Tag Archives: adoration

Reflections of Faith – What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

12 May

Sometimes, I don’t know what to do.

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Reason one,  there is so many tasks to be done that I can’t decide what to start first.  Which is a great excuse to procrastinate, but does not help the situation at all. If this is the case, I usually spend 10 minutes making a list, and literally flip a coin to decide where to start.  Usually it is just a penny from the Christmas fund, dropped randomly on the page – with my eyes closed.  Once I’m started, the tough part is done.

I do not make the list in any particular order, just write tasks as things pop into my mind.  I don’t prioritize the list because for me that is just another way to avoid taking any action at all.  And then, I realize, that not deciding is also draining my energy,  so if even the list making is overwhelming, I fall back upon an old disciplinary favorite.

About 2 years ago when inertia and depression were both the words of the day, I used a cheap white board with 30 squares.  We had used it in prior years as the caregiver day-chart when we had multiple bodies floating into and out of our home over a series of weeks and months.  Now, it lay unused.  One day, for whatever reason, I was poked into picking it up, erasing it, and listing 1 chore a day.  Just one.  And then I committed to get up every day, get dressed every day, load the dishwasher everyday, and do THE ONE chore.   Sometimes it took all 15 spoons just to do the first task – get up and get dressed.  But this board has continued to serve me well during times when chronic illness challenges me with the feeling of being over-whelmed and wanting to shut down.

The other reason why sometimes it is hard for me to do is that there is no motivation.  I know there are things to be done, but they aren’t “fun”, or “rewarding”, or “creative”.  They just need to be done.  These are the times when I wonder:  “Am I lazy?”  “Am I undisciplined”?  My older siblings are likely to say both as that is the curse of being the baby of the family.  But there is more to it.  Sometimes, in my heart of hearts, it is pure-selfishness.  I don’t want to do anything for anyone, I want to only do something fun for me.  Immature.  Effective in doing nothing or doing the “good – but not “best” things.

While some may think reason #2 is part and parcel of #1 and vice versa, I don’t.  For me, reason #1 involves health management and physical/mental being issues.  Reason #2 is a failure of character, the heart and/or involves spiritual issues.  At least for me.  So to deal with #2 – lack of motivation, I turn to the promises of scripture, the remembrances of all that God has done for me.  I sing a song or two and I count my blessings.  Then I ask God to help me do something for someone else, for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Amazingly, God answers that prayer.  Always.  And after the reflections of God’s blessings in my life, and the activity for others, motivation is restored, balance returns and selfishness fades.  Amazing how that works.

How about you?  Do you ever have days where it is difficult to just get going?

Reflections on Christian Living – Lent 2015 Thoughts on Sin, Forgiveness, Relationship, Love and Growth – Part 5

29 Mar

Reflections on Christian Living – Lent 2015 Thoughts on Sin, Forgiveness, Relationship, Love and Growth – Part 5

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This is the last in the series of 2015 Lenten reflections.  This is where I admit that growing in holiness to become the person God wants me to be is a challenge.  Is it a full time job?  It can be, it is best when it is.  Is it hard?  Often.  Do I consistently make living my beliefs – 100% of every day?  Not at all.  Consistently, yes.  100%, no.   [To see how I deal with that, Go back to Part 1 of this series]  Is it worth it?  Totally.

I’m human, there are times I question and doubt, I fear and I fail my Lord.  I’m so glad my God is big enough to handle my questions, and so gentle and loving that he doesn’t immediately strike me dead for daring to question Him.  If He wasn’t like that, He wouldn’t be much of a God now would He?   God does not EVER turn away any sincerely seeking humble soul.   God is always faithful, He loves me no matter what.

I cannot hide from his love, it infinitely surrounds me. God promises He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him.  That perfect love and true promises are what keeps me seeking God.  After all, we are in a love relationship.  I want to meet with God.  I want to obey God and follow His desires.  I want to fulfill the highest potential He has planned for my life.  And in turn, God always wants what is best for me.  He can take the bad stuff that just happens to anyone walking on this earth and He turns it around for my good. (When I let Him).

In reflection this season, I am also reminded that we are called “to live at peace with everyone – so far as it depends upon us”.  (Romans 12:18)  Here too we are challenged to draw upon our faith in God – for to live in peace often times means setting aside our personal comforts – our fears and our prejudices.  We need to go outside our comfort zones to grow, leave the past behind in order to avoid harming others – all the while standing firm in our core faith.  Not because we are faithful, but because GOD is faithful.  Not because we are better or think we are better than anyone else – for we are not.  We are simply forgiven sinners, striving to live in love.

That – the “live at peace” verse – God really means that.  It includes some extraordinarily difficult choices and actions.  Things such as: not compromising truth, not looking the other way at evil, not being silence in the presence of wickedness, and not being prejudice.  Instead, we are called to help the weakest among us, to help those who cannot help themselves, and to put into action plans that honor and glorify God.  We are called to be the very hands and feet of Christ on this earth – in the now, in the here, in our spheres of influence.  We are called to be a visible presence of God’s Kingdom on earth through our lives, our actions, our choices, and if absolutely necessary – our words.   Sometimes, I am greatly saddened when I think that Christians are more often know for what they are “against” than for whom they stand for.  Personally, I think it is a fabulous prayer to ask God to be more visible in my life actions than in my words.  Personally, I think if we can season our lives with more love and acceptance for people and share what God has done for us, we would be a much more attractive people of God, than we oft times are now.

I believe that God has the best ability to convict of sin and convince in love.  I believe that God – through the Holy Spirit – points all hearts to Christ.  Everyone on this earth will make a choice before they die.   (Rom 14:7-10)

When asked about my faith or current issues, will I speak answers, give my position and offer my reasoning.  I can share my testimony of what God means to me and what He has done in the past, and what He is doing in my life now.  But I am not called to judge your life.

For me, at least, I think the cliche to “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is trite.  I believe it is impossible to live out without hypocrisy.  Maybe someone else could do it, but not me.  When I love someone I love them.  I accept them where they are now, just as Christ accepted me where I was then and where I am now.  God accepts me fully – just as I am.  He requests only honesty from us, from me.  It doesn’t mean God will leave me there.  For He wants to see me grow in knowledge and grace.  Over time – that growth can include: changes in lifestyle, reading and mentoring in the Bible, the very Word of God.

Here is how it works for me:  unless a person has given me permission to help you see your blind-spots, and only when I know you very well indeed  – and vice versa – I have been given you permission to point out my blind spots – only then do I think that it is helpful to share areas where another person cannot or does not have the ability to see how you (or me) can improve.  Only then, do I think it is acceptable for others to point out areas where anyone needs improvement and growth.  Mutual accountability.  Mutual accountability means mutual love, guaranteed acceptance and forgiveness. *I do have one exception*

Living out my faith, or as James (Jesus brother said) – “working out my own salvation with fear and trembling…” can mean being in accountability relationships, in love sharing our lives with others, not to put down, criticize or critique, but to share honestly our lives and “bleeding edges” in confidentiality with one another.  It can, and hopeful also does,  include corporate as well as private worship time.  It can mean meditation and study in the Bible to learn what God expects from us and of us.

God nurtures us to “ever grow”.   Kind of like an “evergreen” in nature.  Some periods have greater growth, some have lessor growth.  Unless there is a draught or uprooting, there should be growth. We, (I’m including me too) should not be the same people today that we were a year ago.  Along that time, we would be growing, budding, blooming and becoming more like Christ.

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So how are we to show one another the love of Christ?  Jesus told His disciples flat out – rule #1 – LOVE ONE ANOTHER. How can we do that?  Live in alignment with God, and fulfill His purpose for our lives?  One method I have been a part of in the past was being within a prayer community for several years that encouraged small accountability groups of 3 to 5 people to meet every week and answer the following 3 questions:

1.  What have you done to nourish your relationship with Christ this week?  (One of the reasons I included the mp3 song above is because I use music in my private worship to nourish my relationship with God – I have not tried this before, but I believe if you click on the notes, the track will play for you to enjoy.)

2.  How have you studied to improve your knowledge of God and of His creation?  (Including your fellowman)

3.  What actions have you taken to share Christ in your spheres of influence?

Let me tell you, participating in those groups (3 over the course of 20 years), was one of the best tools I have honestly ever been introduced to as a method for encouraging personal spiritual growth.  What was said in the group meeting – stayed confidential between only the participants.   This time was growing, fun, and fantastic fellowship.  It was gaining a foothold in a tough place with friends to help you along the way if you fell.  It was great.  I hope to find new prayer partners to meet with regularly very soon.  (Pray with me if you will for this to happen soon)

We are commanded to seek out and spend time with others of same faith.  The purpose is to help our spiritual growth.  God doesn’t expect us to have all the answers and be a “Lone Ranger” Christian.  Trust me, we don’t have all the answers.  Again, if we did, I would think God is too small.  I trust him and have faith – even when I don’t understand all that is happening in my life or the lives of those I love.

Instead, we are encouraged to learn from one another and to keep each other accountable to hold onto integrity, to avoid hypocrisy.  The Bible says:  “steel sharpens steel”…Reflections on this truth, also keep me seeking God as part of a local community of believers.  It is in fellowship with like minded people that we can gain wisdom to have others help us see our own blind spots and to gain strength from each other as we seek to serve the Lord together.

This is part of the beauty of Easter.  Living a resurrection life.  Jesus appeared after His resurrection to over 500 of His disciples (The book of Acts).  Why do you think He did this?  I think He did it to encourage them to stay together, to stand firm, to keep the faith, and to help them realize His resurrection was a REAL HISTORICAL EVENT.  An event that continues to this day.  Now that, my friends, THAT, is worth celebrating.

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Please leave a comment if you want more information or have questions.  Thank you for reading.

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Prayer 3 – A.C.T.S.

13 Apr
How do we learn to pray?  Get close to our Source

How do we learn to pray? Get close to our Source

Have you ever wondered where to start if you are unfamiliar with prayer? One way is to use a standard prayer-book, or a compendium of historical prayers. Another method is to use scripture and pray a Bible verse or two. Some people like praying with a pattern to help them stay on track. I’ve used a few of these forms in the past, and sometimes still do. One is called A.C.T.S. The acronym stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. It contains all the topical elements of the Prayer Jesus taught his disciples. (BTW, I have no idea who first came up with this idea.) Adoration is the noun version of the verb Adore. I think for the purposes of prayer, though the acronym was taught to me as Adoration, I think of it as the verb form.  Actively speaking my love and worship to God my divine creator. For me it is showing God my reverence. It is knowing my position as the Beloved humbly in front of the Great I AM God.  I am in a heavenly throne room, and want to recognize God and His position.  His “otherness”. Confession is next. To me it is a logical transition.  This is the part that makes all of us uncomfortable. It means that we acknowledge and own our wrong doings, our sins, and then confess them each to God — agree with him that we have sinned — and turn away from those actions and thoughts. For me this is part of “wiping my slate clean” with God by telling Him all my mistakes and mess-ups. BONUS:   We have the joy of knowing scripture 1 John 1:9 promises us that when we confess the sins we know of, and ask God humbly to reveal any of which we are unaware, then ALL our sins are covered – even the ones we don’t know about – and therefore cannot confess.   God is so gracious to us and so incrediably merciful. He gives us what we do NOT deserve and does NOT give us what we do deserve.  Grace and Mercy is where confession becomes powerful to call us back into God’s love.  He never leaves us, but in reality, each one honestly looking at ourselves – we know we leave Him.  He is ever faithful and loving, we are not. Next is Thanksgiving. Have an attitude of gratitude. Think of and really tell God about people and things you are happy are in your life.  Thank God for anything that give you joy or peace:  People you love, People you need to love, Enemies who teach us love, Blessings of home, job, family, nature’s wonders, beauty. Appreciate the blessings God has given you and thank Him for these. This section can be very long if you practice gratitude on a daily basis. This is an ideal place to thank God for all that He IS to you personally, as well as for all He has done for and with and to you.  It can be short if you are new to the concept of gratitude and thanksgiving for the daily blessings of all that God provides.  That’s ok.  Just do what you can. After adoring worship and confession, and thanksgiving,  it is the ideal time to tell God what concerns you and to make your supplications for intervention on your behalf or on behalf of others. Tell God the situation, be specific, and ask God for what you need.   God already knows our heart, so you may as well put all your cards on the table.  He knows your prayers before words form on your tongue, and yet, scripture commands us to pray.  To humbly kneel before the throne of our God and King and make our requests. Scripture also tells us to pray in alignment with the Spirit, and it cautions us that sometimes we do not have because we ask with impure motives. (Refer to Lent Reflection2014)  So before you give God your list of “wants”, as if He is just a Santa in the Sky, consider with due reverence what your motives are for making the requests. Is it a need, a want, an intercession on behalf of another, or yourself (which by the way – is perfectly fine). THINK – Is it true, is it honest, is it needful, is it helpful, is it kind?  There is no space for pretense in such an intimate relationship as we have with God in prayer.  Prayers are answered. Most people may close by asking “in the name of Jesus Christ” or something of that sort.  Do you know why?   Not as a habit I hope, but sincerely obeying the commands found in the gospels that Jesus tells his disciples to petition God in His (Jesus’) name. Again an act of humility before a mighty God in acknowledging the ONLY reason we can come to Him with our requests is because Jesus’ death and resurrection made a bridge whereby we can do so. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on A.C.T.S. Have you ever tried this method? Are you willing to give it a try out even for a few days?  Let me know. If you have other methods, please feel free to share.  I would be encouraged by your feedback, and if you like this reflection, be sure to share it with others.  

Martha L Shaw - Poet, Writer, Artist

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