Posted on November 6, 2019
“Do you love Jesus Christ enough to deny your natural tendencies and achieve excellence? The choices of your life record your love for Him.” George Sweeting, “The Pursuit of Excellence.”
“The Pursuit of Excellence,” by George Sweeting, is remarkably written and inspired. Sweeting, sixth president and chancellor of Moody Bible Institute, writes confidently of what it takes to fully follow Christ. His educational background, coupled with his life’s ministry, give his words credibility.
The book is broken up into fourteen chapters. Though the book is not extremely lengthy, there were many points at which I stopped to pick up my highlighter and restart a paragraph or section.
The first chapter introduces the premise of the book, exploring nine specific attributes necessary to attain excellence in faith. Chapters two through ten each address one of these hallmark traits: faith, character, action, single-mindedness, love, suffering, prayer, wisdom, and staying power. Sweeting’s Biblically based teaching cuts through “half-hearted” Christianity. “Sometimes suffering is God’s way of bringing us back to Him,” Sweeting wrote.
Sweeting brings the book to a close by citing many examples of lives that have reflected excellence in their pursuit of Christ. I highly recommend this book. It equips readers with a better understanding of the Word of God, who God is, and His purpose for each one of us. “Having staying power is hard,” Sweeting wrote, “but it will mature us.”
(I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)
Posted on November 2, 2019
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS
Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.
“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.
My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me.
I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.
Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are?
True love is incorruptible.
“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted.
My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact.
Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.
As a mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.
There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority.
“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”
That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible.
Posted on October 31, 2019
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)
Distressed heartaches are akin to sun-soaked patches and chilled traces of worry on our foreheads. The nightly news is abounding in negativity and dire worldly straits, despite modern advances in mobility and connectivity in many nations. Paul encourages us in Galatians 9, “Let us not become (or grow) weary in doing good” (NIV)
Weary wraps around everything from strained muscles to over-extended relationships. Messy boundaries and misplaced shame wearies our souls. Parents can surely relate to the physical and mental strains of weariness. But the Bible is talking specifically about a different kind of weary– an enduring state that goes beyond what we can humanly bear or endure.
It is the breaking point at which we cannot see how to move another step, or take another breath. dictionary.com defines weary as:
1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.
2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.
3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often followed by of)
When doing good in a weary world seems impossible, following Christ empowers us to love each other in spite of the chaos. Here are ten shifts for perspective that can revitalize us to keep going and teach us how to not grow weary as we do good:
Posted on October 29, 2019
When our mobility is threatened, the world seems to stop. Suddenly everything becomes painful, nerves fry, and our prayers become urgent. Crying in a heap on my floor, I laid my collegiate athletic self to rest… I thought for good. Or, for as far forward as I could see. Whether His response to our agony is miraculous or deferred, we can trust He is healing us through seasons of pain.
1. Take it to Him.
“Pray about everything.” (Phil 4:6)
The things that we cannot do pale in comparison to Who we are talking to. Keep talking to God after the shock of the news. Revelation has many stages, and our eyes will open to a little more relief each day.
2. Allow sadness… and joy.
“Be joyful always.” (1 Thes. 5:16)
Search for the joy in your current circumstances. Pain is inevitable in this life, but God longs to show us each day’s happiness.
3. Let go of control.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Trust that God will reveal solutions in perfect time. Hope for miraculous healing, because it happens everyday. It happened to me.
Posted on October 26, 2019
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV
The smell of a loaded morning diaper overpowered my coffee as I walked upstairs to wake up my kids. We’re eight years post diaper, but the oder suggested otherwise. It cut through the freshly cleaned bathroom my daughters share. Apparently chewable vitamins, when tossed into the trash alongside damp make up wipes and whatever else …smell like a loaded morning diaper.
The daily ritual of taking vitamins had suddenly become so painfully disgusting, my daughters resorted to hiding them in the oddest places. Why rebel against something that will make them stronger? Healthier? Protect them from sickness and injury?
More important than daily vitamins to protect our physical bodies are the pieces of God’s armor we can pray over our lives. “Pray always,” Paul writes, “Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!” (Ephesians 6:18 VOICE)
Real, enduring strength is found in God’s promise for the longevity of our souls. Paul said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) The enemy is out to injure our souls. “Put on the full armor of God,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-18, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Today, let’s pray the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-19. Armed with the truth and mighty power of God, we will stand tall and strong, ready to bring honor and glory to Him in every area of our lives.
Protect us from the spiritual war we cannot see. Empower us to put on Your armor and stand firm. Jesus, You understand our pain. Crucified with You on the cross, we are no longer slaves to sin, or the evil forces at work in this world.
Protect our minds from distorted thoughts and untruths with the helmet of salvation. Slice through lies and accusations, hopelessness and doubt with the sharp double edged sword of Your Word. Knowing we will face trouble in this world, ready us for battle, Father. Protect us on all sides with Your breastplate of righteousness.
Father, set our feet on the solid foundation of the Gospel to remove any worry of stumbling into battle. In all circumstances, may we take up the shield of faith, to deflect every calculated shot of our enemy. Enable us to help others put on their armor, and accept help from those You have placed to help secure ours.
Alert us to the enemy’s schemes to kill, steal and destroy. Protect us, tighten and tweak our armor when it loosens and becomes dented. Teach us to wear and use each piece efficiently. Keep us alert and help us to persevere.
Father, give us courage and bravery to pursue You and Your purpose for our lives like Paul did. To place our confidence in each piece of the armor we have prayed over our lives today, and feel the strength of Your mighty power working in and through our lives.
In Jesus’ Name,