Give me a word, Lord: REFRESHED

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Go, go, go, go, go….STOP! That seems to be the way we go about each day. We are constantly on the go. I usually wake up around 5:00 am to do my morning Bible study and write my devotional blog. Then it’s go, go, go. On my clinic days, I run for twelve hours taking care of my patients. It’s a great job, and it’s my passion, but it is definitely a busy one most of the time. Then on my days off, there are always a million little projects to complete…clean the house, crafting, family engagements, church activities, tending the critters and the farm. Yes, it is safe to say that we are some busy folks. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I am not one to just sit around and be lazy, at least not for a very long period of time. I love to be busy, but sometimes, we have to slow down. We need to hit the refresh button in life.

This week, my husband and I did just that. We hit the refresh button. We left Wednesday morning for an archery hunt a couple hours away from home. We treated ourselves to a nice hotel room, a few good meals, and FOUR days in the woods together…just God, Jeff, and me. Oh, my it was so very nice. We did not kill a deer. We didn’t even see a deer that was legal. Only a couple of young bucks stepped out on us, but that is okay. We aren’t starving for meat, but we were starving for refreshment. These past four days have been truly wonderful. I spent time in beautiful hardwoods, lovely white oaks, and a whole bunch of other trees with leaves gradually changing from green to gold. I saw a multitude of birds, and they sang their carols loudly and proudly as I sat there under a big old oak tree. The squirrels were having a convention there this weekend. I giggled inside as I watched them frolic and play. They chased each other around the trees and through the woods. The weather cooled off the last two days, and it was absolutely perfect. I felt all of the tension of the previous weeks leave my body as I sat there with God, nature, and my favorite human in those beautiful woods.

Life gets too busy sometimes. We get carried away doing what needs to be done, and we tend to forget about taking care of ourselves and our relationships. Jeff and I spend a great deal of time together on a regular basis, but it is always good to get away for a bit for a husband/wife retreat. Four days in the great outdoors, away from all of the everyday chaos, was just what the doctor ordered! I can not express how refreshed I feel this morning and how excited I am about spending the day in the Lord’s house.

Sometimes, we don’t simply need to hit the physical refresh button. Sometimes, we need to also need to hit the spiritual refresh button. I think Psalm 23 is a great place to go to get some spiritual refreshment. The scripture I quoted above is from the New Living Translation. It is very easy to understand, and I think we can easily see that refreshment is oozing from these words. Verse one reminds us that God gives us all that we need. In verse two, we see that God lets us rest, and He lead us. In verse three, God renews us, and He guides us. In verse four, we see that He keeps us company, and we see that He protects us. In verse five, God raises us up, and He honors us. Finally in verse six, we see that God pursues us, and that we will spend eternity with Him. Wow! Isn’t that refreshing? Knowing that God is there beside us at all times should renew us daily, but knowing that He is actually pursuing us and that we get to spend eternity with Him, well my friends that refreshes our souls! The thought of it is so soothing. These words were written many years ago, but they still come to life each time that we read them. God’s Word truly is alive and active. God longs to have a close relationship with each of us. He wants to change us for our own good and His glory. We must make time for Him.

Take some time today to sneak away with God’s Word. Go to your favorite quiet place. It may be an old worn out chair, or it could be outdoors under a great big old tree. No matter the place, turn everything else off and tune in to God. I can guarantee that you will walk away feeling refreshed and renewed! God is so very good. Spend some time with Him today!

Give me a word, Lord: FEELING LUKEWARM?

Revelations 3:17 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

We stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast early this morning, and as I was asking the Lord to give me words to study and write about today, the church of Laodicea came to mind. It has to be a God thing. Who else can come up with this stuff?

We arrived at Waffle House and the restaurant was empty. It was early and still dark outside. The temperatures dropped last night, and it’s currently in the mid forties. All three employees were outside having a smoke break, but quickly finished up and returned to their stations before we got to the door. The cook was a middle aged man. He had two braids in his hair that fell just below his shoulders. He greeted us with smile, and exchanged pleasantries. The waitress was a good bit older. She was a frail looking, small little thing. The years had worn on her, and her face was laced with wrinkles of a hard life. The other waitress was a young, fluffy lady. She had a rather large white, bouffant hairdo. I’m not sure if it was a wig or not, but it didn’t look like it belonged to her. So here we have our three workers. They are near the end of their night shift. I’m sure they are tired, and they are probably ready to go home.

I bet you are thinking, “Okay, KK. What in the world does this have to do with the church of Laodicea?” I’m getting to that. It was their attitudes that brought it to my mind. The cook greeted us warmly. He wore a smile on his lips. He even danced as he cooked our meal, and he graciously placed our food on our table. Our waitress took our order. She was missing a smile. She was doing what she had to do, but she sure didn’t seem to be enjoying. Her affect was flat, unwelcoming. She was serving us, but she appeared to be just carrying out the motions. She definitely wasn’t enjoying herself. Finally, I noticed the other waitress with the white bouffant hair. She repeated that she was cold a couple of times. She took a seat at the far end table, and played on her phone. She made no effort to interact with anyone. She was just there.

So this morning at Waffle House, I saw the representation of three different images of spiritual behaviors. That last waitress represents a Christian that’s gone cold. She even repeated that she was cold a couple of times. Her attitude was cold, distant. She didn’t interact with anyone except her phone. There was no joy in her heart or her eyes. She was just cold. Cold is a very sad place to be when we are considering our relationship with Christ.

The lady that waited our table represents the lukewarm believer. She was there. She did what she had to do. There was no joy in her actions. There was no smile on her face. She was following the rules of her job, but she wasn’t giving it any extra umph. She didn’t really seem to care. She just seemed ready to go home and call it quits. She wasn’t cold, but she wasn’t hot. She was just lukewarm. It appeared that her fire had gone out many years ago.

The cook represented a believer in Christ. He was excited, happy, and on fire. He seemed so full of joy, and it was contagious. This is the person God desires for each of us to be. When strangers meet us. They should see the joy of Jesus within us. We should be reflecting Christ in our behavior and actions. One should be able to easily see that we are a child of God.

The church of Laodicea was lukewarm. They weren’t hot or cold. They were merely lukewarm. God said because they were lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, that He would spit them out of His mouth. Unfortunately, I believe we all go through different phases of warmth, but prayerfully, each day of our walk with Christ, we become warmer and warmer until our hearts are on fire for Christ.

Remember the two men who were walking and talking on their way to Emmaus in Luke 24 just after the crucifixion. They were talking about all that occurred when Jesus began walking with them. It wasn’t until later that their eyes were opened to who Jesus was and, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Can we not be like those men? Can our hearts not burn within us for Christ? Jesus is not physically walking beside us, but He is ever present. His Word should set us on fire each and every day. How can we live on fire for Christ? We can study His Word, talk to Him regularly, serve others gladly, and worship together in a Bible based church. Reflect the Son in all you do. Share the Gospel. Love God and love others. When you heart is full of Jesus, you can’t help but be on fire for Him! Now, go check your temperature. Don’t be cold. Don’t be lukewarm. Be on fire for Christ today and every day!

Give me a word, Lord: LOOKING UP

Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Psalm 8:1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.

It’s bow season here in South Mississippi, but the weather hasn’t been conducive the last couple of days, and the deer have been hiding out. Yesterday, it was hot and the temperature rose to 85 degrees. The wind changed direction every hour. This was not agreeable weather for deer hunting for sure. The mosquitoes were plentiful, and the day was long. We excitedly looked forward to this morning. The forecast showed a high of 66. Ahhh, cool weather. My husband & I both thought, “the deer will be moving for sure.” But guess what? We geared up, walked outside to a misty wet dark morning with winds of 12 mph. We know one thing for sure. Deer do not like windy weather. They can’t hear their surroundings when it’s windy, and it spooks them. Today will probably not make for a good hunt yet again.

Even though we know we probably won’t see a deer, we’re still going to be out here all day. Why? First, we are getting to enjoy God’s beautiful creation all around us. We get to see God’s handiwork, up close and personal, undamaged by human hands. The other best thing about being out here is that we get to enjoy spending time together as husband and wife doing something we love. It is always fun to spend a full day in the woods with your sweetheart, even if the deer are hiding out.

I took this picture yesterday as I was looking up and thinking about all of blessings God has bestowed upon our family. He’s such a good, good God. I think we tend to forget His greatness in the midst of our chaos. When trouble comes our way, we tend to look within ourselves for solutions. When the answers don’t come quickly enough, we begin looking around for a solution. Finally, after exhausting all other avenues, we look up to the heavens for the answers.

Why does it take us so long to look up? Our heavenly Father is here for us 24/7. He is never hiding out. He’s better than the postal service. Rain, sleet, or snow will not deter Him. John 10:28 tells us that no one can snatch us out of His hand. He desires our praises, but He also desires for us to lean on Him not just when we can’t figure things out on our own, but always and in all things.

We don’t have our usual hurried agenda today. We are both off work, and we get to play in the woods like a couple of kids. Our only concern is the wind, but rather than get disheartened or discouraged, I’m just going to keep looking up. I’m going to look up and praise God for this beautiful life He has so graciously given me. I’m going to praise God for a few days of no work. I’m going to praise God for His goodness, grace, and mercy that I surely do not deserve. Yes, today, I’m going to make sure that I keep looking up.

Give me a word, Lord: PEACE, BE STILL

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday afternoon, I went for a two mile hike into the woods. The last few weeks have been a continual rollercoaster of activities. Between working, farming, and family responsibilities, we have not stopped. But I decided to take a vacation day. I was long past due for a day to just be still and spend some time with my sweet husband, nature, and the good Lord.

As we began our hike, we were immediately greeted by a juvenile raccoon. He scampered through the woods without even giving us a second glance. I think we probably saw about a hundred squirrels. They were running about merrily, up and down trees, and barking over our heads. There must have been about 200 birds flying around, and at one point the birds were singing so loudly it sounded like we were in the jungles of the rain forest.

After about two miles of walking, I found the perfect spot. I made a make shift seat under a big pine tree, and I just sat there for a couple of hours taking in the fresh air and the beauty of God’s creations. The leaves are just starting to turn here, and as I sat quietly, I caught a glimpse of a golden yellow leaf turning loose and flittering gently to the ground. I even watched one squirrel race about 20 yards in front of me. He dove into a pile of pine straw and a little golden leaf flew over his head as he landed on the pine straw. I’m sure he was in squirrel heaven as there were white oak acorns covering the ground.

As the sun began to set, a different type of orchestra began. The locusts began their soothing buzzing sound as the tree frogs quietly croaked. Every once in a while, the sounds would get louder, almost deafening, yet extremely peaceful. Yes, this was definitely the most peaceful day I have had it what seems like an eternity.

Twelve hours a day, three days a week doesn’t sound like a tough work schedule. However, when you couple that with four days of working even harder at home, you can bet that a body can get warn down. It’s not the work that wears me down. I enjoy hard work. It’s the busyness that makes it tough. It’s the noise, the chatter, the constant running here and there. It’s the absolute, total lack of “peace, be still.” The distractions of everyday life can be overwhelming, especially when those distractions are distracting us from Christ.

I don’t think that God designed us to be this busy, and my hike confirmed this. I love nature because I can see God in all of it. We have to take the time to slow down and look around and see God’s handiwork. He designed all of the animals, birds, and even the 9000 mosquitoes that I saw. I’m still not sure why God thought we needed those suckers, but I’m sure He had a reason. Nonetheless, when we take time to truly be still, we find peace, and that peace really does transcend all understanding.

If you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, or maybe just tired of all the racket and noise of the day, how about taking some time today for peace? Be still, and know God. We can feel His presence and see Him a whole lot more clearly when we turn off all of the distractions and just be still with God for a bit!

Give me a word, Lord: HOW DO YOU SMELL?

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise;  associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 12:26 The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”

This morning, I was in the bathroom when Diego, my spoiled rotten Yorkie, walked in. He immediately laid down at my feet. Within a mere second or two, the disgusting scent of death pierced my senses. Diego had just come in from his morning outdoor adventures. We live in the middle of 80 acres, and somewhere out there, Diego found some varmint that was decaying, and he decided to roll all around in it so that he too could wear the delightful smell of decay. Ugggh! The smell was truly offensive, and my beloved dog received his weekly bath a bit early. He now smells fresh as Irish Spring after several scrubbings and rinsings.

I do not for the life of me know why our dogs do this. They love to wallow in the wrong stuff, and then they smell so badly. I’ll never understand the nature of a dog, nor will I ever pretend to understand the nature of a human. I’ve always told my kids to choose their friends wisely because their smell is going to rub off on them. Just like the dogs wallow in stench, and then run around smelling disgusting, we too take on the likeness of those that we hang around. Their nature tends to rub off on us. We may not intentionally choose to take on the behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs of those we surround ourselves with, but unless we are intentionally choosing NOT to, they are going to rub off on us. Before we know it, we are running around smelling bad too!

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear. I am not saying avoid the unlovable. It is our calling as children of God to love everyone, even the unlovable. We are to hit the highways and byways sharing the gospel, but we aren’t supposed to live in their sin situations. We are to love the sinner, hate the sin. So don’t let my words make you think otherwise.

What I am referring to today is our close friendships and relationships. We must choose our friends carefully, and we must surround ourselves with a network of fellow believers. A wise Christian friend will encourage you, build you up, and impart godly wisdom. A great Christian friend will lovingly keep you on track and keep you accountable. Yet, a bad friend will lead you away from Christ and lead you to sin. When we are hanging around non-Christian friends more than Christian friends, we slowly began to acclimate to their lifestyles. We start to get used to hearing the ugly language, seeing the drug or alcohol consumption, or even sexual immorality. After a while, these things start to look okay to us. We start to accept the behavior as a socially acceptable standard, and before we know it, we are smelling just like our friends.

I saw the meme attached to this post that says, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” It’s true, Peeps! We become like those we surround ourselves with. God knows this truth, and He will intervene when necessary. Just as a good parent tries to remove bad influences from the lives of their chikdren, God will remove bad influences from our lives and replace those bad influences with good, godly friends. I’ve seen Him do it!

When choosing friends, we need to ask God for wisdom. Bad company will corrupt good character. What do you smell like today? Are you emitting a sweet smelling aroma, or are you stinking everybody out of the room with the stench of decay? Don’t be a Diego! Chase after God and godly friends!

Give me a word, Lord: KEEP ON WORKING

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

I Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Psalm 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Yesterday was a manic Monday. I work as a nurse practitioner in a small, but very busy medical clinic. Mondays are always the busiest day of the week it seems, and truthfully, yesterday wasn’t really any busier than any other Monday. However, it seemed to be overwhelmingly tiring to this girl. COVID 19 has changed the way we do things. Because our clinic is small, we are seeing all potentially COVID 19 patients curbside. This means that we don all of our personal protective equipment and evaluate the patients at their vehicle. So we are running outside to see the sick patients and running around inside seeing the well patients, and I’m going to admit it can make a body weary. There is hardly time to stop for a potty break, and we do not close for lunch so we enjoy bites of food from our desk in between visits. When I got off last night, I had a little talk with the Lord, and I asked Him if this is what I was truly supposed to be doing because quite frankly, this girl was worn slap out.

I know that my conversation with God didn’t surprise Him. You see, we talk all day long. Well, I talk, He listens. There is a whole lot of distractions and racket going on, so sometimes, I can’t hear Him answering. That’s my fault, not His. I arrived at home after the crazy chaos of the day, and my sweet husband (who also had worked hard all day) had the shower running for me and supper on the table. I slowly unwound with my sweet family, we read our Bible together, and I hit the sack. I talked to God some more, and I think I dozed off praying. I do that quite often. I feel bad when I fall asleep talking to the Lord, but then I think, “what better place to fall asleep than in the arms of my Savior.” Sometime during the night, He woke me up. I never hear the audible voice of God, but I do know when I hear from Him. He reminded me that my job is not just a job. It is my passion. It is my calling. I don’t work hard every day for men, but rather for Him. And no matter how busy or tough the day seems to be, He is always there with me seeing me through.

Peeps, when God gives you a passion and it’s a calling from Him, you can rest assured that He will see you through each and every day. I woke up this morning with a renewed attitude. Instead of thinking, “oh man, I have to go to work again, and it’s going to be a hard day,” I’m thinking, “I get to go to work today, and it’s going to be a great day! I know this because the good Lord told me so!” My job isn’t the toughest one out there by any means. I admit that I get physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at times, but even on the hardest days, God puts His arms around me and nudges me along the way. I can see His presence. I can feel His strength. I only have to remember that He is there. He reminds me why I do what I do. He reminds me that I love being a nurse practitioner. I love my patients. I love my co-workers. I love that God put me in a job that also doubles as a mission field. I’m still blown away by the fact that in this big old world, God has time to speak to me, reassure me, and strengthen me. God is so very good!

Today, when the day starts to get crazy and chaotic, stop for just one moment and pray. Ask God to guide your steps and control the day. He’s always there, and I promise, if you are working for Him, everything will always work out for your good and His glory! Keep on working for the Lord!

Give me a word, Lord: BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING

Luke 18:35-43 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Yesterday our sermons were on being a welcoming church. We looked at the story of Zacchaeus in the morning service, and the story of the blind man receiving his sight in the evening service. Of course, both stories are very familiar ones, and we have heard them dozens of times over our lifetime, but yesterday, we looked at them from a little bit of a different angle. Rather than looking at the healing, we looked at the welcoming of Jesus to the blind man and to Zacchaeus.

In Luke 18, we are told about a blind beggar who was sitting beside the road. This man heard the noise of the crowd passing, and he asked what was going on. The crowd told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. Immediately, the blind beggar began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” The people in the crowd told him to be quiet, but this didn’t deter him. He continued to shout, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus heard him, and told the men to bring this blind beggar to him. He asked the man what he wanted, and the man replied, “I want to see!” Jesus said, “all right, receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” The man was immediately able to see, and began praising God, and everyone who saw this also began praising God.

I think that sometimes when we have been in church all of our lives, we tend to kind of glaze over when we read a story that we’ve heard so many times before, but Peeps, we can’t do this. Even if the story is one we have memorized, we must remember that it is from the infallible Word of God, and every part of the Word is important. As such, when we dig a little deeper into this old familiar passage, we can still gain some great new nuggets of truth. First, let’s look at the blind beggar. Here we have a man who has been blind likely all of his life. He couldn’t work, and he lived off of handouts from other people. He had a need, and his need was to see. In those days, afflictions such as blindness were thought to be the result of some sin in the person’s life or in the life of their parents.

Then, we see the crowd. The crowd consisted of the twelve disciples and many followers who had seen the recent miracles performed by Jesus. They were hanging close, waiting to see what He would do next. Jesus had been performing miracles. They were surrounding Jesus waiting and watching, but at the same time they were keeping the very ones who needed Christ most away from Him. This poor blind beggar was calling out to Jesus, and the crowd was ssshhhing him.

Finally, we see Jesus. Little did this crowd or blind beggar know, but Jesus was on His way to the cross. Jesus knew. He even told his trusted disciples, but they did not understand. Though He knew what pain and agony and suffering was soon coming His way, He still chose to show love to as many as possible along the way. The blind man asked what the commotion was about, and he was told that Jesus of Nazarene was coming. The crowd identified Jesus as a man for Nazareth. They didn’t acknowledge who He really was, but the blind man called him “Son of David.” He identified Jesus as the Messiah, and he begged that Jesus would show mercy on him.

Jesus knew that He was on his way to the cross. I’m quite sure that He had a whole lot on His mind. I’m sure He had a few more things that He wanted to accomplish before His earthly body departed. Yet, He heard this poor, blind beggar calling out to Him, and He listened. He didn’t ignore this man’s need. He asked what he wanted, and the man said that he wanted to see. Notice what Jesus said next. “All right. Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” Bro. Louie pointed out last night that the crowd could see Jesus, but they were blind to what was going on. Jesus had even told the twelve about the crucifixion and resurrection that was about to occur, but they didn’t comprehend what He was telling them. Even those closest to Him couldn’t see. But this blind beggar, who could not see, believed. He believed in Christ, and He believed that He could be saved. He believed without seeing.

In our culture, we put too much into the “seeing is believing” mindset. We don’t have the good fortune of walking in the crowds with Jesus. Oh, His presence is here, but we can’t physically see Him. We can, however, see the effects of His presence. The joy within each one of us should overflow and ooze from us in such a way that everyone we come in contact with sees Jesus in us. Just as the moon reflects the sun, we should reflect the Son. We need to get in God’s Word, and re-read all of these familiar stories, and re-learn how to live like Jesus. He gives so many examples, y’all. We just need to follow the lead of our Savior. He sets the example for how we as Christians should live. So many people in this world are blind. No, I’m not talking about those who are physically blind. I’m talking about the ones who are figuratively blind. They have never seen Jesus. They have never felt His love, grace, mercy, or the peace that can only be received from Christ. How are those people going to believe without seeing? They have to hear the Word. They have to see the reflection of the Son in us. Who is going to be that reflection? Who is going to share the gospel? How are they going to hear? “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

We all are super busy. That’s a fact. But we can’t be too busy to show the love of Christ as we walk through each and every day. I’ve never seen Jesus physically, but I’ve seen Him. I see Him in my daily walk. I feel His presence. I feel a simple nudge to go in a certain direction. I hear a still small voice making me aware of those around me that are in need. Oh, I believe without seeing. Do you? If not, there is absolutely no better time than the present to believe and fully trust in our Lord and Savior. If you do believe, share the love and joy of Christ as you walk through this crazy day. Let others believe by seeing Christ in you! Don’t be too busy to be about loving others to Christ!

Give me a word, Lord: PROBLEM SOLVING

Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

What do we do when a big problem arises? I think that most of us have a subconcious strategy that we use. I always go to my husband, He is very wise, and is not merely the man that I married. He is my best friend, my confidant, my partner in life, and I trust his wisdom. I also go to my Daddy. He is a very godly man and also full of much wisdom. I’ve entrusted my problems to my mother-in-law. I love and respect her very much, and I recognize the wisdom that she embodies. I also rely on the wisdom of my sisters and my friends, my pastor, and my church family. It seems that after I have exhausted all of these avenues, I bring out the big guns. I go to God, and I tell Him about the problem. I think it’s human nature to want to talk about a problem, but it should be our Christian nature to go straight to the problem solver of all creation.

We often try to fix our problems on our own. Oh yes, we call on friends and family to get their input, but still, we try to solve the problem by ourselves. We tend to wait and bring out our secret weapon when we realize that our strategies aren’t working. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” A whole lot of the problems that we are trying to solve were created by our own mistakes in life, and try as we may, we can’t solve the problems using the same line of thinking that caused the problems. We need to call on the Master.

We always try to lean on our own understanding, but folks, our understanding is not always enough. Solomon shares the secret to problem solving in Proverbs chapter 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” We must learn to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and not depend on our own understanding. We have to learn to give it all to God. Trust that He knows best. Trust that He always has our best interests at heart, and know that He understands the situation much better than we do. He even knows how everything is going to work out before we even know that there was a problem. That thought always amazes me.

Whether there is a problem at hand or not, we must be seeking the will of God in all things. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful to have godly spouses, friends, family, and church members to turn to in time of need, but the first one we should go to with our problems is God. We need to seek His will in everything. God doesn’t want us merely coming to Him daily with a prepared punch list of items we want Him to handle for us. He wants us to bring everything to Him, and He wants us to seek His direction in all situations and circumstances. When we do this, He will show us the path to take. He will show us the solution to the problem.

Solomon also tells us to not be impressed by our own wisdom. Now, that is something that we can’t take too lightly as it was written by the wisest man in the world. Solomon asked God for wisdom, and He was granted this gift. When the wisest man in the world tells us not to be impressed with our own wisdom, we should probably listen. We tend to get all puffed up and think that we know it all. We know what is going on in our lives, and we tend to think that we are the best ones to solve the problems. This way of thinking usually brings us to emptiness when we run out of fuel. We must learn to trust the wisdom of our all knowing Creator, and we must recognize that we don’t know it all.

We all have problems. Some are really big problems, and some are teeny tiny problems, but I’m quite sure that we all have at least one problem. Yet, it doesn’t matter how big or little our problems are, we know the Master problem solver. Our Master created the heavens and the earth. He is all knowing, all seeing and always present. He knows every single hair on our heads, and He knows what we are going through. He knows the troubles of our hearts. He also knows the solution. Why don’t you bring your problems to the foot of the cross today? Jesus tells us to give our burdens to Him. “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:30) Let Him lighten your load today. Just give your problems to the Master problem solver, and get out of the way and watch Him work! Stop saying, “I got this.” Instead, learn to say and fully trust that “God’s got this!”

Give me a word, Lord: LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Colossians 3:23-24 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

About six years ago we traveled to Tupelo, MS, to pick up a couple of Scottish Highland cattle. I fell in love with the breed, and researched them diligently before making the purchase. I searched high and low trying to find them, and finally came across a judge in Tupelo who had a small herd. I called him up, and he said that he wasn’t selling any of his cattle, but after I gave him my spiel, and explaining how badly I wanted them, he conceded. He sold us a ten month old heifer and a thirteen month old bull. Scottish Highlands stand out in the crowd with their long hair and distinctively long horns. They are a beautiful breed. We halter broke Merida, the heifer, within the first two weeks, and she became my baby girl. She would follow me all over the place, especially if I had a bucket of feed. We kept her behind the barn area for the first couple of years. She even learned how to turn the water faucet on to take a cool shower on hot Mississippi days. She has always been the sweetest cow.

We no longer have the bull. They outgrew our little holding area behind the barn, and we moved Merida into the large fields with the other cows. We couldn’t put the bull with the other girls as we already had a bull, and we couldn’t have the Highland bull breeding all the commercial cows. But, my husband knew my love for Merida, and we agreed to keep her. To this day, we can still go out to the cow field, and that girl lets us rub and pet all over her, and she will take us down for a bucket of pellets. This week, Merida had a pretty little calf. She is adorable, y’all. The calf is red with a motley face, long fluffy hair, and so cute! We went to check on the cows yesterday, and I told Jeff that I had to hold Merida’s calf. She is just so cute! He said that the calf would not let me catch it. I proved him wrong. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally got my hands on her. She didn’t really want to be held, but I was so happy to have her in my arms. I fell back onto the ground on my behind, and I laughed so hard as Jeff took pictures with his phone. Merida just looked on patiently. She knows me well, and she knew I wouldn’t harm her baby. We’ve been through a lot together. She is such a sweet cow.

I posted pictures on social media last night, and a friend commented that I always look happy. Now, truth be told, I may not feel happy 24/7, but I do feel happy most of the time. We live a pretty good life her at Hodge Critter Lodge. God has blessed us generously with great jobs, lots of critters, and a love for life. We continually live life to the fullest. We work hard at our jobs, work hard to take care of our home and our critters, and we enjoy doing it all. That sounds crazy to some people. How can working hard be fun? When you work willingly at everything you do as though you are working for the Lord, you can’t help but enjoy the work you are doing! Plus, we have baby critters to play with, and there is always so much joy to be found when playing with new babies.

I truly love my life. I love the ups and the downs because even during the downs, I know that my Lord and Savior will see me through. He always does. He has never failed me though I’m sure I fail Him daily. Do you want to know my secret to enjoying life? I look for Christ in everything. I’m not kidding. If you look around and look for evidence of God, you will see Him, and when you see Him, you can’t help but enjoy life as you recognize all of the blessings that have been poured down on you. It’s true. You just have to look around and recognize the blessings and not the stressing. Having a bad day at work? Can’t find any joy in it? Pray and ask God to help you through your day, and just watch! He will show up and show out. He does it every time. It doesn’t matter what the situation is that is getting you down, if you turn it over to God, He will see you through. When you see God work everything out for your good and His glory, you will likely be amazed, and I bet you will be over joyed.

You have to take time to have fun, Peeps. Working hard is important. We are not to be lazy sluggards. We have to work, and we must work hard, but we can still have fun. Find little ways to enjoy your work day. Have cake and coffee with your coworkers. Whistle while you work. Sing praise songs as you tackle the tough things. And maybe chase down a baby calf that doesn’t want to be caught just so you can hug a cute baby calf. (But don’t do this if you aren’t on really, really good terms with the mama cow! LOL) Most importantly, look for Christ as you walk through each one of these crazy days. Live life to the fullest as you fully live life for Christ!

Give me a word, Lord: PROVING OURSELVES

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

This morning as I was sitting down to write my devotional, Jeff called my cell phone and asked me to come help him at the barn. Yesterday, we bought a new fainter buck named Big Boy. He’s a cutie with nice long horns, and he can faint at the drop of a dime. He is also very gentle and was hand raised by our goat guy, Raymond. He will make an excellent breeder buck for our little herd of fainters. He is our only buck currently, however, we do have a small flock of blackbelly sheep out there too. The master of that flock is Mr. Man. He too is a very gentle, hand raised male, and he has an astonishing set of curling horns. Even though they are of two different species, they are the only intact males in the barn, and naturally, each one feels the need to prove himself. They needed to prove themselves so much that they broke out of the barn this morning. Mr. Man was right on Big Boy’s tail at the far end of the field when I arrived on the scene. They were both completely fine, and neither was injured in the least. I shooed them back to the barn where Jeff was waiting with a bucket of feed, and Mr. Man was placed in a stall with two of his concubines for a little time out. These two will get used to each other eventually when they realize they aren’t competing for the love of their girls. They each have their own little herd to attend.

That brings me to thinking about humans, and what we feel we need to do to prove ourselves. People will strive to be the best at their job, the best spouse, the best friend, and even try to be the best Christian. This proving of oneself looks different depending on the person that you are asking, but really we needn’t try to prove ourselves. Jesus never asked us to prove ourselves. In fact, we can never do anything to earn salvation or any higher honor in the kingdom of God. So how do we prove ourselves as Christians? There is a great hymn that answers this question, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love’, and God too will know we are Christians by our love. Our pastor frequently shares this point with us: “You can gauge your love for God by how well you love others.” You can either say amen or ouch, but folks, that’s it. We prove our love for Christ by how well we love.

In fact, Jesus tells us that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and He says that the second is equally important which is to love your neighbor as yourself. We are commanded to love God and love others, and others will see Christ in us through this love for God and others. Thankfully, we don’t have to go out in a field and try to prove ourselves as king of the mountain. We merely have to love. And how do we do that? Well, we just have to fall in love with Christ, and once we truly love Christ, we can’t help but love others.

We love others through our actions. Love is an action word. Take a look at Matthew 25 for a great example of how to show love. We need to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite the stranger into our homes, and clothe the naked. That sounds easy enough, right? But what about those people we don’t like? Do we have to love them too? Well, of course we do! We may even need to love them a little harder because those are generally the ones who do not know Christ, and they really need to see the love of Christ in you. You may be the only reflection of Christ that person ever sees.

We can try all day every day to prove ourselves to Christ, but there is no need. Christ knows our hearts. He already knows His children, and He knows each and every one of us individually. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. However, we can show Christ how much we love Him but showing His love to others. If we are being inspected under the magnifying glass, is our love for God and others shining through? You don’t have anything to prove, Peeps. You just have to love! They will know we are Christians by our love…by our love!