Monday, August 27, 2012

ABCs of Friendship

By Becky A.

Accept one another (Rom. 15:7)

Believe the best (I Cor. 13:7)

Care in practical ways (Acts 4:34-35)

Develop trust (Prov. 20:6)

Earnestly pray for one another's spiritual growth (Col. 1:9)

Flee sinful talk (Tit. 2:8)

Grant grace (Col. 4:6)

Hold friendship loosely; don't make friendship an idol (Luke 10:27)

Illustrate Christ's love (I Peter 1:22)

Judge slowly and gently (Gal. 6:1)

Keep confidences (Prov. 20:6)

Lay aside different preferences (Rom. 12:3-5)

Make peace a priority (I Thess. 5:13)

Nurture godliness (Eph. 5:3)

Openly and honestly communicate (Eph. 4:15)

Pursue encouragement (I Thess. 5:11)

Quickly forgive (Eph. 4:32)

Respect family relationships and their priority (Tit. 2:4)

Search for ways to serve together (Gal. 5:13)

Take little but give much (I Cor. 14:26)

Urge each other to excel still more in love (I Thess. 4:10)

Verbally edify (Eph. 4:29)

Walk together trying to please the Lord (Eph. 5:8-10)

X-ray yourself (Gal. 6:4)

Yield peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11)

Zealously share in good deeds (Tit. 2:4)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Struggling with Distractions

By Becky A.

One thing that I have been burdened over recently is how we struggle to sit at Jesus’ feet. We struggle. We are in pain. He is our only hope and comfort -- the fuel for our souls -- yet often we don't give Him the time of day. Or we give Him 5 minutes and think that's adequate.

I’m not sure about you, but I am not comforted or refueled in 5 minutes. Maybe I'm a slow learner. There are many words from Scripture to be read and prayers that have to be said for my soul to rest and trust.

If I told my husband that he had five minutes of my time each day, what kind of relationship would we have? It would be shallow. And that is in a human relationship where I can see, hear, and touch him. God can't be seen or touched. It is harder for us as relational people to interact with Him. At least it is for me. I have to pursue Him long and hard. It takes time.

To be honest, the first 15-20 minutes after I wake up, my brain is a total fuzz ball. I can't think clearly about anything. So it's coffee for me and a little de-cluttering of my mind before I begin hearing from the Lord in His Word. I don't want to miss anything, and I don't want to read my Bible just to check something off of a check list.

It's not about the amount of the Word we take in each day. It's more about how long our heart and mind dwells on the Word or the character of our Father and God. In this day and age, we can't stay focused on one thing for very long. Our minds wander. The grocery list or cleaning agenda or school schedule runs through our mind very quickly. It is work - hard work - to discipline my mind and heart on anything, but especially the truths of God's Word and His character.

But knowing that I am easily distracted requires me to accept it and work hard to wage war against the things that distract me. And I MUST wage war. I must do whatever it takes to spend time with Him. Sitting at His feet. Feasting on His Word. Him speaking to me through His Word and me talking to Him through prayer. It takes time for my heart to fully engage with Him and His Word. So if I never give it time, it will never happen. I will just read. I will eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I could have lobster! It's the difference between nibbling on junk food and feasting on real food.

I don't know about you, but I want lobster. I desire the real deal: time with the Lord that is intimate and personal. Not just knowledge of who He is by reading a little bit about Him. I know about the President, but I don't KNOW him. I want to KNOW my heavenly Father. He knows me inside and out -- better than I will ever know myself. My life is about knowing Him, learning what pleases Him (Eph. 5:10).

And that takes time.

Intimacy with the Lord and godliness requires a pursuit of Him. Any close relationship requires time and attention. It is especially so for our relationship with the Lord. He loves us perfectly, but we learn to love Him back as we spend time with Him. He will never love us less, but for our love to grow, we need to practice expressing it. He doesn't, but we do. He loves perfectly; we do not.

So what kind of love relationship do you desire to have with the Lord? What you put into it determines what you get out of it. There is the possibility of knowing the Lord still more and more, but only as we spend time with Him through prayer and His Word.

As the song goes, "Lord, take me deeper into the glories of Calvary."

This is my prayer.

Monday, August 6, 2012

So, you are attending a conference?

By Kimberly Campbell

Registration lines. Lanyards. Name tags. Breakout session choices. Long bathroom lines. Does any of this sound familiar? If you have attended any conferences, it should. I’ve attended one this spring, worked at one this summer, and spoken at many over the last 15 years. Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend about how she went to a conference and was ready for God to work (and He did!). Since then, I’ve been thinking about how I can encourage women to prepare for attending conferences.

This list actually is somewhat in order and I hope it encourages you to think through your life, priorities, and needs before you attend a conference (even if it's just a night at your church).

If you are anything like me, your mind goes a million miles an hour. When you are trying to get away or do something, your mind is constantly on things at the house. It is hard to still your mind to be able to listen. Even at the recent conference where I volunteered, my mind was racing in a million different directions because of the friends around me, what was going on in my personal life, traveling in a car while pregnant, and (of course) hormones. This is what I mean by preparing to attend a conference:
  • If you have children, set up reliable childcare for them. Maybe it's your husband or a neighbor, but be confident of their ability to handle situations on their own (so they won’t call you every 5 minutes during the conference). 
  • If you are the main provider of meals (cooking) in your home, prepare some meals that your family can eat while you are gone. 
  • Finish the laundry and do other household chores prior to the conference so your mind won’t be thinking of all you  have to do when you return. 
  • This last one is going to sound a bit odd, and maybe it's just me, but I like to prepare my wardrobe. I often feel that I only get a to see people a few days a week. Yes, you should dress well for your husband, but have fun with your wardrobe at conferences. You want to be comfortable so you won’t stop breathing during a main session because your jeans are too tight, but you also want to look together. Women tend to function better with other women when they are dressed well. I’m not telling you to dress to impress – just dress femininely and in step with the conference. Think through what jewelry you will wear with each outfit as well as your shoes and accessories. If you can (and packing is an issue) maybe try to find outfits that go with the same pair of shoes so you don’t have to pack 14 pairs!  This preparation will help with packing, and you’ll feel your best.
Most conferences will give you the main session topics (even specific Biblical passages that are being shared) or at least the conference theme. As soon as you sign up for the conference, study that topic. Look at the subject headings and ask God to prepare your heart to fully hear what He wants you to hear. As you choose your breakout sessions, don’t just pick them based on the personality leading it, but on what might be most important to your spiritual growth for that conference. Open your Bible, get a journal specifically for that conference, and study, expecting God to show up in your study times and to show you what He wants you to take into the conference.

You might say I have this one in the wrong order, but praying specifically for the conference will come in handy (and yes, we should always pray without ceasing). Here are some things you can be praying for:
  • The speaker. If you personally know the speaker, ask her/him what you can be specifically praying for them while they speak or prepare.
  • The logistics. As someone who knows what it takes to plan and implement a conference, so many things can go wrong when you want them to go right. Those mishaps can be a distraction that Satan can use to “stop” God’s work. Pray that everything goes smoothly (and if you are part of the preparation team – work hard so things go as smoothly as possible as much as it depends on you).
  • Other attendees. Maybe you are attending the conference with a group of friends or know of specific situations in others’ lives that God needs to work in during this conference. Pray for those friends. 
  • Finally, pray for yourself.  Pray that God will give you ears to hear exactly what you need to hear, that you will block out the distractions of the world, and that you will be open to the work of the Spirit in your life.
This article was originally posted on Kimberly's blog, kd316.