Idle Heart

•September 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Pastor Ken Whitten at Idlewild Church started a sermon series called “American Idols” which was inspired by a book he read called gods At War by Kyle Idleman. I was so convicted by these sermons that I wanted to read the book. I am only about halfway through Chapter Four, but I have already seen how deeply this issue is rooted in my life.

The introduction of the book gave me a clear sign that I needed to take a deep look at my life. Instead of thinking of idols as gold figures that were worshipped in ancient times, it is suggested that “What if we do our ‘kneeling’ and our ‘bowing’ with our imaginations, our checkbooks, our search engines, our calendars?” (Idleman, 2013) Wow……when I look at my bank statements, and I see what I spend my money on, there is no denying that food plays a more important role in my life than it should. It is such an easy excuse that one needs food to survive, as that is a fact. It leads to the next excuse that I do not have time to cook so I will just “pick something up”. Why don’t I have time to cook? Oh…………that would be more idols that have claimed my time. “A god is what we sacrifice for and what we pursue” (Idleman, 2013).

It is clear to me that I need to take an honest look into my heart and my life. I need to stop making excuses and deal with the issues – the root causes. My theme this year has been more action and less talk. Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed. This book is teaching me that I need to stop focusing on the symptoms and start focusing on the cause. I cannot change the past, and I am not promised a future. All I can do is live today and allow God’s strength to become perfect in my weakness.

Not all sins leave behind evidence that is visible for the world to see. Maybe I should consider myself lucky that my weight can be a testimony. It is abundantly clear that in my own power, I am not able to overcome. I choose to seek my identity in Christ from now on and not the world. I will seek solace and comfort in God and not the world (or more specifically FOOD). Every day Brandon goes to the gym, I realize how amazing he is and how strong. He is choosing his own path, and not following mine.

It is an overwhelming challenge, and I am thankful that God is stronger and more patient than I could ever hope to be. Life is to be lived and not just to be survived. I have survived, and now it is time to live.

Reference: Idleman, K. (2013). gods At War. (pp. 12 and 20). Michigan: Zondervan.

Convicted Gratefulness

•May 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This is Memorial Day weekend, and our veterans should feel the love and support of the country that they give their lives to.  I try to remember and honor them every chance I have.  I am proud to be an American Citizen, and I am honored and humbled by the sacrifice of men and women, as well as their families, that have put themselves aside in order to serve our country and keep us free.  I owe you a debt that I can never hope to repay.  All I can do is make the most of every moment that you have allowed me to live in freedom.

As I was sharing a photo and typing that I am blessed and grateful every day, the Holy Spirit gave me a gentle conviction.  Why is it so easy for me to post and comment to veterans, but I hesitate to thank God and to be grateful to Jesus who sacrificed His life so that I may have eternal forgiveness and be welcomed into God’s presence because He paid the debt I owe?

My previous post “Who Am I?” attempted to explain.  A few months have gone by, and I haven’t made much of an effort to write or share.  I worry about offending people or hurting the feelings of my friends.  I worry about what people will think of me.  Am I brave enough to keep putting myself and my beliefs out there to be seen by the world?  Another gentle conviction – it is not my strength or my courage that I am to rely on.

There are some simple truths that I want to put out there for everyone to see.

1.  I am blessed and grateful for the friends and loved ones in my life.  I love and accept you for who you are in every moment of every day.  I am here to support you when you are hurt and here to listen when you need someone to talk to.  You have been there for me while I worked and went back to school.  You supported me and listened to me when I vented about the details of my life.  Please know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am blessed by and made better by, knowing each of you.

2.  It is not my place or desire to judge anyone.  I have made more than my fair share of mistakes, and I have not lived a perfect life – not even close.  That is not my intent in the past and it is not my intent in the future.  I share my faith and my beliefs in hope that they will offer you the peace and comfort that they have given me because I care about your future.  Our veteran’s have fought for your freedom as well as mine.  You are free to accept, reject, or feel completely indifferent about anything I say.  That does not change who you are to me.  It does not change my feelings towards you.

3.  No matter what we believe, the obvious truth is that our time here on Earth is limited.  I want the rest of my time here to matter.  I want to make a difference.  I am alive and here for a purpose.  You are alive and here for a purpose.  I can’t change my past, but I can take charge of my future.  That is what I am trying to do.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I once again humbly thank every veteran who ever was or ever will be for the sacrifice you have made for me.  I type these words because you have kept our country free.  I also want to thank God for having the ultimate plan and sacrificing His Son to pay for humanity’s sins so that we can be forgiven.

John 15:12-13:  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Who Am I?

•March 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

For 9 months + 17 years (+ 3 months) I have been Brandon’s mom. That identity has been my sole focus and priority. In truth, that is a role and responsibility.  I wanted to know about myself.  Who is Amy?  What am I here for?  Why do I exist?  This is what I discovered about who I am: (The list that follows is a partial list taken from the works of Pat Layton, author.  The original source document is in parenthesis after each item.)

  • I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
  • I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1-14)
  • I am free forever of condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2)
  • I am assured all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  • I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31-34)
  • I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I can find grace and mercy to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • I am God’s workmanship, created for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:5)

Then I realized something even more important.  Just like when you read a fiction book, watch a television program, or go to the movies:  Take one moment and suspend your disbelief.  Allow me to stand in the gap and believe for you.  Re-read the above list and put YOUR name instead of mine.  This is who YOU are as well.  It does not matter where you were born or what you have learned to believe.  Look it up in the source document (the Bible) and you will see that NO ONE‘s name is on the excluded list.  You were given the free will to accept or reject this identity.  It is 100% in your control.

When I look at you, this is who I now see.  When I am out in the world, I realize this is who EVERYONE is.  I speak for no one but myself.  I want you know know me and what I believe deep in my soul.  My life is changing and evolving this year, and I find myself able to see that until I am transparent with who I am, I cannot see others for who they are.  You are important.  You have value.  You are an amazing miracle.  You have the freedom to believe and choose for yourself the life you have.

I claim and accept my identity.  This is my choice to believe.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:16-18

Seasons

•October 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

     Yesterday marked the end of a very long season of my life, and Monday will mark the beginning of a new chapter in my life.  God has given me a gift of these next three days to reflect and re-prioritize.  This is my chance to refocus my gaze upon Him, and realize the importance and significance of this time.  Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 is about time, the seasons of our life, and the importance of our work.  Verse 11 tells me “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hears of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”    Simply put this means that I will never be completely satisfied here on Earth.  A part of me longs to be with God.  Until I am, I must trust His purpose for me here.  Verse 14 states “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be aded to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere him.”  What does this mean to me?  It means that I will not be able to find my purpose in life until I revere God and put Him first in my life.  That is how I want to use these next three days.  To revere God.  To be awestruck by Him.  To find my purpose in Him.  Is it coincidence that the first day of my three day gift begins on my birthday?  Of course not!  God’s timing is perfect.  I find myself a little bit awestruck right now……………… 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Fact or Fiction?

•January 2, 2012 • 1 Comment

Every year I look at New Year’s Day with mixed feelings. Part of me is excited for the clean slate and part of me is embarrassed, even ashamed, over the lack of progress made in the year that just ended. How is it that I am facing another year with the exact same resolutions as last year? How could I have let yet another year slip through my fingers? I look back at my life and I am sad to realize that there have been a lot of years that I have let slip by. This blog even gives witness to my lack of follow through. I started it to be inspired and to hopefully provide inspiration. Yet I have only posted three times and the last time was in April of last year. That is the testament to my failure. My son is growing up so fast and even now does not need me like he used to. Yet I rely on him to take care of himself while I work. I want to be the mom who helps him with his homework and sends him to school after a healthy breakfast. As I start to make this year’s resolutions, it dawned on me with simple clarity. I am making resolutions that I want. That I plan to carry out on my own power. I have apparently been ignoring what I know deep in the core of my being……that I have no power, and that I can do nothing without God. What happened to my faith? My beliefs? How did I overlook this for years? Maybe the reason I fail is because I am relying on myself. I believe I can do it myself. I believe I do not need any help. My ignorance….or is that arrogance….is amazing. Have I learned nothing? So this year I will not make resolutions. This year I will put my life in His hands. This year I will be humble and seek His desire for my life. I can do nothing in my own power so I will rely on His power. The power He revealed to me in Psalm 93. I will seek my fulfillment and happiness in God. I will seek forgiveness for my mistakes. I will let Him have glory through my life as I have completely and thoroughly proven I cannot accomplish it in my own power. This year I will allow Him to inspire me and draw me close. So if you see a change in me then you know He is at work. If you do not see a change in me then you know to pray for me to give up control. Those of you who know me know how stubborn I can be so you should probably start praying for me now! Have a blessed new year and to God be the glory.

Running Out of Steam

•April 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

Why is it that I start out with such enthusiasm, but then about halfway through, I just completely run out of steam?  I know being a single mom, working full time, and going back to school is alot to have on my plate; however, despite my best intentions, I just can’t seem to finish things I have started.

Perhaps that is my problem.  They are MY intentions.  I am trying to do things in my own power instead of relying on God.  Maybe I am even working against the path He has for me because I am so wrapped up in the things I think I have to do.  Maybe I am so busy hopping from one thing to another that I haven’t taken time to consult with God on what His plan is for me.  Maybe I feel so lost because I am not stopping to ask for directions.

Romans 9:16-17 says:  It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh:  “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Maybe I just need to get out of my own way and follow God………

God Speaks

•April 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This is a reminder to myself that God is there, and He knows exactly where I am. Even when I am not ready to admit how truly and desperately lost and off-course I am, He is there. He was there for me when I had stopped going to church, and when I had turned my back on Him for years. When I was in Jacksonville, alone and scared and begging for Him to hear me, He answered me. Not in a whisper, not in a cryptic code, but in a beautiful, vivid, tecnhicolor dream. He gave me Psalm 93:

The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea –
the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days, O Lord.

I was searching for a foundation, protection against the raging storm of my life. Reading this Psalm I saw God reveal Himself to me as not just a safety net, but a firm unmoving foundation upon which I could always depend on. He was strong enough to quiet my fears and He gave me everything at a time when I was giving Him nothing.

There is much comfort to be found in reading that God’s throne was established long ago and that God is from all eternity. When I am drowning in storm of my life, God is there. He speaks. I only have to remember to listen.

 
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