don't let the world steal your day

black and white boat.jpg

I let the enemy beat me up today.

It sucked.

Now that I've collected myself, I've backtracked and thought about everything gone wrong and how I reacted. Ugh. Nothing feels worse than thinking you've made progress in your maturity as a Christian, and falling down. Far. And hard. 

Yesterday nothing and no one could touch me. A friend recently told me about a past experience of hers. She was waiting for a retail store to open up so she could get a pair of shoes that would be limited in supply. She was in the front of the line, and when the doors opened, she was trampled over by a herd of college football players who didn't understand the concept of the word "line." Yesterday, I could have been that girl, trampled at the front of line and you know what? I would have probably gotten up, crying of course, but I would have been okay. I wouldn't have yelled and screamed, I would have kept my cool, shaken it off and moved on. Fast-forward to today, I came home and got ready to load clothes in my dryer only to find that my husband have transferred clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer, running a cycle of dry clothes with wet clothes. Have I done this? Lazily, yes, on occasion. Did that matter today? Nope. While he was on a work call I managed to slam two doors, huff and puff while I hung a huge stack of clothes that had been piled up in my bedroom chair for days and jokingly (hmm...was I really joking?) threatened to do bad things to him if he happened to make that same laundry faux paux again....

What happened between yesterday and today? 

Correction, the question should be, what should have happened today that happened yesterday? 

Prayer. I woke up yesterday morning before the sun came up, tidied up a little bit in my home, made some hot tea and a small breakfast and spent time in God's word. 

What did I do today? I rolled over, woke up at the same time I did yesterday, but let the fact that the family dog had crept into my room overnight (in all his smelly glory I may add), irritate me enough to shoo him out and into the hubs' office and crawl back in bed. Could I have stayed awake? Yes. Would I have been better for it? Absolutely. Instead, I wake up an hour and a half later, late, and grab my phone. What pulled up? Of course, a negative posting on Facebook. 

The key here? Let God be first in your day. Don't start your day off with the world, because grace and mercy aside, it doesn't feel good to backtrack. 

Set your alarm, people. 

 

xoxo

marlena

runnin, runnin, runnin, runnin...

Runnin' runnin' runnin,
ain't runnin from myself no more
 

So, I'm an absolute scatterbrain, but I went from my study on Jonah to that Beyoncé song, Runnin... lol

...But isn't that what Jonah was doing? He was running from God. When we think about Jonah I know we usually first think about him sitting in the mouth of a huge fish (at least I do). But when I studied this book recently, I put myself in Jonah's shoes. How many times have I known what God expects of me and instead took the easy way out, only to discover that the easy way out sunk me deeper into my mess? This is what happened to Jonah and it happens to us all of the time. God puts something on our heart, it comes to us in the form of work, requiring a level of energy we are either to immature to exert effort for in our new faith, or making us feel "put out," like Jesus dying for us was not enough, that we should have the pleasure of being able to pick and choose when we want to act as Christians. DISCLAIMER: We are to act this way all the time! 1 John 3: 19 says, Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Let us remember that Jesus is the truth we speak of here.

Jonah was given an assignment. He was asked to preach to the people of Nineveh, but decided he would run instead of announcing God's judgment as God commanded. We're going to take a look at Jonah's disobedience, and how we can use it in our own lives.

Upon hearing God's demand, Jonah...

1. Disobeyed. He went in the opposite direction of Nineveh, bought a ticket and hopped on a ship, thinking he was out of dodge of the Lord.

God gives us messages through his prayer and knowledge of His word. As believers, we are called to please God and not man, and to spread His Gospel. While we will not hear an audible voice, we will be moved by His Holy Spirit to act in ways that please Him. Disobedience, and failure to submit fully will have us traveling just like Jonah, in a direction that is not in God's will for us. 

2. Ended up in a less than ideal situation. Because of his obedience, God "hurled a powerful wind over the sea that threatened to break the ship apart," Jonah 1:4.

God does not make us make bad decisions. We do this on our own. Sometimes we aren't fully delivered out of valleys we subject ourselves too until God sees that we've learned a lesson from our struggle. For a believer, he will deliver you out of these times. 

3. Recognized the power of God and the power of prayer after sinking to a valley from disobedience. Jonah prayed to God after being swallowed by the fish and the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

Just like Jonah found himself in less than stellar circumstances, his situation made him realize God's power, and he knew that God would be the only one who could help him so he prayed. It's important to pray and study God's word before we are in horrible situations, but, if we come to God humbly, as Jonah did from inside the fish, he will see us through our struggle!

4. Obeyed, yet questioned. Jonah traveled to Nineveh after God spoke to him a second time to deliver the message he gave him. Jonah did this, and because God saw what the people had done, and how they put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had initially planned.

God wants to give us a second chance, turn our lives around and follow Him. Our prayers do not fall on deaf ears if we seek him humbly, ready to admit our sin and fully repent from wrongdoing. When Jonah saw that God gave the people of Nineveh mercy, he was upset. God asked Jonah if he had the right to be angry. Did he?

Sometimes we find ourselves in obedience to God and find our situations remain stagnant while others' who continue to disobey flourish. The big question is this: do we all deserve God's mercy?

Yes. Some of our brothers and sisters just haven't stopped running from God yet.

 

xoxo

Marlena

Reconciling Hearts

With the holidays coming up, I've been thinking about families just a little bit more. Not necessary mine, but families in general. With relationship comes more opportunity for fellowship. But more opportunity for fellowship also paves the way for more opportunities to disagree and leave situations in rough places.

What might it mean if we decided today to reconcile ourselves with everyone. I mean EVERYONE. That Friend who posted something rude or  unflattering about you on social media. Or that Aunt who never keeps her promises to you, but continues to make them. What about the Father who left your family, leaving your mother to fend for herself with yourself and your siblings, causing a downward spiral that No One could have foreseen?

When we do not forgive we remain in bondage.

When we do not forgive we remain in bondage.

I didn't truly understand until I've come into new relationship with Jesus that when you are not reconciled to these people in your life, you are imprisoning yourself. There is freedom in Christ, but you will never gain that freedom if you are stifled by what you think is right, as opposed to what His word teaches us.

One word comes to mind.

PRIDE:

prīd/

noun

noun: pride; plural noun: prides

  1. 1.

    a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

God's word tells us that when we are believers in Christ, we are no longer friends and lovers of this world. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). 

When we are worldly, and fall into the trap of thinking that we can handle ourselves without God being at the center of our situations, "self" becomes more prominent. We worry about what pleases us and what makes us happy. This isn't thinking toward the eternal, this is thinking about RIGHT NOW. If Jesus came to Earth, lived a sinless life, carried the heavy, heavy burden of our sin, died and was resurrected, all for the sake of reconciling our hearts to our Heavenly Father, then why is it so hard for us to brush aside someone making us feel unimportant, angry, or less than? Why is our petty anger justified and elevated to a higher level than the actions of Christ?

When you sit around your dinner table this holiday season, think about the gift of salvation you can never earn and how it came to existence. Then, think about your relational misgivings. When put in context, and while thinking from an eternal viewpoint, I'm sure they will no longer seem as important. Jesus is the way to our Heavenly Father. He is the way to reconcile our hearts to God. Let's let him.

Now let's look at the definition of RECONCILE..

ˈrekənˌsīl/

verb

verb: reconcile; 3rd person present: reconciles; past tense: reconciled; past participle: reconciled; gerund or present participle: reconciling

  1. restore friendly relations between.

 

xoxo

marlena

pray for your home

Galatians 3:26 tells us that we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  He knows us so intimately that the hairs on our heads are all numbered (Matthew 10:30), and "He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them," (Psalm 147:4). How amazing is our God! He is King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords and he loves us so much that he knows us so personally :)

We are not gifted with Salvation because we are good, but because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and savior. We are all sinners, but because Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died for our sin, we are forgiven and declared free of guilt and consequence of sin before God when we accept and love His son. This is why we are his children.

One of the most important things you can do as a child of God is pray and be in communication with Him. As so many of us moms are sending our little people off to school in the mornings, and entering new routines, it is so important to keep our families under constant prayer. Here are a few tips!

1) Make prayer cards. At the beginning of your week, grab a few notecards and make prayer cards for your family. Don't be methodical or overly formal with your requests. Write and talk to God as you would your dad! Make one specifically for your children, your spouse, your parents, siblings and most importantly for your home. Write down prayers for upcoming events and concerns but most importantly, for what you'd like to see. Pray for strong relationships with Jesus for your growing babies, for example, or for your husband to learn how to slow down and enjoy the Present :)

2) Pray for those things that are going well. Make sure that you pray for those people and events that may not even seem to need prayer. It is important to make sure that we are thankful and prayerful in ALL situations, those that are good as well as those that are not.

3) Take time out daily. In the car, in your office at work, during a walk around your neighborhood, or even while you lay in bed at night. Be thankful that you have such an amazing God, and be in peace that He wants to know you.

4) Pray that your prayers are answered according to His will. Sometimes we want things done that are not in God's will for us. As you pray, pray this His will be done in each and every situation and circumstance.

5) Wait for your prayers to be answered. Add to your card stash as new prayer needs arise, and as you see God answering you, keep a separate stash of prayer cards to help you remember that while it may take him some time, God does hear us, and he answers all of his children!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).

 

xoxo

Marlena

are you a "popular" christian?

Why are you a Christian?

A few years ago, had someone asked me this question, I would have quickly said.

"I'm nice, I'm a good person and I have a good heart."

Did these things make me a Christian? No. Could these things be attributes of a Christian? Yes, of course!

When I say popular, I don't really mean well-known. I mean this, why do you go to church? Why do you sing and worship the way that you do, arms raised to heaven? Do you often type #blessed in your social media? Or, maybe, when a friend sends you a message about a struggle or hard time she is going through, you send an emoji with praying hands and type "praying!"

Maybe it is a habit, and maybe you do these things because it just seems like the right and "Christian" thing to do. But is it? Doesn't God specify the consequences of having integrity and being faithful in His word? (Proverbs 11:3).

In my growing relationship with Jesus, one thing I am coming to discover is this: genuineness is what is right. It is RIGHT to be genuine in all you do, especially in those things pertaining to Christ.  It is so easy to say and do things that seem right, but if there is no genuineness behind these actions, they may as well go undone. After realizing what it truly means to give myself to Christ in all things I do (and no, I'm not perfect and have to actively work at this daily!), I have taken more notice of all things done in His name. Do you know what I've discovered? If we're being honest, lots of bootie-style shoes, skinny jeans, and a certain "look" that has become popular with the influx of a millenial following in His church, comments ending in #blessed, leaders who tend to gain more popularity than the God they are serving and the list goes on. Now don't get me wrong. We can absolutely be fashionable and tag along with trends among our church friends, and we can even attend churches that are large in congregation. What we can't do is lose ourselves and postpone our growth in Christ. Below is some food for thought!

3 Three Potential Results of being Disingenuous in your Faith

1) You may open yourself to false-teaching.

As a believer, I think it is safe to say that in order to know God's word, you work at it. Knowing the word of God does not come because you show up to church every Sunday, or follow a bunch of "church like" people on Instagram, but you must "give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress (1 Timothy 4:15)." When we look to identify with what is popular, trendy, or bask in the things that seem to be more fun, it is easy to loose the Gospel that should be the center of our spiritual journey. False-teaching can introduce itself to you in a way that makes it seem real and true if your faith is lead by an emotions-based existence. Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 2:1 that "there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you."  It is important to know that in teaching, the appeal should not be to your flesh, but instead focused and directed on scripture.

2) You will not enjoy true relationship in Christ.

When you find yourself just going through the motions of Christian-life you will likely still find yourself unfulfilled. Why wouldn't you want to dig deep and cultivate a relationship with the God who made you? Out of all of the people in the world, He still thought it imperative to create you! Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that before He formed you in your mother's womb, God sanctified you and ordained you for a specific role on this earth (paraphrased). You will never know His purpose for you if you do not know Him.

3) Your duty in Christ may be missed, and those you are meant to bring to Christ may remain lost.

I attended a women's conference last year (http://www.recreatewomen.com/) and one of the speakers brought up an excellent point that I still think about regularly. When we begin to debate with ourselves about what we should be doing, how we should serve, how we should handle ourselves for the betterment of Christ, and ultimately how overwhelmed we are in the process of figuring all of this stuff out, the most important thing to remember is this:

What will happen on the other side of our disobedience?

When you get tired of serving, what about the people on the recipient side of your serve who need leadership and guidance in finding their way to Christ? What happens to them if you ignore your purpose? Ensure that you are doing your part by remaining faithful, knowing your purpose and executing your purpose for His kingdom!

Bible Verses to Remember
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

 

Word of the wise? The next time you send "Praying!" to a friend after she bears her heart in an emotional social media post, make sure you take the time to sit in a quiet place and truly pray over her and her circumstance.

Word of the wise? If you are so content with your life, enough so that you want to type #blessed, before you type, instead take the time and thank God for all of the things that are making you smile.

 

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your love, patience, and new mercies each day. Father, I pray that I will continue to grow in Christ, becoming more of you and less of me. I pray for discernment and strength so that I will be able to be a true believer, one that continues to grow into deeper relationship with Jesus, discerns true doctrine from that which is false and be obedient in what your will is for me. I pray that your will is done, and that I grow to glorify you in all of my endeavors, spoken, unspoken and amongst others. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

xoxo

Marlena

what and who are you living for?

I saw a marquee at a church recently and it said...

The Days are Long, But the Years are Short

How sadly true this is. It's amazing to me how much we sometimes have to fight so hard in order to just have TIME. I don't mean the time that you have set aside after working, cooking dinner and doing laundry. We know that time usually equates to fifteen minutes sitting with your eyes closed, laid back in your husband's recliner with your kids pulling the hem of your shirt seeking attention you desperately want to give. But we know this energy has been long gone, sucked away after nine hours of trying to move up/keep up/build up our careers and businesses. All so we can survive, pay bills, go on the occasional vacation, likely with a company cell phone at our beck and call. The time I'm speaking of is different. It's the time you have when you're able to wake up leisurely, take your time sipping from a cute cup of coffee (and not your Yeti cup because lids only matter when you're rushing to work in the morning), and having the ability to plan your day in a way that is fulfilling to us and pleasing to God.

What does this look like for you?

Who are you living for?

I took part in a small group a few months ago and we read the book Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the book at first. As we neared the end of our study, I read something that struck me as so honest that here I am, months later, and I think about the text often. Why do we just go with the flow of what everyone else is doing? Essentially what the world is doing? Yes its great to work an eight to five, salaried and dependable job, but if we are not in our God-given purpose, why do we keep doing it? Is it because it's normal, and everyone else is working, coming home, having dinner, sleeping and then waking up and doing it over again? Isn't that the definition of insanity and chaos when you're looking for change, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Maybe it just seems so far-fetched to be able to seek God in such a way that we are able to truly hone in on what he created us to be?

Think about your day to day. Maybe make a mental list of the things you do on a regular basis and ask yourself these questions about each...

1) Is Christ honored in the way I represent myself to the world?

2) Am I living on Purpose, for a purpose that is growing His kingdom? If so, what is it? How do I know that it is my God-given purpose?

3) Am I living to coincide with the world and its ways, to remain in"good" standing and to "keep up" with my peers, or are I living to stand out for Christ?

4) Do I have my focus on eternal things, rather than worldly things, as I accomplish tasks and interact with others?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him (John 11:9-10).

xoxo

Marlena