Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

He really does have the whole world in His hands…honest he does <3

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Well I finished the book of Jeremiah this morning and my head is spinning with thoughts. 

In the closing chapters, God speaks through the prophet making it clear that the pagan nation of Babylon is being used as a tool in God’s hands to discipline the nation of Israel for failure to keep their hearts devoted to Yahweh. 

I am oversimplifying but they had celebrated festivals and performed the religious rituals with no real genuine worship of the God who had instructed them to observe each one as a reminder of His deliverance and care for them. 

They blended in other practices from other religions to hedge their bets for divine provision and just because everyone else was doing it. 

By finding ways to work around the laws God had put in place to ensure that wealth and property remained evenly distributed among families according to their inheritance and by using loopholes; they continued to work the land during the 7th year of rest and managed to keep property and people that should have been restored to rightful order. 

And so God called Babylon His “hammer” by which He would destroy the city of Jerusalem and thus it happened. 

The city was besieged and burned to the ground and all but the weakest citizens were taken into captivity. 

As they were led away with the smoldering city to their backs, it would seem God had allowed the “bad guys” to win. 

But Jeremiah continues with a prophecy against Babylon that he even writes down and sends along with a messenger to be tied to rock and tossed into the river that ran along the conquering people’s land. 

The prophecy tells of how God will raise up another nation, and believe me, they were not a godly nation who would destroy the Babylonian/Chaldean empires. The Medes would come and would bring an end to the nation that He had used to send His people into exile so the land of Israel could have its long-overdue rest.

It boggles my mind. 

God prophecies all of this through,Jeremiah.

We know from the book of Daniel it played out exactly as it is written. God used two pagan nations to discipline His people out of a love for them that is beyond my complete understanding.

In my Western thinking, I am focused on individual lives and the quality of that life for the span of time allowed on planet Earth. It stretches me to think of big pictures and the work of God across the span of all the times and seasons and places that cover what we can know of human history, let alone eternity. 

I don’t have answers or a real point. I am not trying to compare the story of Israel with the story of the country I was born into. I have many of my own questions and so much ignorance that I am not even sure what questions I should be asking. 

And that is why I read through this Bible every year.

Daily pushing through difficult passages, stopping to look up a new thought or question along the way – I learn more each year.

I see how small I am on the scope of time and how big God is and I begin to understand more and more how study of His Word is a form of worship. 

God bless you today in whatever you are doing. 

We can know that no matter how big and beyond our understanding our God is, He cares deeply about the smallest parts of your life and day. And no matter how crazy it seems out there in the world, He remains Sovereign over His creation and He knows what He is doing <3 

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Entering Autumn with some thoughts on God’s ideas about love <3

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Well, the only thing that has changed to make this officially the beginning of Autumn for me is my attitude. 

Today I shall remove the forsythia wreath with the two small metal chameleons that have stood guard all summer in order to discourage the birds from making a nest on our door, and up will go the wreath with colorful leaves and a couple of sunflowers. 

I am also gathering soup recipes and John gave me a good and simple one over the phone last night (yes…John…our son…is giving me recipes. Oh happy day)

I do love a good bowl of soup…and no this is not the one he gave me a recipe for…but closest thing I have in my media library to segue into the recipe.

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So here it is:

John’s Chicken Soup

Prepare 4 oz. of whole wheat pasta 

While that’s cooking 

Cube a half pound of chicken and brown in some oil and lemon/pepper seasoning (we like Trader Joe’s)

Brown two celery stalks and a carrot – all diced – in a little oil

Add all to 6 cups of good Chicken broth with salt and pepper to taste. 

He recommended making sure the veggies are nicely browned as they add a little extra crunch. 

So there you go. 

Easy peasy.

Now for a little food for the soul.

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I have been collecting some prayers and Scriptures on the notes section of my phone for the month of September and I added these thoughts today from notes I had made in one of my prayer books. 

I diagrammed it to make it easier to remember so will share a picture of that at the end.  I like to put Scriptures and thoughts into pictures as they help me to remember them, so if you are like me (God help you) maybe these will be useful.

Here are the thoughts based on the famous love passage from 1 Corinthians 13:

Loving others with God’s love means loving fully, unconditionally, mercifully, without criticism, and with no judgment.

Love is patient, kind, not envious, doesn’t show off, doesn’t think bad thoughts, doesn’t celebrate sufferings. 

Love is not prideful, rude, selfish, easily annoyed or annoying.

Love seeks the well-being of others. 

Anything else is not love. 

From my journaling of the scriptures in 1 Corinthian 13
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Help everyone of us to forsake pride, envy, rudeness, selfishness and criticism. These reveal a lack of love for others. 

Help us all to embrace praying for one another, being patient, being kind, being selfless, encouraging one another and accountability. 

From my journaling of the scriptures in 1 Corinthian 13
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None of these things is possible in my own strength so I pray for generous doses of God’s power and love poured into me so I can grow in all of these areas of godly love. 

I hope you have a blessed day and I hope you are finding ways to celebrate the new season that is upon us <3

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Be careful where you sit <3

There has been a cooling trend around here the past 36 hours, and we are not complaining. Although as we watch the residents of New Orleans dig out from Ida, we shouldn’t complain at all about whatever weather we get as our houses and community continue on with water, electricity and walls/roofs.

Our prayers and hearts wrap around that area as well as so many areas here in the U.S. and around the world. 

If you attend First Christian Church here town, you hopefully heard Pastor Brian’s introductory sermon for the Prayer Series of teachings. It was a very good one and accessible through the church website under sermons. Here —> https://www.firstdecatur.org/messages/unstuck/

One of the things he said near the end resonated with me. He said something to the effect that we have a kind of spiritual pandemic in our day and age named “cynicism.” I am not sure I got this paraphrase accurate, but that was the gist of it and I certainly have been infected with it over the course of my journey.

I can’t speak for the culture or other people, but I can tell you how it happens with me. 

Let’s start with what the word means so we can anchor in on the problem:

A cynic is someone who believes that self-interest is the motive of all human conduct, a habitual scoffer. Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous or pessimistic. 

While I certainly can agree with Pastor Brian that this is an epidemic in our media, social interactions and even entertainment; I cannot address it in anyone but my own self. 

When I have been convicted of a cynical spirit rising up in me, invariably I can trace it back to an injury incurred by rubbing against some of my fellow sojourners and feeling real or perceived rejection, disappointment, or out right prickly friction between us.

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As I begin to get cloudy vision from bitterness, it distorts my view. Everyone has it better than me, everyone is out for number one, no one cares about me or the things that matter to me ….

And from there, it is just a short slippery slope until my narrow vision starts to drag God into the equation. Since I know He is good and kind and since He seems to be bestowing all kinds of goodness and kindness on my antagonists then He must be short-changing me and the ugly result of all of this is a spiraling downward cycle of self-pity, sarcasm, bitterness and cynicism. 

Look back at the definition of a cynic and let’s compare it to God’s word.

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God has told us to think more highly of others than ourselves, so thinking 100% of all my fellow humans are selfishly motivated is not lining up with truth. If I am programming myself to deal with everyone in light of this skewed thinking, I will become a very sad and unhappy person who doesn’t care a wit about someone else’s struggles.

God has plenty to say about scoffers or mockers, but the one that comes to mind first is we are not to sit down with them and join in.  (Psalm 1:1)

I notice so quickly the tone of the mocker in much of our modern day humor. Some of it is quite funny at first blush, depending on which side of the issue you stand. But if a talk show host or meme scoffs or mocks at your own side…watch out. But God says we are not to sit in the same audience with those who scoff and mock anything.

 It is not a holy response as Christians to make jokes and mock the people we disagree with. Scoffing and mocking harden our hearts and make us forget that God wills that NONE should perish. 

Hardening of the heart is fatal to our spiritual life. We must be on guard against it. 

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I confess I have had seasons when I realized how bitter and pessimistic my attitude had become and how much it was infecting my conversations and relationships.

I thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit that reminds me this is not what I want to be and I thank God for the help He gives me to repent and receive forgiveness and then turn around and head toward trusting Him and doing life with others who, just like me, are works in progress. 

As I go through this process of conviction, confession, repentance, forgiveness and restoration: I have found every single time that God meets me more than half way and the returning to fellowship with Him each time makes the periods I do stray less and less frequent.

I am an older dog…I am learning that the quicker I recognize the ugly signs of bitterness, mocking, sarcasm (which is one of my innate humor tactics…sigh) or knee-jerk skepticism…I go quickly now to God.

I don’’t want to end up pulling up a chair with scoffers and getting comfortable. 

Prayer is one of the ways we can protect ourselves from this disease. And not just praying against things don’t like all the time, but praying by opening up our own hearts before God and asking Him to show us what needs to be cleansed out of us so we can love Him and others more. 

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