House Remodeling and Spiritual Growth?

Bathroom floor remodeling

The past two weeks, my home has been undergoing some remodeling. Yes, I’m excited about the end product, but the journey to get there has not always been pleasant. As I walk through this process, God is showing me similarities between house remodeling and spiritual growth. Here are a few thoughts from these two weeks:

1. You may want to quit before you get to the finished product.

There have been times during these past two weeks when I wanted to say, “Enough. Let’s just stop here. I can’t take anymore!”

There are times in the Christian life when I am tempted to quit the journey God has me on because it’s too challenging. I begin to question if it’s worth it, and I convince myself that I don’t need to go any further. But if I quit, I miss all that God has in store for me.

  1. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable at times, but the end result is worth it.

I had to use my guest bathroom while my master bathroom floor was being redone, and it was an inconvenience. It was awkward, and I didn’t like it. I had to keep reminding myself of the end result and that this was only temporary.

Spiritual growth, like remodeling, stretches me and takes me out of my comfort zone. It can be uncomfortable at times, but the process is necessary in order to experience something far better in the end.

  1. It’s not going as quickly as I’d like.

Inevitably in remodeling, the process doesn’t tend to go as scheduled. There’s always a glitch, a delay, something unexpected that comes up, slowing things down. Why can’t it go faster?

In the same way, I want spiritual maturity…today! But spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, and there are delays—delays caused by circumstances out of my control or by my actions. I have to learn patience – with home remodeling and spiritual growth.

  1. It gets messy.

In the midst of remodeling, I see dust all over the place that wasn’t there before or I hadn’t seen before. I can either ignore it and let it build up until I can’t stand it anymore, or I can wipe up the dust daily to keep it from getting out of control.

It’s the same way in my spiritual life. As I grow more like Christ, He will show me “dust” in my life—not to discourage me, but to prompt me to deal with it and confess it. I have to make a choice: clean it up as God shows me sin, or ignore it and let it get out of control.

  1. It’s never finished.

When I remodel a room, it never seems to be finished. There’s always something else that can be done beyond the original goal. So I just keep remodeling…

In the Christian life, we never arrive at spiritual maturity and achieve Christ-likeness while we’re on this earth. There’s always more to be done. Only when we see Him face to face will the spiritual renovation in our lives be done.

Perhaps you’re in the middle of (or just finished) renovation on your home. What are some spiritual analogies God has taught you in the process?

Share this:
FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare

The Value of a Teachable Spirit

blank notebookOne of the things I look for in women I want to invest time in is a teachable spirit. I will give myself completely to someone who is teachable and sincerely wants to grow and develop in an area. But I’m spinning my wheels when someone thinks she has already “arrived” and isn’t open to suggestions or feedback.

Dr. David Murray said, “No matter how much talent and gifting we have, if we are, or become, unteachable, we will never reach anywhere near our full potential in our careers, our callings, or our relationships.”

So how do we recognize a teachable spirit in someone? Some of the things I consider are:

  1. Does she listen, or does she tend to think she already has all the answers?
  2. Is she open to doing something differently than what she’s used to? Is she open to considering a different way of looking at something, or is her mind already set on her way?
  3. Does she get defensive when someone gives constructive feedback or suggests a way to grow in an area?
  4. Does she spend more time telling others how they should be doing things than listening to others’ input into her own life?

I have to ask myself those questions periodically to evaluate my own teachability. Being teachable doesn’t come easy for most of us. I see two major hindrances to a teachable spirit:

  • Pride – I think I know best. I know the best way to do something, so there’s no reason to listen to your input.
  • Selfishness – I want to do things my way, and my mind’s made up. I’m not changing… It’s going to be my way, or I’m out of here!

God desires for His children to be teachable. He wants to teach us, but we have to be open to what He wants to show us and do in us. He uses others in the process of teaching us. Will we listen?

In Psalm 25:4, David asked God, “Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.” In Luke 11:1, one of Jesus’ disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray…”

What are you asking God to teach you? Are you open to learning from others as well?

Ask God to search your heart and show you if you’re teachable. If not, what can you do to change that?

 

Share this:

Deepening Your Prayer Life

Prayer VerseTo be honest, most of us would probably admit that our prayer life isn’t what we’d like it to be. I look at Paul’s prayers in the New Testament and realize how shallow my prayers are in comparison. I’ve started praying through his prayers for others in my time alone with God, and it has helped me focus my prayers on things that are eternal, and not just temporal.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,

“Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.”

E.M. Bounds in his book, Purpose in Prayer, reminds us of how we must cultivate our fellowship with the Lord:

“Prayer is not a meaningless function or duty to be crowded into the busy or the weary ends of the day, and we are not obeying our Lord’s command when we content ourselves with a few minutes upon our knees in the morning rush or late at night when the faculties, tired with the tasks of the day, call out for rest … we can never get to know Him if we use the vehicle of prayer as we use the telephone, for a few words of hurried conversation.”

Ouch. Those words sting a little! So what hinders us from prayer?

Lack of discipline – We’re too busy, and prayer gets crowded out by the urgent things in life. Yes, we can pray throughout the day while we’re driving, working, or cooking. But we also need some alone time with God to put aside distractions and just focus on Him.

Lack of belief – We don’t believe God will do anything, so we just don’t bother to ask.

Lack of intimacy – We may not feel close to God and He seems distant. As a result, we don’t want to talk to Him.

Lack of need – We tend to pray less when life is going great and we don’t sense any great need. But, when circumstances overwhelm us, we are drawn to our knees in prayer. Sometimes we falsely assume that prayer is only necessary when something comes along that’s too big for us to handle by ourselves.

I am guilty of all four of these hindrances at times.

Charles Spurgeon said,

“Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might.”

How do you pray? Do you scarcely stir the bell, or do you grab onto that rope boldly and pull it continuously with all your might? Use one of Paul’s prayers to guide you through praying for someone today.

 

Share this:

God, Please . . .

woman prayingI have been praying for something this week that I REALLY, REALLY want God to say yes to. But . . . I realize that what I want may not be His best for me. And I have to accept that with joy. If God says no, then I know it’s because of one of three reasons: it’s not good for me, it’s not the right timing, or He has something better for me. I have to keep reminding myself of this.

This morning as I was praying again for this situation and that God would say yes, He reminded me of two passages in Scripture that encouraged me greatly.

Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

That verse doesn’t mean God will give me everything I want. But He will give me everything He deems best for me. If He gave His own Son for me, He’s not going to withhold other things that He deems good for me. He loves me and wants what’s best for me.

The other passage is Luke 22:42 when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

I thought about that prayer this morning. Jesus asked the Father to “change the plan.” He asked Him to remove the cup, and God the Father said no to His Son. Not because the Father didn’t love His Son; but because He knew this was best in His sovereign plan to save the world from sin. He could have said yes, I’ll remove the cup; but where would we be today?

Jesus gave us a great example of how to pray. Be honest with God and ask Him for the desires of your heart; but pray with the heart attitude of, “not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.”

Are you praying for something today that you desperately want God to say yes to? Remember that God wants to give you good things, and He wants you to rest in His sovereign plan for your life.

Share this:

Standing in Awe

lightning4Two extraordinary events happened this week that made me long for the Lord’s return.

Monday night we had strong thunderstorms in Memphis. The thunderstorms weren’t the strange occurrence, but the non-stop flickering of lightning in the sky was something I had not seen before. It was as if the heavens were communicating something grand was about to happen.

As I peeked out my window to watch, I was overcome with awe by the beauty and “strangeness” of it. God was giving us a grand display of His power and glory. I secretly hoped that it was a prelude to His returning for us.

Star of Bethlehem 2015Tuesday night there was another unusual phenomenon. Jupiter and Venus came so “close” together that they appeared as one bright, shining star in the east. Many believe it was this same occurrence that the Bible refers to in Matthew 2:2 when the magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Just as the star over Bethlehem led the magi to worship Him, seeing this “star” Tuesday night led me to worship Him. As I stood gazing at the bright “star” in the east, I imagined what it would have felt like following that star to Bethlehem to see the Messiah, the King who came to this earth as a baby for you and me.

I found myself also asking, “Lord, the bright star in the east, the star of Bethlehem, was a sign of your first coming. Could it be that this event is ushering in your second coming?”

I turned around and behind me was the bright moon, beautiful in its brilliance. I felt like I could reach out and  touch it. I was overcome with emotion and wanted to fall to my knees in worship. It made me long for the day when we will see Him face to face and enjoy the majesty of the mansion He’s preparing for us.

We don’t know when the Lord will come back. Only the Father knows the day and time. But these two events this week made me long for that day more than ever. As I’ve been pondering His return, it’s also made me diligent in praying, “Lord, I want to live my life as if You’re coming back today.”

What difference would it make in your life if you knew He was returning today or this week? We don’t know when He will return, but we know He will. This week was a precious reminder that I should live every day as if it could be today. It could be.

If you saw the “star of Bethlehem” this week, what were your thoughts? How did it impact you?

Share this:

The Sweetness of Adoption

Hobson and Hannah

Hobson and Hannah

Adoption is something that has become near and dear to my heart. My niece and her husband adopted three children a year apart, whom we love with all our hearts. Multiple families in our church here in Memphis have adopted one or more children. It’s so sweet to see these little lives thrive in a good, stable home environment with loving parents.

I haven’t adopted children, but last Friday, I adopted two little kittens about eight weeks old. Having them in my life has made me ponder the sweetness of adoption, not only from an earthly perspective, but also from a heavenly perspective. As I look at these two sweet little kitties, it’s made me think of my adoption in Christ.

These two little kittens had a hard life before I adopted them. They were within 24 hours of being euthanized before a rescue organization pulled them out of the animal shelter and placed them in a foster home until they could find a permanent home. They had no hope apart from being adopted. In the same way, life apart from God is hard and we have no hope without Him. Thankfully, He adopted me and gave me hope for a future with Him eternally.

As I’ve spent time with these kittens, I have grown to love them. I have told them I will love them till the day I hold them in my arms and they take their last breath (and even after that). I will treat them with kindness and goodness and give them special treats from time to time. I hope that they will grow to love me the more they get to know my love for them.

But I also realize there will be times I will have to allow painful things to be done to them, like shots and surgeries. I’ll have to tell them “NO!” to something they desperately want to get into. They will not understand my actions and will question my love for them in those times.

But I know the bigger picture. It’s not good to let them play with the blinds cords because they could choke themselves. They don’t see the danger of chewing electric cords – they just see how much fun it is to play.

God has reminded me this week – that’s a picture of His relationship with me. I want to do things and God says no; and I don’t understand why He’s withholding something “good” from me. Or I don’t understand why He’s allowing me to go through something painful. I question His love for me. But, He can see the bigger picture. And what seems painful and unloving is for my good. He knows what’s best for me, just like I know what’s best for my adopted kittens.

As I look at my adopted kitties, I am reminded of my adoption in Christ and it makes me so thankful for my Father who loves me and cares for me far more than I love my kitties.

“In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…” (Ephesians 1:5).

I’m thankful for adoption!

 

Share this:

Saying Goodbye To A Precious Pet

Peyton

 

I had to make a heart-wrenching decision today (Thursday). My vet and I agreed that the time had come to put down my sweet 15-year-old cat Peyton. But we are waiting till tomorrow (Friday). I wanted one final night with this precious, faithful companion.

For those of you who have put pets down, you know the emotions overwhelming me as I write this. But I want to turn this into a positive in the midst of the pain. I want to honor Peyton by sharing some of the lessons she has taught me over these past 15 years. (Yes, God has used my cat to teach me.)

 

 

  1. Be faithful to those God has put in your life. Peyton has been faithful to me since day one. She is really a one-person kitty. She loves me and only me. She doesn’t shower love on the cat sitters or friends or family who come to visit. She is loyal to her owner.
  2. Enjoy God’s creation, especially the little things we often take for granted. Peyton is happiest when she is sitting outside, watching the birds, bugs, trees, flies, whatever is going on out there. She could spend hours at a time just laying there on the patio basking in God’s sunshine and enjoying the breeze on her face. It doesn’t take alot to make her content, even when she’s not feeling good.
  3. Rest is a good thing. Peyton knows how to rest and can tune out distractions all around her. She makes sure that rest is a vital part of her day. And she only wakes me up at night when she hears me moving. She knows I need rest, too.
  4. Embrace every day you have with those you love. You never know how long you have left together.
  5. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. (Job 1:20) All things are created by Him and belong to Him. He’s allowed me to enjoy Peyton for 15 years, and now it’s time to let her go. Thank You, Lord, for these 15 years with her.

One of my professors in seminary discussed the question of whether or not animals go to heaven when they die. We don’t know for sure, but he shared a verse from Revelation 5:13 he uses to answer that question.

The setting is around the throne in heaven. “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.'”

It gives me hope that Peyton will be there. I am so grateful that God blessed me with this precious companion for these many years.

Share this:

Knowing God Through His Names

The Cry of My HeartGod has given me a passion for writing Bible studies. As the Women’s Ministry Director at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, I get to do that as part of my job. Last year I had the opportunity to write a study on the names of God for our Women’s Bible study.

Yes, I know… there are  several studies already out on the names of God, but they weren’t the right fit for where I wanted to take my women in the study of this topic. So, I began the journey of writing a study on the names of God.

He taught me so much through this, and I can honestly say it drew me into a more intimate relationship with God. His names revealed His character and attributes to me in a fresh way.

Perhaps you are longing to grow more deeply in your relationship with God. The Cry of My Heart: Knowing God More Intimately Through His Names is designed to meet that need through a nine-week study of the names of God. By exploring twelve of the names by which God makes Himself known, you will get to know Him better and see how each name hints at a characteristic fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  You can use this study in your times alone with God or with a small group or women’s ministry Bible study. (It’s available on Amazon.)

Studying His names drew me into a sweeter, more intimate relationship with God. I pray that it will do the same for you.

Share this:

If Only I Had . . .

(This is a repost from 2012. As I’ve been working on a lesson on the sovereignty of God today, I was reminded of this post from several years ago. Thought I’d share it with you again.)

Waiting in LineHave you ever had a “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” day? This is a day in which you second guess yourself and the way you did things because the results were not what you had hoped for. If I would have done this… I should have done that… I could have done that, and wish I had… Things would be different if I would have…

I had one of those days this past Friday as I had the privilege of driving to downtown Memphis to sign up for my week of jury duty. Memphis does this differently than the other cities where I have lived. Instead of getting a summons to appear on such and such a date for jury duty, you get a summons to appear at a set time on a certain day to sign up for a week you want to serve. It sounds simple, right? Wrong.

This was my first time to get a summons for jury duty in Memphis and so I was not sure what to expect. Even though friends told me to take my calendar, and sit on the outside, I was not prepared for what transpired that afternoon. Over 4000 people were there, all trying to get their “perfect” week. There was a system we had to follow, but it didn’t go as smoothly as one might think from the directions. Competing with 4000 people to get your preferred week is no easy task.

I had two weeks out of the choices given that would have been a good fit for my schedule, but I was too far back in the line to get those weeks. I finally got the last week offered, but it was my last choice.

All the way home, I kept saying, “I should have gotten in line right away, even though I didn’t want the first week called. I could have gone to the other line which was probably shorter and maybe I would have gotten my choices. I should have sat on the outside of the room instead of the center of the room. I could have stayed and pleaded with the judge for another week. If I would have sat on the far side of the room, I would have had a better chance.” You get the idea.

Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve . . . We can say it all day long, but it’s not going to change the situation. What’s done is done. Get over it, I kept telling myself.

What are some lessons we can learn from these “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” days when we wish we had done things differently?

  • Remember that God is sovereign. He is ultimately in control and will cause “all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can’t change what’s in the past, but we can trust that God will use it for good in some way.
  • Learn from this experience and do it differently next time. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Next time I get called downtown to sign up for my week of jury duty, I know exactly where I am going to sit and which side of the room I’m going to move toward to stand in line. I know what I should do and could do and will do.
  • Tell others what would benefit them before they go through a similar situation. Prepare them and help them avoid the mistakes you made.

The next time you find yourself saying, I could have . . . I should have . . .  if I would have . . . Stop! Trust God to use this for good, and let Him teach you from it.

What has God taught you from your “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” days?

Share this:

When Mother’s Day Can Be Tough

mom at luauSunday is Mother’s Day. I realize that Mother’s Day can be difficult for women for different reasons. Some long to be a mother but can’t have children. Some have estranged relationships with their moms or children. Some, like me, have recently said goodbye to their moms. God knows what is going on in each of our hearts, and He cares.

This will be the first Mother’s Day without my mom on this earth. There’s a part of me that is sad as I think about the special memories with my mom.

But my heart is also filled with joy as I picture mom with Jesus and experiencing things far more glorious than I can ever imagine. I would not want her back here in the state she was in. She is where she longed to be, and I can celebrate with her this Mother’s Day.

I am so thankful that God allowed me to move mom to Memphis five years ago so I could see her every day these last five years of her life. I am thankful He allowed me to be with her when she stepped into His presence on December 19, 2014.

I am grateful for the way God used mom in the lives of those she was around wherever she was – assisted living, nursing home, hospital. Her smile ministered to others even when she couldn’t say a word.

So, as I look ahead to Sunday and the focus on mothers, what can I do to make this day special without my mom (or children)?

  • Give thanks for my mom, even though she’s no longer with me physically.
  • Reflect on all the things my mom taught me, not just through her words, but through her life.
  • Give thanks for the spiritual moms in my life.
  • Thank Him for the spiritual children He’s given me.
  • Pray for those I know are struggling this Mother’s Day.

To all of you moms, Happy Mother’s Day!

What is one word you would use to describe your mom?

Share this: