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Archive for the ‘From My Heart’ Category

 

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I think it was fitting that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day were the same day this year. We all think about Lent as a time of loss and sacrifice. It IS a time to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but this year I am reminded of the greatest love story that has ever been written. We can read about this amazing love in the Bible. It is all about God’s love for us.

God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus. God sent Jesus to die a horrific death, as a final sacrifice for US. I don’t deserve that kind of love. I am not worthy of that level of sacrifice. In my mind, I will never be good enough, but God says that I am. I am worthy. God knows that I am imperfect. He knows that I am a mess. He knows that I am broken beyond belief and He knows that on most days I am desperately hanging on to the hope that is found in Him. God knows all of this about me and yet He still sent His Son, Jesus, to die so that I may LIVE. That is what love is all about.

Valentine’s Day is now past, but Lent has just begun. I know Lent is usually about giving up something: candy, meat, soda, internet, etc. In the spirit of God’s love, why don’t we find a way to show love to those around us. Use this season to bring the love of God to the hurt and lonely. Make this the year you let someone know that they are worthy and loved. As you step out and love those around you, you will feel the love of God for you in a way that you never have before. For God so loved the world and this world needs more love.

 

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Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

We live in a time when people live isolated from family and friends. Many people go through life alone. I love the sentiment in this Bill Withers song, “Lean on Me.”  We need to be there for each other. We need to look past our differences and be willing to help each other regardless of our racial/cultural differences, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, educational background or any other difference that keeps us from reaching out to each other. We segregate ourselves into groups and refuse to reach out to help those that are different. we continue to recreate the past, refusing to learn from our mistakes.

Why do we do this? There are so many people that are alone and hurting. There are so many people that are living lives of quiet desperation and we choose to turn a blind eye and walk past their pain. We should be living out the example of Jesus. We should be showing compassion to those in need whether they are different or not. Although, Jesus was Biblically sent to bring the Gospel to the Jews, in Matthew 15:21-28, He has mercy on a Canaanite woman and rewards her faith. In John 4, Jesus shows compassion to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus didn’t care about the differences or that Jews weren’t supposed to associate with these two groups of people. Jesus saw the need and had compassion on these women.

Is there someone in your neighborhood/community that has a need? Is that person “different” than you are? Is that difference stopping you from stepping out in compassion? How can you look past the difference and your own bias to meet the need of one of God’s children?

I challenge you to look past the differences and see a child of God. We are ALL God’s children and Romans 2:11 tells us that God has no favorites. This means that one demographic is not better than another. He loves us all the same and wants us to show compassion for each other when one of us is in need. “Lean on me” needs to be a phrase that we use more. Look around you this day, week and year and see how you can be that person to lean on for someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have a cousin that has embraced her passion and has turned it into a life that she loves. Kali was going through a difficult time and at some point became inspired by Native American hoop dancers. She started hooping on a regular basis and it has evolved into so much more. She is now not only a talented hoop dancer, but has taken on other activities, like becoming a certified fire-eater, and  balancing swords on her head. She is in her 30’s and lives a life full of passion. She does performances. She gives individual instruction as well as workshops. Recently, she has brought together other talented performance artists and founded the Rogue Underground Circus: an all female circus. She has created a life that she loves and I admire her for it!

Why does it seem so hard to live a passionate life? Why does it seem so hard to create a life around that one thing we are passionate about? Why can’t we find that one thing that makes us jump up in the morning ready to start the day? I watch Kali’s videos and I feel her joy when I see her pictures on Facebook. Why is it so hard for me to feel that same joy for life? We all need something to live for.

I guess if I am honest, my question would be: Why am I not as passionate about Jesus as Kali is about performance arts? Shouldn’t my passion for Jesus exude from every fiber of my being? Is there such a thing as a passionate life lived quietly? Does passion have to be outrageous and always public? I look at Kali’s life and I wonder if I am living my life as passionately. I love Jesus with all of my heart. Does the world see that? Does my passion for Jesus show to those around me?

In my reflecting, I have to remember the Sisters with whom my life has become intertwined. I know that they are passionate about Jesus and taking their charism of love, mercy and justice to those who are hurting. They live quiet, simple lives of prayer and service. They are passionate, but they do not have to go out and yell it from the street corners. Maybe, what I do not see in myself, others see in me. I hope so. I am a quiet, simple person. I like solitude. I find peace in the solitude. Maybe, passion can be found there too.

 

 

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1 Samuel 13:14

14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Acts 13:22

22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

God called David a man after His own heart. What an honor! I know what your thinking. David was a great King and a great man of God, but would God say that about anyone living today? David WAS a great King and a great man of God, but he was not perfect. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed. David was full of lust and jealousy. Not the kind of guy you would think of as a man after God’s own heart, right? The story of David gives me hope. If God still considered David a man after His own heart, then maybe there is a chance that God will consider me a woman after His own heart. God knows that I’m not perfect, but I try. I have found 6 characteristics of David that have helped me in my own pursuit of being a woman after God’s own heart:

  1. Faith- David had faith in God. David trusted God with his life. In 1 Samuel 17:34 David tells King Saul, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Every other Israelite man was shaking in his shoes at the sight of Goliath, including King Saul. I have read that David was around 15 years old when he killed Goliath with his slingshot and stones. Would I at age 47 have that same kind of faith in a similar situation? Would you?
  2. Love for God’s Law- David loved God’s Law. David is credited for writing over half of the 150 Psalms in the Bible. In many of them he gives us a glimpse of how much God’s law and commands mean to him. Psalm 119:47-48 says, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.” Psalm 119:97 says, Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” David showed his love of God’s law by meditating on it and by obeying God’s commands. How often do I meditate on God’s law? How often do you?
  3. Thankful- David was thankful. In Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. David was all about giving thanks to God and living in a state of praise to the Almighty. In Psalm 138 David pours out praises for the God he loves. David knew that he was blessed and he lived in gratitude to the God who had given him so much. Do I give thanks enough for all that God has given me? Do you?
  4. Repentant- David was repentant. David knew that he had sinned against God. In Psalm 51 David begs for forgiveness for committing adultery and murdering Uriah. Am I repentant when I sin? Are you?
  5. Obedient- David was obedient. In Acts 13:22 God says of David, “he will do everything I want him to do.” God knew that David would obey His commands. Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. David lived his life in obedience to God. Do I live my life in obedience to God? Do you?
  6. Passionate- David was passionate about God. 2 Samuel 6:14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, Verse 16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. David was not embarrassed to dance before the Lord. He was passionate and he didn’t care who saw him. He was not going to apologize for celebrating before the Lord. Am I passionate about God? Am I to embarrassed to dance before the Lord with all my might? Do I take time to leap and dance before the Lord in celebration? How do you show your passion for God? Are you to embarrassed to leap and dance before the Lord?

WAS DAVID PERFECT?

I think we have already established that David was NOT perfect. David had lust in his heart when he saw Bathsheba on her rooftop. That lust led him to commit adultery and murder. He deceived Uriah and plotted his murder. Oh, and we can’t forget the time when David ran away in fear because Saul wanted to kill him. The guy had killed a giant with a slingshot and a stone and here he was running in fear from Saul. Where was his faith then? No, David was NOT perfect.

OUR HOPE

David’s imperfection gives me hope. David was a sinner and God still called him a man after His own heart. I am a sinner. I live a life of imperfection. I daily mess things up and have to ask forgiveness from God and others. I still have the hope of being called a woman after God’s own heart. That is what I live for. Following David’s lead, I do my best to live a life that glorifies God.

Never think that God can’t call you a man or woman after His own heart. Never think that you are to far gone to be blessed by the Father. Look at David’s life and know that if God blessed David, God will bless you too. What can you do today to implement the characteristics of David in your own life? What is one step you can take today to become a man or woman after God’s own heart? God will bless your attempts to glorify Him.

 

 

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I was reading Dr. Seuss’s I can Read with My Eyes Shut to my grand kids and it made me think about all the God things we miss when we walk through life with our eyes shut and our hearts closed.

“Young cat! If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”

“There are so many things you can learn about. BUT…you’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

God uses the circumstances of our daily lives to teach us lessons, bless us, give us opportunities to serve others, and BE Jesus in a fallen world. BUT…we need to have our eyes and our hearts wide open to the God things in our lives. If we walk through life with our eyes shut, we will miss the lessons that God wants us to learn. We will miss the blessings that God pours out amid the chaos of our every day lives. We will miss the many opportunities to serve those in need in our families and communities. We will miss the opportunity to BE Jesus to those who desperately need Jesus in their lives.

I have been guilty of walking through life with my eyes shut and my heart closed. I have missed God-given opportunities to learn and love. I have missed the blessing of serving others because I refused to see the pain and heartache of those around me. In all honesty, there have been times when I saw the pain, but my heart was closed to the opportunity to love someone to Jesus. When we live with our EYES WIDE OPEN, Life will have purpose. We will live life more fully. We will live more intentionally for Jesus.

I challenge you to live this new year 2018 with your EYES WIDE OPEN and your HEART ACCESSIBLE to the God things in the world you live in and the Jesus in the people you live with. Living with our eyes shut only closes us off to the good and the God around us. God never intended us to live that way. He wants us to live a life that’s open to Him and His many blessings. He doesn’t want us to miss out on the life we can live with Him. Live your life open to Him. Live your live with EYES WIDE OPEN and HEART ACCESSIBLE.

 

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Follow Me

follow-me

 

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 8:22

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 9:9

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 10:38

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Matthew 19:21

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 14:27

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

John 1:43

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

I think Jesus makes it obvious that He wants us to follow Him. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? Does it mean, going to church on Sundays, praying occasionally and being a generally good person? Many people believe that this is exactly what following Jesus is all about. Sometimes, I wish it were that easy. There are two reasons that people find it hard to follow Jesus: they don’t really understand what following Jesus requires or they don’t really want to make the sacrifice that being a true disciple requires. Jesus says in Luke 14:27 that if we do not carry our cross and follow Him then we CANNOT be His disciple. I WANT to be a disciple! I don’t want to live without Jesus. How then do we follow Him? Below I give 4 ways to follow Jesus that have helped me in my journey of following Him:

  1. Prayer: Prayer is a two way conversation with God. When we pray, we share the good and the bad in our lives with Him. We also, open our hearts to listen to what God has to say. When we keep our hearts open and keep the conversation going, we allow Jesus to abide in us, and when that happens we want nothing more than to follow Him all the days of our lives.
  2. Digging into God’s word: When we dig into the Bible, we can feel the Holy Spirit breathing life into our lives. We learn about Jesus, but most importantly, we learn how to follow Jesus. We learn what it means to be a Christian. When we read the Bible, something magical happens. It transforms our lives. The words sink into our hearts and our souls and we become disciples of Jesus.
  3. Sacrifice: To follow Jesus, scripture says that we must deny ourselves. That means that we must put the will of God before our own. Scripture says that we are not to be of the world. 1 John 2:15 says not to love anything in the world. We get so caught up in worldly things that we forget Jesus. Jesus said that we must sell our possessions and give to the poor. I believe that Jesus is asking us to live simple lives, so that we will be able to give to those in need. I also, believe that Jesus wants us to live simply so we remember that He is the most important thing. We may be asked to leave our families, our homes, our livelihoods in order to follow Jesus. Jesus, Himself had no home. What is Jesus asking you to sacrifice in order to follow Him?
  4. Obedience: In order to follow Jesus, we must obey Him, no matter the cost. Obedience is hard. We want to live one way, but Jesus is calling us to live a completely different way. If we want to follow Jesus, we MUST obey what He says. There are times when Jesus may call us into a lifestyle that we would never think of to fulfill His purpose. Be willing to obey.

In my own life, Jesus has called me to follow Him in this season of my life as a single woman. I knew a few years after my divorce in 2000 that I was meant to be single. I have had some well intentioned shoves to meet someone, but I am meant to be single. I felt confirmation in that calling about 3 months ago when I read that according to the Catholic Church, being single can be a vocation. YES!!! I knew it! Not everyone is meant to be married. There are those of us who feel called to follow Jesus as single men and women. Along with prayer and studying the Bible, I follow Jesus through celibacy, living a simple life, and writing this blog. As a Providence Associate I am called to living a life of Love, Mercy, and Justice in my sphere of influence. My relationship with Jesus is my EVERYTHING! There is nothing more important than Jesus. There can’t be if we choose to be His followers.

CHALLENGE: Are you a follower of Jesus? How do you know? In what ways are you an example of a disciple of Jesus? I am challenging you to take a long hard look at your christian walk and write down the ways that you are following Jesus. Do you need to make any changes? Do you need to become less worldly? Do you need to simplify your life? Do you need to pray more? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in becoming a disciple of Jesus that is willing to take up his/her cross and will immediately be willing to sacrifice everything when Jesus says, “Follow Me.” 

Jesus is calling you NOW to follow Him. He wants your heart. He wants your sacrifice. He wants your obedience. Are you willing to walk away from the world in order to follow Him today?

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 3:1-10

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

Samuel did not know the Lord, but he was still willing to listen. I have a relationship with the Lord, and yet I still do not always listen when He speaks to me. Why is that? Why don’t I listen? Why do I waste my time fumbling through life, when I would be so much better off if I would listen when God speaks? I have found that there are three main reasons that we don’t hear God:

  1. Physical Busyness– We live in a time where we are always on the go. Our days and nights are jam packed with activity and we are so focused on the next thing on our to-do list that we miss the voice of God. Is there an activity or two that you would be willing to give up to make more room for quiet time with God?
  2. Mental Preoccupation– When we aren’t physically running around trying to check things off our to-do list, we are mentally writing tomorrow’s to-do list and thinking about what is to come in the future. Even on the rare occasions when we find ourselves at rest, our minds are still going a mile a minute. What can you do to quiet your mind enough to hear the Lord speak?
  3. A Closed Heart– There are times when we are so set on having our own way that we refuse to hear God’s voice. We can get so caught up in our own agenda that we forget that God knows what is best for us. God speaks, we simply refuse to listen. What can you do to focus more on what God says, rather than on what you want?

 

I have no excuse for not listening to the voice of the Lord. I am challenging myself this year to slow down, quiet my mind and open my heart to what the Lord has to say to me. I don’t want to miss out on what God has in store for me because I refused to listen. I sincerely believe that God does still speak to His children. We simply need to be still enough and be willing enough to listen. When God speaks my name, I want my answer to be, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” 

 

 

 

 

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