Monday, August 28, 2017

Are You a Crabby Christian?

I had to ask myself the question because the Lord’s conviction fired a direct hit to my heart.

Mind you, conviction from the Lord (revealing how I have missed the mark in His eyes) is much different from condemnation (expressing His disapproval). The Bible says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NIV, emphasis mine). 

In His mercy, the Lord doesn’t disapprove of me – His child who is washed in the blood of Christ. Instead, He reveals my mistakes with a purpose to continue my sanctification in Him.

I long for sanctification. I yearn to be more like Christ in my actions and attitudes. Therefore, a bit of introspection was in order as I pondered. “Am I a crabby Christian?”

Here’s what the Lord showed me:

  • We’re quick to judge and slow to listen. 
  • We issue a verdict before gathering evidence. 
  • We criticize without first trying to understand. 
  • We believe we know a situation without feeling compelled to investigate. 
  • In Christ, we have great hope, but choose to keep it to ourselves.

Do you see it too?

In all fairness, it’s not easy to hold fast to our convictions while simultaneously loving neighbors as ourselves. It feels impossible at times. 

How do we balance our call to love the lost without embracing their sin? 

How can we shine for Jesus when we feel that the darkness has consumed our light?

To see the reminders He’s used, encouraging me to shine His light to a hurting world, hop on over to The Family Roadmap and read my post: Are You A Crabby Christian? 

I pray that what the Lord revealed to me will also encourage you. May it keep His love for others as a focus in our own lives.

Read the post here. And thanks for visiting The Family Roadmap!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Back-to-School Encouragement From God's Word

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Sister, do you need a breather?

It's back-to-school time and like many, you may find your calendar just exploded. You're out shopping for supplies and new shoes, running endless errands, putting the finishing touches on your homeschool classroom, or even teaching the kiddos already.

You may find yourself wondering, "Where did the summer go?"

Or "How can the school year be upon us already?"

Are you wondering how in the world to get that to-do list done?

Some time ago, I compiled a list of 27 Comforting Bible verses as a follow-up to the post When a Friend Needs Comfort. As the frenzy of back-to-school sets in, I thought it might be a good day to revisit a few of those comforting verses and help you spend a few minutes focusing on the comfort God provides. (If you'd like to read the full list, you can find it here.)

This is Only a Season

Remember, this craziness is only for a short season. Before long, you'll establish your routine and find a nice rhythm of life. Until then, take that breather. Grab a cold beverage, a quiet moment, and review the verses that reveal the Lord's heart toward you:

Back-To-School Encouragement From God's Word

1. Genesis 16:13 (NIV):  She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me.”

2. Joshua 1:9 (NASB):  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

3. Psalm 30:5 (NASB):  For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

4. Psalm 37:3-6 (NASB): Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.   Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. 

5. Psalm 46:1b (NIV):  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

6. Psalm 91:4 (HCSB):  He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 

7. Isaiah 41:10 (NASB):  'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

8. Lamentations 3:22-23 (KJV):  It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

9. Hosea 11:4 (NIV):  I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.

10. Matthew 11:29 (NASB):  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

11. John 14:1 (HCSB):  Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. 

12. John 14:27 (HCSB):  Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

13. John 16:33 (ESV):  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

14. Romans 15:13 (HCSB):  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

15. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (HCSB):  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.

16. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB):  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

17. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV):  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

18. Philippians 4:13 (NIV):  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

19. Ephesians 3:16 (HCSB):  I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit 

20. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV):  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

21. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV):  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word
Psalm 119:28

Still need a few last minute supplies?  Maybe these links can help: 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

3 Ways to Rise Above Chaos

3 Ways to Rise Above Chaos

We all have them:

     Days when a heavy burden brings any hope of progress to a screeching halt.

               Were overwhelmed by emotion.

                    Or tasks.

                         Or vain imaginations.

A sense of crushing disorder can set in when were afraid of the future or the past, or when we have a significant choice to make. The chaos wears us out until we can no longer discern the Lords leading over our own feelings. We break down - and disabling procrastination sets in.

Succumbing to excuses is often the easy road. Giving in, however, keeps us from walking in obedience to God and thats not a road we wish to travel. When we cant force ourselves to render a decision or take the next step because were consumed with uneasiness, we need a plan to rise above, to climb out of the pit.      

We often grasp on to anything that gives us reason to pause.  Instead, we must cling to the Lord and His strength in order to press ahead. 

He is our lifeline. And He is always available to help us. How?

1)   As we PRAY.  Ill admit there are days when Im so consumed with the junk of life that I dont remember to pray. Instead of calling on God the author and finisher of my faith, my ever-present help in times of trouble - I phone a friend or consult a blog post for advice.

Let this be an official reminder to us all: prayer should be our immediate reaction and not our last resort. Talk to God. Tell Him everything youre experiencing. Ask for His help, guidance, and provision. Hell give it.

2)  As we remember our PURPOSE.  The Lord whispers through His Word that He has plans for us. He reminds us that were created for a specific purpose, one that no one else on earth can accomplish in the same way.  

In her book Becoming a Woman of Simplicity, Cynthia Heald offers the following quote by teacher Bruce Bugbee:

The Lord bestowed a unique combination upon each of us: spiritual gifts, talents, personality traits, and individual life experiences, all woven together into the beautiful tapestry of our lives. This is what He desires to use for our Kingdom assignment.  

When we sense the Lord’s hand on our back and move forward in His strength, we can lift our feet from the miry clay. A desire to move forward to get unstuck - for Him and for His glory helps us step in the direction of His calling.

3)   As we work to PRESS ON.  Perseverance. Endurance. Persistence. Each term indicates moving through a course of action even in times of difficulty or adversity. Encountering a challenge is not a reason to give up. In fact, it can confirm that youre on the right road.

Each time I move deeper into ministry, a significant trial of some sort arises. Without fail. Over the years the Lord has helped me see this as an indication that Im on the right track. If the enemy tosses obstacles in my way, I know he detests what Im about to do. If he opposes my actions, then they just might bear much fruit and I know I must power through the struggle.  

Most often, the obstacles seem unrelated to my ministry activity. For example, I accept a speaking assignment then immediately have a rather large malfunction at home (it could be a relational issue or a maybe something mechanical like a furnace going out). The two events appear to have nothing to do with one another, but I may feel tempted to reschedule a client planning appointment to take care of the matter at home.

Ive learned to look at all events through a Kingdom lens and fight to stand firm in the battle. In doing so, I press on in the work the Lord has given. The home matter gets resolved, of course, and when I keep God and His work as a priority, the situation at home is restored quickly by His hand. Its evidence of His faithfulness!

Chaos can overwhelm us, but we dont have to let it win. Through our prayer, our purpose, and by pressing on, we can overcome and climb out of chaos.

Your Turn:

When have you felt overwhelmed by a feeling of chaos?

How did you handle it?

Will you do anything differently when it strikes again?

Please comment below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to connecting with you!

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

God's Promise of Restoration

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The heaviness in my heart was palpable, dampening my spirit and darkening my disposition. In a word, I felt defeated, reflecting on the loss of relationships, time, and even hope. Why, I wondered, did I continue to pour myself into that which did little to offer freedom, heal hurts, or prove beneficial?

Settling in to listen to the Sunday message, weariness blanketed me like a fog. My sacrifices of the past many months felt significant and costly but were bearing little if any tangible fruit.

My heart wailed, Whats it all for? Why, Lord, am I going through this? A full-blown self-pity party threatened to overtake me and I wondered if the Lord had any encouragement to offer.

He did.

A visiting missionary delivered a captivating message of Gods love and provision. Story after story proclaimed the generosity and care of a loving Heavenly Father who poured out compassion in the most distressing, hopeless situations.

I felt I was in a distressing, hopeless situation too. Would the Lord show me His mercy?

The missionary shared countless Bible verses but one delivered a spark of hope to my hurting heart:

And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children or friends because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 HCSB

God's Promise of Restoration 

The Lord sees our sacrifice. He is keenly aware of what we give up for Him and will replenish our dry cisterns. He allows hardships but promises restoration.

He promises it.

My mind traveled to Job who lost his servants, children, livestock, livelihood, and his health. In the early chapters of this book, were given a glimpse of Jobs estate. It included 7,000 sheep 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large number of servants (Job 1:2 HCSB).

After all the tragedy and loss Job endured, we see Gods restoration and learn that he doubled Jobs previous possessions. The LORD blessed the last part of Jobs life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters (Job 42:12-13 HCSB). 

Unquestionably, the new possessions did not erase the horrific pain of prior loss, but God generously restored even more than Jobs sacrifice, and through the journey restored his hope and peace. The Lord counted Jobs cost. He measured it, and He restored it in double portion.

As I listened and reflected on the missionarys testimony, I realized the question is not IF God will reveal blessing, but WHEN. I felt the Holy Spirit providing assurance that the offering I considered sacrificial would bear Kingdom-sized fruit in Gods perfect timing and lasting fruit at that.

My heart found refreshing rest in the promises of Gods Word. I received and embraced the encouragement I believe He meant for me.

God's Word says that when we walk in obedience, He will restore your fortunes, have compassion on you, and gather you again (Deuteronomy 30:3). 

I began to recall personal examples of times God has proved this to me in the past:    

            Its not uncommon for me to wake in the morning and think, I have too much going on today. I dont have time for Bible devotions. On days when I listen to that logic and forgo my time in the word, my day is nearly always in disarray, with one appointment crashing into the next. I run late, I experience conflict, and Im not on my best game. But when I get on my knees before the Lord even when I feel I dont have time I see my day progress with a level of efficiency and grace that I recognize as Gods blessing. Its no coincidence. It is God restoring the sacrifice of time.

            There are times when the Lord prompts us to financially give beyond what we feel we can afford. When we allow human logic and a glance at our bank account to lead us to a decision, we struggle to make ends meet. But when we obey the Lords direction, our needs are met in every instance. Its no coincidence. It is God restoring the sacrifice of financial giving.

                  When were asked to give our time serving others, Ill admit Ive grumbled on occasion. After all, my own yard needs a tremendous level of attention, yet God asked that I help someone else with theirs. Its humbling in such times to see Gods hand of returned blessing when a neighbor plows the snow from our very long driveway. Its no coincidence. Its God restoring the sacrifice of obedience.

God loves us with an everlasting love. He gives us all that we need at the precise moment that its needed. He restores our sacrifice with lavished bounty.

Hope for Today

If you are struggling as we all do sometimes, wondering when the Lord will restore what you have sacrificed, I encourage you to abide in the Lord and trust. God sees everything that you are doing. He knows your heart, your motivation, your level of weariness, and your breaking point. Hes right beside you, providing strength and perseverance to go the distance. Hang in there and wait with expectation. In the fullness of time, He will reveal His plan and show you the fruit of your faithfulness.

Maybe youve walked a similar journey and have seen the Lords generosity. Your story is sure to encourage others. Please share it with us!

Leave a comment below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. I cant wait to hear from you!

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Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28