Tuesday, April 8, 2014

While You're Waiting

As I sit here and type this sometimes I am still amazed at all God has done in my life the past five years!  It actually seems like I’m living a totally different life and I’m even a different person because so much has changed.  I went from being a single women, living in Frisco, working full time for a financial planning company in Plano, spending time with friends and family wondering if God really wanted me to be a wife and a mother to…. Getting married to the man of my dreams, becoming a pastor’s wife, serving in two different churches, having 2 children, living in Sherman and then North Richland Hills, and working part time at the same company - Wow!! 

If you knew me five years ago you probably would have said I was not exactly content in my current situation.  I desired so strongly to be married and have a family and as I continued to get older I really started to believe that wasn’t God’s plan for me.  But if you ran into me today and saw me and my husband at church or out to eat with our 2 1/2 year old and 10 month old that thought would never enter your mind!  It’s crazy how God can change a life so quickly and actually almost erase the feelings of despair and frustration you had during the waiting period.  It makes me think of the verse,  "I will restore to you the years the swarming locust has eaten." Joel 2:25.  I couldn't agree more!

Now that God has revealed his plan for my life, which includes being a wife and a mother, I want to be an encouragement for others who may be in a season of waiting.  We all wait for different things, a spouse, a child, a new job, an opportunity… whatever it is that we are desiring but have not received yet requires us to wait.  And can I get an Amen that waiting is not fun or easy?!  However, what I’ve learned in my seasons of waiting is that there is ALWAYS a purpose for it.  In my wait for James, I had to grow and so did he.  We needed to become the right person for each other and God knew exactly when that time was and that is when he chose to introduce us!  In fact, we could have met early if it would have been God’s plan.  James actually performed the wedding of my sorority big sister, but for some reason I didn’t attend the wedding.  I don’t even know why but that was in the year 1995 and we didn’t meet until 2008!  I guess you can say that it wasn’t God’s timing yet!!  Because when we did meet we met on line and we lived over 3 hours away!  Remember with God all things are possible and nothing is too big for him to overcome.  

I did not enjoy waiting and I can honestly say I didn’t make the most of my wait!  However, I will say that I learned from it because now when I am required to wait I try to see what I can do while I am waiting and see what God is teaching me during the wait.  I’ve heard the term "actively waiting" used before and that is exactly what we should all strive to do!  What is God teaching us at this time?  How can we serve Him during this wait?  What is the purpose for our wait?  Is he using this time to change me or someone else?  In fact, sometimes during the wait he will also change our heart and make our desire different!  I think back to Abraham and Sarah waiting for their child and Moses wandering the desert for 40 years to get to the Promise Land.  Do we really think they wanted to wait?  Of course not!  But once God revealed the big picture we can all see the purpose of their waiting!  

So whatever you are waiting for today try to remember that there is a purpose for it and cling to God and know that He is always in control!  

Here is a song I heard during my waiting season for James - What an incredible feeling to hear the song after that season had past and now understand the purpose of that wait! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Five Very Simple Things That Will Make Your Life Better

A List of Five Things That Have Changed My Life (They Can Change Yours Too):

Pray -- This is an obvious point from a pastor but it really does change things! Taking even 10 minutes to pray can change the outlook on the rest of your day. Don't just talk to God but listen to Him as well! Pour your heart out to Him but also allow God the opportunity to speak into your heart as you meditate upon Scripture.

Read the Bible -- Again these top two are no surprise from the pen of a pastor! But these two ideas really do go together. If you will read even one chapter of Scripture each day your thought life will be altered...even radically so. God will bring to mind what you have read and your perspective will never be the same!

Work Out (regularly) -- As we grow older there is greater and greater need to be in good physical shape; ironically, it also takes more work to be so. Working out "regularly" means doing so at least 3-4 times per week. Regular time working out will reduce stress, depression, blood pressure and anxiety. In short, working out puts you in a better mood!

Stop the Gluttony -- We tend to look down upon the grosser sins such as adultery, drunkenness and theft while dismissing those closer to home. Gluttony is very close to home for most of us as Americans! Overeating taxes the mind and body in a number of ways. How many times have you returned to work from lunch feeling bloated and tired? Mexican food (my favorite and most tempting food with which to sin) is great but too much of it will slow you down and affect how you feel physically as well as emotionally.

Stop The Madness -- If you listen to six hours of talk radio each day you are probably whipped into a frenzy by noon and ready to start a new Civil War by 3pm. Even if we agree with those on the radio, website or television channel, too much partisan chatter can affect us in negative ways. Consider what you allow your ears to hear and eyes to see. Remember the old adage, "Garbage in, garbage out." If we allow too many emotionally charged speeches/arguments/pleas to enter our mind, we will be negatively affected!


Friday, March 21, 2014

More Than A Game

Those of you who know my husband know that he loves sports!  I have always enjoyed sports but now that I am married to James I am even more interested.  We especially love cheering for our Baylor Bears during football and basketball season.  That has been a fun activity for us to share because neither one of us got to cheer for a winning team during our college years.  But lately, both the football and basketball teams have been incredible!

Earlier this week I read an article about the Baylor Bears basketball team.  Last weekend they played for the Big 12 Championship title, but unfortunately they lost.  However, the title of the article is what caught my eye - Baylor's 'Extraordinary' Season has Left Lives Changed! Lives changed?  Really?  I had to continue reading to see how a season of basketball had changed lives?  I won't go into all the details but the Bears had been having a very up and down season and after one of their losses the coach, Scott Drew, said "We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach, but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss." Wow!  In a world where the focus is usually on winning and earthily things this coach kept an amazing eternal perspective!

After reading this article it really challenged me.  How is my perspective?   Is it on earthly things or eternal things?  Who am I around that doesn't know Christ?  Am I doing all that I can to share the word and change lives?  Or am I too focused on things that really don't matter?

It's so easy to get caught up in ourselves and our families and other things, even good things.  But if we are missing opportunities to share the gospel and grow the kingdom of God then the things that take our focus off of God are not even good things.  Often times I think we rationalize that most people around us are Christians and we don't need to worry about sharing the gospel.  Unfortunately, that is not true and it is becoming less true as the years go on.

Back to my Baylor Bears... As a result of this one season and one coach with an eternal perspective - 5 of these players are now new brothers in the family of God!  Amen!!  And to Coach Drew and the other members of the Baylor basketball team  I say, well done, good and faithful servants!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

What the University of Virginia Prankster Can Teach Us About Genuine Christianity

I love creative thinking and a vivid imagination. I recently read an article about a fellow who used a lot of creative thinking and imagination to pull off one of the biggest sporting scams of all time! You can read about it here. In a nutshell, a University of Virginia student came up with an ingenious plan to become a part of his school's basketball program for the championship game of the ACC tournament. I will let you read most of the details but suffice it to say his plan worked beyond his wildest imagination. He was able to sit court-side, join a team huddle during the game, receive a championship t-shirt and cap and have his picture taken with the championship trophy. Danny was able to enjoy the fruits of the Cavalier's success but none of it was real and genuine. He was not really part of the team and the reward was not really his to enjoy. He had done none of the work nor made the necessary sacrifices to be a legitimate part of the program.

Playing "dress up" or "pretend" is a lot of fun when done at the right time and place. Most of us have been to a party where we dressed up in something fun for the night. I once dressed up as Elvis for a "Decade Party." I wore gold pants, white jacket and a dark wig as I portrayed Elvis in all of his 1956 glory! I had a great time that night but when I went home I took off the outfit in order to be who I really was again. Unfortunately, some folks never take the mask off and spend their entire life playing "dress up." 

One of the greatest tragedies in eternity will be those exposed as spiritual frauds. They had the look of a believer but no real faith to make them one. They talked the talk of a Christian but never walked the walk. They went to church, had Christian friends and sang in the choir but had no spiritual fellowship with Christ. These are the folks Jesus spoke of in Luke 13:37, "I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me all you workers of evil."

Make certain your faith in Jesus is genuine and not "window dressing" for your mama and friends. God is real and so is sin, hell and eternity. If you are not certain that you really know Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life, find a Bible believing church and learn how you can become a Christian today!

And if you are genuinely a believer in Christ don't wear a mask when you attend church this Sunday. If you are hurting, let someone know so they can pray and minister to your need! We are human and all of us need love, prayer and help at some point. Don't deny yourself the blessing of receiving what God wants to do in your life through fellow believers!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do You Want Greater Faith in Jesus?

Reading through the book of Luke today brought to mind something we see numerous times in the Gospel...the preeminence of faith! Faith is to believe and trust what we know to be true. All of the Christian life centers upon faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The just shall live their life by faith (Romans 1:17). We are saved by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). And here is the encouraging word for the day...faith can increase within us through the hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17). It is in hearing the truth about Jesus Christ that faith is awakened in us. This leads to a question...Do you want more faith? Ultimately we know faith is a gift from God but to know this gift is realized through hearing the truth about Christ is great encouragement. You can receive the gift of faith if you will. For some this will mean a new relationship with Christ. For others this will mean renewal and a deeper walk with God than ever known before. What will your answer be to the invitation? Will you have greater faith in God? Then read the Word! Hear the Word of God and let the truth of Jesus Christ change your heart and grow your faith!

Take some time to open the word of God during this Lenten season and watch your faith grow!


Monday, March 17, 2014

My Hope For You This Lenten Season

When Lent begins I am generally asked by my more "traditional" Baptist friends, "Why would you dare celebrate that "Catholic" thing called Lent?" I will leave it to my Catholic friends (of which I have many) to defend their own ideas about this sacred and ancient time of year. I am quite certain each group of Christians have their own nuance to add to the season. As a Baptist I believe Lent is a wonderful opportunity for renewal and revival; a time to consider God's grace, love and mercy. Lent is a time to pray, fast and seek the face of God while looking forward to the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord at Easter!

I hope you will take the time to celebrate Lent with me this year. I hope you will fast from food at least one day a week and use the time you would have eaten to instead pray and meditate upon God's Word. I hope you will be more intentional about your prayer life and time in God's Word. I hope you will diligently seek God and believe He will reward you for so doing (Hebrews 11:6)!

As protestants, and Baptists in particular, we have "40 Days of Purpose" along with a myriad of other special "seasons" of church life. Who of us hasn't been, or should I say endured, an "Arise and Build" type capital campaign? While each of these "seasons" has a raison d'ĂȘtre how can we begrudge ourselves the opportunity for an even greater blessing during Lent? Don't miss out on your chance for a fresh start through spiritual renewal during this Lenten Season of 2014!

Pastor James

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Die Right So You Might LIve Right!

Are you dying and living the right way? Many are dying to please God and missing out on how good life in Christ is meant to be. There are many believers and unbelievers alike who are literally giving up their life one piece at a time in vain effort to win God's favor. Unfortunately, they have either forgotten or never learned that God has already (in spite of us) decided to like, favor and love us. He demonstrated such a heart through the Cross of Christ. Jesus did not choose to die for our sins because of anything we could ever do to win his favor! Jesus chose to die for our sins because He first chose to love us. His choice had nothing to do with us or what we could ever do for Him. Now...will you avail yourself of God's choice by placing faith in Him for your life? This question is not only for unbelievers but is also a very pertinent one for legalistic Christians. Instead of killing yourself to please God through right behavior will you instead die to self effort and vain attempts to win God's favor? Will you live by grace through faith in Him? Start dying right so you might live right today!