Choosing – with peace

In the process of trying to find a new direction, for my life, my writing, maybe even how to live out my faith, I’ve backed away from some things. Faith By Choice was one of them. But, you know what? Here I am again, rambling about faith and choices and the God that loves us more than we can ever imagine.

I’ve spent a lot of the last month attending online training webinars on writing and marketing and things I sat and just shook my head at. Is that really me?

One webinar last week got me really excited. It was practical. It had veins of spirituality running through it. It required choices to move forward. It said nothing about praying about the choices, but I believed it was put in front of me for a reason. I ultimately made choices and began a new direction.

And then the Lord reminded me that I had made all those choices according to what I felt was right for me, what I believed was the best course of action, jumping right ahead without waiting on confirmation from Him.

I was reminded of some of the guidelines I learned to use in making choices. Did my choice line up with the Word? Was it lining up with His character? Was there peace in moving in the direction I wanted to go?

Okay. So, there was some of that in some of my choices. But I know that only because I looked after the fact, hoping that I wasn’t totally off track. Which is a testimony to God’s grace and mercy. He keeps me grounded enough to not get crazy wild, but still, the process is equally as important as making the choice and there was a flavor of “I’ll do this to keep Him happy and I still get what I want” in the decisions I had made.

I knew, but wouldn’t acknowledge, that there was no peace. I sat for four days staring at my new websites. Two of them. One business, one personal. Playing around with the design, killing time. Trying to determine what to write, how to “work” the plan.

No peace. None.

So I offered my apologies and got away from the computer, and the television, and the radio and waited on God. I prayed for every person on my prayer list, I prayed for the nation and for whatever came to mind to pray.  I sat and waited for that still small voice to offer me a breadcrumb. Nothing. So I went back to the computer and sat and stared. I was frustrated. I was ready to quit. That old nature was moving dangerously close to a rebellious tantrum.

I turned on the television and a preacher I like came on. So I listened. Oooohhh. The lesson was on making sure we were lined up with God. So after it was finished I turned it off and picked up the Bible and was led to start reading Provers. Wisdom.

So I read, and prayed, and stayed away from the websites and this morning I just wanted quiet. I sat by the open window and listened to the birds and had my morning conversation with my Father. And then I read some more in Proverbs. It was not like I’d never read it before, but it was blowing me away. Not because I felt any wiser, but because it was clearly defining, in just the first two chapters, how wretched the world can become without wisdom, and how pursuing wisdom is our way to security.  Funny thing, I wasn’t even concerned about my writing or my websites or my attempts to continue my working from home.

I turned on the television and went to my Roku menu, looking for one specific teaching pastor I always gained insight from. I found him and started to listen to a sermon from the first of the year. I didn’t know what he was about to share.

It was about finding God’s will for your life. Finding God’s direction, and the ways to do so.

I had to laugh. God was definitely telling me something, even if the venue wasn’t that still small voice. For the next hour, I listened to familiar scriptures, and the importance of seeking God, and the fact that the “way” of the journey is more important than the destination.

Then I came to the computer and pulled up both of my websites. “Okay, Lord, you know I just want to be pleasing to you, so whatever you say, I’m in.”

And, here I am. This site that was retired, now active again. The other sites, still active as well. The choices I made were not bad ones, but I had left something very important out. In making my decisions, I made them on who and what I thought I was according to worldly definitions.  Sometimes we label ourselves according to those definitions, and we might not be far off in our estimations, but they are weak, without substance without God as our foundation.

And as I sit here and ramble on about decisions and the journey to them and away from them, there is peace. A reminder from my Lord that Faith is by Choice, not always easy, but without regret.

Blessings – Vicki

 

 

 

 

 

Captive Thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NASB)

 Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!  I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

I was sitting at the table, lunch in front of me, Bible opened off to the side, and continued reading on in 2 Corinthians, which I had started this morning. In my Bible is says Paul was defending himself. In a couple of the other Bible versions I checked, the header said he was describing himself.  In a way, the opening seemed familiar. I am much bolder when I write than when I am face to face.

In continuing on, I was reminded how important it is to not take things out of context. That is why I like to take the verse notations out and read the paragraphs as the letters they originally were written.

I, like many, have quoted the section reading “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. . .” Solid truth.  But still, when looking at why the man was saying those things, it took on a whole new depth. Here was Paul, being accused of walking according to the flesh, and having to defend himself with the explanation I just took an excerpt from. Having the courage and confidence to admit that maybe he was walking in the flesh (not according to the flesh), but he did not war in the flesh. How exciting that as we face our accusers,  we can demonstrate to them how we are not perfect by any means but are doing our spiritual warfare under the guidance of Paul’s teaching.

So many times it is easy to state we will “take captive our thoughts unto Jesus” when we are troubled, or bad thoughts flash through our minds,  and not grasp all that went into this proclamation by Paul.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

So much we need to be doing. The destruction of speculations, pride, intellectual pursuits that go directly against the knowledge of God. To totally surrender every thought in obedience to Christ. To live in self-discipline. To do so continually, as he says “we are taking every thought captive. . .” It is a continual process of total surrender to Christ.

I had to raise a brow at the last portion of that statement. “and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” Besides not remembering it, even though I have read this passage many times, it seemed out of place somehow, Rather than butcher it, I’m including something from Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.

Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience – Not only by spiritual censure, but miraculous punishments. When your obedience is fulfilled – When the sound part of you have given proof of your obedience so that I am in no danger of punishing the innocent with the guilty.

Makes a gal think, you know? I’m sure there are a lot more notes that I will be checking into.

Anyway, just some things rolling around in the mind this afternoon. When I’m “taking thoughts captive”, I’ll be more aware that it is not an occasional thing I do, but a life of submission.

By the way, lunch was a salad.

Blessings – Vicki

What do we see?

My pantry is actually two shelves in a closet. At six o’clock in the morning, with only one small light on, the view is not so clear. Kind of like our view of life at times. We look at what we have and see what we don’t have.

I see one half empty shelf . I see another shelf that looks like a small animal was tripping all over itself looking for something, anything, but non perishable goods. I see a lack of organization. I see nothing that is quick and easy. Nothing that says to me “quick fix for hunger”.

I close the closet door, sigh, and start coffee. Coffee is always on the kitchen counter, easy to grab, just like the tea. Priorities you know.

Okay, I did it to myself. I said the word, now I have to continue. Priorities. It is easy to get into the car, drive four blocks down to the store and grab a donut, or a package of sweet rolls and call it breakfast. Just like it’s easy to go a few blocks the other direction and get a big fat greasy hamburger, fries and chocolate malt, or in another direction get a pizza for not an extreme price, something that could last at least two meals. But would it?

So I’m listing some priorities. Not in order of importance, because they are equal.  More as a method of order. Order is my life line.

Priority one: Know thyself.  I can’t get a pizza and not spend the whole day, or night, picking at it until it’s gone, I’m miserable, and the next two days I feel like …..well, not good.  Same with donuts, rolls, and fries. Fortunately, or not, meat is not much of a temptation at all.

Priority two: Be thou mindful of stewardship. Right now I’m in a transition period and my money needs to be watched carefully. I need to steward my money as well as my time. I need to steward my health – spiritual, physical, and mental. Not just now during transition, but always. That falls back to priority one.

Priority three: Forgot not thy benefactor.  God has provided all I’ve ever needed and I am certainly not going to forget that now.

Priority four: Give of thyself. It still amazes me that I am able to give, of my time, of my food, of small gifts when I am pondering the bill paying schedule and making payments and discover on the first day of this new month all bills are covered. Reciprocity.

So, in reality, looking at the early morning bleary view of the closet, I see several meals. Soups. Casseroles. Bread. Even pie(no, don’t go there). What is required is a little effort on my part to be creative and actually cook. Something I know how to do.

I chose to see not only what is in front of me, but how it can be made into so much more. I chose to refuse to focus only on what I don’t have. I chose to be grateful for what I do have. It is always enough, because my faith in a loving God has proven it to be so.

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