My sun porch

My sun porch

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What are you passionate about?

Today's memory verse:
"You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 1:6

Yesterday I talked about how to work toward living a more passionate life, which enables us to live more positively, empowers us to get through difficult times and enables us to live with more joy in our lives.

But how do we get there? I read a book a few years ago that suggested some "passion exercises." Now, before you go there, it has nothing to do with the opposite sex! LOL This is about learning and developing what YOU are passionate about. I thought I might share some of these suggestions with you so you too can discover more passion and joy your life. We think we know ourselves so well...but I think all the demands life throws at us keeps us from realizing what will really fulfill us.

First of all, make a list of things you really love to do, things that bring you a sense of deep inner joy. Maybe it's a talent you have, maybe it's organizing stuff, perhaps it's gardening, cooking or reading, or maybe it's going to the beach or taking a walk...the possibilities are's up to you. Try to think of at least 3 things.

Now, this is where your imagination comes into play. Pick one of your "love to do's" and IMAGINE yourself doing it. Imagine that someone was watching you doing whatever it is...what would they see? What expression would be on your face? What would that person say about you as you participated in that activity?

Now think about how you would be feeling as you do this "love to do" activity. What about this activity gives you such joy?

God gives us talents and likes and dislikes for a reason. If we all liked the same things, it would be pretty boring and some things would never get done! I believe God wants us to do things that bring us joy...but he doesn't tell us what to do. You have to FIND those things and DO those things.

I love to sing! I always have. When I am in my car (when I'm not listening to a book...which also brings me joy!) singing along with the radio or a CD just makes me happy! When I am singing on stage, I love to connect with the audience and share part of myself with them through the words of the song and through my emotions that come through in the song. I have been told that the expressions on my face show as I sing and you can tell how much I love doing it. Internally, I feel fulfilled when I do a good job because I worked hard at learning and practicing the song I sang. I also love when I have moved someone through my song. So...I have found something that I am good at, and that I enjoy I keep doing it! That puts passion in my life and makes me excited about new opportunities! And I will always sing as I am doing the dishes or makes those tasks easier to do!

What do you enjoy doing that brings passion into your life? Find something and make time to DO IT! God will find a way to bless you through that activity! Then you will also find a way to bless others through it...even if it's just that you are happier and in a better mood with your family, friends and coworkers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A passionate approach to life!

Blessings from the sun porch 3/30/11

Today's memory verse:
"You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 1:6

A passionate approach to life

After my husband's accident in February, a friend asked me how I got through all if that with such a positive outlook. I have written about this before, and now I think about it again. I am struggling with a few issues right now and am TRYING to remain positive. It seems I go through these little down times every now and then, so even positive me has to work at being positive. I think the thing that gets me through is the fact that I KNOW I will get through it. I have that hope. Where does that hope come from? I have allowed God's spirit to live in me and develop a passion for life that sustains me through the difficult times.

You can develop that passion for life too! In the movie "Joe vs. the Volcano" Meg Ryan says to Tom Hanks..."You know my daddy says 'Almost the whole world is asleep. Only a handful of people are awake and they live in a constant state of amazement.' " What a great statement! I want to be wide-awake in my life, don't you? Let's look at how we can get that way...passionate about life!

Passionate people embrace the idea that there is far more to this life. Life is a mystery...we don't understand things, but we can embrace the fact there is a God and he has big plans for us! We can latch on to that fact and live in wonder and hope for better things to come!

We need to be responsible. I don't want to live like a victim. When I am worried about money...I need to realize that I got myself into this mess, and it will take WORK AND SACRIFICE to get out of it. We need to look at our problems like challenges that we can overcome and not blame others for. With God's help and our own hard work, we can work toward solutions. Surrender and let God take control of these tough things. He WILL help us when we let go and are willing to take responsibility for it!

Then, we need to let it go! Live in the present and not in the past or worry about things to come. NOW is what we need to be concerned with. I need to pay attention to what is going on now and take care of those issues, without opening up the baggage I have held on to from the past. That old stuff just clutters up what's going on right now.

Because we are living in the present with hope, we can look at life as an adventure and not be afraid to stroking of our box and take some risks every now and then. They don't have to be major life changes, but be adventurous with our lives!

Above all, to find the joy, peace, passion and hope we are looking for, we need to be grateful and thankful for what we have. I want to remember that I deserve nothing, and that all the good things I have are a gift from God. That way, I can live in a state of surprise and gratefulness to God, and not take the blessings in my life for granted.

Incorporating these things into my daily life will help me learn to live a passionate, positive life that will get me through these struggling times. It looks like an exciting path to be on! Do you want to come with me? I love company! So wake up! Enjoy life through the grace that God gives you when you ask him!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A morning prayer...

Today's memory verse:
"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the lord, and who meditates on his law day and night." Psalm 1:1

What an interesting juxaposition this morning....I was lying in bed (got to sleep in bit) listening to the news. Wars and tragedy all over the many things to worry about today...but then I looked out my bedroom window at the beautiful sunrise. The big tree in my front yard just a shadow against the brilliant pink, gold, orange, blue and purple sky. The distressing news against the majesty of the rising sun.

I turned off the news and stared out my window. As light became brighter and filled my room, I am reminded that there is something more powerful than all the militaries in the world....God brings that sunrise every morning...without fail. Some mornings are more brilliant than others, and sometimes the clouds are so heavy you don't see the colors and the sun at all...but they are still there.

Lately, it seems every day brings me more issues to deal with that leave me feeling small, weak, stupid and inadequate. I can't seem to solve all the problems facing me...there are so many issues, mostly small, that cloud my mind, tire my body and weaken my spirit. There are times every day when I wish for a chair in the sand with a big umbrella and a good book, listening to the waves and feeling the breeze on my cheek. I want to run away from the bills, the tasks, the problems, the issues, the can i keep up with it all?

But then I see a brilliant sunrise, get a call from a friend, or I pick up my Bible and I am reminded that it will be ok. The world has always had tragedies...I will always have bills to pay...even if I lost everything tomorrow...the sun will still come up tomorrow...There is a God who IS in control even when I can't see it. While I can't close my eyes to my troubles or the troubles of the world, I also can't let myself get so wrapped up in them that I miss the beauty of the world AND the promises of my God for a future with no more tears and no more tragedy.

Dear God,
Thank you for this time of rest this morning and for the beautiful sunrise that you allowed me to see from my comfortable bed. Help me to hold on to my blessings and not get swallowed up by my sorrows. I'm sure there are others out there today with worries and troubles of their own. Help them reach out to you and hold on to their own blessings as well. Amen

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is it possible to start...yet again?

Today's memory verse:

"Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart." Proverbs 3:3

My First Place 4 Health group finished another 12 week session yesterday, and finished our Bible study book. We won't be starting another one for a couple of weeks. I have been wondering what I'm going to write about while we wait...This mother/daughter FP4H group has been struggling a bit. We don't have enough time on Sunday mornings to really get into the program as we should, and I think this we in this group will be reinventing ourselves in the weeks to come....trying to figure out how to continue holding each other accountable AND have a devotional supportive time as well.

Reinventing yourself...have you ever thought of doing that? Figuring out how to be YOU...only better? I think we get so wrapped up in the STUFF we have to do that we don't see that by being BUSY doing that STUFF, we miss out on who we really are, or...who God wants us to be.

I think of a story of two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha is busily getting the house ready, cleaning, cooking, preparing for a meal for her guests. Mary is sitting by the feet of their guest, listening and visiting and enjoying. Martha is upset with Mary because she doesn't like the fact that it's her doing all the work while her sister seems perfectly happy to just sit and visit. Which sister are you?

I think I AM Martha, but I WANT to be Mary! I am concerned with doing things right, about timeliness, orderliness and appearances. I try to be all things to all people...if you need something, call on me. Well...while that is admireable, I think I get so busy doing all that stuff, I don't take time to enjoy anything as much as I could. I am learning to be more like Mary and do the right things instead of doing things right all the time. What will matter in the long run? I am learning to take TIME with people, enjoy those moments doing things I really like to do with people I really enjoy being with every now and then. I don't mean that I am selfish and do only things I enjoy. But finding and doing things that I am passionate about refreshes me and gives me more energy keep going. The key to doing this is learning WHICH things are the right things for me. There are only so many hours in the day...only so much of me to go around. I can't do all the things I want to do OR all the things I'm asked to do. I have to choose which things are the RIGHT things for me to do. HOW do I do that? THAT is a good question!!!! But I am finding that prayer is helping me be clearer about things. Surrendering to what God wants me to do...

How do I know what God wants me to do? I go to him in prayer...and then...well, it's hard to explain...things just sort of come into place, and I have a peace about what it is I need to do. This doesn't happen to me all the time...but it has happened, and therefore I do believe it is God leading me.

Are you wanting to reinvent yourself? God is a God of second chances and WANTS you to rediscover yourself and find out the joys He has in store for you as well! God's grace gives us the chance to go from busy Martha's to soul-filled Mary's. If I can learn to move away from plain busyness and toward can you! Let's go on that journey together!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blessed by a Heart for Worship...

This week's memory verse:

"So I say, live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:16

I did today's Bible study and it was all about how Jesus is our best example of self control. Look to Mark 14:53-65 and Mark 15:1-5 for examples of how Jesus kept his cool in VERY trying and stressful situations...

But...I must tell you that my mind wasn't in the lesson today. I kept thinking about how lucky and blessed I lucky I am to know Jesus and find myself open to reading a Bible study and getting something out of lucky I am to have experiences like I had last night.

I was tired...really didn't feel like going to choir practice after a long day of work...but we have performances coming up soon and I know how important it is to show up. It was a good practice, but I was exhausted afterward. I sing in a woman's ensemble called "Hearts for Worship." There are 9 of us in the group and we all decided to buy beautiful necklaces (made by a very talented woman in our church) that have a cross in the middle of a heart..."hearts for worship." We were all excited about getting them last night, and we were passing them out after practice. Someone jokingly said we should get them all out and pray over them...and we did. One of the girls prayed a BEAUTIFUL prayer that was not as much a blessing for the jewelry as it was a blessing for each of us. We were all together...we had just been giggling and laughing and that prayer and time with those special ladies was just precious to me!

Forgive me for sharing such a long story...but I walked out of there feeling lighter, happy and not nearly as tired as when I walked in! How lucky I am to have had that experience! Just a blip of time...but such a blessing to me! I feel a bit sorry for those people in the world who do not open themselves up to God and the gifts he gives us, such as precious moments of prayer with dear friends! I will wear that necklace and remember that moment each time!

Some lyrics to a song we are singing come to mind...I come and am accepted...just as I am...

I come broken to be mended.

I come wounded to be healed.

I come desperate to be rescued.

I come empty to be filled.

I come guilty to be pardoned

By the blood of Christ the lamb.

And I'm welcomed with open arms

Praise God, just as I am!

Do I have these experiences because of my faith, or would I have happy experiences anyway? I really don't know the answer...but my heart says that because I believe and have given my heart and my life to Christ, God blesses me so I can be a blessing to others! This can happen for you too...reach out to Him...he'll take you just as you are!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our self control can bless others...

This week's memory verse:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16

Many times in the last two years, my First Place 4 Health group has talked about how our bodies are temples of God. God LIVES in us, and therefore we should work harder to take care of our bodies. This requires that self control that I struggle so much with every day. We tend to think that our bodies are our own...we can treat it, or mistreat it any way we want. I think many of us have seen the results of that way of thinking...we don't have the energy we want...our extra weight causes extra stress on our knees, backs, and hearts....having limited self control with how we treat our bodies have caused these "temples of God" to be weaker than how God intended them to be. In many ways, this does effect our ability to connect with our God and our relationship with him.

We have been talking about how better self control can improve our own lives, but have you thought about how better self control in YOUR life can be a blessing in the lives of OTHERS?

Our world and many people in it are on the edge of losing control. It seems that it is more popular to be selfish instead of selfless. Today it's all about what FEELS good! I think many of have discovered that the fun and joy that comes with this way of thinking and living is short-lived and many times gives us hard consequesnces to deal with, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Learning to control our desires and actions builds character, and leads to kindness and understanding. Someone posted a comment to yesterday's blog, stating that it sometimes helps to know that others are struggling with the same issues. When you THINK before you act, you not only better yourself, but others see this and could benefit from it as well.

If you are living a's if your body is a temple of God, you are more careful with what you put INTO it, HOW you treat it, and you learn to take care of the relationships that SUPPORT the care of that body...the people around you.

In 1Corinthians 3:18, Paul tells us not to be foolish by thinking you can be wise by staying up-to-date with the we don't need to live by the "do whatever feels good" way of thinking that is popular today! THINK before you speak or act or eat...not easy to do, but very wise. Learning and developing this self control can help us in more ways than we can possibly know!

I don't know about you, but this is the way I want to live my life! I know that I will have to keep trying every day, and some days will be better than others...but I can look to God...who is living within me...for help!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My lack of Self Control...

This week's memory verse:

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:16

The majority of the problems I have in my life right now are caused by my lack of self control. While I have lost some weight in the last two years, my weight loss is a LOT slower than I would like because I have trouble controlling my cravings and weak moments. My bank account is a lot lower than I would like to see it because I lack the self control to limit the amount of impulse buying I do...and that's not even for cool's mostly poor planning for grocery shopping. My relationship with my daughter has very rocky moments, mainly because I speak before I think, and say things that just elevate arguments and disagreements instead of alleviating them. I get stressed out at work and at church because I lack the self control not to procrastinate.

How do I overcome my issues of self control? I really wonder about that question. I mean, I THINK I am doing good things...I do daily Bible study and write this message most days...that's good, right? I work hard at my job and try to be the best librarian/supervisor I can be...that's doing what I'm supposed to, right? I am a faithful friend and try to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister...I don't drink too much...I don't swear (well, very much anyway)...I go to church and serve as much as I can...I pray and have grown in my relationship with God and try to rely on God instead of myself more every day...If I do all these good things, my logical mind wonders why I still struggle with self control issues.

Don't you think the above thinking....that we are doing good, why do we still shared by a great many of us? We are never going to be perfect...we will ALWAYS have areas to work on. It's part of life...trying to control our impulses is a daily struggle and always will be. It doesn't matter how "good" we are...we all struggle! Even though that thought exhausts also energizes me at the same time. I have a chance every day to do better!

This isn't a new phenomenon for people my age, or even for people of our century. People for thousands of years have been struggling with self control. Again, looking in the Bible for examples and for lessons to help us with our struggles, we find many stories of people, just like ourselves, who struggled with self control.

Read 2 Samuel 13:1-19

King David's son Amnon had a problem...he was in love with his sister. (Ok...that is one that I definitely DON'T struggle with!) His friend hatched a plot to get the girl alone with Amnon...Amnon didn't argue with the plan...he didn't rely on his self control to stop him. This plan brought about a situation that ultimately ended with Amnon raping his sister! (Who said the Bible was boring reading! LOL) After that terrible event, Amnon claimed to hate his sister...what really happened was he hated himself so much for his lack of self control in this very touchy situation and he ended up taking his hatred out on his sister, the very victim of his bad behavior.

Aren't we like that too...we just CAN'T say no to that piece of cheese cake...and then HATE ourselves afterward. Our arguments with our spouses or children accelerate to yelling and screaming and we end up saying things that we regret...only to HATE ourselves afterward. Many times it's our tongues that get us into the most trouble. We just can't seem to control what we say.

Read James 3:1-8

In these verses, James talks about how hard it is to control our tongues and what we say. That little part of our bodies can cause BIG problems. Our tongues can accomplish almost anything...or destroy it! In verse 8 James says that "no man can tame the tongue." We can try and try...we can do good, we can think well of ourselves...but ultimately, we ourselves cannot control ourselves. Only God can.

Only God can control us...but we have free will right? God doesn't just reach out and grab us like puppets and make us do the right things, right? So, how can God control us? We can GIVE him control. We can learn to rely on him more often...we can surrender more of ourselves to Him. This is NOT easy! It's a struggle because our selves are very strong. I have discovered that some days are easier than others to think about pray for give Him control of takes CONSTANT effort...that's why it's so hard!

I can give myself a break in one way...I know that I will NEVER have total self control in all areas of my life...I will NEVER be perfect...I will ALWAYS have struggles. That takes the pressure off a bit...I don't have to TRY to be perfect!!! But...I can try to keep God in my thoughts more often...I can reach out to him more often BEFORE I speak...Before I eat that cheesecake...Every day of my life I can keep trying. When I give up and quit trying to do better...that's the day that I have truly failed. That means that I have not only given up on myself, but given up on God too. I don't want that for myself, and I don't want that for you either!

Are you struggling with self control today? WELCOME TO THE CLUB! God knows that we struggle with ourselves every day...He wants to help! Join me in reaching out to Him more often and learning to rely on Him more often...He doesn't want us to be perfect, He just wants us!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dem Dry Bones...

This week's memory verse:

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:16

Yesterday was Youth Sunday at my church. The teens, the youth Praise Band and the youth pastor put together a ROCKING amazing service, based on the story of Ezekiel. I have heard the story of the "dry bones" for many know that old song..."dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones..."

The song goes on to sing about how each bone is connected to another...until the whole body is put together again, covered with muscle and skin and lives again. They were just dead, dry bones before, with no hope for life...but through God's power, they became flesh again and lived! Pastor Lonnie talked yesterday about how we are the dry bones...and the world around us...our communities are just dry bones. We get so used to the bad news, wars, financial difficulties, budget cuts, violence in the streets, bullying, drugs and sex in our wonder we give up and live in pieces in this dry valley!! It's too hard to live with hope...

Well...Lonnie threw the steak in the ground and said he was DONE living a hopeless dry-bones life and I am DONE too! I don't want to continue living a life with no hope...I want to refresh these old dry bones and do what I can to be like Ezekiel and let God work through me to pick up the old dry bones around me in my community and my world and see them put together, bone by bone until they are complete, whole, revived, refreshed, and reborn!

How do I do this? First of all, I make sure my bones are following the right path. I believe that God gave us the Bible...he spoke through the many authors of this book to give us his words of guidance. The laws, decrees and precepts were given to us to help us know how to live.

Read Psalm 119:1-16

In verse 9 the author asks "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."

I believe the Bible is like a road map with road signs clearly posted along the way. Some of us are better map readers than others, but if you look closely enough at a map, you can usually find your way. But...if you don't follow the map or even ask for could very easily get lost. It's up to us to read the's up to us to follow it's marked paths. Too many of us in this world have thrown the map out the window and are blazing our own trails...only to find unfinished roads and detours and danger. Usually it's those unmarked paths that lead to the valley of the dry bones! WHAT A HOPELESS WAY TO LIVE!

In verses 14-16 the Psalmist says that he will rejoice in God's statutes, precepts and decrees like riches...meditate on them...delight in them and not neglect them. Can we, people living in 2011, look to the Bible and the way Jesus taught us to live with joy? Can we value God's advice and teachings more than our valuables? More than our than even our families? Can we in this modern age learn to rely on God to mark out our paths for us instead of blazing our own trails?

Perhaps you think that God is dead is this modern world...maybe you look at tragedies such as what is going on Japan now and wonder how a good God could let that happen...maybe you are in the valley along with all the other dry bones, thinking that the world is a hopeless mess...ya live, ya suffer and then ya die! Well...I say YOU ARE WRONG!

I know the joy I feel when I meditate on God's words and let his peace fall over me like rain...I don't know how it works or how I can let go of depression that overcomes me sometimes...I just know that it goes away and it's replaced with peace. I see how God works THROUGH a tragedy...and brings good from it. I don't understand it, but I sure do grab ahold of it and keep that thought in my heart!

Are you feeling dry? Do you see the dry bones around you? Stop looking at them and reach out to God! Live by the Holy Spirit...ask him to come into your heart...ask him to quench the dryness and watch those dry bones come together and come to life! If you do that then you will hear what it sounds like to sing heaven's will know what it feels like when heaven comes will know what it looks like when God is all around...Let it come!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finding rest...Ahhh...

This week's memory verse:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29 you get enough of it? While you might get enough sleep.. does your brain rest? There are so many things to worry about...the situation in Japan, riots and wars around the world, rising gas prices that cause prices of everything else to rise as well, unemployment, violence and drugs and sex in our schools and on our streets, struggles in our marriages and other do we EVER find rest in our minds and souls???

If you ask me how I find rest in all of that and more within my very busy and hectic life...I have learned (and still am learning!) to turn to the Bible, the lessons it teaches me and to my God who gives me strength. Just seeing those seems too easy to be true. But, I am here to tell you that I HAVE found peace and rest in my life in just that way.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says "come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." These are not just words...they are a promise. If you look toward God for help, he has given us Jesus to be our strength. He is able to carry our burdens easily. Our memory verse talks of a yoke. A yoke can be a devise placed on two load-bearing animals to link them together, giving more power to pull more weight. A yoke can also be a frame fitted to a person's shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions. Either way, a yoke is designed to make lifting a load easier. Jesus is saying "take my yoke upon you..." He is offering to be linked with you...taking some of the load from you...making lifting that heavy burden you are carrying easier for you.

I love the Message translation of our memory verse..."Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you." Many times, a lot of the pain and weight, and pressure we are carrying around we have caused ourselves. I put a lot of pressure on myself to live a "right" life...being everything to everyone...busy, busy, busy. And some of us have allowed religious "rules" and regulations and rituals to put SO MUCH pressure on us that guilt is sure to follow us when we can't live up to the strict standard set for us. If we look to he handled those situations, we will see that even he didn't live that way....although he WAS sinless.

Read Matthew 12:3-13. While the Pharisees were trying to trip him up, Jesus gives examples and quotes scripture back to them to prove them wrong...especially about serving others on the sabbath.We have rules and laws to guide us and protect us...God gave us guidelines on how to live to protect us and also to allow us to live in a way that would give Him glory. There are times we need to hold the line and obey the rules...BUT, as Jesus taught above, there are also times we need to bend as well. How do we know when to hold the line and when to bend??? Go to God and let Him lead you. That's what He wants...for us to rely on Him! When we do that...THEN we can find rest and peace.

Dear God, I am still learning to look to You in all situations. Many times I still hold on to my worries and burdens and responsibilities. Help me to be open to You and to your teachings. Help me to know when to bend and when to hold the line. Help my friends learn these important lessons too. Being yoked to you will help us carry our loads easier, giving us the rest and peace we need and desire. Thank you for teaching us you have a plan for us! Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A gentle attitude in a gloomy world...

This week's memory verse:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

Ok...strange thing happened this morning. When I checked Facebook first thing this morning, I read a posting from a friend, which was actually a news article about a man who claims to be happy in this life. The article was stating that this man was basically out of his mind, because science has proven that even though we want it, we will NEVER be happy in our lives...there is too much hurt, disappointment, pain and destruction in the world to ever be truly happy. What a depressing way to start the day, right? This article had me getting upset and even a little angry...I mean what's the matter with aiming to be happy? What's wrong with trying to be optimistic? Why is a person with a optimistic outlook on life looked as a freak in this world?

Then I read my devotional for the day, which is still focused on learning to be gentle. In 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Paul addresses false teachers and preachers of doom and gloom, such as these.

Verse 14: we are warned not to quarrel about words. So arguing with a person who believes the world is doomed to unhappiness is worthless...we aren't going to change their minds with our words, so it is better not to say anything. Arguing usually just leads to people saying hurtful things that later they regret.

Verse 16: we are to avoid "godless chatter". Reading and getting upset about an article I read that was clearly written by someone who doesn't have God in their hearts seems pointless, doesn't it? It only upset me...they don't care about my feelings, so why should I focus on such negativity?

Verses 17-18: Paul mentions avoiding the preachings of false teachers, and then mentions two people by name, Hymenaeus and Philetus. I looked up these two men. They were early Christians who were claiming things that were going against the teachings of Christ. They were taking Christian principles and twisting them with their own thoughts. Paul urged people to be careful not to be led astray by people with such strange ideas...listening and following them could damage a person's faith. So, if I listened and focused on those negative doom and gloom people that say that happiness is dead, I could easily start believing them and be pulled away from the faith I hold dear.

In verses 22-25, Paul gives some other instruction on how to learn to be a gentle person...putting his words into my own...we are to learn to avoid self-indulgence and instant gratification, staying focused on God instead of ourselves. We shouldn't worry about winning arguments, and think we have to be "right" in all discussions and disagreements. Learning to listen, really listen to the opinions and beliefs of others might give us insight into their souls, and help us understand them better. We need to be gentle with people, ALL people, even those we disagree with, but firmly and patiently lead by our actions and by our example. We don't know when God might choose to work on changing someone's heart!

So...what lesson did I learn today? Let the negative people talk about how terrible the world is...let them believe there is no such thing as happiness...let them believe in the doom and gloom...I KNOW WHAT I BELIEVE...I KNOW WHERE MY HAPPINESS COMES FROM!!! They can't take that away from me, especially if I don't listen to their talk! I will just continue to be who I and make them wonder where that smile comes from!

Dear God, thank you for making me the person I am, and thank you for the amazing work you have done in my life! Even though I may not have all the things I want I this life, you have enabled me to keep my happy, optimistic attitude. I pray for those in this world who don't know you, and don't have you to draw happiness from. I am thankful for your forgiveness and renewal in my life. May I smile and let your light shine in me so that others may see and be drawn to you. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THe Gentleness of the Spirit...

This week's memory verse:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

I have been going to church in some way my whole life, and the idea of a "holy spirit" or "holy ghost" has always confused me a bit, and I never really understood it. It has only been in the last few years that I have studied, read about it and have come to understand this concept a little more. But, I have a feeling that even though I didn't understand it, God's spirit has been living in me, guiding me, teaching me me and comforting me for years.Since we have been talking about gentleness this week, it is fitting to discuss the gentleness of the Holy Spirit as part of God's plan for communicating and being with his children on earth.

In John 14:16-18, Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit as a friend, an advocate, called the Spirit of Truth that will be with us forever. When he said this, he was talking with the disciples the night of the last supper. He knew his time with his friends was coming to an end and wanted to comfort, reassure, and prepare them for when he was gone. This act in itself was an act of gentleness and demonstrated how much Jesus cared for his disciples, and for us as well.

Jesus also said that the world doesn't understand the Spirit because they can't see him or know him. People who either don't believe in Jesus, in God or perhaps are searching for what they do believe, may not get the whole idea of a Holy Spirit living in us. I admit, it does sound a bit spooky doesn't it?

But, Jesus realized that this concept may be misunderstood and taught us more about what the Spirit does for us and for God in this world.

John 14:26 - Jesus said that the Spirit will teach us and remind us of the lessons that he taught during his time on earth.

John 16:8 - the Spirit will expose the error of the godless world's view of sin, righteousness and judgment. (could this be why I get so upset when I hear of how much hate, murder, prejudice, mistreatment, unfairness, and other sin there is in my community and in my world? Could the Spirit be leading me to feel how much our world is different to God's vision for his creation?)

John 16:14 - the Spirit glorifies God. He takes lessons from God and delivers it to us.

It comforts me to think of the Spirit of God living in me every minute of my day, teaching me, guiding me, leading me to recognize my sin, comforting me and reminding me of God's promises through Jesus. Don't you think this mirror's the gentleness of our God? He doesn't force us to follow him, believe in him or love him. But when we do believe, God sends us a friend to live with us and be God in our every day.

Father God, thank you for showing me and helping me to better understand your gift of the Holy Spirit. I ask that you allow the Spirit to shine through me so others will see You in me, bringing You the glory that people can see. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gentle as a child...

This week's memory verse:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

One day last week, I wrote that Jesus was our ultimate example of compassion. Well, this week, I want to talk about how Jesus is also our ultimate example of gentleness. The Jews of that time were looking for a powerful Messiah who would save them from Roman rule and would be a mighty king of the Jews. Jesus had the POWER to be that king...he was from God, so he really could do anything he wanted. But, he chose to teach the Jews, and us as well how to live this life the way God wants us to. He taught through stories and lessons that people could relate to and understand, most of the time. He chose to act in gentle ways and teach us gentle ways.

In Matthew 18:1-4, the disciples were talking and asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I get upset with the disciples sometimes, because they always seemed to be worried about who was greatest, who was loved more...etc. But I see that we are like that a lot of times, aren't we? We struggle to work our way up the ranks in our jobs, we want to be the best at what we do, we want to be the best mother, father, friend, etc. and many times we get so hung up on those things, we miss the point. Jesus knew that then and told his disciples that they needed to go back to the their simple simple as a child...a child loves without conditions...a child isn't as concerned with who's the best...a child sees things in their basic forms. Jesus wants us to get rid of the complicated stuff and love and have faith like a child.

Jesus then went on to teach the disciples more about this gentle way of living, through stories. Again, as I said last week, Jesus liked to think of himself as a shepherd, taking care of his sheep. He spoke about a shepherd being very concerned about one of his 100 sheep being lost. He would leave the 99 and go looking for the one...In this way, the shepherd is portrayed as caring and gentle and having a lot of tenacity to keep searching for that one until it was found. Jesus said the father is the same way...God is not willing to lose even one believer, and will go after one who is lost. That story gives me comfort in knowing that God cared enough about me to go after me, and it is a guide for me as well, that I shouldn't give up on people either.

Many of Jesus' stories are related to the golden rule, another gentle guide to life. Think about how you would want to be treated in a situation, and treat others that way. How many of us really live that way in all situations? I strive to, but miss the mark more times than I would like.

I want you to think about times in your life when you could have been more gentle in the way you handled a conflict or a problem with someone else. If you handled it in a gentle way, think about WHY you did. If you didn't, how could you have handled it differently? We shouldn't live our lives looking back and regretting past mistakes, but sometimes looking back and learning from those situations helps us do better in the future.

Dear God, sometimes I can be difficult and not very gentle. Help me to keep the power I have in control so others can be blessed. Help me and my friends to learn to live a gentle life by learning from the lessons Jesus taught us. Amen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Learning gentleness...

This week's memory verse:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

It can be said, there is not much gentleness in this world anymore. If you watch tv or the movies, it seems being gentle is not the "in" thing to be. In many aspects, gentleness is considered a synonym for weakness.

I don't agree. I agree with the old saying "You can catch more bees with honey than you can with vinegar." I think you can persuade, lead, teach, and correct people in a gentle manner instead of with arguments and confrontation. For that matter, I think you can confront a person or a problem in a gentle manner as well. This is the way I try to lead my own life...the way I do my job, the way I work in my marriage, the way I work in my relationships.

The only relationship that I really struggle with gentleness is with my daughter. I find myself losing patience with her and nagging and NOT being gentle with her way more than I should and definitely way more than I want to. I think it is because we are so much alike and I see her making the same mistakes I have made and I want to help her NOT to continue making them. It is something that I really am praying about and working on. And I think THAT is what our memory verse is talking about.

In that verse and in the several verses before it, Jesus is telling those around him to watch him and learn from the way he acts because he is gentle and humble in the way he handles things. If we do this, then we will find rest for our souls...meaning we will be at peace with our actions. Again, it seems we have the perfect role model for our actions in Jesus!

As we tell the kids at our KidsPraise program every Sunday...the Bible is like a flash light to light our shows us the way we are to go. Jesus gives us his example to follow, and there are MANY other life lessons for us in both the new and old testaments. I don't mean we should not eat certain kinds of meat, wear certain kinds of clothes, have more than one wife (all things that people in the Bible did) but take lessons on the lessons that characters in the Bible learned.

For example: read Numbers 12:1-15

Moses, who was leading his people to the promised land was dealing with some grumbling among the ranks...from his own brother and sister no less! They were speaking against him because he married a cushite woman (outside their group). God actually scolded them for their disloyalty and the sister, Miriam was struck with leprosy. Instead of gloating and leaving Miriam to suffer (serving her right for her unkindness) Moses pleads with God to heal her. Moses did the humble and gentle thing, even if it wasn't fair. Moses was more concerned about Miriam and about preserving God's honor than he was about his own ego.

Dear God, you show us there is strength in gentleness. I want to continue to learn to be a gentle person who is strong in faith and in beliefs. You know where I me how to learn from your word and be the person you want me to be. Help my friends to listen to you and strive to be gentle in the many difficult situations in their lives as well. Amen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We are sheep and need a shepherd...

This week's memory verse:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

To be honest with you, my cold came back this morning, and I didn't really feel doing my quiet time today...a few more minutes of sleep sounded awfully inviting! But...something made me pick up that Bible study book...and I was touched again by today's lesson.

My dad has SO been on my mind this week. And today made that even more so. Today's lesson was all about sheep. Jesus calls himself a good shepherd who takes care of his sheep. I have always related to this analogy. If you know me at all, you know that I grew up around a farm, and one of the main things we raised was sheep. My dad (and my grandparents before him) considered himself a good shepherd who took good care of his sheep. And...sheep NEED a shepherd! I love sheep myself...the babies are so sweet and was always fun to watch them jump stiff-legged in the field or around the barn while their mothers were eating. They were pretty loyal animals, and there were always the ones that became more like pets and loved to be petted and made over. But...they are also pretty stupid animals! They follow each other and sometimes wander off into dangerous situations. They can be laying down when it starts to rain, not get up and their wool would be so soaked and heavy with water they couldn't get up and all they could do was bawl out for help. When they are giving birth, many times they have trouble doing it on their own and they need a gentle (or sometimes not so gentle) human hand to pull their babies into life. Sheep NEED a loving human care taker! Oh, I'm sure there are wild sheep living in the mountains somewhere who do fine on their own...but I bet they don't have a long lifespan!

WE are like sheep! We follow others into dangerous situations...we allow ourselves to lay in sin like rain until we are so heavy with it we can't get up. We NEED a good shepherd to take care of us!

Read the following passage for yourself:

John 10:11-18

Jesus repeats that he will lay down his life for his sheep...and he did! He said he willing did this out of his own free will. He will bring us back in when we get lost, and he will pick us up when we are down. But, he did say that his sheep recognize his voice...we have to come when he calls.

Jesus also said there are sheep that are scattered outside his pen...they know his voice too, but they are lost outside. Jesus said he would gather them up and put us altogether in one herd. I get concerned for those who live on the outside...who are wandering around lost. I think we should be concerned, but Jesus' words should give us comfort...they will recognize his voice and he will bring them in. That's HIS job...he is the good shepherd!

I have been lost...I have been heavy with my mistakes...but I have learned to listen for that recognized voice and run home to him. I let him pick me up, dry me off and take those mistakes from me so I am light enough to jump stiff-legged with joy again!

My dad was a good shepherd, and now my uncle is as well. I can look to how well they take care if their sheep as a reminder of how well Jesus takes care of us. Are you lost? Are you heavy with your mistakes? Call out to your shepherd...he will hear you and come take care of you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jesus...our role model for compassion

This week's memory verse:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility and patience." Colossians 3:12

(Side note: the picture of Jesus laughing that I have included here is one of my favorites. I know that we don't really know what Jesus looked like...but I love the thought that Jesus was a man who loved to laugh and show joy. That thought makes me smile!)

I have some friends who believe in God, in a loving creator, but are not sure about the whole Jesus thing. I have had people question me...why is it that Christians think that there is only one way to God...through Jesus? This message isn't really about that issue as much as it is about how Jesus has effected my life. As I read today's Bible study, I feel that I am LUCKY and BLESSED to be a Christian at this time in my life and in this period in history. The reason I feel this way is that by believing in Christ and in what the Bible says about Christ, not only do I feel peace about my future and about the future of the world (even admist all the evil things going on in this world)...but I also feel I have the best role model in Jesus.

Just look at the character of he lived as a he treated people, ALL devoted he was to our Father in Heaven...Jesus showed compassion to ALL people, people of different faiths, people who were sick, people who were shunned by the rest of society, people who were sad, and even to the people who persecuted and killed him.

There are many examples of Jesus' compassion in the Bible of course. Read these verses for yourself and see if you can identify the way that Jesus showed compassion. (If you don't have a Bible handy, you can google these verses and find them online. If you have an smart phone...there's a Bible App...Just some helpful hints! ;-)

Matthew 9:35-36

Matthew 20:29-34

Mark 1:40-42

John 11:17-36

John 12:3-7

One line you will notice is repeated in almost all of these verses..."Jesus felt concern..." Jesus was a kind and tenderhearted man. The human side of him wanted to help people who came to him with problems and illness...and the God side of him had the tools to help them, and he DID help them. He took what tools he had and used them to help others. I believe he not only did this out of his concern for people, but for God's people would see these miraculous events, small and large, and believe that God's hand was in it. People in Jesus' day, NEEDED to see proof of God's glory and He knew that. They NEEDED a savior to save them from their sins and from the sins of the world...God knew that and sent Jesus to earth to give them that proof and that savior!

People today NEED proof of God's power and glory. People today NEED a savior to save them from their sins and from the sins of the world. Jesus has called US...those who believe in be HIS HANDS AND show compassion to the sick, to the poor, to the sad, to the depressed, to the troubled, to the searchers, even to the ones who turn their back on God. There are millions of people in this world who don't know Christ, don't feel his forgiveness, don't feel his peace. It's up to those of us that DO know him to show HIS LOVE and COMPASSION...not preach to them, not condemn them to a life in hell if they don't believe. That's not what Jesus did!

In my heart, I believe that Jesus has saved me again and again in my life...but a little over ten years ago, he saved me from myself. I had run away from him...I was ashamed of some choices I made and I ran away. I was headed into a life without that peace...and then I believe that Christ led me to attend Rolling Plains church where I met loving and supportive people and where I studied and learned more about how Christ lived and loved those around him. I learned that he loved me and forgives me for those poor choices. I learned to allow his peace to overcome the anguish and heartache I felt...My life is not perfect, and I still have anguish and heartache from time to time. But, because of Christ living in my heart, I no longer feel worthless and want to run away from him. Christ showed me compassion...I believe he feels concerned for me and my well being.

Now, whether you believe in this "Christ thing" or not...I DO! And if that brings me peace and hope and allows me to be compassionate to be it! There is something in my life that makes life worth living...if you don't have that...don't you want to? If you don't...I feel concern for you and WANT you to have that for yourself! THAT is why I write these messages! I'll keep keep reading! What can it hurt?

Dear Father God, thank you for showing me compassion, and thank you for allowing me to FEEL your compassion! Thank you for giving me the confidence to share these things with others. I ask that you work in the hearts of those reading this message. If they know you, then help them to find ways to share your compassion with people in their lives. If they don't know them to have open minds and open hearts that they may hear you knocking at the door of their heart! Amen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This week's memory verse:
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, and patience." Colossians 3:12
The picture here is the last real "family picture" we had taken before my father died, about a year and a half later. Today's message made me think of my dad.
The word compassion comes from two Latin words, "com" and "pati." Com means "together" while pati means "to suffer." That means a compassionate person is one who suffers alongside another. Some synonyms for compassion include benevolence, charity, empathy, grace, kindness, mercy, and tenderness.I had a wonderful father. He was a good example to me of what a father's love is like. He was stern with me, guiding me to learn hard work, responsibility, and teaching me right from wrong. He loved me unconditionally, and I knew that. He displayed his love for me in many visible ways, from hugging me, talking with me and showing me in the way he cared for me and the rest of my family. He also showed me how to have compassion for others. My dad would do about anything for anybody. He was always fixing something for someone, or talking with someone about their troubles...just listening. (wonder where I get that...) He worked hard and even showed compassion to the animals he raised. He wasn't perfect...he had a lot of faults...but he was also able to love others despite their faults as well. My dad taught me (along with my mom) that I could do anything I put my mind to. The lessons I learned from my dad have helped to make me the person I am today, even though he has been gone for nearly half my life.
When I read in the Bible that God loves us and shows compassion to us like a father, I realize I am lucky enough to have had an excellent example of how a father loves his children. If God loves me even more than my earthly father than I must be really loved! Psalm 103:8-18 describes God as a loving father.
Verse 8: The lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.
(My dad was NOT slow to anger! He could blow up at you so quick and really let you have it...but I always knew that it would be short-lived. He would be back to his old self in the very next second, explaining why he yelled in the first place)
Verse 9 says God doesn't endlessly nag and scold us or hold grudges against us forever...He gives us free will to do what is right and lets us learn from our own mistakes. Thinking as a parent, I imagine seeing his children continually make bad choices and mistakes is hard for God. (I know it's hard for me.) But God knows that nagging never works...and so he lets us mess up, but doesn't stay mad at us.
Speaking of mistakes....verses 11-12 talk about how much God loves high as the heavens are above the earth and as far as east is from the west. (Ever tell your child "I love you THIS much!) AND...the BEST part...God's love is boundless AND he removes our sin from us!Just as my dad taught me what is right and wrong to protect me, God wants us to obey His commands so we are protected from ourselves. God guides us on how to live...what to do and what not to we KNOW how to live a sinless life and KNOW how to protect ourselves from the perils of our sin. BUT God knows we are going to mess up. God knows that because he created us. He could have created us perfect...he could have made us ALWAYS obey him and ALWAYS make the right choices. God is THAT powerful and creative. But, then our love and obedience wouldn't mean as much to him because, like robots, the love and obedience would come FROM our creator and not from us.
James 1:17 says that all good gifts come from God in heaven and God doesn't change. There is nothing deceitful or two faced in God...he isn't fickle. This gives me comfort because I know that I can TRUST my heavenly Father to love me no matter what, even when I mess up. God was the same millions of years ago as he is today. He loves me more than I can imagine.
Knowing that compassion means suffering along side another, and knowing that God is compassionate...I know and trust that God is with me in my struggles. Just as knew my dad was there with me to pick me up when I fell as a child, I know I can get through anything because my heavenly Father loves me and is there with me.
Dear God, thank you for being the Father of compassion. I know that even when I fall short you will be there to pick me up and set me back on course. Thank you for never changing and for loving me so much! I pray that my friends reading this will feel your love for them and be comforted to know they have a loving compassionate Father in heaven. Amen

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Compassion is Needed in this world

This week's memory verse:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

As I read today's lesson about compassion, I was reminded how much I NEED compassion in my life...I need people to be compassionate to me, and I have needed people to understand my situation and be comforting to me. I also need to be compassionate to others, including friends, family and especially people I DON'T know.
When I typed the memory verse, the first thing that came to my mind was what does "God's chosen people" really mean? So, in an attempt to study and understand that better, I read some appropriate scriptures, and then went online to get some more perspective on what the phrase "God's chosen people" means. What I found were some good examples of people expressing opinions that are NOT compassionate!
I don't really want to open a religious can of worms here by discussing exactly who are God's chosen people. What I do want to do is express my opinion of one thing that is wrong with the humans in this world...we want to be RIGHT so bad that we forget that God wants us to be compassionate to EVERYONE!
A Google search using the phrase "God's chosen people" led me to find THOUSANDS of entries...all from people who thought they had THE ANSWER and trashing anyone who believed differently. It is only human of us to want to be "right " in the eyes of God...but we forget that God created ALL humans. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul calls God the "father of compassion." He is the ultimate example of compassion. He gave us Christ as THE example...we should look to him for HOW we are to show compassion to others.
If you are a follower of God and are comforted by his promises and by his love, then you must see that He comforts us so that we can comfort others around us. (2 Corinthians 1:4) I think we think of this when we go visit the sick, take meals to a recovering patient, comfort someone in times of grief, make someone smile when they are having a bad day...all those things are good and admirable.
But, I also believe that we need to be compassionate to people who believe differently than we do. That doesn't mean we need to bend to their way of thinking, or even agree with them. But arguments, hatred, bigotry and even wars are started when we lose that compassion for other human beings (also created by our loving God) and speak and act hatefully to them because they don't choose to believe as we do.
If our goal as Christians is to "make disciples of all nations" as Christ instructed us to do, we need to do this lovingly, showing compassion (kindness, mercy, charity, empathy, grace, and tenderness) to ALL of God's creations...including those who don't believe. Trashing a person just because they are of another religion is NOT what I believe God wants us to do. That is NOT going to make a non believer want to learn more about Christianity!
It is for God's glory that we suffer along with someone else...share their troubles and treat them with love and kindness. Yes, we are to do this for our friends, family and fellow Christians, but can you imagine how much God's glory would shine through if we could do this for people who we consider our enemies? Jesus said to love your enemies, not trash them!
Think about it do you show compassion to people in your life? I know there are people in my life that I could show more compassion about you?
We are going to be studying more about compassion this week. My prayer for all of us is for God to help us grow in understanding of what compassion truly is so that we can practice it more freely in our lives.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Serenity found in patience...

This week's memory verse:

"Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" Galatians 6:9

Ok...I admit...this was not best week for keeping up with my Bible study or for writing my messages. It really hasn't been a good month for it for me either, has it? I know that in times of trial and frustration we shouldn't give up...I don't think I gave up, I think I just didn't have the energy. Getting sick so soon after Tom's accident was unfortunate, but totally understandable. The "yuck" was going around and I was tired so it caught up to me. I started to feel guilty for not doing my messages this week, but here is a lesson for you...I learned to be PATIENT with myself and realized there is only so much I can do.

Our Bible study this week led us to read about several examples in the Bible of people who had to either use a lot of patience, or who had to LEARN to develop and use patience in their lives. In some of those examples, the people went through some horrible experiences! I have heard some say that when you have bad things happen in your life it must be punishment for something bad you have done. That sounds crazy to me, but there are those that believe that. I truly believe in my heart that our loving God doesn't work that way. I think that God uses things that happen in our lives, good AND bad, to teach us lessons, such as how to wait and have patience.

I don't think we become spiritually mature overnight. I think the way we respond to situations in our lives determines our maturity. And that maturity happens in a process. Suffering produces perseverance (we get THROUGH a situation); perseverance over time produces character (our moral quality--how we respond); and good character, based on God's promises produces hope (the way we view the future and future sufferings or struggles.)

Have you heard of the Serenity prayer?

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference."

I believe this is the absolute KEY to learning patience...and when you learn to do me how because I struggle with this every day! I think I spend so much of my time worrying and stressing over things that I have no control over. And, because I can't change it, the negative way I respond to it zaps my patience level in many areas of my life.

I have a friend who is truly in a difficult of those child custody things...YUCK! My friend gets so upset about the system, (that he has no control over AT ALL!) that he is so deeply troubled almost all the time. He is letting his frustration cloud is attitude about life in general. He has little patience with anything difficult at this point. I worry that this friend, who is basically a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of person, is heading toward becoming one of those negative "the world sucks" kinds of people who no one wants to be around. I am no expert on this topic at all, but I try to get him to see that since he can't change it, he might as well make the best of it and be the best dad he can be with the time he has with his child. THAT he can he responds...having the patience to work THROUGH this difficult situation without letting it devour him is the key. The problem is the tricky part for me...he doesn't have God in his life right now. For me, I can't imagine being able to do that difficult thing without God! Because I respect people's feelings about God, I don't push the idea of God handling problems on people are not ready to hear it. I think my friend NEEDS the HOPE, love and reassurance that relying on God gives you...but he has to come to that realization on his own. I share my feelings with him on the topic, but stop before I feel I have gone to far.

The thing is...we ALL have those kinds of situations that happen in our lives every day, don't we? Opportunities to show patience with doctors, coworkers, people on the street, clerks at Walmart, with our children, with our spouses...sometimes they are as simple as getting upset when your daughter doesn't do the dishes...and sometimes they ARE as complicated as a custody battle.

I can be pretty patient sometimes...but I know that God's not finished working in me yet! Do you know how I know that? Ask me how I handle my daughter not doing the dishes...ask me how I react when she brings home a bad grade...ask me how I berate myself when I gain a few pounds instead of taking them off... Oh, I have a LONG way to go, believe me! And you know what...I'm glad! I WANT the opportunities to learn more about life...I WANT God to work in me and I WANT the opportunity to share my lessons learned with others. Our earthly lives are so short! Sure, it has taken me 42 YEARS to learn the value of patience...but I LOVE the fact that I will have ETERNITY to enjoy the benefits of those lessons!

Father God, thank you for loving even the most impatient of your children. My prayer today is that all those reading this message today will be able to be more patient at home, at work, with friends and in every other place. I know that as we focus more on patience, you will grow that virtue in us. Amen