Showing Impartiality

In my devotional, Drawing Near, by John MacArthur, we’re in the book of James for the month of June.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” ~ James 2:1

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

The devotion discussed how we all are prone to treat other people differently based on a variety of criteria from race and gender to  looks and financial status. Thankfully we serve a God who does not show partiality, only executes justice. And as believers and followers of Christ, we need to be mindful not to give preference to some over others out of selfish desires.

The additional reading, Ephesians 6:5-9 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21 got me thinking. The final question was “how does God’s impartiality apply to how you should respond to your coworkers and your church leaders?” and that is when that still, small voice started to talk to me. At first I had thought, “I don’t show partiality to people, I treat everyone the same” and that was the start of the flash backs to things I’ve said about having to work with certain people, or others work ethics, and the complaining I’ve done to my select circle when I don’t like the schedule because I get stuck working with someone who doesn’t seem to share my passion for how I do things.

As I prayed about it, asking God to show me where this all applied to my life, He reminded me of just yesterday when I was miffed about not getting to work with the person I wanted to be with for the next shift. Oh the one I would be with is a hard worker, but I wanted someone else.  Que the remorse, I had screwed that up. Instead I realized I was indeed showing partiality. Instead of being thankful I had anyone working with me at all rather than flying solo, and a good worker at that, I’m whining because I wanted to be with a certain other aide for the day. I prayed about that little situation and asked for Abba’s help to not do this anymore and be impartial and grateful for whoever I am working with on every shift.

As I ponder this further I realize that in showing partiality, even if it is simply my inward attitude, I’m likely not making my other coworkers feel welcomed and appreciated. Especially when they work very hard to make sure they are carrying their weight.

Confessed and forgiven, it is an area where I will need to continuously check myself and my heart motive.

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Unpacking My Big C

comfort.jpgSo 2 weeks ago our church started this year’s all church journey: Obsessed – Leave Your Mark.  I LOVE it and disdain it all at the very same time. Why? Because like the journey(s) of the past it uncovers things within that need to change, or be eliminated in order to grow in relationship with Christ. And that, dear friends, can be uncomfortable to say the very least.

This past week the message dealt with the 3 C’s that the world uses to pull us from God:

  1. Comparison (the thief)
  2. Comfort (the illusion)
  3. Control (the liar)

In the Crossroads app we do work each week after hearing the weekend message and before meeting for our small groups. And this was no fun at all this week because I had to do an assessment and discovered that my big C of obsession was……Comfort. I was pretty certain it was going to be Control, which, by the way, feeds comparison and comfort. But no, mine is Comfort.

Now, we’ve been told since week one to pay attention to what we pay attention too in the search for our obsessions. And one way to do that was to look at where our money goes because money is connected to literally every aspect of your life. If you think not then rethink it because it is! You can take a walk for free, but you have to do that clothed in these parts so you have to purchase clothing, and probably good footwear is in order, or at least something on those feet and you quickly see where this is going. Everything is connected in some way to money. So, follow the money.

I did that after week one and was very upset to discover I have an obsession with the Yahtzee With Friends and Wheel Of Fortune game apps on my phone. To the tune of a few hundred dollars spent in $5 or $10 increments, each month, to purchase bonus dice and diamonds to advance faster in the games. Virtual crap that I spent real money to obtain that NO ONE cares one bit if I have it. No one. I had NO clue I was spending this much because I was dropping small amounts at a time…just over and over again. And for what exactly? To win designer dice that are simply pixels on a screen. UGH!

Comfort is my big C, so what the heck? Then it hit me, I used that as a form of insulation from the world around me. I can retreat to those games and ignore that my heart is hurting right now over my mom, or boredom that would be better spent in other pursuits, or to unwind from a difficult and draining shift at work, or avoid doing things I do not really care to do.

Comfort didn’t stop there. I noticed I spend money on things I do not need and only think that I want. Like my very cool coffee tumbler that I just had to have because darn it, it sparkles and is pink, and personalized…and keeps my coffee no warmer or colder than the $10 one with the $4 decal on it. This one was like $47 with shipping. And OH the yarn I purchase with the intent to make this or that, and have like 6 projects half done sitting in individual bags (bag lady – guilty!) in my closet because I get bored easily and don’t focus on finishing one thing at a time. Maybe because I’m seeking comfort or escape in things and not in Christ?

There is nothing at all wrong with buying myself something nice, but it has been a lot of somethings lately and it has to stop. I was an emotional, comfort eater until I started health coaching and when I started getting that under control, comfort took it’s form in things I buy. Cool pens and notebooks to journal, air plants that are lucky I haven’t killed them (yet, this is the second series of those and they are over due for water), candles, stickers for my planner no one sees but me, and I’ll just stop there. Small amounts here and there adding up to OMGOODNESS WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? My big C of obsession is comfort. And that insulation from the world is, as pastor Mingo said, an illusion. When I put the game down, the crochet hook away, the journal on the shelf, kill the air plant from neglect…my heart is still hurting and my world is still chaotic.

None of these enhances my walk of faith or brings me closer to Jesus. If anything it pulls me further away because my focus isn’t on Him at all, but rather on me. Pay attention to what you pay attention too.

One of the challenges from group was to look at what we have stock piled if we are a Comfort obsessing type and then give part of that away. At first I wasn’t even sure how that worked because I no longer have virtual diamonds and dice stock piled and then it hit me. Closet. Full. Of. Yarn.  SIGH. So, I gave a bunch away and hopefully the son-in-law doesn’t mind that my baby girl shopped from my abundance and took it off my hands, saving her money. She too is a hooker with a shop selling items she crochets.

And for the time being I’m reading in Matthew 6, reminding myself of God’s promise to care for all of my needs and for me to be anxious for nothing. Just stopping the spending reduces my financial anxiety because I’m not spending money I really shouldn’t be and I can save it.

Right now, I am struggling to not spend money. I’m staying off Amazon and just paying bills and then using that stock pile to make something instead of going to buy even more yarn. When tempted I just pray and use the church app daily challenge devotion to work through things.

When Work Is An Act Of Worship

Marvi Marti

Most days I pick up a coworker on my way in, because she has had car issues and is kinda sorta on my way to my nearby facility. She is also my work bestie, we rock it out together when on the unit. Today she was off, and I had a bit more time to spend on devotions. I read my daily devotion book from Kay Arthur, I LOVE her, but then at work in the parking lot, it was something else. Something that touched deep into where I am at the moment.

I pulled in 25 minutes before clock in, shut off the radio, and opened the Crossroads Anywhere app on my phone. This is the app my church is using, they put out daily devotion things Monday through Friday related to what we are hearing in the services. Today was talking about how anything can be an act…

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Being Brave

iStock_000011800840XSmallOur church is back to that time of year, the all church journey.  From the nursery to senior pastor, we all take the journey together.  All teaching, worship etc, takes on the same direction.  Again this year it is called the Brave Journey.  It’s about going places you haven’t before, following God out of the boat and on to the water, being brave to let Him make some change(s) in our life, our faith, our walk with Christ.

Step one is finding your heading, the direction you want to go. The direction very well may change as you go along, it is how God works.  But you cannot get OUT of the boat until you get IN the boat and off of the shore.

For a while now I’ve debated writing a non-fiction book about how God found me, the faith I had, lost and now have again.  The story of me.  It would mean being very vulnerable, confessing things my kids know nothing of, heck few folks have a clue of the darkness, and could risk my relationship with many I love.  But it isn’t really about me, it is about how God can change our lives and make something beautiful of our sin, beauty from ashes as the bible says.

My heading?  Well, to write that book.  I’ll publish it independently, most likely.  While there is a publisher, a Christian one, interested in this story, I’d rather put it out myself. But I’ll see about that.  First it must be written.  It will mean pulling back the layers I’ve neatly covered things under, allowing myself to go back through the pain.  It might be difficult, but it might also help other women trying to find forgiveness with God and a life away from sin.  A real look without the ‘buzz’ words and special talk, a down to earth, where the soles of the shoes meet the dirt of reality, as a life trying to mend.

I’m in a small group, it is part of the whole Journey, and they are a safe place.  My daughter and her husband are a part of that group, which means this could be extremely difficult.  But it is time I use what I’ve been told is a talent I have, writing, to move closer to God and help others.

So, you can pray for me if you don’t mind, while I step out of the boat on a rocky sea, keeping my eyes on Christ and moving toward the next level in my spiritual walk.

My One Word For 2016

onewordI’ve been struggling and contemplating for a bit, trying to figure out what my one word was going to be for 2016.  The word that will guide me, influence me, steer me in the right direction to grow my faith, enhance my walk with the Lord, etc.  I felt it needed to be an action word, not something like ‘hope’, but similar to my previous one, seek.

Tonight I went to the Saturday evening service at church because I work tomorrow.  I am SO thankful I did, because the message series is Anything Is Possible (with God).  WOW was it good!  And it was just what I needed. And it was during the ride home while praying to God, out loud in my car (a favorite time to talk to Him) that I feel He gave me my word:  Discipline

I need more time in the Word.

I need to read more not only God’s Word but other things.

I want to be the best I can be at work, the best aide they have.

I need to get and keep my finances in order, pay off some outstanding bills (which I’m actively doing).

I need to eat better, so that all the physical exercise from my job helps me to be more healthy and continue to improve my over all physical conditioning.

I want to be more organized with my time and life over all.

It all boils down to discipline.  Hitting the nail day after day, as our pastor said.  BAM, have my word for 2016 and it is a very good word.

 

Post Holiday Depression

Recently our church did messages pertaining to the music behind the annual, month long Christmas production.  It is huge, attended by 100,000+ this year, and FREE.  The focus of the messages was on the songs used in this production, songs we all know and love like O Holy Night.  One of the things mentioned in a sermon was how Christmas music stirs up hope and anticipation in us during this season.

This had me wondering, is this why there is a feeling of depression among many of us after the hustle and bustle is done, the torn shreds of wrapping paper have been tossed and the house returns to quiet?  Even for the non-believer or sometimes Christian (the ones who only darken the doorway of the church for Easter and Christmas), there is a sense of excitement that builds as the lyrics of silver bells and snow falling etc, play repeatedly through December.  We have all this hope for a picture perfect holiday, and even if we manage to achieve this, the fervor fades away with the last good-byes of friends and family as life returns to ‘normal’.

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Photo by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

The songs around the holidays speak of the longing for a savior to come into this world, a king who would rescue the people from oppression.  Christ was that King.  The over all world took little notice of His birth.  His birth isn’t even something we are commanded to celebrate, that was the thought of the church in an attempt to convert pagans who celebrated the winter solstice, to give them something to replace it.  We are commanded to remember His death and resurrection.  And we know from scripture He will be returning, to abolish evil, gather His people to Himself, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  The bible doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of those end times.  Meanwhile we who place our faith in Christ Jesus are supposed to be living in anticipation of this return.  It says He will come like a thief in the night, no one knows the day or hour but make no mistake, He IS coming back and there will be no more chance to save the souls of the unbelievers.

 

So then, why are Christians not living in that sense of anticipation every moment of every day?  Our focus is too often on the here and now, and not on how every single thing we do and say has eternal significance.  How would it change everything we do, think and say, if we live with the hope that it is happening today?  That every work task carried out was with its eternal reward as the driving force, the pleasing of our Father, the longing to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” from His lips?  Surely if that is not the desire of our hearts, we need to stop and evaluate our faith’s walk.  We don’t do this to gain God’s favor, we who are washed in the blood of Christ do it because we HAVE His favor in Christ and we long to imitate our Savior in living a life worthy of the price He paid.  The bible says we will give an account for every careless word we speak, our actions and even our thoughts which we are to take captive to Christ.  Certainly we will fail, we are imperfect and will sin. But we are not supposed to unpack and stay there.

I ask myself, and my readers, are you shedding that sin daily? Are you living in expectancy of His return at any moment?  Does that not impact how you live each day?  Get in the Word of God, stir up that hope in things with an eternal significance, live in His grip like there is no tomorrow.

 

Paper vs. Digital In Faith

iStock_000019755169SmallSo much about this world around us is advancing into the digital world.  Even our bibles are now available in digital format on our phones and tablets.

In many ways I am loving the technology available to me to help me in my walk with God.  My church as a great app, Crossroads Anywhere, which allows me to live stream the services if I cannot attend, has a weekly devotional work that is associated with the past Sunday’s message, and keeps me in touch on happenings around the church.  I love this app.

I love that the verses of scripture are projected on screens for all to see during the services, along with other things pertaining to the message, and song lyrics.  This cuts down on the need for hymnals or other song books, print bibles for those who don’t own one, which really is a cost savings and there is no need to wait while everyone is paging through their bibles to find the passages as we move along.

I love that every book I could want to read, including my bible, is available on my Kindle to go with me anywhere I go, as opposed to lugging books themselves around with me that could get forgotten, not to mention who wants to drag a stack of reading material all around when a Kindle slides right into your purse.

Technology rocks, make no mistake, and I LOVE the devotional apps I have at my finger tips on my phone like She Reads Truth, and First 5, which by the way are excellent.

But NOTHING can replace the feel of my old, leather bound bible in my hand, the sound and feel of those onion paper pages, filled with notes I’ve scribbled  in the margins and highlights over verses.  Just something about it, holding it, reading it, there in my hands, can never be replaced by technology.