A Seed of Hope

Audrey benjamin

Over the last six years, I have prayed for God’s protection over my grandchildren.  Audrey is six and Benjamin is two.  My heart has ached for the state of our world and what my grands will witness in their lifetimes.  In just the last 10 years, we have seen a massive increase in technology.  Although, that has wonderful benefits, it has also had a hand in spreading information very quickly and making the abnormal seem normal.  The world has gotten so far from the Lord.  So, I have prayed that they would know Jesus and even their future spouses would know Jesus.

Now, our world is in the midst of a health storm.  We are watching as basic essentials are no longer available the way we have been accustomed.  A new flood of prayers have been leaving my heart to Jesus.  I am no financial expert, but we could be closing in on a Depression Era way of life.

My husband and I watch the old show “The Waltons”.  It was set in the depression and has opened my eyes to what life was like for the amazing people of the “Greatest Generation.”  Ration stamps to buy sugar and other limited items, extreme poverty for many people, a war and a lack of jobs were just a few things that they experienced.  However, look at who they became.  They are affectionately called the “Greatest Generation” for all they did for their country.  They were born from 1901-1927.  This was back when folks were still God fearing people.  God and country.  They were proud of both and would protect both.

Little by little, the generations to follow have gotten further and further from that awesome mindset.  Quite frankly, it has been a cause of concern for many of us; which is why I feared for my grandchildren.

However, last week I kept my grandchildren due to the school closings.  In an attempt to stay out of the grocery stores for a while, we have been trying to be conservative in not wasting food.  Our nation has been so plentiful, that we have become somewhat wasteful.  Little kids have a tendency to want food, then not want food.  Then, they want a snack.  I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth several times while the grands were here.  Things like “There are people without food.”  “We don’t have anymore milk.”  “Let’s be sure to eat what we have.”  It hurt me to think that I couldn’t just let them have anything they want.  Zsa Zsa’s (my fancy name for grandmother) are supposed to spoil their grands.

These children are about to live through some similar events as the “The Greatest Generation” did.  This virus is a war, just a different kind.  What if this young generation named the “Alpha Generation” turns out to be the next “Great Generation”?  What if they are the ones to get us back to God and Country because they are learning things through a very difficult history making time?  The Alpha Generation represents children born from 2011-2025.  They are the beginning of the century just like the Greatest Generation was.

In the Judges 2:10  “After the whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  That sounds like the description of some of our generations after the “Greatest Generation.”  We started following the world’s idols just as the Israelite people did in these scriptures.  God has been on the back burner for too long.  God will get our attention, but it is only to get us to come back to Him.  He loves us and wants a relationship with us.

Are we seeing a seed of hope for our future with this “Alpha Generation”?  Will their experiences during these uncertain times mold them into the Godly people that God wants them to be?  We are seeing more and more people calling on God in their distress.  God works all things to the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  Maybe just maybe, the “Alpha Generation” will lead more people to the “Alpha and Omega.”

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

“Time Heals All Wounds”

Beth and Daddy

Grief.  It sneaks up on me.  Things seem to be somewhat normal and smack!  Big, ugly tears are rolling down my face.  As my heart is racing from the anguish of loss, my mind tries to analyze the why and the when.  Why does this still hurt?  When will the pain subside?  “Time heals all wounds.”  Who said that?  I don’t think they had buried a parent.  Some days, the wound is trying to scab over and other days salt is poured into the open sore.  The sting of the salt is so strong that I can taste it.

Almost anything can stir up the hurt and tears, from good news to bad news.  Recently, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration.  According to the doctor, I am not as old as most people who receive this diagnosis. Ugh.  As my mind swirled with thoughts of possible blindness and wondering if I could learn braille, I wanted to call my daddy.  Next month marks 2 years since he went to glory.  When do I stop wanting to call him?  I haven’t even deleted his name and number from my phone.  I can’t.

Funerals.  I am southern.  In the south, we show respect with a covered dish and sitting with the family that has suffered loss.  Since I am a southerner, a singer and a pianist, I could never begin to count how many funerals that I have attended.  Now, funerals are harder than before.  It is as if I am reliving Daddy’s funeral at every funeral.  When will this stop?  I have lost my ability to hold my emotions together to sing anymore,  When will this improve?  “Time heals all wounds.”  Nope.

Tonight’s meltdown came after hearing of the passing of a young person’s mother.  I am not proud of this, but I oftentimes find myself angry or jealous of people who still have their parents well into their 90’s. I lost my daddy at 73.  I feel cheated.  Then, I am reminded that others have it even harder than I do.  My heart aches for these young ones that have lost their mom.  Life is short; shorter the older you get.

Today’s pain is nothing compared to the joy and happiness that we are offered through Jesus in eternity.  When the heartache hits me as it so often does, I am reminded that God is the Father to the fatherless.  He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Those daily talks I had with my daddy are being replaced with daily talks with the Lord.  I don’t get it right most of the time, but I am improving.  Thankfully, God is listening and prompting me to listen.  The Holy Spirit is interceding when all I have are groans and tears.  Tonight, I have the tears.  Tonight, I want to dial the phone and hear daddy say, “Well, hello Bethie.” God knows.  He sees and hears my hurt.  He sees and hears your hurt.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior, He is still waiting for you.  Nothing is too big for Him to forgive.  The payment was made for those sins on the cross for you.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13  I pray you will seek Him today.  “Time heals all wounds.”  Nope.  Jesus does.

#proofgodcanuseanybody

Beth

 

 

Influencer or Influenced?

Bible

In the late 1970’s, our pastor yanked the TV from their home after his daughter walked through the house singing the beer commercial jingle. Some thought it was funny.  The pastor did not.  There was a movement within the churches to limit TV as well as all “that sinful music” being played.  Parents had serious debates over whether TV and music were actually influencing people’s behavior. Our church even had an evangelist come that encouraged us to go home and gather all of our records (For you young people, that’s the vinyl that’s now making a comeback.) and bring them back to church and burn them!  I thought my mom’s heart would break as she was encouraged to throw her Kenny Rogers “Lady” album into the fire.  My daddy seemed conflicted with it all.  He was glad to be rid of mom’s crush on Kenny Rogers but also saw money being thrown into the fire.  All of it made a big impact on me, and I questioned that impact as an adult looking back.

It seemed all a bit over the top to me.  The pastor eventually put the TV back in his house and everyone went out and bought more records.  I had a great love for all music and played my 45 of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 until my family made me stop.  So, I have looked back at that 1970’s “over the top” church moment as “too religious.”  I was in agreement with many people that didn’t believe that TV or music could really influence my behavior.

This past month, we cancelled our subscription to an online streaming TV service due to their horrible depiction of Jesus in a movie. We found a service that streams what I consider more wholesome shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons.”  I know I am showing my age here, but stay with me.  As I have watched “Little House,” Ma spoke with a calm spirit.  She held her tongue, but still was able to convey her point of view.  Pa loved her more for it.  As I watched, I wanted to be more like Ma. Her kindness and love always showed. I, personally, have a quick wit and a sharp tongue and could stand some lessons in calm, kind words.

Yesterday, as I was cooking supper, I had on some music.  I typically listen to Christian radio, but happened to have it on a different station.  Love songs.  Awe, don’t we love a good love song?  But, I noticed the lyrics depict the girlfriend/boyfriend as “their everything”, “all I live for” and other similar lyrics.  No wonder relationships struggle.  We listen to all that and think that love is just rainbows and unicorns.  Marriage and relationships are hard.  They require work and “our everything” is God, not our spouse.  I quickly switched back to Christian radio.

These shows and songs were either increasing my desire to be calm and kind or to question if I really know what love is.  I felt a bit conflicted between my wholesome TV show and music’s opinion of love.  Were they influencing my mood?

“Influencer” is a fairly new term used in the online social media platforms where companies pay an individual for generating traffic and income on their sites.  People can earn quite an income as an influencer, if they have a large social media following.  They post videos or pictures of themselves using a particular product in hopes that others will want to do the same.  And, it works!  Look at all the things you are tempted to purchase because some cute girl posted a video of herself loving it.

Isn’t it funny how back in the 70’s and 80’s, many folks were convinced that TV and music were not influencing our behavior and now, people are being paid to be influencers?  Hmmm.  Maybe those “overly religious” evangelists had more discernment than the naysayers.  Are you an influencer or are you being influenced?  Are you sharing information that could better a person’s life or lead them astray.  What are you allowing into your heart and mind as you scroll social media, watch TV and listen to music? 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Don’t think for a minute that the enemy isn’t working overtime through social media, TV, and music to influence your behavior.  Choose wisely what you and your family watch and hear.  We were warned back when I was a child and thought we knew better.  What’s influencing you today?

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

As always, I welcome your comments.

Beth

What’s Blocking Your View?

window

The view was beautiful as I looked out the window.  Coffee in hand, leaves changing colors, and the sun was shining.  I grabbed my phone to capture the moment, only to notice how my camera didn’t capture the beauty that I saw.  The blinds were blocking the view.

Seeing with your own eyes is always better than a picture.  Maybe, it’s because I could smell the coffee and feel the coolness of the fall air.  Maybe, it’s because technology is still not as good as the eyes that God created.

What’s blocking your view today?  Are you experiencing God through your own eyes or someone else’s lens?  Social media posts about God, a random scripture meme, a quick devotional book may give you a peek into God, but is that all you want to experience?  Reading God’s Word yourself and having daily prayer time with Him will lead you to a relationship that only your eyes can see.

I love to hear other people’s experiences and how God has shown them His will or answered their prayers.  It lifts my spirits and increases my faith.  However, having a personal relationship with Jesus and seeing Him work in my own life has a much larger impact.

We are all here to share our blessings and teach others to know God.  It’s through our eyes, that others begin to see a glimpse of who God is. But, we can’t experience Him the way we should if we let things block our view.

 

 

Who Do You Want to Be?

Guilty confession over here.  They say confession is good for the soul.  So, let’s get it all out in the open.  I believed some lies that were wrapped in truth and taught it to others.  Dear Lord forgive me for not stopping it sooner.

growth grind

Let’s start with how negatively the people in your life are being portrayed in this pic. Isn’t it interesting how the very people teaching positive thinking also teach to have such a negative idea of people in your life?  “The five people with whom you spend the most time is who you become.”  That is a common quoted school of thought, and there’s much truth to it.  However, today’s strive, reach, achieve, get-more thinking implies that we shouldn’t spend time with others that aren’t striving for all of that.  There’s a fear that “those people” will hold you back as this cartoon suggests.

My grandma grew up picking cotton, chopping cotton, and raising babies.  She was 14 when she married and only completed third grade in school.  By some people’s thinking she would not be the right type of person with whom to spend time as she didn’t have a side hustle and didn’t strive for wealth.  Granny read her Bible every day and would ask me to help her read some of the more difficult words in it.  She was funny, wise, plain-spoken and showed me love.  I never really heard her complain about finances although I know she was on an extremely fixed income.  She was content.

So, according to the cartoon pic at the top “Be happy with what you have” is negative statement.  Wait.  What?  Being happy with what you have is the definition of contentment.

In many business circles today, we are being taught that we must surround ourselves with like-minded success seekers or we will be held back by the poverty mentality folks.  You know, the folks that tell you to be content as if contentment is a dirty word.  Ouch, seriously this hurts, because I heard all that and taught it.  But, God has convicted my heart.  Conviction hurts, but if it causes you to turn away from the worldly concept of “enough is never enough”, then amen.

1 Timothy 6:6-11 “But Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

CONVICTION!  Around this time last year, the Lord convicted my heart.  I was goal oriented, ambition driven, seeking the world’s definition of success.  I finally listened to the tug on my heart.  Today, we have less income but more peace.  Society would have you believe that I am not a “big thinker” anymore.  The world’s view is that I started listening to others that were trying to hold me back (like the cartoon above).   Some well-meaning success-seekers might even suggest that the enemy caused me to stop my pursuit of “financial success.”

The world’s view of success is money, recognition, fame; anything that is all about self.  God’s view of success is listed in that scripture above: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  God’s view is all that matters.  Some of the best people I know, the ones that make my heart happy, are the people like my cotton-picking granny. No earthly wealth, but Godly love.

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  We have to work in order to pay bills.  There are several scriptures that refer to working hard.  I am in no way condemning hard work.  It’s part of life.  Granny worked hard in the field.  However, our society has starting looking down it’s nose at the manual laborers and thinks that success is about dollars.  We are bombarded with messages to start a side-hustle, to leave this lowly job to have a fancier position, to leave anyone who doesn’t want fame and fortune behind.

Who do you want to be?  What do you want said at your funeral?  She/he was so wealthy.  They had fame and fortune and traveled to amazing places.  Or, She/he knew the Lord and introduced others to Jesus.  Her life was one of service and love.

God has shown me some examples of the service and love people in the last few days.  People with little income but extreme joy and love.  I want to be like them.  Lord, make me into a woman of love, faith, endurance, and godliness.  Thank you Lord for the examples that you have been showing me.  Thank you for a sense of contentment.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

 

When Did it Get Complicated?

tomato sandwich

Tomatoes, I love them; but, only the fresh garden ones.  Tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches….yum.  Somewhere, my childhood best-friend Alicia, is gagging.  Any-who, I love grilled cheese and tomato, sliced tomato with biscuits and gravy, anyway I can eat it.  I am the Bubba Gump of fresh tomatoes.  Now, why should you care?

It reminds me of a simpler time when a snack was a tomato and a salt shaker.  Anybody remember that?  Snacks didn’t come out of a box and dinner didn’t come through the window of your car.  We had gardens and never complained of being bored.

Just this past week, my sister was explaining the common phenomenon of binge watching Netflix to my brother.  He doesn’t own a TV (not because of a lack of income but because of an abundance of wisdom).  So, he was clearly blown away by society’s need to binge watch anything.  His words were, “A good job would correct that.  If you work all day, you’re too tired to do that.”  His job is fairly complicated, but that is a blog for another day.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a strong sense of nostalgia due to this season of life.  As I have sorted through old photographs and sifted through tear-filled memories, I long for that simpler time.  Work was hard, but the bills were paid.  Gardens were grown and families worked it together.  Family history was shared while shucking corn or shelling peas.  My granny shared hysterical antics of her crazy Aunt Zuler.  I never got to meet her but pretty sure her craziness runs through my veins.

Food was fresh so nobody reported an allergy to red dye.  Kids played after school, but homework was always completed.  Manners and respect were an important part of learning.  AND, families served God, attended church, with Sunday being treated as God’s Holy day.  We didn’t go to church to be entertained but to worship God.  It was about Him, not us.  Are you fortunate enough to remember this?

When did it get so complicated?  Now, parents are both working to make ends meet.  Family dinners don’t exist because there are too many extra curricular events to attend.  Gardens aren’t planted and kids eat food from a box filled with chemicals and sugar.  No one listens to their grandparents or knows their ancestry.  They have to send off for it from some genealogy site.  Google has replaced the family recipes and going to church is an occasional event for family entertainment instead of worship.  And, many people think I am crazy for eating a tomato sandwich.

So, when summer rolls around and fresh tomatoes are everywhere, I dive into those juicy red fruits and remember a simpler time.  As I am whipping up a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, I can still see my childhood kitchen.  I can hear the squabbling of my siblings and me.  Fresh vegetables are in milk crates and something is frying on the stove.  And, maybe, just maybe, our church family will invite us over for homemade ice cream.

I want to invite you to slow down a bit.  Savor the simple pleasures of homegrown veggies and the sound of a turtle dove.  Take a few extra minutes to spend with family.  Get back to your Bible, prayer and worship with God’s children.  Be grateful for what you have and thank God daily for it.  Find your joy in the Lord because the material world will only bring more dissatisfaction.  Embrace contentment in God.  He has blessed us with way more than we notice.  Take your focus off of self and turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Thank you Lord for juicy tomatoes.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

What is that Song?

piano keys

“I have a song in my heart.”  I have heard people say that, maybe even said it myself.  Today, the meaning became more clear.  As I stood on the back  porch watching the rain splatter on the patio furniture, I noticed there was a song playing in my head.  At first, I disregarded it.  Have you ever gotten a song in your head and you only know a few lines of it, so it’s like it’s on repeat?  I normally get frustrated and want to make my mind shut it off.

But, today, my heart is heavy.  My mind has been swirling with fear, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.  I was thinking about all of these things while looking at the rain.  Then, I heard that song in my head again.  What is that song?  I could hear the tune, but I was struggling to hear the words.  “Remember the lilies” is that a song?  I grabbed my phone to search for it.  No, not “remember the lilies” but “Consider the Lilies.”  The only parts that I could recall were, “We have a Heavenly Father above…” and “Consider the lilies.”  Hmmm.  Why is that in my head?  It’s an old song that I haven’t heard in a long time.

Sometimes, I think I am slow on the uptake.  I have been praying about a lot of things that have me troubled, things out of my control, things that have kept me up at night.  “Lord, please give me peace.”  “Lord, please let me know that you are hearing me.”  Have you ever been there?  I believe God still speaks to us through His Word, His people, a whisper and even through a song in my heart.  “We have a Heavenly Father above….”  Hmmm the song is still on repeat.

So, I found the lyrics to the song.

Consider the lilies, they don’t toil nor spin
But there’s not a king with more splendor than them
Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant nor sow
But they’re fed by the Master
Who watches them grow

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

May I introduce you
To this Friend of mine
Who hangs out the stars
And tells the sun when to shine
And kisses the flowers 
Each morning with dew
But He’s not too busy to care about you!

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

God loves us.  God loves me.  God loves me.  Say that outloud.  God loves me.  He knows me.  He created me and part of His creating me was giving me a love of music.  Today, He spoke to me by putting an old song in my heart.  He only let me remember a few lines so that I would go and look it up.  God knew in His infinite wisdom that I needed a reminder that He loves me.  Me.  In spite of my flaws, in spite of my sin, He loves me and is with me even when I feel alone. As the song says, “He really cares when your head is bowed low.”  Mine has been bowed low a lot lately.

I have a strong tendency to reach for the phone to combat loneliness, depression, or anxiety.  Reaching for the Father is the only real solution to those feelings.  God sent His son here to experience all the feelings, trials, and troubles that we feel.  He knows.  The Bible says in Luke 9:58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  There is no person here on this earth that can give you the peace that passes all understanding.  The only real peace (another fabulous song that my sweet Sister in Christ Mary Heffner sings at our church) is in the Lord.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  It is so easy to get caught up in the world.  We put our faith in our jobs, in our spouses, our family, our friends.  Our faith has to be in Jesus.  Life and people will disappoint you.  There’s nothing like needing a friend and your “friend” only wants to be there for the happy times and not the sad times.  God wants to hear from us constantly, happy or sad.  He never tires of us calling on Him.  Yet, we still reach for some earthly thing to try and solve our problems.  In His graciousness this morning, He slipped a song in my heart.  I believe He does these things more often than we notice.  We are too busy to listen.  The busyness creates more stress and we creep further from Him.

Today, I am listening.  Today, I am singing “Consider the Lilies”.  Today, I am grateful that He spoke through an old song.  Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Today, I will praise him in this storm.

If you want to listen to this old song, here’s the version that I loved this morning. https://youtu.be/GEHMS-rFLzs

Beth

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Enough

Painful truth here…I have never felt I was enough.  Pretty enough, thin enough, tall enough, smart enough….enough, enough, enough.  Ugh.  I am fairly confident that I am not alone in these painful feelings.  Where does this inadequate feeling originate?  I’ve been pondering this the last few days.  I can draw a line back to a certain person in my teen years that actually said these things to me.  “Beth, you would really look good if you lost weight.”  Now, I was a normal size girl, but I started working out to become thin enough.  “Beth, her hair is so pretty.  Maybe you should try to wear yours that way.”  I had thick hair and was attempting to mimic someone with thin hair.  Again, I was not enough. “You should…you should…you could be….”

And, it continued.  Relationships into my adult years have been muddled with “you’re not enough.”  How does that happen? (If you are a psychologist, you are so wanting me in your office right now.)  This feeling of not being enough wears me out.  It clouds my thoughts.  It sets off depression.  It makes me question my purpose in life.  I am not proud of these feelings and know there are folks reading that are saying “don’t claim that over your life.”  Please understand, whether I voice it or not, it’s there.  As a matter of fact, I think that keeping things hidden and buried deep in our hearts keeps us from working through them.  I’ve been around enough women to know that this is a burden for many.

In a previous job, it was taught that if you didn’t like something about yourself to go get it fixed and move on.  Well, there’s so much that I don’t like about myself that I could never afford to fix it all!  So, what do we do?  As women, we are expected to look good.  So, we color our hair, wear 40 lbs of makeup, invest in skin care, go to the gym, get a tan.  But, is it ever enough and at what price?  I am a firm believer that fat looks better tan.  If you don’t believe me, then let’s look at bacon.  It’s pretty gross before you fry it!  So, I lived in tanning beds starting in my teen years when the first boy told me I needed a tan.  I recently had basal cell carcinoma removed.  So, I stay out of the sun and tanning beds.  However, I feel sure that I still, more than ever, need a tan.  So, it will come from a bottle.

You know what Dolly Parton always says, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”  Maybe she should say, “this fake.”  Most of us won’t go into town without getting all gussied up first.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe we should make ourselves presentable, but mercy.  Being fake is a lot of work!

Now, I have been trying to remember a time in my life that I actually felt pretty or enough and I can’t recall one time.  Not one.  Even as a little girl, my brother was the smart one.  My sister was the pretty one.  Seriously.  Maybe that is why I was comfortable dating someone who didn’t think I was enough.  I don’t know.

So, today I re-read Proverbs 31.  We have all heard of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  There are ministries named after it.  No where in that description of a Godly women does it mention her appearance.  She doesn’t color her hair, worry about her skin, try to tan her fat.  Nope.  She is a good wife.  She works hard for her family.  She makes good business decisions.  But, most importantly, she fears the Lord.  Proverbs 31:30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Can we start teaching our little girls Proverbs 31 at an early age?  How often do you hear someone tell a little girl, “you are so pretty.”?  But, do you ever hear anyone tell a little girl, “Your love for Jesus shows.”? Let’s think about our older women, the great grandparents.  Do you love being around older women because of their looks or because of their love?  Can we change our focus of beauty from being something created and fake to something of love and reverence for the Lord?

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God created us in His image.  Let us all try to remind ourselves of that on the days that we are feeling “old, fat and ugly”.  Instead, let’s replace that with “loved, protected and holy.”

Men, if you have made it this far with me, I don’t know what stuff y’all battle.  I am open to messages to enlighten me.  However, I want to encourage all of you to uplift the women in your lives. From the little girls to the great-great grandmothers, remind them that they are beautiful in the eyes of the Lord and also in your eyes.  Please, please hold your tongue before you offer a criticism concerning her appearance to a female, no matter her age.

Our society is running opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman.  The magazines and social media remind us daily of what is considered pretty and it’s never “enough.”  Most of the pictures of these beautiful women have been altered.  Imagine what that does to the minds of the women in the photos.  Satan is doing a little dance every time we get messed up about our physical appearance.  It’s another way that he thwarts our attention on God to attention to self.

Whether we feel beautiful or not enough, we are focusing on ourselves.  I am preaching to the choir in this blog.  It’s a daily battle.  I am in the throes of it right now.  I’ll be spending more time re-reading Proverbs 31 today.  I so hope that I am alone in these feelings of inadequacy and you have it all together.  But, if you are struggling with these feelings, I want us to pray for each other.  I welcome your comments.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

You Deserve It?

deserve

Spoiler alert…….this “you deserve it” concept is NOT based on scripture.  AT. ALL.  I believe as Christians we are called to seek God’s truth not the world’s feel-good concepts.  Some of you may already feel that I have stepped on your toes.  However, if you are truly seeking God’s will for your life, let’s seek Biblical Truth right here.

Let’s start with Job, you know the dude in the Bible that had all manner of bad things happen?  He was wealthy, had a great family and the enemy went to God and asked to shake his faith. Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

So, Job was this awesome guy.  He feared God and shunned evil, but if you go on and read his story, he looses his children and all his wealth.  According to our worldly minds, he didn’t deserve it, right?  I mean he was a great man.  He did everything right.  So, he deserved to continue being showered with blessings.

What about Mary, the mother of Jesus?  Did she deserve having to watch her son be beaten, spit upon, and hung up to die.  She was God’s chosen women to raise Jesus.  She was pregnant as a teen and had to try and explain to her parents, her fiance and the community how it was that she was pregnant.  Did she deserve that ridicule and suffering?

What about Jesus?  Did he “deserve” being mocked and beaten?  Did he “deserve” the crown of thorns?  Did he “deserve” to be crucified?

Now, what about your family member that had cancer or some other horrible ailment?  Did they “deserve” it?

We are so quick to ramble and repeat these modern day “feel-good” “prosperity-gospel” quotes, but how does it match up with scripture. 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

You see, if you are a Christian, what you “believe in” is Jesus.  The Bible tells us Romans 6:23 ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  We are sinners.  Jesus took what we “deserve” when He was on the cross.  Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve.  To “believe in what we deserve”, runs very closely with making ourselves into idols.  Society  teaches that we are to focus on ourselves, what we deserve, what we want.  Where in the Bible are we taught to be so self-focused?

When Jesus was in the desert, satan tried to tempt him by saying that satan would give Jesus everything that Jesus saw.  That’s how the enemy works.  He shows you all the worldly possessions and tempts you to want them.  But, remember what Jesus said to satan in the desert, Luke 4:8 “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Think about the people in the Bible: Noah, Abraham, Joshua, David, Ruth, etc.  Their stories were not filled with this “believe in yourself” “you deserve it” mentality.  Their stories were facing adversity in order to do God’s business and it was often difficult and thankless.  Ruth was the least selfish chic.  She stayed with her mother-in-law after they lost their husbands and wealth.  Ruth could have done something else that was better for Ruth.  You know, something she deserved, but she put Naomi’s needs first.  That’s God’s heart.

The “I, Me, My”, “I deserve it” mentality is not in God’s instructions for us.  Does this frustrate you or step on your toes?  I have had friends tell me that I didn’t succeed because my “deserve level” wasn’t high enough.  I have even had friends suggest books written by psychologists to “prove” this to me.  And, maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to it.  There, I said it.  But, hold on for a minute.  If satan had the ability to give Jesus all the world during that desert moment, don’t think for a minute he doesn’t have the ability to give you things here on this earth.  The enemy is the one fueling this “I deserve” “self-first” mindset in the world because he knows that he has taken the focus off of God.  So, yes.  You might just have higher success if you follow the enemy’s strategy to focus on what you think you deserve.  He can give you a taste of worldly success, but at what price?  How many others will you take with you, following the enemy’s lies?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Success is great and God provides for us, but we don’t “deserve” it.  None of us is good enough.  None.  The Bible is plain about it. Romans 3:10 There is no one righteous, not even one. If that steps on your ego, it’s time to step off of your high horse.  Please take that with the Christian love from which it came.

The very idea that we are hearing the “believe in what you deserve”, “what you will attract” and the “self-first/self-love” concepts mixed in with scripture makes me sick and upset.  We have gotten away from reading the Bible in it’s entirety.  Verses are being yanked out of context and mixed in with the devil’s lies.   I hate to be the one to say it, but the enemy knows scripture better than a lot of Christians.  He knows how to twist it, turn it and add something to it to lead you astray.

Get your nose in the Word.  Let’s quick cherry-picking verses and start reading for content and context.  Reading God’s Word (not a devotional, not a book about THE BOOK) and spending time really talking to and LISTENING to God is the only way back to His Will for your life.  Not your will, not your passion, not your want, but God’s will for which he gifted and planned you.  God has given us grace and mercy for which we do not deserve.  Let’s get our hearts and minds back on that.  God deserves it!

 

 

 

 

Pray Like It Depends On God….

pray

Confession….I am a Christian that hasn’t always been faithful to read my Bible daily.  I have been in church by whole life,  but I have been guilty of saying that I wished the Bible had the answers to today’s problems.  Anyone else willing to admit that?  I am not proud of my past,  but I am grateful that I didn’t stay there.

Spending daily time in His Word is the way that you truly learn His ways.  History repeats itself, and history started in the Bible days.  Today, as I was reading 1 Samuel 13, God used this story of Saul to remind me that He does, indeed, provide answers to modern day situations.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you.”?  In a previous job of mine, I heard this repeatedly.  It sounded Godly enough.  However, a sweet saint of God at Christview Ministries pointed out to me that it was not a truly scriptural concept.  (Side note:  Isn’t it scary that if we hear a phrase or thought enough times and it mentions God, we can start to believe it?)  If we pray and ask God for something and then we force it to happen by pushing, making a way, finding a way, and maybe even side-stepping his law, then was it of God?  We pray saying, “Please God, I have this big goal/dream/need and I need you to intervene.”  Then, we try to “work like it depends on you” instead of Him. Is that really believing in faith that God can make a way? UGH!

Instead, we are to go to God FIRST and seek HIS WILL.  Then, we pray that He gives us what we need to do His perfect will.  In any other order, you will either fail or be plain miserable.  “But, seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  (emphasis mine) Matthew 6:33   We aren’t to throw our wishes up to God like He is a genie in a bottle.  When we focus on working like “it depends on you”, pride sets in.  We start focusing on what we did instead of God.

If you are truly praying for God’s Will, the work load may be heavy; but you will have His strength to do it.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  We are to work and not be lazy.  But, we work for the glory of the Lord and not for the glory of self.  Don’t leave this post thinking that I am saying that goals aren’t good.  Just know that we are to truly seek God first and let Him determine your goals.  Seek Him first before dating.  Seek Him first when attending college and choosing a major.  Seek Him first before applying for a job.  I know the world has a different opinion and the enemy is blasting us with “do what makes you happy.  That “do what makes you happy” business will create pride and selfishness.  When you are out of God’s will and plan, you won’t find happiness.

In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul was headed into battle without seeking God first.  Then, he became impatient, decided to take matters in his own hands and did the work of the priest, disregarding God’s law.  Pride.  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18  When Samuel called Saul out, Saul started placing blame.  More pride.  Saul decided to seek God after the fact.  That’s a true example of “work like it depends on you.”

Dear Lord, please forgive me of all the times I have put my selfish goals before your perfect will.

You can find my full audio lesson on 1 Samuel 13 here.

Are you grateful for the history lessons that God gave us in His Word?  The more we read and study, the more we will become like him.  We get into the Word and God gets into us.  I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth