The Heart!

I always find it interesting when people begin to talk about sin. Many times, they don't just want to find out what is right and wrong, they want to find out how much they can get away with! Is one sin greater than the other? Does God really forgive me? Am I truly sorry? All these questions come down to the heart. Deep down, what are you motives? If you are truly sorry, then you will feel compelled to turn from that sin and do your best not to repeat it. You will have this longing in your heart to make things right. In Psalm 119:11, it says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." What does this tell us? It says that to know right from wrong, we must read God's word, find out what it truly says and means, and then follow it with our whole heart. Many people feel that if they do their best, they are truly good, and therefore a good person. God says that none of us are truly good, for we are all sinners. The problem with not knowing what God's word says is that we will just go around thinking that we are doing good, but not truly knowing what is good, therefore, being good according to our own standards, not God's.

Have you ever told a half truth? You omit part of the truth, and make it sound like it is the whole story. Half truth is just another word for a lie. Why is that? Because in your heart you are being deceiving. You know it and God knows it. A person tends to push this feeling into a corner and continue on. You try to tell yourself that you did tell the truth, even though you know the outcome would have been different if you had told the truth. The whole matter comes down to the heart. We are all born in sin, and we are all sinners. Our heart can never be fully pure while here on this earth. At the same time, we are created by God; He has a purpose for us. If we are truly His children, and have truly been saved by Him, the desires of your heart begin to grow closer to Him, desiring to be more like Him. When a person begins to pray, read the Bible, their heart changes. It no longer becomes a game of how to get away with a sin, or how far to stretch something to make it appear you are in the right, you begin to desire to do the right thing. You begin to remember that you are just as imperfect as the waiter having a bad day, or the driver who cut you off, who was maybe on their way to the hospital, or even the pastor who might say the wrong thing at the wrong time, not realizing that was the one thing that would offend you personally.

We all need to examine our own heart. Where is your heart at today? Is it hard, quick to judge, ready to react, and trying to get ahead any way it can, or is soft, quick to forgive, understanding of others imperfections, and desiring to be more like Christ. Take a moment to ask for forgiveness for the deceit that is in your heart, the impatience that consumes you, and ask God to fill your heart with Joy, to do your best to be honest in all you do, and to love those around you unconditionally. For God loves you...just the way you are...imperfections and all!



This summer I decided to try my hand at gardening. I grew up on a farm, but never learned how to garden. Let's just say this has been quite an experience for me. My garden is small, and it is surrounded by many others who have decided to garden as well. Our plots are marked by a mere piece of twine that is tied to a post. Each gardener has chosen to plant different things, and they each have their own unique style of planting and tending their garden. For example, the person next to me has apparently never touched it, and others have tended theirs each day. How can you tell? Weeds!

To say I am great at gardening would be a lie. I check on my garden once or twice a week and pull out the weeds that I feel are making the greatest threat to my plants. I went out a week ago to check on my slowly growing watermelon plant. I had to plant it twice, since the first set of seeds refused to grow. I carefully examined my beautiful plant to find about 6 baby watermelons growing. There weren't many weeds, and they were looking lovely! I waited a week and went back to check it to find weeds galore! A nasty vine, that although has beautiful flowers and appears harmless, is completely wrapping itself around my watermelon leaves. I slowly, and carefully began to pull this winding vine. As I began to remove the weeds, I noticed that my once large looking watermelon plant was about the third of the size! The weeds had grown so fast and taken over, that I now only had 4 baby watermelons. What looked so grand and beautiful, had been overcome by destruction in merely a week!

I began to think about the weeds that consume our life. We are like plants in the fact that we grow if we are watered and taken care of, but can shrivel and die when the weeds of this life take over. I looked at my beautiful watermelon only a week ago! Within a short week, it went from overflowing with beauty to having a false sense of life. Sure, the weeds look beautiful, they have these cute little flowers, and they appear to make the plant look like it is flourishing. But, when you get closer and begin to pull it away, you realize it has wrapped itself around the healthy plant and is slowly killing it.

What are the weeds in your life? What is tearing you down and wrapping itself around you to the point where you don't even realize it is killing the healthy parts of you? Have you read your Bible each day, or taken those moments to pray? Within a week my plant was overcome with weeds. If each day I had taken the time to check on my plants, I could have quickly removed the weeds before they took over. The slight pull to remove it would have been easy. Once left, the weeds become so entwined, and the roots so deep, that it becomes harder and harder to remove.

Let us be reminded to tend to our personal gardens daily. Reading God's word and praying is God's way of feeding us and tending to us. We become strong, and when those weeds of life try to wind their way around us and overtake us, God carefully removes those roots before they become so deep that it affects our spiritual growth. Be open to let God work in you and remove those hindrances in your life...those nasty, winding, weeds!


Love Your Neighbor!

I was recently spending time with my boys, when we began to hear screaming coming from the neighbors yard. My son looked out to see our neighbor in tears and distress. Not sure what to do, I began getting ready to go over there. Before I could step out the door, I received a call from them. In a tearful quiver, she apologized for screaming so loud and told me that her father had passed away. In anguish she was screaming in prayer for the father she had lost. Her first instinct following her meltdown was to call me! She knew that I cared, and she knew that I would be there for her. I let her cry and prayed with her as she went off to continue her emotional journey to the funeral home.

What caused her to call me? I am but a neighbor, a person that just happens to live across the street. I am not family, I have no relation, and yet I was the one she called. The answer is that I have worked hard to develop a relationship with her. I have worked with her, taken care of her child, baked goodies for her, and spent time just hanging out at their fire pit, roasting marshmallows. We have gone far beyond the normal neighbor relationship of smiling at a each other as you happen to leave for work at the same time, or the polite wave as you drive by them daily.

Our family has personally developed relationships with each of the neighbors that surround us. We know their names, where they work, what religion they are, and what they like to do for fun. They invite us to birthdays and have each spent time at our home. I have baked countless goodies for them, and exchanged Christmas cards. We watch each others homes when on vacation, and we have each others numbers in our phone.

So, why did the woman across the street call me in her time of need? It wasn't because we were just neighbors, we had become friends. In Mark 12:29-31, the teachers of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was. His response: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” Not only are we told to love our neighbor, it is the 2nd greatest commandment!

Let us remember to take the time to get to know the people around us. Instead of giving the usual quick smile and then running to your car for work, say, "Hi" and take a moment to get to know them. Bake them something, mow their lawn, rake their leaves, or grab the lawn chairs and just sit outside and roast some marshmallows. It doesn't have to be a fancy, drawn out plan; it just needs to come from the heart. Remind yourself of how you like to be treated, cared for, and apply that same courtesy to those around you. Take a little time today to Love Your Neighbor!


Joy in the Small Things

We recently received a call that a church was in desperate need of a drummer. Their current drummer had a family emergency and would be unable to play that Sunday. A couple of members of the church worked with my husband and knew that we had a son who played drums. They contacted us, in hope that our son would be free to help them out. He willingly accepted and eagerly went to help them in their time of need. As we walked into the church, it was just a small chapel that actually was held in a funeral home. There were about 30 members in this small room, and yet you could tell that each one was happy to be there.

Now, our son is only 14. He has played drums since he was 7, but he is still very young. He played with them, and the joy that overcome the group was amazing. They instantly fell in love with him, begging him to come back soon. When the worship team had finished playing their last song, the woman at the piano jumped up instantly, ran over to my son, and grabbed him in a tight embrace. Joy covered her face as she confessed from the platform, "You are such an inspiration!." The bass player stopped everyone to say how you can learn drums, but some things can't be learned, and our son just "had it". The man beamed from ear to ear as he had proclaimed this statement.

As I watched all this take place, of course I was proud of my son, but the thing I saw most was the amazing joy that this group of people felt. They were so happy to have someone play drums with them, that they didn't care he was only a teen. They didn't sit with their list of rules of who could play and who qualified for what; they had a need, and this person willing came to help them. They didn't have much, and were so grateful for just a little bit of help. The hug that lady gave my son, was full of so much heart and gratitude that you could see and "feel" that it came straight from her soul. Later the sermon was on rules and how we as people have a long list of rules that everyone has to follow. We create all these laws that no one can ever match up to. We put barriers between us and forget the love. This little church reminded me of why I love ministry. I love those small churches, that start out with all heart. I love those who just want to give all that they have, without all the rules attached to it. They give with free abandonment; they love unconditionally.

It is easy to get caught up in the numbers, the rules, the laws, and the little unimportant details. Let us remember the joy we had when we were young and started something new. When you had nothing, and yet felt you had everything. When we were full of joy at the tiniest gesture of help and love, for we knew that God had an amazing journey ahead of us! He still does! Have you life? Have you breath? Don't stop dreaming of God's plans for you and may you find joy in the little things along the way!


Wives, Love Your Husbands!

Ah the joys of marriage! When a girl gets married, she spends a long time dreaming about it. Most girls dress up and have pretend weddings as children, and as they grow, they continue to envision their special day! The difference between the reality and a dream can sometimes be overwhelming for those young brides. They have seen all the romantic movies, read all those fancy romance novels, and they begin to have a false sense of what their marriage is going to be like.

When a woman first meets that amazing someone, they begin to notice only the special things that their man is doing for them and ignore everything else. They accept their flaws, and love their differences....for "opposites attract"...right? Everything is exciting and new and their significant other gets them to try new things and experience life from their point of view. At first, we as women go along with this; we accept them just as their are. As time goes on though, we begin to notice patterns of things, and how those quirks and differences start to bother us. We get frustrated when the things we had seen in books or saw in the movies is not what is occurring in our own relationships. We have allowed these things to give us a false sense of what true love really is.

One of the things I dislike most about those romance movies, is that the guy is suppose to read our minds! He is suppose to have the most amazing memory, know every single detail about us, know how we are feeling at any given moment, and act upon it accordingly. This is not reality. There might be a time when I am feeling blue, but I may say I'm fine. My husband says something in a tone that I take the wrong way, and I begin to get angry, yet he has no clue what he just said. When these things occur, we need to stop and think about what happened and why we are taking these things the wrong way. Each woman does not like it when a man uses the "time of the month" card, but it is a factor in how we feel. As women, we need to take a moment and find out why things offend us. Were our hormones going crazy? Did we miss breakfast? Is work becoming too stressful?

When the negative thoughts about our spouse begin to crawl in, and his imperfections shine through, we need to take a moment to step back and remember that we are just as imperfect. A guy does not have the ability to read our thoughts, know how we feel at each moment of the day, and cannot possible be "Mr. Romance" 24/7. He will not have the same emotions, and most guys have no desire to talk about them. God made him the "head of the home", and with that is built in a desire to provide. His job can become stressful at times, and he may feel overwhelmed. The desire to provide can take its toll. When my children were little and I stayed at home, there were days when my husband walked in and I handed the kids over without a word and went to have some moments of sanity. We need to remember that they need that too! Give them time to unwind at home, let them know they have a safe haven to run to. When my husband comes home, we all run to the door to hug him and let him know we are all glad that he is home, and how thankful we are that he works to help provide for us. Happiness begins in the small things. Love isn't always fireworks, but it's a foot massage, or making their favorite meal. It's the little things that matter. Let us remember to let our husbands be who they are and love them for how God made them!