Category Archives: Bible

Child (of God) Development

I’ve always been fascinated by children’s development – the timing and order skills are developed and how the skills they learn now will affect the rest of their life.  Now that I have my own, I am continually amazed how God created our bodies to develop. Things that baby’s instinctively do ultimately fulfill purposes in their development .

For instance, did you know that by sucking on a bottle or breast, babies are developing the muscles they will need later on for speech?  By bonding with their mothers (or primary caretaker) babies are learning to recognize strangers. By putting everything in their mouths, they are learning different textures and shapes, plus practicing the most important survival coordination skill – hand to mouth. How else are they going to learn to eat?

I started out my career with children by teaching special needs children – hearing impaired and multi-handicapped. I saw firsthand how skipping any of these developmental milestones can have devastating effects on a child. One child I taught was so sick his first year of life that he had to be fed through a tube. He had recovered, but was delayed developmentally because he missed sucking on a bottle, putting everything in his mouth and so many other things. He had the capacity to eat normally, but lunchtime was a nightmare because he hated it so much.

Right now, Isaiah is almost 4 months – 16 weeks –he’ll be 4 months this Friday.  And I’m having so much fun watching his development.  He gave me the biggest belly laugh last Tuesday, he’s smiling and cooing, grabbing at things and holding them. And attempting to sit up – with lots of help from mom and dad.

I think the same principles in child development can be applied to our spiritual development – child of God development. The things that we are going through right now might not seem to matter much, but navigating successfully through those trials and tribulations is going to help us in the future. Learning to trust God when things are not so bad can really pay off when we have to trust Him when things really are rough. I can remember being fearful at home in Memphis when Greg was away and God speaking to me – “How are you going to trust me when the danger is real when you can’t trust me when danger is not imminent?” It was a milestone of development for me.

There are many more – small things that don’t seem to really make much of an impact – but in fact they are milestones in our spiritual development. If we don’t learn them, we will not develop into the person God intends for us to be! I want to meet all my spiritual development milestones that God has for me.  Just like I play with Isaiah to stimulate his growth, God has opportunities all around me for growth. Opportunities to use patience, kindness, self-control…you get the idea! And for me, most of them are just around the house.

Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2-4

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Day 1- DONE! And before noon, who knew?

So my day 1 reading was finished before noon – my husband didn’t believe me when I told him. I found that if I read while feeding my newborn baby then I can knock out 3-4 chapters. I’m reading online right now because that’s easier to see while my hands are tied up holding the baby.

So the first day covers creation, the fall, Cain and Abel, the tower of Babel, the flood, the covenant with Abraham, and Sarai and Hagar- Genesis really moves through the stories from Sunday School! Great to put them all together and in context rather than independent stories.

I think it’s interesting that the thing (having a newborn) that I felt would hold me back in my goal to read the Bible is actually making it possible. How’s your reading going?

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Worry Prayer

The other night, I found myself in prayer – the worry prayer. I’m sure we’ve all done this from time to time. Something is weighing on your mind and you know you should trust God with it, so every few minutes you offer up a prayer to Him about it. While talking with God is definitely a good thing, this type of prayer must really frustrate Him.

Here He has adopted us as His sons and daughters yet we worry about money, sickness, our children, our future, everything. The Bible does tell us to be persistent with our prayers, but I don’t think that this was what it meant. In fact, by continuing to worry “prayer” about it, I demonstrate my lack of trust in Him instead of my wholehearted trust.

Message version – Matthew 6:25 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.26 Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

That’s where I decide to live – careless in the care of God! What a wonderful place to be! Forget those worry prayers – make your requests known to God then live without a care!

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Deal With It

I’m continuing to read Joyce Meyer’s book, The Secret to True Happiness, and I had to share this about this chapter about grief I read a couple of days ago. It’s probably the best advice I’ve ever read about grief.

Grief is not really a topic that you want to read about. I mean, really, who wants to pick up C.S. Lewis’ Grief Observed unless you really need to deal with grief. And then it’s hard to really absorb what you need. It’s kind of like getting ready for swim in the ocean. The time to put on your swimsuit is not when you are walking into the ocean. You’re going to get soaked! Grief hits you like a huge wave and can really knock you over if you’re not prepared for it. I know – it hit me hard 20 years ago when my mother passed away.

She had been sick for some time with cancer, but being the positive believing Christians that we were, we didn’t go there in our minds…at least I didn’t. When she died, I immediately went into shock. A normal reaction – in fact, a healthy reaction that God designed to keep us from being knocked over by the emotions of it all. It’s the numbness you feel after a big loss; the just-going-through-the-motions type of living. It’s healthy for a little bit, but will not last forever. Sometimes the shock happens directly after a loss and we see the person standing strong, believing God, and seemingly doing good. Then all the attention ends, life goes on, and people go back to their normal things. And the shock wears off.

This is where I detoured on my grief process as a teenager. After shock is the emotion, the feelings all come rushing back. The tears flow and the deep pain comes. Or at least it’s supposed to. For me, I bottled up those feelings. Sure, I had nights when I cried, but I stuffed most of these feelings deep down inside because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with them. When you stuff anything, especially emotions, it’s like trying to bottle up shaken soda. It will look like things are calm, but it will eventually explode.

My explosion came along 7 years after my mother died, after some of the effects of having such pain bottled up had already done some damage on my young adult life. I was in college, just hanging out at the mall. I’m sure my emotions were already a wreck just because I didn’t handle stress well at all back then. I’m not so great now, but at least I recognize it better. While walking in the mall, I found a new book called Motherless Daughters all about women who had lost their mothers and how it affected them. I read the back flap and it pegged me totally. I was reading a description of my life. I could barely hold it together in that bookstore. I bought the book and immediately started reading it at home. And the emotions came – like a tidal flood. For about a week, I cried and cried. I remember talking to my sister and her saying gently – “I think you need to talk to someone.”

So I went to my college pastor and he directed me to a wonderful counselor. She helped my admit my feelings and deal with it instead of stuffing it down. She said great advice that I do today – when you find yourself dealing with emotions, give yourself a break and do something you love. Taking time to relax will give you the energy to deal with your emotions. None of us are super-human. Even Jesus – who WAS supernatural – took time to weep when he found that his friend Lazarus had died. He has experienced every emotion we have. He knows our weaknesses and can comfort us in the middle of our despair. 

Joyce Meyer continues explaining the grief process – anger is the next stage. I don’t really know why anger is in there, but it’s part of the whole thing. Remember, the Bible urges us to be angry but don’t sin. Go to God with your questions, your crazy thoughts, and even your anger. He can handle it and He will help you through it. We can’t understand why everything happens the way it does, but we can trust in a loving God who is working even the cruddy bad stuff for our good. 

The key to this process is the keep moving through the process. It make take weeks, months or years, but however long, I urge you to keep moving forward. Don’t stuff it like I did. Or think that you can bypass the process. Just let the Holy Spirit comfort you and be honest with yourself and God. Loss is a part of our life, but it doesn’t have to define our lives. God can bring us through it to the point we won’t recognize ourselves on the other side! 

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Passing the Grade

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a challenging situation and wondered – how did I get here? Many times I assume that a difficulty is the enemy trying to discourage me, but really it could be a test set up by God for my benefit. I ask for it sometimes when I pray the Psalm – “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)  Everyday I surrender to God and say, He knows what is best. But then when the best thing is for me to be tried and tested through a tough time, I panic.

What have these testing times developed in me? In James, it says it develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so I will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4) So trials can pretty much bring about anything and everything that I need. God tests us when we are headed for a blessing so He can see if we are ready for it. A blessing without the testing can be disasterous – just look at the young stars who can’t handle fame or lottery winners who squander all their money. The children of Israel wandered around in the wilderness for forty years because they were not ready for the blessing that God had prepared for them. They were led to the wilderness by God, but they didn’t pass the test! Whoa! Are there things in my life that I’m longing for that I’m not passing the test for?

So if trials and testing are so good for me, why do I dread them so much? Because I need to learn to trust God more. Tests and trials are bearable when our trust in God is high. Trust comes from knowing someone well enough that you can relax when they are in charge. It comes from understanding His purposes are higher and greater than my purposes. And comprehending how deep and how wide His love for me really is. Joyce Meyer writes in her new book – The Secret to True Happiness (the book that spurred these thoughts of mine – chapter 7) – “…don’t forget that trust allows you to enter God’s rest; only in that place can you truly enjoy your life.”

I’m going to enjoy my life – everyday – through the trials and tests because I know they are for my benefit and making me into the person God intends for me to be. I know I’ll not always remember that in the middle of tough stuff, but renewing your mind now helps in the future.

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Deep Calls to Deep

While in college, I had one of those defining moments in my relationship with God. I worked at a youth camp and that summer, as I was ministering to teenagers, God worked in my heart. One of my favorite scriptures from that summer was Psalm 42. It just so happens to be the Message Daily Bible reading for today and all the memories came rushing back to me. There’s a verse that really spoke to me – from the New International Version:

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

That summer I was in East Tennessee. Every spare chance we had a group of friends and I would head to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park to an area called Big Creek. There I would sit in the middle of Big Creek on a huge rock, with small rapids breaking all around me, reading my Bible and feeling God’s great love for me. It was an incredible time that has shaped who I am. Moments like those over the course of my life have taught me what I know about God. I know that He is…

Full of great love for me

Abounding in grace and mercy

Sings over me at night

Creating a great plan for my life that is for good and not for harm

My healer of all my diseases

My sustainer in the middle of weak moments

Refining my character

Discipling me because I am His daughter

My Father Go d who sent His Son to rescue me from sin

Protecting me from shame when I look to Him

Carrying my burden and giving me an easy yoke

Equipping me for every good work that He has predetermined for my life

Lifting my head when I am feeling defeated and discouraged

Slow to anger and quick to forgive

Continually filling me with the Holy Spirit power

Anointing me to do His will

Always with me and will never leave me

Giving me sleep because He loves me

I look forward to learning much more about my Father God as I trust Him with steps outside of my comfort zone. That time in the mountains came after a time a struggle. I know that difficult times yield the most fruit. I don’t wish those times on my life, but I count it all joy when I face trials of many kinds because the testing of my faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that I may be complete, not lacking any good thing.

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Fasting Encouragement pt.2

I am believing that through this time of prayer and fasting that my heart will be refined and my life will be more surrendered to God. I’m believing that I’ll have a new perspective, renewed vision and increased zeal for doing the work of the Kingdom. I don’t want any compartments in my life – I want it all to be for the glory of God. In his book Fasting, Jentezen Franklin draws a correlation between a fresh anointing and fasting.
“Fasting is a tremendous weapon and a source of power in the life of a believer.”
If we need touch from God, a word of direction, or the power and strength to carry out what He’s already told us, then we need to fast. The enemy would love to distract you from this powerful spiritual tool. He would love for you to continue where you are then for you to seek God for a fresh word. He wants you to stay defeated. Don’t listen to him today when he brings the many distractions your way. Stand firm and focus on God and all His good and true promises.
Promises from God’s word from The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word:
I pray that I may enjoy good health and that all my go well with me, even as my soul is getting along well. 3 John 2
Because I listen to and obey God’s voice, He will be my God and I will be one of His people. Jeremiah 7:23
I leave my troubles with the Lord, and He will defend me; He never lets honest people be defeated. Psalm 55:22
According to God’s word I have been set free from sin and have become the slave of God, I have my present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life. Romans 6:22

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