Growing fruit {#Write31Days}

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these thingsGalatians 5:22‭-‬23 NLT

Last year I read an amazing book by Mark Batterson called Soul Print: Discovering Your Destiny.  One of the chapters focused on the Fruit of the Spirit.  It made me pause and take inventory of the actual fruit that is being produced in my life.  It is a humbling thing to really look at your own life and be honest about what you’re allowing God to produce in your life and what you are blocking.

Growing fruit requires that I not only stay in relationship with God but that I submit to what He wants to do in me.  Fruit shows the maturity of our relationship with Christ, although it is generally the gifts and callings we seek.  Looking at the fruit produced in our life is an inventory that is needed ongoing.

fruit

In order for His love to flow through me to others, it must first be established in me.  So it is with every fruit.  It is only through testing of what is in me that fruit is shown.

For example, I must first come across enemies and those I do not feel drawn toward before the fruit of love and kindness are truly shown in my life.  Anything less is a duplication of what is available outside of God’s Spirit at work in my life.

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.  Matthew 5:46‭-‬47 NLT

As I pondered  on love, I thought about the other fruit that needs to grow in my life.  I must show joy in times of sorrow, peace in times of war and patience during trying times to be considered different from the world.  These fruit I really struggle with, although in isolated events because generally speaking I have peace, joy and patience.  As I was listening to the follow excerpt I was convicted of when I lose my peace, patience and joy:

Now you will notice that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time that he reckoned on having at his own disposal expectedly taken from him.  It is the unexpected visitor when he looked forward to a quiet evening.  Or the friend’s talkative wife turning up when he looked forward to a tit-a-tit with the friend that throw him out of gear…..They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption “My time is my own”. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. …. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

Lewis, Clive Staples. The Screwtape Letters.

Nothing sends me in a tailspin as fast as not having time to myself that I thought I would.  I lose my patience first, although that is easier to hide, or so I think.  The loss of joy and peace can last for days when I lose time I thought I would have.  Being made aware that I am allowing the enemy to steal my joy and peace over something so small as time helps me to know where I need to allow the Holy Spirit to work. I have to allow Him to grow this fruit in my life during this circumstance that I generally allow it to be destroyed.

It could be an unexpected visitor, a change in schedules, running late, or someone else running early.  These are times that when I’m not careful, and I’m generally not, that I feel robbed of “my time.”  God numbered my days, and He has plans for my life that I am not aware of.

Psalm 39:4 Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.

Allowing myself to be interrupted opens up doors of opportunity for God to use me and grow me.  If I want the fruit of the Spirit in my life, I have to be willing to let God take me through things for it to grow.  Different fruit grows in different seasons, right now I see God wanting to work on growing fruit in the areas of how I guard time.  I have to stop seeing it as mine and ask Him “What shall I do with this moment.”  And then ask again the next moment, and repeat.

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This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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Growing in Works {#Write31Days}

2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

workWe are saved by faith. There is nothing that we can do to earn salvation. No amount of works can bring us into the Kingdom of God. That is a free gift from God through Christ Jesus.

But the journey with God is not supposed to end with me.  My faith in action – aka works is seen by others and testifies to the mighty working of God in my life.  Consider the following passage:

Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,  and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?  So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”  You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.  And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.  Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.  Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works James 2:15-26

Abraham and Rahab are remembered for their faith in action, not just because they said “I believe.” Their actions showed what they would risk to serve the One in whom they placed their faith.  Our lives are meant to reflect the truth of God’s Word. The more faith we have, greater works will follow.

There have been times in my life where I have gotten out of line with works.  Working hard doesn’t mean turning to a life of just works.  God prefers quality over quantity.  My faith is not measured by the number of works I do, but the magnitude of my obedience.

There were times in my life that I was so busy doing works that I neglected my relationship with God, my spouse, and my children.  I thought doing things for the right reason, a genuine desire to help others, was all that mattered.

I failed to take into account the works that God had placed right in front of me.  I failed to spend time with Him daily. When my relationship with God is not first place, everything else suffers.  I can not pour out of an empty cup, we are called to minister from the overflow.

I failed to make my marriage a priority.  The scriptures say in Matthew 19:6 “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”  Yet I put everything between my husband and me.  I didn’t need the enemy to try to destroy my marriage, because I did a fine job on my own.  I put everything before my husband.

I also put work before my children.  I was so busy meeting the needs of the children I worked with that I missed so much of my children’s lives.  I didn’t realize that the message I was sending to my children is that others were more important.  I thought I was showing them to help others.

It took a lot of work for God to change my perspective, to open my eyes that what I was doing was not bringing others to Him,  but creating barriers for the very people I loved the most.  He had to show me that no amount of works would draw me closer to Him if I was disobedient to the works He had placed before me – in my relationship to Him, my spouse and my children.  They are my first priority.

Learning to balance the passion of the works He has placed in my heart and the passion of the place where He has me at this stage in life.  And knowing that the first place always has to be God.  Being obedient when He tells me to act and when He tells me to rest.  Being obedient to say no to areas where I can, but shouldn’t work.  He realigned the works and while I still out of times get out of balance in one area or another, I am growing in the works that He has called me too.

 

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This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

 

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Growing in Discipline {#Write31Days}

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NLT) As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

On of the things I have learned about through the Journey discipleship program is the difference between the pruning process and discipline process.  God uses both to shape our lives.  It is easy to want to resist both but they are needed for true growth to occur.  Sometimes it is hard for us to tell the difference while we are in the process because we are so blinded by our own actions.

Pruning is about God taking things out of my life that may be good, but can slow down the growth that is needed to take me to the next level.  Some things He prunes off before they go bad, other things He prunes off because they are holding down the growth.  It is not an easy thing to accept, but He is doing it for me.

One of my nieces loves fruit, she also loves to eat.  On the short side fruit is good for her but too much of even a good thing  can be bad.  We have to cut her off from the fruit or she will make herself sick.  This is pruning, not disciplining.

disciplineDiscipline on the other hand occurs when I know what I should be doing, but I make a conscious decision not to do it.  Or when I know what I should not be doing and chose to do it anyway.  He gives us some grace in the learning process, but eventually it just becomes disobedience.

I immediately think of my three-year old grandson.  One of the things we do in the evening when he and his sister are at our house is let the kids ride their bikes in the road.  Traffic is generally non-existent and if they see a car coming they know to go to the side of the road.  He loves to get to ride with the “big kids” and since my husband and I are both out there with them he gets the privilege.

However, the rest of the time there is a line on our driveway that he can not go past.  It is certainly not safe for him to be near the road.  He is pretty impulsive.  At three it is hard to understand that some roads are safer than others. Our neighborhood is kid friendly, but all not neighborhoods are and he goes to different places with each grandparent, and he has five sets of just grandparents.

20170826_192048.jpgWhen he was first learning the difference, he would insistently want to walk in the road on the curb.  Not on the “road” but still in the road.  Trying to teach him that we only get to ride bikes in the road and only at certain times was at times tiresome.  There was a lot of redirection, and Mimi or Papa chasing him back into the driveway where they play.  When there were other kids getting to play in the road when he couldn’t, it would infuriate him.

However after a few weeks, he learned the rules.  He knows when he is walking he must have a hand in his from an adult to go out into the road.  He knows that when he is on his bike he can ride in the road if Mimi or Papa are there with him.  He also knows that just because other children are riding bikes in the roads doesn’t mean he can.  Now if he chooses to disobey the rule he loses the privilege of bike riding and if necessary has to go inside.

It is that way in our lives.  God gives us guidelines to operate in. Sometimes those guidelines are dependent upon the situation we are in.  Sometimes other people can do things that God told us not to do.

Initially those guidelines feel unnatural.  We have to learn to operate in them.  We have to learn the self-discipline or habit of our new nature.  We get a lot of redirection from God.  Eventually though it becomes a choice.  We either stay in those guidelines or we face consequences.

Initially those guidelines feel like we have no freedom.  I hear a lot of people speak out they don’t want to surrender their life to God because of “all the things they can’t do.”  But when you start to really walk in the guidelines of the Word, you can see why God asks those things of us.  It no longer feels like a punishment but there is freedom in that walk.  The new nature takes over based on the knowledge of what that discipline brings – growth.

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This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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Growing in His Image {#Write31Days}

 

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.  II Corinthians 3:18

I am the proud Mimi of four babies.  I am so amazed at how quickly they change and how fast they grow.  I am also intrigued by how they can look like both parents at the same time.  Two of my grandchildren favor my children, two favor the other parent.  Yet there are times where each still conform to look like their non-dominant parent.  A facial expression, a mannerism, a gesture can make them look just like the other parent.

imageWhen we become Christians, God is our non-dominant parent.  His image is there inside of us, but we need to allow His grace to transform us into His image.  As we submit to His will we begin to slowly conform into His image.  Usually we have lived so long in the world, that this is a slow process and times where it is reflected, then it goes away.  These mannerisms or gestures come and go until we decide to let them be our first nature or choose to reject them all together.

There are many areas where I struggle with conforming to the image of Christ.  I know that through His grace I can exhibit His image.   Often out of disobedience and selfish ambition I  struggle with allowing His image to show though, especially consistently.  Instead my disfigured and corrupted image comes through more often than I care to admit.

I am by human nature very selfish.  While I have worked hard to submit to God in this area, there are still people who can draw on this nature and bring it back to the light.  People who are more passive in nature or who genuinely desire for me to be happy and thus try to do it by giving me my way – these people can be very bad for me in large doses.  I have to allow God’s grace to really cover me in this area because all too quickly that disfigurement of selfishness can come to the surface and distort the Godly image that I have been conforming too.  It comes out less and less, but I still have to guard my heart.

Another area where I have had to grow in the image of Christ is with my temper.  I used to very easily fly off the handle.  This is even more pronounced because I am typically assertive, direct and can be loud.  My temper used to be a several times a day occurrence most days out of the week.  As I grew closer to God, my explosions moved to a few times a week, then a few times a week.  Now they are pretty rare.  I won’t pretend I don’t still have those moments where I do.  Or that I don’t have moments when I really would like to just fly off the handle but make the concerted effort not too.  I know I am still working to grow into the image of God in this area.

An area where He has been working recently is my insecurity.  God had to show me that the root of my insecurity, as there are several, is pride.  This became ultimately clear in the following from Beth Moore:

Another root of insecurity is pride.  it’s about ego, and we all have one.  Some people and situations make us feel insecure because they nick our pride, plain and simple. Give so thought to the glaring connections between the two:
  • We’re not the only women in our men’s lives, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not the most gifted people alive, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not the first choice every time, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not someone’s favorite, and that hurts our pride.
  • We can’t do everything ourselves, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not somebody else’s top priority, and that hurts our pride.
  • We don’t feel special, and that hurts our pride.
  • We don’t get the promotion, and that hurts our pride.
  • We don’t win the fight, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not paid what we’re worth, and that hurts our pride.
  • We’re not paid at all, and that really hurts our pride.
Just because pride fills a heart doesn’t keep it from breaking.  It just keeps it from healing.
pg 101
Moore,B. (2010). So Long, Insecurity You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

I chose to read the book looking for why despite my confidence, I am insecure.  The first few chapters I could not relate to at all, but when I read the above, I knew this description was talking about me.  I had to discover that although all of the statements above are true, they do not change my worth and value.  For over eight years I have taught people who their worth and value are found in Christ, yet I didn’t realize how much of my own worth and value I was trying to derive from someone and something else.  The knowledge of my deception was the first step.  Truly letting it go and walking in the Truth is needed for me to conform to the image of God.  I am growing into the image of God that is already within me in this area.

We all have areas in our lives where the true image of God has not yet taken shape in our lives.  We have areas where we reflect Him daily and His radiant light flows for all to see.  We also have areas where the struggle exits to move from our old nature to the nature of Christ.  Places where at times we reflect a disfigured and corrupt image and at times we are able to allow the grace of God to conform us into His image.  Daily we grow into His image as we submit to His will and ways.

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.growth button

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Growing in Peace {#Write31days}

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6‭-‬7NLT

Peace, even the sound of the word on my lips is restful.  When I don’t have it, I long for it.  When I have it, I am content regardless of the circumstances.

I know when I am worrying, peace escapes me.   At times I let things consume my thoughts that I have no control over.  I might not be searching for a solution or trying to figure out how things will work out, but focusing on things outside of my control is worrying.

Last year I saw my peace grow more than I ever imagined possible.  I walked through the final months of my mother’s life.  God gave me such a peace throughout the process.  I wish that I could bottle and sell what He did for me.

peace2017The only thing that ever gave me pause in my peace was the conflict between my desire to have my mom with me and her desire to go to her celestial home and be with God, my father and brother.  When I would pause and think about this too long, I would start to question my choice to pursue the palliative option in her care.  I would start to feel guilty for my choice and my prayers.  Worry about my choice would cause me to lose my peace.

My mom and I had discussed it many times, while she was in her right mind and even after.  After my father died, her heart was always with him.  She was ready to die.  It wasn’t my choice, it was her choice.  It was only my choice to carry out her wishes or ne selfish.  It really wasn’t either of our choices, as God holds every day of our lives in His hand.

Regardless while most would pray for healing, I couldn’t bring myself to pray that way.  I prayed that God would let me be with her when she passed so I would not get the phone call.  I didn’t want her to be alone.  God granted my prayer and her prayer when she went to be with Him on Good Friday.  I told God what I needed, and I am thankful that he met me where I was at.

This scripture came alive in my life.  God was the only one who could calm my worry.  Yes, I could take my thoughts captive, but only He could give me peace in that thought.  The more I talked with Him, the easier it was to stop the negative thought trail.  To see Him so clearly give me what I told Him I needed grew my peace.  To give Him thanks from the bottom of my soul each step of the way, grew my peace.  God guarded my heart and my mind through His peace.

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.growth button

 

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Abiding Growth #Write31Days

John 15:4-5 (NLT)  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

I am one of those people who others  can quickly tell if I haven’t had my time with God.  Even if they don’t know that is Who makes the difference in my life, people notice.  I try to spend time in the Word daily and in prayer, but it is easy to tell when it is a check-marked item on my to do list versus really pressing in to abide with Him.

I remember the first time someone mentioned the difference. I had three people, one  who was a stranger, comment that I was glowing.  I knew that it was God’s glory because our time together had been magnificent.  It was just me and Him for two hours. I was certain I was floating.  The download that He gave me during that time was phenomenal.  I couldn’t help but give Him honor in response to the comments.abide

When I choose to just remain in Him, life is just better.  I realize that my relationship with Christ is supposed to stay connected.  That is what it means to abide.  While I stay plugged in to Him a lot more than I used to, I know there are still times that I disconnect.  There is no power when I disconnect. I am not sure why I find it surprising when I quickly digress when I don’t make the effort to abide.

When I don’t take that time, the difference people notice is usually “Jackie, you seem cranky.” or at least “You seem a little off today.”  I can tell the difference just in my thought process.  Even if I don’t allow the negativity to come out my mouth, I know my nonverbal communication screams what is going on within my head.    I know when I need to pull away and just get in His presence even if it is just for a short time so that I can find the refreshing that comes only from Him.

There are some ways that the growth in my life is like the fruit on the vine.

  • Fruit only grows when it is attached to the vine. In my life, growth only occurs when I abide in Him.
  • Fruit that is disconnected from the vine eventually starts to spoil.  The fruit of my life may not rot immediately, but it will not stay forever.
  • Fruit grows in cycles.  I can not expect for the fruit of my life grows today to still be good next year.  However, if I stay connected to God it will reproduce new fruit regularly.
  • Fruit is best in season.  God didn’t create me to store everything He has placed inside me.  I need to release what is inside of me in the season He has placed me.

Unlike fruit, there are some areas where my growth differs:

  • Fruit has no control over its connection to the vine due to outside influences.  Staying connected to God is completely my choice.
  • Fruit has no choice who picks it off the vine.   I can choose to keep God in first place instead of allowing something to pull me from Him.
  • Fruit can be destroyed by the weather.  My circumstances may wear at me, but only I can choose to separate from the Vine.  The storm will pass, if I can just weather it.
  • Fruit is attached to the vine from conception.  I am separated from the Vine at conception, and must choose to connect to the Vine.

The deepest, richest growth in my life has come from times when I abide in Christ.  I can not always control the fruit that is produced or the rate at which it grows, but the best fruit comes when I live my life in fellowship and obedience to Him.

 

growth buttonThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

 

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It’s all right

POD #30: It’s all right 

Write about the balance between inspired action and trust that you will have everything you need, when you need it, in your next season

destination Like a kid baking cookies, I am love to try things out all along the way.  I am not sure how many times I have went to make chocolate chip cookies and combined the wrong ingredients into the bowl or in the wrong order.  Mixing all the ingredients takes time, but I am there with my finger in the bowl wanting to taste test  even before all the ingredients are there.  If the dough can make it in the oven, I am there taste testing to make sure they are “Fit for consumption.”  I have also learned that cookies that get taken out of the oven too quickly often fall, yet I am always in a rush to get them out.   I have several gone before the pan is even cooled.

It is the same with things i get involved with. I tend to want to run ahead with the most recent idea that has captured my attention.    I am quick to find something that fuels my passion.  I want to learn everything I can and immediately jump in head first.  I find it easy to pick up projects that spark my interest.  I find myself over committed and then under performing.  I have learned and am still learning that just because it is a great idea, does not mean it is a now idea.  It also doesn’t mean it is something that I have to invest all my time into doing.  I often want to jump in without even getting all the information needed.

I have a hard time balancing what I want to do now, and interest in the long-term development of something.  I like to act while the energy is high, my mind is challenged and my motivation is peaked.  Waiting is not my strong suit when these things happen all at once.

I am learning that part of the delay in process is the preparation needed for what is coming.  That is where I am now.  I know that I do not have the resources within myself to accomplish all that I feel inspired to do.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t allow myself to be inspired or dream.  I know that other people will need to come alongside me and catch the vision that is within in order to see my dreams fulfilled.  Others also have to be in the right place in their lives for this to happen.   I am not in control of others.

One of the worst traits that I tend to have is the tendency to quickly move into manipulation mode when I want something to happen.  Too many times, my desire to get started has gotten outside of God’s timing.   While He has allowed me to have my own way, I have also had to face the consequences.  By now you would think I have learned that there is a reason for the delay.

I have to allow each step of the process to occur and not try to rush into things just to make them happen.  Just because things are not happening on my timetable does not mean they are not happening on time.  When I attempt to speed up that process vital pieces are likely not going to fall into place.   Even if the dream doesn’t fall flat, it may not be as successful as it could have if I just slow down and realize it is alright to be right where I am at.  It is okay to take things slow and allow things to happen naturally.  I can take slow steps towards progress instead of just rushing head first into things.   When the time is right things will fall into place.  I have seen this happen time and time again.  I just need to trust the process and what to see what the finished product will be.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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Growing patience #write31days 

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4 NLT

Waiting patiently for God has definitely been a growing process for me.  I like to see things happen immediately, and God’s timing is rarely immediate.  I really want the microwave version of what God has for me instead of the slow-cooker version.  Yet, God is faithful to encourage and give me hope in the waiting. And I know that in the waiting He is really preparing me to walk in what He has for me.

I feel like most times I start to get discouraged He allows something to happen to spark that hope and keep it alive so that I can continue to press on. There is a specific word that always renews my hope that I have stood on for almost two decades.

Or He will bring to mind some of the saints of old that waited faithfully for His promises to come.

  • Noah waited one hundred and twenty years for the rain
  • Joseph waited thirteen years in the pit and prison for the promise of his dream to reach the palace
  • Moses waited forty years in a foreign land to lead the people out
  • Joshua and Caleb waited forty-five years to receive their inheritance
  • Abraham waited twenty-five years for his promised so
  • David waited over ten years to become king

patientWhen I get discouraged about waiting on the Lord, I can look at the length of time that others have waiting and find hope that I am in good company.  I realize that things rarely went as smoothly as they could have even in their journey to the fulfillment of the promise.  I can know that God was faithful to bring their dreams to pass and He is no respecter of persons.  He will bring to pass what He has promised.

There are so also many scriptures that I can hold onto during times that I feel discouraged about the wait. Scriptures like:

  • Psalm 5:3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
  • Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
  • Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
  • Psalm 37:7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
  • Psalm 38:15 Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.
  • Psalm 40:1  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  • Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope
  • Isaiah 26:8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
  • Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know?Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

There are so many different reasons that God has us to wait on Him.  Sometimes the reason is never for us to know.  In my experience, God is usually waiting on me while I am waiting on Him.  He needs to get something in me that I am lacking.  Or He needs to get something out of me that I am resistant to release.  And at times, He is waiting on something from others.  I just need to remain in hope and encouragement.

growth button

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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Ingredients for inspiration

POD #29: Ingredients for inspiration

  1.  What has worked for you in the past and how can you bring more of that into your life now?
  2. When was the last time you totally lost track of time because you were enjoying yourself so incredibly much?
  3. What is one creative endeavor, ideally one that has nothing to do with your work or your goals, that you’ve always wanted to do and never given yourself the chance to do? Can you do that at least once between now and the November Challenge?
  4. What are you doing, who are you with and/or where are you at when you feel the most
    • Creative (meaning, when you feel the urge and power to create – this doesn’t necessarily have to do with art or writing)
    • Free-flowing, or
    • Engaged and in love with life

There are three ingredients to inspiration in life.  I know that if I can have one of them, I can do good, all three are golden.

  1. Solitude
  2. Music
  3. Collaboration

If I can get alone with my thoughts and really have time to process them fully, I find inspiration.  There is something about solitude that my soul longs for.  Not just moments of quiet, but to be secluded without interruption – no buzzing of the phone, no interruptions from family or friends, no deadlines or expectation.  I need to have time to just allow my thoughts to flow, then formulate, then come into fruition.  I do not get this inspiration often enough. And it often scares me when I start to enter into it, because I know the depths that it can take me.

When I can not get alone with my thoughts at all, music inspires me.  It can be instrumental or  with lyrics, with instruments or without soft or loud.  I prefer classical or Contemporary Christian, but depending on my mood I can also do Heavy Metal, Country, or 90s Rock.  Music helps me drown out the thoughts that race through my head that keep me from focusing on the creative process.   It helps quiet my inner voice so that I can really think.  This is the most readily available place for me to find inspiration.  I can through in my ear buds or crank the radio up and create.

Another place that gets my creative juices flowing in when I can collaborate with like-minded people.  There is something about just brainstorming or bouncing ideas off a few other people who creates inspiration.  I can get lost in discussion when I am with other people in a discussion with purpose.

inspirationA few years ago I had the opportunity to go on a leadership retreat.  I didn’t exactly have the freedom I would have like with my schedule, but I did have quiet time, music, and collaboration.  My mind reeled with ideas as I would talk with the other women.  I wish I could have captured that creative juice and bottled if for use when I need it.  The only danger I had in that is that sometimes the creative juices flowed so freely if someone wasn’t there to capture the idea I shared, I could not recreate it.

It has been a few years since I have really been lost in inspiration.  I had a three-month sabbatical after the loss of a job that proved to be one of the most creative times.  I would get lost in quiet time and spend the entire day just writing about what God was speaking to me.  I crave those days back, but alas like most I need to work.  I can not seem to recreate those moments on my day off as there is just too much else to do.

One creative endeavor that I have always wanted to do is go on a silent retreat or even a spiritual retreat with no outside influences or disturbances.  I have looked at monasteries, lake houses, hotels and cabins.  But I have never actually done it.  I know in a hotel I am much more likely to turn on the television and veg out in front of the television instead of getting alone with God and my thoughts.  I think a deeper level of me is scared to make that commitment, scared of what I might discover or what I might be called to do.  It is much easier to live a life of distraction.

I don’t take the time to let inspiration move me as often as I should.  I now that there is more creativity in me waiting for the opportunity to escape.  I too often put it on the back burner to other things.  Possible that will be my next adventure allowing God to use the trust, discipline and growth that has taken place in my life over the past few years and use what He has entrusted me with to create.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

 

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Growing Faith #Write31days

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  Jude 1:20‭-‬21 NKJV

I like the idea of God taking me from faith to faith.  Faith floating along in life, it takes responsibility for action away from me and places it with Him.  If only it was that easy!  However, this scripture tells me to grow or build my faith, and to encourage others in building their faith.

So how do I grow my faith?  This scripture contains several faith builders.

Praying in the power of the Holy Spirit builds faith.  I know that praying in the alignment with the Holy Spirit is praying God’s will. As I see prayers answered, it builds my faith.  Then I can believe to ask for greater things in His kingdom.  I can help build others’ faith by sharing with them how God is answering prayers and encouraging them to ask and believe also.

Walking in God’s love builds faith.  When I love others through Him, I see His transformative love in action.  God’s love hopes for the best in people.  When I am able to see others’ lives changed by His love, my faith grows.  Other people’s faith grows as He transforms lives and they are able to see the difference He makes.

Waiting on the Lord grows my faith.  I admit I love when the Lord responds immediately.  It is exhilarating.  But when I have to believe when nothing is happening, my faith is tested.  When what I’ve been standing in faith for happens, my faith not only grows but it is strengthened.  I can trust for more impossible things.  As others see the testimony of my stance, their faith can also grow.  Watch others stand through trials and come out victorious is encouraging in the faith.

God’s mercy applied to my life grows my faith.  I know I fail God, and in the natural people tend to walk away or build up walls when we fail them.  God is faithful though.  There are things that He wants of me.  Although I am non-compliant or noncommittal to seeing those things through, He does not walk away or grow distant.  He applies His mercy to me.  This grows my faith. When I walk in God’s grace it can encourage others’ faith as I share the testimony of what God has walked with me through.

Growing faith is the responsibility of every believer.  We are not only charged with growing our faith, we are charged with encouraging others to grow their faith.

 

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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