Lazy Days of Summer are Over

Philippians 3:10 (AMP) And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did].

Summer break is officially over for us. My youngest started his first year of high school this week and my oldest will start his first year of college next week. I have to overcome the lazy days of summer and get back into a routine. Why? I have become lazy. I have become lazy in my devotions. I have become lazy in my reading. I have become lazy in my writing.

Sunday we began 21 days of prayer with our church. You can follow along with the social media prompt here on our Facebook Page. These 21 days of prayer are focused on our children returning to school. We are sending them out as light into the darkness. We do not pray over them in fear, we pray over them so that they may make an impact. I have never hidden my children from the world as we have been instructed to be light to the world. How can we hide what He has illuminated (Matthew 5:15).

My children are not my own, they are His and I have to trust that He can do better with them than I. Remember Hannah (1 Samuel 1), we have dedicated our children to the Lord for His service. Even though the household that Samuel was sent out to was not perfect, God still spoke in and through him.

With all that being put out there, how do I overcome my laziness? I have also taken these 21 days to give my time back to God. I have become more intentional with my devotion time. I have become more intentional with my reading. I have given Him my days again. Why? Just like the above verse states, so that I may know Him. Desiring for More has always been about drawing deeper into my relationship with God.

Monday I redid the website and social media pages to reflect that. When I began this two years ago the verse I used was Ephesians 3:20, (TPT) “Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” I firmly believe when we run after the things of God that my wildest imaginations will come to life. However, that is not why I chase after Him and I wanted to convey that in my writings. So the key verse for Desiring for More has been changed to Philippians 3:10.

To get out of the lazy, I need to realign my heart with His. Seek after Him and do the works of the ministry. However, I cannot get so busy doing that I do not spend time with Him. I cannot spend so much time with Him and never get to doing. That is why I gave Him back my time these 21 days of prayer, it is His time now.

How are you doing with your time? Could you use a readjustment like me? Give back to Him what is His. He freely gave it to us. We need to be good stewards with it (Matthew 25:14-30). Spend time in His Word, spend time in prayer and get out and do what He says. Show your Light and His love today.

Happy Independence Day!

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Acts 13:38-39 (AMP) So let it be clearly known by you, brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you; and through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and follows Him] is justified and declared free of guilt from all things, from which you could not be justified and freed of guilt through the Law of Moses.

The United States of America is two hundred and forty six years old today. I do not know about where you are (for those that life here in the states), but celebrations have been going on all weekend. Our city held their fireworks show and Freedom Celebration on Saturday (two days ago). Our neighbors were shooting off fireworks all night last night. Tonight the city next to us has their fireworks and festivities. We have not made plans to attend a single one. We would have done it when the kids were smaller. We would go now if it interested them.

What does it mean to be unquestionably free? My definition of freedom is probably different from yours. My definition is tied to my peace. My peace of mind. Torment is not freedom. Worry is not freedom. Anxiety is not freedom. To me, that puts me back in bondage. When I get that way I have to dig deep and ask myself, what has put me back in bondage.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

There are moments that I allow my peace to be taken. I allow myself to worry about certain things and thought of certain people. I allow myself to get upset when I allow another person’s torment to affect me (this usually shows up in annoyance). I am not as nice as I would like to be sometimes. I have allowed that freedom of peace to be taken. Here is the great thing about Jesus. He already paid the price for me to take it back. I do not need to beat myself up about what happened for me to lose it. I do not need to feel guilty or shameful. I (with the help of the Holy Spirit) put my thoughts back in line and focus on what is important to bring me back in line with peace.

Romans 14:17 (AMP) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Take back your dependence on all the wrong things. Put your focus back on Jesus. He is the one who gives us the real freedom. Peace is part of that freedom package. No matter what the legislature is saying and doing. No matter what your family may be saying and doing. No matter what the news outlets (some depend on social media) are saying and doing. What did Jesus do? He came so that we could establish His Kingdom here on earth. With what? With righteousness (not by dead works), with peace and with joy.

Galatians 5:13 (AMP) For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

When I can seek the best for others, I know that love has brought me to the place of perfect peace.

Happy Independence Day!

Motives

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

I believe this verse needs to be as memorized as Philippians 4:13. What is our motive? Why do you want to do something? Or even why should I do it? I should do everything in the name of the Lord, no matter what.

Is it to please our leadership? Is it to make ourselves feel good or more pious? You have a choice. Many people want to do something and do not want to be held accountable (especially when they make a verbal commitment). Their motive is wrong. Let’s be honest. We are self seeking. When we do not measure up, we say we make a mistake and should never have committed to that. True! You were not doing it unto the Lord.

Who or what is your dependence on? If it is not in Christ then you will feel like a failure. In Christ we cannot fail. Keep your heart motive on Him no matter what!

Luke 19:31 (AMP)  “If anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ you will say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 

Matthew 14:28 (AMP) Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus was referred to as Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, Savior, Friend and Lord. Which one of those titles holds the most weight? It is unto the Lord that we serve, worship and dedicate. “Lord” carried the most weight when it came to trust in what they were told to do. Peter, said, “Lord, if it is really you….”

Maybe we get frustrated at our leadership because we want them to be Lord (sometimes, but not all the time, only when it is convenient). That is not their role. When we make a commitment to people, what is the intent? For example, my husband and I are pastors. We have heard “Pastor, I am committed to this church. Nothing can run me off.” Or “Pastor, I am all in.” Both parties are pumped and ready to do ministry together. Can I be honest and transparent? Most of the times it does not end well. Guess who is to blame? The pastor. Not really, but they are left to pick up the pieces and move on. We do have a part to play. We are not perfect. It is in the imperfection that you should pray for us.

We have to make Jesus Lord of our lives. When we try to short cut and submit with the wrong intent, we are setting ourselves up for hurt. Yes, honor your pastor. Your pastor is called to equip and lead you to do the works of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11).

I will not remind you to tithe.Yes, I have had someone ask to hold them accountable to that. Did I do it? NO!! Something else made them mad and they left anyways. That is between you and God. Now, when it comes to giving you a leadership role, should those who do not financially support the church be put in leadership? I will let you answer that question yourself.

I will encourage you to love God, I will encourage you to seek the best for others and to love unselfishly. I will encourage you to pray, to get in your Word and to serve in and outside of your church. I will encourage to make Jesus Lord of your life. You can ask me if you heard Him correct and for the direction of your life? I am going to point you back to your Word and ask if it lines up with His character and nature. Will it cause division among believers? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it cause someone to stumble in their faith? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it bring healing? Will it encourage you and others to grow in their faith? Does it show love? Will it draw people closer to a relationship with Him? Then yes you have heard from Him correctly.

What are our motives?

Lord, I want to glorify you with whatever I put my hands to, no matter who sees it. Lord, I want to serve your people, no matter who acknowledges it. Lord, blind my eyes to what does not need to be seen to keep me from stumbling. Lord, I have faith to step out, all you have to say is ‘come.’ Yes, You have given me free will and everything is permissible for me, but not everything will bring glory to You. I choose to make you Lord over my life. What I choose that may be best for me, may not be what is best to glorify You. My dependence is on You today and every day. I choose today whom I will serve. Amen.

Love Revolution

John 15:12 (AMP) “This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.”

This is smack in the middle of the part of Jesus telling us to abide in Him.

John 15:16-17 (AMP) You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.

I am going to put this all together for us.

John 14:12-15 (AMP)  I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name [as My representative], this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it. If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments.

What were the commandments? See John 15:12.

Do not be afraid to do something kind for someone else. Give up a Saturday to help a stranger. Be willing to give away something in order to meet the needs of someone else.  

If you genuinely want to do something, you will find a way to do it.

Refuse to do nothing.

Do not let the fear of becoming overly involved keep you from being involved at all. Do not let the fear of falling into “works” salvation be the reason you do not aggressively want to serve. It is the intent of the heart.

After the early council deliberated on if the Gentiles had to be circumcised to show their salvation or to seal their salvation. It was deliberated that they did not. Actually they talked about the continuation of a lot of the Jewish rituals. The only thing they told Paul to do was:

Galatians 2:10 (AMP) They asked only (one thing), that we remember the poor, the very thing I was also eager to do.

There are literally thousands of ways you can give and spread love if you will search for them aggressively.

Jesus’ disciples saw Him daily helping people. He listened to them. His plans were interrupted so that they knew they were seen. Our words and prayers are important, but our actions carry the weight of our love. Let’s start a love revolution!!

Love God, Love People

Matthew 22:36-40 (AMP)  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’  The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

This struck me deep reading “the whole law depends on these commandments.” Now I know we are not under the law as born again believers. Jesus came to fulfill the law, but He did not do away with it. What do you see when you read these scriptures? Do you see a need to grow deeper in your relationship with Christ? What does it make you think about your neighbor? You may say, I do not hate, “I just love everybody.” Being nice to be people, to their face, is not really loving our neighbor.

I had an ‘AHA’ moment yesterday while reading this. We can be so concerned with serving that we forget the reason we serve (serving is loving your neighbor). Jesus illustrates this point with his encounter with Martha: Luke 10:38-42 (TPT) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated with finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions?  Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.

Martha was busy serving (which she did not get scolded for nor told to stop doing), she was told to change her perspective. Martha was distracted by all the things that needed to be done and not focused on the who it was all for. I could tell that Martha’s love language is acts of service and Mary’s is quality time. If you do not know what love languages are check out Gary Chapman’s books God Speaks Your Love Language and The Five Love Languages. Briefly there are five love languages: quality time, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation and acts of service. The way I show love is acts of service and gifts, however, the way I receive love is words of affirmation and acts of service. My husband shows love by physical touch and gifts, but he receives love by quality time and physical touch. What does this have to do with the main scripture?

To really do this love thing right I need to do both. There is one more important than the other, that means I can get out of balance, but that does not mean I need to ignore the other all together. How do we ignore loving our neighbor? My husband said it best in one sermon, “A non-serving Christian is a contradiction.” As stated above, not all serving has to be “acts of service.” Learning people’s love languages means we start relationships. It is the outflow of our love for Christ that we desire to love our neighbor, and the amplified says unselfishly seeking the best for others.

It is not a bad thing to serve and love to serve, but do not let that distract you from loving God. How can we know when we are distracted? When we start comparing. When we start feeling jealousy or envy. When we start feeling rejection and bitterness. These are all distractions. Did you know you can be distracted like this and not serve? Our minds will get in the way with loving God completely and loving our neighbor. I have to put my focus back on Jesus when these feelings come up. I am not going to act like I do not get distracted, because I do.

Paul said it best, Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Spend time with the Father today. Not just to energize you for the day as we sometimes do. Spend time with Him because you love Him. Ask Him ways to show love to your neighbor today? Get to know their love language. God speaks yours, we speak ours back to Him…what if we used that in how we love our neighbor. It is not enough to just be “nice” to people. Remember, Jesus said our neighbor was anyone we came in direct contact with. That means the people in line at the grocery store, the gas station attendant, and for me the couple that does not like to cut their grass next door (I have to do better too).

Love God, Love People!

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!