Friday, September 8, 2017

Time to punch in!

This is a Five Minute Friday post and the word this week is Work. FMF is a website for writers, we write on the word of the week for five minutes and post without editing.
You can find FMF here - http://fiveminutefriday.com/community/

I can’t wait to retire…hmmm….I know I’m not supposed to say that. I am so grateful for my job, but what a challenge! Maybe that’s why God put me there. I have to remember that HE PUT ME THERE FOR A REASON, right? I’m coming to realize that overcoming my pride problem might just be one of the reasons. Another is idolatry. You see, for years all I did was work hard, work long hours, and just work. My job was my focus.

I went to school full time to complete a BBA and then on to an MBA, all while working full time and with a toddler who turned into a second grader before I was done. I'm not complaining. Getting a degree was always my plan, but that took a left turn in my senior year of high school. God still provided it through my work. 

All that time away from family for the job and school, it was all about overcoming that left turn. In the effort I made the job too important. Now I have to work hard not to put the job first. I consciously work to put God first, and in Him my reward. It’s not in anything I can do on my own.

I am grateful for the education I never could have attained on my own, or by working for a different employer. I’m grateful for the income my work provides for my family, but I’m choosing to put God first today. I’m choosing to focus on the Him, not to be prideful over what I’ve accomplished because, guess what, I could only do it through Him. I'm just not that smart. He is accomplishing something in me for his good pleasure. 

I choose that work, His work. I pray it comes in the form of words I write and others read, and maybe even pay for someday. If that doesn’t happen, I will still grateful for the work he provides.

My five minutes are up. Time to punch out!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Neighbors - Ya gotta love 'em!

This is a Five Minute Friday Post - FMF is a website for writers, we write on the word of the week for five minutes and post without editing. It's good practice!
The word this week is Neighbor

Proverbs 3:27-28
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in you power to do it. 
28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and com back, and tomorrow I will give it," when you have it with you. 
29 Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives securely beside you.

We do have to love them, but I confess that I'm not always successful. Oh, it isn't that I intentionally devise harm against them, but I don't intentionally love them either. My husband, doesn't know it, but he is the complete opposite. He seeks to help them, to love them. He is intentional about it. 

This morning in my devotional time I read this passage from Proverbs, then I found Neighbor as the word week. God works that way, giving me what I need when I need it. Verse 27 says "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in you power to do it." Aren't we called, then, to love our neighbors intentionally? He doesn't withhold His love from us, nor should we from our others. 

So, how do I do that? Well, it's got to be more than sharing the passing wave as I come and go from work. I'm going to rely on God to, again, provide what I need. What I should notice and to what He wants me to pay attention. 
Today I will seek to be intentional, to model Jesus and the husband God gave me for life. I will seek to love my neighbors.

That's my five minutes this week.

You can find FMF here - http://fiveminutefriday.com/community/






Friday, August 25, 2017

Five Minute Friday Post - The word this week is GUIDE

Jumping In

Five Minute Friday Post - The word this week is GUIDE.
The is my first time posting for FMF and I'm excited to join a community of Christian writers. I'm also scared. I joined because need encouragement and "guidance" as I jump into the writing world more seriously than ever.

When I think about a guide, I naturally go to the Holy Spirit. Daily, I ask for His guidance. I also also ask Him to make it real clear for me, because I don't want to miss it. I don't want to miss anything anymore. Time is just too short and the older I get the faster it passes. So I'm seeking Him and making myself available.

I've wanted to write for years and I believe God put that desire in my heart. Back then I wanted to write steamy, summer beach reads. Now, I want to write what He wants to tell someone. I may never know who that is or how they might be affected, but that doesn't matter. I have only to obey my guide, God will take it from there.

My five minutes are up.

You can find FMF at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Being Comfortable in Obedience

     
Matthew 5:40-41 

40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 

     I missed this, writing this blog. I think I stopped writing because no one else sees it. Like it doesn't matter. That's how I feel about most of what I do, especially at work, that it just doesn't matter. Why do I feel this way?
     I recently listened to Your Move, a podcast from Andy Stanley (www.yourmove.is/ the Work It episode), about why what we do at work really does matter. He said it, what I do -- what we do, it matters because God's people matter. The people at work matter to God and how I represent Him to them matters to God. I got that right away, so I paid attention to the rest of the podcast.
     I was listening while taking a walk after a tough day at work, one with some drama surrounding implementation of a customer requirement. It's not new, just new to our organization. The customer describes it as a Manufacturing-led process, but I felt they didn't want to do it. It was never said but there really wasn't what I would call forward motion. I feared it would be come another thing for the Quality department to do, but I wanted to allow Manufacturing time to take responsibility and follow-through. It wasn't happening and we were on a deadline. 
     You see, assuming responsibility for things like this is something I typically do, I've always done it. For that reason sometimes it's hard for me to let go. The truth is, operating like that doesn't really help the organization for the long term. It doesn't teach anyone anything. I'm going to retire in a few years and I feel obligated to teach people how to do the things I've always done. Better yet, give them the confidence to figure out on their own. I want to leave with a strong team in place. 
     While listening to the podcast, I just knew that God was telling me to help them. To set aside any preconceived notions about their intent. To help them by showing them how to do it. The challenge was that I had no experience with this new process either. 
     Mr. Stanley was telling a story about going the extra mile, specifically when the Roman soldier could have anyone carry his gear one mile. Matthew tells us that we should go two miles and give our coat along with our shirt...you know the story. Thinking in those terms changed my outlook. 
     In my mind, the hand-off was made in that moment. I knew God wanted me to take it back from Manufacturing, to drive this implementation as an example of cooperation. There wasn't an argument from me. I've never had clarity like that before, it was very ...hmmm...comfortable. I remember chuckling about how God just snuck up on me with the idea.
     Here's the thing - I had to accept the responsibility happily, congenially, humbly. No finger-pointing or "I told you so's" allowed either. Simply accept the responsibility, one that was not mine, and do it with a smile. 
     Now, how was I going to explain that to my Quality team? It turns out that I didn't have to. I obeyed, it's God's responsibility to take care of the rest.  It's been a couple of weeks now and ... so far so good. We're getting comfortable.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sorry the formatting isn't very good. I just couldn't fix it. Luckily, formatting (good or bad) doesn't change the message. 
Ice-Cream Social Devotional 
                                 
When a friend shared what was on her heart with me, I got excited.
First she wanted to bring the women of the church together in a social gathering. She wanted us to move toward being a community of women. Getting together for ice-cream is a great first step!
Second, she wanted this community of women to be strong. Strong in Jesus as we face the situations the world creates. Strong when we are asked the hard questions. Not to shrink away from the tough stuff.
Finally, that we handle the tough stuff in a godly fashion with a strength that reflects Jesus in our response.
This passage from Philippians 2 (1-5a) aligns perfectly with what God placed on my friend’s heart.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Now, let’s take another look at that passage and see how it applies in the context of bringing women of the church together and making us strong in Christ.
I see verses 1 & 2 speaking to us about community.
The definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,[Paul says] 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We become of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, [and] intent on one purpose when we pray together, study together and even when we eat ice cream together. We learn who likes chocolate or sprinkles. Who has hurts and who has been heeled.
We grow into a community of friends and sisters in Christ by spending time together; by helping each other through the easy things and through the hard things.
Taking a look at verses 3 & 4, I see strength described through meekness. In Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Bible Theology, Samuel Meier wrote “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up.”
We are strong when we rely on the presence of God and assume a position of meekness, living in Christ’s example. We are strong in Christ.
3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Finally, how do we provide a godly response to the hard questions and in tough situations, especially when we know what we are witnessing is not of God?
5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
God provided scripture to help us know Him, to give us wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15), and to strengthen us. It is for us to use for His glory. In 2 Timothy, Paul is telling Timothy to be on the look-out for false teachers, as should we. He tells Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (3:16). We need to develop an attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5a), so that we can, guided by the Holy Spirit, recognize and correct error. This only happens when we are secure in our identity in Christ and live in His presence.
In His presence
I saw a story online a few years ago about how we can sometimes forget our identity in Christ as we just live life. The author wrote about how a speaker at a women’s conference she attended illustrated God’s presence in our lives. The speaker used two simple vases. She filled the smaller one with water, representing the believer. It was placed inside a larger vase and then the speaker proceeded to fill the larger vase, overflowing the smaller one until it was completely filled.

I attempted to recreate this illustration at our ice cream social. I put a few drops of red food coloring in the smaller vase to bring out the contrast of the two vases and one of the ladies asked if the color represented the blood of Christ. Yes, I guess that would further illustrate God’s presence and protection in our lives. Without His blood we would have no identity, or community, or strength, or the wisdom needed to provide a godly response.

So, in our all-too-busy lifestyles it’s not always easy to feel like we are in His presence, is it? But, it’s oh so sweet when we let God’s presence flow over us to fill every curve, every laugh line and every empty space in our hearts. When that happens He finds a way to bring us together, He makes us strong, and He provides the godly response.

So, let’s do a quick review--
We are in community by learning together; about each other and about what God can do in and through us for one purpose – His.
We grow stronger when we rely on the presence of God, understand our identity in Christ and assume a position of meekness (strength under control).
As far as a godly response goes, God enables us to use scripture in the right circumstances and in just the right way, for His glory. When we intentionally seek Him in His word, we find ourselves in His presence and intentionally ready to give a godly response. Sometimes our words might be as sweet as our ice cream dessert and other times they may be a bit to perky for some. One thing is for sure; when God is leading the words are always right.

References:
New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1995
http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27308-why-christian-meekness-does-not-equal-weakness, Charisma Magazine