Thursday, May 12, 2011

When Life is Sour

This post is by blogger Lysa TerKeurst.
Mine, Mine, Mine!

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

I am a magnet for strange.


Recently I was outside with my three dogs soaking up the sunshine. After being in snowy Pennsylvania the weekend before, I needed the warmth of the Carolinas to soak deeply into my bones. Southern girls don't do snow in the spring.

Anyhow, back to the sunshine and dogs. We got a new puppy named "Willow" for Christmas. Well, our other dogs Champ and Chelsea aren't sure what to think of precious, little three-pound, Willow.

She annoys them. In every way.

I thought it would be a good investment for the dog relations in our home if I spent time with them outside to help them all feel the love. So, I sat on the ground and loved on each dog.

They enveloped me in a flurry of wet kisses, fur, and stinky dog breath. I was having a ball. And they were all getting along. Bliss.

Until...Willow came and sat on my lap. Claiming the prized location of closeness with me, I don't think she realized the signal she was sending. Champ suddenly backed up and growled. His tail stopped wagging. And he was not happy.

"Oh Champ," I reassured him, "Willow is a baby. Be nice."

More growling.

"No sir! Champ, be nice. Come here. I can love on you while Willow sits in my lap," I reassured him once again, while rubbing behind his ears.

He seemed to be happy again, and licked my cheek.

More bliss.

But then, out of the blue, he walked beside me, looked straight at Willow, lifted his leg, and drenched me in tee-tee!

What in the world!? I couldn't believe what was happening.

After recovering from my shock and changing my clothes, I Googled it.

Some say Champ was marking his territory. "That's MY mama!"

His strong expression of "MINE" was a stark reminder to me of just how disgusting a heart bent on self can be. Champ couldn't enjoy all he was experiencing in the moment, because he was so laser focused on the one way he felt slighted.


Several years ago, God challenged me to recognize and refute selfishness by seeing — really seeing all that I've been given. And never looking at a blessing I was given as something just for me. I always make myself think two things...

1. Thank You God for entrusting this blessing to me. I know it is a gift from You.

2. How can I use this as an opportunity to bless someone else? The blessing will be more rewarding if it's not all about me.

Do these things come naturally? Not at first. Not in a 'me first,' Mine! Mine! Tee-tee on others kind of world.

But we aren't called to live according to the norm, doing what comes naturally.

We are called to rise above. Be set apart. Be different. Be pure in every way. "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).

What blessing do you have that might need to be shared today? What blessing do I have that might need to be shared today?

Right in the midst of what we're doing today, how can we graciously and purely represent Christ as we RE-present Him everywhere we go?

Good stuff to ponder as I washed my smelly outfit that day.

Dear Lord, thank You for every good and perfect gift You have given me. Help me to put others before me and to have a heart to see them as You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
What opportunity has been given to you recently that you can in turn pass on to others? Will you take the initiative to do that today?

The journey will be more rewarding if it's not all about me. Do I agree with this statement? Have I done this before? How will I plan to implement this going forward?

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (NIV)

Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (NIV)

Psalm 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (NIV)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The No and the Nod of God" by Laura Caldwell

The following is from Laura Caldwell's blog Faith Fuel
The No and the Nod of God

I haven't been posting as much, lately--I know. But I've been having a sort of mini revival--all thanks to recently discovering anew that God's No is not the same as God's frown. I suddenly feel so loved and protected, in spite of all the No's I've had.

God's No is not such a bad thing, I've been discovering. But No is not a word we normally enjoy or appreciate.

Think of it: when you were a child and you reached out for something and heard a severe "No!" it was probably not an enjoyable experience. There might have been a No to dessert, a No to getting a toy, a No to going to a party. We remember the No's. And yes, of course, your parents (hopefully) said No to protect you: No to touching hot stoves, No to walking alone at Night, No to staying past curfew, etc etc. But still, a No is not a word we heartily embrace.

The word "No" has gotten a bad rep. And lately I've been discovering that when God says No, He might just be saying "I love you too much to let you go through that least right now." Sometimes No is "Not yet" and sometimes God's No is a resounding Alarm not too unlike the clanging fire alarm that goes off because a call comes into the local fire station that some bo-bo has set their kitchen on fire because they had their dish towel too close to the stove (I have never done that, but I have set my hair on fire when I leaned too close to the candle, once. But no fire truck was needed, thank you).

When God says No it could often mean an indirect Yes to something else--something you don't YET have in mind, but God does. God always has your Best in mind when He answers you. Because He knows the plans He has for you (Jer. 29:11).

Lately I've had a renewed enthusiasm in coming to God in prayer and discovering that I really don't care whether he says No or nods Yes--I just care that He cares, that He bends down to listen to me...and that His Answer is always perfect, always in my best interest. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out His answer.

But one thing I know for sure: I'm begining to appreciate and love the No and the Nod of God...because I know that He loves me.