“Listen, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but don’t see
and ears but don’t hear”—Jeremiah 5:21(CEB).
Around age 10, I was diagnosed with extreme nearsightedness and astigmatism. I began wearing eyeglasses, the kind some call “Coke-bottle glasses.” In the 60s, technology hadn’t advanced to the point where people like me could wear glasses so thin you’d never know the extent of someone’s eyesight problems. Mine were serious.
What kind of person are you: spiritually blind or spiritually seeing?
I recall getting my first pair of glasses. After putting them on at the doctor’s office, I arrived home where I exclaimed to my mother, “I didn’t know our kitchen floor had spots.” The vinyl tile was dark green with flecks of black and white. Before corrective lenses, I couldn’t see the tiny specks. The detail with which I could now see expanded my world.
Of course, I didn’t really like wearing glasses. I had no choice since my eyesight was so poor. I suffered the same taunts as most youngsters who begin to wear glasses, with the most familiar one being “four-eyes.” Throughout the years, I tried different types of contact lenses. My allergies led to discomfort. I decided it wasn’t worth it.
“Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living. Let’s return to the Lord”—Lamentations 3:40(NIRV).
Yuck! How long had it been? I didn’t know, but I knew it was long overdue.
When I found myself in the mood to do some serious housework, I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning my refrigerator. While I had kept up with wiping down the inside surfaces I could see, I wasn’t excited about tackling what I knew was probably a mess in the hidden places.
If you’ve ever cleaned a refrigerator, you know what I’m talking about. Those spills you wiped off of the shelves made their way to the bottom underneath the veggie and fruit drawers. Maybe you planned to get to it later but forgot. Maybe, like me, you’re a procrastinator.
I was filled with insecurities, doubts and secrets.
How often do we procrastinate when it comes to doing things we’d rather avoid? I know I’m guilty. In the past, I very seldom put things off. It just wasn’t in my nature. However, as I have embraced each birthday, I’ve started to examine what is important. Evidently, I’ve decided cleaning out the deep recesses of my refrigerator is not a high priority.
Before Jesus got ahold of this woman, I could tell you my priorities didn’t line up with His. Instead, I was more concerned about how things appeared on the outside. For example, my house was always clean, so clean you could have eaten off the floors most days. My now-grown sons can tell you I wasn’t the easiest mother to live with when it came to keeping our house clean.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”—Psalm 56:3(ESV).
Does the headline news make you afraid to leave your house? Constantly paying attention to the negative can stop us from living out our faith.
With the constant feed of bad news, some are fearful the end is near. Could it be? Remember, Jesus doesn’t even know. “But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be—not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36, TLB).
Choosing faith over fear is the only answer. When we choose faith, we are stretched and forced to grow spiritually. In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” So how do we build our faith?
Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles.
First, we must know the Word. In Psalm 119:66, the writer penned these words: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” Knowing God’s Word is our foundation. It’s the beginning of choosing faith over fear. It’s not enough to attend church on Sunday mornings. We must also read, study and memorize His Word, letting it soak into our spirit.
“You love him even though you have never seen him; though not seeing him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with the inexpressible joy that comes from heaven itself. And your further reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls”—1 Peter 1:8-9(TLB).
As a writer, I stay on top of the different ways to share my content. I’ve learned social media has become the new norm for most writers who want to gain an audience for their work. It isn’t my first choice because it can become time consuming if I don’t step away from it sometimes.
When I was first encouraged to become more active via social media forums like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter, I resisted. Soon, however, I discovered that as a Christian writer, it’s a wonderful way to spread the wonderful news about Jesus Christ.
“Why wouldn’t your Creator want a relationship with you?”
Several weeks ago, I shared a post on Twitter. For those who are not social media savvy and have not given in to the desire to learn how to tweet in 124 characters (not words) or less, it works like this. On Twitter, you have followers, meaning others on the site following your updates or in Twitter lingo—tweets. Rather confusing until you start participating.
When I shared a post to promote my prayer journaling books, I made the following statement: “Did you know God wants to have a relationship with you?” I had several responses but the one grabbing my attention was a young man who asked, “How do you know God wants a relationship with me?”
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble”—Proverbs17:17 (ISV).
What does it mean to be a friend?
I heard a pastor describe it this way, “A friend is a treasure who loves you as you are, sees not only who you are but who you can become, is there to catch you when you fall, shares your everyday experiences, accepts your worst but helps you become your best, understands your past, believes in your future, accepts you today just as you are, and comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
Proverbs 17:17 puts it this way. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble.” In this case, brother doesn’t necessarily mean a blood relative. Instead, the writer of this scripture is talking about Christian brothers.
Did you know Jesus is the best friend we can ever have?
Recently, I found out how blessed I am with great friends, especially during times of trouble. On August 20, my dog, who would have been 14-years-old this December, became unexpectedly ill. Since it was after hours for my regular veterinarian, I had to rush Taco to an emergency clinic about 30 miles away.
A neighbor, also a wonderful friend, agreed to accompany me that evening. She had already prepared herself for bed but hurriedly donned her clothes and was on my front door step in less than 10 minutes.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”—Joshua 1:9 (NIV).
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” When I saw this quote posted on a friend’s Facebook page, I had to share it with others. Curious, I googled the quote to discover the author of the statement. Although many have repeated it, the original source is unknown.
We’ve all seen similar inspirational quotes encouraging us to get out of our routines and do something we normally wouldn’t do. While it’s sometimes difficult to push the boundaries of our comfort zones, when we do take that step, we often wonder why it took us so long to cross that barrier.
So, what is a “comfort zone” exactly? It’s our tendency to get comfortable with the familiar and our daily routines. It’s a place or situation where we feel safe or at ease and without stress.
Examples abound in the Bible of those who left their comfort zone in obedience to God’s calling. Abraham struck out for an unknown land, leaving family and friends behind because God had called him to do so. Moses definitely left his comfort zone behind when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land.
Ten years ago this month, I obeyed God and moved from a small northeastern Oklahoma community, where I’d lived for more than 30 years, to a city approximately 80 miles southwest. Before relocating, I could count on one hand the number of people I knew in my new place of residence. It was a leap of faith for someone like me who had always played it safe. However, if I hadn’t obeyed and left my comfort zone, I would never have experienced a trip to the Holy Land or participated in overseas mission trips.
“If you love me, keep my commands”—John 14:15 (NIV).
Dubbed the fastest man on earth, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set the world record for running the 100 meter dash in under 10 seconds with a time of 9.58 in the World Athletics Championship finals in 2009. No man has beaten his record since.
Ten seconds. What can we as Christians do in that brief time that leads to following Jesus in an obedient manner? In his book, “The 10 Second Rule: Following Jesus Made Simple,” author Clare DeGraaf writes, “Most of us would like to think of ourselves as followers of Jesus, but what does that really mean, practically?”
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
“I’ve found that the need for certainty is often the enemy of obedience.”
Says DeGraaf, “Simply put, it’s trusting Jesus enough to say ‘no’ to what we want, and ‘yes’ to what he wants. So, then why is it we don’t obey him more often than we do?”
During the course of his days, Graaf began to notice impressions to do something he was reasonably certain Jesus wanted him to do. “It could be an impression to either do something good for someone or a warning about a sin I was about to commit.”