Truth Tuesday #20: Making Time for Small Ministry

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As an English teacher, one of the core concepts I learned to teach was theme. It’s the author’s underlying message. It’s what he wants us to take away from a piece of literature. And one of those most common themes is that things are not always as they appear. They’re not as insignificant or even as accidental as they might first seem to be.

One such non-coincidental encounter started as many weekend days of my life do, at the thrift store. I am always drawn to a beautiful book cover (English teacher, remember?), and on this particular day, it was the cover of an anthology on Southernness from the editors of Garden and Gun Magazine. As I opened the book to a “random” page, I landed on an article that purported that Knoxville’s Chintzy Rose tea room and junk shop served tea that surpassed any other in the South. That’s saying something.

Well, how “concidental” then that I just happened to be planning a trip to my hometown in Virginia, and that Knoxville is the halfway point. How “strange,” too, that anyone I had asked to take the trip with me was unavailable. I was a little depressed about going by myself, but when I saw that article about the tea room, I determined to make an adventure out of my trip after all. When the day arrived, I put on an extended episode of my favorite podcast and set my sights on the halfway mark, where my personal roadside attraction was waiting…

Want to read more OR listen to the accompanying podcast episode? Visit beulahgirl.com to read the rest of the article or listen in.

Be blessed,

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

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Truth Tuesday #19: There’s Still a Beam in My Eye

Let me be real.  I think part of the reason I started this blog was to start contributing to Pinterest instead of just being a stalker.  I didn’t think I’d really get that many readers, but if I could show some cool craft or finance tip that really did work, I just might.  However, as I wrestled with a name for the blog, I felt that maybe the purpose should be to expose my efforts to let the Lord help me with my weaknesses.  I really thought that I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed into making this just a faith blog.  I wanted to, you know, be Pinn-able.  But you know what else?  I keep finding myself being drawn to life-inspired reflections.  I still have so many issues with my finances, my overeating, my friendships, and my hate-to-clean disease that I find that Jesus weaves throughout my everyday life whether I am conscious of Him or not.  The song could not be truer:  “I need thee/Oh, I need Thee/Every hour I need thee.”  You see, I’ve noticed that…

There’s Still a Beam in My Eye

And it’s bigger than I realized.  It has many branches, and the more I search for solutions, the more I find that I still have more issues. As a matter of fact, if I had to give myself a report card on achieving any of the goals I thought I might address with this blog, I’d been failing or barely passing in most of them. But here’s what I think…I think God’s goal for me is bigger than anything I could “document” or mark as a milestone through this blog. His one goal is this: total surrender, total humility, and a release of everything I’m clinging to besides Him. I do feel a calling to minister to other, but God is, for some reason, bringing me through a Jillian-Michaels-level of removing the beam in my eye so that I can do what He says in his word, see clearly to help others remove the specks in theirs.

If you’d like to hear more of my reflection and my journey, click play below. I’ve shared a video from my weekly Facebook Live session, which happens every Tuesday at 8:30 PM EST. I hope you’ll be able to join me live next week!

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As you watch and read, I’d love to know what your personal “eye beam” is. How can I help you pray? Please leave a comment below.

Be blessed,

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Truth Tuesday #18: What We Pray Versus What We Want

In my tenure as a committed Christian, which goes all the way back to age thirteen, I’ve prayed some crazy prayers. I’ve prayed prayers where I promised things I never truly thought about following through on and others where I’m completely thankful God didn’t answer. I’ve often let words tumble out of my mouth to Almighty God in the same way they would to a friend, and I’ve taken them just that lightly. I’ve prayed out of routine, false motives, emotion, or even a desire for revenge.

In the video below, which is embedded from the Facebook Live session I do every Tuesday at 8PM EST, I share three types of misguided prayers many of us have prayed:

  1. conditional prayers
  2. emotional or dangerous prayers
  3. selfish and worldly prayers

I also share some advice from God’s word on making sure we pray the kind of prayers God will answer instead of just being flippant with our prayer lives.

Click PLAY to have a listen, and if you are blessed by what I share, I hope you’ll follow this blog and like my Facebook page so you don’t miss any more encouragement!
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Have any thoughts on your prayer life you’d like to share? Any other tips for making sure our prayers aren’t misguided? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Be blessed,

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

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Truth Tuesday #17: Living a Life of Intention

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Every year, my husband and I take a pilgrimage to Savannah. We love the history and the relaxing atmosphere there. Last year, I got in my head that I wanted to find my old elementary school and my old house. We lived in Savannah when I was in first grade, and my dad was on the railroad out of Jacksonville, Florida. The reason that I have such a strong memory of both the school and the house is because of the time I ran away.
Being the rule follower I am, I took it to heart when my first-grade teacher said that whoever didn’t bring a certain permission slip the next day would be in trouble. My name was on the board, if I recall only one of two names, and I hate to getting in trouble. Try as I might, however, this little first-grade brain could not remember that form. So when my dad dropped me off the next morning and I went into our trailer classroom, I still saw my name on the board, and panic ensued. I looked around, and neither of the teachers had seen me yet. I went outside onto the porch of the trailer and saw my dad’s red Jeep Cherokee tail lights heading into the distance.
Not one to purposely choose to get in trouble, I instead decided that I had to go home and get the form. I simply could not stay in the class and get in trouble. So I began what was probably a half-mile walk but what felt like much further to a first-grader. Now I was a smart girl, so I took the back way. My little legs carried me all the way, and I only had to go on the main road at the very end when I was almost at the driveway of our house.
Imagine my aunt’s and my dad’s surprise when I knocked on the door. In shock, my dad heard the story and took me back to school, but I refused to get out of the car. The teacher had to actually come outside and tell me that I would not get in trouble because it was my parents’ fault, not mine.
Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and try not to panic about the fact that I was a first- grader who ran all the way home unsupervised. I tell the story to say this: even now, I find it to be my natural instinct to want to run away from trouble. When Dusty and I have a fight, I want to shut down instead of processing through it. If there’s trouble brewing at work, I ignore as long as possible and keep the stress inside. Or, as I’ve discussed before, when I’m facing a wilderness, I’d rather focus on other positive things then go through it. The problem is this–we can’t escape our own lives. Try as we might, we can’t resurrect the power of those first-grade legs and physically run away from what it is that haunts us. We have to go through it.
In the video below, which is posted from my Tuesday weekly Facebook Live session, I talk about three ways to live a life of intention. We explore these concepts:
  1. You can’t escape yourself.
  2. It’s time to live your life, not just watch it from the outside.
  3. We have to be intentional even in hardship.
Click play below to watch the video, and I would love to see you live next week!

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Did one of these ideas for living intentionally resonate with you? Do you have another idea to share? Please leave a comment below.

Be blessed,

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

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Truth Tuesday #16: It’s Not All About You

  • No, really…it’s not.
  • Me time? Not necessarily.
  • Focusing on others will really help you.
  • Friendships that focus on others are the best ones.

As a child, I must have really thought it was all about me.  After all, the evidence has been captured on film.  In one picture, I’m dressed as a princess and carrying a majorette’s baton.  In a video, I jump in front of my brother, who is already talking to the camera, to tell a story about a game I played at school.  I already wrote one post for Beulah Girl about when it’s okay to be the center of attention, but the attention green light is not on all the time.  Despite the shirts with the message, “It’s all about me,” the churches that market toward the interests of people, and the trend toward “me time” that’s all the rage now, it really is not about me.  Or you.  It’s about God.  He created us to glorify Him.

With our study of the Bible, we have to make sure that it’s all about God there too.  For the last several months, I’ve subscribed to a daily devotional app, First 5, and the current study is Leviticus.  When I saw the book choice, I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  You see, I’ve done several read-through-the-Bible challenges before, and Leviticus is never a book that I feel like applies to me.  It’s about laws, and it’s bloody and gutsy, as in literal guts.  But as with anything else in this culture, we have to resist the urge to make it all about us.  We can’t just read, listen to, embrace, or do what makes us happy all the time.  It’s not about us.

 

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Truth Tuesday #12: Seeing Beneath the Surface

I’ve often have the conversation with my husband about the difference between men and women and why women seem to fight more. I told him it’s really easy to get along with people if you talk about the weather and sports. Women go deep, and they go deep fast, so when there is heartbreak or division, it really stings. I think there’s something about us that sees beneath the surface. I think my own personality, though, takes seeing-beneath a step further. I might be in a crowded room with people who are feeling happy and overjoyed, but a sadness overtakes me. It’s not a symptom of depression. It’s something I feel in my mind’s eye or in my spirit that just doesn’t resonate with what’s happening. I also have a penchant for seeing the people on the fringes of that happy room. In today’s discussion, I want us to spend some time talking about making sure that the surface is never our satisfaction level.
As you know if you’re my friend in real life or if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, I was a classroom teacher for eleven years. I taught mostly eighth grade, but in my last four years, I moved up and taught high school. It was a really hard job. I wanted to knock somebody’s head off one day when I was sitting at dinner and she said she was tired of teachers complaining. “They get summers off and get to go home every day at 2:30,” she pronounced. I would challenge anyone who feels that way to even go observe in a classroom for a day. It’s not that we’re overworked or the hours that make us the most exhausted, although that’s part of it. It’s the never-ending heartbreak and push back and rebellion. Especially with older students. Along the lines of heartbreak, I can think of several students who were invisible to many others, including their teachers. I may not have been good at being the easiest grader or in helping all the kids pass my class, but there’s something again about my personality that just can’t let go of kids that no one else sees.
Maybe it’s because we grew up poor or whatever, but my heart just reaches out and connects, sometimes even to “prickly” kids. One such young man was a cutter. I’ve never before or since encountered a male student who used cutting to control his life or relieve his pain. This boy had been cutting since middle school, and if you read his file, the teacher said he was just doing it for attention. Well obviously. Why else would a perfectly normal person feel the need to inflict pain and see blood? It was his way of controlling some life situation. This kid didn’t give a rip about my class. He was failing every semester, and he chose to surround himself with kids who were behavior problems. We definitely tangled more than once. However, as I would walk him to the counselor again and again to report fresh ucts on his arms, we started to form a bond that I didn’t realize was being formed at the time. I certainly never would have known it by his backtalk, haha. However, after he left school, he was one of the students who wrote me back and said I was his favorite teacher. There was something in me that recognized his invisibility, and I believe he responded to that from his own heart cry.
Another student that comes to mind really broke my heart and still does. I’ve tried to locate him and can’t. He was my eighth grader, and when he would come into other teachers’ rooms, he smelled so bad that those teachers would spray air freshener all around the room. It couldn’t have been more obvious why they were doing it. I even heard one teacher say that she couldn’t sit and help him because she would gag. It was a horrible smell, and he could have done something about it. I get that. However, the thought that a kid would purposely make himself disgusting to keep people away should tear our hearts apart. Certainly God can help us overcome the stink or the disgust if there’s a soul at stake.
My point in sharing these two stories is not to pin roses on myself. There have been many times in my life, even maybe with some of you, that I have been unkind. I remember mocking a boy who was of a different faith in middle school. If I could remember his name to look him up, I would apologize profusely. Maybe we can’t go back and redo everything we haven’t done, but there’s something to be said for going forward without ignoring the invisible people this time.
What if you’re not a teacher? What if you can’t relate at all to the stories I just shared? There’s another way I want to challenge us to see beneath the surface. I love to tell stories to illustrate my point so just indulge me here. I was at a church service the other night. This weekend, I honestly needed a little pick-me-up, so I went to three different church services. I told my husband I wanted to have a personal revival weekend. At the third of those services, the worship was amazing. The young piano player was tearing up those keyboards. Everyone was in tune, the harmony was great, and the enthusiasm of all the worshipers was contagious. But as I worshiped, I also observed. I saw middle school girls dancing and singing their little hearts out. As I watched, I thought about my experience as a middle school teacher. I thought about what happened when those same Christian girls went to school and acted completely different. So instead of focusing on jubilant worship, I found myself crying and praying for those girls to be protected and to remember that they were the same person outside of church as they were inside it. Maybe they were. And maybe some will call me judgmental for even having that thought. But my heart was pure. I want there to be a revival of us going beneath the surface. Revival of us caring if who we really are matches who we pretend to be. All of us can act a certain way when we’re around certain people, but if we become chameleons, we’re just surface-level people. I want us all to take time to notice, whether it’s in ourselves or in others, the cry of deep crying out to deep.
The bottom line of seeing below the surface is that you have to see two ways. You have to make eye contact and look for those invisible souls crying out for the love of God we’re called to share. You have to take off any blinders and choose to see what might be difficult or uncomfortable or against the grain. But you also have to make soul contact. You have to ask for the discernment of the Lord to help you process situations you’re seeing and respond appropriately, instead of just ignoring them and moving on. I don’t know what these two types of contact will cause in your life, but I know for me they prompt me to action. And sometimes they at least prompt me to an awareness of gratitude. Thankful that God even chooses to whisper His cries to my heart.
Talk about invisible people–Jesus dealt with a bloody woman and a leprous man. He also dealt with the Pharisees, who looked perfect on the outside, but whom He called “whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones.” He was never content to take the eye or the soul at face value either. Let us follow His example today.
Be blessed,
www.thebeaminmyeye.com
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Check out the video below, which is embedded from the Facebook Live Truth Tuesday session I host every week at facebook.com/thebeaminmyeye at 8:30PM EST.

Truth Tuesday #2: Humility as Worship

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In tonight’s episode, hear me talk about:

  • my personality–how the extreme extrovert is really longing for God’s attention
  • highlights from the book Unseen by Sara Hagerty
  • a discussion of the scriptures in 1 Peter 5:5-8 and new insights I received while rereading them
  • a reference to my other post about humility, originally written for Beulah Girl

Push play to tune in now!

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Now that you’ve watched, I’d love to hear from you:

  • In what ways do you long for more significance?
  • In what ways is humility difficult for you?

Make sure to share in the comments below.

In Truth,

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

Truth Tuesday #1: Keeping Our Goals God-Focused

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Hello my sweet friends, and welcome to the first edition of Truth Tuesday.  I hope you are as excited about New Year’s as I am, but I’m going to be honest.

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In a conversation with my husband the other day, I told him that I was not excited about the new year coming. I think the problem is with me that I set goals for myself and then I don’t follow
 through. That’s the reason I started this blog in the first place. I wanted a spot to hold myself publicly accountable. And I’ll be honest, I think I’m a pretty good writer too. I wanted to force myself to do some writing. However, just like many of my other goals, consistency has fallen by the wayside on my writing. The problem that I have to keep reminding myself is that I am trying to do everything on my own. But newsflash..I don’t have any power. The good news is that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. So it’s really a compliment to myself that I don’t have self will or determination or willpower. That’s God’s job. It is he who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. With all that being said, though, I do have some goals for myself this year. What are they? Well, let’s start with the silly ones first. Might as well 🙂 So predictable.
Number one: It is official that I am busting out of not only my skinny pants and my fatter pants but even my fattest pants. If you’re counting, that means I’m three sizes up from where I’d like to be. Let me take a minute to say that if weight is an issue for you, we can’t compare ourselves. What I’m happy being and what you’re happy being are two totally different things. So let’s remove that little offense that might have come in when I mentioned my weight. Okay, now we’re ready to be friends again. So, my first goal is to get fit and healthy.
My second goal is to start attacking our debt. We have a serious foundation issue and credit card debt which amounts to… let’s just say lots of thousands of dollars. It would be unrealistic to think that we could get all of that debt down this year even if we saved and sold and ate ramen noodles. However, I would like to at least attack it, like I said.
Third, I would like to work on some family situations. I want Dusty and I to cherish the time we have while we don’t have kids and not let that slip away. However, I also want to make sure I do everything medically that I can to assure that we can have a family. You can pray for us about that, or any of these goals for that matter.
Fourth, I would like consistency. I don’t think I have ADD, although that certainly is a possibility, but I do bounce around from one thing I’m excited about to another. The problem is that if something doesn’t excite me, I’m not going to do it. That’s very childish. Adults should know that not every moment of our lives is going to be exciting. We have to do the faithful things, not just the fun things. So I want consistency in my prayer life, my Bible study Life, my weekly schedule, my eating habits, and oh, lots of things.
Final goal: When I was an English teacher, I taught my students to save their most important points for last, so that they would stick out in the reader’s mind. My overarching and most important pursuit for my life, not just this year, is intimacy with the Lord. I know in my head and my heart that if I will give Him everything, He will give me what I need. After all, it’s no surprise to him that I have debt or no children or that I’m overweight. And he is completely capable of taking care of all of that. In Matthew 6:33, he tells us to seek Him first, and He will add all the other needful things.
I don’t know about you, but I have been like a strong-willed horse. God has to put a bit and a bridle on me and turn my head because I’m constantly pursuing how I can do and accomplish and meet all my goals…queue the Martha post I wrote a while back. I’m trying to think of how to raise money. I’m trying to think of what I have done wrong to prevent me from having kids. The key word here is I. And when I listen to podcasts that tell me how somebody else is accomplishing and making it happen in her world, I start to feel anxiety. We know that anxiety is not from God either. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing. God is capable of everything.
So this year, I reset myself again. I ask God to center me on His will and his pursuits, and I know he will take care of the rest. I’ve seen him do it. But I’m just like the Israelites when I forget that He has done it before and that He will do it again, whatever “it” is.
Here are a couple more scriptures to motivate both of us to make sure that we’re pursuing God’s goals:  In Mark 8:34-37, Jesus talks about the peril of gaining the whole world and losing our souls. Remember that He has an upside down kingdom, and in Mark 9:35, we see that the one who wants to be first needs to be the servant of everybody. So if I align those two together, Jesus is telling me to make sure that my goals are the ones that have His heartbeat at the center. If I will press my ear up against his heart and listen, I will know what I’m supposed to do and what my purpose is. I will stop trying to make everything happen on my own, because it’s not going to work anyway and because it will make me depressed, and because it will make me feel like I don’t measure up to anybody.
The cycle has to stop. I have to make my goals the ones that will put Him in the center and put people first. I want to pause here and say to that doesn’t mean that you exhaust yourself so that you’re no good to anyone else. It’s not a martyr complex, Suzy Lolley. However, if we are just self-focused, that is never going to lead to success. I pray along with you, my friend, that we will pursue the right things this year and that we will pursue them with God’s power. We neither pursue nor achieve anything without His very breath filling up our lungs.
Will you do this for me? Will you pray about some God-centered goals for this year? And will you leave them in the comments below? I want to pray with you and believe with you that God will do what he says he’s going to do and that we are going to arrive at the verge of 2019 empowered and hopeful and thankful that we turned it all over to Him.
Much love,
www.thebeaminmyeye.com
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Unoffended: The Freedom of Forgiveness

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If you’ve been married for more than one minute, you know that men and women are different. So many times, I’ve had the conversation with my husband where he asks why women are always getting so offended at each other. I tell him that it’s because we talk about more than just sports or the weather. We are deep, connected creatures.

Or at least were meant to be. But that very blessing can be what also causes us to hurt each other and to hold onto that hurt. I am a gregarious, outgoing person. I talk to everybody, and I talk too much. That disposition naturally lends itself to situations where I cause offense. Although I have learned a lot about not saying everything I think, that choice is still a battle for me.

My heart is very tender. I cry at every movie or commercial or when I see someone with a homeless sign on the side of the road. So people who know me hopefully know that I would not hurt them on purpose. But again, because of my personality, I am more apt to bring that offense than, say, a person who is shy and reserved. The Bible says that if we believe we have caused an offense, we are to go to that person and make it right. It doesn’t say, “if they deserve an apology.” It doesn’t say if we have legitimately offended on purpose. It says if someone is offended at us, we have to be the ones to go make it right. Don’t believe me? See for yourself from Matthew 5:23-24 (emphasis mine):

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Is it awkward to bring up what someone may have against us? Absolutely. But it’s the right thing to do, and it will make things better in almost every case. I don’t want to share specific examples on here, because I don’t know who’s reading this post, but suffice it to say that I’ve had to swallow my pride on more than one occasion and go ask someone to forgive me. I may not have known what I did wrong, and I may not have done it on purpose, but it was worth it to me not to have an unspoken tension that would keep that person from the fullness of God’s plan for them.

I don’t want to be somebody’s stumbling block, and I hope you don’t either. Jesus is coming back soon, and one of the things that will keep us from receiving God’s forgiveness is if we don’t forgive others. That’s plain too, in Matthew 6:14-15. I beg and plead that you would heed your sister’s heart. I know it doesn’t feel good to humble ourselves or to try to make a situation feel better that we don’t even believe we caused. But I can tell you as someone who has come out on the other side of many of those situations, getting the hurt out in the open is the right thing to do. It brings such a healing.

Let me end by recommending a book. It was introduced to me by my former pastor and it’s called The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. Think of Satan as a master fisherman who knows exactly how to get vulnerable people on the hook. What’s his number one lure? It’s offense. Jesus tells us not to be offended. So if you have been offended or if you believe you’ve caused offense, even inadvertently, I highly recommend this book. I will happily loan my copy to someone if you would like to work through it. I’m not saying any of this will be easy, but it will be worth it.

If you would like for me to pray for you in this situation, please leave me a comment or use my contact form to send an email. I want us all to make it to heaven, but not just that. I want us all to have a joyful, abundant life here on earth, and I believe that the forgiveness that we can offer and that we can receive is the key to that life.

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

A Call to Generosity

Though I only ever saw the final scene of the movie Schindler’s List, there was something so powerful about it that its message has always stuck with me. In that scene, Oskar Schindler, a businessman who had rescued over a thousand Jews , regrets that he had not done even more to make money available for that purpose. He laments not selling his car or his jewelry–objects he could’ve done without in order to save more people. So generous a man wanted to do even more and weeps over not using his money to do what it could have done.  Let us let that sink in.

I hear information all the time about a budget, and I am (as my husband can tell you), more than willing to talk about one. I believe in saving, and I believe in spending and paying bills and all the things we need to do with our finances. But you know what I believe in most of all?

Generosity.

I believe that one day all of this “stuff” is going to burn, and the only thing that will have mattered about our lives is what we did to help other people. Proverbs says that a man’s gift makes room for him. Some people interpret that to mean that a man’s gift makes room for him to have more friends or to exert more influence or to be seated at a better table. I’ve always thought that too, but now I’m thinking something more.  What I think is that the scripture means that our generosity makes room for us to be heard by people. And Jesus obviously supports that assertion when he says that we should not send a man who is hungry away from our door, tell him to be blessed, and give him nothing tangible.  If I have been generous with someone out of sincere motives, not bribery or false pretenses, it opens the way for me to share friendship and the gospel with them.

It’s time we had a talk about what our money is really for. It’s not just for a house or car or some Christmas presents. It’s not for bringing the latest Pinterest vision to life.  It’s about paving the way for other people’s lives to be enriched. If the love of money is the root of all evil, I don’t want to love it. I want to use it as a tool to bless others and to show them Jesus. I want to be the most generous tipper in a restaurant or the one who supports a variety of ministries. I’m not saying I am that every time. Heavens no. But I want to be. Don’t you?  Mine and my husband’s ultimate goal is that we would be financially stable, not so that we can retire in the Keys, but so that we can bless other people.

Let’s take some time to shift our focus from The American Dream to the dream of Jesus, which encompasses the whole world and how they can come to know Him.  And let’s ask God if our current level of giving is just enough so that we are still comfortable or whether we are giving to the point where it hurts us sometimes…but sure helps others.

I know today’s post might seem harsh, but I think it’s so important that we realize we don’t have unlimited time on this earth, and we may never have unlimited resources.  But will you join me in making the most of your time and resources?  If so, will you leave a comment below?

Want to think about it a little more?  That’s okay too.  Read this post, and see what Jesus lays on your heart.

Be blessed, Friend.

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