bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

A Good Plan


When my eldest was two years old (she’s now 27) I quit my career job.  It was a big decision for me as I placed so much value in working.  I had never planned on being married and having children so getting a good education and then a good career was my grand plan.  And here I was, about 10 years after graduating college, quitting.  One day, we were out for a walk.  At a busy intersection, the crosswalk light turned for us and I pushed the stroller in front of a line of waiting cars.  Halfway across a man yelled out of his car, “Hurry up and why don’t you get a damn job!”  I was mortified.  I wasn’t angry with the man for being out of line, I was ashamed.  Ashamed I didn’t have a job to identify me as “worthy.”  How he would know my job status could only be the work of the devil.

Sometimes we accept the word of satan much easier than the Word of God

Joyce Meyer

My value, my self-worth, was wrapped up in a career.  Here I had a beautiful baby, a loving husband, a nice home and yet I was unable to see these gifts from God.  I had a plan and I had quit that plan.  I was a failure.  Each day my husband would come home and out of habit ask me what I had done that day.  Boy did that get my hackles up!  I started inventing things I had done or making what little I had done sound so exhausting and important.  I mean a trip to the dry cleaning can really take a lot out of you.  Instead of enjoying those precious moments of playing hide and go seek with my daughter I fretted over my future.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

James 4:13-14

Life seems so complex and we want to control it.  By making our plans we try to take the chaos out of our lives.  We don’t want to be those “losers” who don’t have enough money to live on when we retire.  We make grand plans for our bank accounts.  We try to position ourselves so we are the ones that get that great promotion.  We commit ourselves to long term goals with creating a family, losing weight, travelling, careers and so much more.  And yet, we forget about today.  The right here and now.

“Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Proverbs 27:1

That doesn’t mean we aren’t to be good stewards of our gifts.  I did a Bible study once where the entire focus was on being a good manager of what God has placed in our hands.  You see it’s never about having money or not having money with God.  It’s never about having a good job or not.  It’s not about saving money to buy a home or not.  God’s has all good things in mind for us.  It’s always about our relationship with Him.  When we submit to the will of God, it all starts to make sense.

I used to pray for God to bring me joy one day.  That day was, of course, when I was financially secure, my kids were in good jobs and married, and I finally had the perfect lakehouse.  Sounds like the perfect plan, right?  I kept putting off joy.  Instead of investing in my eternal life by appreciating today, I was investing in my earthly life by ignoring today.  I was reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon today called, “Waiting Only Upon God.”  He tells this story about the Scottish novelist and playwright Sir Walter Scott:


“Perhaps there never was a mind more gigantic than the mind of Sir Walter Scott: a man whose soul was as fertile as the newly broken soil of the land of gold. That man was a good man I believe, a Christian; but he made a mistake in the object of his life. His object was to be a lord, to found a family, to plant the root of an ancestral tree the fruit of which should be heard of in ages to come; magnificent in his hospitality, generous in his nature, laborious in his continual strife to win the object of his life, yet after all he died a disappointed and unsuccessful man. He reared his palace, he accumulated his wealth and one sad day saw it scattered to the wind, and he had lost that for which he had lived. Had he fixed his eye upon some better object than the pleasing of the public, or the accumulation of wealth, or the founding of a family, he might have got the others, and he would not have lost the first. Oh! had he said “Now I will serve my God; this potent pen of mine, dedicated to the Most High; shall weave into my marvellous stories things that shall enlighten, convince, and lead to Jesus,” he might have died penniless, but he would have died having achieved the object of his wishes—not a disappointed man.”


In other words, God gifts us in so many ways – with different talents, with finances, with family, etc – but when we make the plan to succeed at those, without seeking His Will, we will surely be disappointed at the end.  We work and we toil.  We stress and we plan.  And we forget this one thing.

“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

It’s true.  We all will die.  We don’t know the day or the hour.  Without God as our light, without God as our object of desire, we waste our days clutching and worrying.  Spurgeon goes on to say that so many of us make our plans and then turn to God asking what we should do and then go do what we originally planned.  Sound familiar?  In fact, after researching for this post I finally realized I hadn’t prayed yet what God wanted me to say.  I kept bouncing back to my notes thinking about what I wanted to write.  I finally just opened my computer, put my hands to the keys and said, “Tell me what you want me to say.”  I had done my research, I had quotes and verses to pull from so I was prepared.  But in the end, I was also willing to do what God told me to do.

I heard a sermon the other day called “Crazy Faith.”  The pastor started out talking about Noah.  Here’s this guy, most likely a farmer, who the Bible called a “righteous man.”  Meaning he probably honored his debts, paid his workers and did a bang-up job with taking care of his family.  He had it all planned out.  Toil away in the fields year after year and be a successful farmer.  And then God.  The great part of this story is Noah didn’t say, “But I have my own plan for my life.  I’m a farmer, not a ship builder.  Oh, and by the way, I don’t live by an ocean.  I’m going to go out and plant some more seeds and reap my harvest.  Go away.”  I’m sure being a “righteous man” he prayed to God for good things to happen in his life.  So, when God said, “Ok, here’s a good thing I want you to do.”  He did it.  Are we so willing?  Or are we married, fully committed to our plan?  We are so committed that we miss the God given opportunities to help and love others.  We miss the doors He opens for an amazing life rather than the toiling life we have planned.


A few posts ago I mentioned the 100 Lunches Project.  Each week for about a year God led me to feeding the homeless.  It wasn’t about feeding the homeless really.  It was about ripping that need to work and justify my daily activities out of my heart and mind.   It was about not planning every single detail out.  It was about going first to Him to check in on what He wanted from me.  At the time I was working at a school counseling office.  I worked three days a week.  It made me feel worthy.  And then He told me that I needed to deliver food regularly on one of those three days.  When I went into the office the next day I said, “I know you are familiar with my 100 Lunches Project.  Well, God told me I need to start doing it on Wednesdays so that means I can’t work that day.”  Yep, I said that.  And the response was, “Ok, sounds good.  We are happy to have you whichever days you can give us.”  My mouth might have dropped open a bit.  Each and every time I went to God for direction, on money, on what to buy, on where to go, on the help I needed, He answered.  And I obeyed.  It was glorious.

So, you see, it’s not about trying to build up that big retirement account.  It’s about asking God what you should do with that paycheck.  And doing it.  Charles Stanley’s Life Principles #2 & #5 say to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him – even if it seems unreasonable.  EVEN IF he asks us to build an ark in the middle of the desert.  He has great plans for us – we may not ever be famous or wealthy.  But that plan will be good.  And if He doesn’t answer right away, as Christians that live close to God, we already know to be good stewards of His gifts.  We will have prepared for the day He does speak.  Until then, He calls us to enjoy what we have right now.  For tomorrow may never come.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Big “S” Little “s”


Born Again By His Spirit
How can you love others 
when you can't love yourself,
is it a bridge too far?
Perhaps you've been hidden
 away on a shelf
unaware of just who you are.

It is time for you now
 to come into view
and to stand in the place of knowing;
to allow JESUS CHRIST
 to take the helm
within your own boat you're been rowing.

And as you surrender
 to His loving Grace
you will find yourself hidden in Him;
with His loving Light
 outshining all others
allowing your sails to be trimmed.

Once blind, now you'll see,
 for GOD will release
the Wind of His Spirit to blow,
which in turn your identity,
 that was foreign to you,
 will thus be revealed and you'll know.....

Right in the middle of this wonderful poem by fellow blogger, Carol Congalton, you’ll see a very important word: Surrender.  A few weeks ago, my Bible Study Girls took up this topic of submission/surrender.  The conversation went something like this: 

BSG 1: “That sounds good to surrender my problem to God but how do I actually do that?”

BSG 2: “Ya, when Christians say, ‘just give it up to God’ I think that can give us a bad name.  Like it’s that easy.”

BSG 3: “I mean the actual giving up is like, boom, done.  But the work up to it is what is so difficult.”

BSG 1: “But I don’t know how to do that.”

BSG 2: “A pastor once said if you don’t want to forgive, then ask God to help you want to forgive.  And if you have trouble doing that, ask God to help you want to learn how to forgive.  If you don’t want to do that, ask God to help you want to ask to learn how to forgive!”

Great advice.  When we are stuck, we need to go back to a place we are ok with and start there.  Which brings us to submission.  Ewww.  For many of us just that word alone brings negative connotations.  Some of us (most of us) just aren’t white flag wavers, especially when it comes to closely held beliefs and baggage.  

“Submit yourselves then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7

Most of the time we just want the devil to flee from us without the submission part.  You know, get the creamy inside without having to work our way through the hard, outer shell.  The devil wants us to keep clinging to earthly definitions of submission.  But God says,

“Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”

James 4:8

I realized there’s two types of submission when it comes to being a Christian.  There’s a big “S” and a little “s.” The big “S” is the flipping of the script.  It’s the big “ah ha” moment in our lives.  It’s not the same as when we decided to believe in God or even that Jesus is our Savior.  There’s a lot of Christians that believe both those but haven’t fully submitted to God.  It may have happened to us as a child and we are fortunate to have lived our lives in submission to God.  My friend Betsy is like that.  She can’t remember a time without God as her commander.  And you can tell she’s had a lifetime to accept that God loves her immensely.  We joke and say “What would Betsy do?” because the spirit of Jesus is apparent in her life.

Others of us may be long time Christians but only recently had that light switch flipped or maybe we haven’t gotten there yet.  We’ve gone to church, did all the “right” Christian things except actual, full submission to God.  I was listening to a great podcast from Transformation Church the other day.  They had guest pastor Tim Ross as their speaker.  His sermon focus was on upsetting the world.  And by that he meant like the disciples, who went throughout unfriendly lands waking the world up to the Word and the love of Jesus, we should be the conduits for change in people’s lives.  His three steps were:

  1. Upset yourself – in other words wake up and recognize the sin in ourselves.  It’s time to take God’s Word to heart and as James tells us, do the actual work of God.
  2. Upset religion – a great line in his sermon was we should not be ok to show up to church when God is not present in that church.  Joyce Meyers says if you leave church not feeling convicted or energized to go out and do good then you need to change churches.
  3. Let go of our independence – and there’s the “Boom.”  

We are so afraid to loosen our grip.  So afraid of losing control.  And yet our grip is choking the life out of… our life.

“Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

Dwight L. Moody

And if you don’t believe that, you need to pray for God to help you believe that.  I love the story of Peter walking on water.  

“Lord, if it is you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

Matt 14:28

Notice Peter didn’t see Jesus, jump out of the boat and run toward Jesus in complete and total submission?  He asked Jesus to call to him.   And Jesus responded, “Come.” (Matt 14:29).  

That was a pretty big “S.”  Imagine if you were there sitting in the boat and saw Jesus.  He tells you to “come” and either you refuse or you get about halfway out and you change your mind – faceplanting on the edge of the boat.  There’s no halfway.  You’re either in or you’re out.  It’s not magic.  When I sat at the edge of my boat I pleaded with God to tell me what I was doing wrong.  I was being a “good Christian” and I was miserable.  He was clear.  “What have you really done?” was His response.  He made it clear I had yet to fully submit to Him.  I needed to climb out of the boat and walk to Him.  And so, for the first time, I broke down and made a full commitment to Him.

And then there’s the little “s.”  Like a little snake wiggling around at our feet, it’s the everyday moments where we make that re-commitment to submitting to God.  They are our daily reminders that we have chosen not to be friends of this world but instead be children of God.  We must have the big “S” before the little “s” can take on their full success and meaning.  It’s those times when I’m tempted to get frustrated behind slow drivers or get mad at my husband for doing “that thing, yet again.”  Or when I’m tempted to take on a new, difficult task without praying first.  I must choose again to surrender to God to help fortify me.  When I fail, I know He loves me and holds out a helping hand.  

Our little “s” moments give us opportunities to grow and pull closer to God.  Those moments allow God to remove what’s hindering us from joy.  We may have a lot of little “s” moments until God sees that our big “S” is fully secure and planted in our hearts.  I heard this quote somewhere, “God doesn’t take us on the longest or shortest path.  He takes us on the right path for us.”

And when we submit completely to Him, to be His walking buddy on that path, only then can we enjoy the creamy filling – and the devil will flee from us.  Because he knows there’s no getting past a person surrounded and filled with God.

If you aren’t sure you have fully submitted to God, ask Him. Ask Him to shine a light on any area that you still have firmly in your own grasp. Tell Him to call to you — and then get all the way out of that boat.