The Importance of a Name

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Two of the toughest decisions we’ve had as parents were choosing the names of our kids.  It was a painstaking process in which we vetoed decisions from the other,  argued, compromised, and argued some more.  We probably sounded a bit like our Congress during this government shutdown!

A good name is more desirable than great riches;     to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

Names are important.  A name says a lot about a person.  Throughout the Bible, God and Jesus have many names.  In fact, songs have been written just about their names.

With just a name, I can send my four-year old into a tizzy.  Mention Santa in this house, and you will get a reaction.  My one-year old has the same reaction when you say, “Daddy.”

Some shudder in fear when they hear a certain name.  They cower as if the name itself is a threat.

Yesterday, during my middle school lesson at church, we read through the Ten Commandments.  The kids were discussing what each one meant when they started talking about taking the Lord’s name in vain.  I heard a kid ask why that was as bad as the others.  My first instinct was a quick prayer asking for help with this one.  I replied that God has power in His name.  The name of God, alone, is a powerful word.  I tried to explain that Jesus tells us to pray in His name.  I don’t know how thoroughly I explained it, but hopefully the idea will stick with the kids.  I clearly have a Bible verse for next week’s lesson!

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14

What power does the name of God hold in your life?

Blessings!

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Called to Action or Sit Back and Wait

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Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:14

I will be the first to admit I do not know what God wants me to do with my life!  From day to day, I think it is changing. Some days I feel like He is calling me to get up off my couch and DO something.  Other days, I feel like He is saying to me, “Just wait.  The timing isn’t right yet.”

Last night I saw the VERY FIRST EVER printed copy of the book I co-wrote in the spring.  We met to put together a marketing plan.  Since all proceeds go directly to my church, a committee will help move along this marketing phase.

As I sat and listened to the options, it was clear to me that I have very little control over this process.  I wanted to jump up and DO something, but I have to wait.  I could clearly discern from God that He did not need my actions yet.  I felt like He was whispering to me, “Get ready.  You will need to act soon!”

The day will come when I need to travel around to local churches and try to market the book.  We have high hopes that this book will make enough money to help us build a church building.  However, I don’t have the power to make that happen!  God does, but not me.

We usually think that God is calling us to act, to do something, to make a change, to help someone. My calling from God, for now, seems to be to wait.  Brace yourselves! When the wait is over, God’s plan will be amazing!

Blessings!

Decisions…In Which Direction Should I Go?

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Okay!  I have a major decision to make!  This decision is career altering, and it could mean big changes for my life and the life of my kids.  I have the opportunity to get a second masters degree that would allow me to move into a different position.  Pros:  More money. Cons: Working 12 months instead of summers off with my kids.

Actually there are many pros and cons to taking on this new degree.  The problem seems to be that I just don’t know what to do.

I am not making a decision between a sin-filled path or righteous path.  That would be easy.  I can see opportunities for God to work through my life with either choice.  I have prayed about it, but I haven’t heard or felt an answer for or against either choice.

So what do we, as Christians, do when we are faced with major decisions?  We wait, patiently.  I know, you are probably reacting the way I did by trying to dismiss that as a bad idea.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

We seem to have in our head that in order to do God’s work or follow God’s path, we have to act and act now!  That isn’t always the case.  Remember, God’s timing is perfect.

As for my decision, I will wait.  I won’t make a decision yet.  I will continue to pray and wait for the Lord to give me my answer.  It will come, eventually!

Blessings!

Seeking, Finding, and Celebrating Our Joy

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Wow!  Yesterday’s post touched a soft spot for some of us!  Comments came pouring into my email.  A few posted to the blog.  It seemed that everyone had something to say about waking up and focusing on the joy in their lives.

I think my favorite had to be Rebeca’s comment.  You can find her at http://rebecajones.wordpress.com/.

“Beautifully said! How do I find the joy of the Lord? I think you nailed it in one word: seeking. If I actively look for the joy in my life, it is there. It is no less available if I do not seek it, I simply miss out on enjoying it. (Does that make any sense at all?) Nice reminder to seek His joy today. Thanks!”

She is absolutely correct.  We must seek the joy in our lives.  Opportunities to enjoy our lives present themselves each day.  We are commanded by God to be joyful.  Therefore, we must look for those joyful moments.  Once we find them, we must celebrate!

Here is the verse from yesterday.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

We are to celebrate!  Then we are to send the celebration to those that have nothing prepared.  

Here is my interpretation:  Celebrate and invite others!  Once you establish the joy in your life today, go find someone who could use a good dose of joy.  Share the celebration.  Don’t let others drag you down; lift them up!  Each time we open our mouths to speak, we can either lift someone up or tear them down.  Use your voice today to share joy!

Blessings!

Motivated by Joy

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Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Many of us can label ourselves as either night owls or morning people.  What if the secret could be found in what motivates us to get up?

How did you wake up? Did an alarm wake you up?  Children come bouncing into your room? Spouse snore until you awoke? Are you one of those lucky people who gets up when your body naturally wakes up?

My alarm goes off at 5am on days that I work.  I get up, fix a pot of coffee, read my Bible readings for the day, spend a few quiet moments in prayer, work on the computer while drinking coffee, and then get ready for work.  Eventually, I get around to waking up the rest of the house.

This morning, when the alarm blared, I turned it off and just laid in the bed.  I thought about resetting the alarm and skipping my writing time.  This is the first day after a long weekend of sleeping later than usual.  I tried to justify staying in bed.  However, I realized that the joy I find in my quiet mornings motivates me to get up each day.

It is so much easier to move through life when we find joy in our daily schedules.  Other than my quiet mornings, I find joy in playing with my kids after the dinner rush.  I also find joy in the few moments I get to spend with my husband each evening once the kids are in bed.  I find joy in working with my fifth graders each day.

Seeking joy in our daily lives motivates us to keep going.  It fuels our soul and replenishes the weariness.  God tells us to seek joy in Him.  We can find joy in our relationship with Him and His promises for our future.  His blessings pour joy into our lives, and we are instructed to revel in our joy.  As Nehemiah said, “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.” That joy gets us going each day.  It keeps us going when we hit hard times.

How do you find joy in the Lord in your life?

Blessings!

I Love Getting a Do-Over!

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21 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

I got my haircut last week by a guy named Will.  It was the first time he had ever cut my hair, but he showed promise when he walked in sporting his spiky purple ‘do.  After the usual small talk, he asked me why I was a teacher.  My first response was, “Not for the money!”  He replied that he had never met a teacher who didn’t go into it for reasons more noble than money.  After thinking for a moment, I told him I liked teacher because you get do-overs.

He asked if I meant that my co-workers or boss were forgiving of mistakes.  I told him that I meant we forgive ourselves and strive to do better the next year.  I could tell he was confused, so I tried to explain as best I could.

Each year, we work as hard as can to do our best for the kids.  We love them, care for their basic needs, teach them manners, honor, respect, integrity, and all of the content the state and school district require us to teach.  And every year we fail to be perfect.  At the end of each year, I know there is a kid in my class with whom I should have done something different.  There is always one that I failed to reach, motivate, and prepare for life.

In most businesses, failing means the loss of a client or loss of money.  In education, failing is unacceptable.  We cannot afford to lose the children.

However, each year we get a do-over.  We get to try again. We get a new batch of kids ready for our knowledge, love, and best efforts.

As I sit in meetings this week, prepare my classroom next week, and await the arrival of my co-workers and students a couple weeks later, I will strive to remember to forgive myself.  This passage from Matthew doesn’t just apply to forgiving our brothers; we must forgive ourselves.  We are not perfect; only Christ is.  We are created to do our best.  When we mess up, we must forgive and move on.

This is a year of change and a year of hope in my school.  The best part is a fresh start, a do-over.

Blessings!

 

Above All Else, Fear the Lord

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Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30, NIV)

As a mom and as a teacher, I know that little eyes are always watching me.  One of the first things my professors taught during education classes is that we are to lead by example.  Our students and our children will learn how to act by watching our actions, how to speak by listening to what we say, and how to live by watching our lives.

One of the ways I teach my kids and the kids I work with at church is by helping them interpret scripture.  I fully understand that I do not know enough about biblical translations to adequately interpret scripture for them.  I pray that God will help me and hope that my interpretations are not too far off the mark.  In fact, this week we read the same verses from a couple different translations to help me with this.

One of the biblical ideas I struggle with the most is fear in the Lord.  The verse above tells us that fearing the Lord is an admirable quality in women.  Throughout the Old Testament we read that God shows His wrath, anger, jealousy, and might in some very scary ways.  I am a firm believer that the God of today is the same as the God of the Old Testament, and He will remain the same forevermore.  However, I don’t feel the need to be afraid of Him.

The Proverbs 31 woman lacked one HUGE element in her life that I have in mine, Jesus.  She had to live her life without a relationship with Jesus.  I don’t think the first coming of Christ changed God, but I do think it changed our relationship with God.

I do not attend church because I fear God.  I attend church because I feel Him drawing me to my church.   I feel the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of my church’s members.

I do not read my Bible, write this blog, teach Biblical lessons to my kids, or teach Sunday School because I am afraid of what God will do to me if I choose to not obey Him.  I do it out of respect, praise, and honor.  I may even fear punishment, but not God.

I am not as educated as I should be on this topic.  I welcome your comments.

What does it mean to you to “fear the Lord?”

Blessings!