Poem

I’ve walked on water, yet I’ve gotten wet.
If not from falling in, then from my own sweat.

Why do I worry? What do I fear?
Can I not sense and know that my Lord is near?

If He has told me to get out of the boat,
then surely He will keep me afloat.

When my eyes are on Jesus, I don’t have to fret.
He is leading and guiding me and there will be no regret.

No should have’s, no if only’s, no what if’s;
He will get me to where I am going, I will not drift.

Sweetly and gently He is calling to thee,
“Get up and get going, just trust and follow Me.”

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Laborers in the Vineyard

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Matthew 20:1-16

I will admit I forget that he is talking about heaven – “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” –
I get caught up with the reference to money. Like why in heaven, would anyone be angry that another got to heaven with just as many rewards or more as anyone else? How could anyone be jealous or get mad at God for saving the last person as well as the first.

Here on earth we certainly do get jealous. After all, if a person has been a Christian their whole life,  has always tithed, and always tries to do what is right, is equally blessed financially as someone who just came into His flock; They don’t even know what to do or how to behave. And why do others get “blessed” with wealth when they don’t even serve God at all?!  While I do need to be on guard for those type of thoughts and mentality,  I don’t struggle with coveting others possessions. Maybe you do, I don’t know.

However, it has come to my attention – Thank you Holy Spirit – that I do struggle with jealousy towards younger Christians (mostly women) who have seemingly been given more of the gift of wisdom and understanding than I. When I hear them speak, there’s a small part of me that questions them more; scrutinizes them more; All in the name of “testing the spirits” of course (eye roll). Since I am being completely honest here, I might add that I don’t fully hear them – cause I know everything (sarcasm)- and listen only so I can pick their point apart. I do feel that little tinge of jealousy for those who have been given more of the spiritual gift that I feel I should have – How does she know that at the age of 26 and I don’t?! Why did You tell her and not me? – I cringe as I confess this. Woe is me. And while I am at it, I might as well add that it really gets to me when women get to use their gifts in a way I haven’t had the opportunity to use mine. Because, I have knocked on the same doors as they have, but they were not opened to me. I don’t know about you but for me, an unopened door can make me feel like a failure or that I almost have what it takes….Almost – I loathe that word. An unopened door, also makes me reluctant to knock on another door for fear of rejection yet again. I truly am working on this, not just for my own sanity, but so I can be united in love with my dear sisters (and brothers) in Christ. And this jealousy is a tool satan uses to separate us – if we let it.


Seemingly – you will notice I highlighted that word in the previous paragraph.  It is because I was going to take it out when I heard myself say it. Why? Because it is the word I guard myself with; as if they haven’t really been given more, it just seems that way and I just think that they have been. God surely wouldn’t give someone else more than He has given me…But YES, He would…Read verse 15?

15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?

Oh, forgive me Father, you are righteous and holy. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. You are my righteousness. You are generous and faithful and who am I to question you? Do Your work in me and through me and those whom You have chosen. Guide us all in Your ways and unite us as one with you. 

What is your struggle? What do you begrudge God in His generosity to others?


Dear younger sisters in Christ,  while I did confess my heart here, I need you to know, so please know, that it is only a small part of my heart that feels this way.  I am human and I have struggles just like everyone else.  BUT a large part of me also applauds you and cheers you on! I want God’s best for your life. And I am in awe of what God is doing in your lives.  Keep learning. Keep seeking Him. Keep speaking His truth. Keep going! Keep pursuing the Father’s best.

 

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How to Bible Study Alone

It is not enough for us to know the scriptures, but we must seek to know the meaning of them.

For years I searched for the right personal Bible study. One that would draw me closer to God and His Word. I looked for studies that focused on one word — like Holiness, what does it mean to be Holy? — and at other times I would try to find a books of the Bible study – like Matthew and Psalm.  Every once in awhile I would find a good one, but always thought it would be better as a group study.  I never found a good through the bible books study. I also found great commentaries and concordances– Matthew Henry’s, Vine’s, Strong’s– but in all honest, I didn’t know what to do with them. In fact, I didn’t know how to do a Bible study without a book that gave me guidelines or instructions. I simply didn’t know how to do private Bible study.  

I have been a Christian since I was 7 and have been in church since I was in the womb. I have gone to Sunday School, VBS and Women’s groups. I taught Children’s Church and have led Women’s Ministries and have gone to countless seminars, conferences and retreats. All of which encouraged reading and studying the Bible. So I read the Bible, but  I didn’t really study it to understand it. I knew what it was saying and I even memorized parts and verses. I tried the “What?Where?When?How?Why?” method. I tried the “S.O.A.P” method. I tried the “Read, Relate and Respond method. I also tried others, but all these seemed time consuming and…well, to be honest I felt like they demanded that I know the answers and I didn’t always have the answer. I get confused by the words of Christ sometimes — His words can come across as harsh and unfeeling — and I didn’t want to write that down, because that wasn’t how a Christian should feel/that wasn’t the correct “Response”…right? I also tried different books but found they were mostly commentary and had very little studying of the scriptures. I began to just read the Bible books randomly.  Not getting much out of it.Sooo….. I gave up on almost every attempt to study. 

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I say ‘almost’ because about 5 years ago I got an idea. I bought a notebook and pen for the sole purpose of  journaling the Book of Psalms.  I read one or two Psalms a day and wrote down in the notebook the verse or verses that meant the most to me. I went through the whole book of Psalms — 27 and 119 are my fav’s! It was wonderful. I didn’t demand from myself that I spend X amount of time reading or get through X amount of chapters, or even make myself have a response or reaction. I simply wrote down the verse that spoke to me and then prayed and/or praised God. I felt free. But more importantly I knew I was drawing closer to God during that time. I focused on spending time with Him. I prayed for understanding and proper response. I told Him when I was confused. I told him the questions I had. I cried. I laughed. I drew near. 

But then the I came to the end of the Psalms…Now what? Proverbs? I was less enthusiastic. You know what happens when you aren’t excited about something? Well, I tend to find other things to focus on. but God wouldn’t let me go.  Larnelle Harris has a song called I Miss My Time With Youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCXEAIsBIfE — God wouldn’t let that song get out of my head…and I missed my time with Him!

So I got back at it. I decided that Revelations was a good book to start with. But this time, because Revelations can be so confusing and strange –I mean that, seriously!! — I was going to use those commentaries and concordances and write down comments and questions. I am an artist so I even did drawings of what John described as the beasts. Again, I didn’t set a time limit or end date to be finished. AND it got quite messy! I went Chapter by chapter, verse by verse. I started writing down the questions I wouldn’t allow myself to ask before. I underlined, USED ALL CAPS, Questioned, gave my humble opinion, wrote down what I knew God was giving me…and the more I questioned, the more HE answered. It was quite amazing. I was really enjoying time with Him and my attitude was getting better. When I was done with Revelations. I decided to study John. This time, I set a time slot in the morning that I knew would not get interrupted and gave myself a “guilt-free” zone and time slot.  I don’t let anyone or anything take that time away from me. I don’t schedule any appointments at that time. I don’t have young kids so that helps.  I don’t sleep deprive myself by getting up at an ungodly hour either. If you can do that more power to you but I can’t. I do what I know I can do and don’t do what I know I will quit.

Here is a example of my mess/study:

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I didn’t write this as a confession, but I am hopeful that it will encourage others, who like me, don’t know where or how to start a personal bible study. You don’t need another person’s book — although you can use one. You can do your own study. Here’s an outline of what I did: 

• Get a Bible translation you enjoy.
• Get a pad of paper and a pen (two different ink colors is ideal).
• Find a place and time.
• Pray for wisdom and understanding before every study time.

• Pick a Book (I suggest the Psalms or John to start out)
• Read one chapter at a time.
• Write down your thoughts, questions and answers you receive, or pictures/visions.
• It is okay if you have questions, just don’t expect an answer every time.
• Use a Commentary or concordance to gain more understanding and points of view.
• ENJOY your time with God!

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I  hope this helps someone out there. I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or questions you may have. I do filter all comments, so it may take a while for them to show up. I will also try to answer any questions quickly and as best as I am able. May God bless you – Judi

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The Problem with that is…

John 13:34 “A new command I give to you, that you love one another. As I have love you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I am troubled and dismayed by some of the postings on social media by my brothers and sisters in Christ. The constant barrage of negative, defensive posts and lack of love for others, that I have had to sift through has grieved me. Love. Not a word you hear a lot these days. Not with the headlines we have had lately. Bombings. Death. Destruction. Hatred. Bigotry. All the fighting and hate talk about Civil War monuments lately has me thinking. Jesus calls us to do two things: Love God and Love others as we love ourselves. I am loving others when I call them “wimps” or say, “they need to just accept it!”? Am I?

First off let me tell you, I am a Christian and I lean toward conservative viewpoints most of the time. I am not a supporter of “politically correctness” because there is always a term that is going to be offensive to someone. Words can be used as a weapon, but most of the time they are not. It’s how you react to them that determines if you are hurt and how badly wounded you get. Which is why, at first I will admit I thought – ‘what’s the harm? The statues and monuments stand to remind us where we have been so we don’t go back.’ I do often say, “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.” * I do believe they were erected to symbolize the war and those who fought so bravely. After all, we have statues and monuments of other US wars. So why all the fuss – and why is it suddenly a problem. I understand why the Confederate Flag causes harm. It is a symbol, much like the Swastika, of hatred for one group and supremacy/pride for another. Revolting. But the memorials – how can they hurt? Being a person who tries to understand as best as possible both sides of a debate, I did some research and thinking and pondering and fake debates with myself. Yes. Some monuments are truly memorials to those fighting on both sides – many men and boys were killed – approx. 620,000. However, most of them are not just innocent monuments but actual statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the Confederate General Beauregard. These men betrayed the US and fought against the Union to preserve slavery. And most statues were put up during the Jim Crow era as a warning that if blacks crossed the line or did something whites considered wrong – like use of a whites only restroom – they would not live to regret it…because they would not live….they would be killed.

To put this in perspective, it would be like putting up a statue of Hitler, Musselini, and Rommel in downtown Jerusalem. Would people consider this okay? Would you say the monuments should stay to remind the Jewish nation that WWII is over and they shouldn’t forget? I dare say no. NO. In fact there isn’t a statue of Hitler anywhere. Not one. And there shouldn’t be.

Then why is it okay for a statue of General Robert E. Lee to stand? Or Jefferson Davis statue in Mississippi allowed? Yes he was from there, but really? Why do these people have hero status?

I don’t think anyone would have a problem with statues that depict the end of slavery, and heroes such as: Sergeant William Carney – slave who fought in first Afro-American troop and received the Medal of Honor, Robert Smalls – a pilot in the harbor at Charleston who stole the Planters boat and was made Captain, William Jackson, slave of Jefferson Davis turned spy for the Union, Powhatan Beaty, Alexander Thomas Augusta, Miles James, James Daniel Gardner, John Lawson… So why, if we are trying to remember and honor the Civil War heroes, don’t we get rid of the ones that make heroes out of traitors and racists, and erect memorials to true heroes. Black and white.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight – Jesus loves all the little children of the world. Do you?

I would also like to add one more thing. Please remember this: Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they hate you or they fear you and what you believe. It also doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong. It just means they believe differently on that subject. So find something in common with them that you both agree upon. Love wins. So let us love one another with our words and deeds.

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*Quote from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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Sunshine + Water = Growth

The weather the past few days has just been delightful. Here I am on an August day in Missouri, sitting outside with pants and short sleeves and I am not drenched with sweat or red from the heat. I look at the sky and there are very few clouds. Just another beautiful day. It rained Monday night after the total eclipse, which was A-maz-ing, and that seemed to bring the temperature and humidity down. What a blessing. So that means I get to do what I love to do during the summer when I am not able to travel, which is most every day, and that is sitting on my front porch watching cars go by and birds flying about. There is a yellow butterfly that likes my flowers and a blue and black butterfly that loves to ride the wind currents back and forth in front of our house. Simply wonderful to watch. On the outside everything seems good. Yesterday my flowers were in full bloom. I worked hard to get them planted and looking good. But today I came out and they are not as vibrant. They need water. Yes the cooler temps have helped, but the inch of rain from a few days ago has been used up. I need to water my plants in good and bad weather. They need both water and sun, not one without the other, to grow strong and produce flowers. All my hard work will be forgotten if I don’t water them on a regular basis. And even though I have a hurt foot and it is hard for me to walk around the house to turn on the water, then walk back to water the plants, and then walk back around to turn off water, it still needs to be done. I was bemoaning this fact God spoke to my heart.

“Even in good times, you need ME. And I desire and enjoy spending time with you. I have things I want to tell you. I want to hear your voice.”

Yes, Lord, I need You. I want You in every aspect of my life. The good times. The bad times. The easy to praise times. The difficult to breath times. Just because life seems to be going my way and I am good, doesn’t mean I can neglect spending time alone with my Creator. I need that time to refresh. Renew. Rejuvenate. When Jesus was at the well and was joined by His disciples bringing food, Jesus told them He had food that didn’t know about. He told them His food was doing what His Father told Him to do. Jesus would have to have had time alone with the Father to know what the Father wanted him to do. And we see often that Jesus indeed went off alone to pray and spend time with His Father.

Prayer isn’t just for the times we need something. No. God says in Old Testament, that if His people “humble themselves and seek My face…” I want you to notice His Wording. He says to seek His face, not his hands, that supply our needs. Not His power, that heals our bodies. His face. His glorious face. That contains his Eyes that see us, His Mouth that speaks to us and His Nose that breathes in our scent – like we do with our children/babies. We may not always feel like going through the obstacles in our lives that we have to go through to make sure we have that time with Him, just like I don’t want to go through the process of walking around the house to turn on the water, but make sure you free up some time, today, to spend in His presence. It is always, and this is a true time to use that word, always worth being in the presence of our Father God the Great I AM. He created us to need water. To need Him.

Past waterings have gotten us this far, but without future waterings we will wilt, or dry up in the sun.

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To write or not to write…

I also thought of entitling this post, “Ooops, I did it again!”  Seems to be a theme for me. I know I need to write, so I go to write only to fall into the same traps that keep me from publishing it. As I have written in the past, I am to write. For many reasons: It helps me organize my thoughts and process the things around me, it is a release for me, it keeps my grammar skills sharp, and lastly and most importantly to me, I hope it encourages others. The problems I run into are: 1) I get so caught up in trying to sound intelligent and being creative and interesting that I sometimes don’t publish the post because it’s just not right or 2) I feel like I am being selfish and lazy for doing something I love instead of…cleaning house, taking care of ?whatever?, so I don’t make time for it.  Actually that is only half true. I do set aside time on my calendar, I just don’t actually take the time.

For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

 

A great example happened on Tuesday……………….(See! Not good sentence structure there. Technically you are to only use 3 dots, but I like to be a little more dramatic and want you all to feel the pause.) Anyway on Tuesday, well actually I need to go back to Sunday when the Lord loving let me know it was okay to do the housework later and to DO what He has called me to do now.  I needed to write and He wanted me to write. He showed me how I was allowing other things – that are important no doubt – to get in the way of doing what I am called to do. So, I set aside Tuesday as a day to write. And knowing who I am and how easily distracted and rationalizing I can be I looked for a local coffee shop to take my laptop because if I stayed at home I would see all that needed to be done and would’ve been torn.

On Tuesday, I arrived at the shop and ordered an iced coffee, sat down, plugged in my machine, and started typing. It was a post I have been thinking about for a while now on friendship. It was my desire to convey that life is hard and being a “in person” friend is important. That having friends is good, having friends physically present in your life – if not daily, at least weekly – is best. Why? because doing life with someone who is there, physically there, for you and you for them, makes life more…exciting, easier to handle, less mundane or monotonous, it also gives accountability. I was going to warn them not to forgo getting together often with a group of friends and not make the excuses I did of not having time, or not letting them come over because my house was a mess – I did have 4 (FOUR) boys and only 2 hands. I wanted to let people know that if they neglect friendships, those friendships will become acquaintances and eventually you get to a point in your life where you will want and have time for the physically there friends and you won’t find any. You may have a million friends on social media, but none in person. And finding new friends is…………..hard.

That is what I wanted to type…(sigh)…but instead I got caught up with how intelligent it sounded, and the reasonings behind my warnings and how interesting it was that the article started being…so not what I wanted it to be. And typical me, when an opportunity to be distracted came along, I took it and gave up on the post. And I rationalized it away with – it just wasn’t flowing, I will get back to it when the time is right.  Yeah, ha, I have 5 unfinished posts right now. FIVE.

So here I am writing this as a confession and a declaration that I will write. I will post blogs. I am not sure anyone will read them, but I will write anyway.  I write to encourage others, but a lot of the time it is myself I encourage. You see, I like to go back and read earlier posts from time to time to remind myself of all that God has shown me. I think I am just going to make it a Journal as such.  I will keep it open for others to read because I hope you may get some enlightening and encouragement from it as well.

In this, I will try not to try so hard, and just let it flow…

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Even now I am finding it hard to hit publish because it doesn’t seem right…unfinished, unrefined, without purpose…yet I know this was more about doing what I know I need to do and not falling into old traps… Am I alone here?

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Almost

AlmostPurpleMan

I stood there looking at the paper on the bulletin board for my name. I knew it just had to be there this time.  I had practiced and practiced. I had finally learned how to do a back-walkover. I put in a lot of time shouting out cheers and practicing the jumps and moves of said cheers. I was almost good enough the previous year, so surely this year would be a different result. My try-out went well – at least I felt good about it. But as I continued to go down the list of names my heart began to sink. Nope, I hadn’t made the Cheerleading team again.  Well, they don’t know what they missed out on!!  I turned around and started to walk down the long hallway.  I was almost to the restroom where I could let go of the thunderstorm brewing in my soul, when I heard some of my seventh grade friends rejoicing over being chosen. When I reached the doorway, I turned around to see “the chosen” celebrating. “Humph!!” I turned towards the door, when it opened and the cheer coach was standing directly in front of me. I gave her the best “You mean nothing to me and I didn’t want to be on your stupid squad anyway” face. She smiled.
“Judi, I want you to know, You were really good this year. You almost made the team…You just weren’t loud enough. Please keeping working on it and try out again next year.”  That is what she said. But I heard, “Judi,…………….almost…………weren’t loud.”

Ha! Not loud enough?! Me?! Who do you think you are talking to lady?! I wasn’t allowed into a good friend’s house sometimes because I was too loud!! -yes that is true- That was the day I determined in my heart I would be heard from then on. You wouldn’t almost hear me. You would hear me!! Loud and clear!!

Almost. This word has always haunted me. Almost. Almost loud enough. Almost there. I almost won. I was almost persuaded. I almost made it.  Almost – but not quite. I almost did it. I almost sent that card. I almost called them. I almost reached out. I thought about it. I talked about it. I almost…so many things. Almost, but…life happened and I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t.  Well it is the thought that counts right?

I recently heard a great message about that. The speaker was talking about Christianity. And how we need to be making Christianity an action word not a noun. In other words, putting our good thoughts and righteous talk into practice and not almost doing something, but actually doing it.  Because you see, at the end of the day, God isn’t going to say, “Well thought” or “Well said” to his servants. No, there is only one commendation and it’s this, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Well DONE. I want to hear that, don’t you?

TalentUsed

I don’t know about you but I want to get rid of the almost in my life as much as I can. I want to start turning my good thoughts into good deeds done.  I have learned that “I almost ____” inevitably turns into “If only I had.”

So I am going to get up and get going. Afterall, I (we) have this encouragement and assurance from scripture, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

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Side Notes:
• You don’t tell the fourth child of five that they aren’t loud or that they can’t be heard; you are only asking for trouble.
• I am not a proponent of “everyone makes the team” because if someone isn’t good at a sport or activity, it doesn’t do them any good to make them think they are. They may make the team but then they just sit on the bench or worse they cause their team not to win.
• Truth is, when put in front of a crowd I do go strangely quiet. If you ever want me to shut it, just put me on a stage.
• I have matured to realize when my opinion needs to be heard and when being quiet is more effective. Well… almost.

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I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or questions you may have. I do filter all comments, so it may take a while for them to show up. I will also try to answer any questions quickly and as best as I am able. May God bless you – Judi

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