Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #7

November 19, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

We are, by nature, an outcome driven people.  To win the game, we will spend hours practicing.  To have a comfortable retirement, we will work and save for 65 years.  To be successful, we will go to school, then to college, then get a job and work endless hours.

Outcome is what drives us.  We want to see results.  If the prize is big enough, we will drive ourselves half crazy to get it.

So it’s no wonder that many people’s prayer life is results oriented.  We don’t pray to get closer to God, we pray to get things from God.  We pray like this:

“God, if you will just let me get that car… or that job… or that husband… or these bills paid….”

Whatever is our immediate concern is what gets prayer.  And there is always a “result” we are seeking.

Here’s the problem with that.  It doesn’t work.

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you that, but it doesn’t.  You don’t pray for the result to get the thing so that you can relax, be at peace, and be happy.  You are happy, at peace, and relaxed and the blessings show up.

So our final question is this:

Are your prayers too results oriented?

This is a hard one because it’s both how we’ve been taught and how we’re conditioned.  It’s not bad to have some of your prayers be results oriented.  I mean, if Grandma is sick, you should pray for her to get well again.  God wants you to take your problems to Him.  However, if that’s all you ever do, you’re misreading the kind of relationship God wants to have with you.

Do you spend time in prayer, for example, simply “being” in the presence of God?  Listening for His voice to tell you that He loves you?  Or do you rush through memorized prayers followed by a list of “how You could make my life better if You really cared” prayers and then get on with life?

If so, maybe it’s time to rethink the role of prayer in your life.

One of my favorite prayers growing up has this line:  Thy will be done today…

THY WILL.  Not mine.  Not what I want, what You want.  I want what You want, God.  Do you?  Do you really?

Or are you a little afraid of what He might put into your life if you give Him that much leeway?

If you find that your prayers are too results oriented, I challenge you today to take one minute and just BE with God.  Just sit, and listen.  See what comes up.  Then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.  As you do this, I believe you will start to see peace return and hope spring anew in your heart.

Want what God wants, give Him all of everything in your life.  Otherwise, you will be so focused on getting what you want that you may miss completely the blessings He has in store for you.
*~*

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Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #6

November 15, 2012

by: Staci Stallings

This was not one of my planned questions, but God planned it for me.

98% of the time, I’m with God.  I mean, we’re a team.  We drive together, write together, clean together.  There’s hardly a time that we’re not together.  Then every-so-often something happens that totally throws me into “Me Mode.”

Have you ever been in “Me Mode”?  Mad at the world or someone specific?  And your anger is justified, I tell you… JUSTIFIED!  And you are just going to be angry, and you don’t really care what God or anyone else thinks because you’ve got a RIGHT to be angry…

Well, here’s in a nutshell what happened.  Hubby called about noon to find out if I wanted to eat lunch.  He was working across the street.  I said that I could, which would mean stopping what I was doing, but he was home, so okay.

Well, they weren’t quite finished yet, but they would be in about 30 minutes if that would work.  Actually that would be better so I could finish up what I was doing.  In fact, we could then go down to the little cafe and have lunch, which we haven’t gotten to do in awhile.  Great.

So far, so good.

Thirty minutes passes.  Then forty.  Then forty-five.

Hubby calls and says his worker is having issues and it’s going to be a little bit longer, is that okay?  Yes.  That’s fine.  Just let me know.

Well, the issues don’t magically disappear, and now it’s 1:15.  He calls and says he thinks we can go.  Okay.  Great.

I finish up.  He comes home.  Now it’s 1:30.  He’s going to go separate so he can go into town and get some wood he needs.  By this point, I’m going to have to go get kids at 3:15, so I might as well figure I’m not coming back either.

So I get in my van and head to the cafe, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from our house.  When I get there, my cell phone rings.  It’s hubby.  Still back at the house.  He hasn’t left yet.  Apparently someone is emailing something that he needed in order to get the wood.  (I know, ladies, but that’s how he operates.)

Can I tell him how to print something off the email.  Now my husband can do a lot of things.  Computers are not among them.

I talk him into the email program, but there is no email.  We wait.  He hits the download button.  Nothing.  Now it’s 1:50, and I’m getting really hungry.  He calls the person who is supposed to be emailing it.  They have the wrong email address.  So finally they get the right one, and the email comes through.  Now we’re making progress.  I might get to eat before Christmas.

He gets the thing opened, and it opens in some camera application program that I’ve never heard of.  “Okay, look around and find Print.”  No print.  Can’t find it.

Finally I just decided to go home and do it myself.

Now, please picture me.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired. I’m stressed, and I’ve just wasted more than an hour.  I was NOT a happy camper!  I was MAD!  I was LIVID!

It was then on the drive home that this question occurred to me, and to be honest, I didn’t want to hear it.  But let’s see if you know what I mean….

Do I like who I am when I’m not with God?

See, I knew I wasn’t with God.  I knew I didn’t want to forgive.  I didn’t want to remember there was a reason.  I didn’t WANT to breathe and be reasonable.  I WANTED to tell someone what lake to go jump into.

By the time I made it home, the question had almost eroded my anger because the truth is, I don’t like me very much when I’m not with God.  I’m kinda mean and certainly not very nice. I think bad things and I can get really harsh with people I love.

If you find yourself in “Me Mode,” feeling like God is not there, take a moment and see honestly how that feels.  Is it fun?  Is it pleasant?  Do others want to be around you?  Do YOU want to be around you?

If being without God isn’t fun, consider going back and asking for forgiveness and starting over.  He really will let you… no longer how long you’ve been in “Me Mode.”

*~*

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Life As Rocket Science: Part 10, More than One Dead Animal

October 11, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

Last time I related the story of Scout and the dead possums and how my friend with the persistently negative thoughts was like that dog who would take those dead things out and play with them rather than leave them buried.

A few days after this revelation, my friend wrote back to say that she had been doing very well and had thought the dead possum was buried.  Then she went to this thing and this situation happened, and all of a sudden THERE was a very similar dead possum.  “What’s the deal?  I thought I was doing so good.  I thought I had buried that!”

Ah.  Yes.

In life it is very frustrating when this happens because what’s the point if that dead possum just won’t stay buried.

But I told her that maybe there wasn’t just ONE dead possum in her “yard.”  Maybe there were also dead hamsters and dead cats and all kinds of dead critters.

Now seriously, what would you do if you came home and found your yard littered with dead animals (I know, bad thought!  Work with me here!)  What would you do?

My first thought would be to call my husband and tell him to get out the shovel!

I certainly would not leave them in the backyard.  They are stinky and gross.  Plus they lead to disease and are not safe.

Same with your negative thoughts.

Maybe, like my friend, you have one persistent line of negative thinking, but it crops up in many different forms.  Like let’s say that you feel less than.  So in school you compared your grades with Peggy’s and there was a dead possum.  You didn’t realize that though so you just left it lay there.  Then when you went to college, you should have been happy, but Yvonne went to a better school–and another dead possum showed up.  When you got out, you got a good job, but Kathy made more money than you, Suzy married well, Jane too and then had a child… Suddenly here are all these dead things all over your yard.

Now, let’s say years later, you get the concept of burying your feelings that you aren’t good enough, and you’re doing a good job.  Then one day at the grocery store, you run into Kathy and her son is going to a great college.  Yours is already struggling in high school.

Do you see how quickly those dead things that you never buried can suddenly be front-and-center again?

It happens so quickly, and you’re left with this feeling like you’re even a failure at trying not to be a failure!

Once again, stop it.  Don’t moan and groan and complain because you found something else dead.  Bury it and go on.  Give it to God.  Bless the lessons you’ve learned about being who you are and not comparing yourself to everyone and MOVE ON!

Really.  Seriously.  It’s time.

*~*

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Life As Rocket Science, Part 7: Christian Walking

September 27, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So far we’ve covered a lot of different kinds of experiments you can do with your life–weight loss, homework, life, etc.

Today I want to look at how the concept of experiments works in our Christian walk.

I think we have been conditioned to believe there is “one right way” to be with God.  We think it involves praying a certain way for a certain amount of time at a certain time of day or day of the week.  We think it involves doing certain good things and avoiding certain bad things.  And we believe if we will just “do all of that,” our experiment called the Christian life will be a success.

Here’s the thing though… Much like my son with spelling, no two of us are exactly alike.  So what works for Janet down the street might not work for you at all.

However, we get trapped in thinking that doing it “right” has nothing to do with our way of doing it.  So we keep doing what doesn’t work for us because it looks right to someone else.

I recently read something that said, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”  I’m not sure if that’s from the Bible or not, but I know it’s true.

My sister was a good example of this.  She had been doing her praying, reading, meditating before bed each night, and it was working great for her.  She is not much of a morning person AT ALL .  Her children and husband all are.  So her mornings were filled with noise and people needing this, that, or the other thing.  Waking up earlier than them was not possible nor even advisable for her.  That would only have made her more irritable and less awake and able to deal with things.

So she was enjoying her nightly time with God.  Then she got a book that said the way you are “supposed” to pray is to get up early in the morning, an hour before everyone else, and sit in the quiet and pray.

Immediately she felt like a complete failure in her prayer life!  She called one night sounding really defeated.  “I just don’t know how to do that.  If I try, I’m just going to be exhausted…”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I have a friend who hit the same wall.  She went to a retreat and at the end of it, the liturgy director invited us into her “living room” one morning to pray with her.  It was very peaceful and wonderful.  My friend decided THIS was what she should do.  So she did an experiment (okay, she called it “what I’m going to do from now on”).

She got up earlier than the sun, sat in her chair and read and prayed.  The first morning this worked.  The second morning, she nearly fell asleep.  So she decided to have her coffee with her prayer.  That worked a little better until about the fifth morning when she really did fall asleep and was very nearly late for work!

She called… also sounding completely defeated.  “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  It worked so good for Carrie.”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I’m the third example.  From the time I was very small, we prayed the rosary.  My grandmother was a huge rosary pray-er.  She loved it.  Me?  Uh…

Oh, I had the best intentions.  But when I’d start praying, my mind would wander–mostly to the beads.  “Was that #7 or did we already switch beads?  I don’t remember.  Am I behind?  Or ahead?  Maybe I should switch beads now…”  The thing you have to know is my sister loves the rosary, and she would expound on how wonderful it is.  So I would hunker down, determined to get this.  It still didn’t work.

Then one day at a retreat I was praying it behind a wall, waiting to play music at the end.  I got really frustrated with myself.  Why couldn’t I keep my mind on the prayers?  Then the Holy Spirit gently said, “Just hold the beads.  Don’t count.  Just hold and trust the person leading… Me.”  I literally lost it, bawling so hard I thought they would surely hear me.

Why?

Because I’d finally found what worked for me.  And all I could think was, “Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You for letting me be me and loving me anyway!”

So stop trying to pray as you can’t and start praying as you can.  That’s what God put in your heart to pray like!  If you love gardening, garden!  And don’t let anyone tell you that something else is the only way to pray.  If you love a set of prayers, pray them!  If you are called to work with the elderly, don’t get roped into working with pre-K because that would be more “holy” or “worthwhile.”

I know that sounds crazy, but it happens all the time to people of good faith, people who are sincerely trying.  And their light slowly gets dimmer and dimmer because they are trying to be in a place they were never meant to occupy!

Experiment in your Christian walk.  Find what works for you, where your spirit is released and relaxed and open!  It’s a great place to be!
*~*

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Speaking God into Life

August 6, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

God is the great I Am.

It isn’t about “He was” or He “will be.”  HE IS.  Right here.  Right now. Present.  This minute.

The next minute.

And the next.

There was never a time He didn’t exist, and there will never be a time He doesn’t exist.

He’s kind of like air in that it just… is.

It was here before man realized it was.  Man can do nothing to make more of it.  It just.. is.  Except someday, it might not be.  That’s where God and air are different.

Hard concept to grasp, but important for Prophets and Sowers to understand.

Why?  Because until you grasp that God is here, it’s hard to speak Him into anyone’s life.

If you believe that God existed a long time ago, but He doesn’t now.  Or that He set the earth into motion and is just kind of watching it twirl, what’s the point of speaking Him into anyone’s life?

So first understand that God is here.  Second, that God really is love.  The essence of God’s Being is love.  There is no part of God that is not love.  He is perfect love–merciful, kind, just, ever-present, unconditional love.  The wrath of God toward evil is borne out of His immense love for us.  He doesn’t want us hurt.  He wants us all to love and to learn to love.  When we do that, we are speaking God into other people’s lives.

God is also life itself.  Without God, there would be no life.  So when you speak God’s love into someone else, you are literally speaking His life into them.

Has anyone ever spoken God’s love and life into you?  Have you ever been discouraged, downtrodden, hurt, and someone came along and gave you the courage and encouragement to get up again?

Prophets and Sowers know this is no easy task.

Most of the time it is not a one-shot-and-done deal.  Look at Isaiah who lived approximately 100 years.  He spent most of his life speaking God into people’s lives, and still not everyone was changed.  Look at John the Baptist who gave his very life for the cause of speaking God and the coming of Jesus into people’s lives.

This is not an easy calling.

Even if you don’t have to die for the cause of Jesus, speaking God into people’s lives is not easy.  People will reject you.  They will berate you and call you stupid.  They will beat you up emotionally and question your sanity.  You will have to get very good at going to God and God alone for your acceptance, worth, and love, because frankly the hard-paved people of the world can be downright vicious.

The ones who do listen may have lots of rocks in their soil that you are going to have to clear away, and that is going to take time and being willing to forgo your own time and agenda to the belief that this is worth it.  Further, while you’re clearing the rocks, they may be confronted with thorns–or you may be.

Make no mistake, speaking God into lives is not for the feint of heart.  So you are going to have to make a decision–cutting yourself away from all other options–if you truly want to be a Prophet and a Sower in the lives of those around you.

And then you’re going to have to commit time, talents, and treasure to the cause.  That may mean making time on Sundays to go to church and staying afterward to teach.  It may mean going to a meeting during the week that you’d rather not.  Being a Prophet and a Sower is going to require something of you, and only you can make the choice.

But the truth is you have been given a great gift.  A gift that surpasses all other gifts.  The Jesus Seed has been planted in your life, in your heart.  The question is, what are you going to do with it now?

*~*


Seed Stories: The Sower & The Prophet

August 2, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

In our last conversation we spoke about the circular nature of the seed and sower story from Luke.  We talked about how a person first is the soil where the Jesus Seed is planted and how he or she then grows up in their Christian faith and becomes the sower–planting Jesus Seeds in other people’s lives.

Well, the Bible also has a name for these people.  They are called “prophets.”

Prophets are those people who speak God’s Word into the lives of others.  You probably know some of them by name:  Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist.  These are men who at great risk to their own lives and often forfeiting their own lives over it, chose to spread God’s Word to as many people as they could.

The Seed of God (Jesus, but for John the Baptist, had not yet arrived) was planted in their hearts, and they did everything they could to tell as many others about Him as possible.

Now, I think there were prophets after Jesus as well, but we called them by the name “saints.”  People like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, St. Peter and St. John.  These men wrote about the Jesus Seed, the spoke about the Jesus Seed, they witnessed about what the Jesus Seed had done in their lives.

And because of them, the Jesus Seed began sprouting up in all kinds of places like Greece and Macedonia and to the far ends of what was then considered “the earth.”  It has spread, literally, for over 2,000 years–through sowers and harvests and seasons, all the way down to us.

I remember once hearing Mike Warnke, a Christian comedian, say that if he was alive during the rapture, he was going to grab one sinner by the collar in one hand and another in the other hand, and he was going to say, “So, do you get saved now, or do I let go?”

Maybe not so dramatically, but I think that’s what we’re all called to do:  take as many people with us as possible.

How do you do that?  By becoming the prophet you were always meant to be.  And how do you do that?  By nurturing the Jesus Seed in your own heart and then sowing it into the lives of those around you.

Becoming a prophet sounds hard, but it’s really not.  It’s extending forgiveness and grace into someone’s life.  It’s holding someone’s hand and giving comfort.  It’s encouraging people and being a living (not just talking) witness to what God has done in your life!

Come to think of it, I think sower is synonymous with prophet, which is then synonymous with Christian.  In your Christian journey, are you consciously spreading the Word and inviting other people along?  Or like the third man with the talents, have you hidden what you have hoping no one will try to steal it?

I challenge you today to be BOLD in your faith.  Step out and share what you have been given.  When you do, the harvest really will be amazing!

*~*

Staci is proud to launch the second book in The Courage Series…

White Knight
~ The Courage Series~
Book 2

“Expect the unexpected…”

“Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live.”

–Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman

The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves…

Buy your copy today for:

Kindle Ebook: http://ow.ly/ckyuq

B&N Nook: http://ow.ly/ckyMh

Read the First Chapter!


Seed Story #6: A Circular Parable

July 30, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Now we get to one of the coolest insights into our seed stories, but stay tuned because they don’t even end here!

We’ve been studying Luke 8:4-15

“He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “ He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “ To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

Now instead of reading this as a single parable, I want you to go deep and see that it is not a single parable, but a circular parable.  That is one reason I have been a little “scattered” myself in talking about it.  Why?  Because we are both the soil and the sower!

You see, it works something like this:

A seed is planted by a sower:

Simple enough, right?  You have seeds.  You plant them.  You water them, nurture them, protect them, and… then they sprout:

Now you wait, water, nurture, protect, and they begin to grow:

Eventually if given the right time to grow and the right nurturing, what happens?

They produce their own seed:

This is where our parable becomes circular.  See, at one time you were the soil where the Jesus Seed was planted, and He grew up in your life and His presence changed you.  When He grew up and died, His seed was joined with your life to create not a single plant but multiple plants!

Notice how the stalk of wheat has many seeds?  That’s what happens in believer’s life.  It might start off looking little, insignificant and pitiful.  But if that single Jesus Seed is allowed to grow, it becomes many Jesus Seeds that can then be spread into different soil–other people’s lives.

And at that point, you somehow continue to be the soil where new Jesus Seeds are planted and you become the sower into other people’s lives by sharing what has been given to you!

So you are the soil, and you should take your cue from that part of the story for the seeds Jesus is planting in your heart.  Be open.  Let Him clear your soil.  Nurture the seeds that are planted there, and when they are fully grown, embrace now being a sower who goes out and spreads the Jesus Seeds that have grown in your heart to everyone!

*~*

Today…

Staci is proud to launch the second book in The Courage Series…

White Knight
~ The Courage Series~
Book 2

“Expect the unexpected…”

“Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live.”

–Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman

The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves… 

Buy your copy today for:

Kindle Ebook: http://ow.ly/ckyuq

B&N Nook: http://ow.ly/ckyMh