Friday, January 22, 2016

Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Early yesterday morning I wake up to a text from my father telling me that my grandmother fell the night before and broke her hip. I decided that I would take a couple of days off from work to be with her knowing that the only other person with her was my dad and he was already up for more than 24 hours.

After he told me what happened, I was so upset. I learned that she was alone the night she fell. For several hours, she had to crawl her way down a long hallway to find her purse then again to find her cell phone to dial 911. For 2 hours she was in such agony as she slowly dragged her limp and broken body through the house to find a way to call for help.

The paramedics broke into the house and she was rushed to the hospital. When I got there the next morning after it happened, my heart just sunk. As a child, your grandparents are the utopian parents. To me, the title of "Grand" parent doesn't necessarily mean hierarchy in the generations. Growing up, my grandmother was "grand" in the since that she SPOILED me rotten. She was the "parent" that loved me despite my errors in judgement. She never spanked me, always let me get away with whatever I wanted, and she never failed to fix me my favorite breakfast in the morning. She loved me... and loves me still... unconditionally.

As soon as I walked into her room, I leaned over the hospital bed laced with wires and tubes and softly kissed her forehead. She whispered hello, and after a brief greeting, I ask her if there is anything I can do for her. With the same endearing sense of humor she always had, she says, "Give me a new body!" I chuckle knowing that she is kidding since she was hurting from head to toe, but I thought, "One day, grandma, YOU will have a glorious body!"

There will come a day, when all those that believe and hope in the glory of Jesus will wake up to a brand new body.

Skeptics of Christianity argue, 'What God could allow pain and suffering in the world?' They say that if there is an all-loving, all-powerful God then He wouldn't allow us to suffer. So, in their minds, God couldn't exist.  All over the world we hear of tsunamis, earth quakes, terrorist attacks, persecutions, and so much more that people have had to suffer through and endure. But all that happens doesn't mean it is evidence God doesn't exist. Most though might agree that all the suffering in the world is evil which in itself supports the fact that there is a supernatural power at work.

These skeptics assume that if God really exists He would stop all this suffering. But, why couldn't it be possible that from God's point of view, each case presents an opportunity to reveal His glory at work? What if God has reasons for allowing pain and suffering to continue that you don't know about? Though our faith in Jesus doesn't provide the reason why we have to suffer, it does give us the resource for being able to face it with hope and courage rather than despair and bitterness.

The apostle Paul writes in Romans,

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
As believers, we have the hope that,
"the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10
We have a Holy God that came and dwelt with us as a man. Being both fully human and fully God suffered as we have with pain, despair, and anguish to take all the sin of the world and rescue us from death. When we return with him,
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:4
So yes, sweet Grandma, you will one day receive a glorious new body. When we all see Jesus, He will wipe away every tear and take away all of our pain.
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not build by human hands. Meanwhile we grown, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly bodies." 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Monday, January 18, 2016

Leading with Arms Raised

There is little debate when discussing Moses as one of the great leaders of the Bible. Obedient to God in leading the Israelites out of Egypt and ensuring they followed the commandments God had for His people, Moses is arguably at the top of the effective leadership list. What I love about studying Moses is that even though he felt inadequate, he didn't let his limitations overcome the power of God within him.

leading with arms raised
There are many of us that work in some form of leadership. In my opinion, anyone that has a role that others look up to and rely on to press on toward a common goal is defined as a leader. You could be anything from a parent to a teacher, a manager, or an administrator.

Like Moses, it is easy to start making excuses when we don't feel confident in the execution of our leadership position. Moses excuse was his speech impediment and lack of confidence in his ability to persuade pharaoh to let the Israelites out of Egypt; even though God said He would be with Moses the whole time. Overcoming all excuses and limitations, Moses became a great leader. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. God makes a way for those He places in positions to lead and the story in Exodus 17 is a picture of leadership that I believe can help us to achieve our goals and succeed in our efforts as we lead others.
"The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." Exodus 17:8-9
Moses knows there are tough times ahead. His people are about to face the enemy so he assigns/delegates one of his closest confidants, someone he was mentoring (Joseph), to take a group to go out and fight. But instead of Moses going with him to battle, Moses does something many leaders don't do; he goes the opposite direction and stands on top of a hill. Now, many in leadership would say, 'We need to be in the fight with them! If we don't fight with them, how can we ensure they complete the task?' Take a minute to follow with me as I argue, what Moses did, is a more effective leadership strategy that may result in better outcomes and ultimately, the ability to achieve the vision or goal.

On top of the mountain, Moses has a bird's eye view of what his men are doing. Many say being a good leader requires that we have a great vision. We need to know where we are going, and what it takes for us to get there. How do we know what we are doing unless there is a goal to attain?
"So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning." Exodus 17:10-11
With hands lifted high, as he stands in vision of his men, Moses calls out to God to fight for the Israelites. As the leader, Moses doesn't put faith in his own ability. He doesn't rely on his skills, or take over with his own knowledge. No, Moses calls out for God to take over. What Moses teaches us is, with hands lifted high calling out to God, we can be the effective leaders God called us to be because we are putting our faith in God to fight for us. We are depending on the one who put us in the position in the first place.
"...for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Romans 13:1
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform as leaders because we don't want to be a disappointment. I don't know about you, but I often try to rely too much on my own ability. Many times, as a result of that, I fall short which effects execution of the task. Thus widening the gap between where we are and the vision laid out ahead.

In my opinion, it is the next part of the story where we often miss it as leaders. Moses didn't go up on the mountain by himself. He had others go with him.
"When Moses' hands grew tired, they [Aaron and Hur] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady until sunset." Exodus 17:14
Sometimes, we forget that we need others around us to support our efforts, to help us press forward, and to pray with us in order to fight against the enemy charged to defeat us in reaching our goals. Aaron and Hur, having the same vision and goals as Moses, climbed the mountain with him. They were by his side the entire time. When Moses grew weary, Aaron and Hur held him up, encouraged him, and aided Moses as he lifted his arms up to God.
praying"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:19-20
What was the result of this team effort when the leader called out to God?
"So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword." Exodus 17:13
 It doesn't matter what our position is; we could be a parent, leader for an organization, a manager, an administrator, or a teacher. What we need to remember is God places people in positions of authority and, because of this, it is through Him that we need to place our faith. Instead of being the kind of leader that completely relies on their own ability to carry out the tasks, we need to call out to God! With two or three others by our side, we should lead with lifted hands in praise asking God to not only show us His vision for us as leaders but also the path He wants us to take in order to succeed.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Broken and Treasured

Over the past 5 years, God has been showing me, there is much more to life than what I had known. All it took was for me to give up my brokenness and open my heart and mind to realize that I am treasured by God. All he wanted was to show me that even through my brokenness, he still loves me.


For those that are reading this post who are struggling as they deal with things in their life, I want you to know... God wants you to know... It doesn't matter what happened in our past. It doesn't matter what we regret, what we are ashamed of, or what our futures hold. It doesn't matter how deep in a hole we think we are in, God wants us to give up ourselves and give all our cares to Him! He wants us to forget our concerns with taking care of ourselves on our own and allow Him to work in our lives and provide for us; to bless us. He wants us to lean on Him, even through our brokenness, and to trust in His unfailing love, His unwavering promises, and His glorious faithfulness.

"casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7
As I was sitting at one of my favorite restaurants, Chick-Fil-A, thinking about where I have been and where God is taking me, I was amazed. I was sitting at my table surveying a room full of people. Some of the waitresses and waiters were moving about carrying their trays offering their customers service. Children are playing on the playground while the adults held conversations about the days events. I saw them and I wondered, 'Do they really know how much they are loved by God? Do they know that God is pursuing them and wants them to know He can pick up ALL their brokenness and make them something beautiful?'

We all go about our lives in isolation and forget about the world and the people that surround us. We are strangers that live in the same world and often struggle with the same things. We are all broken in need of a Savior. (I would almost bet there are at least one or two women here, even now, that have struggled with some of the same things I struggle with. I would bet that there are some that have gone through similar things in their lives that I had gone through.)

I have been reading 2 Samuel 9 and again I see another story in the Old Testament that reveals the redemption promise of God through His son Jesus. All I can say is PRAISE Jesus for another reveal in the scriptures. I just love what the Holy Spirit reveals to me through God's Word and, as the anchor verse of this blog says,
"I am full of words and the spirit within me compels me." Job 32:18
At this point in 2 Samuel 9, David has conquered the enemies of Israel and is reigning as king. King David is known to be "a man after God's own heart". His name means "beloved". Jesus was beloved by God so David can be seen here as a type of Jesus; or God in the flesh.

Now, earlier in 1 Samuel, David had a dear friend named Jonathan, who was the son of king Saul. (Jonathan is a fascinating story, and I wrote about him in another post, Warriors and the Armor Bearer. -If you have some extra time, check it out!) David and Jonathan were very close and they loved each other dearly. In 1 Samuel, they made a covenant with each other.
"And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself." 1 Samuel 20:17
As Jonathan and David made a covenant, so did God and Abraham in the book of Genesis. If you think about it, Jonathan can be seen as a type of Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants that he would never leave or forsake them. He would be their God and they would be His people. He would bless them and give them the promised land.

Later in the 1 Samuel story, Jonathan and Saul die and David mourns for them. Even though the house of Saul and David were enemies, David would not harm either of them. Saul had been very jealous of David and he pursued David in an effort to kill him. David loved and respected both Jonathan and Saul, so when it came time, David wanted to honor Jonathan and his covenant with him by blessing his family.

In 2 Samuel 9, we read that Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth (Don't ask me how to pronounce it.) When Jonathan was killed, the nurse for Mephibosheth ran away with him and accidentally dropped him on his feet and he became crippled. Mephibosheth can be seen as a model of us! We are broken and crippled in this world.

When David inquired about the house of Jonathan and found out he had a son who was lame, He was so excited and brought him into his house and treated him as if he was his own son. Mephibosheth came into see David, bowed down to him to pay David honor as if he was to be a servant of the king. Instead of David treating Mephibosheth as a servant, David said,
"Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul and you will always eat at my table." 2 Samuel 9:7
Like David, Jesus is pursuing us. He wants to find all of us. When we open our hearts to go to him, he wants to pick us up and take us into His house. He is so kind and loving and wants to restore our brokenness and feed us at his grand table! As David gave back all that belonged to the house of Saul to Mephibosheth and restored their land to him, he also told Mephibosheth that he would ALWAYS eat at his table, just like one of the king's sons. (2 Samuel 9:11)

My husband shared a quote with me the other day that I just loved. It said,


David, a type of Jesus, found Mephibosheth, a crippled and lame model of us. In his excitement and promise to fulfill his covenant to Mephibosheth's father, he took him in as his own son. We are son's and daughter's of the promise of God! God will pull us from our hole, our pit, and restore us through his son Jesus. He wants to take us from our worldly trouble and take us in as his own. We are all broken and crippled, but we are all treasured! We are redeemed by the healing grace and mercy of Jesus.  Those that have faith in Jesus, will ALWAYS be with Him at his table!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Trusting in the Gardener

About three years ago, I started growing a pineapple and a lemon tree. We live in an area of Texas that doesn't necessarily have the best climate to grow tropical fruit. So, in order to create an environment where fruit could develop, I had to take very special care of these plants.   
 

I thought about my little plants as I was reading the book of John. Jesus said,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1-2
Both of my little tropical plants ended up doing very well because I cared for them and gave them what they needed to flourish. Much in the same way, in order for us to flourish, grow, and produce spiritual fruit, Jesus says we must remain with Him.
"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:9
The apostle Paul describes the fruit of the spirit that we produce in Galatians.
 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
During the summer, my plants would sit on my back porch where they had just the right amount of sun. But, in the winter, they had to come inside where it was warm and they were protected by the freezing temperatures. Days when we had severe thunderstorms, I had to move them out of the weather to make sure they were protected from the wind and hail.

When we put our complete trust and surrender our lives to Jesus, God cares for us so that we can produce spiritual fruit. When we are in Jesus, He waters us and shelters us from the storms of life. Putting all of our trust in Him ensures we receive just what we need in order to flourish.

I enjoyed having both plants, but I especially liked the lemon tree because every year it produced the most aromatic blooms and large lemons that my family could use to make treats. The first year we had the lemon tree, we were able to get eight lemons. I was so excited! The next year, it produced eleven which was enough to be able to share with a friend.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and have our hearts and minds on Christ, we are in Him and God our Father [our gardener] cares for us. At times, just as my tree and pineapple had to be pruned, God also prunes us. Our circumstances, trials, afflictions, sufferings, and God's discipline often "prunes" us so that we can learn to bear good fruit.
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Hebrews 12:11 NASB
My pineapple was quite a bit different than my lemon tree. It didn't grow as fast and produce near as much fruit.

Jesus is the VineI started the pineapple plant by cutting off the top of a pineapple I bought at a grocery store. I planted it in some soil, kept it watered, and it started to grow into a wonderful little plant. Only, it took much longer to grow into a mature plant than the lemon tree did. As the lemon tree produced blooms and lemons every year, the pineapple slowly grew; little by little.

As wonderful and loved as the lemon tree was, I can not tell you the joy and excitement we had when our pineapple grew and produced an actual pineapple fruit we could eat. It took 2 long years for the pineapple to produce a full grown pineapple fruit. It was a BIG DEAL when we finally got to harvest it and eat it!

The slow growth of the pineapple mirrored my own spiritual growth. It took me a long time to really surrender my life to Christ. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit really made me understand that I wasn't growing and producing the fruit I needed to, or that God expected me to, that I surrendered all of my life and trust to Him.

I thought about how much joy Jesus must receive when those of us that haven't been growing, finally turn over our complete trust to Him. We allow God to water and feed us by His Word and to "prune" us, so we grow and mature into the Christ followers God called us to be. When we begin to bear much fruit and produce so much that we are able to share with others, that's when OUR gardener smiles.

Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit?
Love, Joy, Peace, Gentleness, Kindness, Self-Control, Patience

Do you need to let go of something and give it to God so that He can care for you and feed you with His Word? Put your complete trust in the gardener of your heart and produce the fruit that can only come from your trust and faith in Jesus.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Final Atoning Sacrifice for Sin

As I have been reading the Old Testament and the New Testament, I continue to see unbelievable correlations. Today, I was studying Exodus and I saw something that I have never seen before that I would like to share with you. Mind you, I am not a Bible scholar, nor have I ever attended a Bible college or any theological studies course. I am only sharing with you what I believe the Holy Spirit laid on my heart as I was reading.

As I sat and read Exodus 30, I immediately went back and read Luke 7, I was actually blown away by what I read and discovered. Jesus is no doubt the Savior of the world; the PERFECT atoning sacrifice for all the sins of humanity.

Everything in the Bible points to Jesus and the redemption promise God planned since the fall of man; when Adam and Eve first sinned against God's commandments.  I believe God has revealed His plan to redeem humanity all through the Old Testament. More and more I see how Jesus is revealed through the narratives written as early as even Genesis. (If you are interested in learning more about what the Old Testament reveals, I suggest you read the blog post Old is New Concealed, and New is Old Revealed.)

tabernacle
Google Image Search
If you will hang with me for a few minutes, I will share a quick background...From Exodus chapter 20 through 23, Moses writes about God's new law for the Israelites. From chapter 24 through chapter 30, God confirmed His covenant with His chosen people and established His commandments for sacrificial atonement of sins. In order for the Israelites to receive forgiveness of sins, a priest had to be established through certain consecration methods in order to even approach the altar standing in front of the atonement cover, or curtain that is over the Ark of the Covenant, in the Tabernacle. This was the most holy place where God resided in the Tabernacle and dwelt among the people. He resided in the "skin" of the curtain covering the ark. (God resides in skin.)

During these times in Israel's history, there were certain acts that the priest had to perform in order to approach God. Exodus 30 describes the altar of incense and the sacred anointing oil that could only be used for the purpose of consecration before God and preparation for the altar. No other incense or oil could be used and the sacred oil and incense could not be used for any other purpose.
"Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord." Exodus 30:9-10
As you read through the chapter you learn about the atonement money and the basin for washing. Aaron and his sons (all priests consecrated to God) had to wash their hands and feet before they entered the tent of meetings (or the tabernacle).

Verses 22-33 are God's instruction to Moses on how to create the anointing oil, which a major ingredient was myrrh (gall). It was used for anointing everything in the tabernacle. Including all the gold covered furnishings and the ark of the covenant. Verses 34 - 38 describe how God expected the incense to be made, which included frankincense. God was very specific about the ingredients and the amount for both the oil and the incense. He also made it very clear that they should not use any of that type of oil or incense on anything else. Both were very sacred and holy to the Lord and used ONLY to prepare the altar of atonement for sins and consecrate for holiness. (Exodus 30:30)

When I read all of this describing the tabernacle and the furnishings and then the anointing oil and incense, my mind went immediately to Luke 7. You may be thinking, why?? If you will go read that chapter, you will see that Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman before He was arrested and crucified.
"A woman in that town [Bethany] who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38
A couple of things popped in my mind... One, was this a correlation between what the priests did in the tabernacle before atoning for sin and Jesus being anointed by the woman? A. woman. anointing Jesus before His sacrifice?... whoa.  This woman knew how great her sin was and knew that Jesus forgave sin.... A woman was the first human to sin. 
"It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial." John 12:7
The second thing I thought of was was when Jesus said..
"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47
Just as there is a wash basin in front of the tabernacle for washing before making a presentation before God, the woman washed His feet with her tears. Only a few days before the passover when Jesus was to be presented before God. Just before Jesus was to be sacrificed for our MANY sins.

We have been forgiven much by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus who died on the cross! Jesus said...
"Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." Matthew 26:13 
And look!!! Here I am... writing about this story for you, from my blog, 2016 years after His birth! WOW!

wise men
Google Image Search
The other thing that popped in my head after reading Exodus chapter 30 was the Magi. Yes... the Magi... the three wise kings of the orient who bore the gifts that traveled so far.... I thought about the three gifts they carried; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The very same ingredients God described very clearly to be used for the furnishings of the tabernacle, the oil, and the incense.

The Bible does not specifically state the reason why the Magi brought these three particular items, but I believe there is a much deeper meaning. Some speculate that the Gold represents Jesus' divinity; God in the flesh. I believe that could be accurate. All of the furnishings and the ark in the tabernacle where overlaid with gold. Everything in the tabernacle represented holiness. Jesus is Holy!

Now there is frankincense which has a pleasant odor. The priests had to burn incense on the altar of incense in the tabernacle every day - all day long. (Exodus 30:7-10) This altar was also used for only one other reason - the annual blood atonement for sin offering. Frankincense represents Jesus willingness to become the sin offering, wholly giving Himself up as the final sacrifice for sin. Jesus is Perfect, Righteous, and Willing!

And finally myrrh. Myrrh was a spice used for embalming, a poison. Myrrh is said to represent suffering, affliction, or bitterness. It is also called, "gall". When Jesus was on the cross, he was offered "gall" so he wouldn't be able to feel His pain, but He refused it. (Matthew 27:34) He suffered greatly and died on the cross for us. Myrrh was also used as a major ingredient in the sacred anointing oil in Exodus 30. Again, this oil was ONLY used to concecrate for holiness. Were the wise men, and the sinful woman in Luke 7, symbolizing the anointing of Jesus? JESUS IS OUR HIGH PRIEST AND KING!

I absolutely love learning what the Holy Spirit reveals from the Word of God. It amazes me... the more I read, the more unbelievable correlations between Old and New Testaments are revealed... evidence that each letter, word, verse, chapter, and book is divinely inspired by God Himself. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ who was resurrected from the grave and dwells with those who believe. In our own skin! AMEN!
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9  
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Banana Pudding and Good Intentions

As any Texas born native will tell you, one of the most loved desserts in the south is banana pudding. The delectable goodness of silky vanilla pudding with sweet Nilla wafers and ripe bananas. Until just a few days ago, I have never learned how to make one of my most favorite desserts of all times. One reason is, I never had the time to learn. And two, I just REFUSE to cheat and make it with instant pudding. It may be a lot easier and faster, but to me and possibly half the south, it just doesn't taste nearly as good.

So, with the best of intentions, I decided I would learn how to make it and bring it to a friend's house that my husband and I were going to visit that evening. With all the desire, will, and good intentions I had, and now with the time to learn it, I found a recipe on the internet I thought would work. I gathered all the ingredients and followed the recipe as it was written. Almost two hours later..... EPIC FAILURE. I was so upset. It isn't very often that I have the will to go all out and make a homemade dessert. I'm not much of a baker. So, what do you do when you are expected to be somewhere.... with a dessert.... in 10 minutes? You stop by Subway and buy a dozen cookies!

I had good intentions and I wanted to bring a homemade dessert to our neighbors for dinner. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out like I planned.

A lot of us have good intentions, especially at the beginning of the new year. We intend on getting in shape or changing bad habits. Some of us make spiritual goals like reading the Bible more, serving in church more, or praying more often. But, if you are like me and many others, those good intentions are often forgotten and within a month, old habits return. The Bible is left on the nightstand for a day, then the next day, then another... and another until we forget the resolution we made to read it all together.

What we lack is follow through - commitment. Goals are only as good as the commitment to follow through; which I admit I am among the worst at keeping. So, since I have yet to make a resolution for 2016, I decided I would make a resolution to not give up. I am going to make a more intentional effort to follow through with my good intentions. Too often I think that I should give someone a call, write a note of gratitude, make an effort to encourage others and fail to do it because I forget that day or something comes up. It is never too late to show someone you care or that you love them.

Instead of just giving up on making the banana pudding, I spent all afternoon, the next day, figuring out how to make the pudding work. And... after three LONG attempts, I got it! My pudding turned out beautifully. I was so pleased with how the pudding turned out. I was so proud of myself.... (and then...)

It doesn't matter how many new year's resolutions or goals you have; how great your goals are to improve yourself. It doesn't matter if you intend on loosing 30 pounds, read the Bible daily, or exercise 4 days per week. What matters is follow through. Even if you forget or mess up. What matters is you don't give up, you press on and persevere. You make every effort to start over and try again.
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 ESV
Thankfully, even if we do mess up, forget, or give up on our goals, we have a perfect Savior who never gives up on us and never forgets us. Jesus is always there to pick us up when we fall.
"Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand." Psalm 37:24 NIV
Another lesson I learned in this is that when we make well intended resolutions, when we actually make it and reach our weight loss goals, we read through the entire Bible, or we serve in church as we intended, we give thanks to the One who gave us the ability to achieve them in the first place.

So, let us also be careful to not become prideful and celebrate our own efforts to achieve our goals. As happy as I was to actually achieve a GREAT pudding, You may have noticed in the picture above, I rushed through the last part and messed up the topping. Through my prideful celebration, I botched the meringue. I allowed my pride and excitement of FINALLY making a great pudding distract me from the last step. I rushed through making the meringue and messed it up.
"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17
Thankfully the dessert tasted great, but I did learn two valuable lessons in all this. Good intentions can indeed be good, but are not good without follow through; nothing is achieved without action. And whatever we aim to achieve and the goals we set for ourselves, let them be for the glory of God and His son Jesus Christ and not become too prideful and boast in our own abilities.

May you be blessed this year and achieve the goals and resolutions you wish to achieve.. and not a sink full of dirty dishes and a botched meringue! To God be the Glory!