Monday, September 28, 2009

Bringing your best game

“No ball falls!” is our volleyball team’s battle cry. We parents yell it out to remind our Lady Bulldogs that they are there for one reason – to play their best game. Unfortunately, in this weekend’s volleyball tournament our girls repeatedly lost track of their purpose. Our team played hard and won the first two games but then we began to see a change in our Lady Bulldogs…they were beginning to get a little full of themselves. As a result, they became unfocused and gave away points. They soon found themselves having to work twice as hard to make up ground that they had let the competition take from them and they were running out of steam. At the end of the day, our Lady Bulldogs won four games but lost in the end and came home in 2nd place.

I know how those girls felt! There have been countless times that God has chosen to use me for a specific purpose only for me to become full of myself and stumble on my own pride. I’ve been known to go from a hilltop moment to falling face first into a valley in 0.6 seconds. Sometimes its Satan that trips me up but most of the time I’m able to knock myself to the ground all by myself. I take my eyes off of God and turn them onto myself as if I’ve accomplished these things in my own strength.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever brought you ‘best game’ and then start resting on your laurels thinking that you can just take a break for awhile? Meanwhile Satan gets a foothold and not only causes you to stumble but will often try to hold you down so that you won’t get back up and try again. We end up having to work much harder to regain the ground we lost when we stopped giving our best effort. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father who is faithful to pick us back up and set us on our feet again as we set our eyes on Him. The thing to remember is this: our best game comes from God, not from us. When we have the privilege of being used by Him, that’s when we should become less not more. God infuses us with His strength for His glory, not ours! Our job is to be open to letting God be God in our lives so He can equip us to bring our best game!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’" 1Corinthians 1:31

Monday, September 21, 2009

A work in progress

I love doing home improvement projects! I enjoy imagining how I would like something to look and conveying that vision to those who are skilled to make it happen, which is normally not me!

Here’s the problem…during the planning phase of a project, it is very easy for me to become discontent. I think about what the room or object could become and stop appreciating what it already is. At that point I’m no longer looking forward to what it will look like; I’m caught up on focusing on everything it is not.

It’s easy for us to do that to ourselves as well. We make plans to lose weight, become smarter, make more friends, run a marathon, etc. We envision what it will be like when we reach our goal and then get frustrated that we seem so far from it! Joyce Meyer, a well known author and speaker, always says “I might not be where I’m going, but I’m not where I was!” Praise God! That quote has become a mantra in my life and serves as a constant reminder that although I’m a work in progress, the portrait looks so much better than it used to! God starts us out as a messy, undefined sketch and continues to transform and refine us until we are a beautiful work of art. Our role is to be content as He makes us into His masterpiece, focusing on the Artist and taking our eyes off of ourselves.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

Monday, September 14, 2009

Helping Hands

In my little corner of the world, we had a wonderfully wet weekend! The dark, ominous clouds rolled in Friday night and they have been showering us with a slow, steady rain ever since. After a cup of coffee and few homemade cinnamon rolls, my husband informed the family that we were going to spend our Saturday morning doing a little housework. We all quickly divided the chores, cranked up the stereo and went to work. Within just a few hours the house was squeaky clean and we were ready to have some fun together… all in all a great day!

The greatest thing about working together that day was that it was the direct result to something that happened earlier in the week; I had finally confessed that I had been feeling like a failure. With the combination of a busy schedule and a bad back, I had been neglecting the housework and it was starting to show. I had always been pretty good at ‘surface cleaning’ but I’m not a ‘pull everything off the shelves, wash it all up and scrub it clean enough to eat off of kind of’ kind of cleaner. But still it was pretty hard to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help! Greg, the kids and I rallied together and got more done in just a few hours than I had managed to get done all week!

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we ask for help! We can do so much more with the support and encouragement of others than we can ever do on our own and then our victory is shared with them which brings even more glory to God! We already know that God is strong in our weakness and He provides people who care about us to be tangible examples of His love and support. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with disciples. He didn’t have to go it alone; He had friends along side of Him!

I don’t know what you’re walking through, but I want to encourage you to take a look around for a minute; are you walking through it alone? Have you opened yourself up enough to share with someone all that you’re going through and ask for help or are you still the guest of honor at your own pity party? These special friends may not have the power to change your circumstance, but they certainly can help change your perspective! You will just need to swallow your pride and be real with them by admitting the failures and start pursuing what God has for you. But remember, this is about renewal not condemnation. Admitting your faults, failures or sin is not intended to give ammunition to someone to use against you so choose your friends wisely! Pray that God will reveal who He intends to walk with you and then cherish them…they are a gift from God!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11

Monday, September 7, 2009

Have you burnt out?

I have a story I’d like to share with you:

One chilly autumn night, a pastor knocked on the door of a member of his congregation. This man had once been an active participant at the church but no longer attended regularly. He’d show up every few weeks, listen to the message and then leave quickly afterwards not making time to socialize with the other church members. He was a bit of a quiet man but his gradual withdrawal from the church and its members hadn’t gone unnoticed by the pastor. The man welcomed the pastor in, took his coat and the two men sat down by the fireplace. Without saying a word the pastor leaned over and picked up the fireplace tongs. He used them to pick a burning ember out of the flames and placed it just outside the reach of the fire. The two men sat silently while the flames of the fire danced, popped and crackled as the ember was fading. Moments later there was no sign of a flame in the ember at all, it had burnt out completely. The pastor picked up the tongs once again and moved the ember back into the fire. Instantly the ember caught a spark and it began to glow again as it took its part in the dance of flames. The pastor walked to the door, gathered his coat, then turned to the man and said, “So, I’ll see you on Sunday?” The man replied with a knowing smile, “Yep, you’ll see me Sunday!”

This week I have heard the heart of numerous friends who have become just like the ember. Fortunately, they have recognized the issue before their fire has died out but as we read in the story; even if your fire has died it’s never too late to rekindle it! When we are in community with other believers, we have life! When we keep to ourselves and exclude ourselves from the things going on around us, we perish! We are relational creatures; we’re designed to be in relationship with others. And when we are in relationships with people who are seeking God in their lives and living according to His plan, that’s when we thrive!! We don’t need for the people in our life to fill our time; we need the people in lives to fill our cup. We have an innate need to serve and be served, encourage and be encouraged, love and be loved as we ‘do life’ with one another. No matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, single or married, a corporate executive or unemployed, versed in the Bible or just learning God’s word – you have a place in God’s family and you are welcome there! Join the dance of the flames and watch as God makes your flame burn brightly for Him!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1Corinthians 12:27