What is success?

1 Chronicles 28: 2, 3, 6 (AMP) I had intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and as a footstool for our God, and I prepared materials for the building. But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My Name (Presence)…He said to me, ‘Solomon your son shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him.

I am in the process of reading the Bible Chronologically using the Amplified Version in the You Version App. It is different from reading a complete book at a time, because it puts you in the perspective of what was going on during the time it was written. Reading Psalms out of context before had me feeling like David was a big whiner sometimes. It reminded me that we can make judgments about people because we do not know the whole story.

I just finished reading where David is at the end of his life and his heart’s desire was to build the permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant. He has spent years studying the texts and his heart was to see it completed. In 1 Chronicles 23-29 David is making preparations for his son, Solomon, to become king and to build the temple.

1 Chronicles 28:11 (AMP) Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan… This had me thinking. When was the last time you helped someone with their success knowing that you would not reap the benefits of it? I gained a new respect for David when I saw his heart for his son to succeed. David had been talking about and dreaming about building this temple for years. What would you have done if God told you that you would not be the one to build what you dreamed? Would you still gather the materials? Would you still do the research? Would you still buy that plot of land?

We live in a culture where offense is the norm. I actually think some people do not know how to function without someone being the villain in their lives. David did not look at his son as his successor, nor as his competition. He looked at Solomon as the one who was going to succeed him, and he was excited about it.

My husband and I are pastors of a church in Opelika, Alabama. We were not the ones who started the ministry, his parents were. I often look back as to when were did not have a title, or considered the “assistants,” and how our hearts were to see the church succeed. We had no intentions nor was it on our minds that one day we would lead. Every event was planned and executed by us, yet we did not take the lead role during the event (to include baby and bridal showers). If there was a need to reach a certain demographic with a small group or a type of fellowship, we started and led it, willingly! We were excited to be at the church early and doing whatever needed to be done way before service started. If they needed someone in nursery, I was there. They needed a pre-teen class for an age group to be ministered to, I will teach it!! They just needed to state the need, not ask me to meet the need.

When was the last time you looked around and saw a need and did not just say “someone needs to,” but instead said “there is a need and I am going to make sure it is met”? Instead of being offended with your church or pastors for not meeting your needs (or expectations), ask yourself what you can do to help that area succeed. When others succeed, you will succeed. Do you need the recognition here or is it enough that the Father sees your heart and has a reward for you in heaven? Instead of taking on offense at the leader, what can we do to make sure they succeed?

I do not know if you are a leader or if you look to your leader to meet all of your needs. Only he Father can meet all of our needs. I want to be a light to this world. I want to make an impact that brings glory to God. If that means that I do all the work in the background to make sure there is a good foundation laid for the next generation, then so be it. If they succeed, then I succeed!

Marathon, not a race

Psalms 119:32 (AMP) I will run the way of Your commandments [with purpose], for You will give me a heart that is willing.

Last week I spent time with my mother at Panama City Beach, Florida. The beaches in the Gulf of Mexico have white sand. They have some of my favorite beaches. Gulf Shores, Alabama, being my top favorite. Panama City is where my mother, and sometimes my grandmother, would take us during the summers. The places we stayed growing up had an old Panama City feel, and the place we stayed at this time reminded me of my childhood. My grandmother would have celebrated her 80th birthday that week.

hile on the beach, where I spent most of the day, I read. I love the written word. I do not read fiction. I read books by authors like John Bevere, Lisa Bevere, Tommy Tinney, Joanne Weaver, Lysa Terkeurst, Joyce Meyer, Lisa Harper, Bob Goff….I have an extensive library. I not only read the revelation of others, but I also read the Bible for myself. Right now I am reading the Bible chronologically and I am about a third of the way through (I started about 120 days ago).

This verse above stood out to me. Sometimes we think that God will run the race for us. Have you ever heard this statement: “It’s a marathon, not a race”? When someone sets out to do a marathon, they have to train. When someone starts running, they cannot expect themselves to do a 5K the first day out. When we start to desire more of the things of God, we cannot expect to sit and pray for two hours, when we have never prayed more than at meal time (the same with reading).

How can I want to do this, you ask? Make a plan and execute it. This verse says do it with a purpose. If it is something we think we are “suppose” to do and don’t, then guilt will set it. Guilt is the biggest lie of the enemy when it comes to getting into a deeper relationship with our Father. It will cause us to run away from Him instead of drawing closer to Him.

So pick up that book study that has been calling you to grow deeper. Spend some intentional time in prayer. Turn off the television, You Tube or whatever you like to listen to to get your Word for the day and start reading it for yourself (good teaching should be a supplement to add to, not your be all). You might start out with a chapter a day…I did. The first time I read the Bible completely through was when I was forty (twenty two years after I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior). That was last year.

We are all at different levels of training for the marathon. Do not get distracted or feel guilty for not running as fast as others. Just keep running, He is the wind that is pushing you along. He will give you the heart that is willing!

Football and reflection

As I have said before we live in Alabama. My husband and I moved to Alabama when we married. I was raised in Columbus, Georgia…where we are is roughly thirty five miles from where I grew up. We love living in this small town! We are right in the middle of college football country!!

I did not grow up watching college football, but my husband did. He grew up in Belize, Central America. His parents were missionaries and they would come back to the United States to itinerate (raise money to go back and live on the mission field). On one such session it was Iron Bowl weekend and the host family were big Auburn fans. The Iron Bowl here is a rivalry game between Alabama University and Auburn University (two big college teams in the same state). My husband, not being raised in the states, did not get exposed to much college ball (he may have been eight at this time). The other family’s kids asked who he was going for Auburn or Alabama? Having been born in Alabama, he said Alabama (not realizing both teams were in Alabama). They won that year and he has been a lifelong fan since. It started a love for college football for him. Our boys have been raised on it.

I am telling you this because now my youngest has a passion for football. He has been playing full contact since he was five years old. He is now thirteen and plays travel ball with a team called the Opelika Dawg Pound. He opted out of his first year of middle school football because this would be his last year to be eligible to play with a team that he was there at the conception of. Our children know what loyalty is. This year has not been easy for him. He loves to be on the defensive line, he loves to hit!

This year he played center, that is an offensive line position that snaps the ball between their legs to the quarterback. This is a skilled position, that takes effort. Most of the time the guy across the other side of him is almost twice his size ready to knock through him to get to the quarterback. So not only does he have to make sure the snap is not crazy, he also has to push the other team’s player away from him to keep him from his quarterback to make the play.

This weekend were were in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Choo Choo Bowl. Our boys got up and on the road at five thirty in the morning, only to play their game at five thirty in the evening. This was along day for our boys. Eli had some high snaps that day (but he was not aware of it). It was not until the end of the game that one got a little wild and the quarterback missed it. The quarterback let him know then. We lost our first game and the chance to be in the championships. Eli got in the van defeated. He blamed himself for the loss. How heartbreaking for a mother to hear her son sobbing because he felt the weight of the team on his shoulders. His dad told him his snaps were a little high. Eli said no one told him…but he still took responsibility. So the next game Eli adjusted. His snaps were perfect. Our team dominated the next two games and we walked away in third place for the weekend. The first game was not lost because of bad snaps, but he knew he did not do his part. He adjusted!

How heartbreaking for a mother to hear her son sobbing because he felt the weight of the team on his shoulders.

I am a boy mom and when I read about sons being born in the Bible it makes me weep. I was reading Luke last week The first chapter talks about the conception of John the Baptist and Jesus. Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt. Elizabeth being greater in age, it was a miracle for her to be with child. Zachariah was in disbelief when the angel of the Lord came to him to tell him about this child that he was made mute until after his son was born. Actually it was eight days after he was born that he was able to speak again:

Luke 1:65-80 (MSG) A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone heard about it and took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his had in this.” Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, ‘Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel; he came and set his people free. He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant, just as he promised long ago through the preaching of the holy prophets: Deliverance from our enemies and every hateful hand; Mercy to our fathers, and he remembers to do what he said he’d do, What he swore to our father Abraham – a clean rescue from the enemy camp, so we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live. And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,” will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways, present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.’ The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.

When I read this I wept. This was a child born to proclaim and prepare the way for Jesus. Such a heavy weight for a child. I wept knowing how his life would end, his head placed on a platter for a snide and vengeful woman. No matter what the end was for John the Baptist, he was focused. It makes me think of Philippians 1:6 (AMP) I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will (continue to) perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (the time of His return).

What has this weekend taught me? Whatever part I play in the purpose God has for me is important. If I am not where God told me to be, doing what He called me to do, with the people God called me to do with, I am out of my place. This week starts Advent. It is a time to reflect of the birth of our Lord, Jesus. I remember the joy of holding my sons for the first time. They are teenagers now, I still wonder what God has in store for them. I look at their personalities. I take joy when I see characteristics that reflect Him. Take time today and look for things that reflect Him! Look for daddy moments. “Through the heartfelt mercies of God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us.” How wonderful!