Are You Trusting in Your Own Ability? Or Are You Trusting God with Your Inability?

ps 44 3I often find myself overly confident in my own ability. After all, I am–ME! :) I have a Type-A personality, including all of the typical characteristics that go along with that stereotype. I am determined, disciplined, driven to complete (complete well, I might add), and dependable. Those are good D-words, aren’t they?

Unfortunately, I also exhibit some of the not-so-nice D-words … demanding, domineering, dictatorial … *sigh*… I can’t bring myself to list anymore. (I asked Tim for some more negative examples.  He gave me some, but I thought they were all good qualities. Oh, well. That’s the problem with Type-A. We tend to think we have it all figured out, and then we laugh it off when others don’t agree. Clearly, I have some work to do.)

The Lord reminded me, as He often does, that my confidence is not to be in myself, but in Him, alone.

 

David

Even though he was a mighty warrior, David did not trust in his own strength, skill, or weaponry; he trusted in God for victory and salvation.

Psalm 44:4-8 (NLT)
“You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.” [Emphasis added.]

 

Paul

In Philippians 3, Paul goes into great detail, listing all of his personal accomplishments and how he could, if he wanted to, have confidence in them. But in verses 7-8 he clarifies, “[I] put no confidence in human effort …I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” [Emphasis added.]

 

Us

God delights in using those who are weak so that He can show His strength and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:26-28, 31 (NLT)Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important … Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.'”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)  “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

 

Instead of trusting in your own ability,
trust God to use your inability for His glory!

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When I’m feeling a little too D-ish, the Lord gently and graciously provides an opportunity for me–not–to get it right. It’s downright frustrating to be a Type-A personality and have a major fail. But God uses these times to show me that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

What about you? Are you trusting in your “bow or sword,” or your list of accomplishments? Or are you trusting in God alone?

Today I’m linking up some lovely ladies who offer the best in encouragement. If your soul is needing an extra dose, check them out. You won’t be disappointed. <3

           

God Doesn’t Play Hide and Seek

Hide and SeekThis morning I read Psalm 9:9-10 in the NIV, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

I keep a running list of topics or words that I want to study, and when the Lord prompts me with one of those, I jot it down so I don’t forget it. When I have time, I go back to that list and do some studying. My posts here often come from that list. Last week, I wrote the word seek on that list. Since I’m actively “seeking God’s will” in regard to subbing, every time that word pops up, my antennae start to waggle, wanting to understand what God is saying to me about seeking.

That happened this morning with verse 10. “You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” I may have even read it aloud. Because I started to think about two words … seek … and forsake.

Seek means to look for something with extra effort, or to explore.

Forsake is kind of an old word. You find it a lot in the Old Testament, especially in older translations. It means to leave or abandon.

Immediately I thought of Hide & Seek–a game my teenagers still play. Their youth group has a very complicated version of this that they play at their lock-ins.

But have you ever played Hide & Seek and been the one left alone after everyone else ran away?

God is not like that! He does not abandon us–ever! Especially when we are diligently looking for Him! He promises us that when we seek Him, we will find Him!

Proverbs 8:17 (NIV) I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.”

Matthew 7:7 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

… and Another Thing!

One ThingThis week I’m focused on what my priorities are–relative to my ministry. But I set my ministry priorities below a lot of other things.

A lot of “stuff” is going on in my life, and as it does, right now I find myself asking, how does this fit into my priorities overall?

My ministry is One Thing, but it is not my life.

If people guessed my one thing based on my activity, they would probably say my one thing is Guard. After all, I spend a lot of time at football games, competitions, volunteering with parents, working with other Guard moms on special gifts for the girls, etc. But Guard is not my life. It pretty much is for my girls, and I love having a hand in it. But it is not my one thing.

From the outset,  my relationship with the Lord is my first priority.  Then my husband, then my children. Ministry activities come after all of that. Family trumps ministry in my world. For me, that is the right call. Even when my “family thing” is doing something for Guard. That’s the order of things for me.

Still, I have to know what my one thing–overall–is. As usual, the Bible tells us how things should line up.

One day, a young rich man asked Jesus what to do in order to have eternal life. With great compassion, He told him, There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,” (Mark 10:21, NLT). [Emphasis added.]

This young man had high character; he had obeyed all of the commandments since childhood. But he wanted to know what other actions he needed to do. Jesus addressed his heart, and when He did, the young man walked away sad. He loved his wealth more than the Lord.

Although I say that the Lord is my first priority, I must ask, Is there one thing, I haven’t done that is keeping me from my real one thing? Or, how do I spend my chunks of time? 

How much TV am I watching? How much time do I spend putting together a jigsaw puzzle on my iPad? How much time do I spend reading? Certainly these are ok to some degree. But have they become my time-wasters? Does the amount of time I spend on those indicate that I am not truly focused on my one thing?

Mary had it right.   Jesus told Martha …

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT) “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” [Emphasis added.]

Paul had it right. 

Philippians 3:8,13-14 (NLT) “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” [Emphasis added.]

In Trusting in the Names of God, Catherine Martin quotes F. B. Meyer, “‘One thing’ people are irresistible.”

Who do you know who is a one thing person? What’s it like being around them? Those who I know are passionate about their one thing. They talk about it a lot! And when they do, instead of annoying you with their jibber-jabber, they draw you into their excitement, making you want to be a part of it. They are magnetic.

I want to be like that!
I want people to be irresistibly drawn to Christ in me! But that means, my one thing … must … be … Christ!

My other thing is writing. How that works out in my schedule depends on what is going on in my life in the priorities that come before it. But I do know that Jesus gave me a key.

Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV) “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

When I am seeking the Lord with my whole heart, even in the midst of chaos, He will ensure that I have time for the ministry He has given me. It will take some planning and discipline on my part; it won’t happen magically. But He will see to it that it can happen. And when I mess up and get too busy, He gives second chances.  :)

How about you? How would others describe your one thing based on how you spend/invest your large chunks of time?
Are you like the young man who went away sad because He loved something better than Jesus? Or are you like Mary, who discovered the most important thing?

 

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Today I am linking up with a few groups. Holly Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, the sweet ladies at Woman to Woman Ministries, and Meredith Bernard! Click on the buttons below to be encouraged by other faith-filled women!

 

Wordless Haiku–with ANSWER

It’s been a while since I participated in Ronovan’s Wordless Haiku Challenge. But his prompt today fits with what is going on my life today.  So here it is!  (There are a couple of “articles” not included in the images.) Answer will be posted on Thursday!  Feel free to post your guesses.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.50.35 AM

 

October 9 — ANSWER:

Abundant harvest
Seems best, but even our souls
Need a time of rest

 

 

Image credits:

http://www.sweetclipart.com
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http://www.midtown.net
http://www.openclipart.org
commons.wikimedia.org
http://www.freeclipartnow.com
http://www.clipartpanda.com
http://www.christart.com
http://www.clker.com

My One Thing

CurlyParaphrased from Curly: The secret of life is this: One thing.  Just … one … thing. You stick to that, and the rest doesn’t matter.

I am evaluating one of my activities–in light of my ministry.

Very often God uses my husband to communicate truth to me. I trust him, and I listen to him; I’m not offended by his insight into my life. He knows me very well. Lately, Tim has been telling me that my subbing is getting in the way of my writing.

So I find myself asking a difficult question, Why do I love subbing? I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because the teachers like me. They know that I can manage their class well and actually teach their material. As an added benefit, my “blonde nature” adds light-heartedness that the students love. They are precious, and I like them! I love bringing a break in their routine. That’s a good thing, right? It can be a ministry, right?

But is it my ministry? Is it my passion?

My ministry passion is to help women know and fall in love with God’s Word and to hear His voice clearly through Scripture.

When we love God’s Word and we’ve heard His voice …
… we spend more time there …
… we get to know The Author, and …
… we fall in love with Him.

All of this leads to a life that is filled with purpose and meaning–not perfection, but fulfilled and meaningful.

Usually, I am leading a Bible study. This year, however, I am a student and enjoying being a part of the group. The break is supposed to give me time to focus on writing–for my blog, but mostly to get a Bible study I wrote several years ago, ready for publication. I have not spent much time on this–in reality, I’ve spent half of one day, which only happened because–yes–I scheduled it into my calendar. My focus is clouded. Getting my Bible ready doesn’t require tons of time every week. But I have a full schedule with my teenagers, and I have parents who need special attention, too. When I add subbing into the mixture, my very limited time for this is almost nonexistent.

In my quiet times this week, a fairly clear pattern is emerging. I love how God takes a little from “this over here,” a little from “that over there,” and then drives home the truth He has been whispering in my ear.

To begin with, there are Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'”   [Emphasis added.]

Previously when I read this passage, I always thought of busy-ness. But the other day, I thought, Am I choosing anything that is less than the best?

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)One thing I ask from the Lordthis only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”   [Emphasis added.]

Hmmmmm … Then …
1 Corinthians 9:23-27 (NIV) “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

I began to consider how how subbing fit into my big picture compared to the passion God gave me.

What is my prize? (Or my One thing?)
In my “strict training,” am I eliminating the things that get in the way?
Am I running aimlessly?

When I’m subbing, I am sprinkling salt and light, certainly. But I’m only there for a short time. The teachers who are there, day in and day out, have the significant impact.

It’s fitting that a good friend encouraged me to read The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst. I already have the book. I’ve read the first three chapters. I need to finish it. But when? If I can’t answer that question, I have a problem!

There is a lot of good in subbing. I am not a school teacher by trade. I can teach, and I enjoy it; but not enough to make it a career. Teaching students is far different than teaching women’s Bible studies. I have deep respect for school teachers.

I have to know that I am investing my limited time how God wants me to invest it. And right now, I’m questioning. I will miss some of my teacher friends. And … admittedly … I’m a little afraid about what some people will thing about this decision, especially those who are not ministry focused. But I also know that I am to please God and honor Him–not man.

I have a few commitments for this month. Beyond that, I will not accept anymore assignments until I am 100% sure.

What about you? Maybe you aren’t overwhelmed with a busy schedule, but are you investing your time the way God wants you to?

What is your one thing? Are you focused on it?

What needs to change so that you are? Will it be a difficult decision to make?

 

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Image Credit: Property of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., City Slickers, 1991.

Unfailing Love

heart-cross“What a [woman] desires is unfailing love …” Proverbs 19:22 (NIV)

 “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6 (NIV)

God designed all of us for relationship, but women uniquely so. From girlhood to adulthood, we tend to be drawn into relationships, looking for our “best friend” – or our BFF. I thought I had BFF figured out, but the vernacular has changed once again. Now my girls have BAE’s—or Best Awesome Ever (pronounced like bay—but you probably already knew that).

The truth is, human love fails—sometimes tragically.

On one side of the relationship, human love fails us; so we walk away broken, devastated, and untrusting. On the other side, we are the ones who were unfaithful, often unintentionally inflicting pain on others. We leave feeling defeated and helpless.

When human love fails, God is the mender of broken hearts. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

The truth is—God’s love never fails.

The Lord’s unfailing love is a strong theme throughout the Book of Psalms, as noted by just these few verses.

Psalms 13:5 (NIV)But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 33:18, 22 (NIV)But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him on those whose hope is in his unfailing love … May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 36:7 (NIV)How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 90:14 (NIV) Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psalm 130:7 (NIV) Israel, put your hope in the Lordfor with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”

In the New International Version, every time you read the words “unfailing love,” they have a very specific meaning. The Hebrew word is checed, and it refers to God’s covenant love for Israel—which has everything to do with His faithfulness to His promises.

Vine’s describes it this way:

In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: “strength,” “steadfastness,” and “love.” Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. “Love” by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet “strength” or “steadfastness” suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

… It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. … The association of checed with “covenant” keeps it from being misunderstood as mere providence or love for all creatures; it applies primarily to God’s particular love for His chosen and covenanted people … since God’s checed is ultimately beyond the covenant, it will not ultimately be abandoned, even when the human partner is unfaithful.1

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV) “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

My mom often prays, Lord, cover my imperfect love with your perfect love.

How I need God’s love over my love. I dearly love my husband and my children. But I am an impatient (and sometimes selfish) person; and my temper often gets the best of me. It is then that I am acutely aware of the frailty of my love. I do love my family, but love is not what is coming through. I’m thankful that God is forgiving and gives me second and third chances. I’m even more thankful that my family knows the Lord and experiences His perfect love when my human love fails.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV) “Love never fails.”

 

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1Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996.

Image from http://www.christart.com/clipart/image/heart-cross

Who Are You, Today?

IdentityI substitute teach in our school district. Teachers ask me all the time, Who are you, today? Some days I get the question once or twice. Other days, I get it a bunch! A few weeks ago, I felt like I had an identity crisis! It got me to thinking … Who am I, really?

So I thought about how I introduce myself.

Hello, I’m Dianne Thornton, Tim’s wife.
Hi, I’m Mrs. Thornton, Rachel’s mom.
Good Afternoon, I’m Dianne, Dr. Strangmeier’s daughter.
Good Morning, I’m Mrs. Thornton, your sub for the next couple of days.

These phrases define me in relation to other people. Sometimes I define myself in terms of what I do—even assigning my value based on how well I’m performing in my activities, my work, or my ministry.

When I am exhausted or have had an exceptionally bad day, it’s easy to feel like I’m not making a difference. In fact, some days I feel like I have messed things up so badly, that the difference I am making is not a positive one—especially when it comes to parenting.

It’s then that I hear these voices in my head …

My kids are going to turn out horribly because of what I just said—and how I said it.
I can’t do anything right.
I’ll never lose that weight.
Ugh, it’s time to have my roots touched up.
I didn’t have a quiet time today, so I’m sure I’ll mess up even more.

These phrases are not who I am. How well (or how poorly) I did something does not determine my value. But it’s easy to believe that these things do, especially in a culture that puts a high priority on physical beauty and success.

The truth about who we are and what our value is worth,  

is clearly stated in God’s Word.

 

Personally, I need to review these verses regularly. With teenage daughters at home, it is essential.

 

I am (You are) God’s child through faith in Christ Jesus and I (You) belong to Him.

Galatians 3:26 (NLT) “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 4:7 (NLT) “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

Ephesians 2:19 (NLT) “ So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”

1 John 4:4 (NLT) “But you belong to God, my dear children …”

 

I am (You are) a new creation, God’s masterpiece!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 

Jesus told His disciples …

Matthew 5:13-14 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.”

Matthew 10:30-31 (NLT) “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

 

You have a high calling!

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT) “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT) “… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

 

You don’t need to look at our culture, which is shallow and constantly changing, to discover your value. In Christ, you have it all! 

<3 You are deeply loved by Him. He gave His Son so you could live with Him forever! 

<3 He chose you … He adopted you into His family … and you belong to Him!

<3 He created you beautifully–you are a masterpiece!

<3 He gave you important work to do!

 

Today I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart.  For more  encouragement, hop on over!