Monthly Archives: January 2015

What’s Your ONE WORD or PHRASE for 2015?

Never a minimalist with words (just ask my family), the challenge minister Dave Stone recently issued has confounded me.  (Checkout www.southeastchristian.org   Dave’s sermon was preached 12/28/14.)  Dave cited the book, My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen for inspiration.

My One Word

Choosing one word to focus on for 2015 is not a novel idea to my friend and mentor in Phoenix, AZ. Naomi Rhode has chosen a different word, each year, to be her theme.  She has done this faithfully for years.

Once during a Louisville visit, Naomi proceeded to tell us her word for that year was “Believe”.  She delighted and surprised each of us with a lovely gold pin, with the word Believe, and the letter “i” being dotted with a diamond!

believe

Dave reminded us most New Year’s Resolutions we make are us-focused vs. God-focused.  What a difference our year could be if we only focused on a word applicable for our Christian walk.

For example, instead of your New Year’s Resolution being, “I want to lose more weight”, why not choose the word “Discipline”?  Another Dave suggested is “Grow” as in growing your spiritual walk.  (For more on this subject, please click on “A Resolution Worth Your Consideration”…)

Pray about this because it’s an awesome, potentially life-changing concept.  My friend Sherry has chosen “Joy”.  For a number of reasons (!!!), I’m choosing “Obedience”.   I just couldn’t possibly handle “Reduce Chocolate Intake”.  Funny, sorta…Mega sigh…

Valentine Chocolates. Assorted Chocolate Candies. Chocolate Swee

Author Ann Voskamp recently gave us, in lieu of New Year’s Resolutions, SOUL SOLUTIONS.  And not just a handful of ideas, she’s listed and explained with gusto, Twenty-five Soul Solutions.  (click on www.aholyexperience.com from her 1/1/15 post)

Instead of choosing only one word, Ann gives us multiple ideas.  Perhaps one of these will strike a chord in your heart:

I’ll share three of my favorites.  (ALL twenty-five are worth your time.)

#1 of 25 – “First things first:  Word in.  Work out.  Work plan.”

Ann explains:  “Word in:  Get into God’s Word and let it get into you.

Bible With A Burning Candle

Work out:  Even five minutes of moving is better than nothing.  (baby steps!) Together we can do this!!!

Happy Power Walker

Work planWrite out the work plan. And then work the plan.”

Daily Planner Concept

I would add to this:   Ask the Lord to guide you and your steps.  Author Ken Blanchard says before his feet ever hit the floor in the morning he’ll say, “Okay Lord, what are WE going to do today?”

#2 of 25 – “What a heart knows by heart is what a heart knows.

Write your memory verses on a sticky note or an index card.  Because when you are memorizing Scripture, quiet time with the Lord—becomes all the time.  Who doesn’t want that?”

I confess memorizing Scripture has been a perpetual challenge for me that comes and goes.  As in verses mysteriously and frustratingly evaporate from my brain. Woosh

One book I recommend highly, highly, and did I say HIGHLY???… is wonderful to simply read even if you’re stumped to try and memorize.  Rob Morgan, in his book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, coaches us readers, every step of the way.

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#25 out of 25:  “Rest so you can have the rest of God.

Sleep is more than your friend—it’s your God-given fuel

Tomorrow always begins with the night before, so turn in early, so tomorrow can turn out well.”

Hotel breakfast and a sleeping woman

(Well, one could certainly fantasize that one’s breakfast be awaiting…)

While it’s still early in the year, let’s vow to either choose a word or a phrase to equip us for 2015.  I believe our world will be better off because of it.

May our lives shine for Christ.

‘Til next time!

P.S. When you commit to a word or phrase, will you let me know it by posting a comment?  I’ve loved learning about some of your words and I know our readers will too.

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When You Misplace Your Cup of Tea (or Eyeglasses, or Cell Phone, or…), WHO is Really in Charge in 2015???

Every day I lose something. Somewhere, in our home, there’s an invisible abyss that vengefully digests whatever it is I’m hunting for. Call me crazy. Dark Tunnel I waste valuable minutes hunting for my cup of tea, cell phone, glasses, you-name-it. The frustrating thing is, I’m convinced the abyss finds this game amusing, mocking me at every turn, because… eventually it coughs up the thing I’m hunting for in the strangest of places.

Take last week for example. Stuffing as many dirty clothes into the washer as I possibly could (Time management at its’ finest), I reached up for the detergent.  Lo and behold, there was my cup of tea I’d lost the day before. Oh yeah, it was cold and tattered.

The abyss howled.

I let off some not-so-pretty-steam…. studio portrait of a young woman on isolated background angr Never mind that a blog I recently read by my buddy Liz Curtis Higgs hit me fairly-n-squarely in the eye…. Lizzie says: “We must completely release our deep need to be in charge.” Loud, audible groan surfaces…

In addition to all the beautiful and inspirational books Liz Curtis Higgs writes, she writes a powerful weekly blog. Last year she covered many verses from Proverbs and this year she’s teaching us why our Lord is worthy of our praise. You do NOT want to miss a one! It was Liz’ New Year’s Eve post that got me. Allow me to share, so I’m not all by my pitiful self… (http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/your-50-favorite-proverbs-1-trust-follow-accept-embrace/ )

While familiar, I bet you wouldn’t normally think of this verse to arrive at some New Year’s Resolutions…Let’s look at this: Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust inDon’t miss we’re to trust with ALL our heart, seeking His will in ALL we do. Liz tells us “we must trust and then let go, holding back nothing, making no demands…”

She adds,

God is in control whether we allow Him to be or not….        

   the very second we bend our hearts   

             and knees to His power and might,… Man Praying we find our loving God is:

ALREADY blessing us,     

ALREADY taking us by the hand,          

ALREADY leading us in the right direction.“ 

Stretch Your Hand For Someone To Help, Handshaking, Hands ShakinLet’s all aim to:

Savor and cherish the fact that our Lord is Sovereign.

Let’s vow to:

Make this a daily reminder. 

Right out of Proverbs 3:5-6, Liz gives us: FOUR New Year’s resolutions, all four of which are well worth our consideration:

“1 – Trust His love.

2 – Follow His lead.

3 – Accept His will.

4 – Embrace His peace.”

Now, to be fair, will these resolutions help me find my lost cup of tea or glasses or cell phone?

I say “yes”… …because these resolutions enable us to:

Slow down, Slow Quit multi-tasking, Tired And Busy Woman With Multitasking Concept Focus on the “now” and not the seemingly urgent. Don't Wait sign with clouds and sky backgroundRecognize WHO is in charge, uh, and that would not be you or me. (Note to self!!!!)

Thank you, Lord, we praise you for being our Sovereign Redeemer. (You’re invited to take a few minutes viewing the below YouTube of God, You Reign.  Still your minds and hang in there for the end, where out of the mouths of babes, they utter this glorious reminder that we are not in charge.)

Thank you Lizzie, for wisdom straight from God’s most reliable, infallible Word. We love you for it! Happy New Year!!!

‘Til next time!

 

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Practical Insight for 2015 from Anne Graham Lotz, Inspired by her Dear Mother Ruth…

Reverend Billy Graham, his wife Ruth, and their entire family have fascinated me for years. As a little girl, I can remember my parents tuning in to watch Billy Graham at one of his many Crusades. (We had one, and only one black and white television in those days, just to date myself.)

When the Crusades were on, I got to stay up late. I’d like to report I became a changed child on the spot, but sadly, my all-about-me ways stayed put for more than a few more years. Good news is many a seed was planted in my heart.

MustardSeed

Who knew years later I’d have the chance to connect with Anne Graham Lotz? As is customary with her family, she did something beyond generous for our Book Club.

Trying to keep up with technology, our Book Club began Skyping with our authors. This was a huge treat to “meet them” and hear from them on the spot.

I approached Anne’s Assistant and asked if Anne might consider Skyping with us. She knew of our church, Southeast Christian Church (www.southeastchristian.org ), and after a time of prayer and consideration, we gleefully received the green light.

Our selection that month was one of my favorite books by Anne, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life. It’s a must-read. (There’s a companion Bible study with it that’s also outstanding.)

MagnificentObsession

As our time approached for the Skype, I received a frantic email from Anne’s Assistant. Anne’s husband, Danny, because of his frail health, required a procedure on his heart. Docs were able to do it the very day of our meeting, preventing Anne from joining us. Disappointed, yes, but we totally understood.

Only a few days later, I received a mind-blowing email from Anne’s Assistant:

“Because Anne feels so badly for cancelling the Skype, she has made a short video, addressed to your attendees, you’ll be able to show the night of your meeting.” Goodness, how kind and thoughtful of her! I’ll never forget it. We were all so blessed to hear from her on such a personal level. She wrote me a handwritten letter after our meeting.

Recently I received the January issue of Decision magazine. (It’s a publication by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. www.bgea.org )

Decision-Jan15-Cover-175x229

Anne’s article, challenging as always, is timely for us with 2015 already in progress. I love Anne’s honesty…see if you can relate:

As I reflect on 2014, blessings come to mind. So do burdens.

Prayers that were answered, and other prayers that remain unanswered.

Friends who stood by me, and others who avoided me.

Days when I had health and energy, and other days when I was so tired I felt I couldn’t hold my head up one more moment.

Times to relax, and times of enormous stress.

Hope that filled my heart, and disappointments that crushed my spirit….”

With that, Anne gives us a glimpse into her days with her Mother, Ruth, knowing she, too, “must have had days and weeks and months and years” like Anne’s.

RuthGrahamPhoto

Ruth had a small gold-framed saying she kept over her kitchen sink, of which she gave Anne a duplicate. It reads:

“Praise, Pray and Peg Away.”

Anne says it’s become her motto for 2015. Her version looks like this:

Praise Him for His Position, Power and Purity.

(Just a few of the relevant Scriptures she suggests are: Isaiah 6:1-4, John 12:41, Philippians 2:5-11, Ephesians 1:20-23, Matthew 28:18, Acts 10:36, John 14:13-14, Romans 10:9-10)

Pray.

(Philippians 4:6-7, Acts 1:6-9,14, John 14:1-3, 1 Peter 4:7, Mark 13:32-33, James 5:16-18)

Persevere.

(Hebrews 10:23-25, Romans 8:23-25, James 1:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 5:1-5 and Hebrews 10:35-39)

She concludes her article with a challenge:

“As we face another year,

     would you join me

          in claiming and clinging to His promises

                with praise, prayer and perseverance

                     until our faith becomes sight?”

I pray Anne’s and her Mother’s very practical insight blesses you and encourages you to “Praise, Pray and Peg Away”.

For me, and I suspect you, to “peg away”, or persevere, is key.

Of all the verses Anne suggests, James 1:3-4 in the Message really resonates. Eugene Peterson dubs it:

Faith Under Pressure”:

Butterfly

 

Ever the humorist, I’d like to show you Ruth Graham’s tombstone. You can see it at the unforgettable and most moving Billy Graham Library. (www.billygrahamlibrary.org )

“End of Construction—Thank you for your patience”

Gravestone_of_Ruth_Bell_Graham_IMG_4206

Let’s agree with Ruth and Anne to PRAISE, PRAY AND PEG AWAY…. praying for perseverance throughout 2015.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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A Resolution Worth Your Consideration…

Resolution, Schmezolution.

If I had a nickel for every New Year’s Resolution I’ve been-ever-so-desirous-of-but-ditched, I’d be rich. Same song, different year…How ‘bout you?

Therefore, I’m not making any resolutions this year…

Wide-eyed tho’ you may be, It was my resolution to not make any resolutions….

Until…..I came across a lovely idea we can all do. It comes from a book my friend Mary gave me by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby in their note worthy devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day. 

Experiencing god

The entry from December 23rd is entitled The Wisdom of Spiritual Checking. The Blackabys discuss how we’re all used to having our progress measured in lots of ways. For example, we’re given tests in school, employee evaluations at work, and let’s not forget those charming physical exams from your docs.

My doc had a sign that read:   “Eat Less. Exercise More” in every single exam room. I always challenged his nurses to place me in a room without that sign, but alas, they really were In. Every. Single. Exam. Room. (As were the obnoxious scales.)

Hiding Numbers

The Blackabys point out that while we’re measured in many areas of our lives, we’re rarely measured by our spiritual growth. We learn from Luke 2:52:

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The Blackabys remind us of Paul’s words:   “When he was a new Christian, he behaved as a spiritual child, but as he matured in his faith, he began to act like a spiritual adult.”(1 Corinthians 13:11) They build their case by saying “There’s nothing wrong with acting like a baby when you are an infant, but…

… it is the obligation of every believer to strive for maturity.”

Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity….” (ESV)

The Message is more my speed: “So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on ‘salvation by self-help’ and turning in trust toward God…”

3D Keep Calm And Trust God Button Click Here Block Text

The Blackabys suggest, “It is helpful for you to measure the progress in your spiritual life from time to time.”

How, we wonder, would one do such a thing?  Our authors recommend we ask a mature Christian if our actions reveal our maturity. Another question to ask yourself comes from the Chairman of the Board of the school our boys used to attend (I’ll never forget it.): Are you more mature in your faith today than you were six months ago?

Photo of a funny surprised girl

I know, yikes! Let’s vow to pray about these questions this week.  Ask God to bring to mind someone you can ask about your spiritual growth.

I’ve got other helpful information when beginning a new year from Anne Graham Lotz, Dave Stone, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Ann Voskamp I’ll be sharing with you this month.   Along with the Blackabys, all these writers and speakers say diving into God’s Word, via a Bible study and quiet time is invaluable. 

Women Bow And Pray

Checkout “But I Don’t Have Time for a Bible study” if you’re already trying to squelch this idea…

‘Til next time!

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