James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when I die to self

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

The importance of Confession

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.”

It is not wise to keep up the image that “my feet don’t touch the ground”  That is boastful and only creates an identity that I can’t sustain.

“Who is wise and understanding (in their own option?)”

I have set the bar for my self worth to be based on my perfect performance and that is folly.  It also dishonours Christ’s sacrifice.  If I could have ever attained perfection why would He have ever suffered so much?

“For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.”

Warning!! Warning!!! This applies to marriage.  They are to abound with grace, love, long-suffering, and mercy or we are doomed!!!!

There may never be a space in your life that requires a death to self like your marriage will need from you.  Truthfulness and vulnerability, are the keys that will unlock intimacy in your marriage.  So allow your spouse to see your fears and your ambitions,  your victories and your struggles.  Be known and know the Joy that comes from sharing a honest identity.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure,”

Every blessing and every direction from above is PURE.  Uncontaminated by selfish ambition.  Never lacking in wisdom.  It see the whole picture.  God is always impartial because He is for His plans and loves all His childern.

“a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

To behave righteously I must die to self and become humble.  That the wisdom I glean and the love I absorb must translate into actions that display humility and impartiality.  This is the cure for selfish ambition and jealousy and insecurity.

Your potential power to bring Peace comes with walking out of your comfort zone and into the path of righteousness.  Stepping out and bringing the Good news that God loves His people and will bring them life, is our calling.  It is our destiny to hear and receive and repay it again and again with the  fulfilling of the Gospel. Accepting and sharing the message that grants a chance at wisdom.  It is the work of the Gospel rolling off our lips with Holy power that brings life and joy.

The wisdom of accepting that we are not the point of this whole existence is to be held close to our hearts and ever in our minds.  Accepting that, God is for God.  God love His children and God has directed us to understand that Joy comes with understanding we are not the point.  That would be a burden to heavy for us to bare.

Wisdom is understanding that we are helpless with our our saviour, so worship Him and allow the work of the Gospel to guide your steps.

Bring the peace that accompanies a selfless heart, passionate about the vision of the gospel.

This is the message of James…

 

 

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James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we bite our tongue

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,[a] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,[b] and is itself set on fire by hell.[c] For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters,[d] this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

“If we put bits into the the mouth of horses so that they obey us, we guild their whole bodies as well.”

If we put the word of truth into our hearts and speak the Love of Jesus with our tongues.  Then we will have a better chance to control our whole beings.

Its all right there, the power of the tongue and the potential for destruction.  Some things can’t be repaired and our words once spoken can’t be taken back.  Also James compares our tongue to a wild fire (gossip??) and wild animals (uneducated, base desires) and a great ship  and rudder (the comparison of the size and power in comparison to the ease of use)

He is saying our words are our truth because though actions speak louder, words speak truer and cut deeper.

So what are we to do?  Think twice before you teach because with much power (words are power) comes great responsibility.

I was reminded of the serpent and how easy it is to have a slip of the forked tongue…

Imagine the first forked tongue slithering into our thoughts.  Just by the words spoken into Eves afternoon walk, the entire earth and future of all man kind was set ablaze, by the sparks of Hell.

Words were step one to the undoing of all Gods plans.  With only words doubt was birthed, and with doubt, disobedience was enacted.  With disobedience we felt shame, sin, and paved the road to our deaths and separation from out Father God.

The entire emphasizes of this passage is that words are our undoing, there is no hope offer in the potential control of our tongues…..

We all stumble, and we will always stumble.  But don’t lose hope because Christ fills the gap.  So how can we all stay in the fight to tame our tongues?

1 Read the word.  Remember that the word of God is to be the foundation we are to move, live, believe and speak from.  The scriptures don’t change, so we can safely place  our identity in Christ not on what others are saying about us or what we are saying about ourselves.

2  Root your identity in Christ.  If my identity is in Christ I can celebrate others strengths, victories and joys, because my self worth ins’t at stake.  If I feel good about me, then I don’t need to say anything bad about you to keep myself looking or feeling like I’m the best.  It about Christ not me.

3  Get good friends who speak life.  You will become the average of the 5 or 6 people you spend the most time with. So if you surround your self with people that are stronger and more interesting than you, you will be lifted up and edified.  Not weighed down with negative influences.

4 Remember sometimes hard words are helpful.  To hear and to say.  But hard words don’t need to be spoken harshly.  When we root our identity in Christ we make it ok for other to correct us, because our identity isn’t on the line.  And honesty in friendships is the key that unlocks a deep connection.  If you can be venerable anouf to receive correction, or to offer it, you know you have a solid friend.

5 Never hold back a compliment or encouragement.  Why have all this power for giving life and hope, if your not going to speak life giving words.

6  Pray.  Prayer holds the most powerful words we can speak, because we are releasing our burdens, our requests and our praises to the One who has the power in His hands and He longs to bless His children.

Don’t lose hope, we are all in this together.  

This is the message of James…

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when Faith is Worked out in us.

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

jus-ti-fied / adjective: Having done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason.

“Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.”

or you could say;

“Rahab proved her faith with actions that showed she trusted God would protect her as a result of her obedience.”

Our words glorify our faith.  Our actions glorify Gods plans.

“So also faith by itself, if it dose not have works is dead.”

faith / noun: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension, rather then proof.

ap-pre-hen-sion / verb: the act or power of receiving or comprehending somthing.

Faith is born within us, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So with the Holy Spirit planted in our hearts, fruit should grow from that.  The fruit of works like, an ability to trust when the future is uncertain.  I have often been caught up with the concept of “works and fruit” only looking like “missions and serving”.  But Gods works in our hearts transform us from the inside.  Biting your tongue can be a work of faith that no one will recognize.  As I realize the vastness of Works, I am less caught up with challenging verses like this one.

“Faith apart from Works is dead”

Why have faith if it doesn’t change you?  What is the use of that?  Faith and Works is not about productivity.  Rather it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit working out the roots of sin and self-centerdness in my soul.

Think about your life, if your outlook is never challenged, if you aren’t becoming more compassionate for Gods children.  That is when you need to ask yourself, “Is my faith dead?’

If love is not evidently growing in your heart, your faith may have never taken root in the first place.”

The marks of the faithful Christian walk is love, compassion, grace, thankfulness, joy, humility, servant heartedness…..  Theses are the products of God working out the sin, shame, guilt, self-centredness, pride, vanity, materialism, and every foot hold of the devil.  This is Works.

Works is not what I am doing.  It is what Faith is doing to me.

As the sin is worked out and the love is given room to grow in your heart that is when behaviours will reflect the faith in you.  If the work of compassion is knead into your heart the result will become an extension played out in where you place your time and how you spend your money.

Have faith but be faithful.  That is the space works are born.  These are the moments our Faith is confirmed.

That is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, through Partiality

James 2:1-13

2 My brothers,show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“Become judges with evil thoughts”

Oh dear I have a very active thought life.  I have to ask myself what part of that do I need to get a handle on…

It is the part where I imagine that I am the point.  That God is for me to be lifted up and not His glory.  God has plans and deeds for me to do, but it is all for His glory, and not for me to be considered cleaver or wise.

I long for partiality and so I put my best foot forward and forget that the whole point is for God to be centre stage.  He is MVP and I called to warm the bench till called upon to take part.  Not because I am needed but because I am needy.

When the light shines on my truth, it appears ungrateful…

And is that not partiality?  When we see things and people on scales of what is most and least. When we align ourselves to glean what those better and more influential are dropping, for us to run and gather. Just to position ourselves to receive the approval of the fallen and not the blessing of the Father?

So what are we to do to avoid a life of lost chances and regrettable choices?

Don’t Judge a book by it’s cover and don’t connect your hospitality in a manner to reach personal gain.  Hospitality shown with an agenda is a tainted Love offering.  We are all Gods children and all deserve the same treatment.  We all struggle with different sin and require the same salvation.

We can’t only focus on the victories that come easily, for every sin I overcome, more are reigning in my life and in my heart.  But this is where God honers the fight.  That is where strength for the flourishing is built.  That is where the Joy if the Law is revealed.

Because the Law is whole and we have no chance of getting it all right. Therefore we must rely on Mercy.  And Mercy begets Mercy, so show Mercy so you can receive it and receive the Joy that sustains in the fight and in the struggle.

When we look at others through the filter of the gospel. Through the branches of our own family tree, starting with Adam in the garden.  That is when we find the strength to show grace.  Partiality falls away when we recognize our own faces and failing, in the flaws we perceive in others.  That is when Love can be released in a flood we can saturate the lost and hurting with what will bring wholeness and healing.  

And what is that which we are all aching for?  Acceptance without requirements.

When we choose the relationships we lean into through prayer and not through partiality we fulfill the gospel.  Likewise, when we see the Do’s and the Don’t laid out for us in red letters, we are receiving an invitation into a better way.  Into a deeper offering of Grace and Kindness.

Recently I have had opportunity to offer my home and my time in specify ways.  As I have leaned into individuals in intentional ways, with caring for, and teaching skills.  Skills and offerings that seems simple and minimal to me.  I have been blessed to see the fullness of Gods abundance in my home and in the privileges I have.  My thankfulness for the chance to stay home with my littles full time, and recognizing the homemaking and homesteading skills I take for granted are rich blessings for me to offer.  Not only to those who fully understand the depth of my offering, but to those who might never know the opportunity to simply live and dwell in the places that bring stillness and nourishment.

The Lord presented to me who He would have me lean into. I never could have know who needed my love offering most.  Who could have given me a new perception on my own day to day living.

A lack of partiality has returned the blessing to me in dynamic ways, I never could have imaged.  It takes dyeing to self and surrendering my time and relationships. To enter in to a better way.  To enter into the gospel, and be blessed in the unexpected places by the unexpected people in my life.

Do the Word!  Love all equally, with the intention of fulfilling the Gospel and walking out the warmth of Gods Love to ALL HIS CHILDREN.  Not just the easy to love but those with prickles and thrones as well.

This is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing through Trials & Temptations

James 1:2-18

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Trials will come, count it all Joy.

Today you may be in the space between.  The, life happening, everyday normal stuff   place, between trial and tranquility, but trials will come.  Divorce, a loss of a parent or child, cancer, bankruptcy, infidelity. Maybe is not so obvious a trial you are facing, student loan, challenging pregnancy, unexplained food sensitivities, ungracious boss or coworkers, potty training or any of the other million little things that pile up as the days and weeks become months and years.  Life marches on and trials are a part of life.

This isn’t a warning or a threat, just a fact, just the reality of living in a fallen world.

And to make matters more complicated the Christian life is marked by trials because following Christ has a cost and Satan is going to try and collect.  He is going to do every little thing he can to make you stumble and fall.  Im not talking epic trauma necessarily, but changed hearts bleed sweat and tears. Repentance takes humility and dyeing to self and giving the grace we receive at the cross.  To be moved by the spirit means to be moved to generosity and surrender and that is the holy work of life with Christ at the helm. That is the hard labour of fighting for Joy in a broken world.

We all want to walk on water but once you get out of the boat you will be in the deep end.  So get ready to swim hard and when you get tired, when you think your about to sink that is when the Joy is found in the suffering.   That is when we have that outstretched, grasped hand, moment, in the mists of the waves.  That is when suffering meets spiritual growth and when the gospel is received and fulfilled.

We are to stand firm and remember that when trials come its not about focusing on the “unfair” but about the growing of our relationship with Christ and others.

In the passage above it seems like James is talking to the haughty and the prideful and giving them a reality check.  Like a sneak peek down the path of pride, and it isn’t pretty.  But in reality it is a message to us all.  We are all self centred and in need of a good dose of humility.  I get entitled and impatient, I hate to show my weakness and only like to pose for those to see my good side.  I am the Prideful and it gives me plenty to suffer over and grow from.

Don’t be blind to your own potential for struggle and suffering. To assume that life is just going to be a breeze will only set you up for disappointment.  But seek wisdom and ask God for it.  He is on our side for His glory.  Don’t forget that God is good in the mists of your struggle.

James hammers home the words “Trials” “Perseverance” and “Gives Birth”.  He is urging us towards wisdom and patience and focus in our struggle, not on our struggle.  Just like a woman growing a baby for 9 months, you know its hard work and we know you need to tell us all about it.  But weather you loved pregnancy or you hated it, no one stays pregnant forever.  Perseverance will give birth or your trial will take over.

Dont sink into your trial or it will rob you of the wisdom gained in the journey.  James is encouraging us to keep our eyes on Christ, so when the day of trial comes we will be fixed on the One with the answers.

Just like the wonder of nature follows the plow, also the promised Joy is found, after the struggle. We can see it in the reflection of His perfect prevision, as we recognize our deep need for our saviour, and His deep love for His Children.

 

 

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing when we Hear and Do

James 1:19-27

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

What isn’t covered?  Choices about self-control, behaviour, influence and action.  Meditation and study, practice what we preach.  James is laying the foundation brick by brick.

Therefor, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Like when I hear good teaching and think “So-and-so needs to hear this.”  My heart is not humble but I am tangled up with sin and evil and missing that conviction is for me, in  my heart.

Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

The word is planted in ME and so I must overflow with listening, decrement, self control and long-suffering.  Dedicated to understanding so I can control my tongue and fulfill my calling.  This is how we can withstand the temptations of the world.

This is when we hear and we do, and the gospel is fulfilled, when we walk our talk.  We flourish when we find ourselves prepared for obedience to the love of Christ growing in our hearts.  Joy overflows as we consider others worth serving with the word of God.

The book of JAMES & the path to Joy and all Flourishing

I hope you are ready to join me for the next 14 weeks to take a closer look at the book of James.  I would love for you to share with me what the Lord is revealing to you through this book.  The book of James is all about a call to know Christ and have Him direct your life.  It is a call into the deep end of the pool.  So lets get or feet wet!

James 1:1                                                                                                                                        James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the 12 tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

James is a little book in the New Testament that is packed full with goodness and wisdom. As I have studied and prayed and read and listened to others process through this convicting book, my heart has been moved.  Moved and broken and lifted up to renew my love for Christ and my love of His children.

It was written by James, the little brother of Jesus.  James was a relatively new convert but a long time observer of Jesus work and life.  It was written as a letter to the new emerging church, it is a recap of Jesus teaching. I believe it was meant to be an encouragement to Christians who were being prosecuted after Christ was crucified and ascended back to heaven.  It was a call to Keep the Faith and Stay Faithful to the Work of Jesus Ministry.

In the next weeks I will be breaking this book into smaller sections and looking at them much more specifically.  But first I encourage you to read the book of James right through, and see what pops out to you.  What words or themes stand out?  What makes you stop as you read and need to go back and re-read a little slower?

Humility;  That was the theme the Lord worked into my heart as I read through this book, just about a year ago.  I had a close friend who was studying through it with me and we just read it and met for our first session.  It has been a year and we are coming to a close on James.  But I feel a new chapter has been opened in my life.

A chapter leading me to pursue Humility and Grace and Understanding and how important and God is to our everyday lives.  How in my home and in my truck and with my kids, when I’m reading stories and going for walks.  When I lay with Jan and as I serve at church or just washing the dishes.  Theology is very important and it is for me and you and everyone.  Its not reserved for the preachers and the bible school students.  It is about Christ and its to remind us that He is the whole point and we are to grow in humility.  Less of me, More of Christ, again and again this was whispered into my heart.

As I root myself in the word and as I die to self, I will be drawn into the richness of life.  The life I was meant for, the person I am because of the image I was formed in, for such a time as this.

James is hopeful with promise and exhausting with the weight of death to self.  As we surrender,  Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit can fill us with Love and Longevity.  The message of James is the light at the end of the tunnel.  The light that chases away the darkness of self-centred living and places our feet on the perfect balance of Christ-centered loving.

This Is James.

 

If you are looking for resources to look deeper into James I have created an Inductive Word Study-cheat sheet, called Rooted in the Word.  Click on the link below to access it.

Rooted in the Word

Book review: Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace By. Sarah Mackenzie

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What an encouraging read! A weight has been lifted, Sarah reminds us that Gods has got this.  He has prevision even for my little home-school.  She wrights with grace and humility and gentle words, that we are not what is going to determine our children destiny.  That is Christ and we are to simply bring our gifts of love and offerings of time.  God will fill the gaps so we can stop stressing about or failings and get to the fun of teaching with peace and prayer in our hearts.

If you are normal, and worry if you have anouf to fulfill this huge task of schooling from home, then you must read this book.  I feel 10 pounds lighter having been reminded to leave my expectations at the foot of the greatest teacher of all time.  I am reminded that He loves my kids even more them I do.  So in the spaces that I struggle to fill, He is there with prevision and love and I am not alone.

This task of homeschooling is not mine alone but Christ has given me all I need and He will do the rest.

Teaching From Rest is a short book packed with so much encouragement right from the life of Christ.  Pick up a copy and read it before you lose one more night of sleep over all the things that steal your rest.  You will be blessed and so will your kiddies!

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Also Check out Sarah Mackenzie’s Blog and Join the Read-Aloud-Revival.  You will find lots of great encouragement and ideas to add to your homeschool! https://amongstlovelythings.com

The night we fought about Chicken-Tractor, Fung-sway

Communication….  Its hard.  With all this texting and tweeting you would think talking might come smoothly and naturally.  But nope.  And don’t try to pretend like you are such a expert.  We all want to be heard but the listening is the part that hooks us.

We work at it, read a book, implement some practices.  We all have the best intentions, so don’t be discouraged and give up.  Its just we struggle, Im not alone and neither are you.

But really, that my be the lesson in itself.  Its really not about me and truth be told, its not about you either.  All the conversations we are having out loud and in our heads don’t serve us much if they don’t either, honour the King or proclaimed His glory.

So the Trucker decided we should get some chickens and left me in charge of the rest.  I wanted to brain storm and plan out or little Hen Hostile together, but we just couldn’t seem to connect on the topic so with a will and a way I pushed forward and ran his toes right over with my Chicken tractor….  All for the lack of listening and articulating.

And how may others have been mowed down at the cost of productivity?  In our Churches and in our Schools.  We decide and we do.  We take over and sacrifice team work and delegating, just to save the meeting and the talking.  But how can we ever be known?  How will we ever know the Father if we can’t stop and sit at His feet and do our half of the communicating?

But that takes faith to be ready to obey.  Sometimes we only want marching orders, but not all the steps we are to take along the way.  I know its true for me.  I put off prayer till Im ready to surrender and then Ill bring it to the Lord.  But that will never stretch my faith, I will never grow that way.  It is the process of figuring out the procedure that propels us forward and into faithfulness.  When we are willing to obey we are willing to communicate.  When we are ready to admit “Its not my will, but Yours” That is when we Talk our Walk.  

Because sometimes the walking is the easy part, everyone can fake a good walk but to surrender our stillness, is the practice of patience and perseverance.  Some times I confuse Busyness with Holiness and I forget to stop and Pray.

I sacrificed doing life together for the sake of getting the work done and I had to repent over a Chicken Tractor.  What a stilly thing to have lost patience on. Here in my wanting to have it done and over and my way, I missed a chance to create and build and grow and dream with the one who I Love.

How much more do we miss our chance to operated with the Lover of our Souls when we don’t stop and pray.  When we miss what is truly important.  When we Martha our way right out of communion with Christ.

Stop and Slow and Savour and let the words sink in.  Some times marriage looks like staying in a hard conversation, 2 hours after the conversation has started.  Communication isn’t easy, that we know, but if I listen twice as much as I talk. If we take the time to allow our words to sink in and give grace and creativity a chance to grow.  We will Grow to.

Patience is tied to good communication and good communication always comes from a heart that is humble and ready to serve and sacrifice.  When we are truly ready to communicate we are truly ready to compromise.  That is the place were conflict flees.  That is the language of Love, living out Faithfulness to give Flourishing.  That is a conversation that Honours God.

 

Look In

I have been seeking and searching, pruning and purging.  Trying to skinny down the “must do’s” so I can fully focused on the one thing that is most important, today and every day.  Serving where the Lore has placed me.

My vision has been some what scattered.  My community, my church, neighbours, family, friends.  I feel like my heart is breaking in every direction and I can’t possibly be in service to all at once.  I feel inspired, overwhelmed, torn and then defeated.  And each time I pray the Lord say “Look In”

“Look in to your home, Jenny.  That is the greatest task I will ever give you, and you are being romanced by the dream of ministry….  Is not your family ministry anouf?” 

We all know it is but the needs of the many seem to outweigh the needs of the few in my mind.  So I commit to this, and volunteer for that.  I will just serve at this function and bring a meal every time there is call to help.  I think if they are all good things then I must be doing well to never say no.  I love to be creative and serve.  But at what cost?

This is not my encouragement to step back and do nothing.  It is my commitment to step up and do the right thing.  

1  pray pray pray and listen listen listen.  Not if I should serve…  I don’t need to ask God if He wants me to teach Sunday school or bring food to those in need.  Its a no brainer, YES!  But that doesn’t mean I must do it all, every time.  I must Pray and ask “will this yes make my number one task you are calling me to (my kids and husband) be neglected or dishonoured?”  My priorities must be prayed over.  There will be time I can serve and still be fully present to my family, so go serve. But there are times I go way over my capabilities and my kids get my leftovers and the trucker is neglected. So those are the time I must say no.

2 be okay with God filling the gap.  Because He can!  He has not called me to success and productivity, He has called me to rest in Him.  He has not asked me to feed the 5,000, He only asked for my 5 loves and 2 fish, and He provides the rest.  I can server faithfully and wholeheartedly when I remember that the success or failure of any ministry is not dependant on me getting it all done or figured out.  The gospel will move forward with or without me.  I am only invited to ride along, with my meagre offering, to join in the adventure when my kids allow and my husband is on board.

3 stop stressing about it.  God has made His will clear.  Go and make disciples of all nations. A wise friend recently told me, as we were talking about programs to get our kids involved in.  Sports, music, sunday school, day camp, VBS, homeschool Co-op, swimming lessons, the list goes on and we as moms antagonize, about what to do, what not to do.  She reminded me that all theses things are good things.  They all get a easy Yes!  But you can’t say yes to them all at once.  Likewise I can’t serve on the Church committee, plan events, volunteer at the ski club, lead a bible study, teach Sunday school, run wilderness play group and still expect to have relationships that foster flourishing and love with my family, let alone have any friends.

4 be nice… What is the easiest way to fulfill the great commission?  Love your neighbour as yourself.  What if we were just all in the zone of caring for our families and being nice to our neighbours, to our friends.  What if my Faith was make by kindness and generosity and not with productivity?

Now Im not picking those of you out there managing the non-profit or running the car-pool.  I don’t aim to live isolated and saying no to every service opportunity that comes my way.  But I do intent for my yes to be my yes and my no my no.

If my family ends up with the leftovers then I am out of my depth and that is the space where Jesus has prevision for my limitations.  If I can include my kids (not just drag them along) if it doen’t suck every hour out of my evening when, I could be culitavating my friendship and love with my husband. Then count me in!  But when it stretching me so thin you can see right through me, its time to step back.

As I have been more consistent about praying over my limitation before I commit. I see I have begun to commit to much less. But my family and I flourish much more.  My kids get my best offering and my husband doen’t watch me struggle to juggle and balance.  We have more energy as a family to just be nice and kind and generous.  The Gospel is still fufilled but Im not pretending Im responsible for the feast.  I just offer my loves and fishes and God dose the rest.

The Lord has called me to look in.  To look into my own home and see my children as worthy converts, to be witness to the love of Christ in mommy.  To look into my friend group and community and see where I really could serve from my heart and from my home.

Each day I walk out to the pasture to feed the calves and I look into our yard and I thank God He has asked me to “Look in” and has given me a congregation of family and friends to minister to, with my Husband and my kids.

Don’t feel Im telling you to quit what the Lord has in your heart just because it takes you away form your kitchen sink and own back your.  We are all called differently and in accordance to our gifting and abilities.  Serve with all your heart where ever you are.  But if your heart is being tugged, just as mine was, to “Look In”. Don’t be afraid to make a change and pray pray pray for His leading.  You will always be in ministry as long as you are nice and marked with the Love of Christ flowing out on those in your path.

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