Loner – not a spiritual gift

Have you been struggling with relationships in your church? My husband is in a series called “Focus: Assurance.” He talked about the born again believer still walking in darkness. Really? Yes, we can walk around as a born again believer and not reap the benefit of this life. How? God gave us: 1) His Word (Jesus); 2) His Spirit (Holy Spirit); 3) His Body (each joint supplying the other); and 4) His five fold Ministry gift to us. Then he said we walk in lack due to self inflicted blindness of God’s will. God gave us the body for a purpose. It was not just someplace to go on Sundays, it has to do with your stewardship as well. Are we being a good steward with the call to disciple? Are we being a good steward with our talents? Are we being a good steward with our knowledge?

If you want your heart to follow after the things that God’s heart is after – the local church and reaching the lost – put your treasure there. Your heart will follow. – The Blessed Life by Robert Morris

We cannot keep going at it on our own. Attendance and serving when when you go is great, but are we are getting the full benefit. The benefit is not just the Word that comes forth. It is the value you see in each other and the fellowship with the body.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (AMP) Just as the human body is one, though it has many parts that together form one body, so too is Christ. For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body. And no matter our status—whether we are Jews or non-Jews, oppressed or free—we are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Holy Spirit.

Yes, it is going take trust. It is worth seeing the growth in each other!

Giving is not just finances. It is of your talents, it is of your knowledge, it is of your wisdom.

When God’s people catch a revelation of giving – when God does a work in their hearts – they begin to want to serve in their churches. They want to help the children’s ministry grow. They want the church to have a good youth ministry, a powerful praise team, and a blessed staff. They want to be generous in missionary giving. The whole atmosphere in a church changes when people catch a revelation of generosity, tithing and giving. – The Blessed Life by Robert Morris

This all ties to stewardship…our relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit, the body and the five fold ministry. Are we being good stewards with the gifts He has given to us?

I have to have a better relationship and receive more from the body that I am called to. I have to set down the strongholds that are keeping me from trusting and receiving the gifts that of the body. I have to see them as God’s created and redeemed!

Joyce Meyer wrote a devotional, Love Out Loud, called “Let Me See You Smile.” In it she was encouraging us to be friendly. She writes, “For years I excused myself from being friendly by saying, ‘That you isn’t me, I have a lot on my mind, a lot of responsibility, and I am more of a loner,’ but I realized that ‘loner’ is not listed as a gift in the Bible. Thinking of ourselves as ‘loners’ is simply an excuse to avoid the often messy business of being vulnerable.

Be confident in this that God gave us His body as a gift. Receive it and enjoy every aspect. Have a blessed week!

God causes the growth

Ugly Christmas sweaters at church

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (AMP) I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth. So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth.

Today my oldest son turns seventeen. He will be a senior in just a few short months. Last week we went to watch him wrestle for state (his first time making it to the qualifiers after four years of trying). He had to step out after the second round due to a possible concussion. Ari fought two really tough competitors. In his first match, the guy was a senior and had placed second the year before, and was undefeated so far this year. Ari lost that round. In his second match, Ari and the other wrestler collided right off the start, head first. Then they pulled back and did it again. It was a tough one, it looked like a brawl from the stands. When done, Ari had a mark under his eye and it was starting to swell. The other kids head gear had got him. Since he woke up with a head ache the next day they took him out. It was a little disappointing for him, but he said he is looking forward to doing it again next year.

So today I am reflecting on how we got here. On this day after thirty two hours in labor, and twelve days after his due date, Ari was born weighing eight pounds and twelve ounces. He was (and still is) beautiful. We had some struggle moments when he was a baby and in his toddler years, really we should have known he was going to be strong willed when he spent the full forty two weeks in the womb. There are some really great moments too. We taught him a few words in sign language before he started talking. He could tells us he wanted to eat, some milk, if he wanted more or if he had enough food. Meal times were when we got to sit together, since I worked full time. It was not until he was almost four that he would be able to stay with me all day.

Then he started going to school, kindergarten. That was my very first parent/teacher conference about behavior. I got to have one of those, within the first nine weeks of school, every year for seven more years. There was one year the principal called me so much that I would make a sigh before I answered the phone. On top of all of this he was a straight “A” student!

When Ari got into eighth grade, he tried out for wrestling and fell in love with the sport. We tried putting him in soccer, in baseball and football. He did not enjoy them, but we knew he needed an outlet. He was passionate about wrestling though. Guess what? I have not been called in for a parent/teacher conference in four years!! I love wrestling. I will take him every where to train. I will get him to any club that had it going on. I will hire a personal trainer to teach him foot work.

What is also amazing is that he honors and respects his parents. He will get up from what he is doing in his room and help me with things around the house, happily. At church, he puts the signs out and makes sure the duplication process for the CDs is ready to go. He hands out the CDs after service. We sit down every school morning, along with his brother, and we read a devotional and pray before they walk out the door. What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

In my beginning verse, it says that I get to plant the seed. From what you read above you would think that now I have the perfect son. He still has his moments. He still can be rude, disrespectful and a jerk. Actually two weeks ago we got into a really big discussion on how his communication needed to be improved. He had all electronics taken away for two days (that included his cell phone). Then when he got it back, he binge played on his XBox and came out of his hole an emotional wreck. Fun stuff, right?! Like him, there are days that I lash out at the people I love too. He needed grace in that moment.

He still needs our guidance. Ultimately though, he is God’s. He will be leaving home in a few years to start his life on his own. I pray that we have laid a good foundation for him. I pray he grows. I want him to grow and mature in God. I want him to succeed. Although we may want them to, my goal is that he will not NEED me (it would be selfish of me if I did not do this). I need to point him to Christ. I need to show him where real growth and success comes from. Before a match we thank God that it is through His strength that Ari gets his power source. Ari has done his part in weight training, practicing endurance and learning technique. Now he can rest, and not feel anxious, in how God puts it all together through him when he wrestles. What a difference that perspective has made in his wrestling this year.

If you know how that feels hit the like button on this post. Let me know your struggles and celebrate the successes with you. If you need prayer you can message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Nostalgia

My husband is on second shift this week. I will wake him up to eat breakfast with the boys and I. Then, we will do devotion with the boys, pray and take them to school. Afterwards, we will spend about thirty to forty five minutes in the gym riding the stationary bikes and then lifting weights. Finally, we will spend the rest of the morning running my daily errands together. One such morning we got to talking about cereal. He loves to eat cereal, but I do not buy it too much because it has a lot of sugar. We were talking about all the different kinds he likes (Captain Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Golden Grahams) and he had this twinkle in his eye.

Nostalgia is a great emotion to have. At this time of year there is quite a bit of it going around in my household. Something that I have grown in is not planning those events. I no longer say we have to do this activity on a certain night because of tradition, or that we have to do it at all. This is a time to not demand my way. This is a time to enjoy those around us. To not forget the reason to have this season in the first place.

This is a time to not demand my way. This is a time to enjoy those around us.

I was reading Romans last week in the Message Translation and the first chapter Paul is addressing the church in Rome in a letter. Verses 8-12: I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you.

Paul was a Roman citizen…he was a Jewish Pharisee, a Roman Citizen and an Apostle to the Gentiles. That is quite a resume. Although he longed to be with his people, he was focused on where he needed to be in the moment. Verses 13-17: Please don’t misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I’ve made plans for Rome. I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of God’s work among you, as I have in so many other non-Jewish towns and communities. But something has always come up and prevented it. Everyone I meet—it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple—deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation. And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”

I can hear the nostalgia in Paul’s voice as he talks about wanting to preach among them. Nostalgia has a way of making us comfortable and warm feeling. When a person talks about something that is nostalgic to them, they get a twinkle in their eye (like my husband about cereal).

Today I got a message about a young man in our church that sent money to Uganda to help with medical bills. It blessed me to know that he has such a giving heart. The nostalgia for me was remembering him in diapers. He was a ring bearer in our wedding with this cute head of red hair, thick hair too and cut in a bowl cut, with his big eyes. Him and his siblings going along to watch his daddy and my husband play in the rock band they were in. He is grown, married now and still in our church. I know he has a bright future to do so much for the Kingdom. He will always be a part of us. One day he will be texting us and writing to us like Paul did the Romans. Oh the nostalgia!

At this time, remember and celebrate the reason for this time. Remember whose you are. Make new memories with your families (no matter what your family looks like). This coming week we will be decorating ginger bread houses with our boys, our spiritual daughter and her friends. We decorated Christmas cookies with them a few weeks ago. Find practical ways to serve as a family. My husband, boys and I will be helping a local ministry send book bags to Guyana. These are nostalgia potential moments too. It does not have to be the same thing every year. I pray that you make new memories, share old ones and grow in your faith this Christmas!