Be Alert!

In the final chapters of Mark’s Gospel (chapters 11-16), there are several messages I felt God was speaking to me.

The first was to be alert to the world around me. Whether this is in regards to false teachings, temptations or whatever else will take my eyes off him. I need to be constantly aware of what is happening around me and know that there are dangers. When I pause to reflect there are so many things and people that can draw me away from my focus — that is God. My life is busy. It’s crazy. Lots of people wanting my time and filling up the hours of my day with activities and tasks. But what is really important.

Over the last week, I was struggling to keep up with these readings and realized that I was rushing through them to get them done. I had to stop and refocus. The purpose I have for reading through the New Testament this year was not to just say that I read it through again, but to gain a new perspective to God’s leading in my life. I needed to not treat this as an assignment for school, but a step in my own faith journey. And God desires my full attention to this goal. So I re-read some chapters and spent some quiet time just trying to be quiet.

And yes, it was extremely difficult to just sit in the quiet and wait for God to say something. But after a couple of attempts, I felt comforted and at peace.

Life is as busy and crazy as I allow it to be. So, what can I stop doing to reduce some of the activities, committees, events that I am involved in? The answer is ….. I don’t have a clue. As I sat in a meeting today that resulted in another thing added to my plate. Is it e ever possible to say ‘no’. I so need to take a class on that — wait, that is just something else. Guess I just keep scheduling time with God and the rest of the work will either get done or is really not that important.

The second message that was clear in several of the readings was the strong need for me to be firm in my faith, in my beliefs. These chapters are the final days of Jesus’ earthly life. It details the physically, emotional pain that he went through for me, for you. He did all this for me, yet I feel like I continually let him down but not standing up for him.

I get so busy doing things that I am now wondering if the message of hope, love, salvation comes through in these activities. I know that it does in most, but I still have some work to do. My prayer is that as I continue to move forward that I am to better show the love of Christ in all my activities, decision and words.

I can get so excited for upcoming projects, and I am really aware that my focus has to be on him, not on the responses I get from others. Currently as part of my ministry, I am working on moving one of our family services to a larger location and expanding what we do. It really involves a shift in the way that we all think as we minister to our neighbours who are struggling. I really want us as an organization to make life-lasting impact on people that we serve. I have never felt so strongly of God’s leading as I do this year with where he is taking us in our family services operations. And as I read the words of Mark’s Gospel I am reminded that my focus has to be clearly and firmly on God, then all other things will become clear.

I know that God has great plans for me. I am determine to put my priorities aside and follow his leading. Whether these will be popular or not, God is in control.

The end of chapter 16 talks about not being shy, but go forth boldly in his name and witness. This is not a direct quote, but Jesus instructs the disciples to go forth. So away I go!

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Open My Eyes, Lord

Making new habits is always difficult for me. I am attempting this year to read through the New Testament in a more prayerful and reflective way then I have every read through scripture before. The new reading plan is great. I did get behind, but have caught up.

As I read through Mark’s gospel I am surprised of the new things that God is opening my eyes to. I have read these verses many times, but I am finding that it is like the first time. So much is coming alive for me. I am reflecting on chapters 6-10 and find that it is more than stories of healing. There is so much more.

Each day as I read a chapter, I have been journaling and asking the question, ‘What is God saying to me?’

Here’s what I have heard…

In ministry there will be people who work along side of me that may never truly believe. In verse 52, “They still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the multiplied loaves, for their hearts were hard and they did not believe.” I am amazed that the people who walked with Jesus, witness all the miracles he performed, received personal teaching from him and yet they did not truly believe that Jesus was the Son of God, our Saviour. As I read these miracles in the past, I always wished that I was that lucky one who could have seen first hand these wonderful miracles. But this time it was different. I still think it would have been amazing to be there, but then I stop and think of all the miracles that continue to happen every day….that I do see. I was reminded to open my eyes all the time to see what The Lord is doing right now, right here. And yes, there will be some people that will walk with me in ministry that will never truly believe. But my call is to tell them, teach them and be the example for them. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

In chapter seven, I was made aware that Jesus told a number of people to not tell others what had happened to them, but the did anyways. Today, I think the problem is that we, as Christians, have stopped telling others. This chapter has encouraged me to keep telling the Salvation story, keep teaching those around me, and keep telling my story. I am thinking about our young people at the church, they are full of the Holy Spirit and really on fire for God. They are not afraid to witness to people around them. They have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and put aside my fear.

Chapter 8 encourages me to be more confident in my faith and not doubt what is possible with God. To be firm in my belief that He is Lord and anything is possible with Him. I need to lay aside my doubts and fears and just be obedient to God and his plan for my life. Chapter 9 is along the same lines. Encouraging me to continue to be faithful and believe in him. To Pray. To allow God to cleanse me and make me into the woman he wants me to be.

In chapter 10, I am challenged by God to protect my marriage, have the faith of a child and to give everything to God. Jesus is challenged by the teachers of the law on his views of divorce. I realize that this part of Scripture can be interpreted in different ways and I am not going to say that divorce is right or wrong. What I felt God saying to me is that I said vows before God with my husband, before God we became one. God joined us together and we should let no man/woman separate us. Marriages are sacred and should be protected. They take work, but when both parties are committed to God, then all things are possible. The last part of the chapter about giving my all to God has been a theme in a lot of things this past week. It is a great reminder to me to look at every part of my life and ensure that I have given it over to God.

I am reminded of a song, ‘All to Jesus I surrender, All to Jesus I freely give’ I can’t remember the rest of the words. But I am reminded that I need to freely give it all to God, not hold anything back.

My prayer this week is for me to break free of anything that is holding me back from fulfilling God’s calling on my life.

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A New Focus –

I need a new focus.  What does this imply?   That my current focus is bad or wrong?   As I think about this new year and where I want my focus to be I have come to the conclusion that I don’t necessary need a new focus, but a clearer focus.

I need to clear out the clutter in all areas of my life.   So this past week while I have had some time off, I have started to clean out cupboards of unused, unwanted items.   I love looking at a cupboard that is organized!    As I was cleaning out one of the many ‘junk’ drawers  in the kitchen (yes, there was more than one!), I came across some art work that William had done at church awhile back.     It was a ‘speak’ balloon (like the ones used in cartoons) that had a very important message on it.   It said ‘GO TELL’.    That was it, just the two words.  When I asked him if he remember what this was about, he very calmly said that we are to Go Tell others about Jesus.    Impressed that he remembered and gave thanks to our youth worker that comes up with these lessons.

Go Tell…

Well, over the last few days I have been doing the readings through the book of Mark.  Today I read chapter four.  But I took a moment to reflect back over the last three chapters and what God has been saying to me through these stories of Jesus.

The biggest message that I heard was that there are a lot of people still needing to hear the Gospel message and we, as Christians, need to be telling it.  We need to Go Tell.    It came through in several of the stories the importance of not giving up on the unsaved, the unbelievers, but to continue to plant seeds.

Another important message that I read today was the encouraging words to let my light shine all the time.  Not to hide it, but to be who I am in Christ in all circumstances, not to blend into the environment or crowd.  But to remain shining bright.   This further encouraged me to continue to focus on spending more time in the Scriptures this year and less time doing meaningless things (TV, facebook).

Mark ends chapter four with a story that gives us assurance that Jesus is with us during all the storms of life.    Jesus reminds the disciples (and us) that we should not be afraid when experiencing difficulties, we just need to continue to have faith in him.

“And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” (Mark 4:40, NLT).

As I continue to go forth and tell others about Jesus, I will hold firm to the faith that he is with me and be who he created me to be.

Have a blessed day!

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A Whole New World

It’s the start of a new year.  A fresh start to set goals and make changes.   I have stopped making New Year Resolutions as they don’t last.   Even setting goals doesn’t always end up getting done.   But 2014 is going to be different.

Over the last few days I have reflected on 2013 and all of its blessings and challenges.   The one question that I have been asking myself is ‘Am I a better person, have I grown over the last 12 months.?’    I am sure I would get a positive answer from my hubby, but I tend to be a more critical than him in this area.   Honestly, I think I have grown closer to God during the difficult growth moments of the past year and for that I am celebrating.   I still have a ways to go.

So here’s my plan!

I have always wanted to read through the Bible in a study, reflective way.   I have read it through before a couple of times but it was just to read it and get it done.   I felt that some reading plans rushed you through the texts, not giving you enough time to really reflect, take in what God was saying.

A friend and fellow OBS girl has come to my aid.   She blogged about a reading plan 5x5x5 Reading plan from Discipleship Journal.   I looked at it and LOVE IT!!!    It is reading the whole NT in 2014.

What does the 5x5x5 stand for?   5 minutes a day, 5 days a week and 5 ways to dig deeper!    So easy, and fits into my hour with God in the morning very nicely.

I am confident now that I can do this, but could alway use prayers!

My plan is not only to journal through this year, but also to blog occasionally what God is saying to me during this time.

Today I read the first chapter of Mark’s gospel and three things jumped out at me.

First,  I need to spend time alone with God in prayer every morning (verse 35).  Secondly, I need dig deeper into his Word and truly develop a strong, deep relationship with him so that I can truly know him.  (verse 24).  And lastly, that as I do the first two items, I will become amazed at God’s greatness. (verse 22).

Chapter 1 of Mark is packed with messages from God.   These were just what I need to hear today.   For me it confirmed that my focus for all areas of my life is clearly on God.   A perfect way to start a new day, a new year.

Be blessed!

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#FreshVision #FreshPassion

you are close

The topic in this week’s reading in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God was about getting #FreshVision.

The verses that were our focus were James 4:4-7 (NLT)

You adulterers!  Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God?

I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.  

What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit,

whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? 

He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. 

As the Scripture says, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” 

So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”

I also like verse 8, “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.  Wash your hands, you sinnners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.”

A challenge this week was to find your ‘white space’ which I did.   After spending some quiet time away from all distractions and really reflecting on the above verses and the whole concept of getting a fresh vision.   Since starting this study I have really felt that God is speaking to me to make some changes.   I have been struggling with delegating some of my work related tasks.   For me it’s not just a matter of handing over  duties, what I do is part of who I am.   I felt as I continue to delegate that I am loosing part of my identity.     I realize that this is not true, but it’s how I felt.

The parts of the above verses that really stuck with me are:

‘friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God’  and ‘draw close to God and God will draw close to you’  

Is my aim to be friends with this world?   This really made me stop and think about my actions, my priorities and my focus.    Is my priorities based on what will make me popular in this world and please those around me?   Or is my focus and priorities on following God and doing what he needs me to do?     I honestly struggled with trying to determine who was in control of my focus, my priorities.    I wanted to say right away that God was definitely in control.

But, if God is in complete control, why am I having such struggles in giving up some of my responsibilities?   I have spent alot of time over these last few weeks in my ‘white space’ and really trying to figure this out.   I know that God does not want me to be constantly overwhelmed to the point where relationships are suffering.   I have made progress in the last year, but as soon as something is taken off my plate, it seems like two more are added.

This week it seemed that the light finally went on.   I need to be completely focused on God through it all.   I can’t just drop everything that I am currently working on, but am trying to not take anything new on.

And this is where the second phrase really comes into play.  ‘draw close to God and God will draw close to you’    So in my ‘white space’ I have been working on being still in his presence to clearly hear his voice.   It is only when I can clearly hear his voice that I will get a #freshvision for what his plans are for me.   As I am drawing closer to God, my passion for him is becoming new and fresh!  I love it!!

As I work through this I am continuing to reduce the amount of my responsibilities and making room for God’s directions.   I have found that being overcommitted is a major road block for following God’s direction.     I am excited for what God has in story for my future and will continue to work with him (instead of against him) and make myself open to say #YesToGod!

God is calling

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#YesToGod

This week in my online Bible Study, What Happens when Women Say Yes to God, we were challenged to read chapters 5 and 6. I say challenged, as I had very little time to devote to reading and reflecting. But was determined to #stickwithit!

I was also challenged to start every day with a prayer to say Yes to God. No matter what he asks me to do, no matter what task lies before me. I will be obedient and say Yes to God.

As I reflect on this challenge, I am reminded of a couple verses in Isaiah.

“Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people?

Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (6:7-9, NIV)

This verse has special meaning for me as when I went to training college to become a Salvation Army Officer (pastor), this was our verse.    “Here I am, send me.”

While  these verses are powerful on it’s on.  They are really powerful when I think of the commitment and willingness to go where the Lord needs me to go.   There is no hesitation or pause to think of the consequences, but just ‘here I am’.    Do you remember when you were a child and the teacher needed a volunteer and most of the kids would raise their hand and say ‘pick me, pick me!’.

When I think of my obedience to God, it needs to like these children.   I need to answer him with a quick yes without considering what the costs may be.

But can I do that?   Yes, I can.   But will I?    I need to be more willing every moment of every day to just say Yes.

I like how Lysa says in Chapter 6 that radical obedience is born out of delight, not duty.   I love this!   I should be delighted to be radically obedient to God.  Not fearful as to what he may ask me to do.

As I think about these chapters and the previous week’s, I think that the reason that I am hesitant to say yes to God is that I am very afraid of what God will ask me to do.     I pray every day that this fear will decrease.   I know that this is the devil working on my insecurities by planting ideas into my head that I can’t do what God needs me to do.

But I need to be strong that no matter what God calls me to do he will prepare the way and equip me to do the task.   I only have to look back over the last ten years to know that God is faithful.  He has equipped me and carried me through so much that I never thought I would be able to do.

Daily I pray that God will continue to show me how I can reduce the fear that is rooted in my heart.   I pray that I will be radically obedient in all I do.   As I grow, I pray that I am an example to my son so that he will grow into a strong man of faith.

As I wrote this blog, the song by Brian Doerksen, “Faithful One

Faithful one, so unchanging
Ageless one, you’re my rock of peace
Lord of all I depend on you
I call out to you, again and again
I call out to you, again and again

You are my rock in times of trouble
You lift me up when I fall down
All through the storm
Your love is, the anchor
My hope is in You alone

God is unchanging, it is me that changes.   I pray that as I continue to listen to God’s prompting, I will be more willing to say, #YesToGod.    When God calls to me, I want to jump up and say “Here I am, God, what do you have for me today?”

Praying for courage to say #YesToGodmother teresa quote

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Wholly Committed

i have a planLast week I read the 4th chapter of What Happens When Women Say Yes to God for the online Bible Study that I am doing through Proverbs31 and was once again aware of God’s presence.   The chapter is entitled “You never know how God will use you until you let him.”     As you can see the title alone is enough to scare a person, especially one that has been clearly feeling a nudge or two from God over that last couple of weeks.

Great chapter, but there was one quote that caught my attention.

“Will the next page in your life be filled with doubts and distractions? Or will it be filled with discovering the blessing of answering God’s call on your life?” (page63 Kindle version)

The words seem to leap off the page to me.   Will I continue to doubt and be distracted by things of this world?  Or will I be filled with the overwhelming sense that I am following God’s will?  These questions stayed with me for several days as I went through a very busy week.

I went to write this blog a week ago and looked at the question that was posed after the title Wholly Committed — Is God calling you to a deeper level of commitment?   Has God been nudging me to deepen my commitment to him?   I am not sure.

So in looking at my commitment to God, I considered a couple of documents that I have signed.   A couple of covenants that I have made with God in the last 20 years.    In The Salvation Army there are soldiers which sign a covenant committing to several promises.   While this is through The Salvation Army, it is made with God.    It is not a decision that is made lightly, but done after classes are attended and much prayers.    I signed my in 1994.   I spend some time in reading the covenant that hangs in my office and praying about these promises.   God highlighted one in particular for me.

“I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and obedient to His leading in my life, growing in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible.  I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.”

I will be responsive and obedient.    A big commitment that was freely made.   Part of the responsive and obedient part lead to the second covenant.  Have I been fulfilling this promise.  I think I have.  BUT, I have not been going deep enough.  After so many conversations with God over the last few weeks, I realize that this is what he is calling me to — to go deeper.   What that means I am not sure.

On Thursday of last week I attended the installation service for our new divisional leaders.  (For those non-Army people, this happens when officers (pastors) get transferred to a new appointment).   It is a great service of reflection and recommitment as many officers (pastors) gather to support their leaders.   As I sat there, I thought of the second covenant that I signed in June 2006 — My Officer’s Covenant.   Signing this covenant was done after much prayer, reflection, prayer, studies, prayer and probably some ‘discussions’ with God.    It was during the signing of this covenant that ‘I bind myself to him in this solemn covenant.’   I am bound to God.

Covenants made with God are never taken lightly — nor should they be.   We could look into the covenants made in the Old Testament.    God calls his people to do things, but most of all he calls us to commit fully to him.   I think of one of my favourite verses from Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans for you”, says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.” (29:11-13, NLT)

I love the hope that this verses include.   God’s plans for me (and you) are good.   But, we have to seek him in earnest.   To me when I read this version, I love the use of the word ‘earnest’.   Which I did look up and it states ‘intense conviction’.   What a great way to refer to how I should be seeking God!    Seeking him with an intense conviction.   That is my new goal.    I need to be bold when I seek him and not be so fearful of what he may ask me to do.

It is easy for me to just get busy doing things that I ignore God’s prompting in my life.   I guess I could say that I tend to have the selective hearing when it comes to God.   I am praying for clarity and obedience as he continues to speak to me daily.

God is commited to me, now I have to show my commitment by being responsive and obedient.

Look out world, another woman is saying Yes to God!!!

fully committed

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Radical Obedience

This week in the study, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, I was challenged in a way that I have not been in a long time.    Our assignment this week was to read chapters 2 and 3 of the book.    Chapter 2 was about hearing God’s voice and Chapter 3 was about when obedience becomes radical.

radical

Well, God was so ready for this week.   Me, not so much!    I started to read Chapter two and after a few pages decided to pick up my journal to make note of some of the scripture passages so that I could look them up earlier.   After grabbing my journal, I opened it to find two seed packages.   To most people that would not be a big deal.   However, in chapter 1, Lysa used the illustration of us being a seed in our comfortable little package and how we needed to get into the dirt in order to bloom (I have paraphrased the illustration).   So, I was a little freaked out when these packages which I don’t recall buying fell out of this journal.    Okay, God you have my attention.

I finished the chapter and then decided that I was still a little unnerved by what happened that I would spend rest of the evening watching mindless TV.   I know that God was trying to get my attention, but I was so afraid of what he might ask me that I choose to ignore him for the rest of the night.

A couple days later I decided to read the 3rd chapter.   In this chapter, Lysa mentions about being empty and tired at the end of the day and watching mindless tv.  (don’t know if she called it mindless).   It was about filling ourselves up with stuff that was no good.   When we are empty we should be going to God to be filled, not the world’s latest idea of entertainment.

After reading this, I just wanted to throw the book across the room.   Twice in one week I felt like God was demanding that I listen to him.

The last two weeks have been difficult & challenging as I have been away from home taking some courses to finish my degree.   So I have had a lot more quiet time than normal.   Needless to say, this week there has not been a lot of sleep as I struggle with God and what he wants me to do.

One of the questions asked this week was, “Is there something God is asking you to give up?”    This question has been going around and around in my head.   I keep trying to figure out what God is asking and honestly do not feel like I have a clear answer.   I have spent some time over the last day trying to open myself to his leading, but honestly, it is scary.

“One thing you can be assured of is that God has already worked out all the details of what your obedience will accomplish — and it is good.  We need not fear what our obedience will cause to happen in our life.   We should only fear what our dis-obedience will cause us to miss.” (page 45)

WOW!  God is urging me towards something that is unknown, but he has prepared the way and everything is good.   I pray for obedience as I strive to follow him.

I have been reading the verses of scriptures that were in the questions for chapter 3 and have been reflecting on what God is saying to me.   They are found in book of Titus

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.   And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.  We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. “ (2:11-13)

I have really felt the pull to these verses and to examine every area of my life to see if there is something that is not as it should be.   I think it is safe to say that on top of the list is facebook and the amount of time that I spend on it and on the computer in general.   TV is another issue.  And I sure there are more, but awaiting God to reveal them to me.

Praying that as I continue in this study, the fear of saying Yes to God will diminish and that I will not be so hesitant to answer him when he speaks.walking in his will

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Saying Yes to God

This past week I have started an online bible study with a few thousand women from around the world.   It is on the book ‘What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst.     Wow!    It is amazing what God has said this week to me.

At first I was not going to do this study as I am currently doing a couple of courses through Booth University College and had to go to Winnipeg for a couple of weeks.   I was trying to use all the skills learned in the last study and say no to some things so that my life was not so hectic.   However,  I really felt that God was pushing me to do this study…so I said yes.

just say yesOn a normal day, saying yes is not that hard and I tend to do it too much.  Hence my hectic and chaotic life.   But I am working on saying no more often.

In the first chapter, Lysa tells us the six most important words.  “Whatever God says do, do it.”   This is not something to just quickly read over.   I read it several times and have been thinking about what it means to do whatever God asks.  Let’s be real, it’s not easy to say yes to God because he asks us to do things that we don’t necessary want to do.  At least that is true for me.

Looking back at a life changing moment that I said Yes to God, I am reminded of the decision to let Him lead me into full time ministry as a pastor in The Salvation Army.    I will honest say that I did not immediately say yes.   Actually my first, second, third…and so on, was actually a very clear and definite NO!    There was no way that I could preach, teach and minister to people.   This was so far out of my comfort zone that it might have been on the other side of the planet or another planet entirely!!    I was an accountant/administrator.   I was good with numbers and facts….not people.  And definitely not in sharing my faith and being completely transparent.

Finally, I decided to say yes.   And my life has never been the same.  As I reflect back over the last ten years, I can see how God has been doing amazing things in my life and allowing me to be part of his plan.   I am actually overwhelmed by the priviledge that I have to care and minister to his people.

So in reading this chapter, I was thinking that I had said yes to God and completely turned my life and family’s lives upside down.  So I’m good.  I’ve met my quotas of yes’ and I can just coast through the days before me.   WRONG!!    It hit me like a brick that I am very quick to say no to God.   Yes, I am serving him in full-time ministry, but how many times has he asked me to go beyond my area of comfort and I have made excuses.  How many times have I said to God that I can’t possibly take on anything else.   Life is too busy, my schedule is full.

I did not want to answer these questions.   I was reading this chapter and working on the questions as I flew to Winnipeg on Sunday and it was very hard not to throw the book across the airport.   I think there was a moment when I wanted to pull a 2-year temper tantrum.   Let me tell you, it’s very hard to control ones outward reaction when this internal battle is going on.

So I need to say Yes to God first.    I need to have perfect surrender and be radically obedient to God.

Lysa ends the chapter with a piece of advice.   “We have to set our rules and agendas aside — our dos and don’ts, our social graces and proper places — and follow God’s command.” (page 20).

So, here I go to be radically obedient to God.   I’m thinking there might be some changes that need to be made.   But I rest in the full assurance that God will equip me and strength me.   And he has already sent over 20,000 women to do this study with me…so what more do I need.   Oh yeah, I need to say YES!

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As easy as 1-2-3….or is it?

easy as 123As I think about the contents of chapter 11 of Stressed-Less Living, I am reminded of a couple of things.   First, there is only one week left and secondly, have I really learned everything to make my life less stressful.     The chapter is titled ‘The Rest Button’.  Ever have those days when you just want to go back to bed and start again?   I have.   And even though I have learned a lot from this study, I still have days like that.

Over the last several days I have felt more stressed than any other time during this study.   I’m not sure if part of the reason is that the study is coming to an end or if there are changes that I still need to make.    Been praying about this and trying to keep stress level under control, but to be honest, this has been a struggle this week.

But back to the chapter.   Tracie sums it all up in six easy, simple, straightforward — yet hard steps.

1.  Realign Your Life – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Is my life aligned with God’s Word?   I think the biggest discovery during this study has been how little I read the Word of God.   I have been doing a quick devotional in the morning, and I study portions of scripture when I am preaching.   But to sit and read and meditate on God’s word has really taken a back seat in my life and priorities.   Over the last couple of months, I have found myself reading Scripture thoughout the day.  I think this has helped keep me more focused and priorities where they should be and not on all the ‘stuff’ that has been cluttering my life.   I think over the last few days I have allowed meetings to fill my schedule to a point where I am mentally exhausted and have not given my relationship with God the attention it deserves.

“With growth comes problems, and stress.  And with all those stumbling blocks, we fall out of God’s  Word, allowing our lives to get off track and out of alignment.” (Page 213)

Aligning my life to God takes a daily commitment and sometimes recommittment throughout the day.   Life can be crazy and overwhelming, but I need to keep my eyes on God during the craziness.

2.   Recognize Your Need – “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.”   Psalm 79:8b

This is a hard step for me.   Recognizing that I can’t do it on my own and needing to ask for help.   “God never meant for us to be self-sufficient.  Dependable, yes.   Responsible, yes.  Confident, yes.  Self-sufficient, no.” (page 213).   The world teaches us that we need to be self-sufficient, but this is not God’s plan for our lives.  Yes I need to be dependable and responsible, but I have to also realize that I can not do anything without God.   It would be so much easier if everyone around me thought the same way.    But I need to be strong in my relationship with God in order to fight the pull of the world to do it all by myself.

Admitting that I need help is a daily challenge for me, but I feel that I am getting better.   Praying that God will continue to show me where I need to surrender to his will for my life.

focus

3.  Adjust Your Focus – “Have you never heard? Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.   He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”  Isaiah 40:28

I love how Tracie tells us that I need to take my eyes off my circumstances and put them back on God.   I had to re-read this section a couple of times to really let this sink in.    The question that kept coming to me was how often do I like a situation or person take up my complete focus.    Looking back I can see how I have given the situation/person control over my life by taking my focus off of God.

I hear myself all the time telling my 9-year old son to focus on the task that I want him to do.   Now I am wondering how many times that God is saying that to me!!

4.  Be Filled with the Spirit – “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”  (Galatians 5:16)

I am pulled daily to be self-sufficient and daily struggle with the overwhelming need to worry about things.   Many days I have unrealistic ideas of what I can accomplish.   Unfinished work results in stress.   Worry is almost like breathing.   It has been given a constant presence in my life.   I know that I need to not worry about things that are outside of my control, but some habits are hard to break!

“If you have asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and you have given him dominion over your life, you can be confident in knowing that he has filled you according to his promise.” (page 215)    I love how this starts off with that little word ‘if’.    If I have asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and given him dominion, then confindence should be present.

It all comes back to what I choose to do.   I have found that the more times that I have to stop what I am doing and ask God for help and strength, the easier my day goes.   It is only when I try to do things without inviting God into the task that I run into difficulties.

5.   Be Faithful in Your Prayer Life – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)

The importance of a healthy prayer life has become very clear during this study.   God will answer our prayers — in his time and in his way.    But a healthy prayer life is more than just taking a few moments to give my requests to God or to whine when things are not going my way.   A healthy prayer life has to be a two-way street.   I have to take time to commune with God and most important listen to him.    I wonder how many prayers that God has answered that I have not heard because I was too busy trying to do it all.

Taking time throughout the day to just pause and regroup through a meaningful conversation with God has helped me tremendously over the last few months.   I know that when I start to feel overwhelmed, that I need to stop everything and just take a few moments to refocus.

Philippians 4:6-7 states “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.”   Such wise words that are very hard to put into practice when you are so used to worrying and trying to control things.   Don’t worry — just pray!

6.  Believe God is Who He Says

When life gets busy and tough, it is hard to remember that God is who he says he is.   He has not changed.   Why do I ever doubt him?

“What we view as God’s absence or lack of quickness to change our circumstances or fix our problems is really God waiting for the proper time to act on our behalf, while simultaneously waiting for us to acknowledge our need for rescue.” (page 216)

Sometimes God takes longer than I would like to answer my prayers and requests.   Okay, probably takes longer all the time as I am still so impatient.   But I need to be more patient while awaiting God’s response.   By admitting that I need him everyday, with every area of my life shows my love, dependency and gratefulness for all that he does on my behalf.

Having faith to trust God in all things shows my faith and love that he is who he says he is.

This study has been a great exercise in really looking at my life and more importantly my relationship with God.   Highlighting the things that are unimportant and taking up my time and energy was also a very important exercise.   While there are sometimes when I feel that others are expecting more from me than I can give, I need to put this aside and just stay focus on what God expects from me.

I know that if I meet God’s expectations, then nothing else really matters.    Hard lessons to put into practice when there are moments of doubts in my ability, but I will continue to journey forward knowing that when I stumble, God will be there to help me up.

have you talked to God

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