Friday, September 30, 2011

Rest for our Souls

Click over here to see my post on our Valleydale Women's Ministry blog on finding rest when we feel weary.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Safe People

Something I've been learning about lately is safe people and God's protection in our relationships. It is something I've never really thought in depth about before, and I don't have a lot of wisdom in this area. So what I'm saying here is just a few things I've learned, but I'm not claiming to have it all right. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

I have always thought that you should stick with someone no matter how much they hurt you for the sake of the gospel message.  Love God Love People is the motto I've always tried to have, although it is just a motto and I fail at doing both things all the time.  I think as a people pleaser, in the past, I often put Love People ahead of Love God, and I didn't realize it. 

God showed me his grace, took me out of the deep pit I had dug, and set me out into a spacious place.  He healed me and set me free.  All of God's chosen people throughout history, be it the Israelites or Christians, have been called to be a set apart people, a holy nation.  Being set apart usually means separation.

If someone causes you to actively sin and is a stumbling block, they are not a safe person, and it is okay to separate yourself from them.  God may allow them back into your life as you mature, but that's His decision.  As Priscilla Shirer illustrated in her One in a Million study, you don't have to keep falling into that hole.  You can walk around the hole, and you can even take a different path.

So it is okay to cut yourself off from people who cause you to sin.  For example:
  • that man or woman who always leads your thoughts down the wrong path even though you are happily married.
  • the girls who grow insecurity in you because you never seem to fit in and are always striving to get them to like you.
  • the girl who is easily angered and always yells
  • the woman who regularly talks behind others backs and you wonder if she's taking your trusted secrets and giving them away.
  • the woman who never seems to get around to asking you about your struggles but always finds time to talk your ear off about herself.
  • ladies who never mutually share struggles; if you are the only one sharing, you cannot grow together.
In some way or another these men or women are unsafe, and it is okay to separate from them for a season until you grow in maturity or until God grows them in maturity to a place of mutual safety.

Though it hurts my heart to think it, I am probably an unsafe person to someone, and so are you.  It absolutely breaks my heart to hurt someone and I worry about it for days if I know I have hurt someone.  I seek to be gentle in spirit, but even then, sometimes I am unknowingly harsh.  Though I am highly sensitive myself, I don't always understand the sensitivities of others.  Sometimes when I've written blog posts, I haven't used the verbiage that pleases everyone.  Even though we can be unsafe and though we find others unsafe, as God's child, actively seeking after Him, He may use distance from others, short or long, to set us free from those sins we struggle with :  lust, insecurity, lack of self control, gossip, self-centeredness, inability to be transparent, and more.  This is God's manner of protection (though there are more I am sure), His wings gently hugging us closer to Him for a time or a season, until we can provide others grace without stumbling. 

Often we worry or fear that our separation will cause an unbeliever not to know Him.  However, He is a big God who can heal us and save him/her at the same time.  Allow Him to do His work and follow wherever He leads.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lotus Focus

The Wii fit has a game called "Lotus Focus."  Today I mastered it.  It is a "zen" type of game where you sit on the wii balance board and try to focus without moving or getting distracted.  If you master it, it is completed in 180 seconds.  There is a candle on the screen and the rest of the screen is dark and if the flame starts shaking or wombling, you are not focused.  When the candle blows out, the game is over.  So the idea is to stay focused for as long as possible to keep the flame lit.

Today I learned some really cool things about focusing from this game.
  1. First of all, if you close your eyes you may able to focus better for a little while, but then you will lose focus by the sounds on the game because you cannot see what is really there.  You are in darkness with your eyes closed, and the distracting sounds will fool you and distract you.
  2. The longer you are able to stay focused, the more things the game tries to distract you with sounds and visuals to make you lose focus.
  3. The only way you can win is to be absolutely still.  Legs crossed.  Hands on legs, and eyes only on the light.
  4. If you turn your eyes away from the light for even a second, it will cause you to lose focus and ultimately, you will not be able to win.
Spiritual lessons learned from this exercise:

  1.  You cannot win or remain focused if you stay in the dark.  Your eyes must be on the light at all times.
  2. The longer you follow God, the more Satan will try to distract you away from focusing on Him.
  3. You must be still before Him.  Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
  4. Keep your eyes open and on the one thing that matters - God's glorious light, Jesus Christ!

 "God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all."  1 John 1:5

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

OneVerse and Storytelling

Every night my daughter and I tell stories.  We tell stories of the day and stories of make believe and stories of our family.  My stories stick with my daughter and so when I want her to remember something I make it into a story.  One night as she was going to sleep, this is the story I told:
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, in a land that was distant, yet not make-believe, was a girl named Tula. Tula, like us, lived with a mom and a dad, and she too, had a brother and a sister. But unlike us, no one in her village or family had a bible to read to her before bedtime. There was no bible written in a language in which she could understand! Can you imagine that? No one told her about Jesus. No one read her stories about David and Goliath, or Samuel choosing David to be a king. No one told her about Jesus' death on the cross. She had no way to know the stories that matter most. And without a bible, how could she know about Jesus?

One day Tula's dad had a dream - a dream about a great man who was special and dressed in white. He wanted to meet this man. In his dream, the man told him that he was the "way, truth, and the life." He told his family, including Tula, about his dream and they all wondered what it meant. So Tula’s dad asked God to send someone to tell him about "the way, the truth, and the life."

Then one day some new people came to their village. They were there to tell stories about God. And in one of their stories they told about a man named Jesus who called himself, "the way, the truth, and the life." At once Tula and her family believed in Jesus. But they still needed a bible to learn more stories they could understand and practice.

Everyone loves a good story!  While I know many Americans who think the bible is a boring book, it is by far the best book ever written.  From cover to cover, it has captivating stories of God’s love and heart for his people.  Can you imagine not getting to read or to hear the greatest story ever written?  Many people across the world are still waiting to hear God’s stories in a language they can understand.

Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?"  Acts 2:8

OneVerse is getting the Word out to people in their native tongues one verse at a time so that everyone can have access to the greatest story ever written.  One verse costs $26 to translate into a native tongue.  You can choose to give one time, pay for a verse once a month, partner with a group, or sponsor a people group language.  You don’t get to decide what verse you pay for; you simply pay for the next verse to be translated in a particular tongue.  And you can even OneVerse as a gift!

I love the program they have for families called KidsDiscover, where families learn about the art of bible storytelling, much like the story I shared above, except using a bible story.  Check out their webpage – you will be amazed and encouraged by all the true life stories of people who’ve received bibles in their native tongues.  

Being passionate about the Word of God myself, I particularly love that OneVerse is seeing to the fulfillment that all should hear the Gospel truth before Jesus comes again. 

This post was written as an entry in a blog contest to win a ticket to the Relevant 2011 Conference.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When I am lost and cannot find my way
When I feel like giving in

I will listen to all that you say
I will allow You to win

the battles and I struggles that hold me down.
Perhaps I will feel less of a clown.

Righteousness is where you lead.
You fulfill every hope, dream, and unmet need

I come to you hungry and weak,
You say you will fill

so You are the One I will seek.
I lay down me and my will.

Even though I often feel alone
I will learn how not to moan and groan.

You've promised you are always by my side.
Never leaving, always seeking, my continual guide.

You are enough to satisfy.
Every ache and desire.

In my darkest desperate cry
you pick me up out of the muck and mire.

Even when I do not understand,
You are always leading me to the promised land.

You are enough for me
my forever friend you will always be.

Monday, September 5, 2011

At all Costs

I wrote this blog post as an exhortation to myself.  However, I hope you enjoy it too.

One of the homework questions in my bible study this week got me to thinking:

Are you willing to obey God at all costs?

Here in America, I don't know if we know what costs can truly be associated with following God.  It is becoming more difficult to be a Christian here, but overall, we still go about our day forgetting that there are costs involved with following hard after Him.

Earlier today I was totally overwhelmed because I am writing so much.  I was worried about how to take care of my family, be a good friend, exercise, cook, clean, and all the other usual motherly and wifely duties, plus take on extra responsibilities.  I guess the weight of what I am doing hit me HARD.  Don't get me wrong, I have been so excited to be writing.  To be able to actually write as a service to God is awesome to me, because I love writing.  It means I get to use my gifts and talents for His pleasure.  What could be better?

However, writing a bible study requires more effort than blogging does.  I felt the crunch and pressure of getting it all done.  There is a cost with writing which is managing my time more wisely and saying no to time wasters like fb.  Sometimes, it has meant giving up time I didn't necessarily want to give up with my family, and that has been hard for me.  But, seriously....

People, I don't do a whole lot for God.  I live a quiet life.  I teach preschool once or twice a month.  And I am a stay at home mother to 3 kids.  Occasionally I lead bible studies.  But I don't have another ministry that I do regularly.

Some of us here don't even go to church because we don't see the need for it.  We feel we can make it on our own, and then there are people in other countries who daily give up their lives because they GOT to meet at an underground church to learn more about Jesus, in a place where it is illegal to worship and know Him; they GOT to read and savor the words inside the bible, while we often allow our american bibles to collect dust on a shelf.  Truly all we have is His, and He can take any of it away at any moment.  Why not give it back to Him instead?  Or serve Him instead?

Am I willing to give until it hurts?  until I have joined in the suffering that is His?
 At what cost are you willing to follow Him?

Where's Jamie?

Well, not that anyone has expressed that they've missed me, but I've been writing, writing, editing, reading, looking at the computer until my eyes are crossed, editing, writing, and all of that over and again.  I am writing some curriculum for my church, and I could really use your prayers if and when you do think of me.  I am trying to do this while balancing motherhood, wife-hood, sisterhood, and friends.  I'm not sure that I am doing it all so well.  Please give me a little measure of grace while I figure this all out.  I hope to blog more soon.  My little Speed Racer starts to school tomorrow, and perhaps I will figure out my time better with a new routine coming into play.


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