#ForHisGlory


Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? How can I find purpose? When will I find fulfillment in my day-to-day every day routine?

Most folks will at one time or another ask those why, what, how, and when questions.  Rising early, checking off the list, never accomplishing everything I really want and need to do leaves one discouraged, depressed, and defeated.  All those downer words are often the result of rising early, working hard, staying up late and then getting up tomorrow and doing it all over again.

To answer the why, what, how, and when questions means we have to go to the WHO of life.

The answer to WHO is GOD.

Isaiah 43:6b-7 speaks to His why for creating us:

“…Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created  
for my glory,
 whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:6b-7

He created us. He loves us. He longs to have a relationship with us.  He reveals His glory to us so that we can respond with joy and praise to Him.

It’s impossible to love someone you don’t know.  Knowing Him requires spending time with Him.  Knowing Him is the reason we study His Word, the Bible.

My upside down, spinning and turning world is righted. I find due north in Him, the anchor of my soul. When my world is viewed through the lens of His glory, an unfolding narrative begins to take shape.  A tapestry with the thread of His love and His purpose is revealed. I am threaded in. I am part of something that transcends this life.

I was made for more.  I was created for Him. My life and my purpose, the rhythm and routine in the dreary gray day-to-day has been energized and colorized.  I live #ForHisGlory.

When life is full and challenging – especially when life is full and challenging – I must not neglect my daily worship. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. My daily life becomes a continual walking in worship, as my thought life becomes a continual conversation with the One who loved me first and loves me best.

Do you know Him? Do you want to? Let’s have coffee and talk.

 

 

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2017: What’s Your Identity?

All those who were in distress, or in debt or discontented
gathered around him,
and he became their leader…
I Samuel 22:2

David was Israel’s most loved and successful king. He stands alone in Scripture as the one God called, “a man after my own heart.”

Our society may lead us to believe that being a successful coach, president, chairman, pastor, general, or any kind of leader requires a “dream team” of followers.

But look at David’s crew—they are described as being in:

  • Distress
  • Debt
  • Discontent

But when they chose to follow David, they joined a winning team. They would later be called, “David’s mighty warriors.”

Their new identity was wrapped up not in their own past failures,
but in who they chose to follow.

I’m following Christ in 2017.  Are you with me?

Your 2016 may have included some distress (mine sure did). It may have included some unexpected debt (health, appliance failures, kids going to college). Maybe you find yourself just in that general “D” state of discontent for not one reason, but many.

Whatever is bringing you down, it’s time to look up.

Allow 2017 to be the year you choose to fix your eyes on Jesus. The year you choose to give him not a just glance, but a daily glaze:

My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Psalm 25:15

I’m ready for a mighty 2017 – how about you?

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2016 Newsletter ~ Merry Christmas from Cross My Heart!

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Remembering Becky…

Last week I attended a service remembering and celebrating the life of my friend Becky. We had been acquaintances for years – friends of the same friends – but I really got to know Becky well when she began attending the Bible study I teach.

I’m so blessed to call her my friend.

She was beautiful, creative, witty, and the best cook ever. Her home and her garden could grace the covers of magazines. When she brought a dish to Bible study, the last poor soul in line was left to try and lick the spoon to get a delectable bite. She was fun and she was funny. (At her request, her obituary ended with her quote, “The shell is here but the nut is gone.”)

But most of all, I remember and honor Becky because she loved people.  She loved her family. She loved her friends. She loved her Lord. She loved us all well.

Her son Jordan stood and recounted how she would always sing, “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck” as she sent them off. How appropriate that her memorial service ended with this upbeat song.  Enjoy the lyrics here, as you listen to them sung by Doris Day:

A Bushel And A Peck

Then go out (whether you were blessed to know Becky or not) and honor her memory – -and the Lord she loved – by hugging someone you love and telling them:

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck

What a joy to know that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our dear Becky is with Jesus.

Merry Christmas to you and to those you are blessed to know and love.

 

 

Graphic attribution: www.swtblessings.com

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Making a List


 

 

 

It’s what we do at Christmas –right?

  • The gift list
  • The shopping list
  • The baking list
  • The Christmas card list
  • The decorating list

Some are then broken down into sub-lists.  The shopping list, for example, might be subdivided to grocery shopping, mall shopping, and on-line ordering. The decorating list might be inside and outside.

It’s fun and frenzy. It’s happy and hectic. It’s stressful and sensational. It’s Christmas.

How refreshing to note a list also included in the Christmas passage found in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 1:1 begins:

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…”

And Matthew 1:17 ends:

“… Jesus, who is called Christ.”

The first seventeen verses of the New Testament are devoted to tracing the heritage of Jesus—42 generations in all. Lots of names, some familiar and others not so much.

Is it a coincidence that His name is at the beginning and at the end? He is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning of our real life – the “life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6:19) – and the end – our “blessed hope” for eternity (Titus 2:13).

We are often told that doing less is more. We are challenged to simplify, eliminate, cut down, and cut back. Create white space. I’ve tried. I can’t.

My solution instead is to keep HIM first and last. To put Jesus at the top of every list. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to give me a Christ-centered focus as I go about shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, packing, mailing, delivering, cooking, hosting, and every other ing that finds its way to my life and my list.

Go ahead.  Make the lists. Check them and then check them off. But keep Christ at the top – the first and the last – of every list. After all, it’s HIS birthday we are celebrating!

 

Photo attribution: www.clipartkid.com

 

 

 

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“…consider what great things he has done for you.”

thanksgiving-candleAs for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you
.
I Samuel 12:23-24

In Samuel’s farewell speech, he promises to pray for the people. He taught them what was “good and right.” He challenged them to allow what they learned to alter their behavior.

What we believe about God changes how we respond and what we do for God.

As Samuel wrapped up his speech, he called the people to thankfulness as he challenged them to “consider what great things he has done for you.”

That’s still good advice for us today all these years later.

  • Remembering that we owed a debt we could not pay.
  • Remembering that we were captives and He set us free.
  • Remembering that He is a gracious God who gives us what we do not deserve.
  • Remembering that He is a merciful God who does not give us what we do deserve.

Take a little time. Remember. Consider. Be thankful.

Allow gratefulness to settle over you. And then allow it to fill you and fuel you. Allow it to prompt you to praise Him with the Psalmist:

“I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.”
Psalm 13:6

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

 

 

 

Photo attribution: http://www.drfranklipman.com/help-yourself-to-happier-holidays/

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Time for a U-Turn?

u-turn

With her two daughters-in-law
she left the place where she had been living
and set out on the road
that would take them back to the land of Judah.

Ruth 1:7

After moving to Moab for “awhile,” (see last week’s blog), tragedy strikes Elimelech’s family.  Elimelech dies and then more tragedy as both sons also die.  Naomi, who traveled down the highway to Moab with a family of four is now left alone.  How do you think she feels?  How would you feel – perhaps abandoned by God or forgotten by God?

But Naomi really wasn’t really alone.  She is left with two Moabite daughters-in-law.  Hearing the famine has ended in Bethlehem, she packs up her bags and, along with her two daughters-in-law, heads back home.

Ten years have passed and still Naomi decides to go back.  It is not too late.  Have you made a choice a long time ago and decided that it is too late to turn back?  Is there a relationship that needs to be mended?  Do you need to go back and release forgiveness to someone–or ask for forgiveness from someone?  Has it been 10 years or more?  What forgotten road would God have you travel to make things right?

Sometimes God wants to take us down a brand new road and sometimes He wants us to do a U-turn and go back over a long-forgotten but familiar road.

Would you pause now and ask God:

  • Who do I need to seek out?
  • To whom do I need to release forgiveness?
  • Do I need to make a u-turn?

The Christian life is not about always getting it right, but cultivating a spirit of humility that follows God’s leading to go back and make it right.

For the woman of God it is never too late to go back.

 

You can listen to the audio for Lesson 1 here:
http://fbcsiloam.podbean.com/e/the-book-of-ruth-lesson-1-laura-macfarlan/

 

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The Book of Ruth: How long is a while?

ruth-picWhat is your favorite chick flick – You’ve Got Mail, The Sound of Music, or maybe Meet Me in St Louis?

If your recipe for a great movie or a great story includes a Cinderella-type plot where the poor girl gets the rich guy, also a little gossip, hardship, a scary twist and even a happy ending with a wedding and a baby – then the book of Ruth does not disappoint.

But as we chase the storyline, let’s not miss the big story here.  You see, this is not really a book about Ruth or Boaz or Naomi.  It is really a book about God.  He gets the award for the lead male role in the Book of Ruth.  This is a story of redemption, a story of faith, hope and love. I hope you will read and study along the next few weeks as we journey through the book of Ruth together. I’m praying we all know a little more about our great God as we complete our study and that the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change us to be more like Him.

The Book of Ruth opens with introducing four characters:  Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Kilion.  The family is originally from Bethlehem but because there is a famine in God’s land, they are leaving God’s people and heading to the country of Moab. Moab had a long history with Israel and it wasn’t good.

Genesis 19 tells that the Moabite nation actually began by an incestuous union between Lot and his oldest daughter.  Lot’s daughters got their father drunk and seduced him in order to preserve the family line.  You see, you don’t necessarily have to watch 21st century TV to find perversion.  Sometimes it is found right here in the Bible.

In Deuteronomy 23:3 God instructs that no Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord but yet those are the very people Elimelech chooses to live among.

Elimelech and his family were taking a road that would lead them to physical provision to stop their famine problem, but in solving their hunger dilemma they completely disregard the potential spiritual consequences.  The hunger problem may be solved, but it introduces a grave spiritual problem.

Do we do the same thing?  Do we choose to satisfy our short-term needs to be entertained by watching something on television that is inconsistent with God’s standards?  Do we satisfy our needs for friendship by hanging with people who have standards inconsistent with those of God and then adopt those same behaviors into our own lives?  Do we neglect one-on-one time with God using the “I-don’t-have-time-excuse” but yet always seem to have time to shop, do our nails, or check email? What short-term day-to-day decisions are you and I making at the expense of a long-term consequence?  Where do we need to stay the course—even when times are difficult?

Verse 1 tells us that Elimelech intended to live in Moab for a while.  Do you ever tell yourself, “I’ll just hit this news button one time and then I will get up and read my Bible” or “I’ll just watch this decedent TV show for a while and then I’ll turn it off” or “I’ll just visit this web site for a while and then I’ll do what I’m supposed to do.”  Fill in the blank with your life.  Look at Verse 4 – How long did a while turn in to?  10 years. TEN YEARS. The day-to-day choices that we make do indeed define the course of our lives.  We can have all the good intentions in the world, but what we are doing today to become the women of God that he is calling us to be? Where have we gotten off course?  What do you and I need to make a course correction?

 

 

 

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The Prayer of a Father-to-Be

prayer“Oh Lord I beg you.
Let the Man of God You sent to us come again
to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
Judges 13:8

Isaac. Samson. Jesus.

The miraculous announcement of each baby was provided in advance.  The response by Manoah, the father of Samson, is recorded in Judges 13:8. When told of God’s plans for Samson, Manoah responded in prayer.

Two key points in his prayer provide prayer prompts for us.

First of all — He begs the Lord.  Do you and I come before God with a posture of begging?  Do we see Him as the great Provider and ourselves as the ones in great need?

  • We are thirsty and He has living water.
  • We are hungry and He is the bread of life.
  • We are sinners and He is our Savior.

We ask Him to do this, fix her and change that, and we want Him to do it yesterday, almost with a “Make it snappy, God!” attitude.

Manoah’s posture in even coming to God in prayer is a great example for us.  He comes begging God and asking God for His provision.

And then, secondly, he asks God to teach him how to complete the call on his life.

Have you ever prayed:

  • “God, teach me.”
  • “God show me.”
  • “God help me.”

Do you and I have a teachable spirit? Are we humble enough to ask for help?

Is Manoah’s example of prayer one that we follow?  When we need to grow in our lives or when we need guidance, do we ask? James 1:5 says,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all
without finding fault,and it will be given to him.”

Have you got it all together in every area of life?

Do you need help in knowing how to love your husband, lower your cholesterol, train your children, encourage a hurting friend, teach the 2nd grade SS class, make your budget work, care for aging parents, or find contentment and purpose in life?

Where do you and I lack wisdom? In what area of life are we plodding along…slugging through…stressed out…confounded … or just plain stuck in how to work it out.  Have you thought of simply asking God?

James reminds us that when we ask, He gives. Not sparingly…not begrudgingly…but generously! I love adverbs! Those ‘ly” words in Scripture give delightful shades of meaning and illumination.  God gives generously when we ask for wisdom.

Have you ever been embarrassed to go back and ask someone how to do something? Maybe  because you’ve asked 27 times before–or maybe because your age or experience might suggest you should already know how to do it. And have ever had that boss or friend or co-worker belittle or berate you or shame you–or even just sigh heavily as they answer? God doesn’t do that.  He doesn’t find fault with us for asking.  In fact, I think He delights in our asking.

James 1:5 opens with the phrase, “If any of you lacks wisdom…”  and ends, “it will be given.”  We can conclude that the means to get wisdom is to first acknowledge you need it.  That requires humility.  The prideful person thinks, “I’ve got this” or “I will figure this out on my own.” But the humble woman, like Manoah– Sampson’s father, asks and receives.

The woman of God has a teachable spirit.

The complete audio of this week’s teaching lecture can be found here:

http://fbcsiloam.podbean.com/e/the-book-of-judges-lesson-5-laura-macfarlan/

 

 

 

Photo attribution: https://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com

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The Affirmation Idol

applause

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

In the book of Judges God’s people continued to return to idol worship. They bowed down to graven images as they served the gods of the people living in the promised land.  We as 21st century believers are just as prone to idol worship but instead of Baal or Ashteroth, ours may be called comfort, control, or affirmation.

Have you considered praise from others to be an idol? Of course, there is nothing wrong with receiving or releasing encouragement.  It’s Biblical to bless one another with this kind of thankful affirmation. But as receivers of this gift, we must be careful to deflect all glory to God.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. Proverbs 27:21

If we do what we do because we are addicted to praise and affirmation from others, then that is our reward.

Our service for God should flow from a heart that loves God.  We serve Him because we love Him – -not because we are looking to be made much of or thought much of or thanked or appreciated.

You know affirmation has become an idol if while preparing a special meal for a family you are already thinking about how they will brag on your cherry pie.

You know affirmation has become an idol if you are frustrated that the new bride did not send you a proper thank you note for the lovely gift you gave.

You know affirmation has become an idol if the pastor did not brag on your VBS decorations.

You know affirmation has become an idol if your family barely looks at the beautiful scrapbook you made of the family vacation.

Always know this – your Father in heaven sees all.  Even if your brothers and sisters in Christ, your friends and family, your husband and children fail to acknowledge or appreciate you, your father in heaven sees.  He knows.  Get your strokes from Him.  Let pleasing Him be your chief aim.

If we have no expectations from others, then we will not be disappointed when they don’t read the lines we have written for them.  But when they do thank us and appreciate us, we can receive their thanks with a grateful heart, and deflect all glory to God.

The woman of God lives to please God.

And as she dies to her desire to be praised, she finds the weight of pleasing others and the addiction to affirmation has lost its hold.  She can serve God and love on others just for the joy of living and loving Jesus.

Here’s the link to the complete lecture for this week’s study in Judges:

http://fbcsiloam.podbean.com/e/the-book-of-judges-lesson-4-laura-macfarlan/

 

Photo attribution: clipartkid.com

 

 

 

 

 

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