Cec Murphy, an author and speaker I admire said “Most of my life I was a driven man and felt I had to make every minute count for something productive. Only in recent years have I realized that motivation came out of my need to prove my self-worth.”
I’ve been guilty of that too, and want to make 2020 different. I need to simplify, but how? It seems the more I attempt to slow down the more interruptions God allows. I’ve slowly figured out that instead of fighting all that is happening with caregiving and other areas of our lives, I need to change my attitude about it – to see what God wants me to learn from it, to grow from it, and to discover new things to share with others experiencing a similar life phase.
So, I considered my word for 2020 and knew something had to be Re – something – Re-newed? Re-created — Re-plenished — Re-freshed? These and other words, I felt God telling me were not 2020. He wanted ME to DO something this year that would involve submission and change how I would receive what He wanted to do in my life.
Does that make sense to you? It did to me because of the experience I’ve had with my mother. When I first agreed to be caregiver it was extremely reluctantly as she had been verbally, emotionally and physically abusive. Once I gave up all my strength that there was any possibility that I could drum up a shred of what I needed to accomplish her care in a godly manner, (that He chose to do through me.) I realized what I needed was to submit to being a vessel and allowing God to love someone I didn’t want to love. Who didn’t deserve love.
I realized I’ve felt the same about me for a long, long, time.
It was a re-set of my attitude and more than obedience, a belief that God wanted to take the clay of this vessel and reconfigure it so it could retain and pour out His love. I saw and felt and experienced some amazing things since then, but until recently did not open my eyes to something that I’d missed back then.
I mean, I knew that God loved me because He saved me. I was, however, appalled that He loved me enough to choose me for that specific calling.
Mom had, it seemed, always told me what I was. Bad things. Bad words. Deep hurts. I’m thinking maybe some of it hurt so much because I believed it even though I fought all the negative bombardment of those scars that don’t show. Yet I never did release it all. When someone said they felt I thought I was better than them, it hurt deeply because it was quite the opposite and I felt they must never see I was trying too hard to climb out of the depths. There goes that self-worth complex again.
I thought about the lesson God taught me when He brought about that reset of attitude toward my mother’s caregiving. It was the word honor – I struggled how to honor my mother the way she was, and the way she had been. I could see no good in her to honor. I asked God how He could love her and saw it was the same way He loved me – despite who I had been or even who I was … but who I was created to be in Christ.
When I started treating my mom as though she were all that God created a mother to be, she started being interested in and caring about others.
Now here I was almost a decade away from when she truly changed after accepting Christ as her Savior, and I realized I’d followed that path of honor for her though I’d known she did not deserve it. Yet, I’d not done the same for myself – another of God’s beloved children – because – same reason -I knew I did not deserve it.
And God was telling me, Delores, you can’t see how I see you and love you because you’ve got your eyes filled with your own vision of yourself.
Scripture says – “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “ 1Corinthians 6:11
I told a friend the story to this point and the response was a question that startled me to my core. The question was – “And what does that kind of honor and love have to do with the way you should love yourself in light of God creating you in His image?” I sputtered a bit, and then began weeping because I knew God did not want me rejecting the idea of caring for myself (and rejecting His love) because what I saw in me was undeserving.
So my word this year is Reset.
I can reset my attitude about caring for myself. I can reset my actions in light of creation, and in the ways I love on myself, caring for my physical, mental, emotional and yes, spiritual me.
Heb. 2:6-7 …“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
Heb. 2:7 You made him (for a little while) lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor
Are you giving glory to God’s creation you see in the mirror every day? Are you showing that person honor? Can you hear what God is saying about you and who you are IN CHRIST?
Do you have a word for 2020?
That happened to me this week. I was sharing Acts 11:14 and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ and Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”
The original word meaning in this verse is anyone and everyone belonging to the household: with the whole extended household of generations and (including the servants).
Wow! What a promise!
As we talked about how this friend was discouraged that her wandering child might never come to Christ we excitedly shared in the remembrance that this verse is not a maybe, a might, or a possibility, but a PROMISE OF HOPE.
A prayer of HOPE would not be desperate – it would be calm and grateful for what God is going to do in our family life.
A prayer of HOPE would not be pressuring but inviting and anticipating.
A prayer of HOPE would be frequent and excited – for we would think of the coming promise every time we saw or even thought of that person!
A prayer of HOPE would be an accepted fact, for doesn’t Christ keep His promises!
A prayer of HOPE would be loving and trusting for the Master to make the point, to draw them to Himself, and to show us how to do the loving and believing.
If that longing for a member of your household to know Christ is your prayer this season, just say Yes and the number you would like us to pray for. We will believe with you, whether we live to see it happen or not, whether we are the one to share or pray them into their eternity journey or not, and whether they are loving to us or not.
Hopefully these verses give you the same eye-opening moment and fill your heart with joy to rest in the promise that they will come – in God’s time.
I pray that this also gives you HOPE to do as a friend’s story goes. The woman was concerned about her husband and wondering how she could convince him to come to know Christ. The advisor she sought gave her an unexpected answer – go be the best wife you can be and let God do the saving.
Well my life has been busy with some unprecedented caregiving, health issues, and very little sleep. I have two precious sisters who are nagging me, (just kidding) I mean, loving me into some form of submission. But I digress… here’s the story:
About a month ago I signed up for a senior exercise program and because I am (ahem) of – or should I say – beyond – a certain age, I was required to have a doctor sign a permission slip. I was a bit ticked and felt like an elementary kid going to get my permission slip. Well.
My Bp was 240/158. Yes, you read that correctly. The doctor knows my busy busy dizzy life, and looked me in the eye and said carefully, This. Is. A. Medical. Emergency. He got my attention. Note that I did not feel ill. I thought I perhaps had an allergy as my ears felt full and my scalp felt a little tight.
I went home and got to my husband as he finished mowing the lawn and he drove me to the emergency room. On the way there I thought I have to realize this could be my homegoing! I was not afraid. I was peaceful. I called the kids and asked them to pray, and I began chanting, Peace. I knew my doctor had meant every word he said and if I got nervous about it I’d make the numbers climb higher. So I kept saying Peace. Peace. Peace and deep breathing.
By the time we got there the numbers had started to go down – well, down to 220/120 and thereabouts. Soon I was getting my Bp taken over and over and had an IV put in for meds to get it down. I kept saying Peace, whatever they did to me, and someone asked, “What are you muttering?”
Long story short I was in ICU for 3 days and had a raft of tests. All of the tests came back “unremarkable.” Awwe. And here I always thought I was special. Ha ha. The nice part of this adventure (besides no damage to any body parts) was that the doctor in the emergency room asked if I had stress in my life and I laughed. He asked what I did to relax and I told him I speak and write. Of course the staff asked what I spoke about (Finding purpose despite an abusive past) and what I wrote about (God’s loving attention to our needs and activating our faith to Be the Miracle for others).
None of the tests were able to reveal what (other than stress and sneaking chocolate and potato chips) had likely caused the Bp to be so high. I had a new mission – to find something to lower it and to keep it as ‘normal’ as possible.
That was accomplished and then I decided I would like to have some coaching to guide lifestyle changes. I found one lady online who had a 5-day no-sugar challenge. We got to know one another, and she was helpful by teaching me that no-sugar meant excluding all foods that raise the insulin level, and recommending I get my thyroid tested.
I’ve done that and should get the results this week or next. The combination of these events had me feeling I was at the starting point of a new phase of life but surrounded by detours. Then a member of my AWSA (Advanced Speakers and Writers Association) put me in touch with a degreed person willing to coach two people as he pursued a higher degree in Health Coaching and I was selected!
So, here I go, about to get enlightened, encouraged (I’ve already gotten that at my entrance interview), and, hopefully, learning to better control life’s stress while developing deeper into all that God created me to be.
I’ve only begun, but it was a wonderful start for me to hear my new coach say I should feel free to be OUTRAGEOUS!
The next 6-8 weeks – depends on how attentive a student I am – should be interesting and fun.
Well time to go do my homework!
My favorite season is done for this year – summer’s sauna days to soak up vitamin D are past. Like the leaves on our tree out front some of the year’s changes are gliding away and making room for new growth in the coming new year. Some of the year’s damage is also being repaired, shored up, and given a fresh start.
Does fall mean a fresh start for you or is it winding down to snuggle in winter’s cuddly clothes, relaxation and hibernation?
Summer has been a fruitful season for me in reception to my writings and speaking, as well as in outreach, family time, work in the home, and safety in travel. God has done much good in our lives.
Acts 14:17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
In addition to our seasons of nature, we also have seasons of life – physical and spiritual. What season are you in? What has your favorite season so far this year brought you? Have you experienced the witness of God in your work, your family life and your outreach? Perhaps it has been a rough season for you and you are still planting for the upcoming changes in nature, in your life and in your spirit.
Are you ready for a new season or still preparing?
My prayer for you: To be like the tree – firmly rooted – taking a stand – staying close to the source of refreshment, letting the master till and prune your heart to bear fruit; reaching out to others while sustaining strength for the next season, and using whatever your talent and skills are to the glory of God, building wealth in soul and spirit.
Psalm 1:3 And he will be
like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Daily devotionals are posted – each writer assigned to a day of the week usually at 5:30 a.m.
Following the morning devotion (from 10:00 on) each author will have an hour to share their ministry through writing, speaking and crafting. Prizes will be chosen from commenters, and we hope to get to know you as well through your responses.
Hope you will join us at our Facebook Page – Fill My Cup, Lord for some fun and fruitful times.
Mark your calendar!
Ripples of Faith
An interview with Chaplain Steve Kellough of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois (previously published on CBN.com)
The name Todd Beamer became known across America on September 11, 2001. Todd was one of those on United Airlines Flight 93 who apparently foiled efforts of the hijackers and grounded the flight in rural Pennsylvania. (His widow Lisa was introduced at the Capitol when President Bush addressed Congress shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks).
Todd was a Wheaton College alumnus -as was Jason Oswald, working just above where American Airline Flight 11 struck the south tower of the World Trade Center. Jason had just moved to New York and begun his job 3 months prior. On American Airline’s Flight 11 was the grandmother of Jacob Anderson, a current student at Wheaton, and Rev. Jeffrey Malednik, a Wheaton grad-school alumnus and pastor at Christ Church of Oakbrook, Illinois.
Thus in that single moment in time, hundreds of college students and faculty and thousands of lives in and around Wheaton, Illinois were immediately, deeply, and personally affected.
The great majority of Wheaton’s 18-22 year-old students were unfamiliar with death -in any form – and understandably sensitive to such a world catastrophe – especially one that so personally touched them. These classmates, friends, and family members had names. Jeff left a widow, 4 children, and his church family; Jason, his fiancé and both of their families. Todd’s widow Lisa had 3 children, was expecting and has since delivered their 4th child; Jacob’s grandmother, who had been visiting family in Boston, left a void with many AIDS patients, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program where she ministered, her 5 children including Jacob, and many more grandchildren. Like ripples in a pond from a single pebble, the ring of friends, relatives, fellow-students, and other lives that were touched is ever widening.
The ripples, however, began long before September 11th as Jeff, Jason, Todd and Jacob’s grandmother each made peace with God at various points in their lives. Particularly because of those personal relationships, Wheaton’s Chaplain Kellough shared with me; staff and counselors found comfort that the student’s responses to their grief were underscored with hope.
Though plunged into an abyss of crossroads the students were, he felt, “Looking for ways to use their spiritual resources”. Compelled as all of America to watch the tragedy unfold, students were grieving at the personal loss – not only for Wheaton and themselves but for the world, and “they immediately began thinking more seriously about their faith, using the time of mourning seeking help and seeking God for peace.” Immediately they left their classrooms, rushing to join the faculty who stood like sentinels, lining the perimeter of the chapel, so students could approach them for prayer.
This was truly an “American Moment”, for there were no distinctions at Wheaton that day, – student and staff, class and rank were one in spirit, for all were grieving. Time would show this was no temporary detour – it was a complete and life-changing U-turn for hundreds of students. Staff and the campus community alike witnessed the beginning sparks in the chapel that day. Following an open invitation to come to the microphones and share comfort, scores upon scores of students lined up immediately to share scripture they had memorized or to read scriptures of comfort and hope. Hours later, that first memorial service was closed in unison as throughout the chapel tens of students who had not made it to the microphones turned to those next to them, and communicated through the scriptures the comfort of God to all who had gathered together. The spirit of unity and the cacophony and fervor of hundreds of voices corporately sharing scripture was, Chaplain Kellough shared, not unlike what he imagined might be experienced in heaven.
But the students’ “heavenly changes” had just begun. Emotionally drained staff members were amazed at the number of services the students initiated as they saw the need for prayer and worship. The campus where Jason Oswald (described by many as a very Godly man) and his best friend were alumnus hosted a Saturday memorial service officiated by Holy Trinity Church of Hyde Park, the church Jason attended. The following Monday, a chapel service was a tribute to the memory and honor of those 4 lost by Wheaton’s family and the world. Sue Malednik, 3 of her 4 children, and Jeff’s mother joined the memorial service where Sue touchingly commented how proud Jeff was of being a graduate of the grad school and of wearing his Wheaton college ring – even that fateful day. Lisa Beamer was looked up to as a courageous and unique person who was given supernatural grace and strength to be able to set aside her own grieving as she was asked on Larry King, Oprah, and other programs to speak of her faith, Todd’s faith and his character in light of the unusual tragedy and circumstances.
Watching Lisa’s faith in action inspired the students to continue their spiritual turnabout. But the students did not stop at inspiration alone. United, their focus galvanized as they held several other special services with as many as 600 students attending individual services. It became obvious to family, friends, staff and community that the students were finding the need for a devotional life more important than before. Suddenly, the chaplain noted, small groups were a more important priority and the scriptures were more compelling. “Another thing that struck me,” Chaplain Kellough shared, “was how their actions demonstrated their interest in debunking consumerism and materialism by affirming their spiritual resources. Like a light at a crossroad, the students showed the way to many, first centering on their spiritual relationship to God, then as well to what they could do – quickly responding to first Timothy 2, verses 1 and two “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” by praying for their leaders, and praying more fervently than ever for peace in the world.”
Then the dramatic U-turn of the students of Wheaton College took on a more personal aspect, for Chaplain Kellough described how the students experienced personal revival. Devouring scripture and given constantly to prayer, they opened themselves to self-evaluation and they rediscovered how Jesus called them to be peacemakers. Unafraid of scrutiny, and putting their new enlightenment into action, student after student called or went home, repairing, affirming and developing closer personal relationships with parents and siblings, as well as friends.
Through these students and the staff, Wheaton College’s mission and ministry goal to integrate faith and learning was maximized and lived out during the days following September 11. Although some urban schools closed campuses for security purposes, Wheaton deliberately did not, allowing students and faculty to process all that happened in the light of faith, allowing for prayer and discussion using the particular discipline of each course, finding the Christian response to war and tragedy. Consequently, students’ reaction was that they will forever look at the world in a different way, for such an attack on humanity was a revelation to them of the fallenness of the world. The evil efforts of those who wanted to use the tragedy for their own financial benefit, developing scams within 24 hours that pretended to be collecting money for relief, shocked them and was a grim reminder of the depth of evil in our world today. But, at the same time, they were touched at the contrasts in multitude of reports of the love of God shown through people with acts of genuine caring and love.
“These events, though difficult, gave us a realistic view of our world,” said the obviously sensitized Wheaton students — intent on a new mission. Desiring to do relief work or help those who were struggling in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and other parts of the world, students responded immediately by changing previous decisions concerning their spring and summer plans. Individually and collectively they began prioritizing and re-evaluating priorities of life – both short and long term. Unashamed, telling how they now felt called by God to work for Christ in some work of compassion and relief for victims of hardship, hundreds of students vocalized and demonstrated that the material things they had been going after “are now unimportant – the goal of a big salary and a nice house were no longer the priority.”
A sense of urgency for evangelism pervaded the campus, for the need was seen so much more dramatically as people filled the churches, seeking for resources of faith. It was comforting, Chaplain Kellough assured me, to watch those good things happening in light of all the bad they’d just experienced.
Despite the exhausting and demanding time as their link to God as the pastor of Wheaton College, or perhaps because of it, Kellough acknowledged a spiritual deepening himself, citing an intensified personal prayer life, and experiences of an “unusual very-present strength and source of help in the Lord within the unusually increased workload.”
As Kellough recalled crying out to God for words to comfort the entire campus, he also recalled how it all began – immediately after the planes hit the trade center and the pentagon: “Even that first question on everyone’s mind of “Why can such a thing as this happen?” – was bypassed, he marveled, as students asked instead – “Who? “Who do we go to in times like these?”
Their conclusion – a firm and unshakable resolve – “There is only one place to go to and that is God” was inspiring. Inspiring because it is true, but also inspiring because those young students were open and honest enough to turn from their present course and redirect every area of their personal lives to pleasing and serving God.
Their resolve and their God is still active today as these never-the-same students head toward their former career goals with new and deeper perspectives and goals. Oh yes, they will still be lawyers, teachers, pastors, accountants and everything in between – but their vocations are no longer just “jobs” for they have researched well how they can serve in each area as ministers to those in need, while using their talents to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the first to tell you that the students of Wheaton College are moving forward on their new course. Through their lives, their decisions and their actions they say, “…although there is much evil in this world there is still a loving God, and we need to look to Him for help, for understanding, for comfort and direction.”
Their world has already experienced some of the life changes they have made as a result of their resolves and commitments. Our world too, is beginning to bear their fruit – graduates of those who have tossed out into the waters of life their pebbles of faith. Year by year as each of these hundreds of students graduate and carry their faith into the world the ripples will broaden again and again.
How can I be so certain of this? The scriptures have promised it.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Let’s pray today for all the families left behind, for all the survivors experiencing PTSD, and for America.
Click here for
Todd Beamer’s Father -and others share their stories.
Titus clearly outlined what godly living should look like
The basis is that God’s grace changes the church so the church can be a living example of that grace. We (not various buildings) are God’s church.
My applications from Titus are:
Titus 2:1 – Tell/speak/show/demonstrate to believers to live the kind of life that is fitting [clearly seen as] sound instruction and builds trust and respect for our faith.
Example: displaying through words and actions such profound love and respect that others recognize it as other-worldly and long for it in their own lives
Men: temperate, dignified, sensible, sound (steadfast) in faith, love and perseverance
Women: sensible, pure/reverent behavior focused on family first, respectful of husband, kind, not dishonoring God’s Word in anything
Building up and loving one another through all circumstances by depending on God’s Word as a firm foundation for our decisions and actions. Live an example that will show younger couples and children what godly love looks like.
Respect Employers and Legal Authorities
Do not steal material goods or time from employer. Respect the office even if you cannot respect the person. Look for good things to do and be prepared to be the one who leads doing peaceful and good actions without maligning others. Remember that all have personal pain and gently show consideration for the lives God intended them to have in Christ.
Avoid Controversies and Aimless Disputes
Focus on (memorize and study) God’s truth so you can speak calmly and confidently to encourage others not to submit their emotions to those with ungodly goals.
Dormant faith cannot bear fruit. We must learn to prepare to meet others’ needs and to sow/plant/anticipate God to work through us what is good and profitable for all.
In summary our actions should be an affirmation of our words.
Our words should be a confirmation of our actions.
Both our actions and our words should clearly proclaim our faith.
Faith that is activated through telling and showing is a natural and expected response to the rescue we have experienced through Christ.
Take a look through Titus 2 and 3, putting your name in place of the words you, us and we – and let me know what you find! What does Activating Faith look like in your life?
In these tough times many of us have reduced income for various reasons. As followers of Christ it is our responsibility to properly manage whatever we have been given. Some people think once you know the Lord you are immune to human failings and the lure and deceit of the world to spend, spend, spend. Sorry, but we are STILL human, and God said all things are becoming new. There is hardly anything worse financially, than not knowing what is in the checkbook and fearing to answer the telephone because it might be a creditor.
Many people have found help in evaluating their motives and spending habits with the following questions.
What will help you stand firm against making money mistakes?
Recognize Money Mistakes that “even Christians” make
Disobedience (not taking the responsibility to obey)
We have been greatly influenced by Mary Hunt’s common sense approach to finances, and have been able to help others using her plan and materials.
Specific tools for getting out of financial difficulty can be found in Mary Hunt’s books and website Living Debt Free.
I think we all have them. I certainly have my share –
Things I wish I’d said and done….
Things I wish I hadn’t.
I want to gift you with a comment a writer friend gave me through one of her characters.
In the story, the character’s wife had been unfaithful and unrepentant about it. He was so hurt and angry he stepped away and did not offer her redemption. She was killed in an auto accident shortly after and he regretted what to him felt like a vital missed opportunity.
After years of agonizing about his self-identified “un-Christian” attitude and lack of action, he finally confessed it to a friend.
The friend’s response:
And do you think God was limited by that?
Was God limited in fulfilling that person’s need by the character’s action…by my action…or lack of it?
Whoa. I’d forgotten, just as the character had, that my story was not just my story – it was God’s story. God knows my weaknesses and appreciates my confession and repentance, and then He
forgets my wimping out of opportunities that were given to be a bigger part of a number of stories.
God promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He did not promise those I love that He would do that only through me or only through me and…but exactly what His Word says – God/Jesus said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
One resource says there are 5467 promises, divine, in the Bible. Another resource says there are 3000 promises to which God answers yes. However many there are, none…
Depend on me.
That is not to say God will not use me (or you) in others lives, he will, and I am grateful to get confirmation from time to time that He has given me that privilege.
But it is such a comfort to be reminded that where I have failed, God has prevailed.
He does not need to use people, but He often does. And though I may experience loss for those poor choices, procrastination, fear, or lack of follow through and so on, I can be confident that God’s promises have been, are being, and will be completely fulfilled.
I look forward to the day when I see and hear the rest of many stories, and to thank whomever God used in my place to correct and fulfill what I should have done (or not done).
2Cor. 1:20 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.
2Cor. 7:1 With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
Heb. 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful
How has God been faithful to you?