Monday, May 21, 2007
James chapter 1
Where do I begin? James 1 is exactly what I needed today and just reading it reminds me of how much I need to be fueled by God's word. I really like to think of it as a power source. Just as a light plugs into the wall, I need to plug into His word. This morning I sent out an email to my LTG girls asking them how I can specifically pray for them and also asking them to pray for me about some things too. It felt good releasing it and confessing what I am struggling with. So if any of you out there need someone to pray for you and your not quite sure how or who to ask, send me an email. I tend to get way more emails from a lot of you than comments and I love that because I get to see a part of your heart that I might not see in a comment posted on my blog. Lurkers, email me! :)

I've read James a lot. I remember my youth pastor telling me to read James once when I was teenager. I know when to go to James because I know how it will help me. But the interesting thing is this. When I read James, something new is going on in my life. A new struggle, a new challenge, a new trial. I've heard it said many times that if you aren't in a trial, if you haven't just finished a trial, you will soon be in one. That may cause some fear for some of us to look at it that way but it's true. But the great thing about trials is what it produces. James1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing Our faith cannot grow without trials, it's impossible.

Last week I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone and I told her that I was in the midst of being uncomfortable. But I also told her that I knew what God was doing. I know that the struggles I am facing right now are producing some pretty great things in me. If you go back and read some of my entries in FAR MORE THAN RUBIES, you will read a lot about my childhood and the struggles I faced. Honestly, I would not change my past for one second. It's my past that has produced a strong, Godly woman. It's my past that has shown me how much I have to depend on God and it has taught me to do so as soon as things get crazy. It's my past that has taught me to go into my closet, turn out the lights and cry as hard as I want to, for I know the Holy Spirit will comfort me. My Mom has always told me that there is a cost for our anointing and now I really know what she means by that. Our trials are a gift. Think about that for a second. The pain you are enduring right now is a gift.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. I am struggling beyond measure right now with my parenting. Right now all three kids are sleeping and I have to be honest with you. I am very upset with two out of three right now. Josiah and Ava Beth seem to be fighting all the time. Their closeness in age is a blessing but also extremely difficult. Both of them have been throwing fits, bad fits. Consistency is key but sometimes it doesn't work either. For the first time in my parenting, I have hit rock bottom. I am frustrated beyond what I ever imagined I could be. Having three is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. This week I am really trying to work on some things in this house and really pray for guidance. Too often I feel like I am wingin' it. I printed out some scriptures to meditate on for my parenting and James 1:5-6 is one of them. I want to choose the best plan of action with my children. I want to make sure I am disciplining exactly how God wants me to. I don't want to yell. I want to handle it God's way. The only thing I can do is ask. So this week I am going to ask boldly and I am going to BELIEVE that God is going to help me.

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. I used to struggle with a spirit of vanity big time. Sometimes I still do. When I was twenty-five years old and engaged, I suffered from severe adult acne. After trying everything ever created for acne, the dermatologist placed me on acutane. No doubt, it was a miracle drug. Unfortunately I have some scaring on my face. Most people don't know it is there but I do. It's a huge insecurity of mine. I also have large pores. I hate pictures of myself that are in color because I feel like I can see all of my pores. There are times when I struggle with this a lot and usually it's because I am around women that are obsessed with their looks or I am spending too much time in the flesh worried about stupid stuff. If I was singing on a Sunday, I would go buy a new outfit to wear to church on Sunday. It was so ridiculous that I would not wear the same thing twice. No other word can describe it better than vanity. Some change took place in my life when we moved from Little Elm/Frisco back to the mid-cities. God got me alone and really convicted me of vanity. I still love to dress hip and trendy but the Holy Spirit instantly convicts me when it becomes a god in my life. My obsession with having new clothes and new shoes and new accessories was not healthy. Really I was just filling up my life with the wrong thing. I over compensated for what was really going on. I grew up with a Mom and a grandmother and a great grandmother that had matching handbags and shoes for every single outfit. I come from a long line of clothes/shoe loving women. I am proud of my heritage and proud that my mom taught me to look my best even when going to buy groceries. Texas women usually get made fun of for this kind of stuff but I kind of like it. My mom gives me a hard time if she sees me wearing sandals with chipped polish. :) I feel better when I get fixed up, I really do. But I know in my heart when I have crossed the line. I will continue to struggle and I will continue searching for the balance in this but reading this verse in James reminds me of what is important. All of the surface stuff will fade away. Our clothes, our shoes, our cars and our accessories will mean nothing when we get to Heaven.

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c] and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. My flesh is a pretty powerful source. Too often my flesh has it's way in my life. It's loud, it's dominating, it's pushy and if I am not careful, it will have it's way in my life. This morning I prayed that the Lord would show me every single time I am doing something in the flesh. I pray that I can become so aware of it that I rebuke it. I pray that any sin in my life will die so that it will not be able to give birth. Sin seems to be waiting to manifest in our lives on a daily basis.

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. Lord, please help me to be a better listener. May I learn to respond instead of react. People cannot see Jesus in me when I react. But this is an area where I see the most growth in my life.

21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. Reading this verse reminds me that I need to take inventory. There are things in my life that I KNOW I need to get rid of or not associate with. I justify it too much and even my fellow Christians will justify it. But Father I know what needs to go. I know the things in my life that do NOT match up with the woman you have called me to be. Show me, remind me of what doesn't fit so that I may make room for your blessings.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. The only thing I can say is ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!! This one hurts! How often do I do the opposite of what I KNOW to be true. The BIBLE talks about not gossiping, have I gossiped? The Bible tells me not to worry, have I worried? So much I know I am supposed to do and I don't do it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. There is an old contemporary Christian song from a band called Degarmo and Key, "Casual Christian." Well, I have a few friends that are new to Christianity and to hear them talk about what they thought of Christians before they became one is pretty sobering. And then I think of a DC Talk song that has a voice at the beginning of the song, What If I Stumble that says, "The Greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and then on by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

There you have it! I really enjoyed James, Chapter one today. I am praying that my spirit can truly soak up all the stuff in there that I need to digest. God is doing a new thing in my life once again and I am excited to see what He does with me!


  posted at 1:28 PM

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

I shared a little bit on my blog about having a tough week w/parenting last week. It is a hard job! I can relate to what you were saying. I did the same thing w/scripture. Right now I have James 1:20 on my frig.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on chapter 1. :)

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Paula said...

First, this is hitting home. I too have had a whiney and bratty child lately.
Second, joining you in the book of James is just what I needed. I have been feeling like I walk around aimlessly not knowing what to read. So there you go, I will read James.
Third, I have missed you. I have stepped back from the computer for awile just to refoucus my time. It sounds as if things are really coming along with the church. That is great. I am so glad you have your smallest biggest fan cheering you on the whole way! Ava Beth is adorable.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Dee said...

I am there girl! But today, sitting in line (I have an hour wait, due to parking problems) at school waiting for the kids, I opened my Bible (that's when I normally do my devotional time) and read James... but the WHOLE THING!! I think I will read again and again, because He is awesome to convict areas in which you need your toes stepped on -- and in my time, there were SEVERAL!!! My parenting being a HUGE part of it!!! Thanks for the encouragement, he sent you right on time! :)

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous janna said...

i'm reading with you, too, amanda. i keep coming back to verses 5 and 6 -- because a) i lack wisdom and b) i'm missing the part about acting in faith without doubting. and that's assuming that i'm going to the Lord in the first place...thanks, amanda, for getting me going. you are a dear friend.


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Mommy, Mama, Mandi, Amanda, Babe and whatever else you want to call me! How do I have time to blog with three kids under the age of four? I'm up until midnight and usually later!

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