Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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Have you ever known you should probably do something, but you didn’t?  You know, when you feel that urge deep inside – not a temptation that urges you to do something wrong, but the type of urging that says, “This will be good for you.  You need to go do this.”  Do you know what I’m talking about?  I have had these urges many times, and just about every time, I ignore the urge, and I don’t do that thing I feel like I’m supposed to do.  Last night was one of those times.

During our Wednesday evening service at church, Pastor gave an invitation for people to come forward and pray at the altar.  This would mean going up in front of everyone and kneeling on the floor at the front of the church.  It would mean, getting up and moving forward.  It would mean, anyone who wanted to could see whomever decided to go forward.  He said that those of us who had things going on in our lives that were difficult or painful, or if we wanted to pray for someone else who was going through something, then we could go forward.  It wasn’t a compulsory thing by any stretch, but it was an open invitation to be vulnerable and allow the people of God to embrace and comfort and pray for us.

I longed to go forward.  I felt like something was pulling on me to go forward.  And I resisted.  I fought.  I didn’t go forward.  I wanted to, but I didn’t.  Pastor mentioned that pride could keep us from going forward.  He said that we might not want people to see that we have needs.  He suggested that perhaps we felt like people would look down on us or that we might feel like it was an admission of weakness if we went forward.  He was right.  I keep letting my pride get in the way of me asking for help.  I let pride keep me from doing the things I need to do.  I let pride keep me pressed into that seat, longing to move, but unwilling – or unable – to do so.

But it’s not all about pride for me.  Fear plays a big part as well – fear that I might be letting someone down if I admit that I am weak.  Or maybe it’s fear that God might be disappointed in me, or that I am not good enough.  I am afraid to fail, afraid that I will look like a failure.  For me, pride and fear go hand in hand.  They are not separate, they are united and they are equal in strength.

Even now, as I sit here writing about this memory, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I wonder why I could not bring myself to get up out of my seat and go forward.  There are so many difficulties that I am going through right now – some that only I know, and some that only a couple of people know.  Some of the problems are little things, but when they are all combined and the big things are rolled in, they seem insurmountable and overwhelming.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am bothering to write this and share this with whoever decides to read this.  It’s simple.  This is my altar tonight.  I didn’t go forward last night.  But I am coming forward today.  I am admitting that I am overwhelmed and in need of prayers.  I am admitting that I am weak and have these heavy burdens.  I am confessing that I was wrong to stay in my seat when I so clearly needed to go forward.  And I am asking you, my readers, to pray for me.  I am not going to go into details, but I feel “hard pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV).  I need wisdom and strength to get through this difficult period in my life.  But, I haven’t forgotten the rest of 2 Corinthians 4:8, which reads, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;” (NIV).  I am not crushed or despairing.  I may be weak, but God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, KJV).

Have you ever felt like you were drawn to do something, but resisted?  Perhaps you’re overwhelmed now.  Perhaps you have something that you want to lay at the altar yourself.  Please share below, I’ll be happy to pray for your needs as well.

Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

I think God has something in the works for me.  I’ve prayed lately for God to remove me from my comfort zone and to do what He needs to do to get me where He wants me to be.  Apparently, as I’ve learned, that can be a dangerous prayer.   I knew He wanted more from me, but I didn’t know what He was going to use to get me there.  And just to keep the record straight, I’m not there yet.

But, God’s been working in my life.  He has allowed things that hurt.  And I find myself asking why.  “Why God?  Why do I have to go through this heart-rending experience?  Why do I have watch my daughter make bad decisions?  Why do I have to feel helpless and hurt so bad for You to work?  Can’t You work in me without all the pain?”

Now, God is God, and He can choose any way He wants to work in me.  I truly believe that.  But here is what I am learning.  When I don’t hurt, when I don’t feel pain, I don’t change.  It’s true.  I talk about change.  I say I’m going to change.  I read about change.  I write about change.  I think about change.  But I don’t change.  That’s because I’m too comfortable.  It’s easier to talk, write, and think about change than it is to actually change.  In my experience, the greatest periods of change have taken place when I’ve been broken, weak, and unable to move anymore.  Why is that?  Why does it take being broken for me to change?

It’s all about control.  When things are going well, I don’t try as hard.  I get comfortable.  I start thinking I don’t need God.  I start thinking I can do it on my own strength.  And God lets me.  That’s what free will is all about.  I have the choice to lean on God or to try to do it all by myself.  And I have a tendency to try to do it all by myself.  Like the toddler who says, “I do it myself!” I pull away from God and try to do it all on my own – and inevitably, I make a mess out of things.

The hard part for me in all of this, is that I don’t plan to try to take back control.  I don’t really want to do that.  I want to allow God to work in me.  I want to do right.  I don’t want to mess everything up.  I don’t want to sin.  But I do.  I can relate to Paul who wrote in Romans, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (7:15).”  He goes on to say in verse 19, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”  I can totally relate to these verses.  I often don’t understand the things I do.  At the time, I feel like I am doing what is right, but when I look back, I realize I have once again stepped into God’s place and taken control.

When I take control, I am basically telling God that I don’t think His way is good enough.  I am telling Him I can’t trust Him.  I am telling Him that I do not have faith that He will bring me through my hard times.  And often, it takes me being at the end of my rope, when I have no fight left, and I have no other ideas to finally admit that I need His help.  So I fall on my face, with tears running down my cheeks, and I ask Him to help me.  I beg Him to help me.  And you know what?  He always does.  He always comes through.  It’s seldom in the way I expect, but He always takes me into His arms and holds me close.  And when that happens, I realize that there is nothing I am going through that I cannot get through with Him.  And even though this season is really hard, I will make it through because God is with me.  I am not alone.

Have you ever felt like you were falling apart?  Have you found yourself asking God “Why me?  Why this?  Why now?”  I’d love to hear your stories and your thoughts about this.  Share in the comments below how God reveals Himself to you when you’re hurting.

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

UL CoverI found the book Unexpected Love: God‘s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women by Julie Zine Coleman to be a fabulous read. I found that it really challenged me to look deeper into biblical accounts of the conversations that Jesus had with women.

Each chapter starts out with the biblical version of each conversation that Julie Coleman addressed in this book, such as Jesus’ mother Mary at the wedding in Cana and the Woman at the Well. She not only listed the reference for each passage, but also provided the parallel passage(s) from the other Gospel accounts. This helps the reader to get a well-round viewpoint of each conversation, which I found to be very helpful. Next, Julie would provide a more dramatic version of each story, adding more insight – such as possible thoughts that went through each woman’s head, as well as detail about how the scene may looked. Then she went on to provide historical detail about the culture and viewpoints regarding women during that time period. I found this helpful in understanding how the reason people during that time period would find it strange and foreign for Him to have such conversations with women. Finally, she provided more practical information about how women could apply the lessons learned from these conversations in today’s society. Each chapter ends with questions that help the reader to apply the lessons personally and with a journaling prompt about the particular topic of that chapter.

I highly recommend this book to other women. I used it as an addition to my daily quiet time with God and found that I was able to apply the lessons from this book to my life and it helped to deepen my relationship with God. I believe other women would find this book helpful in their lives as well. Julie Coleman’s writing style is easy to read and she provides her detail in such a way that any woman could read understand and apply the lessons to her own life.

Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the  author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

I found myself thinking of the above passage tonight as I was doing my walk/run workout today.  I got about 3 miles in today, and I am so feeling it.  As I was running, I had to push myself – and boy do I mean push.  I was so ready to give up. This was a far cry from where I was a few months ago.  Yes, I did say a few months ago.  I stopped running back in March because I hurt my shoulder-blade and it hurt to run.  I have not run since, until today.

I’m not really sure how I forced myself to get through this walk/run today – except that I kept telling myself, “You can do this.  You’ve gotten this far.  You can keep going.”  And I still don’t think I’d have made it if my oldest daughter hadn’t been there giving me encouragement, telling me to stick with it.  She kept telling me, “Keep going Mom.  You can do it.”  And somehow – I did.

But I can’t help but think that I would have done better if I had just stuck with it to begin with.  If I had not allowed myself to keep making excuses, I might not have fallen so far behind in my progress.  I might actually have been able to run for 40 minutes straight, which is the end goal of this program.  Because I made excuses and did not keep training, I lost ground in my progress toward physical fitness and weight loss.

This brings me to the verse I started out with.  It made me think about how we’re called to put aside our obstacles and sins that pull us away from God.  So many times we are told to keep the faith and keep moving forward.  Yet, how many times do we tell ourselves, “It’s just too hard.  I can’t do it” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”?  In Hebrews 12:1-3 – we are challenged to run the race that has been set before us with endurance.  We are to keep moving forward, even when it seems too hard.

If I had given up tonight, I wouldn’t have had the feeling of victory when I finished.  Instead, I’d have felt defeated and a failure.  Because I kept going, I got to feel the elation that came with completing the workout. It’s the same way in our Christian walk.  If I give up…  If I tell myself I can’t do it…  If I say I don’t have time… I miss out.  I lose.  I don’t get the feeling of victory.  But if I keep with it and I work through the difficult times and learn and grow – I get the chance to rejoice, and ultimately, when I join Jesus in heaven – I will get to give Him all the glory for my victory.

In addition to enduring, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus is the prize.  He is the reward for keeping the faith – for moving forward with endurance.  If I keep my focus on what the reward is going to be at the end, I am more likely to keep running.  And if I keep my focus on what God has promised – I will keep moving forward and growing.

Yet, we are not called to do this alone.  The writer of Hebrews points out that we have a great “cloud of witnesses.”  We have the word of many who have gone before.  We have examples to follow.  In addition, we are told to grow together.  If I don’t have others to encourage me, I am more likely to give up.  For instance, tonight, if my daughter wasn’t there to tell me to keep going and that I could do it, I’d have given up.  I wouldn’t have kept going.  In our Christian walk, we need to find those who will encourage us to move forward and grow.  We need to find the people who will tell us to keep working toward the goal and that someday, if we keep moving forward and following God, we will see victory in our lives.

I am so glad that I stuck with my run tonight.  I feel so much better for having done it, and now I know I can do it again because I did it once.  I might feel the pain tomorrow, but it will be a pain that comes with a sense of accomplishment – and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.  Just like my feeling of accomplishment for finishing tonight’s workout, growing in Christ might bring some pain, but if I keep moving forward and I learn and grow in God’s word, I will get to feel that same sense of accomplishment, as I gain victory over my sin nature.  And how much more wonderful will that feel?  The words I long to hear someday are “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until Next Time,

Have you ever noticed that we Christians seem afraid to be vulnerable?  It seems to me like we hide behind pretenses and clichés to mask our inner struggle to live life.  It’s as if we’re afraid that if others find out we’re not as strong as they think, that somehow that makes us less.  I know that I sometimes have a tendency to pretend everything is o.k., even when I feel like my whole world is falling apart.

What would happen if we made ourselves vulnerable to each other?  What if we allowed ourselves to have differing opinions and respected each other for them?  What if we shared our inner lives with each other and opened up our hearts to let each other in?  What if we lived in true community – seeing and meeting each others needs – without feeling like we’re infringing upon each others’ territory or possessions?  What if, instead of waiting for someone to ASK for help from us, we saw the need and just met it?

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t speak up and ask for things.  After all, in James 4:2, James tells us “You do not have because you do not ask.”  But, keep in mind, he was talking about asking FROM GOD. We don’t have what we are lusting after because we don’t ask.  And if we go on reading in this chapter, we’d find that even when we do ask, we often ask with the wrong motives.

In Acts 2, we find that the early believers didn’t wait for someone to ask for a need to be met.

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:43-47 (NASB)

They had ALL things in common!!  They just started selling and sharing.  They saw needs, and they met them.  They even ate together every day.  What would happen to this world, if we stopped hoarding our “stuff” and began sharing it with each other as we saw needs?  What would that show other people?  If we sit around waiting for people to ask us for help, we may wait the rest of our lives.  So, we need to open our eyes.  We need to be observant.  We need to be open.

And those of us who are hiding in our shells afraid to ask, we need to do the same.  We need to be willing to open our mouths and say we have a need.  Each one of us needs to decide in our own hearts that we are no longer going to hide behind pretenses, and we are going to be open and honest with each other and accept our differences – and in fact celebrate our differences.

Being vulnerable is not always a bad thing.  And we’re supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ, so vulnerability between us should be a given, not an oddity.

Until Next Time,

God has been speaking to me lately about the words that come out of my mouth.  Not that I always say bad things.  The reality is, that I used to be much worse.  My problem is that I still slip into the language of “potty mouth” on occasion.  Yesterday I wrote about my frustration that I blow up sometimes.  Well, those blow up times also generally include not-so-exemplary language.

I used to think that because I was a Christian, I would never have a problem with this.  All through high school I refrained from using bad language.  Occasionally a friend of mine would try to get me to slip up, but I was always on my guard.  Somehow along the way though, I let my guard down.  I stopped looking out for myself.  I forgot what Peter gave warning about in 2 Peter 3:14-17

14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,  15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,  16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.  17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, (NASB)

My calling is to stay pure and blameless before God.  That means I need to keep my mouth pure.  “Potty mouth” is not an option for me.  Jesus told us that we would be justified or condemned by our words (Matthew 12:36-37).  I want to speak in such a way that my words justify me.  My prayer is that I will be on guard.  I will be on constant watch, so that I won’t be caught off guard and have a “potty mouth”.  My goal is to set a good example for the children God has given me.  I want to leave a legacy that does not include “potty mouth”.

Until Next Time,