Have You Ever Eaten a Maggot?

 

Does anybody remember the show Fear Factor, a reality contest on TV about ten years ago? The worst part about the show was seeing people eat the worst things imaginable–spiders, roaches, crickets, maggots, etc. And all for the chance to win $50,000.00. The truth of the matter is our enemy, the devil, is a master of deception. His tactics are subtle and we must be vigilant if we are to avoid falling for his FEAR FACTORS.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the qualities of a leader in the Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s mission was to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem. In chapter six, Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and the rest of his enemies devised another plot to throw Nehemiah off target. Four times they sent a false prophet to intimidate him. Nehemiah refused the bait. Then he was FALSELY ACCUSED of setting himself up as king. Once again, Nehemiah recognized the enemy’s primary tool–FEAR!

You’d think the enemy would quit. Not so! When that didn’t work, the band of naysayers PLANTED AN INFORMER in Nehemiah’s camp. That person told Nehemiah that his enemies were planning to kill him that night and that he should hide in the temple. Now how can a leader accomplish a task if he or she is hiding? Once again, Nehemiah recognized the FEAR FACTOR. He called on God to help him and prayed about his enemies.

Are you facing a tremendous trial? Sickness, unpaid bills, unemployment, bankruptcy, death of loved ones, separation or divorce, or other difficulties? Has the enemy been playing FEAR FACTOR with you? Are you entertaining thoughts like these? Why me? Why now? You’ll never get through this. God doesn’t love you. Why are you wasting your time? Sound familiar? Believe me, I’ve heard them all, and entertained a few.

What can you do when these FLIES are buzzing about your head? RUN TO GOD’S WORD! FAST! FIND A VERSE OR TWO TO HOLD ONTO WITH ALL GOD’S STRENGTH!

We used to sing a line like this: “Whose report shall you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord.”

MEMORY VERSE: Philippians 4:13- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Then picture yourself in His arms strengthening you, pouring His love into you, and lifting you up on your feet, with Him in you and behind you. Then thank Him for the victory (every day, every hour, every minute). Sing His Word over yourself!

I’M PRACTICING. Won’t you join me? For Week Eleven, read chapter 7 and use the GROW METHOD (G- God 1st, pray; R- Read; O-Observe key words; W-Write your thoughts) to answer these questions:

1. What appointments did Nehemiah make after the wall was built?

2. What do you think was the purpose of registering the people by genealogy?

Blessings to all! As Always,

Patricia

 

 

I’ve Got a Secret!

I pulled a friend aside at church last week and told her I had a secret to tell her. God had shown me something and I was about to explode with the news, or so I thought. When I got home I realized that out of my excitement I had shared the information prematurely. Have you ever opened your mouth too soon and wished you hadn’t? Fortunately for me, my friend is a woman of integrity. The lesson was not about her; it was for me. When I later read Nehemiah, I began to understand the importance of timing and keeping my mouth shut.

Last week we learned Nehemiah had asked the king of Persia for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. In chapter 2:11-20, we discover his PLAN OF ACTION once he arrived at Jerusalem:

1. He waited three days before he did anything. We need to be still and allow God to speak to us.

2. He got up at night. He acted when God showed him to move, not when it was convenient and not when others could see you. 

3. He only took a few “good” men with him. Some people can’t go where God is taking you. They’re just not ready.

4. He checked out the Valley Gate, the Serpent Well, the Refuse Gate and the Walls of Jerusalem. He also examined the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool. In our own lives, we’ll have some valleys, we’ll get bitten by events, we’ll need to let go of some trash and our walls will seem broken down from time to time. But “there is a Fountain, filled with blood, born from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunge beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains!” Hallelujah! We can wash in the King’s Pool!

5. The officials–Jews, priests, nobles, officials, or others–did not know where he had gone or what he had done. Are you a secret agent, C.I.A? Are you CALLED IN ANONYMITY? Or do you want to be seen?

6. He finally went to his people, gave a report and invited them to join the cause.  A passionate leader imparts vision after assessing the situation.

7. He faced opposition from three enemies: Tobiah, Sanballat, and Geshem and answered them with confidence in God. WHEN THE ENEMY COMES IN LIKE A FLOOD, GOD IS OUR DEFENSE!

Memory Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11, NIV).”

WEEK FIVE ASSIGNMENT: Read Neh. 4:1-9 and answer:

1. What were the enemy’s tactics?

2. What was Nehemiah’s prayer?

3. What was the result?

Until next week, stay on the wall and GROW!

As always,

Patricia

 

 

Are You a Morton’s Girl (or Guy)?

Am I the only one who has taken the salt shaker for granted? I mean did you ever stop to think about the source of those tiny grains of salt which put pizzazz in your food? Over the last few weeks, cities have been clamoring to find salt to prevent dangerous ice-covered roads. After hearing about millions of dollars spent on salt, I’m beginning to think I should invest in the stuff. And to think I have a couple of boxes in my pantry. I don’t even remember when I bought them. Watching the CBS news this morning, I was amazed to see a story about a salt mining company churning out tons of salt around the clock. This has been the best year ever for that company! Talk about the law of supply and demand!

If you look at the news or read the paper or check out the internet, you might come away with a complete sense of hopelessness. You hear about murders, abuse, hunger, political corruption, cheating on standardized tests, and the like. Sounds pretty bad, right? Definitely not a pretty picture. But wait! Don’t be discouraged! There’s good news! Jesus Christ is Lord and He says, in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” That means you and I can make a difference in all of those situations I named earlier. You might ask, “What can I do?” Glad you asked.

Consider these steps:

1. Go to the source. Just as the miners had to go deep to find the salt, you and I are called to dig deeper. No more shallow mining. Tough times demand digging in the Word and spending time with the One who is our Source. We complain a lot but are we willing to spend time with the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can’t do it on our own.

2. Determine what God is calling you to do. Is He calling you to teach a children’s class? To volunteer at a women’s shelter? To go out and feed the hungry? To write to your senator? To go back to school and get that degree? To start a business? To go on a mission’s trip? To write a book?

3. Take action. Once you know what to do, do it! It’s as simple as that. You’ve heard the expression: “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the call.” Believe me, I have days when I don’t think I can take this novel to completion. Yes, I get discouraged. But then I realize He called me and I fall down on my knees and give it to Him over and over again. I just finished one intense writing course and will start another next week. Oh, I forgot to tell you I taught language arts for 21 years. But that was not enough for me to write a book destined to impact the world. I had to come out of my comfort zone and face the reality that I needed help.

4. Ask others to hold you accountable. If you’re like me, you tend to get distracted. Find one or two people who will partner with you in “walking on water.” That’s what starting something new feels like. I joined a writers group four years ago and I owe any success I’ve had to taking that step. I also have two people who check on my progress weekly.

5. Remember your friends and have fun.  As an introvert and writer, I can easily become a hermit. When I get out of balanced, as I have recently, I begin to struggle with insecurities. Know when to stop and smell the roses, call a friend, make dates. This week Willie and I went for a pedicure and had lunch together.

I am reminded that salt can lose its savor. Stay close to the Source. Rest when needed and take deep breaths. Good advice for us all. Today, I’m taking deep breaths, pausing for refreshment. Got to get ready to be poured out. I want to be a Morton’s girl. Take a look at your salt-box. Think about it. More than that, I’m thankful for being God’s girl!

 

Slaying Your Monsters

Lizard!

Lizard! (Photo credit: NCReedplayer)

“Help! There’s a lizard in our shower!” Could I be hearing right? Was one of my roommates screaming about a lizard in her shower? That couldn’t be true. How on earth would a lizard get in a shower? Then I heard another voice scream out, “I’m going in the bedroom! I don’t want anything to do with that thing!” By this time, I had to see what all the commotion was about. Surely they were joking about a lizard in the shower, but what exactly did they see?

This was the second day of a women’s conference in Destin, Florida. My two roommates and I had just returned from a late night session where we heard a rousing talk about facing and overcoming challenges in our lives. You know how it is when you know you’ve been struggling with an issue and somebody puts her finger on it or at least lets you know it’s time to deal with it. Well, I anticipated God would give me the courage to overcome, but I had no idea His illustration would come so soon.

I walked slowly to my roommates’ bathroom. Remember, one young lady had already retreated to her bedroom and yelled out, “We’re going to use your shower tomorrow morning! I’m not going back in there!” Right away, I knew I had to do something. I was not looking forward to anybody disturbing my sleep in the morning. When I got to their bathroom, I expected to see a full-size lizard, at least eight to ten inches long. But when I peered into the shower, I was surprised to see a baby lizard who barely had any coloring! He or she must have been born the day before! I decided I could handle the situation.

My plan quickly unfolded: I grabbed the plastic bag from the waste can and spotted a broom in the bathroom. Bingo! I would attempt to sweep the critter into the bag and quickly dispose of it. Then the brave roommate who oversaw my efforts shouted, “Let’s turn on the shower and let him go down the drain!” What did we have to lose? I watched as she turned on the water and the tiny creature skirted to a safe corner. Okay, back to my plan.

I quickly laid the plastic bag on the shower floor and the water helped to create a seal. Just as quickly, I grabbed the broom and swept the little pest into the bag. Whew! Finally! Snatching the bag up, I darted out of the condo and placed the bag on the sidewalk, leaving it there for the maintenance man to retrieve it. What a relief!

After my extraordinary feat, I contemplated my actions. I needed to apply that same principle to facing my fear. I had dwelt on my issue for so long that I had allowed it to consume me and grow bigger than it really was. I had the courage to overcome my fear. I had to face it and deal with it. Besides, I was determined not to let anybody or anything disturb my sleep! It’s amazing how God can use a little illustration to make a point! My lizard lesson reminds me that I have the courage to face any obstacle. There’s a great big God living inside me and He delights in helping me! I am more than a conqueror!

Romans 8:37 reads, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

  Sometimes it takes a lizard to remind me.

Gone Fishing!

This past Saturday I went fishing with thirty friends. Can you believe it? I am a girly girl at heart and generally would not be caught with a fishing rod in my hands. In preparation for my adventure, I boldly asked my husband if I could use his fishing rod. He looked at me with an expression which said, “You have lost your mind!”He couldn’t believe that his sweetheart of 40 years was about to participate in an activity which generally required putting a worm on a hook and waiting patiently for a naive fish to bite the bait. But here I was—ready to take a bold new step!

English: Fishing nets wound up around a winch ...

English: Fishing nets wound up around a winch at the stern of a fishing boat berthed in the Viaduct Basin, Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  Now before you get too excited I need to explain something.  This was not your usual fishing trip. To the contrary, I was scheduled to do a writing workshop on the topic “Chasing Your Story,” for the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers, in Covington, Georgia.  I love using practical themes to illustrate my topics and was excited when the idea of fishing came my mind. I asked Willie, my husband, to tell me about the types of rods used in fishing. He was happy to give me further insight when I asked about the difference between shallow water and deep sea fishing.

Hmm….I saw my hook ( no pun intended).  Writing a story about yourself is like going fishing.   Some ideas are close at hand.  One of the easiest ways to come up with ideas is to look around your house and find mementos or souvenirs—gifts from others or special items you’ve accummulated over the years. When you muse on those items, they will surely remind you of treasured memories, experiences involving special people in your life. Some people keep a memory box of special things they’ve collected over the years.  Thus, the idea of shallow water fishing involves looking for simple things which may be your source for writing.

Not many people have gone deep sea fishing, however.   This type of fishing, Willie stated, involves a heavier type of rod. The fisherman, of course, has to leave shore and venture out by boat into deep waters. Deep sea fishing requires much preparation and can be dangerous. It is not for the faint of heart.  Many people keep journals, often writing about the challenges they face in life.  Journal writing can take you into deep waters, if you allow yourself the freedom of writing about whatever comes to mind.  If you have never kept a journal, consider starting one.

You may have been thinking about writing your story and may be entertaining some very common fears.  I wondered first if I had anything worthwhile to say. Would anybody want to read about somebody who was not famous. In fact, I heard a very popular radio personality say, “Nobody wants to hear about you!” I was also afraid of what my family and friends would say, once I put my “stuff” on paper. I worried that I would have fallout of various proportions if I went “deep sea fishing.” But God had a plan.

  Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  God may be calling you to cast your net on the other side and go deep sea fishing.  A multitude of fish are waiting.