Monthly Archives: October 2013

How’s It Growing?

bigstock-Growing-green-plant-22764032How’s it growing? Your faith, that is.

Hebrews 11:1 says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

I’ve also heard faith explained as believing God will do what He says and acting on it.

So, how’s it growing?

Is God fighting for time in your thoughts? Or do they go to Him automatically? Does prayer come easily? Or as an afterthought when something goes wrong?

Paul tells us in Romans, our faith is linked to hearing the word of God:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV)

So, how’s your hearing?

For those of you with non-readers, the responsibility of making God’s word heard falls on you. But don’t despair. These principles apply to all of us:

  • Read the Bible at the table. Even one verse before school starts the day with Scripture on the brain.
  • Music: Play praise music. Often. At home. In the car. Change it up to meet everyone’s tastes.
  • Memorize Scripture. Tape a verse in the middle of the table or on the bathroom mirror. GT and the Halo Express is great series for the younger ones. For you older folk, there is plenty of Scripture set to music. Win-win!

Hear the Word, out loud or through your favorite headphones, and watch your faith grow.

Questions:

How many times each week are your ears exposed to the Bible?

In Isaiah 55: 10-11, God promises that time in His word is never wasted. What is competing for your attention?

What verse has helped you in your faith? Have everyone share a favorite.

Would these verses be a great start for memorization? Pick one. Give a prize at the end of the week for successful memory work.

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Welcome to AA: Attitude Adjustments

bigstock-Cinderella-Talking-To-Mice-36603259Disney princess movies stump me. Snow White and Cindy happily cleaning away with a song in their heart knowing full well the wicked women in their lives will make them do it again tomorrow. Really?

My children and I are challenged—not to do the simple things—cooking, cleaning, etc.—but to have a good attitude in the process. For my kids, ESPN and So You Think You Can Dance are calling. Me? I have a whole list of things more fun than loading the dishwasher. No, I was not raised in a home where service was a joy and we couldn’t wait to do this stuff.

So I struggle to have a proper spirit, until Paul reminds me:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”(Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

To picture Jesus standing there and asking me to do it for Him—that’s not the problem. The doing for Jesus isn’t hard. I’m happy to do it for Him. The challenge is to shift my mind into a new gear, because it’s the remembering that everything I do is done for Him that gets me.

Turning the day’s schedule over to God when the day begins has been helpful. Any interruptions or game changers—sick kid, flat tires—come through His hands first. I deal with them more graciously when I’ve released control first thing in the morning.

Thanksgiving is another help. Not the turkey and dressing kind. The thankfulness kind. God’s been encouraging me to exercise this muscle for years.

Initially, I thought I was due. Due a smooth schedule and no problems, because, hey, I toe the line pretty well. I’m a Type A, high achiever. My attitude was “But I’ve been so good. Now I have to stop and deal with _______? Really?” It left me frustrated.

Today, I’m learning to look at dirty dishes and be thankful we have food on the table. As I vacuum tumbleweeds of dog hair, I’m grateful for the silly dog following me through the house. (He likes to distribute the shedding evenly.) As I step over dirty clothes left on the floor—again—well, I’m still working on that one.

Check in with the Boss before the day begins. Allow Him to guide you from class to class, task to task, or appointment to appointment, whatever your day holds. And whatever you do, do it with Him in mind and thank Him for the privilege.

Questions:

What does a typical day look like in your world?

What things do you look forward to?

What things are you dreading?

If the dread list disappeared, what blessings would disappear too?

What character muscles may God be developing through the dread list?

Pick one thing on the dread list and find something to be thankful about.

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Refreshing!

bigstock-Man-And-Ventilator-5390740I walked out my front door this morning to run and it was—cool.

So?

Summer lingers in Texas like an unwelcome guest. But this morning, the breeze was out of the north. It was wonderful.

Texans appreciate refreshment, especially in the form of lower temperatures. One hundred degree summers will do that to you.

When June hits, my husband starts asking, “When is it going to get cool?”

I roll my eyes and say, “November.”

So think of your favorite cold beverage. That’s how a cool fall day feels to a Texan. Refreshing!

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day . . . is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”(Proverbs 25:20 NIV)

Here, Solomon reminds us to refresh one another through song. Now before you break into Daniel Powter’s, Bad Day, look around. Any heavy hearts?

How about your struggling classmate stressing over the next test?

A teammate nervous for the coming game?

A neighbor whose kid is a real challenge? You know the one.

The single mom at work who can barely make ends meet?

Be a cool breeze in someone’s life today. Give some refreshment to a heavy heart. And by all means, sing.

Questions:

Who comes to mind when you think of a heavy heart?

What cheers you up when you’re having a hard day?

Commit to pray for one person this week.

Start with those around your dinner table. Who is struggling at home? If it’s you, speak up.

Bake something and pass it out to the neighbors just for fun. Make someone’s day.

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Honey and the Heaves

bigstock-wooden-honey-dipper-with-a-str-12356606Honey. Vomit. Ever discussed these topics in Sunday school? Didn’t think so. Yet Solomon teaches us through some vivid word pictures.

“If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16 NIV)

Too much honey makes me think of Pooh Bear stuck in Rabbit’s front door.

Vomit reminds me of Sarge.

Sarge was Gretchen’s Dalmatian. He was built like a tank. He and Gretchen ran with my golden retriever Luke and me when we lived in Arizona. If Sarge saw anything—trash, leftovers, roadkill—he scarfed it like he hadn’t eaten in days, only to, you guessed it, heave it right back onto the asphalt.

Sarge suffered from something that plagues us human critters too: lack of self-control. When something caught his eye, Sarge went for it. No thought of whether the bunny carcass might hurt his tummy or if the tarantula on the road might not want to play.

Have you ever followed in Sarge’s paw prints? Something looked like honey in the moment, but didn’t digest too well after? Or perhaps the issue is not what we are consuming, but how much.

Food, shopping, TV, computer time. Is the habit controlling you? Psalm 19:13 says: “Keep [me] from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”

If the thing that is sweet causes unpleasant consequences, it’s time to take action. Talk to God about it. Look at why you desire_______________. Is it a crutch? A replacement for something God desires to give?

Is it getting the best of you? Who has control? You or _____________? Are you compelled to __________________?

If necessary, confess it to God and ask forgiveness. Then, ask for release and the ability to stop when you’ve had enough.

Self-control. It’s the sweet that doesn’t fight back.

Questions:

Is there a habit, thing, or an area of your life that is giving you trouble? If in doubt, ask your family. They know.

What’s the attraction?

Where is your stopping point? Why?

What happens when you have too much? Is it worth it?

Do you trust God to supply the self-control you need?

Memorize:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”(1 Cor. 10: 13 NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”(Gal. 5:22-23 NIV)

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