Tag Archives: Attitude

1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

I admit reading of Solomon’s riches and feasts and wisdom left me longing. But then two things:

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 1 Kings 10:1, NLT.

And, regarding his many wives–especially those the Lord said not to marry because they’d turn his heart away from God:

And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. 1 Kings 11:2b, NLT.

1. His fame brought honor to the Lord.

2. And even a man so wise could go down a wrong path.

I’ve been overwhelmed to a crashing point when all the responsibilities I thought I could carry (and somehow balance) fell down around me after weeks of a child’s health issue got heaped on top. I’ve felt the pressure, too, to have a good attitude while this is going on–but at the end of every day, I’m acutely aware of my failure.

Every day: failure.

It has brought me low, for sure, and I find myself asking: Who am I in the midst of chaos? And who do I want to be?

So, reading of Solomon’s wealth and parties and abundance, at first glance, didn’t help me much where I am under a variety of pressures. But 1 Timothy 6 did.

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For,

At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21 Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. 1 Timothy 6:11-21, NLT.

Pursue. Fight. Hold tightly. Guard.

Lord, today my trust is in you. Thank you for your word, your strength and your provision. Thank you for loving me, especially on my worst days.

Courtney (66books365)

(I did go back and read the Old Testament scriptures more thoroughly and appreciated the pairing of Solomon’s wealth with the New Testament reminder of true riches. Sadly, Solomon’s wealth and wisdom didn’t prevent him from making choices that led him away from God. Paul’s instructions to Timothy were exactly the reminder I needed of who I am–a woman of God–and what to pursue. I can easily be distracted by the demands in my life and judge my success/failure by my ability to perform, but Paul reminds to pursue a godly life [as in God-focused life, not a flawless life as I sometimes dupe myself into thinking]. I look to God for the strength and provision to get through this and get done what needs to be done. He carries me, and always has.)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Genesis 26, 27; Mark 10

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to see everything fresh through my children’s eyes. Everything is new to them, even if they’ve seen it before. Everything is exciting, even when they’ve done it before.

Over the holidays, my parents and I decided to take my children for a drive to find Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods. We all loaded into the van after dinner and started driving looking for the decorated houses. It didn’t take long to find them, and the girls went crazy, oohing and aahing, squealing with joy at something as simple as lights in the darkness of the evening.

They do the same thing with Jesus. They love to hear Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus (amazingly I often hear my girls singing “You make me brave” at the top of their lungs when they are playing in their room). They accept who He is without questioning if He’s real. They accept everything He’s done without wondering whether or not they are worthy. They revel in His love. They dance with all their might in His presence. They accept every good thing He gives and expect nothing less than the best. They are princesses and prince(s), coheirs with Christ, and they don’t doubt that for a second. They don’t worry about what someone else might think about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, they don’t worry about ‘works’ they just jump into His arms, so to speak, and are blessed.

I remember times in my walk with God where I was like that little child, but more recently the cares of life have crept onto my shoulders and weighted me down; I became an adult trying to survive and my spirit has suffered for it. The responsibilities of ‘doing’ have taken over – because someone has to cook, clean, and wipe runny noses – and I have neglected simply ‘being’.

I watch my girls, especially on Sundays, dancing and waving flags and having fun, and while I really enjoy watching them expressing their love and freedom, I am also jealous to experience even a small piece of that again. A part of me wants to cast off the responsibility, the ‘Martha-like’ to-do list, the worry of ‘who is going to watch my kids’, and immerse myself like a little child in God’s presence, in Heaven on earth. And, a part of me is scared that I have forgotten how to enter in, how to let go, how to let my guard down enough to let the little girl escape her ‘duties’ and encounter joy.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I am not sure how to balance being an adult and being child-like. But I know that I want to be received into Jesus’ arms and be blessed just like a little child.

Yesappa, thank You for loving me. Thank you for blessing me with Your gift of grace. Will you give me wisdom for becoming like a little child before you? Will you meet me where I am and heal my spirit, heal my heart? Will You show me how to let go and let God? Thank You for showing me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Genesis, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament

Song of Songs 4-5; 2 Corinthians 13

Grabbing a few thoughts.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11, NLT

Be joyful.

Finding joy and enjoyment in tasks, others, this day. When things happen beyond my control–um, that’s a large category!–help me to hold onto what is true, righteous, pure. And if I can’t do that, I will take the simplest of pleasures–that cup of coffee this morning at 2 a.m., fall-like temperatures and a reason to wear a favorite cardigan, a song in my heart. I don’t want a day to go by where I’m not joyful over something. I have lost so much time to lesser things.

Grow to maturity.

Time spent in God’s Word. Letting (mentors, teachers, godly friends, circumstance) influence and shape me. Being open and humble to correction–to the point of change.

Encourage each other.

Look joyfully towards others and their talents–God-given gifts. Remembering the salve of encouragement at my lowest times–a friend on the phone when the moving van arrived; Reggie picking weeds with me in an overgrown garden; an enemy’s accusation buffeted by reminders of who I am in Christ.

Live in harmony and peace.

When conflict arises, asking myself what is it I stand to lose that threatens me to a reaction. What is it I ultimately want to gain for myself, for another, and for the both of us? How will my actions and thoughts achieve those means? Are these actions and thoughts God honoring? Will I regret them afterwards? Not always easy in the moment.

Paul wants these things for his brothers and sisters because he knows the danger of attitude, immaturity, discouragement, and disunity and discord. These are cancers that destroy from the inside–the very heart. First in one heart, and then infecting and affecting those around us.

Lord, help me to guard my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

1 Samuel 27; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

…We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all. (MSG)

…Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. (NLT)

…We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs you up with pride, but love builds up. If you think you know something, you do not yet know anything as you should. But if any person loves God, that person is known by God. (NCV)

1 Corinthians 8:1b-3

Right now God is working on my heart in the area of “love”; not in the romantic sense (eros), not even in the brotherly sense (philos), but in the agape, unconditional, freely given, never changing sense.

What does it mean to love God? What does it mean to love my husband? My children? My friends? My enemies?…

I am learning that it is vital for ALL of my relationships for me to focus on love. Loving with intention. Loving without reservation. Loving whole-heartedly. My goal must be to always seek to ‘keep my love on’.

I am learning that love is transformative. That when I love without inhibition, real freedom is established and my relationships flourish – I am free to be who I am. You are free to be who you are. Even when we don’t see eye to eye. Even when we have different opinions, different revelations, different ways of living life.

But be careful that your freedom does not cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin. (NCV)

Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin]. (AMP)

But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track. (MSG)

1 Corinthians 8:9

I am learning that when I make the conscious choice to love above all else, the enemy tempts me to fall into old patterns of pride, anger, fear, and lack of self-control, perverting liberty with bad attitude, with a ‘holier than thou’ outlook.

I easily fall back into believing that I am right, believing that my way is the only way. I substitute true freedom given by God, for captivity. I forfeit true love for my ‘right’ to live in the distorted ‘freedoms’ of my own understanding. My ‘entitlement’ to do what I want to do, how I want to do it, becomes a hindrance for others. My sin causes others to sin. Not only did I get off the path of love, I also risk pulling others off with me. I withdraw into my own little world, separating myself from the things I most desire.

I am learning that breaking those old molds means going back to the Cross. It means putting my focus back on God’s love (John 3:16). It means obeying His commands – to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind; to love my husband, children, friends, and enemies as I love myself (Matthew 22:35-40). It means to love on purpose, to abide in a culture of honor.

I am learning that living IN love is a process. And, some days it is easy…

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

3 Comments

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

1 Samuel 19; 1 Corinthians 1; Lamentations 4; Luke 24

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. God did this so that no one can brag in his presence. Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God. In Christ we are put right with God, and have been made holy, and have been set free from sin. So, as the Scripture says, “If people want to brag, they should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NCV)

As a teenager and young adult, I realized that I did not have any one skill that I highly excelled in; I was never going to be an extraordinary talent. I was never going to be a Charlotte Church or an Andrea Bocelli, though I love to sing. I was never going to be a Beethoven or a YoYo Ma, though I love music. I was never going to be a Picasso, a Shakespeare, or a Meryl Streep, though I love the arts. I was never going to be a Dominique Moceanu, a Dorothy Hamill or a Ray Lewis, though I love athletics. Though I love all things culinary, I was never going to be a Jacques Pépin or a Julia Childs (my personal hero – and yes, I will admit, I grew up pretending I was her when I took my turn to help out in the kitchen).

So my goal was to become a jack-of-all-trades. I wanted to be full of knowledge, to know enough about as much as possible. I wanted to be like Benjamin Franklin who had so much information, so many facts to share with the world. I wanted book smarts, and I wanted ‘street’ smarts as well. I wanted to learn from other people’s proficiencies and I wanted to learn through experiential knowledge too. I wanted wisdom.

I took pleasure in learning, whether from reading a nonfiction book, from watching an educational T.V. program, or from studying someone while they plied their trade, and even from jumping in with both feet to attempt something I had never tried before. I had satisfaction in knowing more than the next person. I took pride in being ‘right’ (even when I was wrong).

Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NCV)

When I began following Christ, He revealed my arrogance and my outlook on wisdom changed. I recognized that my attitude was in the wrong place. My drive for knowledge had stemmed from self-importance, from a desire to be better than other people, to ‘prove’ myself to the world. I had taken a bite of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ fruit, rather than walking with God each day in the cool and quiet of our secret place, trusting Him to reveal true wisdom. I boasted in myself, rather than singing the praises of my Creator, the Author of everything, the Designer who has all knowledge because He is ALL knowledge.

The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 (NCV)

I continue to this day to love to learn as much as I can, and I believe that my Father takes enjoyment in my search for understanding. My quest is set right at the Cross at Calvary, an exploration aligned with His Kingdom. My pursuit is now grounded in Him. He has given me spectacles covered in the blood of Christ, to help me see things through His eyes, giving me new awareness, giving me new insight. He cleanses my heart daily, bathing it in love, changing my perception and allowing for godly discernment.

Christ did not send me to baptize people but to preach the Good News. And he sent me to preach the Good News without using words of human wisdom so that the cross of Christ would not lose its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NCV)

My objective is to investigate and embrace the awesome ‘foolishness’ of the Cross, the breathtaking gift of grace. My intention is to share with everyone I meet the tremendous power of the sacrifice Jesus became at Calvary, offering comprehension of the Truth, the only Truth that sets captives free. My aim is to proclaim His Glory. My purpose is His mission.

Yesappa, I want to be a fool for You, steeped not in worldly intelligence, but drenched in Truth. Help me walk daily in Your wisdom. Help me live immersed in Your understanding. Help me boldly brag about the power of the Cross, Your Good News, Your Gift of Grace with courage no matter how stupid another may think I am. Help me Holy Ghost! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Lamentations, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

1 Samuel 3; Romans 3; Jeremiah 41; Luke 10

While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NCV)

I’ve always been like Martha, responsible, given to hospitality, with an understanding that life happens and certain duties need to be done. But, I’ve always wanted to be more like Mary, one who sits at Jesus’ feet, focused only on Him, blinded to the ‘things’ of life.

When I went to ministry school, it was one of the hardest struggles I had to work through, especially since, as a student, I was part of the team that cleaned up after church and after conferences. More often than not, my responsible side took over and while many of the other students were still spending time with God, I was cleaning up urine off of the toilets in the bathrooms, seething with jealousy.

When I came to India as a long-term missionary, it was still a problem I struggled with. My (now) husband worshipped the Lord all the time, serving the people by bringing the Word to them, introducing them to Jesus or presenting them with a new teaching, all in Tamil, a foreign language I still don’t fully understand. Meanwhile, I was ‘stuck’ doing house work, administration for his ministry outreaches, and sitting for 3-4 hours on Sunday not being able to understand anything that was being said during the church service, not being able to experience corporate prayer or worship in a way that moved my heart.

As a mother, I am experiencing this issue yet again. When all I want to be doing is entering into His presence, praying, worshipping, reading the Word, there are so many duties to be done. And this time, there are two little lives that are depending on my actions for their survival, two little beings who don’t understand Mommy’s need to get away with the Lord, to drink Living Water to quench my thirst.

Obviously still in process with this whole Martha/Mary battle waging war within me, I have come to some realizations that have helped me relax in the midst of my progression:

1)      Sometimes listening to God is more about learning to recognize His voice calling me in the midst. More often than not, His voice is the still, small voice I am not quite sure I even heard (1 Kings 19:11-13). Samuel didn’t even understand that it was God speaking to him. Only when Eli explained who was calling him in the night, did he know how to respond. Only when he identified God’s voice was he able to listen to what God had to say to him.

So Samuel went and lay down in bed. The Lord came and stood there and called as he had before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NCV)

2)       In life there are certain things that have to be done – even the Bible says there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) The key is remembering that everything I do, whether it be feeding my family or washing mountains of laundry, even changing diapers and cleaning the bathroom, is able to be done as if I am doing it for the Lord Himself, doing those things as an act of worship to Him (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

3)      There are only so many hours in a day, days in a year, years in a life. When it comes down to it, evaluating my priorities every day, accomplishing what really needs to be done and releasing the unrealistic pressures of trying to be a Wonder Woman, is crucial. Letting go of the ‘to do’ list allows me to be free from the burden and the worry. Seeking God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness enables me to achieve more in the day than I thought was even possible (Matthew 6:25-34).

I’ve come to the conclusion that really it boils down to my attitude. I can choose to be like Martha, a woman who has a chip on her shoulder, only seeing the overwhelming amount of work she ‘has’ to do all by herself; a woman who writes things on her list just so she can cross them off. I can choose to be like Mary, a woman who spends all of her time in front of the Lord, basking in His Glory and His Love, but accomplishing nothing of the tasks required for life, oblivious to everything and everyone else around her. Or, I can choose to be myself, a woman who has a full duty roster and yet seeks to offer my whole life as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord (Romans12:1-2), not looking to the right or to the left in comparison or in envy.

It is this new way of thinking that I strive for…even more than a cleaned kitchen or ironed clothes or bathed, fully dressed children.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans

Malachi 3, 4; Revelation 22

 “I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed…Return to me so I can return to you,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 “You ask, ‘But how do we return?’

 “Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

 “You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’

 “The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 “You’ll be voted ‘Happiest Nation.’ You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. Malachi 3:6-12 MSG

Whenever pastors give their exhortation on tithing I almost always get on edge. I am not sure if it is because it sometimes has the feel of stereotypical tele-evangelist trying to convince me I am going to hell if I don’t help them pay for their Mercedes or if it is a reminder that I haven’t always been faithful and diligent with giving back to God. I think sometimes it seems like what I can give isn’t enough and that makes me feel like a failure even though the Bible tells me otherwise (Mark 12:41-44 MSG)

Some pastors pass the plates and don’t say a word. Some just have a box in the sanctuary and trust people to do their duty. Some take time out of every service to guilt people into giving.

And then, there are those pastors who help me remember that giving to God willingly and joyfully is an act of worship no different than singing a beautiful praise song or dancing before the Lord with all my might. They reveal the blessings of obedience in giving. They share about being a pipeline for God.

At first, I was a little leery, but I began putting it into practice, this marvelous concept of trying to out-give God, of giving from a heart of love. I made it my goal to not let an opportunity to give pass me by.

GOD-of the Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” Malachi 3:17-18 MSG

Amazing things began happening in my life. Just like those brilliant pastors said…blessing began flowing into my life. Gratitude. Joy. Financial gifts. Debt forgiveness.

I began giving whatever I could give. Sometimes it came from the tenth of the money I had earned. And sometimes, when I didn’t have anything but a bit of loose change, I would give it all wrapped within a Bible verse and tied with a prayer of abundance.

I continued giving by being obedient to what I felt like God was asking me to give. My marked-up, earmarked Bible to a hurting, homeless man who I found out later had been praying earnestly for one. A hug to a woman who was blind and now could see except through the tears that were clouding her eyes. A pair of flip flops to a man who could barely walk for the wounds of leprosy that plagued his feet. A prayer and a way out to a teen who had been fending off her uncle’s advances for months. Cooking a celebration meal for the widows in our church to remind them that they are loved and wanted.

When I got into the habit of giving it became an easy thing to do and yet at the beginning it was so difficult. I had this bucket mentality – when my bucket was full then I would give from the overflow. Only whenever I had an overflow, my bucket just got bigger and I still rarely gave.

I found that when I started intentionally giving to God and to others regularly it changed my attitude. I wanted to give more than ever before. I began looking for different ways to give. And it has come to the point where I would even be willing to give the shirt off my back if I was lead to give it.

It is the last day to give in this year. Some people will give today with the hopes of helping their taxes. Some will give because they are inspired. Some will give from their abundance. And some will give from their lack.

Regardless of where you are, consider reaching out. Give from your heart to someone in need. Meet them where they are with a hug, a gift, an act, a word, or a bit of your time. Share Christ’s sacrifice of love to a stranger. Hold the door for someone struggling with her grocery bags. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Visit with someone at a retirement home or hospice. Offer a meal to a homeless man. Give a donation to your church or an organization that shares your vision.

Be generous today and see where it leads in the new year.

The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you. Oh, Yes! [today and in the year to come!] Revelation 22:21 MSG

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Malachi, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation