3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change You: Keeping

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I have three grandsons. They are all born to the same parents and they all live in the same household. Yet they each have a distinct personality.

One of the ways they differ is in their “cuddle factor.” One grandson prefers to be loved from afar. You need to grab a hug and then let him go. Even as a toddler, he would often try to wriggle from my grasp. Another grandson loves to be held. He is generous with hugs and loves to snuggle during storybook time. The third grandson is somewhere in the middle. He will tolerate hugs, but not too many.

In my own spiritual life, I sometimes act like each of these grandsons. Let me explain.

During my study of the word “abide” I began with John 15:5:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I learned that the Greek word translated abide in that verse is the word meno. I was surprised that one of the meanings of meno is “to be held, kept, continually.”

In my previous blog post on abiding, I talked about how my focus has often been on producing fruit instead of abiding. I have concentrated on doing “important” things for God, instead of staying connected to Christ.

But the meaning of the Greek word for abide informs me that not only can I not produce fruit on my own, I cannot even abide in my own strength. To abide is not to hang on tight, but “to be held.”  To abide is not continually keep my grip on Christ, but “to be kept.”

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeKeeping

What’s the difference?

I am not the one doing the holding or the keeping. Jesus is.

South African pastor Andrew Murray puts it this way in his book Abiding in Christ:

The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken and that His faithfulness will perform the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom.

and

Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of Everlasting Love.

I have to admit that I am often not very good at this abiding thing. I am often much more like the grandson who resists being held. It seems too passive–too static. Give me a four-point plan and I’m ready to take action. But to sit still and listen to the Lord? To admit I can’t do it by myself? That’s hard to embrace. (Pun intended.)

I’m asking God to help me be more like the grandson that loves to be held. To teach me to rest in His love. To give me the strength to give myself up to “be ruled and taught and led.”

Abiding is keeping. But it is not my keeping. It is God’s keeping, protecting, and holding my soul. My job is to not wriggle away from His grasp. To not resist His hold on my life.

Next step: Write a prayer thanking God for His strong and loving hold on your life. Ask Him to teach you to abide in that love and to not wriggle away from His grasp.

 

3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Connecting

Copy of abide

Abide.

Every year I choose one word to focus on. One word to guide the next twelve months.

At the beginning of 2017, I chose “abide.” I hoped that studying and meditating on that word would help me understand it better. I kept asking, “What does that word mean, exactly?” “How do I abide?” “How does abiding help my relationship with Jesus?” “How can it affect my daily life?”

Although I am still learning, still growing, I am going to share what I have learned so far. I am going to tell three ways abiding in Christ changed my life. This post will concentrate on connecting.

When I began the study of abiding, one of the things I did was to memorize verses with the word “abide.” The first verse I memorized was John 15:5:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

As I meditated on this verse, I realized that I often focus on bearing fruit–working for God’s kingdom, making a difference in the world. But if I’m trying hard to produce fruit on my own, it won’t work. Jesus tells me, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I’m trying to squeeze out some awesome grapes (aka “amazing accomplishments”), but I end up exhausted and frustrated.

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your Life
Then I recognized the fact that bearing fruit is not really my job. My role is to simply abide in Christ. And if I abide, fruit comes naturally.

Think about it. What if the branch said to the vine, “I’m working really hard right now to produce some fantastic grapes. All I need to do is read some more books on horticulture and get up before the sun and work till dark. It will be exhausting, but worth it. Vine, I don’t really need you, I just need to put in a little more effort.”

But the vine says, “It’s useless to try to produce fruit without Me. If you are not connected to me, you will not receive the water and nutrients that are necessary for growth and fruit. All you really need to do is stay connected to me. I will give you everything you need to produce amazing fruit if you just abide in me.”

So what does it mean to abide in Christ? We will explore that a little deeper in the upcoming posts, but to put it simply–to abide in Christ is to connect to Jesus. To keep my eyes on Him, trust Him for everything, and to rely on Him instead of my own abilities. It is to obey God’s commands because they are the instruction book for a fruitful and meaningful life. It is to sink my roots deep into His unconditional love and trust that what the Father wills is best.

This focus on abiding changed my life because it changed my attention from:

“How can I produce more?” or “How can I accomplish more?”

to:

“How can I connect to Jesus today?” and “How can I draw on His strength right now?

I shift my focus from what I can produce to what Jesus can accomplish. I turn my attention from doing to resting in His love.

So if you are exhausted by trying to squeeze out fruit–produce something impressive, accomplish something big–remember that’s not your job. Your role is to abide in the vine–Jesus–and then the fruit will come naturally.

Next step: Ask God to show you if you have been focusing more on producing or more on abiding. Write a prayer asking Him to help you learn to abide.

 

Why the Reformation Matters

WhyTheReformationMatters

500 years ago today Martin Luther nailed 95 Thesis to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. And we might be thinking, “So what?” 

Luther himself probably did not realize the importance of this simple act. The church door in a German town was like a public bulletin board. Along with Luther’s document outlining the corruption of the church in his day, the church door might have also held an announcement for a lecture series at the university or a posting of the times for confession in the upcoming week.

But Luther’s act of nailing the 95 Thesis was the beginning of the Reformation of the church–a church that had added man’s rules and customs onto the Word of God. A church that had misled the people. A church that told the masses they needed more than faith, more than grace to get to heaven.

The three cornerstones of the Reformation were Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, and Sola Fide–Word Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone. These cornerstones are still important to us today.

Sola Scriptura–Word Alone

In the years leading up to the Reformation, the church had begun to add onto the Word of God. The edicts of the church and of the pope were considered equal to the Bible. Martin Luther and other reformers reminded the people that God’s Word has all the truth necessary for our salvation and that no words added by men–even important men–are on the same level as the Bible.

In our modern world, we are also tempted to look for the answers to our problems everywhere but the Bible. Certainly, Scripture does not tell us how to bake a red velvet cake or give directions to Minneapolis. But it does tell us how to have a relationship with God, how to obtain peace and joy,  how to love and live in a broken world.

Why theReformationMatters

Sola Gratia–Grace Alone

In Luther’s time, people were told that God’s grace was not enough to get to heaven. Good works were a prerequisite. Luther himself agonized over this teaching, totally despairing because he knew he could never be good enough. He could never be perfect.

But through Scripture, Luther realized that none of us can measure up to God’s standard of perfection and that the only way to heaven is by the Lord’s mercy and grace. None of us deserve God’s forgiveness, it is only available to us through Christ’s death and resurrection.

This truth matters today because we often try to fix our problems on our own. We rely on self-help books. We work hard to improve our financial situation. We live like it all depends on us.

Grace alone allows us to let go of the try-hard life and rest in God’s mercy. It is only through His love and acceptance that we can come to Him. His grace gives us the strength to live day by day.

The truth of Grace Alone allows us to let go of the try-hard life and rest in God's mercy. Click To Tweet

Sola Fide–Faith Alone

Another falsehood the church of Luther’s day promoted was that faith in Christ was not enough to get to heaven. A man named Johann Tetzel and others were selling indulgences–little pieces of paper that “guaranteed” a quicker path to heaven. Most of Luther’s 95 Thesis dealt with this practice.

Romans 1:16-17 tells us:

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

These verses were the turning point for Luther’s relationship with God. Once he realized that salvation was not dependent on good works or expensive little pieces of paper, but on faith in Christ, he felt the burden of his sin lift. Righteousness can only come from faith in what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross. I do good things out of gratitude for what He has done, but I do not have to be “good enough” to get to heaven. What a relief!

Even today, listening to preachers on radio and TV today may leave listeners with the feeling that there is so much they need to do to be a good person. So much to do to earn a ticket to heaven. But God’s message is faith alone–faith given to us through God’s grace. We accept this faith as a life-changing gift.

Faith alone in Christ’s death and resurrection gives us access to God and His power and love.

Faith alone in Christ's death and resurrection gives us access to God and His power and love. Click To Tweet

What happened 500 years ago in a little town in Germany changed the world. A list nailed to a church door still matters today.

Next step: Take a moment to contemplate the three tenets of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide. Which of these truths is hardest for you to put into practice in your everyday life? Ask the Father to help you in this area.

 

 

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Go to the God of Suffiency

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband, John, and I were first married, our vehicle was a used Dodge Polara–nicknamed the tuna boat. It was a huge car and not very attractive. But it got us where we needed to go–with the help of my husband’s fix-it skills.

At one point, the Polara needed a new fuel pump. John called the local junkyard and the person on the other end of the line assured John that he had the needed part. So John drove all the way out to the junkyard only to find that, no, there were no fuel pumps for Dodge Polaras. He ended up going to a car parts store much nearer to our apartment in order to find what the necessary piece to fix the car.

The junkyard was not the right place to find what we needed–even though John had been assured that it was.

Life is like that too. We search and search for what will make our hearts happy and our lives fulfilled. Satan whispers in our ear that we will find it in getting a new sweater or a new car or a new husband. Too often we listen to his lies only to find that we have been looking in the wrong place for satisfaction. Even Satan knows that the only place to find enough is in the God of sufficiency. But to keep us from going to the True Source, he keeps misdirecting us.

Jesus tells us the right place to go to find the fulfillment of our needs. He told His disciples:

Don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Luke 12:29-32

Jesus reminded His followers that they didn’t need to worry about food or clothing because the Father promised to look after their needs. Just as God cared for the grass waving in the fields and birds nesting in the trees, He would provide for them too.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-

Jesus tells all of us: “Look, you don’t have to be like the rest of the world chasing after things in the hope that possessions or positions will fill the emptiness inside. Live in trust that I know what you need. You are a part of my flock, you are following me. But like sheep, you don’t know what you need as well as your Shepherd does. Remember Your Father is a loving parent who takes great happiness in giving you the kingdom.”

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. He makes us yearn for enough so that we learn to trust Him for all that we need and desire. Jesus said, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). He reproaches our puny faith. But He also invites us to have confidence in the Father who even dresses transitory grass in beautiful colors and feeds tiny, insignificant birds.

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. Click To Tweet

My husband listened to a salesman’s words and went to the wrong place to find what he needed. In the same way, we can listen to Satan’s lies and later find that we have been looking for contentment in the wrong places. Or we can go to the God of sufficiency and trust that whatever He gives us is enough.

Next step: What lies has Satan been telling you lately? Where have you been trying to find enough–only to discover it is the wrong place. Bring all your longings to the God of sufficiency.

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Reject the Myth That More Stuff Equals More Happiness

too often we believeamore stuff = more happiness

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

A while ago a local charity called and asked if I had any clothing or small household goods that I would like to donate.

Of course, I did.

In fact, I had just finished reorganizing my bookshelves, closets, and cabinets. On the day of the charity pickup, I set out four large boxes of books, two boxes of CDs and records (yes, I still had some old school technology), and five garbage bags of out-of-date clothes and no-longer-loved home accent pieces.

I was so happy to send these things to a new home, but there was one depressing thing about the process: Even after getting rid of all that stuff, my house did not look much different. My closet was still full. My bookshelves still held hundreds of books.

I still had a lot of stuff.

I am not the only one whose house is full of clothes, dishes, games, DVDs, books, and the occasional Nordic Track clothes rack. Judging by the more than 1700 books listed on Amazon on the subject of organizing clutter, there are a few other people who have trouble corralling their belongings. One might even make the case that Americans are addicted to stuff.

So why do we continue to accumulate things? Why do we feel the need to own more and more?

Because society and our human nature tell us this equation is true:

More Stuff = More Happiness.

Using that equation, our minds compute a subset of calculations: A new boat means fun outings on the lake. Money in the bank equals financial security. A big-screen TV means hours of enjoyable entertainment.

And if we buy more and save more and make more and still aren’t happy, we don’t question the equation. Instead, we assume we don’t have enough stuff. We believe that when we add to the amount on the left side of the equation, the right side will also increase.

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Because of this we never seem to have enough. Many studies have been done on how much money it takes to make someone feel wealthy and the results have been surprisingly consistent. Almost everyone feels that they would have enough if they had just twice what they have now. The worker making $40,000 would feel rich if he made $80,000. The person with two million dollars in the bank would feel he had enough if he had four million.

We think more will make us happier. And so, we never have enough.

But let’s reject that equation. Because it isn’t true.

Sure, getting the new handbag you’ve been saving for may bring a thrill at first. But it is sure to get scuffed or dirty. Or you see your friend’s new bag and wish you had seen that one first. Suddenly, what you have does not bring happiness.

The author of Hebrews wrote:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

We could also say, “Keep your life free from the love of handbags, shoes, home decor, or whatever else you are basing your happiness on. Be content with what you have. Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God’s presence and joy is a sure thing.”

Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God's presence and joy is a sure thing. Click To Tweet

Next step: When you find yourself falling for the lie that more stuff equals more happiness, recognize it for the myth that it is. Rest in God’s presence. Ask Him for contentment for what you have.

 

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Watch Out for Satan’s Lies

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When I was a kid, my dad had a habit of pushing back from the table after a delicious and enormous feast and saying, “I spoiled my appetite.”

Of course, he spoiled his appetite. He had eaten two servings of roast beef, a generous mound of mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and two pieces of apple pie. He was no longer hungry.

My siblings and I laughed at my father’s joke every time.

But a spoiled appetite isn’t always so funny.

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

It all started back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything they could want: delicious food, rewarding work without any of the problems, weather so delightful that clothes were unnecessary. They didn’t need anything. And yet, Satan knew how to tempt them—to make them think they didn’t have enough.

God had given Adam and Eve permission to eat from any tree in the garden—except one. He told them that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan, however, tried to convince them otherwise. He said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).  He insinuated that God was holding out on them. He tempted the first couple to want more—to be like God. Suddenly all the Creator had given was not sufficient.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Satans Lies

Satan continues to tempt us with the idea of more. He tells us that God is withholding His best from us. He whispers that what we currently have couldn’t possibly be enough.

To combat Satan’s lies, we need to arm ourselves with God’s truth. His Word tells us:

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32

God promises to meet our needs. We may not always have everything we want and sometimes we may not get everything we need as quickly as we like, but God daily cares for us. He wants us to trust Him.

To combat Satan's lies, we need to arm ourselves with God's truth. Click To Tweet

So when you are struggling with contentment, recognize Satan’s lies. He trying to spoil your appetite for God. He wants you to think God is holding out on you.

Instead, rest in the fact that God cares for you and promises to care for you.Trust Him for all your needs. Let Him be your enough.

Next step: Think about what lies Satan may be trying to get you to believe. Print out the Scriptures on God’s provision and post them where you can review them when Satan tries to whisper in your ear.

 

 

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Recognize Your Broken Wanter

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls-

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband and I were first married, we moved all of our belongings into our first apartment by loading used furniture onto a borrowed snowmobile trailer. (Can you tell I’m from Wisconsin?) The next time we moved we needed a small U-Haul truck and the next time a bigger truck. Each time we moved we had acquired more things and needed a bigger truck to cart those belongings to a new home.

I don’t think we are the only ones. Our society excels in collecting things. We fill closets with clothes, shoes, and accessories. We stuff garages with cars, bikes, and tools. We pile up dinnerware in our cupboards and mementos in our basements. And if all those places get too full, we can drive down the street and rent a storage space. There is always room for more.

Except, do we really need more? Could it be that the accumulation of more is filling our homes but draining our energy? That the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Perhaps the popularity of stories about the Amish way of life and blogs about minimalism demonstrate that we’re sick of excess. We long for simplicity and yet we struggle with the question, “What is enough?”

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Click To Tweet

Part of the problem is that ever since Adam and Eve gave into an appetite for forbidden fruit and a thirst to be like God, we have been stuck with broken wanters. A wanter that can make me crave a slice of decadent chocolate cheesecake even after I’ve had soup, salad, and an enormous platter of chicken marsala. A wanter that can make me long for those adorable red pumps in the shoe store window even though I have twenty-five pairs of shoes in the closet. Our broken wanters prevent us from attaining enough.

In fact, our wanters are so broken, that we sometimes we have difficulty in discerning our true desires. Damaged wanters are so prevalent that a new profession has sprung up. For only $300 an hour you can hire a wantologist—someone who will help you distinguish what you really want from what you only think you want. For instance, you might go to a wantology session with a wish for a promotion at work and leave with the realization that what you really want is to quit your job. Because of our broken wanters, we don’t know what will actually satisfy our souls. So, we continually search for the next bauble, the next promotion, the next relationship that we are sure will bring happiness.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Broken Wanter

Scripture tells us about our broken wanters:

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Ephesians 4:22

Our old sinful natures are twisted and tainted by deceitful desires. Desires for things that we think will make us happy, but fail us every time. We fall for Satan’s lies that this item, this relationship, this money will satisfy.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be stuck with broken wanters. Psalm 37:4 tells us:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

When the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts and we are able to find joy in the almighty Lord, He gives us desires of the heart. Desires for things that will truly satisfy our souls. Instead of seeking the next bauble or the next promotion we long for God’s peace, God’s love, God’s grace which are always free.

On our own, we are incapable of achieving enough. But one of the ways we can find contentment is to recognize our broken wanters and ask the Lord to give us authentic desires.

Next step: Make a list of things you currently long for. How many of these things are guaranteed to satisfy your soul? Ask God to give you desires for things that will truly satisfy your soul.

 

 

Five Checkpoints for a Quality Day

5 Checkpoints for a Quality Day

I love resale shops. Some of my favorite clothes are from thrift-shops and resale boutiques. Often I find exactly the right color and fit in one of these stores, even when a hunt in typical retail shops turns up nothing.

However, resale shopping requires a keen eye for quality. Many of the clothes are wonderful buys, but there are also a lot of garments with stains, torn seams, and pilled fabrics. Sometimes I get so excited about a fashionable find that I forget to check all the details. Later, when I am about to wear the new sweater or skirt, I discover a flaw that makes it unusable. To help you avoid my mistakes, I offer this list.

Five Checkpoints of a Quality Garment

1. Is the garment clean, without stains?

2. Is the fabric in good shape? Or is faded, worn, or pilly?

3. Is the stitching tight and secure?

4. Are the buttons reinforced?

5. Does the garment have a wide, even hem?

The lessons from quality garments can apply to our lives as well. Often, I live life without paying attention to the details. I rush from appointment to appointment without the considering how to better spend my time.

The philosopher Plato wrote:

The unexamined life is not worth living.

So how should we examine our lives? What elements create a day well spent?

5 Checkpoints of a QualityDay

Drawing from the checkpoints of a quality garment, here are some features to look for in a day well spent:

Five Checkpoints of a Quality Day

1. Was the day cleaned? Did it include a time of confession and receiving God’s forgiveness?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

2. Were joy and laughter included in the fabric of the day?

The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

3. Was the day stitched with love?

Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV)

4. Was the day reinforced with God’s Word?

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

5. Was the day hemmed in prayer and thankfulness?

“By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8)
I pray that God will bless your days with love and laughter, with His grace and guidance. May you count your blessings and enjoy His fellowship!
Next step: Print up the checkpoints of a quality day and keep them by your bed. Do a quick check at the end of each day!

Four Step to a Less Frazzled Life

layered look works in fashion but not in life

I love window shopping. Wandering through boutiques and shops, scoping out new styles and fashions is one of my favorite pastimes. I pause at store windows, looking at the mannequins dressed in the latest trends. I check out the fabrics, colors and cut of the clothes.

Inevitably, one particular outfit will catch my eye. And often what I like about the ensemble is the play of different textures and hues. Then I will look a little closer and realize that the mannequin is dressed in 87 tops!

Okay, I might be exaggerating.

But an example of a showcased outfit might be a camisole, t-shirt, a button-down shirt, and sweater. Three or four necklaces and a scarf complete the ensemble.

Too much!

I don’t dress like that, but sometimes I try to layer too much into my life. I pile on one activity after another. I direct the church choir, lead a ladies’ Bible study and volunteer. I try to keep up with the dusting, vacuuming and toilet-bowl swishing. In between I have lunch with friends, talk to my mom on the phone and try to spend time with my family.

Although the layering of fashions looks stylish on the boutique mannequin, the layering of activities usually leaves me looking frazzled.

Four Steps to a Less Frazzled Life

In her book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, author Joanna Weaver talks about how Mary found “the one thing needed”–intimacy with Jesus. When Jesus was visiting Mary and her sister Martha, Martha bustled around the kitchen, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. And Jesus said,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. (Luke 10: 41-42)

When we try to do too many things, the one important thing often gets neglected.

Joanna Weaver offers some practical advice on how to practice “one-thing living.” She outlines four helpful steps:

1. Invite Jesus to rule and reign. Each morning ask Jesus to rule your day.
2. Ask God to reveal the next step. As you go through the day ask God to reveal the next thing you need to do. Don’t try to do it all at once.
3. Have faith that what needs to get done will get done. Trust God to show you each item that needs to be accomplished and trust that what didn’t get done can wait or will be done by someone else.
4. Be open to the Spirit’s leading. Our days may be interrupted by divine appointments.

Let’s try “one-thing living” this week. Jesus invites us to sit at His feet for a time. He offers to take all of our anxieties and frantic activity and if we will let Him. Take time from all you frazzled hustle and enjoy intimacy with the Savior.

Next step: Start your morning by inviting Jesus to rule your day. Pray over your calendar and ask Him what is the next thing you need to do. Accept His grace to complete the task.

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4 Steps to Finding Your True Self

-Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you-- Luke 9-25 The Message

Have you lost the real you?

Frederick Buechner wrote in his book Telling Secrets:

We try to make ourselves into something that we hope the world will like better than it apparently did the selves we originally were. That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living our of it at all. Instead, we live out all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.

Do you find this to be true in your life as well?

Sometimes I find myself putting on a “coat and hat” in order to feel good about myself, and later a totally different set of clothes when the first set didn’t work. I keep trying on different outfits, none of them fitting exactly right. I begin to lose the real me. I cover up the “original, shimmering self” that God made me to be.

4 Steps to Finding Your

Ironically, Jesus tells me that the way to finding my true self is not to add new clothes to my life but to give my “self” away.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  Luke 9:24-25

When we try to protect ourselves from difficulty, we may lose our true lives. When we try to fit into the world–acting as someone it would like a little better–I forfeit myself.

It seems counter-intuitive, but the best way to find my true self is to sacrifice my rights to myself. To lay my life in God’s hands so He can restore the shimmering self, the person I was meant to be.

Of course, this is easier said than done. My sinful self is always arguing with my authentic self that this will be too difficult, too scary, too painful. And truthfully, sacrificing my rights to myself is almost always challenging and agonizing. But when I have been able to quiet the sinful self and lay my life with its hopes and dreams in God’s hands, He has led me to joy, hope, and self-discovery.

So how can you find your authentic self?

  1. Ask God for wisdom. Pray to our loving Father, asking Him to show you if you’ve been wearing a self that you hope the world likes better than the real you.
  2. If you realize you’ve been wearing a “coat and hat” to please other people, ask the Holy Spirit to help you lay it down.
  3. Receive God’s grace and forgiveness.
  4. Place your life in God’s hands and realize He loves you just as you are.

Let’s abandon the “other selves” we are tempted to wear and shut out the arguments of our sinful self in order to find the “original, shimmering self” that God intended each of us to be.

Next step: Follow the steps above. Write out a prayer to the Father, thanking Him for His grace, love, and acceptance.