May 27, 2024

Sincerity

Devotion for the week...

We have a book written by Mark Hall, the lead singer and songwriter for Casting Crowns and youth pastor. It's called The Well, and in it he talks about all the different places people go to fill up, thinking those things are wells that can satisfy, when really they're just holes. In the chapter about what he calls 'the hole of approval', Hall writes, "The approval of others is like a commodity to me. I have to take great pains to make sure I don't trade in it. My biggest struggle comes not with Casting Crowns and music but with ministry. I fight to make sure I base the direction of our ministry on God's Word and the leading of his Spirit rather than on someone else's likes or dislikes." I remember being surprised when I first read that. I would have thought a struggle against seeking approval from others would be amplified by being part of a successful band, more so than leading a youth ministry.

I hadn't thought about that book in years, but it came to mind again recently when I read 2 Corinthians 5:12, which says, "Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart." People were criticizing Paul, trying to portray him as working for his own good and his own status, so Paul was reminding the Corinthians of his sincerity when he was with them, not to puff himself up in their view, but so they could have some ammunition to defend him (and their belief because of his time with them). 

The spectacular ministry part really stood out to me. I often don't think about it, but the apostles and teachers of the day would have been celebrities at the time. People would have judged them by the appearances of success - how many people followed them, how many showed up to hear them talk, how many professed to be believers after hearing them? 

We can't know if Paul's ministry was considered spectacular at the time, but Paul says here it doesn't matter. It's not the appearance of success that we should care about in a ministry, but rather the sincerity of the person leading it. It makes me think about when God told 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). Samuel was looking to anoint the future king, and thought physical appearance would be the determining factor, but God was more interested in the character of the king-to-be.
The appearance of success in our work for God doesn't matter any more than our physical appearance | DevotedQuilter.com
By pointing to the importance of a sincere heart, Paul reminds us all that the appearance of success in our work for God doesn't matter any more than our physical appearance. Whether or not we work in a formal ministry setting, we all work for God in some way, and He doesn't look at success the same as we do. We look at how many people showed up for the program, or how many people read the things we write, or how many of the people we invited to church came, or how many people have believed after we talked to them about God. We want to see spectacular results. God wants to see us following Him with sincere hearts, reaching out to others with the desire to see them following Him, too, rather than with the desire to boost whatever we're measuring as the marker of our success.

May 20, 2024

Pulling Weeds

Devotion for the week...

I use a paper planner to keep track of all the things that need to get done. It's my daily to-do list, my meal planner, my appointment diary, and my deadline tracker. I'd be lost without it! One day last week I wrote 'weed flower bed' in the box for one day, followed by 'devotion writing' right below it and the two tasks immediately connected in my mind for today's devotion. That's how most of these devotions come about; God shows me the craziest, most random connections between ordinary things and His word, and I just follow His leading.

Because Newfoundland is so far north, we're still in the very early stages of spring. Leaves aren't open yet on the trees and the plants in my flower bed are growing, but they're barely more than shoots yet. The weeds, though, are coming up like crazy! I spent a little over an hour last Monday pulling weeds from half of the bed, but didn't have time to finish the second half. The difference is amazing. On the left side, you can clearly see the daylilies, black-eyed Susans and Asiatic lilies coming up. On the right hand side, they're hidden amongst the bits of grass, clover, and who knows what else that are coming up around them.

You might think I'm going to the parable of the farmer sowing seeds, but that's not the connection God showed me. Instead, He pointed me to Philippians 2:14-15, which says, "Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you." In my mind, I saw our complaints as the weeds hiding all the good things in our lives.

I'm putting extra emphasis on our complaints, because I know just how often complaining rears its ugly head in my own life. The complaints may not always get spoken out loud, but they sure do run on repeat in my mind. Do you have that problem, too?

It doesn't matter how many good things are in my life, or how wonderful they are, the little things that bug me seem to be the things that take up the most space in my head. They crowd out thoughts of all those good things, putting my focus on the negative rather than the positive. They're weeds, for sure, and they need to go!
Complaints are like weeds, hiding all the good things in our lives | DevotedQuilter.com
There's no avoiding minor irritations and frustrations, but we don't need to give them extra attention and make them grow even bigger. I saw a meme once that said, "Life may give you a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it." It made me laugh out loud, but the message hit home. Complaining about the irritations of life is like sitting on the cactus; it only makes the situation worse.

Pulling weeds from a garden is a constant chore. Pulling the weeds of complaints will be, too. So how do we do it? The first step is being aware of the complaints when they pop up. Then we'll have to consciously choose to put the complaint out of our minds. Easier said than done, I know, but the effort will be worth it. 

It may help to replace the complaint with a different thought, in which case Philippians 4:9 has plenty of suggestions: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Those are thoughts worth cultivating!

May 16, 2024

Ticker Tape Heart Block Challenge

You're invited to join a 3 day block challenge! From May 31-June 2, dig into your favourite scraps to make a Ticker Tape Heart block with the free pattern and daily emails to walk you through each step. These blocks are so much fun to make!
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com


Register here for the challenge


The Ticker Tape Heart block is a combination of piecing and applique. The piecing goes together pretty quickly (that's day one!), then comes the fun of playing with your scraps to find the perfect pieces to applique to fill in the heart (day two) and stitching them down to secure them (day three).

I couldn't decide what colour heart to make while preparing for the block challenge, so I made a rainbow of them! These 9 blocks are perfect for a baby quilt, with the addition of some 2" sashing and a 4" border.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
My Mother's Day flowers made good photo props!

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com

To fussy cut, or not to fussy cut, that is the question!


Once the hearts were pieced, I started digging through my various scrap boxes to cut the applique pieces. It was fun to see what scraps I had that could be fussy cut to add an extra element of surprise to the block.

I particularly like this little snowflake.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
And these flowers.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
And these clouds.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
Fussy cutting isn't usually my thing, but it was fun to do just a little of it for these blocks. If it's not your thing, either, you can totally skip it. Most of my pieces aren't fussy cut, as you can tell from the other pieces in these pictures.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com

What can you do with your Ticker Tape Heart block?


The first time I made Ticker Tape Heart blocks, in January 2022, I added a border to one block, to make a mini quilt. The instructions for this mini quilt are included in the pattern you'll receive on day one of the challenge.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
I also made a table runner with three blocks, and those instructions are included in the pattern, too.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com
And as I've already mentioned, this time around I've made 9 blocks for a baby quilt. You decide if you want to make just one block so you can join in the fun or if you really want to play with your scraps and make enough for a throw quilt, or anything in between. Whatever you decide, I can't wait to see your Ticker Tape Heart block(s)!

Join the challenge here

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge | DevotedQuilter.com