall prey to the enemy or my flesh and more likely to please Him.

stone of graceYet, we all blow it right. There are days when the frustrations mount and we give into the flesh. Afterwards, we are left feeling defeated and worn. It is on such occasions we must remember that though we may have failed to be faithful, God is always faithful. He is waiting to forgive us as we come humbly to Him and tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do things right.

Lessons learned from the basement

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It has been almost a year since our family of five moved into my parent’s basement which we humorously call the “bat cave.” Not that there are any bats mind you, but because no matter what time of day, it is always dark. This has proved to be wonderful for sleeping during the day but dreadful when trying to get up in the morning.

Never in our wildest dreams would we have ever believed that we would still be living here. After our return from Korea about a year ago, we moved into the basement (which is actually very nice) thinking we would be here only so long as it would take my husband to finish his Ph. D. and graduate that December. Yet, graduation came and went as well as other various holiday celebrations and still we are here.

You may wonder what we have been doing all this time. The answer to that good question is that we have been waiting. Waiting on the Lord. Knowing the Lord has called our family to serve Him on the mission field, we have waited and sought Him. Believing in His perfect time He would lead us to the place He has prepared for us.

We believe our time here now is short and getting shorter every day as we are beginning to see a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for our family. We know it is going to be good and we know that the Lord will bless us for our obedience as we have waited and trusted in Him. Yet, I’m here to tell you it has not been easy, in fact many days have just been hard. However, the lessons learned have been valuable.

1. God really does know best: Though there have been days I have wondered and even asked, “Lord, don’t you see?” I know that He has seen and that His perfect plan is bigger than my own. Had we left right after my husband graduated, we would not have had the opportunity to get to teach classes at our church or lead the college ministry.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:9)

2.God really does care: If I could count the number of times I have wondered if God really cared about us, it would be a lot. Days of discouragement believing lies, thinking surely if He cared at all, we would not be here. Then reminded once again that NO, He does care, in fact He loves us and has good planned for us. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you I Peter 5:7”

3. God is more interested in my spiritual growth than my comfort.: This has been a tough lesson to learn because I like you like to be comfortable. I like to feel safe and secure. Yet, the Lord is more interested in growing me to be more like Jesus than He is in making life easy for me. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faithdevelops perseverance (James 1:2-3).”

4. God desires that I persevere: Along this journey, there have been so many days I have wanted to quit. I have told my husband that I am done, I can’t take it any longer. I have asked that we just quit the ministry and get a “real” job and settle down like all the normal people our age. To which my husband calmly replies, “where will we go? what will we do?” Then I am reminded of Peter the day many of the disciples walked away from Jesus because things got too hard. Jesus asked Peter, will you walk away too? Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life(John 6:68).” God has taught me to persevere under the pain, despite how difficult and to cling to Him.

5. I don’t deserve anything: Contrary to popular belief, none of us “deserve” anything. We all have this idea that if we do for God, somehow He has to do for us. Forgetting, that He has done the best for us in sending Jesus. We have the wrong mentality and perspective when all we see is the bad instead of focusing on the good. I have learned that even if the Lord leaves us in the basement forever, He has still given me more than I ever deserve, through the cross. “But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).”

6. To be thankful for everything: In I Thess. 5:16, Paul instructs us to be thankful. In fact throughout the Scriptures this is a huge theme. When going through difficult times, it is hard sometimes to see the good. Easier in fact to complain. Yet, the Lord has taught me the incredible value of a thankful heart. That as Ann Voskamp says, “it is through thanksgiving, joy comes.”

7. God does fight for us: There have been days, even weeks when we have seen nothing happening. In fact times when God has seemed silent. Then out of nowhere it seems, we get some news and realize that though we have not been able to see what the Lord was doing, He has in fact been fighting for us. “The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you (Deut. 1:30).”

8. God’s timing is perfect:I do not like to wait, so this time has been hard. We live in a society that craves instant things. A time when we want fast food faster, and answers from God immediately. There are times, when we pray that God response is instant. Then there are times when He says, “Be Still and know I am God (Ps. 46:10).” These are tough times, but what I have learned is I must trust His timing rather than my own. Though I may not understand or like it, He has a purpose.

9. Nothing can stop the plans of the Lord: The Bible tells us that before the foundation of the world, God had prepared good works for us to walk in.  He has reminded me again and again that these plans are not conditioned on the response of man or circumstances. That instead, these plans will be accomplished just as He said. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).”

10. God is always faithful: What a relief it has been to know at the end of a hard day, that the mercies of the Lord will be new the next day and the next. That though I may go to sleep in tears, I can wake up reminded of His goodness and faithfulness. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-24)

I am sure these are only a few of the many lessons I have learned, and that there will be more lessons to learn in the days ahead as we prepare to go to the place the Lord has prepared.  As I have walked this narrow, rocky road though I believe the biggest lesson learned is to depend upon the Lord every day and to really believe Him. It is easy to say we believe this and that about the Lord, but it is through the fire that we find out how weak we are, how much we truly need the Lord and are confronted with what we really believe.

I do not know what lessons the Lord is teaching you, but I encourage you to embrace the season of life you are in. To press on in the midst of difficulty and allow the Lord to teach you, to grow you, and to equip you.

He is good! We can trust Him! He does know best! He does care!