What MORE do we need? Part 2

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag

Written by Jennifer Morrow

What do you think you need MORE of today? 
Is it really just more money, more pleasure, and more of the latest gadget, fashion, newest model car, antique painting, more “likes” on social media, or a luxurious vacation?
It is just like the enemy of our souls to get us derailed desiring more of the things that truly never satisfy, and then leave us not only feeling unsatisfied, but stressed out, depleted, disappointed, discouraged and hopeless.  Often, when our desire for more is misguided, what begins as a legitimate need, good goal or desire, or a harmless passion ends up leading us along a path to damaging our relationships, our health, our finances, and eventually our souls.
We become slaves to whatever controls us.
 This is my paraphrase of 2 Peter 2:19.  
We are consumed by whatever our minds and hearts, desires and passions are consumed or controlled by.  This can be good or this can be bad.  It just depends on what is controlling and consuming us.  The first part of this verse says “they promise freedom.” but they end up as slaves.  How true is this in our culture today.  In the “land of the free,” many of us are enslaved in so many ways in our search for something more than what we currently possess or are experiencing.
What do we really all need MORE of?
When we are physically ill, we immediately think, “I need something to relieve my symptoms.”  If we have a headache, we take a tylenol or an aspirin.  If we have a body ache, we take an ibuprofen.  If our sinuses flare up, we take a decongestant or an antihistamine. The list goes on.  These usually solve the problem initially or at least temporarily, but if we never get to the root of what is causing our symptoms, they are likely to return or even worse, turn into a more serious illness.  We usually still need something more if we desire to be cured or healed.
Because “We were once more than we are now,” as John Eldredge states in his book, Waking the Dead, we know that when God created us in the image of His glory, He placed within us desires.* So, the desire for more is not necessarily bad or wrong.
God created us to desire love, acceptance, and purpose.  
These desires are ultimately fulfilled in and through knowing God and knowing we are loved and accepted by Him and our lives have purpose in His divinely created plan.
 
Do you ever take time to ask God?:
 
Lord, what MORE do you desire FOR me?” 
Or, how about, 
“Lord, what MORE do you desire FROM me?  
Could it be, Lord, that I NEED TO SURRENDER MORE of my heart and soul to you?”
Perhaps today we ALL just need to pursue being filled MORE with the GOD THAT IS MORE THAN ENOUGH to supply our every need.
A good daily prayer:
“Fill me with MORE of Your Spirit, Lord. MORE of You, Lord, and less of me. Amen.”  (See John 3:27-30)
SURRENDERING MORE of our hearts and desires and needs to Christ is the pathway to being MORE FULFILLED in Christ.
Lord, we need You MORE, If we are to be filled with more of Your love, Your joy and Your peace!
More Jesus = More Love!
More Word = More Joy!
More Worship = More Peace!
THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
Psalm 4:7-8 The Message

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”I have God’s more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 37:4 – My paraphrase:
Take delight in the Lord above all other things, and the good desires He has for you will eventually consume your mind and heart.
I encourage you to check out the song lyrics to these two beautiful songs by Jesus Culture:  “Set a Fire” and “My Soul Longs for You.”  Learn the chorus lyrics and pray them as a prayer from your heart as you worship the Lord today.
*excerpt taken from The Ransomed Heart devotional, p.19 – Waking the Dead
IMG_3712By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love. I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach. I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order. After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance. Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life.
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way. Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit. In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11

What is Your Something More…?

 

Written by Vivian Nelson

What is it about wanting something and wanting something more? Very few would disagree there is more of something to be discovered, to be embraced, to be enjoyed, but what is it? Many cannot answer the question because the “something” and the “more” is not fully understood or clearly recognized in the context of today’s fast- paced, technology-driven society in which we live. So what is “something” and what is “more”?  

 

“Something” is unspecified, undetermined, unknown, not exact; while “more” is a greater quantity, amount, measure or number. Something more then falls within the unlimited realm of possibilities, but, only you can decide what it is. No one else can tell you what your “something more” is. In Scripture, there is a story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-51). It is an excellent example of a person wanting and finding “something more”.

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Bartimaeus was blind and lived in a society where blindness was considered a curse from God. Because physical labor was the only means by which to earn a living during that time, his blindness prohibited him from being able to care for himself. Not only was he unable to find employment, he was also ostracized and forced to beg as a result. Bartimaeus was a hopeless beggar, a menace to society, depending on others for his livelihood…but then Jesus came to town.

 

Hearing that Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus, sitting along the dusty road with other beggars, began to cry out for mercy. His cry was not a weak whimper. He had evaluated the condition he was in and knew it could be better. So he loudly cried for mercy so much that the crowd sternly told him to be quiet. I suspect it was more like today’s “SHUT UP!” But, he yelled all the more for mercy. Bartimaeus wanted something more than a life of total dependence on others while being shunned in the process. He was beyond caring what others thought and ignored all the scornful rebukes from individuals around him. He was not concerned with “likes.” Jesus heard him, stopped and said, “Call him here.”

 

When Jesus showed concern, some around Bartimaeus showed support and said, “take courage, stand up, He is calling for you.” Bartimaeus did not hesitate, but threw off his cloak, and answered the question Jesus asked of him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “I want to regain my sight.” By faith, his sight was immediately restored. Bartimaeus’ circumstance changed in an instant. With his sight restored, employment was now certain. The days he would sit begging was not an unknown number. Those days were over. As those around him recognized he was no longer blind, his days of ostracism were numbered and soon to be a thing of the past. The story doesn’t end there. Scripture says, after he had been made well, Bartimaeus began following Jesus down the road. His “something more” not only provided a new way of living, but a changed life.

 

So what can we learn from Bartimaeus? He fully recognized his condition and took advantage of the moment. He asked for help and was not bothered by or concerned with pubic opinion. He trusted the support and encouragement given by others. He ran after the opportunity when it was presented and discarded the very thing that would hinder his progress. He readily answered the question asked of him without hesitation. He did not doubt what he believed could be done for him. He left the life he had known and lived and went in a different direction. There is something more…

 

img_6475Vivian Nelson is married and resides in Birmingham, Alabama.  She is a follower and believer of Jesus Christ and is a retired Integrated Steel Professional who enjoys all needle work (sewing, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch); and is an avid reader.  Vivian has traveled 40 contiguous states; six of seven continents and over 100 cities and countries. She is a member of Church of the Highlands, and an affiliate of Alabama Civic Chorale.

What MORE Do We Need? Part I

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag
Written by Jennifer Morrow
We live in a culture consumed with always wanting MORE.  Everyone seems convinced that more is better and most of us are always desiring more of something.  For example, here are some commonly held desires for more:
I need…
…more money
…more vacation time
…more recognition
…more pleasure
…more popularity
…more stuff
…more happiness
…more freedom
In our quest for more of the above, we often end up…
…more in debt
…more stressed
…more prideful
…more depressed
…more self absorbed
…more materialistic
…more discontent
…more addicted
If we are honest, most of us have been caught up wanting more of some or all of the above and having experienced more than a few of the not so desirable results thereof.
Just like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” skipping merrily off to follow the yellow brick road on a journey for something more or better, she finally awakened from this fantasy dream to the reality of truth – all she really needed was still back at home in Kansas.  
For most of us, all we really need is right within our reach.  We just need to reach out to the Only One who is always with us and is able to give more to us than anyone will ever give.  In fact, He already has given His more than enough to us in Christ.
One of my own personal stories of desiring MORE:
I have been married for 35 years, but early on in our marriage, especially about the first 10 years, I struggled with the desire to have more clothes or shoes than our family budget covered.  Even though I was a Christian and walking with the Lord, I was still in the early stages of being transformed from the inside out.  At this point in my journey, I was oblivious that my quest for more shoes and clothes was connected to gratifying the deeper needs of my heart and soul.  Yes, I was a faithful church goer, serving, studying the Word, praying, and all those good things we followers of Christ do; but, I was in need of a LOT MORE of Jesus than a shopping spree at the mall would ever quench.
As is common to many, my childhood experiences had planted some deep roots of fear and insecurity.  These roots of insecurity led to a fairly consistent focus on beautifully adorning my exterior appearance, while my unseen soul needed not only restorative surgery, but a true supernatural makeover.  Don’t misunderstand, being fashionably adorned does not necessarily indicate someone is covering heart and soul issues, and, to this day, I still love dressing well (and well within my budget).  However, my unhealed childhood fears made it difficult for me to really trust that God would provide if I waited on Him – yes, insecurity, fear, and a lack of trusting God were all still there.  
I did not realize that these and a few other deeply rooted heart and soul issues were driving my overspending habits.  Finally, as I kept on seeking MORE of God through His Word and in worship and prayer, the gentleness of the Holy Spirit shined His light on the hidden root causes of my out of control behavior.  God’s Spirit present within us is our Helper and His Spirit gives us self control. With God’s help, I went through a season of exercising the fruit of self control and saying “no” to myself frequently while out shopping.  Since that time, after waiting more in my Father’s presence, I have continued to see my Father God provide more than enough, not only in my closet, but also more of what I really needed most – the healing of my wounded soul and spirit. 
 
God fills and heals and and ultimately fulfills all our needs and desires that are submitted to Him.  All He requires is that we ask Him, wait on Him, and trust Him to be our more than enough in every situation.
SURRENDERING MORE of our hearts and desires and needs to Christ is the pathway to being MORE FULFILLED in Christ.
Lord, we need You MORE, If we are to be filled with more of Your love, Your joy and Your peace!
More Jesus = More Love!
More Word = More Joy!
More Worship = More Peace!
THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
Psalm 4:7-8 The Message

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”I have God’s more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 37:4 – My paraphrase:
Take delight in the Lord above all other things, and the good desires He has for you will eventually consume your mind and heart.

IMG_3712

By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love.  I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach.  I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
 My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order.  After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance.  Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.  
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.  
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life. 
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way.  Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit.  In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11

When Anxiety Makes Itself at Home

Written by Nicole Collier

John 14:27

”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

In the fall of 2011, I unexpectedly lost my job due to the company closing the office, and I was 13 weeks pregnant. I fell into a depression that winter. It took everything I had to crawl out of bed.

That following spring was beautiful. I remember the sun was almost always shining without a cloud in the sky. I was beginning to feel rejuvenated, well, as much as I could in the second and third trimesters of my pregnancy. Then, in April of 2012 my daddy became ill. I lost my daddy to a stroke. This was the worst stroke the neurosurgeon of 20 years had ever seen. I was eight months pregnant. It caught my brother and me off guard. Disbelief was an understatement.

Here is where I can begin to pinpoint the beginning of my need to control every scenario in my life through playing it out in my mind. During the time of his hospitalization, and the months following, I had an unbelievable peace that I knew came only from God. However, in the years that followed, that peace started to unravel little by little until it became anxiety.

That was now seven years ago this April, and I decided at the beginning of this year I would find my “happy” again. How do you find your “happy” when fear and control has taken over? Friend, I wish there was an easy, simple fix for each of us, but there isn’t. God created each of us so incredibly beautiful and different that what works for one, may not work for the next. But I can tell you this is what has helped me begin to conquer it.

  1. I try not to get out of bed each day before I am able to write scripture verses for the day down in my journal, and read a devotion or two. This helps ground my spirit for the day, and begin each day fresh in Jesus.
  2. I finally spoke it out loud to someone- someone other than my pets. I confided in my best friend, who happens to be my loving husband, and can I tell you how wonderful it felt just to get it off my chest? I brought it to light. It can no longer stay in the darkness where the devil can use it.
  3. I remind myself, sometimes multiple times a day, that I am not in control. When you remember you are not in control, it will help you live life as God intended, with Him being the one in control.

While this process is in the beginning stages, I can tell you that joy is beginning to fill my life. I am able to enjoy the moment I am in, and not worry about when the “other shoe will drop.”

My prayer for you, if you happen to find yourself in the same spot, is that you begin the journey of finding your joy and “happy” again. It is closer than we realize. Jesus is always closer than we realize.


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Nicole Collier grew up in Montgomery, AL. She now lives in Shelby County with her husband, Matthew, and 2 boys, Ethan and Russell. She is a lover of all things creative, including photography and music. She and her family are involved with The Just People Project non-profit ministry serving the homeless throughout the city of Birmingham.

Things We Use To Do and Still Should

Written by Jodi Lybrand

There are things we did as children and still should do…

When the Apostle Paul spoke of putting away childish things, he spoke of things that stunt and hinder our spiritual progress. However, the scriptures also remind us there is a time to laugh. Don’t you think we all could use a bit more laughter?

Why don’t we “check out” of all the busyness. Leave the drama. Excuse ourselves from adulthood, if only for a few moments. Be childlike and free! Find some peace and calm and you just might rediscover something wonderful about yourself!

Blow Bubbles ~ Trust me it’s still fun, all by yourself or with others!  Splurge on the good stuff!

Lock Arms With a Friend ~ Do you remember the joy of skipping off to play with a friend? Try it again, we need each other.  Skipping is optional!

Talk With a Child ~ This is always a great way to gain a different perspective. Be ready for complete honesty, though!

Play Silly Games ~ I remember my Granddaughter and I would play, “What Am I Doing?”  (Charades) .  There was a lot of laughter for two hours!

Talk To People~ Don’t be shy, engage in some friendly chit-chat with someone while you’re waiting in a line!

Cloud Gaze ~ My favorite! It’s okay if you don’t really see shapes. It keeps us still for a while!

Walk In The Rain ~ Don’t let a little rain stop you. The sounds, sights and smells are quite different from sunny day walks. Puddle splashing is a must!

Swing ~ Next time you’re at the park, grab a swing. You will remember why. Be sure to wait your turn, though!

You’re getting the idea, right? I bet you could think of more enjoyable things to do. The goal is to relax, laugh and just have some fun! The serious world will wait for you. And you can rejoin it refreshed, with a new outlook and more prepared to take it on!

One final thought, remember,  “A cheerful heart is good medicine!”  Now go out there and play!

Jodi

Jodi Davis Lybrand is a life long resident of Shelby County Alabama. She is married, has raised two wonderful sons, has a beautiful daughter in law and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever! Her favorites include playing with those awesome grandsweeties, enjoying nature with long walks and sunsets, visiting with friends-old and new, painting and working through her bucket list! A Bible teacher for 30 years, teaching all ages, she jests that she can teach you a Bible lesson in sixty seconds or sixty minutes. Most of all, she loves encouraging people through the truths found in God’s word.

Something More

Written by Michelle Price

Have you ever wondered if there is something more to life than juggling your busy schedule day after day? If you’re like me, you come home after work, completely exhausted, and wondering who else can cook the dinner tonight…Bob Evans or maybe Jason from that deli on the way home?


Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Perhaps you have been trying to find the “why” by working long hours to climb the corporate ladder or by investing your time to keep up with the Jones’s. Or maybe, like me, the perfectionist in you rears its ugly head but leaves you depleted and unfulfilled. In the search for something more, many of us come up empty and distracted.

Ultimately, our fulfillment rests not on the distractions or the ebb and flow of life’s experiences but in the hands of God. He created each one of us for a unique purpose that He ordained from the very beginning of time. Pablo Picasso reminds us, “The meaning of your life is to find your gift. The purpose of your life is to give it away.”

For some of us, discovering our purpose in life can seem like a daunting task. However, God’s Word sums up the purpose of a Christ follower with two simple assignments: to love God and to love others.  He made each one of us with a unique personality and strategic skills, gifts, and talents to use in service to God and those arounds us. 2 Timothy 1:6 urges us to “stir up the gift of God which is in you.”

The LORD not only created us with one-of-a-kind gifts and talents, but He often weaves the deepest valleys of life into our God-given purpose. It was not until I found myself in a valley eight years ago that I uncovered my own. I was chasing the American dream and quickly found myself married with a beautiful house and a career in the nursing field. The world soon disappointed me when I found myself caught in the nightmare of sexual abuse by domestic violence. However, God used my darkest moments to establish the foundation for a ministry for sexually abused women. He can transform every broken area of our lives- traumatic memories, mistakes, and shortcomings- to make us whole and brand new!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Imagine utilizing your own valleys to speak life into the desperate woman who is walking into the very same story. She needs to hear that you have been through the trial, that you were scared, and that you are a witness to the fact that God was faithful to see you through it.

So as you juggle your busy schedule tomorrow, take the time to develop your gifts and talents. And listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He guides you to that sister who needs to hear that there really IS Something More.

Take a brief moment to uncover your gifts and talents by completing the DISC Personality and Spiritual Gifts Assessment at https://www.arcchurches.com/disc/.

Michelle Price is the founder of GRACE Ministries, a faith-based ministry dedicated to nurturing women who have been sexually abused. She obtained her Certificate in Ministry and Leadership from Highlands College in 2015. She currently serves on the Junior Board at The WellHouse, a Christ-centered agency dedicated to rescuing women from sexual exploitation/human trafficking. Michelle is a devoted wife and faithful member of Church of the Highlands. She is employed full time as an acute care nurse practitioner at a local hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

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