home speaking topics endorsements contact

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Second Block to Gratitude

We are looking again at Hebrews 13:5-6 and the truths it shares with us that lead us to greater gratitude:

"be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
God is our Helper but we believe the lie:

God isn't my helper, therefore I must provide for myself. Financial challenges, a lack of answered prayer, and any number of obstacles can contribute to this lie. 

I remember when we didn't have any extra money and an unexpected expense hit us. We didn't know where the money would come from. I prayed but didn't really have much hope extra money could be found.

Our backyard brick fence backed up to a fairly major street and one day, I heard a crash. A car had run into our brick fence. Oh, great! How are going to deal with this? I wondered. It just seemed like an added burden not knowing if we were responsible for re-building the wall ourselves. Instead of God providing, He had just added to our problems.

But then Larry realized the man's car insurance would pay for the rebuilding of the wall. We received an estimate and the insurance company sent us a check along with suggestions for who to contact for the work. 

But our neighbor who did concrete work said, "Oh, I can rebuild that wall for much less." Guess how much less? The exact amount that we owed for the unexpected expense. God had provided and helped us in an unusual way beyond our capability to help ourselves.  (Tweet that!)

The next time your lack of gratitude is based in the lie God doesn't help, remember the times He has helped you. If you have a story of His help, share it with us. I know my readers will be blessed by it.

In our next post on Hebrews 13:5-6, we will look at the third lie that can block gratitude and contentment.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Want to be More Grateful?

Thanksgiving Day has passed and we've all been reminded to be grateful for the many blessings we enjoy. I was reading Hebrews 13:5-6 in preparation for a heart of gratitude and the passage refers to contentment. And if you think about it, contentment is tied into gratitude. When we are discontent, we aren't grateful for some aspect of our life. We want more or we want something to be changed. We aren't content the way things are. 
Here are those verses:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV).

I was struck with how wonderfully God communicates why we are not content/grateful at times. God gives us the antidote to fight discontent but we must first recognize the lies we believe, which are the opposites of God's promises in those two verses. If we don't pinpoint the lies, we can't combat them with God's truths.

I've put in bold blue those truths. Here are the lies they are indicating and how God invites us to combat them. I'll cover the first one this time and the other two in two future posts.

God has left or forsaken me, therefore I am on my own. Talk about feeding our discontent and lack of gratitude. The pressure of trying to figure out life on our own is a heavy burden.

My primary discontented period of life occurred years ago yet set the stage for me learning that God would never leave me nor forsake me. (Tweet that!) In 1977, after seven years of marriage, I was discontent with my life to the point I was physically abusing my two-year-old daughter and praying my husband would die. I almost took my life. Discontent fed depression and landed in despair. I prayed over and over again that God would take away my anger, but when He didn't, I concluded He had left me and forsaken me because He no longer loved me. 

What lies! The truth was He just had a better plan of learning His steps for overcoming anger and being content with a husband who seemed oblivious to my needs. God healed our family and marriage and began my ministry. I can say confidently, you and I are not on our own. No matter the status of our lives, He is aware and knows the plan for our good and His glory.

In our next post, we'll find a second lie from Hebrews 13:5-6 that destroys our gratefulness. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Company Coming? Tips for Peace

1. Lock doors of rooms that are messy. Of course, don't lock the bathroom door.

2. Have duct tape and masking tape available to make repairs. You'll be surprised what can be fixed quickly with one of those.

3. Can’t get dishes, pots and pans washed and put away? Put them in the oven, clothes dryer, washing machine or freezer. 

4. Only dust around items. Don’t lift anything.

5. Only vacuum where people walk. That’s where the dirt is. 

6. Don’t clean showers. No one goes in there. Put a plant in the shower to hide any dirt. 

Finally and here's the most important key: Don’t clean anything because your house is not a reflection of you. Your guests are visiting you—not your house. (Tweet that!)

Please share other tips you use to have peace during the holidays.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What's the Secret Within Gomer's Story?

Hope is what the story of Gomer teaches us. God reaches out again and again to woo us and actually already considers us perfect in his eyes (Colossians 1:10) as his princesses. And a part of our inheritance is forgiveness, both at the point of salvation and throughout our earthly existence. Lets see what the story of Gomer offers us. 

Gomer represents Israel, who turns away from their Lord God time and time again. Hoseas response to her represents Gods response to a sinning nation and is Gods reassuring message hell do the same with us. God wants Gomer (and Israel) to see herself through his own eyes: she is lovely and his love for her is not based upon her behavior. God knows her life will be better by staying faithful to her husband, because she will experience love, protection, and security. Shell be able to see herself as cleansed, valuable, and significant. If she doesnt stay faithful, his love for her never wavers or ends.

The same applies to us. God calls us to himself to enjoy his good gifts and to turn away from the destructive consequences of sin, which Jesus made possible by his death and resurrection.

  • Scan Hosea 1-3. Why does God command the prophet to marry Gomer and have children with her (1:1-11)?

Each of Hosea and Gomers childrens names mean something important. The first child is Jezreel, meaning God will scatter,because Israel was about to be attacked by Assyria in the valley of Jezreel. The second child is Lo-Ruhamah, meaning unpitied,because Gods pity had ended. In an effort to bring Israel to repentance, the Israelites would be taken into captivity. And the third, Lo-Ammi, meaning not my people,because God was not acknowledging these Israelites as his own people.

Although the names might seem to spell permanent rejection, if you read Hosea chapter 4-14 (even though we wont for this study), youll see the disciplining he gives them is temporary. God continues to try to woo them to himself.

  • When Gomer is acting in sin, what is Hoseas attitude toward her (2:1-13)?

Its difficult for us to understand all the symbolism in the book of Hosea. But there is a secret within it: God wanting to woo Israel back to himself through the example of Hosea reaching out again and again to his immoral and adulterous wife, Gomer.

Israel (represented by Gomer) is called a harlot, because the nation has put its affectionsworshiptoward other gods, making Jehovah like a jilted husband. Its godsare things like looking to other countries to provide and protect them. Thus, the Israelites show how they regard God as impotent and unloving, thus besmudging his name before other nations. They also offer sacrifices to the foreign god,Baal. Although Israel keeps Gods appointed religious holidays and services, their hearts arent sincerely worshipping. Their worshipis all for show in an attempt to get God to do what they want.

(Because this post is from my women's Bible study on women of the Bible entitled Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, I will include the questions that the "student" is asked in the book.)
  • What is the purpose of the discipline Hosea gives Gomer (Hosea 2:6-7)? 
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,    and I will build a wall against her,    so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers    but not overtake them,and she shall seek them    but shall not find them.Then she shall say,    ‘I will go and return to my first husband,    for it was better for me then than now.’ (Hosea 2:6-7 ESV)
  • How does Hosea try to woo Gomer back to him (vv. 14-15)?
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,    and bring her into the wilderness,    and speak tenderly to her.  And there I will give her her vineyards    and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15 ESV)
  • What does his loving heart represent to you about God wooing Israel and us back to himself?

The phrase bring her into the wildernessis describing how God will separate Israel from opportunities to worship other loves.” 

Sometimes God does the same thing with us. He puts obstacles in our way to help us stop turning away from him. (Tweet that!) For instance, we may feel depressed because we are making ungodly choices. Although depression can have a physical cause, God can use even overwhelming sadness to motivate us to call upon him to help us.

At times all of us feel like Gomer. We've made mistakes and sinned over and over again and it's hard for us to feel like God continues to reach out to us. 

At those times, remember how God tells Hosea to reach out to Gomer--over and over again. God is showing us His faithful and unconditional love. He never gives up on us.

(Choices of the Heart makes a wonderful study for individuals or groups. Keep it in mind for your next women's Bible study).

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Everyone is a Believer...

Does that statement, "Everyone is a believer..." get your attention? I hope so because if we can understand that truth, it will help us know how to respond to those who think they don't believe in anything.

You see, everyone believes in something. I recently finished reading Nancy Pearcey's book,  Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes.

She writes, "Humans have a tendency to look to some power or principle or person to make sense of life and give it meaning. And that constitutes their de facto religion, whether they use theological language or not." (Location 397 Kindle).

She also states, "We could say that every concept of humanity is created in the image of some god." (Location 404 Kindle).

She shares a story of a young adult who told her at a speaking engagement, 

"I don't think I'm a Christian anymore.""That's interesting," I (Nancy) said. "What have you accepted instead?""What?""If there is no God, what then? What do you think is true, and how would you support it?"The teen was speechless. Her entire focus had been on reacting against her parents and church. It had not occurred to her that she now bore the responsibility to think through the options for herself and make an informed search for truth. (Location 2897, Kindle).

We all respond to life and people based upon our belief system. No one has a perfect belief system. All of us are like a color-blind person saying something is a particular color. The Holy Spirit wants to help us correct our color blindness. He also wants to use us, even with our imperfect and incomplete perspective of Christianity. 

If you'd like to explore more about these ideas, I highly recommend Nancy's book. It has helped me see that I can more effectually respond to another's beliefs with grace and peace. I can ask them questions about their belief "filter" and seek to understand what they believe because every person is a believer. 

(P.S. I don't receive any benefit from recommending this book. But I wanted to share it with you because it was so beneficial to me.)

 (graphic/photo from stuartmiles99 and David Castillo Dominici, both found at www.freeditigalphotos.net).

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Advent Family Project You'll Love

Years ago I created an Advent family activity I called, "Box of Blessings." It helped our family's thoughts focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I apologize if you see this information in several places where I've posted it. Since the timing is limited for allowing people to use it, I'm putting it in several places. Thanks for understanding.

Directions for Advent Family Activity Tweet that! 

Here are the directions to create it.

Wrap a large box with Christmas paper, wrapping the lid separate. Gather 24 visual aids, wrap each one individually, write out tags for each with an object lesson, Scripture and discussion question. (On each tag, write a number indicating the order it should be opened). Place the gifts in the box and close.

On December 1, open the large gift-wrapped box containing 24 small wrapped gifts, and read the enclosed tag: "Today we are beginning a Christmas project. We will open a different present for the next 24 days to help remind us of God's most precious gift His Son Jesus."

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing for your own “Box of Blessings.” If you'd like to receive a full list of the 24 visual aids along with the object lesson, Scripture, and discussion question, email Kathyspeak AT gmail DOT com and write "Box of Blessings" in the subject line. I'd love to send it to you.

Gift: Several pieces of any kind of food. READ: Does food always stay the same even after a long time? No, it changes when it gets old, doesn't it? But Jesus never changes; He is always the same. (Hebrews 13:8) Why do you think it is important that Jesus never changes?

Gift: A heartshaped object. READ: Hearts remind us of love. We love others, but did you know that God loves us even more? (I Corinthians 13:47) How many things about love can we find in these verses?

Gift: A piece of soap. READ: Jesus washed His disciples’ feet to show them that they should be servants to each other. (John 13:5) How can we be a servant to each other?

Gift: A piece of flat bread for each person. READ: Jesus was tempted just like we are. (Matthew 4:111) When we are tempted, how can we resist the Tempter like Jesus did?

Gift: A small candle or flashlight. READ: Both a candle and a flashlight give light. (Matthew 5:16) How can we be a light so that other people can see Jesus in us?

Gift: A little Bible or tiny Scripture booklet. READ: God gives us His words in the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16) How does the Bible help us to live the Christian life?

Gift: A piece of modeling clay. READ: We can mold this piece of clay into whatever we want it to be. Sometimes we want to be like the people of the world but Jesus wants to mold us into His image. (Romans 12:1,2) Are there some things we do that are like the world and not like Jesus?

Gift: Scissors. READ: With scissors, we can cut out crowns for us to wear. (Have construction paper available for crowns.) Jesus promises to give heavenly crowns to those who still love Him even when sad things happen to them. (James 1:12) What sad thing has happened in each of our lives? Do we still love Jesus?

Gift: A toy boat. READ: The disciples were afraid they would die in a storm. (Mark 4:3540) Are we afraid of something? What does God say about fear?

Gift: A small battery. READ: A battery gives a flashlight the power to produce light. Similarly, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live a Christian life and have the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23) What are the fruits of the Spirit? How can we have the fruits of the Spirit?

Gift: A penny for each person. READ: God gives us everything we have and wants us to give a part of it back to Him. (2 Corinthians 9:7) What can each of us give to God? Does God want us to be happy or sad when we give to Him?

Last Gift for Christmas Day: A photograph of each child when each was a baby. READ: You used to be a baby, didn't you? So was Jesus. Just as you are growing up, Jesus grew up so that He could one day become our Savior. (Luke 2:120) What do you want to be when you grow up? In what way can each of us continue to have the Christmas spirit every day of the year?

(Image from Master images found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Since We Have Irreconcilable Differences...

Since Larry and I have irreconcilable differences .... after being married 46 years ... we have decided ...

Oh, wait, I'm first supposed to announce the winner of the book drawing for Cheri Cowell's fabulous Bible study book, One Story, One Mission, One God, Part I: The Old Testament.

And the winner is... DRUM ROLL!... "unknown." I don't know her name but she has won and if that is you, please email me your name and mailing address to me: Kathyspeak AT gmail DOT com. I will pass it along to Cheri and she will send you an autographed copy of her book. If you want it autographed to anyone different, please let me know.  Congratulations!!!!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Since Larry and I have irreconcilable differences, even though we've been married 46 years, we've decided to ... DRUM ROLL!... wait for it... stay married and keep being willing to have God use those differences to purify us. 

Since we have irreconcilable differences, we've decided... Tweet that!

In fact, we tease each other often and say to each other, "Ok, let's stay married." That's our way, amongst others, of reminding our beloved we are committed to this relationship even though we are both so different. 

It's hard to believe that after knowing each other 50 years and being married 46, that we still have many differences in opinions, habits, perspectives, and ideas. Now, certainly, God has drawn us closer together and has used those differences to not only purify our  motives, but to teach us different ways to respond. But we're still so different. And it deeply saddens me when I hear of a couple getting divorced because of their irreconcilable differences. But God designed those differences to force us to depend upon Him.

Let me give you some examples of Larry's and my differences. 

  • I love to go to bed early. Larry loves to go to bed late.
  • I love to get up before dawn and get in my exercise. Larry sleeps in and waits until the afternoon to exercise.
  • I process possible solutions for awhile. He makes fast decisions.
  • I second guess myself. He has complete confidence he's right every single time.
  • I love sugar. He loves salt.
  • I love movies. He loves sports.

The list could go on and on. Yet along with each of those tendencies, we have influenced each other for the better. God has used our natural tendencies or abilities to help the other consider another way of thinking or responding. I don't take as long to make decisions and he has become more thoughtful. I have more confidence in my decisions and he is more willing to consider whether his decision was correct. 

Our irreconcilable differences are good for us and good for God's glory because our growth reveals His power to help us.

Our irreconcilable differences are good for us... Tweet that!

Do we still get frustrated, irritated, and annoyed with each other? Absolutely. But the commitment stays strong regardless.

What difference might it make for you to actually appreciate the differences your spouse, friend, family member, or co-worker offers you? Could it be that God has actually intended for those differences to benefit you, not destroy you?

Would you be willing to comment on my blog so that others can be encouraged and inspired?