Spiritual Stretching

Spiritual Truth:
If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. ~Matthew 17:20

It’s Day 3 of the Thanksgiving Challenge. Today, I am thankful for the many opportunities I have to stretch outside of my comfort zone and grow.

Stretching goes beyond just the physical. All throughout life we are offered opportunities to stretch ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The question is, when the opportunity presents itself do you accept the challenge?

In order to reach our highest potential we must be willing to let God stretch us.

Stretching is a process. Growing up I took ballet. Every day I had to practice several different stretches in order to achieve greater levels of flexibility.

The ultimate goal of a dancer is to be able to do the splits in three different ways! It seemed impossible at first, but with patience and practice the muscles in my body became more flexible and I achieved my goal.

In the same way I learned how to stretch my physical body, I must learn how to stretch my spiritual faith in Christ. God wants us to move into deeper levels of faith and total commitment to Him. In order to do this we as Christians must be open to stepping outside of our comfort zone.

God is in the business of growing us up in the faith and He will never leave us in the same place for long. Just when you think you have it figured out, something will change. We will be presented with situations that test our faith and offer opportunities to stretch.

It is our choice to be open to the pains of growth or stay stuck in old patterns that aren’t working. From experience I can say that stretching pains are not always fun but the rewards are worth the temporary pain.

Praying the Word:

Lord, I want to live my life in a way that is pleasing to You. Please help me not to stay stuck in old patterns that keep me from achieving my full potential. I want to be stretched by You and step into deeper levels of faith and dependence. Help me hear your voice, and give me the confidence I need to stay strong as I stretch and grow in You.

Adventure Days

Spiritual Truth:
“The LORD will keep you from all harm, He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” ~Psalm 121:7-8

It’s Day 2 of the Thanksgiving Challenge and today I am so very thankful for Adventure Days!

I love to take Adventure days, little mini escapes from the ordinary day-to-day routine to explore new cities and towns. Traveling always stimulates my imagination and sparks new ideas.

Every place I go, every trip, every person I meet, every restaurant I try, every street and store I explore is a new adventure that pulls me deeper into my wonderlust for life.

I know of another man who had a thing for travel, that would be Jesus. He was the ultimate adventure seeker. He never stayed in one city or town for too long. Luke 8:1 tells us, “…Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”

Like me, He loved to dine with friends, walk along the beach, and stir up the dust in various cities. And like our scripture for the day says, “the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” His father God had His eye on him during his travels.

While Jesus spent much of his time teaching in the towns he visited, he also needed those moments of escape to refresh his soul. Luke 5:16 says that Jesus, “often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” He needed those moments of solidarity exploring as his time to reflect and spend time with the Father in prayer.

I think Jesus would agree that life was meant for good friends and great travel adventures. I’m thankful for both! What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Challenge

Spiritual Truth:
“…I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” ~John 10:10

Thanksgiving is less then 3 weeks away! I cannot help but feel excited for one of my favorite days of the year!!!

To get into the Holiday spirit, I have created a Thanksgiving Challenge. Starting today, the goal is to take 5 minutes out of each day, and write down something you are thankful for. Save all your notes in a jar and on the big day share them with someone close to you.

This is something you can do on your own, or you can include friends and family. I have decided to make my Thanksgiving Jar our dining room table centerpiece. Each night at dinner, as a family, I will be encouraging my kids to take a few minutes to focus in on the many blessings we have been given.

Big or Small Write Them All

Since I won’t be with you all on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll be sharing each day on my blog some of the things in my life I am Thankful for.

Today, I am so very thankful I live in a land flowing with milk and honey!

That’s right! There are coffee shops on every corner with lattes and mochas in every flavor!

In the Old Testament, when God leads His chosen people out of slavery in Egypt, He promises to establish them in a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Ezekiel 20:6 says, “On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.” This verse is used to describe the life of abundance and blessings God has in store for His children.

God wants all of His children to enjoy a life full of abundance. He does not want us to settle for less then His very best. John 10:10 says, “…I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” This promise is for every area of life. He wants our relationships to be fulfilling, our careers, our family life, our health and much more.

Do you feel like you are living a life of abundance and enjoying the “milk and honey” of the land? Or are you barely getting by each day, waiting for something to change? Too often, we settle for less then God’s best for us because we live in fear.

The Israelites lived in fear, even with this amazing promise! The journey from Egypt to the Promised land was long. It was through the dessert (where there were no Starbucks) and they were met with many obstacles. The journey was a part of God’s greater plan to teach His children dependence on Him to meet thier needs, and to give up thier desire for the old comforts of Egypt.

God wants to be our greatest comfort and supply our milk and honey. God does not want us to settle in fear, He wants us to turn to Him every minute of every day and give Him all the thanks and praise due to Him. Then He can lead us into our own Promised Land.

Take the Thanksgiving Challenge

I would encourage you today, to find one thing you can give Thanks for. Write it down and tuck it away somewhere safe. Thank God for His provision in that area of your life and you will open the door for God to pour out more of His blessings and goodness.

Coffee Break in Proverbs

Spiritual Truth
A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. ~Proverbs 1:5

It’s time for a coffee break and study session in the book of Proverbs.

Recently, my daughter shared a story with me regarding a friendly debate with some of her classmates over a history question. History happens to be a fun subject for me and the competitive side of me was anxious to hear that my daughter won the debate!

Before the group was able to find the answer, they were interrupted by the teachers who ask them to go to thier respective classes. My daughter answered that she “would be there in a few minutes” and was confused why the teachers were not happy with her response to thier instruction.

Shouldn’t the teachers be impressed with her quest for knowledge and expertise in the subject matter? She was on the verge of winning a great debate! Wouldn’t they be proud to know she had studied well in preparation for the test?

Time for a Parent Talk

I explained that perhaps from thier point of view they were more interested in her obedience to thier request, then in proving her knowledge to her peers.

I could tell she had to process my interpretation of the situation for a few minutes before she was ready to accept a different point of view. Proverbs 1:5 tells us, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” I appreciate her diligence to increase her learning and understanding of her book knowledge, and social knowledge.

The entire book of Proverbs is focused on the benefits of obtaining wisdom and knowledge. However, knowledge is nothing if one is not also willing to follow instructions as well. Proverbs 4:13 says, “Take a firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”

God wants to give each one of his children a sound mind and the Bible teaches us knowledge begins when we have a healthy fear of God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

Today, let us pray to be full of the knowledge of God and submitted to His instructions for our life.

Praying the Word

Lord God, I pray that you would place inside of me a deep desire for knowledge and wisdom. May I seek you first each day and hide your word in my heart. Please give me a sound mind and a willingness to follow instructions as Your word teaches, “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge”

(Proverbs 23:12).

Happy Halloween: Are You A Cheerful Giver?

Spiritual Truth:
“…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~Acts 20:35

HAPPY HALLOWEEN I’m the Brite Bomber (Fortnite).

Are you ready to give out tons of candy tonight? Today, I have been reading in Acts 20:35 and when I found this scripture, “…it is more blessed to give then to receive” I immediately thought about the big Halloween dilemma.

Halloween Dilemma…

Do I go out with my children and walk the neighborhood so we can receive lots of candy? Or do I stay in and hand out candy to all the children who come knocking? Maybe I can find some combination of both?

Halloween is not the only day of the year we should be asking ourselves if we are looking to be a blessing by giving, or only looking for what we can be getting!

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Scripture teaches us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, God doesn’t want to coerce generosity. “The point is this: whomever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whomever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Sometimes when we are looking for ways to give to others, we give things that we ourselves would like to receive, which is still a form of selfish giving and a lack of understanding for the needs of others.

I know that I love to receive gifts. I cherish tokens and trinkets others give me. As I use the gifts, I think fondly of the giver. Therefore, I like to buy my kids gifts because I imagine the gift will fill thier little hearts with the same warmth I feel when I receive a gift.

My children however, really feel most blessed when I am giving of my time to them. They are more filled by a game of Monopoly or a Movie Night together then a thoughtful little gift like candy or a new toy.

My sister loves to hear a good word of encouragement. She has shared with me in the past she is highly motivated by carefully spoken words of affirmation.

It takes time and a little bit of practice to learn the ways that others receive the blessings of love we are trying to give. But that time is worth the effort especially when it comes to those we spend time with daily.

If you truly want to take your giving to the next level. Seek to learn about the people you are in close contact with. Pay attention to the responses from different types of giving, and you will learn how to be the ultimate blessing.

Remember the Words of Christ this week, “…it is more blessed to give then to receive” and cheerfully look for ways to bless others.

Fashion Friday : Is Shoe Love Really True Love?

Spiritual Truth:
Give me a bent for Your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. ~Psalm 119: 36-37

I have an undeniable love of shoes! β™‘β™‘β™‘ The last time my children counted, I was at well over 100 pairs, and the shoe closet is still growing!

I do live in a city with four seasons, therefore, it’s only natural for me to have an enormous boot collection for fall and winter. Followed up with an equally impressive sandal collection for spring and summer. Then, there is the high heel collection for special events. I could go on all day about shoes.

Shoe Love is True Love Right???

In the scripture today, the Psalmist asks God to give him a “bent” for God’s wisdom, which means a determination to have something. He asks for wisdom OVER a huge pile of loot. What?!? And he didn’t just ask for the virtue alone, but a strong determination to seek it out.

What’s in Your Pile of Loot?

How easy is it to get caught up in the trap of growing our own piles of loot? For me, it is shoes and clothes, for other women it may be perfumes or jewelry. Maybe you enjoy collecting cars, homes, or other types of trinkets and toys.

At the end of the day, when I have to make tough decisions in life and I am unsure of which direction to go, my shoes don’t have any answers for me. Only God’s wisdom, and gentle whispers can calm my heart, clear my head, and keep my feet on the right path.

These Shoes Look Fabulous but they Have NO Answers!

I think the Psalmist knows the heart of man is easily distracted because he repeats his request in the next phrase when he says, “Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way.”

It is far too easy in a culture of …”You Need This” or “Your Life will be Amazing when you have That” to loose focus on what is most important. The media is constantly sending us the message that we need a new trinket or toy for happiness!

True joy and fulfillment ultimately come from God and God alone. The maker of heaven and earth, the maker of you and me. A pair of shoes can never know my heart, my dreams, my wishes, and my deepest desires.

Wearing the right shoes on a Friday night is certainly a great way to have temporary fulfillment, but seeking God my Creator, for more of Him, His wisdom and revelations provides lasting joy, refreshment and peace that no one can take away.

Shoe Love is… N-O-T true love?!?!

Let’s ask for a bent for God’s word of wisdom and truth! Let’s seek the LORD instead of earthly treasures. He is waiting for us with open arms.

Praying the Word:

Lord, I pray you would bless me with the gifts of wisdom and discernment. Help me to be sensitive to Your voice leading me, and turn my eyes from worthless and worldly things. May I turn my face to You, Oh Lord, daily for my source of joy. Amen!

Growing Up

Spiritual Truth:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

This is my niece, Mariah. She is a creative, fun loving, little princess and today we celebrated her 6th Birthday! Woo Hoo! She was styled from head to toe in her Unicorn gear, quite perfect for any little girl on her special day!

Her favorite restaurant at 6 years of age just happens to be Applebees!

It was fun to see her eyes light up at the table when the whole family surprised her for a celebration dinner.

As we looked at the kids menus, my own girls ask if they will still have crayons and paper to color on when they have kids in 20 years? Or will everything be digital by then?

When it came time to order, all of the kids in the group chose meals from the children’s menu, which is always just the right size serving for the littles. The kids meals are simple and stick to all the basic food groups of the average child, Pizza, Mac n’ Cheese, and Applesauce.

The adult menu usually has a much larger variety of solid, more flavorful creations which are more suitable for mature tastebuds and stomachs. Including one of my personal favorites, Steak and Potatoes!!!

When our meals arrived it reminded me of the different spiritual foods we eat as Christians. 1 Peter 2:2-3 tells us, “As newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow, if it is true that you have experienced that the Lord is good.”

This verse is telling us that new believers should crave the simple truths found in scripture, the foundational principles of Christianity such as faith, repentance, forgiveness, and baptism. In the same way newborns introduction to foods starts with milk as thier foundational food, and they crave that milk, they can’t get enough.

Over time, as you taste and see that the LORD is good and learn to understand Him more and more, we should gradually become more mature.

“But solid food belongs to those who are mature, for those who through practice have powers of discernment…” (Hebrews 5:14).

As we grow in the faith and practice the foundational teachings, the same way a child grows up practicing thier walking and talking, we become more mature as Christians. And as our faith matures we can then start to have more solid food in the way of advanced teachings and revelations.

This summer I realized I KNOW alot of scripture. I can quote verses day and night, however, I get so busy with day to day life I am not Practicing the knowledge I have obtained.

Having spiritual knowledge, knowing all the Bible Stories, and even leading classes to share knowledge with others does not make one Mature in the faith. Maturity comes through practice, through testing, and through seeking.

I started practicing with one simple verse, the LOVE verse, 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind…” a verse I have known since I was a child. As a child I quoted the verse, although I wasn’t always the most patient person. As an adult, learning to put childish was behind me, I started to put the words into practice.

I started with one virtue at a time, so as not to become overwhelmed. It was a simple step into the maturing of my faith.

If you are a new Christian and craving milk, or a mature Christian eating solid foods, I encourage you to continue seeking God and asking for more and more of Him. He will fill you up, and grow you up in Him.