Cleanin’ Up The Teeth (Before Going To The Dentist…)

I hate going to the dentist. To clarify, I don’t hate my dentist – he’s a great person :). But, going to the dentist is NOT my favorite thing; getting the plaque scraped viciously off of my enamel, the saliva pooling up in the back of my throat trying to choke the life out of me and the hygienist trying to have a conversation with you to which you can only reply mmmhmm or uh-uh while all this is going on – HA!

When I have a dentist appointment coming up, I usually start flossing.   This past time between appointments I actually did floss sometimes between then and now, but the few weeks prior to my appointment I stepped up my flossing game (not the dance, y’all ;)).  I guess I wanted my teeth to be kind of clean, with a little less plaque and be ready to meet the dentist and hygienist.

Isn’t that how it goes? We want to clean up a little, before going to the one who is going to clean and take care of us.

We can view God the same way.

Sometimes we think we have to clean ourselves up before coming to God.  We think we’re too dirty, we’ve made too many mistakes, or we have too many issues.  So, we quit the bad habits (drinking/drugs/sex/drugs/rock-n-roll…. lying/cheating/gossiping/bad language… you get the point) and maybe even start some good ones (serve the community, go to church, or give money towards a worthy cause).

But, here’s the thing – we do NOT need to clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus. And nothing we DO can earn His love.

Jesus says in his red letters, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick DO need one” (Mark 2:17).  In other words, those who have perfect teeth (no plaque, no bleeding gums, no cavities) do not need to go to the dentist.   There is NO ONE with perfect teeth – thus the need to go to the dentist.  Likewise, there is NO one who is good enough to come to Jesus.  Paul says in Romans 3 that we are “all under sin, as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one” (vs. 10).  Later in that chapter he says we all have dirty teeth – – not really – – he says, “For ALL (emphasis mine) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs. 23). We all have DIRTY TEETH.  We are all in need of the GREAT PHYSICIAN (or dentist ;)).  The second part of that verse (Mark 2:17) Jesus is saying, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You don’t need to clean up before coming to Jesus.  In fact, you CAN’T clean yourself up. And that’s ok.  Jesus accepts you and me how we are – dirty, plaque-laden, gingivitis, halitosis and all.  John 6:37 says that whoever “comes to Me (Jesus) I will never cast out.”  In fact, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” HE does the cleansing.  In fact, when the Lord cleans us up, we can “be clean… whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:7).

Psalm 46:10 says to “stop your striving and know that I am God.” Stop striving to clean yourself up and let Him do it.  Come to Jesus as you are, confess your sin and surrender to Him.  Accept what HE has already done for you. He will clean you (forgive you, sustain you, strengthen you, give you hope).

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I Don’t Like to be WEAK…

I don’t like to be weak.  I’m sure most of us can say the same thing.  I don’t like to be weak physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally.  I don’t like the weight of weakness, the dependency of weakness, or the helplessness of weakness.  Can you relate?

A month ago, I was in the habit of taking my pup to Findlay’s reservoir to walk.  It’s a four mile walk around the most scenic spot of Hancock County.  I walk an 18-20 minute mile around so it takes me about an hour and twenty minutes to an hour and a half (depending on swim stops for the pup :)).  It’s good exercise and a fun, relaxing activity to do with my pup. And, the biggest challenge is when you get halfway around and have to use the bathroom (TMI – I digress – HA!).

Three weeks ago today, my daughter and I were in a car accident.  I don’t want to over-sensationalize the accident – it was a bad crash, but we walked away with non-life-threatening injuries.  Although it wasn’t life-threatening (thank You, Jesus) it was, in a way, life-altering. I’m dealing with a bum foot and sore leg and my daughter is dealing with a shoulder injury to top the list.  Again, I don’t want to over-sensationalize the injuries and make them more than they are – it could’ve been a LOT worse – but they are injuries.  And they have altered some day-to-day functions.

Overall, Em and I have remained positive, trusting in God, our health professionals and “the process” for our healing.  But yesterday, when going to do some low-impact movement exercise in the pool my foot was giving me more trouble than usual, I felt weak.  I thought to myself, “I don’t like to be weak,” and had a “this sucks” moment rehearsing the fact in my mind that in three weeks I need to be able to be on my feet all day, with non-stop activity and responsibilities with the focus on OTHERS and not myself (#backtoschool).

But, God is faithful.

One of the signs at the pool said something along the lines of FAITH is greater than our fear.

Another said, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” quoting Isaiah 43:2.

Ok, my Faithful Comforter. Thank You.

Today, in my devotions I read 2 Corinthians 12.  If you know me, you know my tattoo is based on this chapter, but I’m going to blog my tat😉 later this week – stay tuned. Today, my heart was comforted and encouraged by this passage on weakness.   Jesus reminded me that in our weakness, He is strong. Paul didn’t like being weak either, using the phrase “torment” to describe his “thorn.” Jesus, in His love and sovereignty and purpose and plan reminded Paul that “HIS power is perfected in weakness” (vs. 9).

The dependency of our weakness drives us to depend on Him. The weight of our weakness is lifted in Him. The helplessness of our weakness is comforted by Him.

THAT is the POWER of CHRIST in our weaknesses – because in CHRIST, we can become strong.

Jesus is Not an App

There’s an app for that. I just love how in the span of 90 seconds you can read the headlines for top news stories, check the weather in 2-3 locations for 5-10 days, glance at your to-do list or even your calendar and browse over a couple of emails. Ahhhhh, technology is our friend.   Well, it’s my friend anyways. 😉

On my iDevice there are also apps for music, videos, games, social media, pictures, travel, recipes, sports, reading and yes, for the Bible (or other devotionals). You open the app, do your thang, and when you’re done (if you’re anal about closing apps like Emma and I are) you double click and swipe and it’s on to the next thing.

Speaking of devotionals, our family loves Jesus Calling. It was a book before it was an app, but we loved it so much we bought the app and have it on our iDevices.   So to start our day we may open the app, read the day’s devotional, then double-click/swipe to close it and on about our day. Or perhaps it’s a YouVersion devotional. Open up the Bible app. Read the day’s selection. Maybe even tweet a verse. Double click, swipe. Next.

And that’s ok for a quick pick-me-up, a little snack of God’s word throughout the day. But ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is not an app. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a device or an actual (paper) Bible, God’s word is not meant to be rushed. It’s not just something to check off our to-do list for the day or just to be used to fill in the blanks of a Bible study book. It’s to spend time with Him. Be still before Him. To get to know Him. Focus. It’s a time to let His words comfort; let the truth of His Word convict us, challenge us, change us. Because it won’t if it’s just an app.

I was so blessed and challenged by Micha Boyett’s blog post on Margaret Feinberg’s blog Tuesday on prayer. In an attempt to reconnect with God, she retreated to a monastery because “the Benedictines believe God has actually given us enough time in each day for work and study and rest and prayer”. God has given us enough time.

I don’t know about you, but my to-do list bangs loudly on the doors of my head. It’s almost impossible to turn it off.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 The HCSB says, “Stop your fighting… and know that I am God.” Remember what Jesus said about Mary and Martha? He said Mary got it right.  Chill out. Take a seat.  Let’s hang.

We’re all in a hurry. We’re all busy. Technology is awesome in a lot of ways, but it has trained us that we can get things now, get things quickly and move on without batting an eye. Next. It has increased distractions and lessened our ability to focus (at least for me).

So whether you spend time with Jesus via a screen or a page, slow down. Breathe. Pray. Listen. Hear. Because Jesus is not an app.

I close with May 30th’s Jesus Calling. Find a cubby of space and time, spend it with Jesus. And let that time transform the rest of your day(s).IMG_9825

10 Scriptures that will STRENGTHEN your Marriage.

Tomorrow is my and Kevin’s 20th wedding anniversary (cue FiReWoRkS). In preparation for that here’s one more Marriage Post. I actually meant for there to be a few more of these (marriage posts) before tomorrow, but life happens. In case you missed it, here is the post from my parent’s 50th anniversary and a little ditty about being and being married to a “fixer upper” :).   Today we’re going to share 10 verses that will strengthen your marriage. Here we goooooooooo.

strengthenmarriage10. Husbands, love your wivesEph. 5 Oh, come on. You knew it was coming :). But seriously, though. Why do you think this is spelled out in God’s Word? Because it’s not something that comes naturally. It’s something you have to focus on, be intentional with. Guys, we need to know you love us. Aside from God, you are our protector, the love our lives. We need you to show us. Kevin has worked at this over the past 20 years. He is intentional about showing love to me through his love language (acts of service) and mine (quality time). Paul instructs you to love her as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. He goes on to say to wash her in the word. Guys, we ladies are hungry for you to love us and lead us.

9. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Fair play, I suppose :). As a young, independent, strong woman when we got married, this was not something I was thrilled about. However, after the Holy Spirit began showing me what this means and I saw this lived out in godly, older women, I began to understand WHY God laid this out for us ladies. It doesn’t mean you are a doormat, but the final decision (after discussions in which you both have input) rest with our guys. And with that decision lies that responsibility. The hubs is responsible for us as the leader and is responsible for us (and our kiddos if applicable). Ladies crave and need love; guys crave and need respect.   Respect your hubs as the leader of your home. God planned it this way because He knows best. Trust God and pray for Him to lead your hubs as he leads you, and submit to that leadership.

8. Pray constantly. 1 Thes 5:17 I mean seriously. Marriage is HARD. The odds are against us, people. Pray. Pray and pray and then pray some more. Satan wants nothing more than to destroy families and marriages, but WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERES, more than victorious through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:37) Pray for your own heart. Pray for your spouse’s heart. Pray for unity, for LOVE, for strength.

7. Do everything without grumbling and arguing/complaining. Phil. 2:14 I never said we had it all together ;). Ouch. But one of the main things we can do is not only not grumble/argue/complain to them, but also don’t grumble/argue/complain about them. Don’t talk bad about your spouse, friends. Especially in public. Talk candidly with a trusted friend in confidence, or discuss an issue with a pastor/leader etc. when necessary, but never in public. And for the love… not on social media.

6. On the contrary (to number 7), outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10. If you have to do something publicly, honor your spouse. (Of course, don’t honor them publicly if you’re not honoring them privately… just sayin’.) Honor them. If you have something nice to say, say it. For example: “You’re the bomb!” “No, YOU’RE the BOMB!” “No, really! YOU ARE THEEEEE BBBOOOMMMMBBBB!!!” 🙂 You get the point. Honor your spouse in your words, your actions and your with your life.

5. Do all that you can to live in peace. Rom. 12:18 Whatever you can do on your part to promote peace, do it. It may take biting your tongue or a bit of compromising, but it will be worth it. Did I mention before that MARRIAGE IS HARD? It is. We are cantankerous little human beings, aren’t we? Ask for the Holy Spirit to help in keeping the peace. He will.

4. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8 The line right before that is show deep love for each other. What if you’re not feeling it? I’ve been there.  Pray for God to help you to love; love deeply and love consistently. The Trolls in Frozen have it right when they say, “Throw a little love their way… and you’ll bring out their best!”

3. And a close theme with #4, forgive a lot. Something about 70x7ish. Matt. 18:22 Love and forgive. Show mercy. Again, not an easy thing.   We are told to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Nobody’s perfect (duh!). I know I want to be forgiven when I’m a schmuck, so I must also forgive.

2. Love (your spouse) as yourself. Mark 12 I love the YMCA Camp Storer phase, “I’m Third.” God first. Others second. I’m third. If we would truly live this way, we would see revivals in marriages all across America. All across the WORLD! Put his/ her interests, preferences, desires before your own. Again, this is NOT natural. It’s just not. But look out for your spouse. That is counter-cultural since the world tells us to look out for #1 (AKA yourself).

1. And finally, the number one thing you can do to strengthen your marriage is keep God first, personally and as a couple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12 Love God. Seek Him and your relationship with Him. The best thing you can do to have a better marriage is to have a relationship with Jesus. You can’t spend time with Christ and not become more like Him. More loving. More patient. More considerate. More peaceful. More kind. I cannot imagine what a wreck I would be individually and as a wife without Jesus – cuz Jesus already has His work cut out for him with me :).

I don’t do any of these near enough. I sure hope we get another 20/40/60 years together to get some of these better than we do today. God’s grace is amazing. Hope you are challenged by these verses as we have been. Feel free to share scripture below that would also help to strengthen marriages. Be blessed!

Son of God Movie

sonofgodKevin and I saw the “Son of God” movie this weekend… and of course it is my Christian duty to subsequently blog my thoughts of said movie (sarcasm 😉 ).  But seriously, I can sum up my thoughts in one line:

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The book is better than the movie.

Isn’t that usually the case?  That being said, let me plug The Book. If you’re a Christ Follower, it’s the basis for all of your faith.  It’s the main way that God communicates to us.  Have you read it?  All of it?  If your faith is what defines you, what you stand behind publicly in social media, at school or in the workplace, and is what gives you hope, life, the promise of an eternity in heaven –  you should probably read The Book. The whole book.

If you’re not a Christ follower (aka Christian), I encourage you too to read it.   I mean, we all have our ideas about what it probably says, but have you read it for yourself?  Can any of us really make that judgement call (about almost anything) without seeing for ourselves?  Give it a try.

Of course, I’ve recommended YouVersion before at The GrubHub, ’cause it’s AWESOME :)!  There you can pick a reading plan to read the bible from cover to cover, or read the One Year Bible Plan and read a bit of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day.  In about 15 minutes a day, you can read the WHOLE Bible in ONE YEAR! Another option is to get a paper copy.  They still have those, you know :).  It continues to be on the “best seller” list.

Back to the movie.  I liked it.  Having read The Book several times, there are probably about 50 things that I could nitpick about the movie.  But what is the point of that?   “There are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25  If the world could not contain all that Jesus did in His lifetime, how could a two hour movie?  And yeah, to get some stuff in, a few things may be a little out of place…  If you’re a nitpicker, don’t go see it.  If you’d like to see a decently done portrayal of the GREATEST (true) story ever told, go see it.

Yet I still contend, The Book is better than the movie. 

Content

monday

It’s Monday morning.  Typically, like so many of us, I feel/think/say, “UGH! It’s MONDAY!”  But, not today. We are going through the book of Philippians right now at church, so we are also reading/studying that text for our morning family time.  Today we read:

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:11-13

So yeah, it’s Monday.  Let the craziness of the weekdays of a busy family commence. But, it’s a Monday where I have a job and Kevin has a “job”/ministry position.  We’re not knocking the doors down of any new tax brackets, but the Lord is providing for us.  And I am thankful.  We can actually have and stick to a budget because there’s income coming in… ahhhhh.  Thankful.

We have had a little, and now we have a lot (by the world’s standards).   And I am content.  Content in my Jesus who is enough whether in abundance or in need.

Happy Monday!

PS – Of course, I still had my coffee… don’t play!! 🙂

moday-dontplay

Love-Ometer

1cor13Back in December I encouraged us to take a closer look at 1 Cor. 13 – the Love Chapter  and ask the Holy Spirit to show us where we fall on the “LOVE-OMETER”.   The results weren’t Olympic Gold Medal status, but nonetheless I took some notes, did some digging and then set it aside.  Here we are now at Valentine’s Week  – so I thought it would be a good time to revisit and unpack some of those thoughts.  I look forward to hearing what stood out to you as you read 1 Cor. 13.


loveispatient

Love is patient:

Nothing like starting off with the hashtag #fail.  I so wish I were more patient.   That my waiting periods would be faith-filled with patience and my words, thoughts and actions would be seasoned with patient grace (Col. 4:6)You know what happens when you pray for patience – but yes, Lord, I’m praying for it.   It’s a fruit of the Spirit – so that tells me it’s possible.  Help me to love like You, Lord, with long-suffering patience.

youiskind

Love is kind:

When you hear the word kind, who comes to mind?  We all have that someone that is so kind, so gracious, so sweet.  That’s what love is.  It’s kind.  Ask the Lord to work His kindness in and through you.

 

Love does not envy:lovedoesnotenvy

Well, here’s a tricky one.  You think you’re doing ok until that person that gets the promotion and you don’t. Or someone is prospering financially but living like the world?  What about when you see others interacting socially and you’re not included?  What about the teenager having her 3rd child and you’re still trying?  What about the chick that constantly bashes her husband and you’re single, longing for a relationship?  What about the happy family picture posted online and you’re estranged from yours?  Someone has that college degree you never completed.  Envy.  It creeps in, little sneaker, at the most inopportune times and we may be completely unaware that that’s what it is – envy.  Lord, fill our souls with longing for You.  Turn our envy into rejoicing with those who rejoice.  Move our eyes off of ourselves (which creates envy) – but to Your wondrous works in us, provision for us and blessings to us ~ because love does not envy.

Love is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly.lovedoesnotboast

Two words – Sports. Fans.  Is it possible to love well while cheering on and being  “die-hard” fan of your team?  Can you be excited yet not boastful or act improperly?  Yes, by the grace of God. Help us, Jesus J.  And it’s not just sports, there are so many other ways we can be boastful, conceited and act improperly.  Fill in the blank.  One way to avoid being boastful is to turn the attention OFF of you and ON to the Lord.  So the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord (2 Cor. 10:17).

loveisnotselfishLove is not selfish:

Can I repeat the hashtag #fail?  The epitome of love is being selfLESS.  Like I said a few weeks ago, I fall short.  Too short.  The YMCA Storer Camps motto: “God First.  Other Second. I’m Third.” Lord, help us be third!

Love is not provoked, does not keep a record of wrongs:
lovekeepsnorecordofwrongs

As a litmus test to see how you’re doing with this, have an argument with your spouse. J  Or stew about something someone said five years ago.  Or refuse forgiveness.  Oh, love.  We have wandered so far.  May we love well through forgiveness and forgetfulness.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness:

Not even a little bit.  “Be holy, because I am holy1 Peter 1:16 is a verse we’ve been discussing in our home this week.  There’s a HOLY God, and then there’s us. In the NLT, this is worded, “It does not rejoice in injustice.”  Help us, Lord, to LOVE well walking as children of light (Eph5:8).

loverejoicesintruth

Love rejoices in the truth:

I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” Jesus said that.  Rejoice in Him.  John 17:17 says, “Your word is TRUTH.”  Rejoice in the Word!   Love well in the truth of Jesus.

Love bears all things:

Endures. Doesn’t jet when the going gets rough.  Hangs in there through unmet lovebearsallthingsexpectations, conflict, disappointment and disaster.  Prov. 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” Lord, help bear in love as a friend, like Jesus is to us. (John 15:15).

Love believes all things:

The benefit of the doubt is a beautiful thing.

Love hopes all things:

Remaining hopeful is a beautiful picture of LOVING well.

Love endures all things:

See “Love bears all things.”

Love never ends, never fails.

Worded differently in different translations. Both essential.  Both applicable.  Love won’t let you down… and it won’t let others down.  And Jesus’ love – well – it never ends and it  never fails.  Amen.

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