I was thinking over some things and a term came to mind: God Weight. I defined it as weight that was only intended for God to carry, yet many believers make the attempt to carry weight they’re not equipped to handle on their own.
Since I can only speak about myself, I am guilty of being a God-weight carrier. Words like control and independence come to mind. I try to do my best in my independent mindset to handle the challenging situations myself, rather than ask for help. This goes against God’s invitation extended to us, of being available to come to our aid, if we would only ask. For example,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
“Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7 (KJV)
There is no need to carry what is too heavy for you, when there is Someone mightier and more than able to handle the weight, full of solutions that will conclude the matter once for all. I invite you to stop carrying God weight, give it over to Him, and I will try my best to do the same. Be strengthenized…
With all this hand washing I have been doing in the past months, I found my hands were getting very itchy. I realized by process of elimination I could no longer use soap from the dollar store. It seems there was something in its content that my skin was reacting to. Once I stopped using it, the itching went away in a couple of days.
I also realized that drinking water was very helpful. The more I drank, the better I felt. But when I stopped, I didn’t feel as good. I especially felt this way when I would drink a lot of water for a week, and for some reason stop.
Have you felt dry lately? Is it your prayer life? Jesus made it a point during his time on earth to consistently make time to pray to the Father, particularly early in the morning. I believe it was the energy that resulted from his praying that gave him the power to continue throughout the day. Perhaps we should prioritize prayer.
What words are you reading? Is it media soundbites of the pandemic that keep you dried out, stressing from the latest news of the virus, crippled by fear of what would happen if you or a loved one gets it? Perhaps the ‘watering’ of God’s Word will help you experience that His love through His Word casts out all fear, giving you a sound mind in the process.
How are you spending your time? Binging on watching tv shows can be a drying experience that drains the time that could be spent just talking to God, emptying how you feel about what’s going on in your world, and giving Him control of those things you can’t solve. Spending time with God is quality time put to good use. Yielding those concerns over to Him can replace the dryness you may be feeling.
Choose to no longer be dehydrated from the cares of this world, devoid of natural and spiritual moisture. Instead, seek the freshness of God’s Word, extending an invitation to be moist in the newness of God’s hydration through prayer, reading God’s Word, and experiencing fellowship with Him. I will do the same as I drink my bottle of water…
From the NIV of the Bible:
“And when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
One day I felt awful. I didn’t know why, but I realized for the past few days I spent my days slumped in the chair sleeping the hours away. I didn’t feel sick, but I did feel terrible. Something has to give, I thought to myself. I knew I had to do something to change how I was feeling. Since I have read that doing something for 21 days will initiate a habit, I decided that whatever I did, it would be for twenty-one days. So here was my plan:
- use my newly purchased spin bike for at least 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. I would go on youtube.com and search for 20 minute videos: I took a liking to the GCN site
- I would find cardio videos for 20 minutes and videos that used weights, all to mix it up, so I wouldn’t be doing the same things every day
- I would change my eating habits, so I bought cookbooks with the Mediterranean diet recipes, and learn how to make veggie/protein bowls
I was ready to begin. The day before the first of 21 days began, I went to the grocery store and got the food needed for this plan, and once home I cut up the veggies and lettuce, and cooked the protein; that way it would not take long to put the bowls together for a meal.
The first day was a beast on the bike, I was so out of breath, and sweating profusely; but at least I got through it while keeping pace with the video. As time wore on, it seemed after the first week I wanted to do more than 20 minutes on the bike and 10 – 15 minutes of cardio, so I upped the ante on each type of exercise. I did cardio at least 20 minutes, and one time I did it for an hour! I admit I had to stop the video a few times, but again, I got through it and felt pumped of that accomplishment. By day 15 I changed the bike class to 40 minutes, but that proved too much, so I found a sweet spot in doing 30 minutes. Then I discovered I no longer hated the bike; I started liking the exercise. Go figure!
The veggie bowls were fine, but there were many times I just didn’t want to eat anything. There were times when I forced myself to eat, and other times all I wanted to do was eat. But I noticed I cut out fried foods, soda and candy (though I did sneak in a slice of cake from time to time).
The twenty-first day was today, and I promised myself that I would not weigh myself until today. Two pounds lost….wah, wah, wah. 😦 That’s all? I thought. I fought plummeting into a valley of despair, praying to God and apologizing for not doing better.
But I realized some things had happened that was more than just the weight issue:
- I was sleeping better, more soundly, and I was getting back to having a sleep schedule that aided in my sleeping habits.
- My belly was so huge as it once was. There is more to be worked on regarding this, I acknowledged, but there was much improvement in this area. Also my ankles weren’t so swollen as they once were
- I stuck to drinking more water
- I didn’t eat a lot of restaurant/fast food anymore. Of the 21 days I may have done that once a week, and the last week I didn’t eat out at all. That means I utilized my kitchen and cooked a lot, putting cooked meat in the freezer and taking it out when I needed it. In turn, that cut down on expenses. And regarding the cake, if I went to the grocery store when it opened, the bakery did not put the slices that early, so I couldn’t get any
- I committed myself to exercise six days a week, at least 30 minutes a days, which adds up to 180 minutes a week.
While I have to focus on the positive of what has taken place, I must do an analysis on those areas that need improvement. In this case, it is food intake. More veggies, less protein and more fruit. As for another twenty-one day commitment: I think I can do that.
Through praying to God, I felt encouragement to continue and not stop because I did not achieve a substantial weight loss. In talking to others, I still hear testimonies of losing ten pounds or more, which discourages me. But the question I ask myself is should the negative outweigh my goal of losing weight and getting healthy? Thank God I can say no to that question. So I will continue.
Another point I have to admit to myself. I can’t do this all by myself, I need help. The encouragement of others and constantly asking God for his power that enables me to say no to myself when I want to devour a pizza or eat a piece of cake. God says if I seek His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things shall be added. God told Joshua to keep the Law, meditating on and doing it constantly, and then he would be prosperous and successful. I need to do the same.
Whatever is challenging you, prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers. Focus on what God has to say regarding how to live life, that He will always be with you no matter what, and if we emphasize and implement what He says in our everyday living, success will come. Be strengthenized…
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayeth observe to do…for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
I was watching a sermon from Pastor Shawn Johnson of Red Rocks Church that is located in Colorado. Like his other messages, this one was another good one, but it moved me to write. He gave many examples of what faith could be, and what many don’t experience. For him, one instance sent him on a downward spiral to deep depression.
He spoke of being on the floor, so deep into despair that he could not get up. His wife Jill persevered with him, even if that meant being on the floor with him. This season kept him from being pastor at Red Rocks, as he needed to work on himself. After he got better, he went to visit his spiritual father, who gave him a simple bit of advice. He asked Shawn if he spent time with God, not because he was searching for the next sermon, or he needed a scripture to base the sermon on, but if he listened to worship music and spent time with God.
Shawn had to regrettably admit that he had not. What did he have to do, and how can this be applied to the faith walk of the believer?
In his sermon series 167: Stay Home Faith, the main theme is this:
- there are 168 hours in a week
- of those hours, many go to church, say, for an hour, so that hour is dedicated to God
- after attending church service, there are no more hours during the remainder of the week spent with God or others of the faith
- What happens to the other 167?
Therein is the difference between experiential faith and knowledgeable faith. Being knowledgeable in something does not necessarily mean one has experienced it. So for example, if wedding vows said at the wedding ceremony are full of beautiful prose from each soon-to-be spouse to each other that makes the audience swoon and get teary-eyed, Shawn suggests in a funny way that that not be done. Instead he offers they not say vows like that, but wait at least a couple of years, and see if they can still say such lovely words to each other. By that time there married life has been experienced, and maybe the words will have changed.
Or how about this one? Reading children books on how to be a parent is way different than taking the baby home and starting the years of experience of actually being a parent. The nights of staying up with the baby, not having a clue of how to stop the crying, then fast forward to experiencing how to deal with that child when he or she becomes a teenager.
But once one experiences what it is like in each of these instances, living life is so much different. Now the knowledge has linked up with the experiential, and life is now rooted and grounded, becoming richer because of the experience.
During the sermon, a picture was posted on the screen, giving an aerial view of a neighborhood that had been devastated after hurricane Harvey. The majority of the homes were flattened… except for two. These two houses may have been damaged, but both were not flattened, they still stood after withstanding the forces of the storm. Here are the pictures:
The white house was closest to the beach. When interviewed, those that built the home stated that the foundation was built way down beneath the surface in preparation for any storms that may come. The other house seemed to be protected by the white house during the storm.
Jesus taught on this wise:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-28
One hour of going to church is not enough. Spending time obtaining knowledge to complete a sermon is not enough. Reading about being a parent is not the same as actually being one, and saying vows at a wedding ceremony need to be coupled with the experience of married life. The experience of reading God’s Word, having it implanted in your heart is how foundation is established. Learning how to pray is one thing; actually doing it is quite another, as praying causes the relationship between you and God to flourish and deepen. Asking God for help brings him into the situation, causing the foundation of faith to become take root, giving the believer not only a knowledge of knowing what could happen, but experiencing what has taken place. This type of faith, when molded with the experiential, offers a foundational faith that can withstand the storms of life, allowing the believer to stand.
So what can you do with the remaining 167? I hope you will apply a chunk of it to foundation-building…be strengthenized.
There is a Volvo commercial that I love, not because of the product being presented, but because of the song entitled Lean On. One line sticks with me throughout the day:
“ All we need is somebody to lean on…”
I found the original version of the song, and it sounds nothing like what is in the commercial. It is more fast-paced, a song you would hear in a club perhaps. The version in the commercial is just the opposite: slowed down, and has the tone of comfort to the one listening to it.
More than ever, this line is what many of us need. Millions worldwide are looking for answers to lean on, conclusions that would help them come to terms with their fear and concerns over the virus pandemic.
If only we could find that someone to lean on.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes in its definitions of the word lean to mean
to cast one’s weight to one side for support
to rely for support or inspiration
to incline, defined further as to lean, bend, or become drawn toward an opinion or course of conduct
A verse comes to mind: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
A fisherman with a fishing rod casts the line forward, to get it in the water and lure a catch of fish. On the end of the line may be a worm that will lure the fish to come and take a bite. What do you want to cast out into the deep? Is it the fear you have been experiencing from news of the virus spreading worldwide? Is it the concern you have over bills piling up because you have been laid off? Is it not knowing if your business will permanently close or remain open?
As you cast (representative of leaning) your finances out into the deep, reel in God’s provision. As you cast fear out into the deep, reel in God’s peace. Cast out whenever something nags at you that would cause you to experience the negativity of your situation and concern of you and your family. Believe that God will make a way; only believe He can do so. You may have to wait for it, but keep asking and keep believing. That is the essence of leaning in and having Someone to Lean On…
Given the time we are currently living in, I went to the store to get some groceries. As you probably know, water is hard to come by, and items that once were in large quantities are quite nil. I find myself trying to guess the day of the week and the time to go to the grocery store in hopes of finding that the delivery has been made and the food is somewhat plentiful. Sometimes that works, and other times it does not.
Shopping malls are closed, so I can’t get my shopping fix on. Amazon and DSW online had become my coping mechanisms, until I realized that needed to stop. I began to think of what I really needed to buy that would assist me in living life, not just buying stuff that I really didn’t need, if I am honest with myself.
Then I as led to Isaiah 55. It was a passage I needed to read. This passage presented an invitation to anyone who is thirsty and has no money coming to a place to buy, but money would not be needed, and you could buy what you wanted, “without money and without price.” The second verse really got me thinking. Reworded, the verse asks a question I had to consider. Why spend money for things that don’t satisfy, and why waste some much of your time on things that don’t satisfy you?
The next part of this chapter offers a solution. Incline, or listen to me, God says, as an everlasting covenant will be made, making the one who inclines a witness to people, who don’t know you and you don’t know them. But because of your witness to them they will run to the Lord. And here is the verse that is popular with many: God’s ways and thoughts are higher than what we possess. Later in the chapter it speaks of God’s Word, once declared and spoken out into the atmosphere, will not return void, as one goes out with joy, being led by peace.
In times such as these, what should we do? Buy things we don’t need and stay to ourselves, or get the Word out, being an encourager to as many as we can about the Lord? If we buy the right things to satisfy our inner thirst, that satisfaction will enable us to proclaim to the world.
If you purchase the right things to quench your spiritual thirst, joy and peace will come your way. The writer challenges us to seek the Lord while he can be found, and call on Him while He is near. With all this time on our hands, what better time to seek God.
Buy freely, and seek intently…
I am presently experiencing many states in life:
- learning to be a first-time grandmother to twin boys
- the realm of being retired (don’t hate; you time will soon come)
- learning to declutter stuff I haven’t used in years; disposing what I haven’t used
Recently I visited my grandsons Josiah and Elijah, spending time feeding and caring for them. Being a few weeks old, I was fearful I would harm them (not picking them up properly for example). But eventually I got more comfortable with them, and feeding them became natural. They live with their parents in another city, and when I am home I miss them terribly. But I hope I will continue to learn my role as their Mimi grandmom, and I find myself looking at other toddlers, being excited to see the boys reach that age. The state of a new role is quite interesting.
The following month I retired from my job after over 30 years of service. Once the paperwork was submitted months ago, it seemed like time sped up, and before I knew it, I was having lunch with friends one last time before I carried my box of stuff from clearing my office space, driving away with a big smile on my face. The state of happiness was being experienced.
Once home, I began making a list of projects I now had the time to complete. Rearranging furniture in the living room and getting rid of two old bookcases, purchasing a new one and putting books I had for years in boxes for donation. Next was the kitchen, clearing out cabinet space which meant throwing out old plastic containers. These containers I have wanted to dispose of for months, because they were so old they were turning yellow! I have these containers for decades, and knew I needed to throw them out and get new ones. What a sense of accomplishment I felt when I started taking out bags of plastic clutter! What a lovely state I found myself in.
State comes from the Middle English stat , the Anglo-French estat, and the Lating word status. This is further explained as a way of living or existing; the things that affect the way you think or feel. Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of Philippians that having gone through different situations in his life, he had learned to be content. Life is full of whatever states; it is up to us to accept or reject.
If we reject, chances are life will seem to be a not so pleasant experience. It may be full of angst and frustration, trying to make things work, and the more you try to figure it out and solve it, the worse it gets. Your status of life, the way you think and feel will put the prefix dis in front of content; life will be experienced as one of discontentment, full of negativity. But this is what Paul experienced. He wrote that whatever is happening in his life, he learned to be content, and Paul’s life was full of great times (preaching the gospel), and hard, challenging times (being shipwrecked, thrown in prison, badly beaten and left for dead, to name a few). It was in all of these instances that Paul could surmise in the fourth chapter of Philippians that he learned how to be content in what I call state whatevers.
So for me, I am still a process in the making, so I continue to live life learning how to live the contented life, regardless of what happens: whether my finances are strong or need some tightening up, learning to be a grandmother, discovering the joy of being free from daily working, and enjoying what it is like to have time to explore and learn more about life.
So whatever your state may be, learn from it and be content while in it.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11
For years I participated in music ministry, singing, directing choirs, teaching music and the like. After many years, I was worn out while at the same time, I needed something new. I felt there had to be something more to life than what I was then doing.
So I left music. Fast forward about ten years, where I was at a new church (literally, it was a church plant), and the desire, which if I am honest never left, came alive again. I wanted to be a part. But that was full of frustration. Going for auditions and not sounding great at all. I am grateful for volunteering at a church for their Sunday evening service and I will be so thankful that they welcomed me in. I became interested in music again. Tony their music director became like my big brother, another person I am blessed to have met.
But back to the new church. I auditioned and was finally accepted to the music group. I actually thought I could pick up where I left off years ago. When the time came for me to lead a song, well, let’s say what I thought would happen…didn’t in my opinion. I just fell flat, full of nerves, and I didn’t fare well. I had asked about leading (after all, if you don’t ask how will they know?), thinking if I let them know I wanted to do it, it would happen. It did, but I think the timing was a bit off; I wasn’t ready to take on such a task. I felt really bad about it and just went to God in prayer and apologized for being so bad. The I realized something: it had been a while since I had done that, and why did I think all would be well? I had not prepared for it, hadn’t been getting my voice ready for example. I needed to wait for God’s timing for before that happened again.
And so I was actually content with staying in the background, a place that had previously frustrated me in the past. And then something occurred this past Sunday that I had never anticipated would happen: I surprisingly got a chance to do it again.
As is usually the case, rehearsal occurred, and everything seemed to be going well with the music, I knew what I needed to sing, and then one of group who usually sings leads to the songs couldn’t sing. I think he got overwhelmed with the words to the song (which is a beautiful song called Build My Life. Though he tried, he couldn’t begin. Miraculously, I began to sing the song. This time there were no nerves, there was no hesitation, it just kind of happened. I even signaled the musicians as to where the song was going next. Eventually the leader got back into singing the rest of the song, the whole while I was thinking, God, I wasn’t expecting that to happen.
But given time, and the right moment, it did. Lots to learn here.
Patience is key. Trying to make it happen at times works. Oftentimes it doesn’t, and the outcome one hopes to achieve, doesn’t quite work out as mentally planned.
Give your cares to the Lord, and leave it there. God encourages us to give burdens to him, casting our cares upon him, because he cares for us.
It may take some time, but wait for God’s timing, and expect great things from him, particularly the unexpected ones. It is in those times when much is learned in the wait, as hope for God’s timing is anticipated.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,” 1 Peter 5:6
It was past time to leave work and go home, and I heard rain coming down fiercely. I quickly got my things and left the office. Once in my car, I heard thunder and saw lightning, and the rain was a downpour, mixed with hail! I as well as the other drivers were cautious in driving, and I had to gas up my vehicle before continuing. Once there, I noticed a calm come over me, and then I realized the rain had stopped. I thought that then was the time to get to the bridge and make my way home, hoping I would get away from the storm.
I was right. I made it through the storm. Once to the bridge, the sky was blue, not much by way of clouds, and the sun was shining; even the roads were dry. I felt as if God was sending me a message that all was well. I made it home and went to my mailbox to retrieve the mail.
I opened the nursing home bill for my mother expecting to see the usual numbers. I was surprised to see there was an $1100 monthly increase. Focusing on the amount, I panicked, wondering how that could be, and knowing neither she nor I could foot the increase.
As is usually the case, I tried to ‘fix it’, thinking of ways to obtain funds to pay this. I went in prayer, and asked others to do the same. I realized I couldn’t resolve this, but this was a situation only God could fix. I remembered the message of the previous day by Pastor Marcus England who spoke at my church (if you want to hear it go to westparkchurch.cc Drop the Mic series) regarding us asking ourselves that there must be more to living life, not settling and being passive, but being active by getting up, picking up and walking. All that stems from wanting more, not only surviving, but thriving. And getting the more involves us trusting God more. That message made me think of doing something Jesus is recorded as saying to many. Whether in the form of a question (“Do you believe I can do this?”), to a very succinct statement: “Just believe”, or as recorded in Mark 9:23: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
I watched the message of Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church talk about having baby faith, and if one has the faith of a grain of a small mustard seed, one can command any mountain to be moved, and it will.
The next day presented itself, and my plan was to take my mother’s bill and go to the nursing home and talk to someone in the business office. But an idea came to my brain to call the main office in Texas first. As I was talking to that person it was as if God dropped something in me: gross. I pulled the annual statement that showed the amount my mother received for the year, divided it by 12, and that is how the larger figure was computed, the gross pension amount. When I told the person that, I asked her if the medical insurance that is deducted from her pension was considered. When she reviewed her files, she stated it wasn’t, and it needed to be. That was the difference. I had my answer to bring to the attention of the business office at the nursing home. So off I went.
Once there, I did not get a chance to bring up the issue of the health insurance, as they noticed the error. They went into their files, found the information I had given them months earlier, made the correction and the discrepancy was resolved. While the monthly bill increased, my mother’s monthly check covered the fee. All was well.
Actually all was well before I received the bill. I just experienced going through a storm, but coming out on the other side free of rain and having dry roads and sunshine. God was giving me signals not to be concerned, He had it under control.
Now if I can only apply this to other areas of my life, I can continue to experience the grandeur of faith, no matter how small my faith seems to be…be strengthenized.