Sunday, September 27, 2015

Drivers and Passengers

"Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.
Annd the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:9

This past week, I began teaching a leadership series at work.  The first chapter was dedicated to Drivers and Passengers.  It reviewed when we are the associate, we play the role of passenger.  Many times, as the associate we can do things that we can't do as leaders (drivers).  As an associate, we may occassionally be able to get away with coming in late, spending a few extra minutes at lunch, have a bad day, etc.  As a leader/driver, we need to be more responsible, our time is not our own, and we need to try and have very minimal bad days.

The analogy came from the driver/passenger in a car.  As a passenger, you may be able to get away with texting, talking on the phone, playing the music a bit louder, or generally have fun (as we see in the picture).  A driver needs to be more responsible, is not able to text, needs to pay attention to the road, and may not necessarily have as much "fun" as the passengers.  After class, my thoughts jumped to our lives as Christians, and the difference between being a passenger or driver with Christ.

As a passenger Christian, I see the role as being one of "going along for the ride".  Yes, you may occasionally go to worship, say a prayer or two during the week, etc.  You may very well believe in Jesus as our Savior, but some of the activities associated with being a Christian may not be activities you want to participate in.  As a passenger Christian, we may want to rely on the help or assistance of others to drive us through our Christian journey.  As with any passenger, this certainly isn't a bad thing. Having faith in our Lord is of crucial importance.  Yet, let's  look at someone who my be driving their own journey with Christ.

The driving Christian may seek out opportunities to engage in furthering their relationship with Jesus.  What does this look like?  Perhaps you see if there is a local Bible study you can join (or even lead); is there a service opportunity you may enjoy participating in; how about a daily devotional to get your morning going; does someone need your assistance during a difficult time; is the church council, church choir, Sunday school staff in need of a new member; do you have a friend who is struggling and needs your prayers - yes the list can go on and on.  Does being a driving Christian take time from our days?  It certainly does.  Does being a driving Christian mean that certain days your time is not your own?  Possibly.  Yet, what it does bring us is the joy of seeing our Lord in an entirely new light - one that blesses our lives so much greater than anything we can do ourselves.

Why is that?  Because we get closer to our Lord with each moment we share with Him.  When we fill our days with Jesus, we see the glory of Jesus in everything that we experience.  We drive down the path that HE wants us to have - not a path that someone else is driving for us.  It could be the path that we need right at that time.  Have I always been a driver of my faith?  Not always.  There have been times in my life when I wasn't able to drive - for many different reasons.  The good news is when we can't drive, there are drivers out there to help us - to drive for us - and help us to get back into the driver seat.  I am blessed to know many of those wonderful drivers and give thanks to them.

Spend some time deciding whether you are a passenger or driver in your faith.  If you are a passenger, maybe there is something you can do to get into the driver's seat and gain that closer relationship to our Heavenly Father.

"Dearest Lord, help us to drive the faithful journey you have laid down for us.  May we take the steering wheel and drive towards a closer relationship with you.  And when our lives take us towards the role of passenger, may you put drivers in our paths to help us along the way."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wisdom in the Truth

It's amazing how reflection can provide us different perspectives.  Reflection of our own moments, reflections of our children's moments, reflections with work, reflections on relationships, . . . .  Reflection helps us to gain perspectives throughout our lives.   It is through these reflections that we can truly value our learning, our accomplishments, our failures and our growth.  The difficult thing about reflection is that it takes time: quiet, solitude time.  So much in our lives today doesn't allow us to have that reflection time - yet, without it, we continue to march to a beat that may not be meeting our needs or God's needs.

I had the pleasure and honor of spending some time in reflection this weekend with some wonderful friends.  We reflected, we shared accomplishments and failures, we provided dreams and frustrations, we learned.  Most importantly, we spoke truths.  There's something tough about truth - it's not always easy to hear and many times it isn't what we expect.  Yet, it is in those moments of truth that we find the wisdom we need to move forward. 

I received much wisdom from these women this weekend.  Some came directly to me through conversation, some came indirectly through other conversations, all of it was taken to heart to help me learn.  I don't know about you, but there have been many times in my life, whether it be work or relationships or parenting, when I have asked for advice and counsel.  I have turned to mentors at church and in the workplace.  I have turned to my parents and siblings.  I have certainly turned to my husband and also my friends.  What is wonderful about advice and counsel from all of these people is that it has been truthful.  It may not always be what I want to hear, but I know it comes from a place of love and caring.

How about you?  Have you had the honor of people sharing their wisdom of truth with you?  How did it make you feel?  Yes, sometimes it's not easy, but when we reflect on the wisdom of truth, we know that what they have shared has mostly been correct and when followed has proven great results.  Since the beginning of time, God has provided us with people to give advice and counsel.  Think of the great prophets, of Solomon with his great wisdom.  Throughout Biblical history, the wisdom of truth has been passed down through generations.  Yet, there is something that needs to accompany the wisdom of truth - simple faith.  Faith in the wisdom you have now received and the faith that the new path will lead you to a better place.  Faith that God is the ultimate counselor who we can always turn to for the truest of wisdom.  Faith that when we listen to God's word, our reflections become action.  Simple Faith.

If you have had the honor of receiving the wisdom of truth lately, tuck yourself away in a special spot for a moment of reflection.  Reflect upon the words of others and say a prayer of simple faith that God will lead you to the path that is correct.  If you need some of that wisdom of truth, seek out that special someone who not only shares what you WANT to hear, but also what you DON'T want to hear.  Remember, the truth is what is important.  Always, confirm the wisdom of truth through God, reaching out to Him in prayer and thanksgiving - giving to Him what he always desires of us - time!  May the week ahead provide you an opportunity to reflect - and may that reflection bring you peace.

"Heavenly Father, you have provided us a great gift on Earth, those who can share the wisdom of truth with us.  May we value their wisdom and continue our learning through these gifts.  Let us have the simple faith that this wisdom helps us to continue down the path you have paved for us, one by which we grow closer to you.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Power of a Memory

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them."  Deuteronomy 4:9

It  has been one of those weekends.  It started on Friday and, even as I write, the memories keep flooding back.  It doesn't seem to matter what I do or where I go, there is a special memory that must be tucked down deep in my heart that is getting pulledl to my mind.  I have to say, most have been wonderful and positive memories.  Memories of special times with my parents and brother growing up, memories of high schol and college; memories of first jobs, when my children were born, vacations, special dinners, even simple walks  -  all these memories just coming back.

Memories are such a powerful thing.  I found myself sharing my memories a lot this weekend, with my husband, our children, the dog, anyone who would listen!  What I found as I shared my memories was not only the look on the other person's face as I was speaking, but the smile that was coming from my own face.  I found that as I shared, all the emotions of those special moments filled me up - made me feel good.  It was amazing.

Yet, this time, something different happened than when I have had reflective memories in the past.  It happened when I was at my dad's gravesite - getting it ready for fall.  As I cleaned up the lillies that have already passed their season and laid the mum that will adorn his site for a few weeks, there was a feeling of thankfulness.  Yes, for the first time, I took time to thank God for all of these wonderful memories I was having.  Usually the "good feeling" of memories comes and goes.  This time, I didn't want it to go.  More importantly, I needed to thank God for so much at that moment.  

I thanked God for letting me remember, for bringing all those wonderful thoughts and times back to me.  I thanked Him for blessing me with those special moments.    Those moments were filled with such love and joy and all of that can only come from our Heavenly Father.  I thanked Jesus for giving me the salvation I so much do not deserve so that the memories I have here on Earth can one day be shared again with those that are already in our heavenly home.  There was so much to be thankful for.

As our lesson for today shares, when specal moments happen, they need to stay in our hearts and be shared with others.  We can't let go of them.  We need to take those moments and not just keep them to ourselves, but give them to others --  to increase their joy, their happiness, and their knowledge.  Especially our children.  I watched a mom and daughter have a special moment the other day.  It was truly precious and, yes, helped me to relive memories of my own.  I shared with that mom to keep that moment, that very simple moment, close to her as they grow up so fast.  She smiled and I knew she understood.  

Now, I know, that we all have memories that may not be wonderful and pleasant.  Yes, we need to thank God for those memories too.  Although they may be painful, through those memories we grow, and learn and move on.  Even those memories can be shared - for helping others to learn from our mistakes, our pain.  It is important to not only remember, but to share! 

As we begin the week ahead, I ask that you take a few moments, maybe after you finish reading this post, to think of a memory - a good memory - and cherish how it makes you feel.  I would love to hear from all of you and those great memories you are having.  Feel free to post them at the bottom of this blog.  And may all of you enjoy the power of a memory.

"Dear Jesus, thank you for the power of a memory.  Memories are such an important part of us; they fill us with warm feelings of happiness, joy, and yes, maybe even sorrow.  Yet, we know that all of our memories are blessings from YOU - our Heavenly Father.  Be with us as we move forward in the week ahead, and fill our hearts with gracious memories from you.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

If One Shall Fall

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. . . ."  Ecclesiastes 4:10

I had the privilege and honor of attending a wedding on Saturday.  The day couldn't have been more perfect.  The weather was gorgeous and in this church was a wonderful joining of two families into one.  The joys and love these two young people felt were definitely shared with all of us who attended.  It was truly a blissful moment.

It reminded me of my marriage, and marriages of friends and family members.  That special day, the day that two people are joined together, is so beautiful.  With God present, the new couple feels as if their lives would be forever happy.  I felt that.  Those of you who are married probably felt that too.  Then life comes.

Please, today's blog isn't just for those who are married, but also for those who are not married.  Today it is about sharing lessons learned, and where God shows up at those moments when we truly need him most.  The wedding, the honeymoon, are incredible moments to spend with each other and share the blessing you have been given - the gift of each other that God has given to you.  The joy that surrounds those moments are to be cherished and remembered, because other moments will follow.  Maybe it is the joy of a new relationship - not just an intimate one, but a friendship as well.  What we need to remember is our verse for today.

Through the years, there have been many trials, many tribulations that we have all had to face.  What I have learned most, though, is the verse for today.  When one of us falls, the other is there to help them up.  That falling may be letting the best of a bad day at work get to you.  That falling may be a tough discussion with the kids.  That falling may be a burned supper.  That falling may be tough financial decisions.  That falling may be sickness.  That falling may be not knowing where to turn.  That falling may be one of us actually falling (I'm not the most graceful person in the world - no snickering family members!).  The importance is ensuring that the other is there to pick up the pieces.  It's not about blaming.  It's not about resentment.  It's not about holding on to what went wrong.  

It's about picking up the other person - mentally, spiritually, and yes at times, even physically.  Those aren't the things that people share during weddings and new relationships, and that's okay.  Yet it is important for all people, young and old, married 6 months, 6 years or 60 years, new and old friendships to remember, be there to pick up.  One person can't do all the heavy lifting.  It needs to be shared when those moments arise.  I have been very blessed by a wonderful husband who helps with the heavy lifting - not just physically - but mentally and spiritually.   Isn't that what love and friendship are?

What happens if neither party has the strength to lift the other one up?  The best news is that there is always someone to help us with the heavy lifting - our Lord.  He helps to lift us up - mentally, spiritually or physically, just when we didn't believe there was any more assistance for us.  Couples, whether married or friendships, can go through periods where both people have so much weighing on them that helping the other person up can feel next to impossible.  That is when Simple Faith takes over.  That is when praying to God and KNOWING He will help you up is what needs to happen.  

For our newly married couple, I pray God's abundance to be poured out upon you.  And remember, when one of you falls, lift the other one up.  And should both of you fall, always turn to God, who will lift you up with ease.

"Dearest Lord, may we always remember that any relationship will have moments where one person may stumble.  Let us be there to pick up our loved one, whatever their need may be.  When both of us have fallen, let us have the simple faith to believe that YOU are there for us, Jesus, to do the heavy lifting.  In your gracious and humble name we pray, Amen."

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.