Practicing Lent: Slowing

practicing5

This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

I once heard a story about an American traveler on an African safari. A typical type-A American, he wanted to see as much as possible in the time he had on the continent. And because he wanted to see parts of the land where travel was difficult, he hired some local people to carry his supplies.

On the first morning, they got up early and made encouraging progress. The second morning everyone once again rose with the sun and they covered a great distance. The third day the party traveled far. But on the fourth morning, the local people simply sat under the trees and refused to move on.

The American tourist became impatient, but no amount of coaxing would get the men moving again. Finally, through an interpreter, the tourist asked what the problem was.

The translator relayed their message, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.” [Adapted from Soul Keeping (p. 130), by John Ortberg]

Have you ever felt like that? Like you have hurried through your days, sped through your tasks, even rushed through your time with God so quickly that your soul has been left behind?

I know I have.

Our society is built on hurry. We try to pack our days like we pack for a 2-week vacation–into a carry-on suitcase. I see this in the lives of my piano students who hurry from school to piano lessons to soccer practice to math tutoring. I see it in the lives of those in ministry as they rush from church services to Bible studies to community volunteering to board meetings.

I’ll bet there are days or weeks or months when you too, live in a state of hurry. Modern lives are filled with a myriad of good things and we feel we need to rush to fit them all in.

But when we stop long enough to breathe we realize that our soul has been neglected. It’s Tuesday, but it feels like our soul has been left behind at Saturday.

Slowing

To remedy this situation, I suggest we practice the Spiritual Discipline of Slowing. Perhaps this is not a typical Spiritual Discipline. A search in the concordance confirmed that God’s Word does not say “slow down” in those exact words. Yet we see this concept in Scripture when God talks about our need for rest.

God Himself rested on the seventh day of creation. He commanded His people to rest on the Sabbath.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the disobedient Israelites:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

And the prophet Jeremiah declared,

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

God does not want us to live a life of hurry. In these passages, we see that hurry happens when we insist on relying on our own strength and knowledge. When we feel God’s way is simply too slow and we try to hurry Him along. We step out of His ancient paths in an effort to achieve our objectives–faster.

Jesus’ Example

Perhaps the best Scriptural example of slowing was Jesus Himself. His life was not one of idleness. He was always occupied with preaching, teaching, and healing. Yet in reading the Gospels, I never have the feeling that Jesus hurried. He always took the time that was needed. Even when he was on His way to a very sick twelve-year-old girl, He stopped to speak to a woman who had touched His cloak and been healed of a long, painful illness. (Mark 5:21-33)

practicingPIN 5

Jesus told His disciples:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus didn’t say that we should sit around and do nothing. Instead, we should work with Him. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a plow or cart. The yoke enables the animals to work together. Jesus invites us to take His yoke, work alongside Him.

I don’t know about you, but hurry frequently enters my life when I attempt to accomplish more than God intends. When I insist on trying to carry all the burdens of this life on my own. In the words of Matthew, I hear Jesus say, “Stop that. Work with me. Don’t take on too much. Don’t try to do it on your own. I have wonderful tasks planned for you, but when you work with Me, it won’t feel like hard labor or a heavy burden. It will be more like rest for your soul. Hurry won’t even enter into the equation.”

Practicing Slowness

So how can we practice slowness and eliminate hurry?

Here are a few suggestions:

Sabbath.The Lord commanded the Sabbath for a reason. He knew we needed it. Time to worship. Time to rest. Time to tend to our souls. If you don’t already observe the Sabbath, I encourage you to take one day a week to engage in corporate worship. To spend time with family and friends. To close the computer or put away the broom. Instead, spend time in God’s Word, read a good book, or take a walk in the woods. (Read more about observing Sabbath here.)

Examine your activities. Is your life one big hurry because you have taken on more than God intended? Take an hour to list all your activities and your family’s activities that involve your time. Prayerfully ask the Lord where you have stepped out of the yoke He has planned for you and tried to do things on your own.

Build a little margin in your day. I’ll admit this is still a hard one for me, but another suggestion for eliminating hurry is to allow more time between appointments and activities. Try not to schedule things back to back. When you need to go somewhere, estimate how long it will take to get there and then allow twice that amount of time. If the drive to the dentist’s office normally takes ten minutes, allow twenty. The extra margin gives you time to notice the lilacs on the way. Or really listen to the words of the song on the radio. If you arrive early, you have time to relax and breathe.

Modern life is fast. We feel we need to keep up. But Dallas Willard, an author who often writes about Spiritual Disciplines, reminds us:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

God knows we need soul rest. And He will provide it.

Next step: Click here to access a free resource with a list of Scriptures about soul rest. Over the next five days, take time to read what God says about rest. Ask Him to teach you and invite Him to point out any changes that need to be made in your life. Thank Him for His promise of soul rest.

 

Practicing Lent: Examen

practicing4

This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

Another busy day. Teaching music at the Lutheran school in the morning. Piano lessons in the afternoon. Dinner with my sweet hubby. Bible study with my small group in the evening.

I fall into bed exhausted. But before I step into dreamland, I take time to practice Examen. I close my eyes and watch a “video” replay of my day.

I thank God for the good things: a big hug from a preschooler at school, time with my husband, laughter with my awesome Bible study gals.

I ask the Holy Spirit to show me where I messed up that day–yep, I lost my patience with those antsy third-graders–forgive me. Lord.

I look for God’s presence in the ordinary moments of my day and I see Him in the unexpected warm weather in the middle of winter, in the faces of the children as they sing of God’s love, and in the words of hope in God’s Word.

I go to sleep forgiven and grateful.

The Spiritual Discipline of Examen

The practice of Examen is one of my favorite Spiritual Disciplines.

practicingPIN 4

I know intellectually that God is always with me. I grab onto God’s promise:

I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)

But sometimes I forget. I get caught up in my to-do list, in the hectic activities of each day. I forget that God is always with me to love me, guide me, and cheer me on. Examen helps me be more aware of Christ in the mundane moments of every day.

You too?

To practice the Spiritual Discipline of Examen, start by finding a quiet place and asking the Spirit to guide your time of reflection. Close your eyes and review the last 24 hours. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What inspired gratitude today?
  • What happened that was painful, sad, or disappointing?
  • What moment do I now regret and need to confess?
  • What moments of my day were life-giving?
  • What moments of my day were life-draining?
  • When did I sense God’s nearness?
  • When did my hectic pace of life crowd out a sense of God’s nearness?
  • When did I give and receive love?
  • When did I feel an absence of love?
  • What did God teach me today?

Spend some time thanking God for His presence throughout the day and thank Him for the things that brought joy. Confess the sins the Spirit brought to mind and receive forgiveness because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Visual Examen

Recently, I discovered a more hands-on way to practice Examen in a book titled Praying in Color:  I have adapted this method for our Practicing Lent journey.

For this practice,

  1. Start by downloading and printing a sheet with a geometric pattern that will guide your experience.
  2. In the center of the pattern, write the words of Joshua 1:5: I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
  3. Then, in the spaces closest to the center, write down things for which you are grateful. Did you get a hug from a preschooler? Did you see a spectacular sunset? Write down anything from the last 24 hours that brought you joy.
  4. Next, ask yourself a few questions about your day. In the outer ring of the pattern, write a word or two that recalls these moments:
  • When did I feel closest to God?
  • When did I feel distant?
  • When did I mess up and sin? Where do I need to confess and receive forgiveness?

End with a time of confession and thanksgiving. If you like, color the spaces of the design while you pray. Many people find the act of coloring focuses their thoughts. (I suggest that you at least darken the spaces listing your sins so the words are no longer visible–symbolizing God’s cleansing mercy.)

God is with us. But sometimes we forget. Examen helps us appreciate the Lord’s presence in the ordinary and mundane. During this holy season of Lent, appreciate anew Christ’s nearness.

Examen helps us appreciate the Lord's presence in the ordinary and mundane. Click To Tweet

Next step: Download and print the Examen pattern. For a summary of the Visual Examen practice and a list of Scirptures that will guide your practice–Click here. 

 

Practicing Lent: Prayer Journaling

practicing3

This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

Every morning I grab a cup of tea and sit in the comfy chair in my office. I settle in with my Bible for a quiet time with the Lord. I may spend the time working through a book of the Bible or completing the homework for my small group study. I have a small stack of memory verse cards that I review and a prayer list to guide my prayer time.

I love this time with the Lord, but can I be honest here? The thing I most struggle with is prayer. I’m so grateful that God hears my cries to Him. I feel so blessed that through Christ we have the privilege of approaching God in prayer.

But too often, I’m in the middle of interceding for a friend and a stray thought enters my brain asking, “What will you make for dinner tonight?” I berate myself for my lack of concentration and turn back to the prayer at hand, but the next minute my thoughts wander to the heaps of laundry that must be done or the long list of errands for the day.

Because I struggle with attention in prayer, I have found prayer journaling helpful. Putting pen to paper keeps my mind on talking to God instead of my grocery list. The physical act of writing focuses my thoughts.

practicingPIN 3
Ways to Use a Prayer Journal

There are many ways to use a prayer journal. Here are a few ways that have been helpful for me:

  • Recording an account of your prayer requests and God’s answers. Write down your request and the date you first prayed for that person or concern. When the prayer is answered, write down the date and a prayer of thanksgiving.
  • Pouring out your heart to God. When I’ve been in a particularly difficult season, I have used the pages in my journal to ask God questions, to empty out my anger, or to vent my frustration. King David’s example in the Psalms shows me that God does not seem to mind this. He listens to His children and knows that after I have poured out my problems, I am more ready to receive His peace.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal. For a season, I daily wrote down three things for which I was thankful. By intentionally seeing all that God had already given me, my whiny, discontented attitude was changed.
My Favorite Way to Journal My Prayers

But this is my favorite way to use my prayer journal:

  • Respond to Scripture. By turning what I read in God’s Word into a prayer, my mind is focused and I am able to apply what I have read.

For instance, one day I read Matthew 22 and these words from the Parable of the Wedding Feast struck me:

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business. Matthew 22:4-5

And I wrote this prayer:

Lord, forgive me when I have ignored Your invitation to spend time with You. When I have gone off to my business–not giving You the time You deserve. Thank You for providing a feast for those You love. You give us all Your richest blessings–too often I ignore them. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness.

You don’t need a formula for your prayers. Just let the Holy Spirit guide you.

But if you would like a starting point, here are some questions to direct your prayers:

  • What in this passage inspires me to praise God?
  • What does this passage prompt me to confess?
  • How does the passage inspire me to pray for myself?
  • How does it inspire me to pray for others?
  • How does this passage spark thanksgiving?
  • What does this passage teach me about God?
  • How does this passage prompt me to pray over my everyday life and decisions?
Through Christ, we have the blessing and privilege of approaching God in prayer. Click To Tweet

Grab a journal or a spiral notebook. Or start a new file on your computer. Open up God’s Word and write out your prayers.

Next step: Find a place to journal your prayers: fancy journal, half-used spiral notebook, computer file. For the next 5 days journal your prayers. Click here to find inspiring Scriptures and prayer prompts.  

Practicing Lent: SACRED Reading

practicing2

This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

One of the most memorable meals I ever had happened in Brussels, Belgium. My family and I were on a European tour–a bargain bus trip. One of those if-it’s-Tuesday-this-must-be-Germany tours.

We arrived in Brussels around 5:00 pm and were informed that we only had the evening to explore the city. Early in the morning, the bus would be on its way to Luxembourg. So my husband and two teenage kids strolled from our hotel to the city center. We had every intention of finding a nice restaurant for dinner, but then I saw it–the famous Leonidas Belgian Chocolate shop. I couldn’t resist a peek inside, thinking I would come back after dinner for dessert. But inside, I saw the hundreds of chocolate possibilities and had the bright idea: Why don’t we have chocolate for dinner?

So we all picked out a bag of our favorites and went out into the city square to savor our chocolate treasures. Each bite was so delicious I wanted it to last forever. I let each morsel melt until it was gone, enjoying each chocolatey moment.

SACRED Reading

SACRED Reading is a way to savor God’s Word like I reveled in those chocolates. It helps us to meditate on Scripture. As we savor God’s Word, it melts into our hearts and the Holy Spirit transforms us.

practicingPIN 2

To focus on Scripture in this way, I choose a short passage of no more than eight verses and use the word SACRED to guide the process:

Silence your thoughts. Begin by quieting your spirit. Call on the name of the triune God and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your time of listening. At first, your wandering thoughts may seem to crowd out any quietness, but simply bring your thoughts back to the Father and eventually the cacophony in your head will die down.

Attend to the passage. Read your chosen verses. Ideally, you will read the passage out loud. Read slowly. Pause when it seems that God is drawing your attention to a particular sentence or phrase. Let the words resonate in your heart.

Contemplate the Word. Meditate on the passage, especially on any words the Holy Spirit seems to be speaking directly to you today. Do not hurry this time. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring up any feelings, doubts, or fears buried deep in the recesses of your soul. Thoroughly explore your soul for your most genuine response to these words of God.

Respond to the text. After you have taken time to listen, speak. That is, pray, pouring out your heart to God in response to what He has just spoken to you. If the passage inspired joy, offer thanks. If it brought a sense of conviction, confess.

Exhale and rest. Read the text again and rest in the love of God. Simply wait with the Lord who loves you more than you can know.

Dwell in the Word. As you come out of this restful state, ask the Spirit, “What truth can I carry into my day?” Think about a truth or promise you received that will help you live out God’s Word.

SACRED Reading helps me slow down long enough to hear God’s voice. It’s the difference between gulping down a sandwich and letting every bit of a Belgian chocolate melt on my tongue.

Savor and Receive

Let’s savor God’s Word. God longs to speak to us. In His Word we receive His wisdom and instruction for our everyday lives. We receive His unfailing love and His transcendent joy. We receive peace and stillness for our souls.

As we savor God's Word, it melts into our hearts and the Holy Spirit transforms us. Click To Tweet

Next step: Try SACRED Reading for the next five days. Click here to access a resource that outlines the SACRED Reading process and lists some Scriptures that you could meditate on this week.

204196 - Copy (2)This post is adapted from my Bible study book: Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal (CPH). This book examines Spiritual Disciplines as a way to develop intimacy with the Savior and to care for our souls. It is available here and here.

Practicing Lent: Palms Down, Palms Up Prayer

 

practicing

This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

In her wildly popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo encourages her readers to get rid of any belongings that no longer spark joy. That cardigan you loved, but is now worn and pilly? Discard it. Those shoes that took you all over town, but are now looking rather sad? Toss ’em. Kondo encourages us to keep only those things that bring joy. (Note: Kondo’s book is helpful, but I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it because she also talks about treating your belongings as if they are living things.)

I admit that I need to sort through my belongings. There are clothes in my closet that I wish I had never purchased and items that are well past their prime. My books outnumber the spaces on my bookshelves and documents spill out of my filing cabinets.

But even though I should tend to my overflowing possessions, this Lenten season I want to tend to my heart. I want to take the time to sit quietly with Jesus and allow Him to point out what needs to be tossed. I want to ask: Lord, is there a sinful attitude that I’ve been hanging onto? Is there some anxiety or fear that I haven’t let go? Am I still grasping onto self-sufficiency? Or an illusion of control over my life?

So I am using Spiritual Disciplines to guide my time in the Word. I’m using these ancient practices to spend time with my Savior. Spiritual Disciplines have been used by faithful Christians for centuries, even millennia. They are a way to focus our attention on our Savior and to receive His gifts.

Palms Down, Palms Up Prayer

One Spiritual Discipline that has helped me in the past is the Palms Down, Palms Up prayer. This prayer helps me sort out the stuff in my heart. To release what is sinful, harmful, or crippling. And to receive what is comforting and encouraging.

practicingPIN

Palms Down: I begin this prayer by sitting in a comfortable chair and placing my palms down on my legs to symbolize my desire to release my concerns to God. I ask the Holy Spirit to show me what I need to let go. Is there anything blocking my relationship with Christ? What anxieties have I unconsciously been hanging onto?

My prayer might go something like: Lord, You know that I’m concerned about John’s health and about our kids in China. I confess that I have not trusted You completely in these areas. I’m anxious about my work. I’m stressed out about my long to-do list. But I now release all of these concerns into Your loving hands.

Palms Up: After I have released my worries, confessed my sins, and unloaded my self-sufficiency, I turn my palms up to symbolize my desire to receive from God.

Now my prayer might be something like: Lord, I praise You for Your love for me and all those I care about. I thank You for the peace You so faithfully give–peace that passes understanding.

I invite you to try the Palms Down, Palms Up prayer. It’s a simple way to come humbly before God and empty our hearts of our fears and our sins. Turn your palms down and unload the burden of guilt. Let go of anxiety. Give Him whatever is bothering you and whatever is stressing you out. Then turn your palms up to receive God’s forgiveness, peace, love, truth, or rest.

Give God whatever is bothering you and receive His forgiveness, peace, love, and rest. Click To Tweet
Let Go

Maybe, like me, you need to clean out your closets. But even more important than hiring an organizational expert to sort through our closets, is asking the Holy Spirit to sort through our hearts.

Philippians 4:6-7 says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is so reassuring that God invites us to give Him all our worries, anxieties, doubts, and fears. He is willing to hold them for us and give us His peace and love in return. And the more we allow Him to carry our bag of uncertainties, the more His peace will guard our hearts and minds from Satan’s attacks.

Let go of your concerns and receive God’s peace.

Next step: For the next five days, practice the Palms Down, Palms Up prayer. Click here for a resource list of Scriptures that will guide your prayers. Experience the joy that comes from unloading the burden of your fears and guilt and receiving the Savior’s love.

 

Book Review: Live Full, Walk Free

We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives

Girls, you know I love Bible study. So when I got a copy of my friend Cindy Bultema’s new Bible study, Live Full, Walk Free, I was excited!

Live Full, Walk Free is a study of 1 Corinthians, the New Testament book written by the apostle Paul. During Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was the Sin City of its day–a culture known for its immorality and idolatry. That might make you think: Not so different from the culture we live in.

So true.

Paul lived and worked with the Corinthians for eighteen months. After he had moved on to another city, he wrote 1 Corinthians as a letter to encourage the Christians there to not to give in to the culture. He wanted them to live full and walk free.

In her study Cindy sets out to answer the question, “How do we live full lives in a culture polluted through and through?” Through a detailed study of 1 Corinthians, she helps us discover God’s answer.

Cindy explores the historical and cultural background of Corinth. She examines the challenges these people had and how they apply to our lives. She challenges us to live victoriously in Christ, demolishing the lies Satan throws at us.

But don’t think this is a dry, academic study. Through Cindy’s personal stories and light-hearted humor, you’ll find yourself having fun even while you are learning eternal truths.

One of my favorite study sections was a chart where readers examine what the world says and what God’s Word says on topics like beauty, money, and self-worth. This exercise challenges us to see where we have allowed the world’s perspective cloud the freeing truth we have in Christ.

If you’re looking for an uplifting study that gives you hope in a sin-stained world, try Live Full, Walk Free.

Listen to Cindy’s words:

We have all we need to live fully and walk freely in this time and place. We have all we need, here and now, to be part of the solution and not the problem. We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives, even in Sin City.

Check out the Live Full, Walk Free Bible study and the accompanying six-session DVD!

Cindy_HeadshotCindy Bultema describes herself as wife, mom, women’s speaker, author, hot lunch volunteer, and overcomer.

Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband John and their children Jake, Benjamin, Amanda and Sarah.  When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy walking her adventurous dog Rocky, attending one of their children’s sports events, meeting friends for coffee, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

Find out more about Cindy at her website.

Find Live Full, Walk Free here.

 

live full, walk free

 

10 Reminders of God’s Relentless Love For You

there is no God like you who relentlessly (1)

 

Part of my husband’s job as a pastor is to visit people who can no longer leave their homes or retirement facilities to attend church. He meets many amazing people of the “greatest generation.”

One couple he met was especially memorable. Their love for each other was always evident, but the husband struggled to say the words. He said, “I told her when we got married that I loved her. I’ll tell her if that ever changes.”

Oh, but we need to hear the words! Hopefully, you’ve heard those three small words, “I love you” many times from your parents, friends, spouse, and children.

But sometimes we as humans fail to express our love. Especially to those who need it most.

Thankfully, God never fails to tell us of His love. His love is unceasing. And His Word is always available as a continual source of I-love-yous.

So if you are needing a reminder that Someone cares for you or would like a few sweet love letters, I’ve compiled some of my favorite Scripture passages that speak of God’s constant love for you:

There is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who … relentlessly loves (1 Kings 8:23 MSG)

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4)

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11)

There is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who ... relentlessly loves (1 Kings 8:23 MSG) Click To Tweet

Although the humans in our lives may neglect to tell us of their love for us, we can always hear God’s words of love in His Word.

Next step: Write out the verses that are most meaningful to you. Post them in places you will see them often: your bathroom mirror, your computer, your refrigerator. Remind yourself of God’s relentless love for you!

10 Reminders of God's Relentless for You

When You Struggle With Enough

YouHaveEnough

When I was a little kid sitting in church listening to the pastor read the Bible, I loved it when Psalm 23 was one of the day’s lessons. I would look up at the big stained glass window of Jesus holding a little lamb. I could easily picture Jesus as a Shepherd playing with the sheep, leading them to a bubbling creek, finding their favorite snack—green grass.

But one part of the psalm always puzzled me: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” What could that mean? Didn’t David want God to be his shepherd? Did he want a different shepherd?

One Sunday after church when Psalm 23 was again part of the service, I decided to ask my mother, “Mom, what does that part of that psalm mean—I shall not want?”

“Well, it means that because God was David’s shepherd, David didn’t want anything else.”

Mmm…this seemed even more confusing. I was still at the age when I thought my mother knew everything, so I didn’t question her. But I didn’t understand. Sure her answer made more sense than not wanting Jesus for a shepherd. But how could David not want anything else? Didn’t he want food or clothes? How could you not want chocolaty fudgesicles or Barbie dolls?

Now that I’m a little more grown up (I still love fudgesicles) I understand a bit more. David’s statement, “I shall not want” meant that he was content with what he had. He was saying, “Because God is taking care of me, I have everything I need.” He trusted that God would not only provide food and clothes but rest and comfort, protection and mercy. David was wearing the color of contentment.

When I’m wearing envy green I’m constantly looking at what I don’t have. I’m comparing what I have with what I see others possess. I complain that what I have is not enough.

But on those rare occasions when I put on the color of contentment, I remember that God has always taken care of me. I begin to trust that He really does know what He is doing and is leading me on the path that is best for me. Instead of complaining about what I don’t have, I start to notice the blessings already in reach.

Lately, I’ve heard God whispering the word enough. Through His Word I hear Him asking me to look at what I already have and realize that it is exactly what I need right now. The Shepherd gently tells me, “I love you. If you needed more, I would give you more. Trust me—you have enough.”

My Shepherd tells me, “I love you. If you needed more, I would give you more. Trust me—you have enough.” Click To Tweet

When I struggle to get rid of my envy green outfit, I try to take myself back to the view of the stained glass window of Jesus holding the little lamb. When I start to look at what I don’t have, I remember David’s confidence that his Shepherd would give him everything he needed. I repeat his words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” and ask God to help me wear the color of contentment.

Next step: Which color are you wearing today? Envy green? Or the color of contentment? Post the words of Psalm 23:1 somewhere you will see them often today to remind yourself of the Shepherd’s care.

Divine Makeover001This post was adapted from my book for teens and young women:

Divine Makeover: God Makes You Beautiful.

Perhaps you have been looking for a resource for your youth group or a study to do with your daughter. Or maybe you need a confirmation or graduation gift for a lovely young woman.

Check out Divine Makeover at CPH and Amazon.

 

 

The secret for contentment

New eCourse: Christian Speaking

step out in confidence to share how God has worked in your life

How do you use your gifts and talents? Do you use your musical talents when you sing in the choir? Do you use your organizational gifts as Sunday School administrator? Do you use your flair for hospitality by opening your home for Bible studies?

God has given each of us unique gifts.  

Maybe you have a gift for speaking. Do you love to share how Christ has changed your life? Do you like to dive into Scripture and then share the truths you have learned?

If so, perhaps you would like to develop your speaking gifts with a helpful online course. 

A decade ago. I began speaking for an international organization. I was simply sharing my story–telling others how God had transformed my life. It seemed a simple task.

But at first, I was terrified. I hung onto the podium for dear life. I didn’t stray from my notes. I rarely made eye contact.

Now, however, after presenting in front of audiences for ten years, I can truthfully say that public speaking is one of the most energizing and satisfying experiences of my life.

So I decided to share what I learned during a decade of sharing God’s love in my story. Hopefully, my experience will help you step out in confidence to share how God has worked in your life.

With the help of the Women’s Leadership Institute and Concordia University Wisconsin, I developed a course on Christian speaking. This course has three parts:

  • Passionate Presentations–7 Steps to Speaking from the Heart
  • Dazzling Delivery–7 Steps to Clearly Communicating Your Message
  • Basic Business–7 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Speaking

Each learning engagement has a 30-minute video presentation and a short quiz at the end to assess your retention. The courses are reasonably priced and easy to implement.

If you would like more information on this course please go to the Women’s Leadership Institute Online Academy page or check out the course on the Concordia University page.

May God bless you as you step out to share His love with others!

Please note: I do not benefit from the purchase of this course. Proceeds go to Concordia University Wisconsin

Check out a new cCourse on Christian speaking

 

Three Creative Ways To Outline a Life-Changing Presentation

Three Creative Ways toOutline a Presentation

Outline. When you hear that word, you probably groan and think of English 101 in high school. Just how were you supposed to place those capital letters and Roman numerals? Don’t worry—outlining a life-changing presentation isn’t about perfecting the mechanics of outlining. It’s about organizing your information in a way that helps audience members listen to and remember your words.

Most of us have had the experience of listening to a speaker roam through a topic without seeming to have any particular destination in mind. His words strolled through the subject without purpose. And he wandered on so many side paths that at the end of the speech you were left wondering what he was trying to say.

Well-organized speeches are:

  • Easier to understand. With a clear and logical order, listeners can follow your thoughts.
  • Easier to remember. Clear organization helps audience members identify and recall your key points.
  • More credible. Speakers who offer well-planned speeches are perceived as more authoritative on their subject….

To read more and to discover the three creative ways to organize and outline a presentation, please click here to go to the Women’s Leadership Institute site. While you’re there, you might want to check out some of the other amazing articles on leading Bible studies, leading volunteers and more! (Click on the Equip tab to access more articles.)

I am pleased to be on the board of the Women’s Leadership Institute, an organization dedicated to educating, encouraging, and equipping women for exemplary Christian leadership.

Three Creative Waysto Outline aLife-Changing Presentation