Archive | January, 2012

A Secret Place

16 Jan

What is it about a bathroom? Uses for it are numerous. There is the luxury tub for relaxation, pampering or soothing aching bones. And what person doesn’t sound great using the acoustics in the shower while singing a favorite tune? The bathroom can serve as an escape from the demands of small children for a moment, because it’s the only room in the house with a lock! (Please don’t tell me I’m the only mother who did this when my children were little!) Others use it to muffle the cries of a broken heart or to pray – to ask, to confess, to surrender.

 

The bathroom at the church where I worked years ago was often my place to escape when work and life overtook me. I needed to go there and ask. Needed to confess sin. Needed to surrender. My bathroom at home and where I currently work, hold the same escape for me.

 

I wonder if this is similar to what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 

The issue is not the bathroom, but that you have a place to go where you can:

P raise

R epent

A sk and

Y ield in secret –

not seeking honor or attention of people. Just doing business with the Father – the two of you alone. He takes notice. He rewards such transactions.

 

So people…Enjoy your bathroom!!!

Listening With Purpose

12 Jan

I was challenged the other morning by Luke 5:1. In this verse we’re told the multitude was pressing around Jesus LISTENING to the Word of God. The word “listening” carries with it the thought of doing so with purpose – with determination, being intentional, seeking what makes one do what they do, receiving practical benefit or effect from (in this case) being around Jesus.

How can I listen to God’s Word with purpose? One way is to write down what God shows me from the Word. When I was a teenager in my home church back in Texas, our youth pastor challenged our group to start sitting up close to the front of the auditorium during the service and to take notes. The note taking became a habit for me and helped me concentrate on what was being taught. To this day I retain much more when I hear and see something on paper. I received a new journal for Christmas. I’m going to use it to write down what I hear from my daily and corporate time with the Lord so that I continue to listen with purpose.

Another way to be purposeful is to pass on what I learn. I enjoy writing. It gives me a way to organize my thoughts. It’s a way to express what God has taught me, and He encourages me all over again when I do it. Mostly, it’s a way for me to encourage others, which really excites me. Sharing one-on-one over a meal or coffee or by phone does this as well. The important thing for me is sharing His truth with others.

Perhaps the most important way for me to listen with purpose is to listen with application of God’s Word in mind. Years ago I was told that an application needs to be personal –What does this mean to/for me? It needs to be practical – What can I do specifically? Lastly, it needs to be possible – How can I know it’s accomplished?

A great tool for helping to guide my thinking toward application when I read/listen to the Word is an acronym called S.P.A.C.E. P.E.T.S., which gives basic questions that help put the personal, practical, possible within reach. These questions begin with “Is there a…

            S in to confess?

            P romise to claim?

            A ttitude to change?

            C ommand to obey?

            E xample to follow?

            P rayer to pray?

            E rror to avoid?

            T ruth to believe?

            S omething to praise God for?

I want to be like the multitude that pressed around Jesus, hanging on His every Word, because they knew it was the very Word of God He was sharing. I want to be intentional in my listening – whatever form that takes – be it hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, or meditating on the Word. I want to do those things with purpose.

Care to join me?

My thanks to the Navigators for the application thoughts, SPACE PETS questions, and hand illustration for intake of the Word. You should visit their website for additional tools for personal study and growth (navigators.org).

Confessions of a Clean Housekeeper Wannabe

9 Jan

I am a clean housekeeper wanna be! Sometimes I hear things about how to clean house, but I don’t understand them. I fail to put what I’ve heard with the practical application of doing it, which does me no good. Other times I’m so excited about the latest cleaning product or method of cleaning, that I go out and purchase the item. But when I run into a problem with it or it doesn’t give me the ease I thought I was going to have, I give up. Occasionally, I’ll start cleaning, but the lure of activities, people and other pleasures draws me away, and the task stays undone. But every once in a blue moon, I can get my house really clean, and the benefit to me, to my family, and to those who come into my home is great.

Perhaps you can relate. Having a clean house and a hearing heart can be very similar. Sometimes we hear, but we don’t connect the dots with what we’ve heard to applying it. Satan is able to pluck that right out of our hearts – especially in the heart of the one who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior.

We can respond enthusiastically to the truths we hear in a sermon, determined to go home and apply, but the moment we hit the door of the reality of our lives, we can give up. The Amplified Bible says that we are “caused to stumble, repelled and begin to distrust and desert Him Whom we ought to trust and obey.”

Then, of course, there is the constant pull of pleasure, delight, glamour, and the distraction of worry that can suffocate and strangle the Word in our hearts. Nothing comes from our experience with the Word, because we give into that distraction.

But if we will allow God’s Spirit to help us do the daily work of connecting between hearing and applying, and keep at it, the harvest in our personal lives, for our family, neighbors, church, community, our world, will be as The Message says “beyond our wildest dreams!”

Based on Matthew 13:18-23

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