Let Choices Lead and Feelings Follow

Help! There’s a tornado whirlwind of jeans, tops, and dresses all over my bedroom! I cannot make up my mind on what to wear so I throw every article of clothing I feel like wearing in every direction of my bedroom. Can anyone relate?? I like the idea of wearing one blouse in my mind but I like how another shirt fits and feels better on my body. So I change. After walking out the door and realizing I’m not dressed for the weather, I change again. Then I feel like wearing different shoes because they look better with the new dress I put on. This probably goes on two or three more times. Then don’t get me started on my food options. I will probably feel three different ways about my lunch today when it comes time to chow down. There are so many feelings, no wonder our culture thrives on one of the scariest ideas floating around – that your feelings are truth.
feelings face
feelings faces – bernadinia
Our culture is saturated with feelings! Do not misinterpret this. Feelings are not bad. In fact, they were given to us by God. However, to allow our feelings to dictate what we do and how we identify ourselves in critical areas of our lives is deception and misaligned. Our culture believes that those desires, those urges, and those impulses are who you are. Live how you feel! Do what you want, when you want, and with whoever you want. Follow your heart! This is a horrible existence. The reality is this is not truth. Pastor Judah Smith stated it best, “Don’t follow your heart, question your heart.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Don’t follow your feelings. Most of the time we cannot identify our emotions or know what we want. How can we trust the roller coaster ride of our emotions dealing with God, people, careers, etc? Yet, it is a sad reality that the same approach we have towards what we’re going to eat and what we’re going to wear, is applied to other major areas in our lives. One of the best ways to safeguard our hearts and lead a life of decision is to understand that it starts with relationship. Here are three important areas of our lives where we can be a generation of people that choose to live by decision and will, not by emotion and frill. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!
  • Our Relationship with God
    • What if God responded to us out of His feelings? We would not be redeemed today! Someone once told me that they are waiting to feel God before they start following Him. Well, that is the wrong approach to our relationship with our Father in Heaven! Friends, let me tell you that our love for God is an act of the will and selfless surrender of ourselves. It is a decision. (James 4:8)
    • Love is a law and laws have no feelings. Romans 13:8; John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Sometimes you feel like running the red light because you are late, but the law says STOP! (Myles Munroe) God has given us a command to obey, even to the point of loving our enemies. We definitely cannot feel our way to doing that. We choose that!
    • Obey God wholeheartedly – If we think of love primarily as emotional desire and not as active committed service, we end up putting duty and desire against each other in a way that is unrealistic and destructive – Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
  • Relationship with our Spouse

    • Andy Stanley said, “Falling in love is easy; all it requires is a pulse, but staying in love requires a plan.” Love is a verb. You do it. You don’t feel it. Love is an act of the will. We think love is some emotional concoction deep in the soul. However, it is a daily decision to love (verb) our spouse. Then those initial feelings we had when we were all googly-eyed during the dating season will return and stay!
  • Living Out Our Purpose and Calling
    • What is that hard thing God has called you to? Did you start out with enthusiasm and emotion but found yourself giving into your feelings of not wanting to do it anymore? Most people start out feeling one way and quit on a “bad” day. Here’s the thing, you cannot rely on your feelings to lead you to greatness. Greatness occurs through daily habits and choices. Commit, follow-through, invest, practice and deliver even when you don’t feel like it.

The Soil of Your Heart

Welcome back to The Gospel of Mark: The Jesus We’re Aching For Bible Study (By Lisa Harper)! We are in week 2. Just a reminder, you can visit every Thursday morning for a Bible Study post on the current series I am in. This morning we are going to focus on a lot of reflective questions. Take some time today and the remaining week to ask yourself these soul searching thoughts. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 2 “Chickens or Champions” (The Soil of Your Heart)

Scripture References:

  • Mark 4:1-20 (Parable of the Sower)

Reflective Questions:

  • How have you seen and experienced the ways Jesus can mend even the most difficult relationships?
  • If your closest friends and family were asked whether you were more of a “doer” or a “talker,” what do you think the consensus would be? Why?
  • What distractions most often prevent you from paying attention to what God is saying to you through both His Spirit and His Word?
  • Describe the last time a tribulation or storm threatened your faith. Did your spiritual roots and foundation hold firm or did you find yourself pulled away from Jesus and shaken to the core of your beliefs? Explain.
  • The size of our fruit depends on the softness of the soil. So how about it? How tilled up would you say your ground (heart) is right about now? How has God faithfully plowed you recently? (Psalm 119:75)

 

 

LIVE FOR IT.

What are you willing to die for and then LIVE for it? Every morning you wake up, what is it that you are passionate about, hungry about, dream about? So many people unfortunately go through life as “dead” men on the inside instead of stirring the flames of fire that will set them ablaze to make a difference in the world. I dare you today to LIVE passionately. Here are some inspiring quotes on Passion from Youth Pastor Jeanne Mayo. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

PASSION

In Vince Lombardi’s last speech before he died, he said these words to a group of corporate leaders: “I’m going to share with you the key to success in any area of your life. The secret, in a word, is…HEARTPOWER. Capture the heart of people you are trying to lead, connect their hearts to your goals, and NOTHING will be IMPOSSIBLE for you.

 

People do not lack sufficient STRENGTH. Instead, they often lack sufficient PASSION.

 

Many things will catch your eye, but only a few things will catch your heart. PURSUE THOSE THINGS.

 

The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are NOT PASSIONATE ENOUGH about good things.

 

 

The Dollar: Test Your True Treasure

ScripturMt6

It’s Day 29 of the Habits of Grace Study! This is a good read as it invites us to really test where our treasure is. Generosity is one of the great evidences of truly being Christian and it’s not just about giving, but HOW we give. We give cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7) because Christ our Lord demonstrated ultimate generosity in coming to buy us back (Mathis). Here are five truths that David Mathis gives in regards to spending and giving for others. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  • Money Is a Tool – The problem is not about money, its about our hearts. Money is a tool that can be used for long-term godward goals, not just short-term selfish purposes.
  • How We Use Money Reveals Our Hearts – Matthew 6:21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Hoarding money says that we fear not having sufficient funds at some point in the future. Giving it away also speaks. The greatest test of our treasure is not whether we’re willing to spend it, but whom and what we spend it on. What desire am I trying to fulfill? Is this for private comfort, or gospel advance, or expressing love to a friend or family member?
  •  Sacrifice Varies from Person to Person – How much is enough for “our needs?” Where is the line between righteous and unrighteous spending on ourselves? It’s no easy task to discern what’s too little or too much person to person, what’s more important is asking if we have ever sacrificed our needs in order to give to others? Nothing shows our hearts like sacrifice.
  • Generosity Is a Means of Grace – Generosity is a means of grace for our souls, and that God stands ready to bless those who give from faith. It is the grace of God that frees a soul from selfishness and empowers not just generosity, but sacrifice. And such sacrifice God will not overlook.
  • God Is The Most Cheerful Giver – We cannot out give God. Willingly, he gave his own Son, with joy. God loves a cheerful giver because He is one, and every gift we give is simply an echo of what we have already received.

Give the Blessing of Rebuke

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I recently saw this comical video about two friends talking and one was obviously about to get into some intentional trouble. Yet, because they were considered best friends, the other friend decided that rules don’t apply, so they condoned their bad behavior. I think we’ve all been there. You know…that awkward moment you’re with someone and you experience the inner turmoil of needing to give correction but you don’t…(can you hear the crickets). I do believe personality and the degree we can handle confrontation has a lot to do with how easy it is give rebuke. However, our personality or feelings should not trump the Word of God and the opportunities we have to bless others through a correction.

If it is hard to accept a rebuke, even a private one…it is harder still to administer one in loving humility. ~ D. A. Carson

I honestly don’t know which is easier or harder for me. I do know that I need accountability and direction in my life so I welcome correction, as well as give it. In day 27 of our Study, David Mathis gives us seven steps toward rebuke that is Christian and transparent. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  • Check Your Own Heart First – Before approaching our brother or sister in the body about their sin, we need to renew our repentance and tendencies in the same area. Matthew 7:5 “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
  • Seek to Sympathize – The Golden Rule of Rebuke: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Matthew 7:12
  • Pray for Restoration – Pray for others before confronting them and for the moment you approach them. Pray and speak toward restoration, not merely righting wrongs and appeasing your own justice.
  • Be Quick – Don’t allow sin time and space to grow into tall nasty weeds in our lives. We should speak without delay and receive it with thick skin; so that gentle words of rebuke become common place for us, and sin is nipped in the bud.
  • Be Kind – It’s not just the corrective word but also a tone and demeanor that matches our Master. Any righteous rebuke is a kindness. When we correct an opponent with gentleness, how much more a friend.
  • Be Clean and Specific – Kindness must be matched with clarity. Don’t tiptoe around what’s really caught our attention. Have specific examples ready and have transparency in speaking the Gospel.
  • Follow Up – If they receive it well, follow up with a note or call and commend that evidence of grace in their life. If they don’t receive it well, follow up with some further expression of love; a reminder that you’re praying for them and have nothing to gain but their good.

 

My Biggest Concern

If you want a book that will wreck your ideas and thoughts about prayer life, “Why Revival Tarries” by Leonard Ravenhill is the one to get. We can all be in different places in our private prayer life, but I do believe the challenge is the same. As in the words of Francis Chan, “My biggest concern for this generation is your inability to focus, especially in prayer.”

Why is the Cinderella of the church today the prayer meeting? Everyone wants to flock to preaching and teaching, or any ministry that will show case talent and skills…but the prayer closet offers no display. The prayer closet allows no showing off. In fact, it is the test of authenticity of our spiritual integrity. It is an important test of whether we are real. Timothy Keller makes this statement, “This is the heart of prayer – not getting things from God, but getting God.” Many will pray out of required cultural or social expectations, but will we pray when nothing on the outside is pressing us too? The place of private prayer is in many ways the measure of who we are spiritually.

No man is greater than his prayer life.~ Leonard Ravenhill

Jesus modeled this for us the best. You find in the New Testament  where Jesus desperately desired fellowship with His Father, so he went again and again and prayed alone. From the beginning of His ministry to the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus made the practice of private prayer an essential part of His relationship with the Father. (Matt. 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Mark 14:32-42). So don’t be discouraged if your prayer life is not where it needs to be. I have found droughts in my own life where I did not desire God the way I should. The solution is quite simple really. The secret of praying is praying in secret (LH). In the following, David Mathis offers five suggestions to help you evaluate and create your own rhythm and prayer life. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  1. Create your closet – Find a regular space to pray. I know we like to tell ourselves, “I’ll just lie in bed and pray…” next thing you know you’re looking at the back of your eyelids! It helps so much if you have a go-to-spot. If you haven’t seen the movie War Room, I highly suggest it. You may even find an actual closet you can clear space from.
  2. Begin with the Bible – your prayers will be richer and more focused when they are in response to God’s Word. Prayer is a conversation we didn’t start, so it makes sense to jump into the conversation knowing what God is already saying.
  3. Adore, Confess, Thank, Ask – Adore God with praise for the truth revealed in your reading and meditation of Scripture, confess your own sins, give thanks for His grace and mercy, and ask Him for your requests.
  4. Divulge your Desires – and Develop Them – Prayer changes our hearts like nothing else. Some prayers in the Bible that helps shape and express our desires towards God (Eph. 1:17-21, Col. 1:9-12, and Phil. 1:9-11).
  5. Keep it Fresh – Change it up for a new year, new month, or a new season of life. You can write out or journal your prayers, you can take a retreat, or you can even go on a fast.

 

Steady Pace. Steady Rhythm.

Steady pace ftpGrowing up as a little girl I reminisce on times that brought me greatest happiness and comfort…being in my daddy’s arms. Where he went, my small footsteps followed. What he did, I mimicked. Where he rested, I wanted to hear his heart beat. Calling me a daddy’s girl, well…probably a huge understatement. My reasoning was simple. I loved him, but most importantly he loved me…

Fast forward to 2016. It’s a new year and we all have our improbable list of “resolutions” and desires for change in different areas of our lives. One challenge that I have committed to is what I want to share with you.

This is not a resolution. This is not seasonal.

This is a willingness and a desire to go from inconsistency to consistency in daily devotion to the Lord. Let me go further. The questions that stir my mind and heart is this…What is the rhythm of your pace? What is the cadence of your heart for 2016? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To delight means to “enjoy.” To enjoy you have to come close. To come close you have to be consistent.

Your greatest place of joy and purpose as a Believer is found in the steady pace of private devotion to Christ. Your heartbeat is to be in rhythm with the daily Word of God. 

Think about Peter in the Bible when he disowns and denies Jesus. Luke 22:54 states, ” Then seizing him (Jesus), they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.”

…Peter followed at a distance…

Peter followed Christ close enough to show concern for the Lord, but far enough to avoid danger. “He followed close enough to satisfy his conscience, but far enough to save his reputation.” (Henry). I have found myself in Peter’s shoes. Close enough to feel better, but far enough away to avoid real transformation. We follow close enough to call ourselves Christian, but far enough to blend in with culture. The highest standard God wants from us is simply to…Come. Close. How close are you to the Lord? How much of Him do you want?

The repetitious is not spectacular. Yet, when we come close to Jesus, we find Him spectacular and awe inspiring. He is calling us to be consistent seekers, Godchasers, and lovers of His presence. He simply wants us to be. As a daughter or son of our Father, we should be in His arms, walking where He leads, doing what He does, listening to His heartbeat. My pace should be His pace. My heartbeat should be His rhythm. This is difficult and challenging, but every answer to our questions and difficulties in life can be found in the resting place of Jesus Christ. I love how the story to Peter’s denial doesn’t end there.

“The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

heart

We know when we are “Close” to God when our life flows over and impacts our sphere of influence. We were never meant to transform for the sake of selfish ambition, but to make a difference in the people and places around us. Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. He is telling us to do the same today. God gave Peter grace to start again. If we are not where we want to be…there is grace to focus again on the ONE thing that will change our lives…Jesus. No matter what, it’s never too late to begin again.

My prayer is that our pace becomes a steady consistent devotion to the Lord. When we trust in His Word, He will do things for us we cannot do in our own striving and work. You don’t have to “work” when you are “flowing in the River.” Ephesians 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Let’s know Him better than ever. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

“Steady Heart”

By: Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook

Steady heart that keeps on going

Steady love that keeps on hoping

Lead me on

Steady grace that keeps forgiving

Steady faith that keeps believing

Lead me on

You are faithful, You will lead me

You are faithful, You will keep me