Oct 26, 2011

Excellence ~ Exemplified by Obedience

Part 4

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
John H. Sammis

I went to a wedding recently where the bride had major issues repeating the part of the marriage vows that dealt with obeying. In fact the minister had to prompt her several times before she could get the words out of her mouth. Where does that fit into this study? Well it just illustrates the point that obedience isn’t exactly easy. Promising to obey in essence says I trust you with my life. I believe you know what’s best for me. I’m going to defer to your judgment.

There are times when we may have followed the directions of someone in the past and it didn’t turn out well. However this isn’t the case with God. God’s purpose in giving us commands is always for our benefit or the benefit of others. He wants us to practice the act of obedience until we do it without thinking or without questioning him. Our obedience shows him how we feel about him and how much we trust him.

Daniel showed God that he trusted him when he refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzer’s golden image. Lot’s wife on the other hand had been given a specific command to not look back but disobeyed. She unfortunately didn’t trust God’s plans for her future.

Like Lot’s wife and the bride who had issues promising to obey, I too have my struggles in the area of obedience. In fact as I got deeper into my study on becoming a woman of excellence I wrote the following in my journal when I began the topic of obedience.

I am still doing my Becoming a Woman of Excellence bible study. This is really not quite what I expected it to be. In fact it is much more. I know I said it before but excellence encompasses so much! I am now on the chapter entitled “Excellence, Exemplified by Obedience. This is truly my area of weakness. I really need to learn to obey God in spite of what is going on around me and in spite of what my critics may say. If I want to become a woman of excellence obedience has to become a habit. I want to be in God’s perfect will. I want to walk in the spirit of excellence. Obedience then is my goal. To listen and obey and allow God to have his way in my life.”
My Journal, May 19, 2003.
Obedience, four years later is still sometimes a struggle. But I remind myself that excellence doesn’t mean I get it perfectly every time. It means I keep trying.  (2011 insert here... this is still an area of weakness for me)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
Sometimes the struggle with obedience comes when we question whether or not we’re really hearing God’s voice. However as you can see in the above verse, his Holy Spirit is there to guide us and always prompts us to make the right choice. Also, when we’re not sure we simply need to seek his counsel, spend time in prayer, study his word and ask him what is his will for our lives.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:8
God's ultimate desire for us is that we would become more like his son. As Christians, Jesus is our role model. Just as he was tested and tried so will we be. However, the question is will we obey even in the difficult times?

... I'm wondering... is it just me or do you find it difficult to obey also?  How do you get to that point that you simply stop making excuses and simply obey???

Read part one,  two and three
There are so many new nuggets I'm finding as I go through this study again. However although there is so much that I can say I will bring it to a close next week.

Trusting Him,

Posted previously on my teen girl blog.

Oct 24, 2011

Excellence ~ Rooted in Surrender

Part 3

As we continue the pursuit of excellence we have to first seek to become more like Christ, to develop a deeper more intimate walk with him.

Our desire to be strong delights Him but we must allow him to teach us that excellence is a lifelong process and that He is our only source of strength. Growth occurs when we maintain our walk with God remembering that the Christian life is a process rather than giving up in frustration because we cannot live up to the perfect standards.
Cynthia Heald
When we focus on developing a deeper relationship with God, he begins to reveal to us what it is he requires of us in our pursuit of excellence. And one of the main things is total, undeniable, complete surrender. For excellence is rooted in surrender. He wants us to relinquish control of our lives and totally surrender
to him.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The above verse shows a portrait of total surrender, the verse below shows the price…

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV
According to Luke 9:23 I have to

1. Deny myself: put the things of God first even if it means not doing the things I want to do.

2. Take up the cross – seek to do the things that please him even if it means self-sacrifice.

3. Follow him:- follow Christ, he has left his word for us to follow.

It is only possible to do those three things when we have died to self and given control of our lives over to the one who died for us.

When Daniel was confronted with the reality of being thrown in the lions’ den he totally surrendered the situation to God. He was willing to give up his life for God… What are you willing to give up? Walking in excellence requires you to make the tough choices, to stand out when everyone else is blending in, to take on God's character when others had compromised.

Excellence sometimes requires you to give up your family, friends, life as you know it. But when we surrender our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our everything to God he has a way of working it out for our good. However he wants us to take the leap of faith and simply surrender all to him.

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live-

Read part one and two

Check back on Wednesday for part 4 Excellence - Exemplified by Obedience (aka my area of weakness)

Trusting Him,

(Posted previously on my teen girl blog)

Oct 22, 2011

Four Days Late...

Is it possible to be four days late and still on time???

I'm loving this song by Karen Peck and New River right now.
It's just the right amount of encouragement for those days when God seems to be running just a tad bit late... It reminds me that even when he's four days late (by our standards) he's still on time.

Four Days Late Lyrics
Karen Peck and New River

The news came to Jesus, Please come fast
Lazarus is sick and without your help he will not last
Mary and Martha watched their brother die
They waited for Jesus, He did not come
And they wondered why.

The death watch was over, Buried four days
Somebody said He'll soon be here, the Lord's on His way
Martha ran to Him and then she cried
Lord if you had been here You could have healed him
He'd still be alive

But You're four days late And all hope is gone
Lord we don't understand why you've waited so long
But His way is God's way Not yours or mine
And isn't it great when He's four days late
He's still on time

Jesus said Martha show me the grave, But she said Lord
You don't understand He's been there four days
The grave stone was rolled back, Then Jesus cried
Lazarus come forth then somebody said
He's alive, He's alive

You may be fighting a battle of fear
You've cried to the Lord I need You now
But he has not appeared.
Friend don't be discouraged
Cause He's still the same
He'll soon be here He'll roll back the stone
And He'll call out your name

When four days late And all hope is gone
Lord we don't understand why you've waited so long
But His way is God's way Not yours or mine
And isn't it great when He's four days late He's still on time

My God is great when he's four days late he's still on time

Trusting Him,

Oct 19, 2011

What is Excellence?

Walking in the Spirit of Excellence Part 2

The word excellent is one that has become much overused and undervalued in our society. In fact it has become almost common. We hear the word excellent being used to describe the latest movie, a nice car or home, a good friendship and the list goes on… Many people use the word without even thinking about what they are attaching this word to. Hence, the pride and esteem, that the word should evoke is no longer there.

I myself have been guilty of misusing the word, not deliberately but from a genuine misunderstanding. I had been looking at and defining excellence according to a secular viewpoint. The world’s view on the subject is totally different from God’s viewpoint.

Excellence is defined by Webster’s dictionary as the possession chiefly of good qualities in an unusual degree. Hence, according to this definition if you’re perceived as dressed fashionably much more than unfashionably, then you have excellent fashion sense, If your house is clean and spotless more than it’s untidy, then you have excellent housekeeping skills, If you’re almost always present at work , do a job that impresses your employer then you are an excellent employee. While you may be all of these things are your really walking in the spirit of excellence?

The world I realize, seem to view excellence as having the best or highest paying jobs, the best clothes, cars, houses, being in the elite group in society, or being the best at whatever you do. However, I’ve realized that following society’s definition of excellence I will never measure up. If society’s paradigm were followed there wouldn’t be enough room at the top for everyone to walk in the spirit of excellence. Yes, I may be the best for a while but sooner or later someone better will come along.

There will always be someone with more education, a better job, a bigger paycheck, more beautiful clothes a nicer home etc. With all of this in my mind I had to redefine my view of excellence.

Excellence Redefined...

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, Colossians 1:10
Part one of the Bible Study, I mentioned in my previous post was titled, Excellence –A Goal Worth Pursuing. As I went through the study I came up with my own simple “definition” of what it means to have the spirit of excellence and walk in it based on a few scriptures I read:

Walking in the spirit of excellence, God's way begins first of all with having God’s love in your heart. It also includes walking in God’s way and doing the things that he expects of you, in a way that pleases him, even if it is different from what the world says. Walking in excellence as a believer means striving to gain God's approval in everything you do no matter how big or how small. It doesn't mean doing things perfectly but it does mean doing your best.
As I continued my quest for excellence I came to realize that while it seemed hard to measure up before, the world's standard requires me to give a whole lot less of myself than God’s standards because He expects us to give our all. There is a price to pay for excellence but, there is so much to gain...

Come back Monday to read part 3:  Excellence...The Pursuit

Read part 1 here

Trusting Him,

This series was posted previously on my teen girl blog.

Oct 17, 2011

Walking in the Spirit of Excellence ~ Introduction

My Quest

Then Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes because an excellent spirit was in him and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Daniel 6:3

I was studying one of my favorite Old Testament characters Daniel when I came across the above verse. The phrase "because an excellent sprit was in him" for some reason resonated in my spirit. It brought about a new yearning in me. It gave me a craving and desire for excellence in my own life. In fact I wrote a note in my journal to that effect.

It is important that everything we do be done with excellence. When we do things with excellence we attract attention. We stand out from mediocrity. Daniel moved from prisoner to prime minister in a strange land only because everything he did was done in excellence. If I want to attract God’s eye, if I want to attract positive attention excellence has to be in me. I want to be excellent in all that I do as a woman, a teacher and most of all a child of God.
Excerpt from My Journal September 10, 2002
At that time, I had a desire for excellence however, I still had no clue what excellence was all about.  But, I desired it. I longed for it. A little over a month after I made that entry in my journal I was invited to a women’s conference by a coworker. When I received my package on registering I opened it.  Inside was a bible study called, Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald.

I could only stare in disbelief. God had seen the desire of my heart and had given me a tool that would aid me in my quest. This confirmed what I already knew, that if God sees a genuine unselfish desire in our heart he helps us to realize it.

Consequently, armed with my Bible and my new Bible Study I began my quest to find out how I could become a woman of excellence, who walked in the spirit of excellence.

January 22, 2004
Women’s Ministry Meeting

It has been over seven years now that I spoke to a Women's Ministry Meeting on the topic, Empowering Women to Walk in the Spirit of Excellence. I shared some of my notes from that talk on my previous blog about four years ago. However I decided to repost it on this blog. I hope you’ll stop by on Wednesday to read part 2 What is Excellence?

Trusting Him,

Oct 7, 2011

My Prized Possession

I’ve tried to replace it because really it’s quite battered, torn and in some places quite worn out but, I’m too attached to it. 

It was a gift from my brother Enoch almost twenty years ago.

Many of Its pages are decorated like a Christmas tree from when I was going through my highlighter phase.

I’ve lost a part of a page here and there and I always hope I’m not called to read those particular pages in church.

All of my favorite scriptures are underlined with little cryptic notes written next to them.

 It has faint tearstains where I cried as I read

Looking at the back you’d think it was something to be thrown away but it’s not…
It’s my most treasured possession… my Bible.

I’ve bought several new ones over the years but they remain just that… new.

I use them for a little while and then I miss my old friend so it’s back to its old familiar pages again.

Since I cannot force myself to replace it I keep it in a case which is in itself in need of replacing.

My bible tells my story.

It chronicles my Christian journey.

It comforts, motivates and inspires me.

It feeds my Spirit.

It gives me hope...

I know I’ll eventually have to replace it but not right now.  At this moment, like my heavenly father, it signifies something that is constant and unchanging in my life.

 I don’t know about you but there are times when I need to know that as life, people, situations and things change some things remain the same.

I’d love to hear the story of your Bible if you’d care to share.

Trusting Him,

Oct 5, 2011

You Are Beautiful in God's Eyes - Book Review

I am beautiful! Three simple words, yet for many women they are the most difficult words to say. Why? Why do we find it so hard to look in the mirror and see beauty staring back at us?

Lisa Shaw addresses my question (and I’m sure many other women) in her book You Are Beautiful in God’s Eyes.

Lisa’s book is an excellent, easy to understand, touching read. It seems almost as if you’re sitting across the table from your best girlfriend having a cup of tea and a little heart to heart conversation.

First and foremost she invites us to see what God says about us. Next, she takes us into different reasons why we may see ourselves as less than beautiful. Several times as I read I found myself nodding my head because I identified with what I was reading.

I found this book to be one that reaches out to encourage and uplift women. I found myself following some of Lisa’s closing words at the end. She encourages her readers

“Now, go look in the mirror and smile the biggest smile you can and say I am beautiful in God’s eyes. I am filled with His deeper inner beauty! My life and my heart are His.”
Powerful words I’m sure you’ll agree and really, isn’t it what God thinks about us that really matters?

You can find out more about purchasing a copy of You Are Beautiful in God’s eyes here.

Trusting Him,

Oct 1, 2011

Trusting... in spite of

Perhaps you don’t have enough faith…
Maybe you just didn’t fast and pray enough for your loved one to be healed…

Maybe you’re just not Christian enough…


I’ve heard them all before. I’ve thought them all maybe I’ve even said them. I’ve wondered, how is it that one can love you wholeheartedly, serve you faithfully and yet sometimes feel so disappointed in situations, in life, and sometimes Lord (though I hesitate to admit it) in you.

You are who I trust most but understand least.

It is you I love with my whole heart yet oftentimes question.

You are the one sure thing in my life yet some days I feel so uncertain.

Today more than anything I’m still wondering why. Five years later, I still don’t understand. I know there are some things I’ll never understand here on Earth. Like John the Baptist who wondered, “are you the Christ or should I look for another,” but received no definite answer, I’ll probably always wonder, “why after unceasing prayers, consistent fasting, and unwavering faith was I left with a gigantic hole in my heart and more questions than answers…

But today father I surrender all to you

in spite of the questions…

in spite of the uncertainties…

I still love you…

I still trust you….

I still choose you…


Your daughter,

I miss you Mommy.
I hope when I’m old and full of years
 like Job, and God calls me home
you’ll be standing next to Jesus,
with arms wide open
and with your trademark smile
 waiting to welcome me. 
I promise, you'll be the second  person
I wrap my arms around.