Sunday, August 7, 2016

Seek the Heart

When God really wants me to hear a message, He repeats himself until I take heed. He must want me, or perhaps you, to focus on the heart because I read the following words from Ken Weliever after my last post.

In his 8/7/16 blog post Sunday Seed Thoughts, Ken writes:

“The heart is central,” wrote John Eldredge in his book The Ransomed Heart. “That I would even need to remind you of this only shows how far we have fallen from the life we were meant to live—or how powerful the spell has been.”
 The subject of the heart is addressed more in the Bible than any other topic,” observed Eldredge, “—more than “works” or “serve,” more than “believe” or “obey,” more than money and even more than worship. Maybe God knows something we’ve forgotten. But of course—all those other things are matters of the heart.”
Too often we look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Styles of clothes come and go. Hair styles change. Personal preferences vary among age groups and even cultures. Jewelry or the lack thereof says little about the inner adornment.
Jesus said to “love God with all your heart.” And he reminded people, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we love programs and policies more than people, we are in trouble. If we treasure traditions above Truth, we have lost the essence of Christianity.
It may be time for a heart check up. Schedule an appointment with the Great Physician today.
—Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
My two takeaways:
We mustn't love service more than the people we serve. (tweet this)
We've let 'things' get in the way of relationships based on love, first for God and then for each other. (tweet this)
#SeedsofScripture @PreacherMan316

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Snap Judgments are Natural

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

I can’t help myself.

I make judgments based on appearance.

Are you with me?

It’s natural. If a girl with curly red hair bullied you in 2nd grade, your brain associates curly red hair with meanness. Having a dishonest co-worker of a particular ethnicity trains your brain to distrust others of the same background.

We make positive associations too. Southern accents may elicit warm feelings because a Georgian friend showed great kindness.
 
We can’t stop our brain’s natural tendency, so we need God’s help. The challenge is to resist the urge to make assumptions and remember that everyone is created in God’s image. Everyone has innate goodness and beauty whether they wear a suit or a prison stripes, run a non-profit or collect garbage, serve lunch at the shelter or cheat on their taxes.

In this scripture, Samuel had instructed Jesse to line up his sons so one could be anointed the next king of Israel. Jesse doesn’t bring David in from the fields for the lineup. He discounts David because shepherding was lowly work and the youngest child had little standing.

But this young, lowly shepherd was God’s chosen one. God saw David’s heart.

Seeing people the way God sees them takes time. (tweet this)

It takes retraining our brains to see the good in everyone. It takes looking beyond differences, circumstances and even ugly attitudes. It takes relationship.

Who do you overlook? How could you affirm their value?

#SeedsOfScripture #judgmental #ChildofGod

Monday, August 1, 2016

Where Do You Hide?

You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
Psalm 119:114 (NLT)

I jumped all over today’s scripture. Yes! Scripture is my source of hope. It’s full of God’s promises to love, forgive, provide, equip and strengthen me. He speaks of a bigger plan that I can’t yet understand which offers an immense supply of hope when life is difficult.

I then pondered the first part of the verse. My conversation with God went something like this:

Me: Yes, God, you are my refuge.
God: Really?
Me: Well, I want you to be the place I go when I feel discouraged.
God: But do you?
Me: Not initially maybe. But eventually I find my way into Your arms.
God: So where do you turn instead of leaning into Me?
Me: (with tail between legs) I try to solve the situation myself, consult friends, or numb my troubles with Facebook. (becoming defensive and making excuses) But at least I don’t drink anymore!
God: Sigh. How many times do I have to tell you?

It was a convicting moment.

Digging into the original Hebrew, a refuge is a shelter with a strong sense of secrecy. It’s a hiding place.

Where do you go when you want to disappear for a while? Your favorite shop or spa? Social media or a trusted friend? Alcohol? Sleep?

What would it look like to make God your hiding place? (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #thepsalms #myrefuge

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I'm a Phony

Now may the God of peace equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him.
Hebrews 13:20-21(NLT)

I’m a fraud, a phony.

I preach the ability of God to change lives with daily prayer and scripture study, but I’ve become sloppy about practicing my own advice.

Oh sure, I’m in the scripture multiple times a day through devotions by favorite authors and a daily email from Bible Gateway. But because I’ve neglected the quiet, slow, steeping of the Word, I’ve missed personal messages.

Reading scripture is not the same as meditating on it. (tweet this)

God has been reminding me of this over several months. When I noted that my spiritual energy was running low, a trusted friend asked “How is your quiet time”? Bingo - it had been squeezed out of my busy schedule.

A few days of ‘chair time’ was rejuvenating. I felt God’s guidance and remembered my purpose. It was as if God was saying “See! You’re not in this by yourself. I am the leader and provider.” But I was inconsistent.

My heart heard God inviting me to intentional prayer and study through devotions and sermons. I still failed to prioritize this time until I attended the recent She Speaks conference where 800 Christian communicators were reminded to listen first.

Seek God first or everything you do is meaningless. (tweet this)

Pray for guidance. Let scripture speak. Fill up on Jesus.

If we get ahead of God instead of following Him, we’re limited by our own abilities. We can lose focus, grow weary and let pride seep in. But when we let God lead, things we never imagined become real.
 
I'm not really a phony. I'm just another broken Christ follower.

Have you experienced the difference consistent, intentional time with God makes?

#SeedsOfScripture #SheSpeaks16

Sunday, July 3, 2016

God's Love Never Runs Out

They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day.
1 Chronicles 29:22 (NIV)

I am such a nerd.

Even when my brain is on summer vacation, I can’t resist jotting down a few thoughts during a concert. Yup, that’s me, taking notes at a sold-out House of Blues.

The Spirit was on fire among 1,800 Jesus Culture concert goers. Young and old from nearly every ethnicity praised our good God whose love never fails. Bodies danced and voices sang, heads bowed and arms waved in worship.  Hearts were rekindled and set aflame with God’s love. Many surrendered everything to God because He deserves nothing less. God raised a fearless Kingdom army to break the chains of addiction, shame, doubt and selfishness.

It was powerful worship - His name being praised en masse.

You’ll be happy to know I didn’t bring my notebook to the concert. But as the Spirit moved, I used my phone to jot down lyrics and personal revelations because my short term memory is especially short during summer break.

God’s love is constant. Let’s open our eyes to His presence and be moved. (tweet this)

His love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #worship #JesusCulture #HouseofBlues

Friday, June 17, 2016

Quietly Slipping Away

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
Psalm 119:1-4 (NLT)

It slips away so quietly.

One morning I’m caught up in my list of things to do in order to stay organized for several upcoming trips. Then the spring whirlwind kicks in with competitions and graduations and end-of-the-year meetings and yard work and family visits. It’s a flurry of fun, but in a flash it’s been a month since I last planted a Seed of Scripture. I’ll bet you’ve been too busy to notice the absence.

As the school year trickles to an end and summer sets in, it’s easy to let routines slide. Last summer Seeds of Scripture disappeared without explanation and I feel it happening again.

While I’d like to maintain a strict writing habit showing that God is at the center of my life, there are other ways to experience His presence. I will contemplate His goodness and power as I read, hike, garden, listen to the birds, and stare at the water. Without the pressure of a schedule I will post Seeds as He leads.

Keep God present in the absence of school year routines. (tweet it)

I pray that He will be at the center of your heart and mind wherever you go this summer. Please share stories of where you see God and how He touches you. Post on my Facebook page or email me (cathychungblog@gmail.com). I love to hear your encounters!

Where will you look for God this summer?

#SeedsOfScripture #FindingGod

Personal highlights of a whirlwind month:

·        Cheered my son at the Junior Olympic Men’s Gymnastics competition in Battle Creek, MI then sent him to the prom

·        Served lunch at the Woods Mullen Shelter for women in Boston

·        Spent time with my dad who visited MA for 3 weeks

·        Visited Sherri Lile, my missionary friend serving in Cambodia, during her home stay on the farm in MO

·        Thrilled to see my daughter compete in a major Crossfit competition in Madrid

·        Dug, potted and sold $1000 in garden plants to benefit victims of human trafficking

·        Celebrated the graduation of several of my former confirmation students

·        Blessed to hang out with my daughter, home from Qatar for the first time in a year

·        And heading to St. Louis for the Jr Men’s US Gymnastics Championships next week – PHEW!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Practical Advice

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 
James 1:19 (NLT)

Another nugget of life wisdom. Memorize this one friends.