Sit A Spell : The Value of Spending Time With The One Who Made It

As a young girl from southeast Texas, I knew the art of sitting on a porch swing with sweet tea.  I would talk with my grandfather…or sometimes just sit, watching the birds at the feeder.  I can still feel the cool breeze on my cheeks.  Most of the time I just enjoyed his presence in that old swing where time seemed to stand still.  No agenda.  No to-do list.  I would just sit.  Little did I know, he enjoyed this time with me even more than I did.

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As I flash forward to my current self, I am surrounded by lists, tasks and a mind swimming with new projects to work on.  Back then, time was once a shallow pool I could wade in, but now it was a rushing rapid and I am struggling to just hold on for dear life.

So many times I have quoted, “Be still and know that I am God” without spending time to truly understand the context of this verse.  Psalm 46 is one of three chapters showing appreciation to God for delivering Jerusalem from the Assyrians in battle.  Psalm 46:10 is actually directed more towards the attackers of Jerusalem by saying “Cease striving against Me.  You can’t win against my plans. I AM God.”    This verse has tremendous application for the church also.  So many times I find myself in rebellion, either passively or actively, against God’s plans.

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I’ve seen this more-so in how I spend my time.  As a strong Type-A, I have a daily to-do list with certain tasks I “must” accomplish every day (or that’s my intention, at least).  At the end of each day, I try to look at what I can check off in order to better plan for the next.  Often times, I noticed that my most urgent task was often saved until very last or even left undone – my time with God.

Why was this?  I knew my time with Him was important but my list clearly showed that I deemed other items more important, or at least more urgent.  Maybe I felt like getting other tasks accomplished was more fulfilling because I could better see immediate effects.   Whatever the case may be, I was striving against the time I needed to spend with God, in favor of other items on my list.

Somehow I got in my hand that I was accomplishing more by taking care of other tasks on my list.  However, my preoccupation with my to-do list was preventing me from doing the one thing that I needed most – spending regular time with Him in prayer and the study of His Word.

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S.D. Gordan once said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray.  You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than prayer until you have prayed.  Prayer is striking up the winning blow.  Service is gathering up the results.” In other words, if you want your time to be effective, make sure you have prayed and spent time with God.  If we want to be effective – truly effective in life – we will pray first.

There is no other time management strategy more successful than spending regular time with God – sitting with Him in prayer and meditating on His Word.  I can see a distinct difference in the days where I have not been still with Him.  Those days are always more stressful and tasks just seem to take longer.  On the days I do spend time with Him, I have comfort knowing He is in control of whatever the day brings.

When we allow other tasks to come before time with our God, we get in our own way and strive against our own productivity.  We are most productive when we are still before our Maker, spending time with Him. 

When I pick up my daughter Morgan from kindergarten each day, I can’t wait to see her, to hear about her day and to spend time with my girl.  One afternoon in the carpool line, as my hands clinched the steering wheel in excitement to see her, it dawned at me that although God knows us intimately, He has the same excitement when we spend time with Him.

As God’s Child, He loves you more than you can fathom.    Like my grandfather sat with me on the porch swing, He longs to spend time with you, to hear about your day, what’s on your mind and He desires to put your heart at ease.  If we want to make the most of our time, we will be still in the presence of the One who made it.

‘Til Next Time,

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A Christian Reaction to the Debates

No amount of fact checking can alleviate the level of malicious, back-biting remarks on both sides.   Truths are stretched.  Relationships are fractured.  Feelings are hurt.  Worst of all, faith is unraveled….  I speak not of the televised debates between candidates, as those pale in comparison to the harsh comments between many Christians on social media.

All too often, disagreements are no longer dealt with on a face-to-face basis but on the pages of Facebook.  It’s the only place where you can bash someone’s views one moment and post a funny cat video the next.

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Unfortunately, it seems many feel social media gives them a certain amount of anonymity, as a place where one can make comments they might never say in real life – whether it be a public forum, one’s workplace or a local Starbucks.  Ironically though, Facebook acquires a greater audience than any of those places put together.

When we hurt others at the expense of proclaiming our political message, we distort the message of the Gospel of Christ.

I’m  guilty of the same.  Upon seeing someone’s comment I didn’t agree with, I felt the need to “set them straight”.  Before I knew it, I was embroiled in my own debate that, although forwarded my own prideful argument, sacrificed my main cause – the cause of Christ.

God Can Use Anyone

After my rash comments, I wondered what had come over me and arrived at one conclusion – fear.

This election is historical as there have never been two more disliked candidates in our nation’s history.  No matter your political background, the implications of either candidate becoming elected can be, well….terrifying.  It leaves one wondering the state of our country, political system and safety as a whole.

One thing is sure though…no matter who is elected on November 8th, God will still remain on His throne.  No matter the outcome, He can still use anyone to carry out His Will in spite of who tries to thwart His plans.

Scripture cites several examples of God using unfaithful individuals to bring about His Will.  King Cyrus is one such example.  After the Babylonian Captivity, he ensures the Jews return to their land and even helps them to fund the rebuilding of the Temple. Isaiah 44 clearly states that although he was a pagan king, God used him to bless His people.

Another example is when God used King Nebuchadnezzar, but for a completely different reason (Jeremiah 25).  God used this idol-worshiping king as an instrument of divine judgement to destroy Jerusalem and placed them in the Babylonian Captivity as a result of their consistent rebellion.

My point is this– God is God.  A leader’s spiritual allegiance does not limit God’s capacity to use him.  God is not limited by our actions or the agents of His Will.

Hope and of Change

The agonizing rhetoric of last night’s debate can lead one to feelings of dismay and apathy.  However, our only hope of change is our God.  We have a role in this election, not only to pray for whom our ballot is cast but to pray for God’s Will though the next administration.  Perhaps our prayers will be the vehicle He uses to bring about a blessing on this country.

While God can clearly use a non-believer, He would much prefer that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would conform to His Word as a faithful follower of Him.  All things are possible.

Look at Paul who referred to himself as the “chief of all sinners”.  He actually reveled in killing Christians until one fateful day on the Damascus Road when Paul put His faith in Christ for the forgiveness of His sin.  Paul is now known as the apostle who wrote the greatest number of New Testament books.

If God can change Paul, there is hope of change for our leaders.  While God can clearly work through disobedient individuals, He would much prefer working through them with their participation as followers of Him.

Our Reaction

Fear cannot be the driving force behind our conversations and actions regarding the election.   Our role is to be a light to others in a dark world.  John 1:4-5 states, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  No darkness can ever overcome the light of Jesus Christ and that light resides in us.

Through the power of prayer, we have a red phone on our desk to the ruler of the universe.  Although we may not feel our vote is heard, our prayers are heard by a much higher authority that the office of the POTUS.  Not only should we pray for clarity for our vote, but also for the candidate elected, whether we voted for them or not.

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In Isaiah 43:1, God reassures His people by saying, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.”  Little did they know that God would soon use the pagan King Cyrus to deliver them from captivity.

Although our light may feel small, it has the power to illuminate the path for those who don’t know Him yet.  While anticipating the future of the “red, white and blue”, we cannot forget where our Hope lies.  As the song says, it is where “our blood ran red but our sin was washed white.”  Our only hope resides in the cross of Christ.

 

When Food Was My Best Friend: How I Overcame Emotional Eating

The object of my affection was always there…three times a day, every day.  Unlike the ability to throw out the last pack of cigarettes, there was always another meal coming.  So many times, I found not only was I consuming food, but it was consuming me.

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Is Food Addiction Really A “Thing?”

My struggle with emotional eating didn’t happen overnight.  I got into the habit of rewarding myself with a snack or cheering myself up on a bad day with a bowl of ice cream.  Sometimes I would even use food as an excuse to take a break from a difficult task, saying to myself, “A girl’s gotta eat, right?”  These actions seemed harmless enough at the time, but before I knew it, food was my comforter, not God.

Food had become my best friend.

While there’s no doubt that food is good and God created food for our nourishment and enjoyment, a problem occurs when we take pleasure in food more than we delight in Him.  God is the only one that can truly satisfy our hearts.  He is the provider and sustainer of our emotional well-being so when we seek to satisfy ourselves with something other than Him, we inevitably end up with a bigger mess on our hands (What Are You Consumed With?).

James writes to Jewish Christians about the dangers of temptation in James 1:13-18.  He says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when is in is accomplished, it brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Upon entering into a relationship with Christ, one has eternal life with Him, but that doesn’t mean that the ways of the enemy are no longer corruptive and damaging.  When we succumb to temptation, we trade the blessings of obedience for the affliction of the world.  Like fishing, the bait is enticing but it only leads to destruction.

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God did not design our bodies to handle sin well.  If I ate ravenously upon any moment of emotional discomfort, my health would decline rapidly, not to mention what it would do to my spiritual walk with Him.

Why Is It So Hard?

There were times that I thought I would never overcome my battle with emotional eating.  The cravings were so strong that I could hardly think rational thoughts.  For those of you struggling, I know what it means to feel the sheer force of this addiction.  I get it…

The way to overcome is “to be dead to sin and alive in Christ” by knowing that the power in you is greater than the power of your addiction (Romans 6:11).  This is not just a psychological exercise but know that the One who is in you is greater than the one in the world.  We have to fully know and own that truth if we are going to overcome this battle.  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26) and relying on Him when temptation comes is crucial.  We must take our every thought captive and redirect it in obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Just Start

My biggest struggle in overcoming this stronghold was that it overwhelmed me.  Lysa Terkeurst once said “As I took positive steps, the Lord strengthened my heart day by day.  One good decision turned into two, turned into three and eventually into victory.  Just Start!”

Do not be overwhelmed with the task of overcoming this entire stronghold in your life.  Just focus on allowing God to help you defeat the next temptation.   The first time will be the hardest.  The next time will be a little easier and so forth.  Before you know it, a few small steps will become a thousand miles.

When I could see that God was giving me the strength to overcome this stronghold, I gained a new momentum that could only be from Him.  Now my emotional and physical cravings for food are not nearly as strong as they once were.

With every temptation, we have a choice:

Will we succumb to temptation, allowing it to strengthen the stronghold it already has over our lives?

Or…Will we allow God to do an amazing work in us as a result of this temptation?  (James 1:4)

Since relinquishing this addiction to Him one temptation at a time, He has grown and blessed me in ways I never knew were possible.

The verse I remember when tempted to go to food for comfort is Psalm 63:3, because the life that God promises in obedience is far better than the destruction that sin disguises.  When we look to Him for satisfaction, we find that he not only meets our every need, but surpasses every expectation.

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‘Til Next Time,

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