Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Starting Out

One way to help get each Holy Habit entrenched in my life:

1. Sharing
My time at work - Spend more time watching our SSD & AC at work.  Looking for ways I can help them grow professionally

2. Simplicity
Watch less TV - Currently, I am ashamed to admit this but, I spend about 3-4 hours of every day watching TV.  I will reduce that to 2 hours.

3. Increased physical activity
5 days a week do something physical for at least 30 minutes.  Even if it's just riding the exercise bike while watching TV.

4. Healthy Eating
Use online food diary at least 6 days a week to keep track of what I'm eating.

5. Bible Pondering
At least 3 times each week engage in personal study in 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

6. Gratefulness
Speak out about 1 thing -Each day find at least one thing at work that I'm grateful for and speak that out to someone. Each day find 1 thing I'm grateful for about John and tell him.

The big 6

I typically think of habits in terms of bad ones.

Maybe that's because I've got more than my share of bad habits.

Habits can be good though.  It's the good ones that I want to get more of entrenched into my life. I've heard the phrase holy habits used before.  I'm attracted to that phrase.  I've always been a sucker for aliteration. This year I'm feeling impressed to develop what I'll call holy habits in each of the following areas of my life:
  1. Sharing
  2. Simplicity
  3. Increased physical activity
  4. Healthy eating
  5. Bible Pondering
  6. Gratefulness

Sharing my life

Graphic from I was just thinking
I've long been snagged when I read the words from 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when Paul talks about not only sharing the gospel, but sharing His life.

Do I ever do that?  How do I do that?

From the time I first learned how to get up in front of a group to share my testimony , I've struggled with sharing personal things.  I was 16 years old at that time and remember working with an adult and a friend on how to present in front of groups about what God had done in our lives.  When I gave the two of them my first attempt, my friend candidly let me know that it was boring, that it could be anyone's testimony.  I'd neglected to share who I was.

I think this is still confusing.  It doesn't come naturally for me.

Part of why is because I'm a classic introvert.  I have a friend where I used to live who is a classic extrovert.  She's always sharing on Facebook, twitter, and in person what's going on with her.  She's down to earth and fun and interested in you.  People are drawn to her. I'm not like that. 

I care deeply about people but struggle with appropriate ways to show that.  Sometimes I write notes from my heart to people who I'm in ministry with and that seems to bless them.  When I facilitate small Bible study groups I do share some of my personal life.  In those settings I think I'm seeing more of what Paul was writing about in this passage.  In these small groups we're invested in each other, we talk about the Word and our lives. 

Today as I was reading in I Thessalonians 2:5-8 I was challenged with the thought to do this more in my job.

I was the assistant administrator for 3 years for a man who was not a Christian.  That man was one of the greatest leaders I've ever known.  Of course he didn't share the gospel with me but he did model sharing himself.  He invested in me as no one ever has before or since.

I think the Holy Spirit is pricking my heart to do that at my current job.  I've been there four months now.
Father, please show me who you want me to work with and how.  The social service and admissions directors come to my mind right away, so teach me how to invest in them and empower them to become better.  But perhaps you can use me to help this director of nursing services to become better.  It would certainly have to be You through me because she's not at all open to my speaking truth into her life.  Maybe you even want me to impact that AR girl who's so smart and oh so difficult.  Oh Father, just use me.  Make me smarter than I am 'cuz I'll need to be.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The new year comes with challenges

Graphic from Snips & Spice
 Do you ever feel like your life is too much?   Like you're not up for it?

 Sometimes I do.

I'm in a season of my life right now where I'm dealing with some big challenges.

I keep reminding myself that God has me right where He knew, before all of time, that I would be.  I keep choosing to believe the truth that if He has allowed me to be in these situations, then He will equip me to be effective.  He'll use me to change situations, circumstances, and people - or He will change me.

Given this, a quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that I read a couple of weeks ago keeps reverberating in the back of my mind: "Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, I will try again tomorrow."

It is with this mindset that I came to my time with God this morning.  I'm currently working my way through the book of 1 Thessalonians.  As I read the 2nd verse in the second chapter it stood out to me this morning:

We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition (NIV).

Off the top of my head I couldn't remember what exactly had occurred to Paul when he was in Phillipi.  I had to re-read the account in Acts 16:16-40.   Then I had one of those oh yeah, now I remember moments.  This is the account when Paul and Silas were out preaching and a demon possessed slave woman kept following them around yelling. Paul found it difficult to preach with all that noise so he cast out the demons. Her owners were upset because her demons allowed her to tell fortunes and made them money.  So her owners stirred up opposition to Paul and Silas.  Paul and Silas ended up being stripped, beaten with rods, then put in the inner most cell of the prison with their feet in shackles.  This is the same account where later they were singing and praising God, an earthquake occurred, their chains were broken, and the cell doors opened.  They stayed and got all the other prisoners to stay as well.  The guard ended up taking them home and tending to their wounds.  The guard and his household came to faith through the whole experience.

What hit me this morning was that being beaten with rods and imprisoned in shackles must had been a wretched experience.  The kind of experience that can make one not want to risk that again.  Paul came into Thessalonica and was again opposed, but he went ahead preaching any way.  From these verses I  think that Paul experienced trepidation.  He wasn't some kind of super hero who didn't care if he was beaten or imprisoned; that fact caused normal human fear about going out there and preaching again. But he went out there any way.  He wanted to follow God's leading, and he looked to God for help. God empowered Him to rise above any fear and go ahead.

God can do that for me too. But how?

Romans 8:20-30 talks about the fact that we live in a world where sin has it's effect.  All of creation looks forward to a better future.  ( I think this better future referenced here is both the Millennium as well as the new heaven and new earth.) In the context of this discussion about how we are suffering now I come to the 27th & 28th verses:

 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

There's so much in these verses:
  • The Holy Spirit is searching our hearts
  • The Holy Spirit is interceding for us that we'd experience God's will
  • God will work in all situations to bring good to us 
 I'm not sure that I really understand about God searching my heart.  He already knows it. I appreciate Beth Moore's words regarding this: "God's testing of our hearts is to our benefit even when we dread what He'll find.  Our freedom comes with the head-on collision between the truth of Christ and God's truth about us. There beauty meets ugly, and authenticity is born."

I know I'm grateful that I've got the Holy Spirit interceding for me that I'll experience God's will. That God will work in all situations to my good.  I want to have an authentic faith that makes a difference.

One of my challenging situations is things going on in the life of my middle son.  I know that I'm praying and praying for this son.   I want to be sure to give this son unconditional love while not approving of all his choices.  I want to be wise in my interactions.  I'm constantly asking God if I should speak the truth boldly, or just quietly wait on Him to work. I'm glad to know that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me and my son.

The other source of challenging situations is problems at work.  There are problems with some of the leaders in the building. Systems are not in place and being followed. The nurses are either not properly trained or are not following their training,  and they have difficulty with logical independent decision making. The director of nursing has many incredibly good characteristics, and many terrible characteristics; she fights me as I'm trying to make positive changes.  Sometimes I struggle with feelings of not being good enough - I'm in charge of this building and have been here for four months and it's still a mess. Then I remember that I believe God gave me this job, so He must know that I can do it.  May He empower me as He did the apostle Paul.

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