Just Enough

Today’s guest post is from Cindy Cannon. Enjoy!

moonThe heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands – Psalm 19:1

Recently while traveling to the hospital, one very early morning, for my dad’s surgery, I noticed something interesting in the sky. The moon was just a quarter moon, but I could plainly see the entire moon. Only a sliver of it was displaying light. It was something that I had never noticed before. It simply appeared as if the Lord had put a piece of cloth or a piece of paper over most of the moon, covering the light. The more I gazed upon the moon, the more I realized that we, too, can be like the moon; sometimes we only display a sliver of light. God has so much to offer us, yet we only want a sliver. If we seek him or ask for the whole thing, we might be asked to sacrifice or be uncomfortable. Sometimes I think we want to seek God and get just enough of him; just enough of God to take away the pain in our lives, just enough to bless us, just enough to see him, but not too much. If we get too much of God, we might do something crazy, like giving something up to help someone else.

God so desires that we seek him! Matt 6:33, tell us to seek him and all these things shall be added unto us. Luke 12:31 tells us to seek the kingdom of God above all else, and he will give us everything we need. What joy and peace we have in this promise. If we seek him first; he will give us everything we NEED. Maybe not everything we WANT, but he will provide for our NEEDS. Often we seek ourselves first, and give God what is left at the end of each day or each week. If we could only see that he wants us to seek Him first. Oh, how he wants to pour out his spirit upon us.

My heart rejoiced as I looked up in the sky and noticed the work on the Master’s hand, how the sky was proclaiming and declaring he is God. No other can hang the moon in perfection. The next time you are out late at night or early in the morning, take a few minutes to just look up and behold the work of his hands, he wants to do work in your life. He wants our lives to be a “full moon” displaying the light of him in us. Search your heart this morning, do you seek him first? Is your life a full moon or a quarter moon? Seek him first and see what beauty can come from it!

CindyConnect with Cindy on Facebook and Twitter.

King of the Mountain

kingofthemountain“I. Am. King. Of. The. Mountain!”

It was the best feeling, standing on top of the mound that seemed unconquerable, especially when others were scrambling up the side, grabbing ahold of you and trying to use the momentum of pulling you back to push themselves up the mound even further. You knew exactly what they were doing because you did the same thing when given the chance. Getting to the top required some sacrifices, and it meant sacrificing of others as much as sacrificing some skin as you ascended.

Ascending seems critical in life. Better house, more money, job promotion. More experiences. More education. More. More. More.

But more by the world’s standards isn’t more by God’s standards.

There’s a difference between ascending and descending in life. It’s a difference between a worldly perspective and a godly perspective. Ascending by the world’s perspective isn’t usually ascending by God’s perspective. In order to ascend by God’s perspective, we have to descend by worldly perspective.

Those who try to keep their lives will lose them. But those who give up their lives will save them. (Luke 17:33)

He must become greater, and I must become less important. (John 3:30)

God’s not saying we have to literally lose everything in order to gain him (although sometimes, that’s the path we’ll take). We don’t have to physically lose our houses, bank accounts, jobs, families, and so on. We have to lose our hold on them. We need to loosen their hold on us. We have to realize that everything we have, from the tangible possessions to intangible characteristics, are not our own. When we’re willing to give it all to God, realizing anything we have is his anyway, we gain a perspective where loss is gain, death is life, poor is rich.

This counter-intuitive perspective is why Jesus said to his followers, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24) A rich man had asked him about eternal life, and Jesus had instructed him to obey his commands…and go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. If you do this, you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21) The rich man walked away sorrowfully. The price was too high.

Is it too high for you? Which route of ascending will you choose? The one the world says is best or the one God says is best? Will you ascend to the top of the mountain to get what you think is the most recognition, resources, privilege, opportunities, etc., yet leave God at the bottom of the heap? Or will you leave the world’s values behind and ascend into God’s presence, trusting him to use your obedience and sacrifice?

Consider the choices you’re making right now. Upon what values are they founded? What are you hoping to get in response to the choices you’re making? Where will you end up if you continue the path you’re taking? Are you willing to adjust?

There’s only one King of the mountain. And it’s not you.

Fit Faith: Capacity: Just One More

I often count as I’m working out. Sometimes I’ll count forward and sometimes backward. Forward counting gives me a sense of accomplishment. It also seems to pass the time and take my mind off the effort. I usually find myself backward counting when I am close to a goal and want the satisfaction of the remaining time and repetitions diminishing. I think we all have a “one more” mentality. The question is whether we focus on one more sit-up or one more potato chip!

Consider what you’d prioritize as needing “one more.”

Shift your focus a bit and consider what you’d prioritize as wanting “one more.”

Is there a difference?

What about in your spiritual life? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what’s not getting done, the areas in which you feel you fall short. Just like physical challenges, you might assess you don’t work out enough. You’re not active enough. You don’t have enough motivation and stamina. And just like physical challenges, the answer is usually “take it one step at a time.” Just one more.

Do you feel you’re falling short in prayer? You don’t have to stay on your knees for an hour. Just talk to God. Share what’s going on. Start somewhere.

Do you feel you’re falling short in service? You don’t have to build a house for someone or give away a thousand dollars. Just do something for someone else. Bake cookies for someone. Buy the person’s lunch next to you in the fast food line. Open the door for someone. Let someone ahead of you in the grocery line. Live generously with your time, energy and resources. Start somewhere.

Do you feel you’re falling short in Bible study? You don’t have to read through the Bible in a year. You don’t have to diagram the life of Christ or the journeys of Paul. You don’t have to memorize Old Testament genealogy. Sign up for an online daily devotional. Join a six-week small group study at church. Ask a friend to join you at your house for a weekly study and connection time. Invite accountability. Start somewhere.

Do you feel you’re falling short in living out your faith on a daily basis? We can all grow! Challenge yourself to keep a journal of your God-encounters every day. It doesn’t have to be award-winning writing. You don’t even have to write in full sentences. Jot the date along with a phrase, word, or location to remind you of the moments you sensed God’s presence, relied on him, asked him, or in any way engaged him in your life. The more you encounter him, the more you’ll look for him. The more you look for him, the more you’ll recognize his presence in your life. Start somewhere.

When you count forward in your spiritual life, you can get frustrated, because you easily get into the comparison game with others. You just finished your first Bible study; then you talk to someone who has been regularly studying for years. You’ve started a daily devotional and brief time of prayer journaling; someone else writes her own devotionals and distributes them to hundreds of women. You spend an hour at the hospital reading to and encouraging a friend; someone else just returned from the Dominican Republic to feed hungry orphans. Counting forward will only cause you to play a numbers game with yourself and others.

Counting backward can be equally deceptive, because we have no idea how many days, hours, and opportunities we have remaining. Only God knows the timing of our lives. However, you can always give “just one more.” You can pray just one more time. You can study just one more Scripture. You can give one more dollar. You can sacrifice one more hour. You can share God’s love with one more person.

God wants your obedience. You can choose to give it to him one step at a time.

Timing

I love God’s timing. (Well, most of the time. Sometimes I whine a bit about it.) When I sat down on the airport shuttle bus, I heard the lyrics of a song reach into my soul:

You are beautiful. You are blessed.

You were made for so much more than this.

Simple words. I could have heard them any other day and they wouldn’t have seeped as deeply as that moment. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear them. They fed me, nourished me.

Feelings are fleeting, and I imagine my outlook would have changed eventually without hearing the song, but hearing those words at that time was no mistake. It was just the encouragement I needed to take a breath, let a couple tears fall down my cheeks, smile at the concerned man across from me to assure him I was okay, and let a peace wash over me in preparation for whatever emotional highs and lows I’d face in the coming hours.

My thoughts quickly turned to responses friends recently posted on Facebook when I asked “What do you struggle with the most through the Christmas season?” The responses broke my heart. A woman facing the first Christmas without a close family member. The ache of several Christmases without family members. Unfulfilled hopes. The agonizing wait for prayers to be answered. Haunting memories. Loneliness. Emptiness.

I sat on the shuttle as some of the comments and women’s faces who posted them flashed through my mind. I wanted to hold each of their faces in my hands, look them in the eyes, and say…

You are beautiful. You are blessed.

You were made for so much more than this.

Words of truth might not take the pain away. Circumstances might not change. But there is a hope and encouragement in the truth of the words.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but God wants you to know…

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (Amplified Bible)

We know that all things work together  for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

God loves you, my friend. You are beautiful. You are blessed. You were made for so much more than this.