Monday, February 28, 2011

We Are Not Perfect...But Are Called to Something Higher

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" [1 Peter 2:9]

"...God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved..." [Colossians 3:12]

How often have we read the headlines or viewed a newsreport broadcasting the scandalous behaviors or alleged actions of a well-known evangelist or local church pastor?

Or maybe on a smaller scale, how many times have you overheard or had a conversation with a non-believer whose had the "pleasure" of consistently witnessing a myriad of "worldly" behaviors from Christians, so much that they express no interests in joining our "club" and giving their life to Christ?  The way they most likely view it,  joining our "club" and becoming a Christian seems to be no different from the reality they are already living in the world?

In each of these scenarios, grand-scale or small, the underlying issue is that Christians are not showing themselves to be Christ-like (like Christ in character and/or spirit) to the world, and
this is a grave problem.

Quite often, you will hear us Christians talking about a sin we've committed or a struggle we are warring with, and ending our discussion with the declaration of , "Well, I am not perfect.  I am a human." or "God knows my heart.", as if all is futile.   We spew this point out from our mouths, in a manner that suggests that there is not much that we can do about our actions or our propensity to sin.  "Hey, this is just me...this who I am...what do you want me to do about it?"  We sin and convince ourselves that this is simply a part of us being human, and "the buck stops there".  Often we don't take the issue a bit further in our minds and consciousness to confront the necessity for us to rid ourselves of this sin, and then take serious measures (with God's mighty help) to do so.

Yes, we are all human and we are all sinners that have fallen short....BUT the day we gave our lives to Christ, we were made a NEW CREATION [2 Corin. 5:17] and have been called to something much greater and much higher.  The day we accepted salvation, we joined a "club" that is NOT LIKE this world and the sins and acts that pervade it.  We ARE expected to be and act like Christ.  And I am sorry to say, there are no exceptions, no excuses; No, No, NO!  We have been born again IN CHRIST!

I believe that many of us believers and "CHRISTIAN" name tag wearers need to seriously reconsider and reflect on what it truly means when we gave our lives to salvation and to the lordship of Christ.  So many of us want to be in the "club" but share dual membership in the "club" of this world, as well.  But God is truly clear on this matter.  For one, "..don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God [James 4:4]. WE ARE a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" [1 Peter 2:9].   The day that we gave our lives to Christ, we were called to "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" [Colossians 3: 5].  As his chosen ones God has expected us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love, instead of still carrying around anger, rage, malice, slander,  filthy language from your lips, lies and gossip. [Colossians 3: 7, 12, 14 & 1 Tim. 5:13].

I will not mix my words or tarry on much longer today... simply put from His Word:

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace..." [2 Tim. 1:9]

Yes... we are human, we will fall to sin, and God will forgive us and heal us, when we repent
BUT, we need to wake up each day, and go throughout our day with an attitude and consciousness that WE ARE CALLED TO SOMETHING HIGHER...we should look and act different from the world...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Unlikely Ministry...Our Husbands!

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."
[1 Peter 3:1-2]

Anyone who truly knows me, understands that because of my background of being primarily raised by my father, coupled with being the oldest child, I've had a real challenge with submission, servitude, and sensitivity in my 13 years of marriage.  I've always believed in the mentality that one needs to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" when life gets hard and keep it moving. I grew up having to be very independent and strong-willed in order to get what I wanted and where I have wanted. Therefore, "meshing" well into a life-long union with a sensitive, southern man has been no easy task. Throw in the fact that we're at two completely different ends of the spectrum, spiritually, and there's a myriad of difficult situations that arise when a couple is not on "one accord".

We as Christian women must realize that our amazing heavenly Father knows exactly what we need! Whether you're like me or not, God uses our spouses to COMPLEMENT US and to bring upon development in OUR CHARACTER in areas where we are lacking. This is so important for us to realize because this realization assists us when we are having a hard time within our marriages. Some of us are even called to partner with and love "difficult" men with emotional hang-ups, anger problems, addictions, adulturous ways, insecurities and the like. These men are OUR MINISTRY. Some of us have been called to serve God in different roles within the church, but what better way to demonstrate to the world where a whopping 70% of marriages end in divorce that "nothing is impossible with God"[Luke 1:37] What better way to demonstrate to our husbands that "love never fails...." [1 Corinthians 13:8] than to continue to perservere in love in our hurts and disappointments even when we're ready to "throw in the towel"? We can only accomplish this remarkable feat with the help of the Holy Spirit. When we begin to understand the depth of the unconditional love that God shows us daily, along with our daily quest to become more Christ-like, then and only then can we make the INTENTIONAL CHOICE to demonstrate "agape" love to our spouses. "Agape" is defined in the Greek language as a love that is divine; this type of love originates with God and is better described in 1Corinthians 13:4-7, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres."

Furthermore, in my case, I've had to change the way I've related to my spouse instead of expecting him to change. The power of the Holy Spirit has taught me that I have to make changes before I can expect God to work on my husband. I've learned to not put unrealistic expectations on my spouse based on what I think or feel a spouse should do. Accepting him for who he is now and allowing God to continue to work with him to his full potential is my job; NOT whining and complaining about what he doesn't do. I'm called to give my expectations to God and to encourage him in his areas of development. I've also learned to take my disappointments to God before voicing them to my husband. I've learned to pray that God will show me a good time to discuss things when my husband's heart will be open to receive what I have to say, as opposed to forcing my opinions or feelings on the situation. This change has made a huge difference in our communication! Moreover, I have had to realize that we serve each other out of reverence for Christ as opposed to viewing my husband as a grown man who can do things for himself. Now that I have instituted more of a servant attitude within my marriage, my husband is more appreciative and has "given" more of himself and is more willing to assist me when I need him. Finally, I've learned to be more affectionate with my husband knowing that it is a major need of mine instead of waiting in frustration for him to display the affection that I need. I am still working on my sensitivity issues and to learn to appreciate the sensitivity in my husband. IN ESSENCE, the changes that I've made have imparted a tremendous change in our relationship after 13 years of marriage!

So ladies, take some time to pray and ask God to show you the areas that you need help in to make YOU a better spouse and pray for our husbands.

BOTTOM LINE: We must allow God to do a work in us in order for us to become a ministry to our spouses and watch God work!

Love, Laugh, & Live~Sheree

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Children Will Lead Us!

"...and a little child shall lead them." [Isaiah 11:6]

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him...Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
 [Psalm 127: 3 & 5]

Knowing that "every good and perfect gift is from above" [James 1:17], there is no debating that God truly blessed me and many other parents when he gave us the perfect gift of our children.  I have personally been blessed with a quiver full of them in all different "shapes and sizes", ages, shades of color, and personalities. 

But although I am aware of the gift that God has given me with my children, there have been seasons in my life when at least one of my children seemed more to resemble a "thorn in my flesh", than a perfect gift from above.  Can you relate to this same feeling?

There are times when our children's personalities and behaviors can seem so foreign to our understanding.  During some of these seasons in life that I am relating to, that one child can just seem like they are constantly butting heads with you, and/or being disobedient and out of control; and it may seem that no matter how much talking you do, how much punishing you do, or how much you take away the things that he or she enjoys doing, nothing much changes.  You are often left completely frustrated and stressed out. 

"What am I going to do with this kid?!!!!!"

It is when we are at this point that we need to actually turn that question into, "What am I going to about ME?  What can I change about ME?".  I am of the belief that God allows our children to be born with personalities that are completely opposite of our own, or with special needs, that in fact require us to build our own characters and change who we are in order to be the best parent to that child for the benefit of him/her.

For me, I battled over a season of years with one of my children who held a character trait in complete antithesis to mine:  sensitivity.  She was a sensitive creature, and I was not; no room for gushy sensitive emotions for me.  Sensitivity was something that I had struggled with  for many years prior to ever becoming a mother.  I can recall having conflicts with at least two of my very good buddies in college, because I felt they were "too sensitive".  I did not understand why people had to seem so "emotional" and "weak";  toughen up and get some backbone.  When I was in a friendship in which I was just at my wit's end with the person's tendencies to get "too sensitive", I would just as soon cut-off that relationship.  I couldn't deal with it and thus, didn't really need it.  Harsh, I know...but I am being straight-up and real with you.

Then the Lord blessed with a child that I loved with all my heart.  A daughter that was flesh of my flesh and shared my genes; my cherished gift.  AND...she was SENSITIVE!  There were times when I'd be going through one of those tough seasons with her, our personalities butting heads, and I'd find myself speaking aloud to God, "Why would you give me, of all people,  a sensitive child?  You know that I cannot deal with sensitive people!"  This situation was unique to my past struggles with this issue, however, because I could not just cut-off MY OWN CHILD.  She was bound to me for dear life! So what was I going to do?

It took prayer and time, but I finally realized that my struggles required more of a work in me, FIRST, than a work in her.  She was here in my life to push me to something higher and  to mold and build my character (which was supposed to be reflecting that of Christ's more and more each day).  There was obviously something in me that God needed to be "worked out" and reshaped; and my daughter and our struggles were being used as the conduit.
Since then, we have come a LONG way!  And I am proud to say that my daughter actually has given me a "gold star" for coming around in the areas of gentleness and sensitivity.  But that's just one little example.  Perhaps you are dealing with a child that has a learning need that is different from all of your other children.  "Mary" is a whiz at studies and barely requires any help with her homework, while "Jane" struggles through, breaks down with frustration, and requires more creative methods to truly absorb things.  Sure, you are so proud of "Mary" and may boast in the fact that she's just such a blessed and smart girl.  But it is through "Jane" that you are going to be "led" and blessed with being a greater parent and individual.  Because "Jane's" situation and hope for a breakthrough is that which will require you to go beyond your limits, become more creative,  and make a change in yourself (and your ways of thinking), first.

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" [Matthew 5: 46-47] 

Even though the scripture above is in reference to us loving our enemies, I have used the idea of it as I have parented my own children.  If I am a good parent to those of my children who are good and easy to parent, what am I doing more than others (does that really make me such a good parent)?  The real test of my parenting and character is in bringing success to that child, who at that time, is the "thorn in my flesh".  You get me?

I speak from experience, and am a continuing work in progress as I am thrust into a new season of challenge with a different child, just when I graduate from a season with another and think it's about to be "all gravy" from there.  

Let's allow our children to "lead us" into a greater characters, and we'll see greater changes within them! 

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." [Philippians 1:6 NLT]

Mad Luv~Teri
A special thanks to Tai, Troi, Kaiser, Joshua and Ra for "leading" me to become a better person and for continually requiring me to build-up my character!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't Get Your "Panties in a Bunch"...Wear Bloomers!

"Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble" [Psalm 119:165]

Usually when you refer to someone who's gotten their "panties in a bunch", you are referring to a person who has overreacted to something that should be considered trivial or has made a big fuss out of a relatively minor problem. 

Well...just the other morning, I got my "panties in a bunch" and became quickly offended over the most ridiculous situation.  Since for me, cooking is somewhat like my way of ministering to my family and others, I usually take the planning process of it seriously and have mapped out my course of action way before each meal is served.  On this particular morning, I had awakened very early and started my breakfast plan by setting out all the ingredients and cooking utensils I'd need, and had even popped the breakfast meat into the oven to cook, while I showered.  After showering, I continued to keep up with my plans by removing the sausages from the oven and proceeded from there to walk the dog.  In my mind (the way I had it planned), I'd walk Daisy and return to the house to cook a delightful breakfast before the children or adults awakened.  However, when I returned back to the house, much to my surprise, all of the children were awake and one of the adults had left the house to buy biscuits, etc...for the breakfast meal.  Instantly, I began to get upset and could feel my panties creeping up into a bundle. And to add to the offense I was feeling, some of the children had had the nerve to be ruining their appetites with bowls of cereal. 

Hadn't anyone seen the sausages I'd just cooked?  Couldn't they see that I had placed everything I had needed to make PANCAKES (not biscuits) on the counter? 
Why did everyone seem to be ransacking my breakfast plan?  Biscuits??? 

I must have shown my offense and confusion all over my face, because my oldest daughter commented to me, "Mommy, don't get mad.  It's just breakfast.  It's OK."  But for some silly reason, I felt like my world had just been rocked and was having difficulty relaxing and grasping the ridiculousness of my offended feeling.

Thankfully, with a little bit of time, I did come to my senses and realize that I was getting all worked up and offended for absolutely no good, trivial reason.  And after having just written and posted the blog about being grateful, I realized that I needed to take that moment to be grateful that I'd been given the morning off.  I needed to be grateful that someone else had cared enough to step in and take on the responsibility that I usually carried each day.  Once I'd had those quiet moments alone to reflect and realize how ridiculously I'd reacted, I apologized to my friend for my "panties being in a bunch" for such a trivial reason, put on some spiritual "bloomers" to loosen up, and then praised and thanked God that I "got to" rest from cooking and was able to spend that time on other important tasks. Whew!  The things we get easily offended and bent out of shape about!

What trivial issues, situations, or types of comments get your "panties in a bunch"? 
Are you like me, and kids spilling drinks makes you what to go crazy?  How about finding the toilet seat being left up when you come in to use the bathroom?  What issues are you just plain, old obsessive and "nit picky" about, that are really trivial when we consider the bigger picture in life? 

Whatever it is that causes our panties to bunch and bundle, it is HIGH time for us to inwardly reflect, take notice, and then loosen up...bloomers are baggy and allows for our patience & gentleness, to breathe and exist!

According to the Bible, "Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble" [Psalm 119:165].  In other words, if we love and obey God's laws for us which include us clothing ourselves with "a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" [Colossians 3:12], we will not allow ourselves to become easily offended, irritated or annoyed over trivial, little, non-monumental issues/circumstances in life.  Further, we will not allow ourselves to "stumble" and sin in our anger or annoyance, because we love His principles and desire to walk in His ways.  Truly some incidents and issues in this life are not worth the drama we create.  We must learn to loosen up, "not be easily angered" [1Corin. 13: 5], "let (our) gentleness be evident to all" [Philippians 4:5], and "be tolerant of one another and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint against another" [Colossians 3:13]

As one of my "besties" puts in, "Life's too short"; and although I am preaching to myself, somethings in life are really not all that serious or worth all the stress and energy we put behind it.  We must really pick our battles; and our warfare would be better off aimed at the real enemy threatening the promise God has for us.

Rock Those Bloomers, Y'all!

"...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." [2 Peter 1:5-8]

Mad Luv~Teri

P.S.- Special thanks and shout out to Kimmy for giving me a reason to get "my panties in a bunch".  Thanks for being a great friend and forgiving your crazy friend (ME!).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

God's in the Construction Business: He Will Shut Things Down!

"You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail" [Proverbs 19:21 NLT] 
There are times in life when many of us have been anxious about our future and what is to come.  For some of us there is some impending date or an upcoming course of action that seems threatening to our current situation. 

 It may be the mother that is temporarily home on-leave to care for her newborn child, whom is very anxious as she looks forward to the date when she must return to work.  Perhaps during these weeks with her bundle of joy, she has found the benefits of being at home, more important to her than returning to the work force.   But her anxiety kicks in when she tries to fathom how their family can make it on one less salary, and she's getting slack from her better half to "get back to work". 

Or, let's consider the family who has suffered some financial blows that have affected their ability to keep up with their mortgage.  The bank has set a date of foreclosure and for an auction on their home; this date looms darkly over their heads, causing them great distress and worry.  What will happen?  Where will we go? 

Finally, let's think of the wife who is consumed with worry over the consideration that her husband may get the job that he has interviewed for, that will in turn require him to be on the road traveling most of the days of the week; thus, leaving her and their 3 children home alone.  Her mind labors day and night over the weight of holding down the home alone during these times, and the affects that the gaps of distance and time will have on her already strained marriage.

Unfortunately, almost all of us have held anxious thoughts about some future event; toiling over what we think is to come.  But often our toil is in vain, because our God, not man, is the one in charge and He will throw up a "road block" in a blink of an eye.

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD" [Proverbs 21:30]

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" [Matthew 6: 27]

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." [Matthew 6:34]

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." [Jeremiah 29:11]

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." [Romans 8:28]

I know, first hand, about God’s expertise in the construction business of life.  Almost a year and a half ago, I thought that I was going to go back to work as a public school teacher; requiring my older girls to have to end homeschooling and go back into the school system, and leaving my younger sons to a daycare provider.  Though my heart of hearts did not feel at peace with going back out of the home to work, my mind and anxious thoughts about my family’s future told me it was the “right thing” to do.  I spent a whole long day revising a resume that was more than 6 years ancient.  And my entire evening was spent posting this resume to job sites and applying for teacher positions on-line.  But early that next morning, God allowed for a strange occurrence in my life to throw up that “road block” to my teaching career plans.  Long story short, I was arrested of a bizarre crime that I DID NOT commit (though arrested without cuffs and free of bail costs).  And temporarily having the charges for this crime on my record was not exactly what a school system would be looking for in hiring a new teacher.

Bottom-line:  I WAS ROAD-BLOCKED by GOD!

I hope that God will not have to go to such extreme measures (though God cushioned my experience all the way) to “road block” plans that you or someone else has made.  However, I’d rather him throw up whatever block is necessary to keep us from veering off the wrong road and thus, forfeiting our promise and perfect destiny.

As strange as my “road blocked” situation was, I learned a grand lesson in it that has helped my faith walk since then.  For the most part, I no longer worry or toil about dates and situations that threaten to come; even when they are right at the door step.  Joyfully, I have had first hand evidence of God’s ability to “road block”, just in the nick of time.  And not a moment of my worry would not have added to a single thing to it!

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." [Philippians 4:6 NLT]

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." [Psalm 37:4]

Mad Luv~Teri

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Shield of Faith: The Dream

"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." [Ephesians 6:16]

The Dream 7-16-09

Suddenly I find myself standing on a large, grassy field (somewhat like a soccer/football field). As I am aware of my location, I am also quickly aware of my company, my position, and the lack of time I have for thought. Standing in this field, I look ahead of me to fearfully observe a large and tremendous host of huge, muscular, burly individuals wearing blue and red jerseys, with physical stands and facial expressions that made it quite evident to me that they were my enemy, and their mission was to trample me with a quickness. As soon as I was aware of what was coming at me, I was just as quickly aware of the fact that I was alone, with no allies, no equipment, and no “visible” weapons, - I HAD NOTHING! I also had no time to let any fear set in and had to think quickly, “Oh, I have the shield of faith!” Now, I must admit...I made this declaration to myself with a hint of humor and with skepticism and uncertainty in my mind; according to the way I was seeing things, this weapon that I was considering on protecting myself with, was a “make-believe”, invisible shield.
How logical was this consideration and how truly powerful could this type of weapon be?

As the masses began to charge toward me, I whipped-up my right hand from down at my side, into a circular-like motion, in front of me, leaving my right forearm positioned between my chest and face; I was holding up this shield of faith, of course! Now the first warrior rushed up on me and surprisingly bounced back to the ground with a force as he hit up against my shield. Astonished and now curious, I executed the exact move with the left hand, this time. And again, another opponent was repelled by my shield and went flying back to the ground. At this point, curiosity had already begun to flee, and assuredness was setting in.

I continued to fight my battle, presenting my shield at least two more times, and it was just about at that moment that I became conscious of a presence at my right side. I did not have the time or ability to turn to give this new presence any eye contact. But I was aware it was male and he was wearing a flowing white garment. My soul knew it was Jesus! I know that I instantly thought or verbalized, “Oh, I didn’t know you were here. You weren’t here before. I was alone.” But Jesus replied to me, “I was here with you all along. However, it wasn’t until you actually used your shield of faith a few times that you were able to feel my presence and see me.” With that, I was more pumped and more confident than ever! I continued to battle the mass ahead of me, one- by-one; successful with each smooth move I made. I even came to a point when my body elevated up off the ground and I actually fought by sharply kicking my opponents from above. Before long, I had encountered my last enemy. I was amazed to survey the field decorated with my fallen opponents and to realize that with JUST ME, my SHIELD OF FAITH, and JESUS by my side, I was able to easily slaughter each and every one of them to my victory and Gods glory.

Through my dream, I believe God wants to remind us HOW POWERFUL faith can be when we actively pick it up to use as a weapon in our battles and trials of life.

How often have you felt overwhelmed, depleted, anxious, fearful, or hopeless from the tribulations of this life? And how often have you felt that your problems were beyond your own strength and capabilities to solve or overcome? Perhaps it’s the fact that you are lacking or have lost all resources, finances, time, or support from individuals, which has you feeling hopeless and prematurely defeated; not able to overcome the massive enemy force ahead of you. When you consider your situation, you cannot fathom how you will be able to overcome the obstacle ahead of you because there is no one willing to help you and no resources available to help you?

Well, God reminds us that we don’t need one other person or even any other resources to overcome when we present our STRONG FAITH and trust IN HIM. His grace is sufficient for us! [2 Corninthians 12:9]!  He is our JEHOVAH-JIREH (our provider) and nothing is too difficult for Him [Jeremiah 32:17 & 27].  And as our Abba Father, He wants to bring you and me through to success and victory over our trials and tribulations.

"He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me even though many oppose me".
[Psalm 55:18]

 "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm of Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you declares the Lord, Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." [Isaiah 41:13-14]
[Today's devotional is a revised re-post of a note posted on facebook in 2009]
Mad Luv~Teri

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Day + Boredom = Trouble

"Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." [Galatians 6:9]

Ever had a day when you were just plain BORED? Of course there must  be at least a day from your childhood when you could relate to that state of mind. I know that when I was a kid, boredom would creep in for me on those gloomy days when the weather was not at it's best and I was kept in from my normal outdoor play and games.  I would also "feel" bored when my "bestie" was not home or unavailable for us to get together.  I recall my declarations of boredom and the response that my dad would always give me.  According to him, there was never a reason for us to be bored; there was always something we could be doing.  And actually Daddy was right.  But I guess the bottom-line was, I "felt" bored because what I "desired " to do what not possible at that time.

The dictionary's definition of  "boredom" is "the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest" []. And according to the Russian thinker, novelist, and philosopher, Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, "boredom" is "... the desire for desires".  I definitely believe as a child, my definition of boredom stood right in line with Merriam-Webster's definition and Mr. Tolstoy's philosophy; I had a desire to play dolls, to jump double dutch, and to ride my bike (all those activities were my desires);  not to read a book, watch a television show, or play with my younger siblings.  So in my inability to obtain the desires I desired, I was bored.  Fortunately, for me, my boredom simply led to me sitting on the small couch, staring out the front window, and wearing a glum look on my face all day; for other kids, however, their boredom can often lead to destructive exploration and mischief.  Green number sixes all over bedroom walls and a sheet-less mattress were all a result of a little four year old girl's moments boredom (while Mommy and Big Sis were napping). 

Simply said, "Boredom Can Lead to Trouble!"

But today, the type of boredom that I am concerned with is not that of cute little kids, scribbling on the walls, or making Picasso-like works of art with ketchup on the granite counter.  My concern is for the boredom and apathy that can sometimes creep into the lives of grown adults.  And though that boredom may only last for a day,  that one day of boredom can lead to poor judgement and a moment of trouble for that bored person (which may also end up adversely affecting the lives of others around them).
As a believer, boredom can creep in during those seasons when we have been stalwartly standing on the Word of God (for a specific breakthrough) and we are beginning to get weary in our stand.  We may be bored from the mundane tasks that we tackle each day or a daily hum-drum routine.  Boredom can also creep in just as it did when we were kids; maybe you are snowed in for some days and you are starting to feel that "cabin fever" setting in.  Or maybe the break of spring is on the rise and you are feeling cooped-up behind the brick walls of your office building or classroom.  All of sudden you "feel" bored with that job you love, or those children you look forward to teaching each day; the warm sun and milder temperature is what you are desiring at that moment.

Whatever leads you to feeling bored as an adult, watch out!  It is during times of boredom that we tend not to meditate on things that are "true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable...excellent and worthy of praise. "[Philippians 4:8]  Instead we meditate on what we desire and cannot or do not have; what we feel we deserve and are not receiving; what might seem "greener" to us on the other side.  And unfortunately, "after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death" [James 1:15].  One day of boredom and the lies that our desires are so much more important at that moment, can lead to inappropriate web surfing, viewing pornography, searching for an old flame or high school sweetheart (and you're married), fornicating (when you just gave your life to Christ or rededicated it), or even partaking in drugs (specifically, smoking a "little weed")- equaling sin.

BUT I IMPLORE US ALL (emphasis on "us"), ." not give the devil a foothold. Don't give the devil any opportunity [to work]." [Ephes. 4:27 God's Word Translation] in our one day of boredom
Do not let those "bored" moments lead us to destructive exploration and mischief!!!

"A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead" [Proverbs 21:16]

"The sluggard's cravings will be the death of him." [Proverbs 21:26]

When the state of boredom is on the rise in your day (or season), first know that it is a ploy and a lie from the enemy to get you off God's perfect track for you.  Next, resist that enemy and for your livesPray and confess those desires to a "bestie" in your inner circle.  Then get busy doing all those things that you are blessed to "get to" do (even though they may not be on your desire list for that day).

Don't abort your promise and the harvest that is right around the corner!

"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us
from the evil one." [Matthew 6:13]

Mad Luv~Teri

Monday, February 21, 2011

Be Grateful!

"Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness... 
...Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD." [Psalm 150: 1-2, 6]]

"I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips." 
[Psalm 34:]

Not too many weeks ago, while sitting in a Quest Diagnostics's waiting room I picked up a copy of a Woman's Day magazine to keep me occupied.  While thumbing through the pages, I came across an article that had a huge impact on my way of thinking, even in those few short minutes that I actually sat there.  It was a story of a woman named, Denise Taylor, and her experiences and years with her daughter, Jonnae, who was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 12 (and later passed on at age 15).  Although you may imagine that it was a sad story of the disease and death of a wonderful young girl, it was actually an inspiring message to me on the importance of being grateful and not taking any small thing in life for granted.

Denise and Jonae kept gratitude journals, where they penned everything that they were grateful for, small and large.  According to Denise, "“Once Jonnae wrote, ‘I’m grateful that I get to wear pajama pants,’” Denise recalls. “As a reaction to chemo, her skin was so sensitive that she couldn’t stand the pressure of clothing, so the days she could wear pajamas were good days."" [] During their family's battle with Jonnae's disease, Jonnae actually taught her family, " how to change their outlook by living life to the fullest and changing the way they talked. “I have to” became “I get to”.  Jonnae deliberately focused “on the good stuff,” as she often put it, and paid as little attention as possible to anything negative."[]  Instead of grumbling and complaining about things they "had to do", the mother/ daughter team turned their focus on the positive, and changed "I have to" to "I get to".

How many of us need to change our daily outlooks and focus on the "good" in our lives?  How often do we spend our days complaining about "this or that" and rambling on the phone with a friend about all the things we "have to" do that day, as if we'd so rather be doing something else? 

I know that I am clearly guilty of such a thing.  Though I love cooking, there are days that I wish I did not have to prepare a dinner.  And I know that they are surely days that I totally wish that I did not have to tackle the huge piles of clothing that need to be folded.

But, I should be GRATEFUL!  I should be grateful that "I get to cook, only because I have a precious family to cook for".  I should be grateful that "I get to fold piles of clothes, because I obviously have been blessed to have a lot of clothing".  And surely, all of this gratitude most deservedly should go to God "who daily loads us with benefits." [Psalm 68:19]

According to God's word, be are expected to be grateful and thankful beings, no matter what our situations or circumstances are:

"Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining..." [Philippians 2:14]

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
[Colossians 3:23]

"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." [Philippians 4:12]

So Ladies... it is time to change our focus and spend the entirety of each of our days being grateful to God for all that WE DO HAVE and all that we "GET TO" DO.  When you are faced with the mundane tasks in your day, that gives you the urge to "grumble and complain", think on those these that are, "true...lovely...and admirable" and give up a "THANKS" to God.  Show your gratitude with a shout of "Thank You!", sing it in a song, or pen it in a gratitude journal. 

However you do it, LET's DO IT...BE GRATEFUL!

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." [Philippians 4:8 NLT]

Mad Luv~Teri

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are We There Yet?

"....With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
[2 Peter 3: 8, 9]

If anyone has ever traveled in the car with young children, we have all heard the question asked much too early into the trip, "Are we there yet?" Children are so excited to get to their destination that they often forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

How many of us are guilty of this same thing when it comes to walking into a promise from God? We pray fervently and receive the promise; we then want to immediately get to our destination, WITHOUT THE JOURNEY. We want that new job, that new house, restoration in our marriage, restoration in our finances, to have a baby, or many other things on the list. God has a perfect plan for our lives, however, there are many pieces to the plan and WORK to be completed IN US along the journey to bring the plan to fruition. Remember, God doesn't waste anything that happens in our lives. Once you trust and know that God's hand is at work, you will realize that many of the things that happen in our day to day living are carefully orchestrated by our heavenly father to "work out the kinks" in us in order to prepare us for our destiny. Just as a baker would not remove a cake from the oven before it is done, we must realize that sometimes the "heat" is necessary in order to get us "just right" in preparation to receive our blessing. God's timing is perfect!

Many times we prolong getting to our destiny because we are impatient and start to do things outside of His will in an attempt to get what we want. We must realize that the almighty God DOES NOT NEED OUR HELP and is the one in the perverbial "driver's seat". We need to pray daily to walk in the spirit and ask for direction in our decisions to ensure that they line up with God's will.

In essence, stop asking God "Are we there yet?" in our impatience, sit back and enjoy the wonderful journey along the way.

[Psalms 27:14] "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord".

[Isaiah 40:31] "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."

Live, Laugh, & Love~ Sheree

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Protecting Your "Achilles' Heel" With a Solid Inner Circle

"Therefore admit your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed..." [James 5:16]

"iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy praise]" [Prov. 27:17 AMP]

Greek mythology includes a legend of the great and powerful Achilles, which is worthy of our reflections today. According to the Legend of Achilles, when Achilles was a baby, his mother, Thesis, dipped him into the magical River Styx (a river that supposedly offered powers of invincibility) in hopes to make her son immortal and invincible. While he was being dipped, however, his heel did not get bathed by these waters because his mother was holding him by the heel. As a grown adult, who'd had a great track record as a decorated and mighty warrior, he was shot with an arrow to his heel and died instantly. His heel had been his most vulnerable spot.

To this day, we have referred to this legend of Achilles and his heel in a metaphorical way (rather than literally), to describe an individual's "deadly weakness in spite of overall strength that can actually lead to a downfall" ['_heel ]. Simply put, our Achilles' heel is that weak and vulnerable part of our characters that can lead us to sin and ultimately cause death in parts of our lives (or worse, literal death).

"Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death." [James 1:15]
Just as Achilles' heel was a seemingly small point on his physically toned and strengthened body, spiritually, our Achilles' heel may be seemingly small to us, but a crucial weakness that could lead to our demise. It is my opinion that in our lives, Satan is highly aware of our Achilles' heels. In all of our strength, he is in touch with the weak areas of our lives that cause us to stray from the Word and sin. In the bible, he is referred to as a serpent; and as a serpent does, he slithers and creeps up on us from behind when we are least expecting it. As a snake, his motives and plans for us are not to our benefit, but to his alone.
"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy..." [2 Corinthians 2:11]
Considering all of this, it makes it all the more important for us to have a solid "inner circle" of believers that will have our backs and protect us through prayers and admonition from falling to an arrow in our Achilles' heel.
If you are struggling with an area of weakness in your life, it is imperative for you to have at least one person that you can come to and "be real" about your struggle and sinful thoughts and actions. According to God's Word, he implores us to "admit your sins to each other". But the purpose in admitting your sins to your friend is not to expose and shame you, but it is in fact so that you can, "pray for each other so that you may be healed..." [James 5:16]. We need our closest friends and "inner circle" to help keep us accountable,"in order that Satan might not outwit us". We need to be WELL-AWARE of his schemes, and protect ourselves with loving friends who is "sharpen" us and steer us aright from the destructive paths we may be venturing down.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." [Hebrews 10:24]
"as iron sharpens iron, so a man (inner circle friend) sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy praise]" [Proverbs 27:17 AMP]
I won't completely "go there" and expose all possible Achilles' heels we may struggle with, because I think we are all well aware of our own personal ones deep within our hearts. However, some of our Achilles' heels can take the form of secret addictions to drugs or pain medications, thoughts and desires to cheat on our spouse, food addictions/eating disorders, fornication and sexual promiscuity... and this list could go on....
Whatever and where ever your Achilles' heel is in life, take heed from one that also requires her "inner circle" back- up to keep her in check:
  • Be sure you did your "inventory" (suggested earlier this week), and have a solid "inner circle" of believers.
  • Put down your pride and fear, in order to admit your weakness or sins to a trusted person who will pray for you and support you in the Word.
  • Pray for yourself and believe that "whom the Son set free is free indeed." With prayer, God's help, and through the results of Christ's death and resurrection, you CAN be free from whatever is entangling you. [John 8:36]
  • Finally, "Submit yourselves , then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." [James 4:7]

Protect Yourselves From Getting An Arrow to Your Achilles' Heel...

Let Your Inner Circle Get Your Back!

Mad Luv~Teri

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Losing Our "Christ-like Cool"

"My dear brothers (sisters), take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." [James 1:19]

What makes you lose your "Christ-like Cool"?

What type of situations or circumstances, heat you up, make you want to call any and everyone everything but the child of God, and boils your insides til' you want to explode like a volcano?

For me, I tend to be tempted to "lose all religion" (as people say) on the telephone, during my phone calls to banks, credit card providers, doctors, and companies that I may make my monthly bill payments to. Usually the issues that lead to me wanting to explode is that the company or person that I am dealing with has made some mistake that they are not willing to admit to; made a mistake they are so sorry they've made, but it is in fact the umpteenth time that they've made it; or the company has some policy that they are not willing to go against, and in my eyes, the policy is absolutely RIDICULOUS. Of course when the telephone dialogue is already rubbing me the wrong way, it does not help for the person on the other line to speak in a dialect that is unclear to me (not that I am opposed to a foreign dialect, it is the fact that it is UNCLEAR and I am English-speaking trying to translate through it). Or even better, the icing is put on the cake of my utter frustration and annoyance, if the representative accidentally disconnects me after they've already had me on the line for a ridiculous 45 minutes or MORE. WHEW!

That's the type of stuff that makes Teri want to lose her "Christ-like Cool"!

But the MAJOR PROBLEM is I CAN'T and it's not "okay" if I have (which I shamefully have)!
It is clear that God's will for us is to keep our "Christ-like Cool" and refrain from such types of explosions and actions. First off, let's be clear about what our "Christ-like Cool" should look like. According to God's Word, we are to, "clothe (ourselves) with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." [Colossians 3:12] We are to "put on love" [Colossians 3:14] even more over all of the other virtues. Daily God calls us to reflect qualities that are characteristic of Christ and how he behaved on this Earth, during the time he was a human like us. As Christians, we are to actually be what the name of "Christian" suggests: being "Christ-like", living and acting like Christ. Cussing a representative out over the phone, giving the guy the finger next to you on the road, or getting into a minor brawl over a parking spot you had your eye on and had wrongfully taken from you, really does NOT reflect the image of Christ and His nature.
Please know, however, that our Father in heaven is not oblivious and insensitive to the fact that we will get angry and have strong emotions raging inside. And worry not, because God WILL " back trouble to those who trouble you, and give relief to you who are troubled.. " [2 Thessalonians 1:6]. But his directions and admonitions to us on how WE are to handle these situations are clear in His Word. And although his directives to us may seem strange and in complete opposition to what our flesh is feeling, they are really meant to bring us peace and success in our lives. We need to trust in His ability to fight our battles, and do as He wishes for us to do. He loves us dearly, cares tremendously for us, and knows what is best for us as our creator.
"In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger." [Ephesians 4:26]
"But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." [Colossians 3:8]
"A man (woman) of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered."
[Proverbs 17:27]
"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." [Proverbs 15:18]
So the next time you are confronted with a situation that tempts you to lose all your "Christ-like Cool", remember our Lord's expectations of us and "do not sin in your anger". It is not always easy. And believe me, I know, because today's actual devotional to you is a result of me standing at the cliff of losing my cool and having to make a major decision. Instead of "losing it" over the phone, I took a deep breath, did my best to politely end the call (without yelling and cussing the innocent receptionist out), and RAN to this computer to start typing today's blog, in order to release that anger, productively and not sin. For me, prayer and writing help to release my volcanic emotions. What are your means of releasing without sinning, alongside prayer? If you have yet to use prayer, the next time you are in those circumstances, "Stop, Drop, & Pray!" FIRST...then do whatever other activity that brings you some peace to calm your inner storm.
The bottom-line is, we have to put our actions into check, especially while wearing the title of "Christian" in "this world". How will "the lost" be able to distinguish us from all the rest when we are behaving like all the rest in "this world"? We are clearly called not to be of "this world", and in choosing to "be friends of this world", it will only lead us to "become an enemy of God" [James 4: 4] Ouchy!
Come on Ladies...we must hold ourselves to a higher, more holier standard, and please our Lord, whom sacrificed His life for us!
HOLD ON to that "Christ-like Cool"!
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
[1 Timothy 4:16]
Mad Luv~Teri