Who Are You Going To Be In 2013

A Blog About Character Strengthening   We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.               Romans 5:3-5(NLT) Obstacles are the reason so many people stop short of their personal goals. Think back on your last few years of New Year resolutions.  Did the price of a gym membership derail your weight loss goals? Was your daily devotional time permanently postponed due to illness? Did a few too many charred chickens cause you to pick up your big book of take out menus again? Big and small obstacles can test your resolve and cause you to walk away from your goal, your dream, your plan and your hope. Romans 5:3 tells us to, “rejoice when we run into problems…[because] they help us develop endurance.” With every challenge, trail, obstacle and problem we face we can choose to grow or wither. I’ve done my fair share of withering during these life squeezing moments. In fact, I almost withered during my last half marathon. Around mile nine I was cramping, limping, gasping, aching, and sweating! I wanted to walk the last four miles…by walk I really mean I wanted to walk to the transport bus that would shuttle me to the finish line. I was even playing out a rather persuasive conversation in my head about why I needed to give up. The conversation went a little something like this, “Your body is really hurting…if you push it much farther you are going to get injured. Is finishing this race really worth the weeks of recovery it will take to nurse your body back to health? There will be other races…this one is just a practice run. Next time you’ll be more prepared. YOU are holding your friends BACK!” This fear-based, insecurity-driven “pep-talk” almost convinced me to turn in my running shoes.  Thankfully, my running buddies and my training told me otherwise! After crossing the finish line, my friend asked if I’d do it again. Although EVERY muscle in my body was screaming NO, I found myself saying, “Yes!” I found a new strength of character by crossing that line. Tonight we will welcome in a new year and commit to a new set of resolutions. Go into this New Year with the understanding that trails will come but the Lord tells us to… “Rejoice… because problems develop endurance… endurance develops strength of character… and character strengthens our hope of salvation… And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us…”   I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Share...

An Early Christmas Gift

An Early Christmas Gift

Anticipation and wonder radiated from her clear blue-green eyes.  She watched breathlessly as baby Jesus appeared on the stage. The darkness of the room could not conceal her bouncing legs that wiggled and jumped with joy. Her joy was contagious…it was palpable…it was electric. It engulfed me! ——————————————————————————————————– What a precious gift my heavenly father has given me this year! I was able to see the story of Christ through my child’s eyes. All numbness I had towards this story melted away.  Children have the ability to dream, to believe and to experience things differently from adults. My daughter transported herself into the very stable that Jesus was born in. She did not simply see actors on stage…She SAW JESUS! She witnessed the birth of our Savior and King! Her little hands clapped with abandonment as she celebrated Christ’s arrival. I refused to be a bystander on this remarkable journey. Following my five years lead, I allowed my eyes to see the wonder. I looked beyond the props and lights and saw a miraculous sight! Goose bumps covered my body as I beheld the glory of our marvelous King. The King that came to save the world! ————————————————————————————————- After watching that play with my daughter, I was reminded of Matthew 18:1-4 (Amplified) which reads, At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is [really] the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?   And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.   This Christmas (and beyond) I give the gift of child-like love to my King. Here is a video link to this amazing play! I hope you enjoy it as much as my daughter and me did. http://ccwcflorida.sermon.tv/mc/5719791 Share...

Midweek Encouragement: Stop Trashing Yourself

  I flagged this daily devotional email back in September. It ministered to me then and it is ministering to me now!  I’m figuring out how to admit my failings and accept my failures without totally trashing my confidence! We are all still a work in progress. Sign up for daily devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries at www.proverbs31.org. I love my daily devotionals from this ministry! How To Stop Trashing Yourself September 12, 2012 By Renee Swope How To Stop Trashing Yourself “So do not throw away your confidence;   it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done   the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews   10:35-36 (NIV) One night I was cleaning our kitchen and found this little   rubber thingy on our countertop. It wasn’t until after I threw it away that I   realized it was the power button for our TV remote control. As I dug through   the trash to find it, I regretted how quickly I’d thrown it away. Then, as I reached to pull it out, I sensed God showing me   that’s how easily I throw away my confidence—without recognizing it. Click here to read more.   Share...

Rest In The Lord

Rest In The Lord

My friend recently took a two-week vacation. While spending time together one day, I chuckled as she answered work calls, stopped by the office for “a quick errand,” and replied to work related text messages. Starbucks has been my husband’s offsite workstation on many of our vacations. Thank goodness for free Wi-fi, data service plans, and business centers at every hotel…are you sensing my sarcasm? In Japan, where unpaid overtime and long hours are the norm, there is a legal cause of death called karoshi, which means death by overwork. Karoshi was deemed to be responsible for 143 deaths in 2001. Rest is elusive to many. Yet, God has called us all to rest. Hebrews 4:10-11 says, “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” God worked diligently for six days but on the seventh HE RESTED! Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest (Ex 34:21) Yes…even during your busy season you must rest! Jewish law identifies thirty-nine categories of activities prohibited on the Sabbath. These activities include writing, cutting, carrying things, laundering, organizing, cooking, applying the finishing touches, etc. My “rest” on Sunday typically includes all of these things…I post about my kids on Facebook, I cut coupons, I carry my shopping bags, I do laundry, I sort and organize toys/closets/the garage. Then I cook dinner and finish school projects. I’m not suggesting we all start following Jewish law but I would like you to imagine a day with real rest! A day filled with sleep, quality conversations, music, pre-prepared meals. There would be time to read and pray, time to enjoy nature, time to dance with your children, and most importantly time with the Lord. God desires us to have more than physical rest. Rest can come in many forms… Rest is freedom from work, toil, strain or activity. Rest is freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you. Rest involves remaining confident, keeping trust. Rest means to lean on. Rest means to lie down, be settled, fixed, secure. This bumper sticker sums it up nicely. Know Christ and you will know rest. No Christ and there will be no rest! …In this life or the one to come! Take time to rest during this busy Christmas season. Allow the dishes to sit one day, turn off your phone, and ignore your work emails. Spend the day (or a few hours if that’s all you have) and marvel at God’s creations. Meditate on his goodness and love.  Be in awe of the precious children God has blessed you with. Place all of your worries and burdens at his feet. Simply Rest In The Lord.   Share...