Attitude Control

Has God ever given you a holy nudge? Several years ago, I went in for my yearly Mammogram and the doctor found something.  I did not receive a phone call regarding the finding, just a letter stating they’d found something irregular and needed to check previous films.  For two long days I waited, prayed, waited and prayed some more and so did a lot of my friends and family  As always, God hears and answers the sincere prayers of His children.  The result?  I’m fine.   Nothing physically wrong and no further investigation was needed.  Wrong!  There was a lot of further investigation needed, by me.  God tells us He is to come first in our lives.  God must be in the driver’s seat of our lives, if we are to experience the full, abundant life that is promised us.  My priorities were not in order.  I  had put things before God.  That’s why I called this time in my life my “wake up nudge.”  God gave me a little nudge and told me to get things in the right order.  I’m still working on it and with God’s help, I can do anything.  How are you doing with your priority list?  What is first in your life?  Is it money, possessions, work, status?  Do you put things above God?  Let me encourage you to get your priorities straight.

Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”   1 Kings 22:5 and 2 Chronicles 18:4 both state this;  “first seek the counsel of the Lord.” God is obviously telling us, His children, to look to him first in ALL things.  Not just when things are going bad or we need help getting through a tough day.  We must look to Him first, for everything, not just when our lives are rough but also when things are going good.

What stops us from putting God first?  Hmmmmm…. Wait.  Let me guess. Our own stubborn need to be in control?  Could that be it?  I know for me that bell rings more true than I would like.  As fallible, imperfect human beings we have a desire to be in control of everything.  You know what I’ve found out?  God does a lot better at controlling my life than I do.

I’d like to close with a story I heard from a very wise pastor.  He told about fighter pilots and how their planes would sometimes go into a stall, totally and completely out of control.  As the jet would accelerate toward the spinning earth below, the pilot would try, in vain, to correct the plane’s attitude on their own. The plane was equipped with a special device that if the pilot ever got into a stall situation, all he would have to do is let go of the control stick and the plane would attempt to correct itself.  The plane’s computer would pull it out of trouble if only the pilot would submit control.  It’s the same with God.  He longs to take over in our lives if we would only submit them to him.  I encourage you to submit the “stick” of your life to God and let Him control your “attitude”.  Believe me, He does a much better job on our lives than we ever could.

Reconditioning the Conditioned

I realized something on a recent road trip to visit my daughter.  My body is conditioned to fall asleep on long drives.  This started when I was very young and suffered from severe motion sickness.  My parents would tell me “just close your eyes, this will help you.”  They were right.  I closed my eyes and this prevented me from becoming violently ill.  It also saved my parents from large cleaning bills and heart ache. In my present day, if I’m the passenger, it only takes me approximately 40 minutes to an hour to start dozing off.  It’s not that I’m feeling ill, but rather my body has become accustomed to falling asleep.  I have to fight myself to stay awake and, nine times out of ten, I lose and doze off. This has become my norm.  Well, recently, I’ve attempted to condition my body, mind, spirit in other ways.  I have begun to walk 3 to 3.5 miles a day.  Physical exercise has NEVER been at the top of my to-do list.  I always looked at it as a chore.  I have recently had a change of perspective.  God has gifted me with the gift of mercy and I utilize this gift in the area of substance abuse counseling.  This is a very emotionally volatile field and often I am stressed or feeling anxious as I leave work for the day, thinking about my clients, the traumas they have suffered or are perpetuating, etc.  So one day I decided to go for a walk to work of the stress and anxiety.  I plugged in my ear buds, turned on one of my bible teaching apps and off I went.  I was surprised an hour later that not only had I walked 3 miles, I was able to get fed spiritually and my stress and anxiety was gone.  I have been doing this almost every day for the last two weeks.  I feel it if I don’t walk now.  I have reconditioned my body to enjoy and expect this.  Now I look forward to that time.  It’s my “me time.”   Since my work requires me to be in my office, ready to see clients at 4:30a.m. I often do not wake up until the very last minute, trying to squeeze in as much R.E.M. as I can.  This has caused me to rush about and often results in me feeling chaotic as I start my day. I have heard many pastors, preachers, bible study teachers and Christian friends say we should read our bibles first thing in the morning.  I have listened with envy to friends telling me they spend an hour with God every morning, praying and reading His word.  I’d have to get up at 1:30a.m. to do that.  It is true that God wants our “first fruits.”  This has always been a struggle for me as I am a sinner and selfish, I love my sleep.  I told myself, “I’ll just read my bible at night before I go to bed, that way I’m falling asleep with God’s Word on my heart.”  There is NOTHING wrong with this, however, for me, my mind turns off around 6:00p.m. and I’m falling asleep while reading scripture and the next day I remember nothing of what I’ve read.  That is not good.  I have this great App on my phone.  The You Version Bible App.  It’s fantastic, I can take sermon notes during church, read my bible, highlight passages that I want to memorize etc.  I have started reading through the Bible in a year utilizing this App.  I do this first thing in the morning.  Yup!  I set my alarm a little earlier (20 minutes), and this is the first thing I do.  I would normally reach for my phone first thing in the morning, check any text messages, Facebook posts, missed calls, etc.  Well, why not use that time to spend with God.  I have been putting Him last for far too long.  Once I made the decision to put God first, my mornings have become less chaotic and He has given me a strong desire to spend time with Him, pray and read from His word.  God is a God of relationships.  How can you build a relationship with someone if you’re not spending time with them?  Now is the time to change.  Put God first in your life and just see what He does.  Let’s give God our first fruits, not what’s left over. Let’s get our priorities straight. If God is first in your life, everything else will fall into place.

“Come Closer”

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.~Matthew 11:28

When my son was very young I was meeting some of my friends at the gym so we could start working out.  I noticed one of my friends still in her car on the phone so I decided I would stay in my car until she was done. It was cold and I had forgotten my sweater.  As my 4-year-old son and I were waiting, I said to him “Hey buddy, can you put your jacket on?” He said “sure” and started to put on his coat.  Pretty soon I heard “ I need a little help here.”  From where I was sitting and where he was standing, I couldn’t reach him.  I kept asking him to come closer to me, but he was being defiant and refused to budge.  Eventually, he started jumping around in frustration.  In my best “Mommy” voice I told him “if you come over here, I can help you.”  That got his attention.  He walked over to me, smiled, and we worked together and got his coat on. God desires the same thing from us.  He wants to help us but we have to come to Him first.  Jesus states this in John Chapter 5 Verse 24 when He says “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (NIV)  Read that a couple of times.  Jesus is promising us eternal life.  We won’t be condemned.  We won’t suffer the Judgment.  We will live forever with Him.  But there is a condition to that promise.  We must BELIEVE.  Got that?  We must believe.  For some, perhaps even you, that is the hard part.  Believing in something we can’t touch or visibly witness with our own eyes.  What do you believe?  Do you believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son?  Or do you believe that Jesus was a nice man, a prophet, a teacher but not the Son of God?  If you are not sure what you believe, I encourage you to do some soul searching.  Now is the time.  We are living in the last days.  Jesus is coming back soon.  I know where I’m going, do you know where you’re going?  Jesus states in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  No one gets to Heaven (The Father) without belief in Jesus Christ.  Do you want to be sure of eternal life, praising and worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  If you do, then pray this simple prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you now, just as I am, flaws and all.  Father forgive me for my sins, I lay them at your feet.  I believe in your Son Jesus Christ.  I believe you sent Him to die on the Cross for me.  I give my life to you right here, right now.  Send your Holy Spirit to live in me.  Thank you Father.  In Jesus Name, Amen. If you prayed this prayer, I encourage you to call someone, a Pastor, a Deacon, a Christian friend.  Someone you can talk to about this destiny-changing decision you just made.  Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you.

Rediscovering My First Love

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my first love. How I felt about him. How he made me feel. I remember when I first met him…It was electric.  I couldn’t wait to spend time with him, to talk to him, to hear his voice.  I loved feeling him next to me, holding me.  I met him 18 years ago and he told he loved me so much he would die for me. Wow!!! No one had ever said that to me before.  He wrote me love letters and I read them over and over again.  I showed these letters to my friends and I even introduced them to him and a few of them even learned to love him too. My first love was not the boy with whom I shared my first kiss. It was not my  high school boyfriend.  It’s not even my husband of 25 years.  My first love is Jesus Christ.  I was listening recently to a very convicting sermon centered on the Book of Revelation.  I was waiting for the explanation of the symbolism, the description of Armageddon and the Rapture.  What I got was much more. God spoke and I was convicted. I realized that I had left my first love.  I had not lost Him because I knew where He was.  You can’t lose something if you know where it is.  I left Him.  I didn’t do this overnight.  It happened gradually over 18 years.  When I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior I prayed several times a day, I read the Bible morning and night, went to church Sunday and Wednesday night, I spent time with other believers..  I attended Bible studies and worked on my study throughout the week.  I listened to Bible teachings on tape.  I couldn’t get enough.  Now I was lucky to pray once a day and maybe open my Bible on Sundays.  I left Him. He did not leave me.  I chose to walk away from Him.  Jesus is a gentleman, He waits to be invited in.  He does not push Himself on anyone. As I was listening to this sermon the pastor said we needed to “Remember, Repent and Repeat.”  We needed to remember what we used to do when we were first saved. We needed to repent of those sins, those distractions that have taken our attention away from Him.  Finally, we needed to repeat those first things that we used to do to be close to to Him. I have to tell you I enjoy my iPhone.  I enjoy the apps you can download and the myriad of choices within those applications.  So I recently found two apps that have nothing but bible teaching from two of the most prominent preachers in Christian circles, John MacArthur and Greg Laurie.  In order to help me in rediscovering Jesus, I have utilized both of these apps.  I have begun to walk 3 miles a day.  On those walks I plug my headphones into my phone and I listen to either pastor and I get a great workout as I glean life application of Scripture. This has spilled over into other aspects of my life.  I now have the You Version Bible app on my phone and I am using this to read through the Bible in a year.  I have used my job as an excuse not to start out my day reading the Bible.  I get up at 2:30a.m. for work and up until this point, have NEVER made a conscience effort to read the Bible in the morning.  “I have to get ready for work , I have to make my lunch, I’m too tired.”  The excuses went on and on.  A friend of mine recently told me, “I realized that I was checking my facebook and my email in the morning.  Why couldn’t I use that time to read my Bible instead.”  That’s when it dawned on me…I was doing the same thing. I was checking email, Facebook and even playing games prior to spending time with God. Then at the end of the day, when I crawled into bed I would attempt to read a section of the Bible and barely get through one verse of Scripture.  I asked God to forgive me for this and I have begun to read the Message version, a very easy to read version, through in a year. I do this first thing in the morning.  It’s funny, I’m not tired in the morning and I have not been late to work once.  This has trickled into my work life. A colleague of mine and I have begun having a Bible study every Thursday.  We meet for coffee after work and go through the questions related to the book we are reading.  Nothing stops us from meeting.  We had our first meeting and boy did we get attacked throughout the day and things kept coming up that were threatening to encroach on our time.  We kept praying for each other, texting and emailing each other that NOTHING was going to get in our way of meeting.  Nothing did. We read the assigned reading throughout the week and grow closer to God through those readings.   While I am still tempted not to read my bible, I am still tempted to not listen to Christian teaching, I am still tempted NOT to pray. God is working on me and I haven’t felt this close to Him in a very long time.  How about you? Have you left your first love? Do you remember those things you used to do to draw closer to Him? How about clearing away some of the clutter, some of the distractions that have been pulling you away from Him and start putting Him first.  Tell Him you’re sorry for putting other things before Him and come back to your first love. He’s waiting at your door.  He’s knocking…are you going to let Him in?