Mid Week Question~December 31~Resolutely Because of Grace

The last post of the year is written in the form of a question.

As you consider resolutions, what about Bible verses?

What is your focus verse for 2015?

“He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Resolve in 2015 not to lose your new-ness and your joy.

The easiest thing of all to lose is your joy. You can lose it with one phone call or email, a letter or conversation. You can watch a commercial on TV and lose your joy. It’s the easiest thing in the world to lose. And a lot of people in a lot of circumstances are conspiring to rob it from you. ~Rick Warren

My mother used to say that JOY means “Jesus Occupies You.”

When “Jesus Occupies You” then other gremlins have no room to wreak havoc.

 

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Previous Questions

Monday Words for the Soul~March 10~Radical Gratitude

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Here is Radical Gratitude’s Resume:

Revolutionary change is what happens when people feel such wild gratitude for what. they. have.  —that they share it.

Gratitude never fails to radicalize the radically grateful.

When you are radically grateful for what you have, you will go to radical lengths to share it. When you are radically grateful for being blessed — you are radically generous to the oppressed.

When you are radically grateful, you live out of a place of radical abundance — there’s always more space for more to share the grace.

And don’t confuse the idea of personal pride with radical gratitude. You aren’t actually thankful for something if you think you actually earned it. That’s pride, not gratitude.

The radically grateful can never stand for injustice– because they are moved by radical grace.

You can’t know grace and not be moved. Grace starts movements.

Grace is a catalyst.

~Ann Voskamp, in this post “The One Secret for Real Change.Ann is speaking and writing for us all, Because of Grace.

More posts on Radical Gratitude here and here

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More Words for the Soul

Mid-week question of the Week~January 8~one year from today

In one year from today…

What might I deeply regret if it didn’t get done?

I saw this question in a post from Domestic Serenity. It called to me to stop and consider the pace at which I complete things and also the pace at which I disgard things and activities off of my “to-do” list. To counter-act any over active “to-do” list, I often strike-off activities at will. Whether I make my “to-do” list my idol or, alternatively, make my “to-don’t” list a savior, the result is the same: I need to count the cost.

Luke 14:28-29 (MSG) “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish.”

Finding a balance between rigid oak and driftwood is delicate and must be accompanied by prayer for discernment.

You’re either someone who makes things happen or watches things happen — or maybe you have no idea what’s happening! Those who make things happen are the people who change the world. ~Rick Warren

Mid-Week Question~July 24~Love more than fear

How can you fill your life with more of God’s perfect love so that there is no room for fear? ~Rick Warren

How can you fill your life with more of God’s perfect love so that there is no room for fear?

To see the blog post featuring this question, please gently click here

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Additional weekly questions

This Weekend~Jettison

This weekend I am going to be on the lookout for opportunities to “jettison” limiting beliefs  that I carry around or the limiting beliefs that others hoist on to me.

jettison

“Jettison” means “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. ~Rick Warren

It is a vintage word with immense meaning. My friend G. helped me to jettison some defeating thoughts that crept in over the last two weeks/months/years. It is insidious how a single thought can start a thought cavalcade that becomes a thought-cancer.

“One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” Philippians 3:13 (Good News).

A Prayer from Os Hillman

Oh Lord, Help me be strong and courageous. Empower, lift up, and encourage me that I will not be terrified of any thing, person nor circumstance, neither let me be discouraged, for You, the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). No matter what I face today, I know that You are with me and Your Holy Spirit lives within me and has sealed me unto the day of redemption. I know that the blood of Jesus has covered my sin and washed me white as snow, that I may be righteous in Him and live unto Him. I praise You and thank You Lord Almighty for Your strength, power, grace, mercy, and love. May You be glorified in all the earth, and through my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Other weekend activities

A word from The Sponsor~His Name is Hope

And His name will be the hope of all the world. ~ Matthew 12:21

Jesus is Hope

Hope isn’t the same as optimism. It isn’t the belief that something bad will turn out well. It’s the absolute confidence that every part of your life ultimately makes sense regardless of how it turns out this side of eternity. ~Rick Warren

A Pinterest board dedicated to hope

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More words from The Sponsor

Get Well or Get Even

If you’ve been hurt by someone else, whether it’s physical or emotional, you’ve got a decision to make. You can use your energy to get well or get even.*

But you can’t do both.

When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. ~Psalm 32:3

Revealing is the beginning of healing: Because of Grace, we can talk to God about our hidden wounds until we can face our feelings in renewed health and energy…and, Because of Grace, He hears!

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. ~ Psalm 138:8

brokenness and grace

*Quote from Rick Warren in this post

The Math of Blessings

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Let’s continue to engage in Thanks-Living

ifyouhaveBlessingMath

More than 50 times in the New Testament we’re commanded to do different tasks for “one another” and “each other.” The Bible says, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19 NIV). Rick Warren in this post with a title I love:  Your Faith Will Help Me and My Faith Will Help You

The Day After Thanksgiving

I i am thankful forhope Thanksgiving gave you big bear-hugs and  pleasant memories.

And if there are a few bitter memories, my wish is that you will toss them out along with the turkey carcass.

And I wonder, this Day After,  What if  we embrace gratefulness beyond tokens of thanksgiving, dutiful gratitude journals, and a few hastily written thank you notes?

What if we Remain Thankful?

remain thankful

What if gratitude became as natural as speaking?

Gratitude is a language you speak with your hands, the way you form the vowels and spaces of your life and we could all learn it together. ~Ann Voskamp

How to I begin to speak the language of gratitude?

For me, perhaps it is by allowing myself to Remain. By easing up pace just a bit so I can mindfully notice the miracles, and loiter, and dwell in them. And then sharing those miracles in community.

The key to a thankful heart is focusing more on what God HAS DONE for you rather than on what you need. ~Rick Warren.

I want to Remain Thankful and continue the process of Thanksgiving so the language of gratitude becomes my default setting.

thankful tree

Write items you are grateful for on tags or leaves, then add to tree.

When there is Grief during the holidays

“Hurry is the death of loving others,” writes Rick Warren

May I gently suggest that hurry is also the death of loving yourself, especially if you are grieving during this holiday.

Please go slowly through this holiday week. Consider recognizing your vulnerabilities. And please accept them. Vulnerabilities are not always permanent. Like a favorite teams’ winning season, they may only last for a short time.

Grieving may take many forms. Like steroid-fueled linebackers in a dog pile on the quarterback, you and I may be grieving over many people, places, and things. What begins as missing someone can dog-pile into mourning a loss of a job, an opportunity, a dream, a hope, or an identity. Best to take it slowly. The enticements of Distraction and Busy-ness perhaps are best avoided. Choosing them in the past may be a reason this time feels so intense.

Some of the grieving we do is not for people but for the masks we wear, the coping strategies we adopted that did not work. ~Emily Freeman

This may be the year that you choose to relax or reassert. To ramp up or idle. To be vague or cautious in what you accept and allow. To dwell in the protection of His grace.

Perhaps shorter visits are less vulnerable or arranging for short breaks. Perhaps groups or partners or being alone is nurturing. Or comfort yourself by recreating traditions, recipes, and activities. It does not have to be perfect this year.

Is this the year to set a goal to do something brand new? The focus on what is new can be a welcome vacation from the pain. My head hosts neighborhoods where I do not need to cruise in very long. Certainly new things do not have to be elaborate or excessive. Just listen to the whispers of your soul.

For too long, we’ve stood in the background, attending to the needs of others and claiming we have no needs of our own. We’ve shut off, for too long, the part of us that longs to be nurtured. It is time now to claim those needs, to identify them, and to understand that we deserve to have them met. Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go  

Perhaps this is the year to nurture yourself and allow yourself to be nurtured by others, especially if you have been the caregiver of another. Let people be there for you. Because of Grace, God, alone is perfect. You and I do not have to be. “It” does not have to be perfect either.

not perfect

Saturday Digest~September 10

What is ironic today is that people often have strong convictions about weak issues
(football, fashions, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues
(what is right and what is wrong). By Rick Warren in this post

 

Why is it everytime Anne Lamont writes, I just find myself nodding and taking
notes? In this post, she writes, “There is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up
that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is
that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching,
or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching
for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent
quietly in beauty. Now, the bad news: You have to make time to do this….
I know how addictive busyness and mania are.”
Anne Lamont, Sunset Magazine Online

 

Our heavenly Father looks upon his children with overflowing love, gentleness and
compassion, not disappointment, anger and frustration. Read the rest of this
honestly seeking post at The Blazing Center
From the good, old Favorites List: The Seven Healthy Habits of Highly Fit People
My Favorite Video right now: Broken by Tracey Chapman
“The picture makes a promise, the flesh let’s it be broken” SUCH powerful lyrics!

When you feel like giving up…

Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin!” Hebrews 12:3-4

When you feel like giving up and you start to feel sorry for yourself, and you get discouraged and have a pity party, stop and think about what Jesus endured for you.

Think about the attacks and the criticism he went through. Think about the abuse and cruelty he experienced not for his benefit, but for yours.

You may be facing some very real, discouraging challenges in your life. But what you are really going through is a test of your faith.

It’s easy to trust God when everything is going your way. It’s tough to trust him when you’ve been out of work for a year or longer. It’s tough to trust him when you don’t know where you will get the money to make ends meet. It’s tough to trust God when somebody you depended on has walked out of your life. But these are tests.

Will you endure? Will you persist? Will you make it to the end? Will you be disciplined? Will you finish well?

What are you being tested in right now? Are you going to give up, or are you going to persevere? What have you started that you need to finish?

Gently click here to finish reading this post from Rick Warren

when i forget the plan and The Planner

and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1 (Amplified Bible)

So many times, I read a verse and think, “oh, yeah, this one…I got this…” and then a devotional message or a sermon or song will call out a layer of meaning I missed.

When I first read Hebrews 12:1, I focused on the endurance part. I concentrated on not giving up, not becoming overwhelmed by my own weaknesses and need for a easy path. 

But Rick Warren in his devotional “God Has A Plan for Your Life” points out something I overlooked.

We run the race set by God. God is the one who has the plan. Um, not my will or plan but God’s plan takes prominence.  

“You are supposed to run the race God has set for you. Not the race you set for yourself, not the race other people set for you, and not the race culture sets for you. You only run the race God has set for you. If you try to run any other course, you are going to fail and get discouraged.”

 In light of this, I wonder…Would it be God’s plan or a husband’s plan to leave his wife for a younger, counterfeit version? Would it be God’s plan or a driver’s, who is under the influence, to drive home impaired? Would it be God’s plan or a wife’s to leave her husband and three small sons because she is “bored”? Would it be God’s plan or a patient’s to disregard his or her cancer doctor’s prescriptions and treatment because one of the medicines causes insomnia?

There are some questions that puzzle and vex us. But some questions, Because of Grace and Hebrews 12:1, we can parse out the answer by remembering that we are running the plan that God has set for us.

Saturday Digest April 23 Because of Grace

I was looking at the words ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ in the Bible and in every passage I read that ‘light’ is associated with knowledge of God and His truth whereas ‘darkness’ is where God is not and denotes a lack of the knowledge of God. To read more, gently click here

At any given moment you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end. To see this sign gently click here

I have learned the hard way that the more I try to help God, the more stuff starts piling on. In other words, I cannot do what God wants to do. Some situations in life are far beyond our ability to fix. A problem we see that needs our intervention, may be God’s cocoon of struggle to strengthen… To read more, gently click here

Studies show that you tend to base your self-esteem on what you think the most important person in our life thinks about you. So I recommend you make Jesus Christ the most important person in your life because he will always tell you the truth. The only solid foundation for self-worth is to realize how much you matter to God. When you see yourself the way God sees you, it will transform you. To read more, gently click here

Steven Toepfer of Kent State University, Salem, had students in six courses write letters of gratitude to people who had positively influenced their lives. Over a six-week period, the students wrote one letter every two weeks. After each letter, the students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness. The result, Toepfer said, was dramatic. “The more thank-you letters they wrote, the better they felt.”

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