January 25, 2010

Your Body: A Temple

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I Cor. 3:16 (NASB)

How many of you are on Facebook or Twitter? I am. Now don’t rush to my Facebook page, there is nothing too fabulous on there. I use my accounts for business purposes. I have no ill-feelings toward Facebook or Twitter at all. God simply hasn’t impressed me to personally participate. Maybe later He’ll change His mind and then I’ll be glad to do as He leads.

However, it was a trip to Facebook that jump-started the mice in my head. I was on Facebook checking up on my boss, Cheryle M. Touchton. She is the director of Pocket Full of Change Ministry. [www.pocketfullofchange.org] I knew Cheryle had not been feeling well and thought I’d see what she’d been up to over the weekend. I noticed she’d written a few thoughts about her new exercise routine and that she was feeling better and stronger. She ended her thought that particular day with, “My body is a temple!”

Bravo Cheryle! She is so right our bodies are temples. I need to take her example and run with it, or at least do a few crunches or jumping jacks with it. But for now, but I’ll take my run with words!

Let me digress a bit and make a confession. I am a vain person. I doubt this will catch anyone by surprise. But I have a certain amount of vanity that I try to tame and control. Not successfully, I am afraid. My face just feels better with my Mary Kay and my hair loves Lady Clairol. I’ve told my hubby that I will go to my grave with non-removable teeth in my mouth and color on my hair.

With all that said, I would be wise to remember that my body is not my own but bought with a price – the blood of Jesus. My body is His Temple.

We live in a land of face lifts, tummy tucks and liposuction. Make sure those teeth are pearly white! Drape yourself in the hottest fashions. Suck it in, tuck it in and lift it up! Indeed, we go to great and expensive lengths to treat our body like a temple. Going back to Twitter – we’ve even gotten accustomed to having followers. This plays into the thought that somewhere down the line we got the Biblical principle mixed-up. Our bodies have become a temple to be worshipped rather than to give worship!

Reading Cheryle’s article reminded me of that! She knows as do I, that we are created for worship and to worship the One who has placed His Holy Spirit within us!! However, we have a responsibility to keep the temple intact for premium worship ability.

Therefore, the temple is not to be worshipped but it is merely an earthen vessel to provide worship to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Yahweh. Jehovah. El Shaddai. The great I AM. God.

So how is worship going in your temple today? Or is your temple showing signs of stress? It would be prudent to remember that if junk goes into the temple, then it’s likely junk will come out in worship and junk comes in all forms. Don’t you think that God deserves more than junkie worship.

I challenge each of us today to concentrate on our bodies, those living sacrifice bodies, as a temple of God for His worship. Let us our temples be prepared to worship God in spirit and in truth lest we become temples of doom!

Blessings,
Barbara

January 18, 2010

The State of Our Self Address

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

It’s my understanding we are rapidly approaching the President’s annual State of the Union Address. No disrespect to our Commander-in-Chief, but I think we are all aware of the state of this Union. Just turn on the television. I think I would prefer to hear a “how are we going to get out of the state” of the Union address.

Sunday morning in church service, our pastor cleverly but pointedly delivered a “State of the Church” address. As a church member, I would be wise to heed and implement the wisdom of that message. As I listened, I had a thought of my own. Well, maybe not all my own!

Okay, I will not be caught unawares by the State of the Union. I have been instructed and challenged by the State of the Church message. Now I believe it would be prudent to ponder the state of my “self.”

Whether be it my country or my church, I will not be a productive participant in furthering either cause if my “self” is not in order. Simply put, it’s time for a spiritual check-up. Just as my physical body has many parts that should all work properly for optimal performance, so should my “spiritual body” if you will allow me to take some literary license.

Between Bible Study, morning and evening services on Sunday, I was encouraged to check my heart, my mind, my hands and my feet to make sure they were properly connected and surrendered to God for His service. But that is not what I want to talk about. Today, let’s address vision.

Since our pastor mentioned vision yesterday, so I am going to borrow a few of his points and interject some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I listened in church Sunday morning.

You know, they say the eyes are the first thing to go. Funny, no one ever says what the second thing is! Admittedly my vision needs to be checked. It’s been a few years and things are looking a bit fuzzy from time to time.

However, we have spiritual vision that needs to be checked even more frequently than our eyes. Here are three things I was impressed with and would like to share them with you.

First, we must have cleared vision. Like a car driving down the road, the journey is much safer when there are no obstacles in the path. Spiritually, this can be tricky since we don’t always “see” the obstacles. Therefore it is imperative to stay closely connected to the One who sees all.

What moves will you make to clear your line of sight this week?

Second, we need to have focused vision. It’s really hard to see something when you are trying to concentrate on a thousand things at one time. Being committed requires a singleness of mind to the object of your commitment, namely Christ.

What distractions can you clear away to allow you to focus your vision on God and what He may be calling you to do?

Last but not least, we need continued vision. Perhaps you’ve done okay in the vision department and have made a few milestones. If so, I am proud of you. But don’t rest on those laurels. The only thing that happens when we rest on laurels is that the laurels get crushed and we lose forward momentum. When our vision is clear and focused on what God wants we can accomplish many things for His kingdom. However, as every task assigned is completed, a new one awaits. Our vision should never stop scanning for what lies ahead.

What adjustments do you need to make to your eyesight to maintain an equal balance on what is near and what lies ahead?

Well, I guess I’ll come down off the soapbox now, because I have to answer the same questions I posed to you. May the Holy Spirit guide each of us as we check our vision with the Savior who has always kept us in His!

Blessings,
Barbara

PS: Once you check the vision – don’t forget the heart, mind, hands and feet!

January 11, 2010

Putting the Extra into Ordinary

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 (NIV)

We’ve made it passed the first week of a new year. Hooray! Last week I mentioned I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of each year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have things I’d like to accomplish or strive to be better at in the days ahead. I will do my best to grow in grace this year.

However, I do have to watch myself because, at times, I find myself thinking of all the wonderful things I could do for Christ. Why not teach three or four Bible studies a week instead of one or two? Hey, I could be the new Beth Moore! Then I could find a way to triple my speaking engagements for the year. Three times the gospel spreading – what an impact that could have on people.

Then there is Pocket Full of Change, the faith-based, non-profit I work for each week. I could spend all summer on the road with Cheryle and still get two books published by the end of 2010. How glorious a dream!

Until I wake up.

I feel foolish for thinking such things! I mean, the world already has a Beth Moore, not too mention a Kay Arthur and an Anne Graham Lotz, so who needs me?

Maybe God does and the best way I can serve Him is to realize who I am and who He is.

Let me digress a bit and tell you about a Christmas present I received. First let me say, I was blessed by each gift of love I received. But I wanted to tell you about a gift my friend Kiki, gave me. It was a book called, The Glory of Christmas.

Unfortunately we had some sickness in the family over the holiday, so it wasn’t until after Christmas that I got to sit down and read a spell. The book contains the combined writings of Max Lucado, Charles Swindoll, Anne Graham Lotz and Henry Blackaby. Often as a believer, I have said and taught that Christmas is everyday for the Christian, so I decided to not put off reading this gem until Christmas of this year.

Let me share a passage from Max Lucado that gave me the push to write to you today. Max described the night of Christ’s birth like this:

“An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who love to hook an “extra” on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed”. [pg 11]

This brings me back to knowing who I am and who God is, especially in light of the deeds to be done for cause of Christ. I am an ordinary person: an ordinary sheep if you will. I have an ordinary life and ordinary talents. Nothing I can do in/and of myself will ever be anything but ordinary. However, I serve an extraordinary God.

There is no sin in wanting to do great things for God, as long as our hearts are truly pure in our desire. However, perhaps we strive too much in our own power to do the extraordinary when it’s only required that we give Christ our ordinary self and let Him do the “extra” part without our help.

People are quick to notice grand events and grand talent, and give the individual all the credit for it. Just watch American Idol! But when Peter and John, in Acts 4:13, came into a midst of men, they were described as ordinary men who astonished the crowd. Why? Because the crowd could tell they had been with Jesus.

With love from ordinary me,
Barbara

January 04, 2010

Out With the New and in With the Old!

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14 (NIV)

Join me this morning as I ponder over the point of a New Year. I’d imagine that the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is setting those New Year’s goals. Things like losing weight, quitting smoking and being a better person. They’re called resolutions. I guess because we are supposed to be resolute about keeping them.

Well, I don’t worry about resolutions. I gave up on those long ago. Never could keep them, no matter how well intended or noble the dream. I discovered that for me, time would be better spent asking God what He wanted me to do rather than me telling Him, what I thought I should do.

With resolutions off the plate, I pondered over to the New Year itself. I am not sure how to put this without seeming pessimistic or unpatriotic, but what is the big deal about a New Year? What is really new about it anyway? My debt is the same, my bank balance is the same, my problems haven’t changed and I even have the same cold I had on December 31. Yet, there is something, dare I say, hopeful about starting back at January once again

I believe many of us think about a new year in terms as a clean, blank slate, a time to start over or start again. There is nothing wrong with that. But if that is all January 1 means, then I’m in trouble already and can we get to January 1, 2011 sooner rather than later?

Well, perhaps starting a new year is like Paul says, leaving behind that which was, in favor of striving with greater passion for that which is most important in our lives – Jesus Christ. And since, I’ve already blown a few things, I am glad that I can start that “pressing on toward the goal” even if I stumble getting out of the gate.

Now most people would call this “out with the old and in with the new.” Would you think less of me, if I disagreed on that point for today?

You see, we often think new is better. Truthfully, sometimes it is. However nearly everything in our material world is geared so new equals: slicker, quicker and better. In fact, I’d wager you saw a report or two in the past few weeks telling you what the latest, greatest and hottest items were for Christmas – which by the way was only about 10 days ago.

For the faith-minded of us, perhaps we’ve put off that pressing forward until we have that new Bible or Bible software. Maybe some of us are waiting for a new revelation from the Lord to jump start our 2010 spiritual walk. Could it be a new answer to an old question that would spur us in motion? Would a new church, pastor or program help? Hmmm.

Yesterday, our pastor verbalized his 2010 New Year wish for our church with his morning message. It was simply for each of us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I love the powerful simplicity of that wish and it also affirmed something God placed on my heart a few days ago. Out with the new and in with the old!

My dear friends, God’s grace is one of the oldest things on earth. It dates back to the beginning of time and creation. There is nothing new about His grace. It’s not a guarded secret. It has the power to revolutionize lives and grow new hearts. As it was from the beginning, this old, old grace is available to anyone willing to receive it.

You think you need something new? Try the old and timeless grace of God as found in His Son, Jesus Christ – who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What are you waiting for? There is no better time than now to receive the old to make you feel new!

Blessings for the New Year – let’s all grow in grace together!
Barbara