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Following God One Step at a Time

Why be Humble ?

humbletogod

We need to be humble, because only God can give us the grace we need!

No matter who gives us gifts, no matter who does us a favor, we still need the grace of God.  Only God’s grace gives us peace and heals our soul.  Only God’s grace quiets our fears and worries.  Only God’s grace shows us that we are loved no matter what, unconditionally.

When God gives us grace, we respond with thanks.  Being humble, we acknowledge that we are less important, less good, less able than God, so we thank Him.  He has no reason to give us grace, except that He created us, and so He loves us.  He knows our weaknesses and our fears.  He knows that we need His grace.  God’s grace is the favors granted to us, for no reason other than we asked.

Therefore, we must walk humbly with God through life, and meet Him daily in prayer!

Each morning we can greet God in prayer.  We can thank Him for the favors He has given us, all answers to prayers.  We can start the day with anticipation to see what favor God will grant this day.  “This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)”  Let us walk humbly through the day with God.  Let us seek His help and wisdom, which He gives generously to those who ask Him.

Being humble is not a bad thing.  Being humble just means that we acknowledge that we can do nothing on our own without God’s help.  We cannot begin the day, the sun does that having been created by God.  We cannot feed our bodies without the seeds, water, and sunlight created by God.  We depend on Him every day.  Part of being humble, is being grateful, remembering our blessings from God.

          Psalm 103:10-14 (NIV)

   He does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
  For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is His love for those who fear Him;
  as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
  for He knows how we are formed,
    He remembers that we are dust.

 

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Thankfulness

Well Thanksgiving is over,    thanksgiving-food

but most of us are either shopping the great sales or eating lots of leftovers.  One thing we need to add to that agenda is thankfulness, but not just counting our blessings.  Before you spend all your money shopping, you can send some of your money to a good cause.

Great causes to give to during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend are food pantries, or you could sponsor a child in another country.  If you have been blessed to have an abundance of food for the holiday, you can share that abundance with others.  Food pantries give food to families that don’t have enough money to buy all the food they need.  Sponsoring a child helps by supplying food, clothes, schooling, and sometimes even a place to live.

My husband and I sponsor children in Haiti, Guatemala, and Zimbabwe.  I will share some of those links below so you can consider sponsoring a child in one of those countries.  We also give to our local food pantry run by our church.  If your church does not have a food pantry, most likely there is a food pantry nearby.  Find links below.

I hope you will decide to share some food with others through at least one of these charities:

Second Harvest Food Bank in FL  www.FeedHopeNow.org

To find a food pantry near you  www.foodpantries.org

Life of Hope (Guatemala)  To sponsor a child, Click

Jeremie Christian Mission (Haiti) Click for information    Or to sponsor a child, send a check for $30 monthly to their U.S. office at P.O. Box 273 Scottsmoor, FL 32775  If you send them a note that you want to sponsor a child, they will send you a picture of one of their sweet children.

Hippo Valley Christian Mission (Zimbabwe)  To sponsor a child

Thank you for sharing food with those who do not have enough!

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If you are planning to start Advent soon, I suggest this book –

AnnV Unwrapping

“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp.  It is my favorite book to read during Advent.  It is written so the whole family can enjoy it.  It has beautiful colored pictures for each day’s thoughts as you prepare for the meaning of Christmas, Jesus Christ our Savior. Click to see it or to purchase.

Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend friends!

 

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Can We Move Forward ?

movingforward

I am talking about the anger and blame we have been pointing at each other over the Presidential election this year in the U.S.A.  We are all pointing fingers at somebody else.  It is their fault, not our fault.  Whether we blame Republicans or Democrats, whites or blacks or immigrants, Christians or atheists, those who voted for Trump or those who voted for Clinton or those who did not vote —  in every case we are blaming the wrong people.  Let me say that again, “We are blaming the wrong people”!

Who is to blame? 

Ultimately the blame goes to evil.  The start of every evil is the devil.  He has been stirring up a lot of anger and frustration and suspicion.   He has gotten us all angry at each other, blaming each other.  If we keep arguing and pointing fingers, we can’t get anything good done.  We are caught in a whirlpool of anger, frustration, half-truths, indignation, self-righteousness, and blame.  I have been caught up in it too.

What can we do to escape this whirlpool of evil? 

whirlpool2

We have to stop.  Stop yelling.  Stop blaming.  Stop arguing.  Stop spreading rumors.  Stop pointing fingers.  Stop defending ourselves.  Then look at the mess the whirlpool is causing.  It doesn’t do any good to stay in that whirlpool.  We are caught in endless circles.

How do we stop? 

We listen to what Jesus said in the middle of the evil of sin that put Him on the cross.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) We need to forgive.  We need to forgive anyone we are blaming. 

That takes a change in attitude. 

This is what I did.  I stopped my thoughts of blame and anger.  I just stopped thinking them.  Then I looked at the people I thought were to blame, and I chose to say, “They are not mean.  They are not trying to do the wrong things.  They are trying to do what’s right.  They are doing the best they can.”  Realizing that this is true for them and for me, I can accept that they are not the problem.  So then I choose to think, “Yes, I can forgive them.  They just don’t know what they are doing.”  If I am honest, I don’t always know what I am doing either.

Can you do that? 

Can you accept that whoever you are blaming, they are not trying to do the wrong things? Can you forgive them?  If you can, you will be able to stay out of the whirlpool. You will find peace and quiet. 

What is next? 

Once we forgive those people we were blaming, we can start to move forward.  We can focus on doing useful things.  Moving forward is so much happier than getting dizzy in a whirlpool.  Moving forward is the only way to make any progress.

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Seize the Day

seizetheday-joycemeyer

Seize the Day” by Joyce Meyer.

This is the newest of Joyce Meyer’s many books.  I have really enjoyed it!  I highlighted many of the sections in my copy.  I requested to review it, because it fits in with my One Word for 2016 “Re-focus”.  It is all about living your life on purpose for a purpose.  Sounds really good, right?

Joyce starts out asking questions like “Are you steadily becoming the person you really want to be?” Now that is a question I haven’t thought much about before.  But Joyce says we should be purposely living so that we do become the person we want to be.  She calls it being an “on purpose” person.  According to Joyce, you don’t want to just drift through the days of your life.  It is too precious.  Your life is a gift from God, and He gave you free will so you could make choices about how to live your life.  You don’t want a lot of regrets.

Having free will is a big responsibility.  We should take it seriously.  We can choose to do God’s will and He will be glorified.  Or we can choose badly and fall into one of the devil’s traps.  We can make each day count by planning priorities for the day, or we can wander through the day wasting our time.  Whatever we choose, we will deal with the results. 

Sometimes we have the desire to do something good, but we don’t have a plan.  Or maybe we are afraid to do it.  Or maybe we don’t feel motivated to do it.  Joyce says we need to ask God for help, every day.  She says that most failures are because the person did not ask God for help!

I realized that although I pray every morning, I don’t ask God to help me accomplish what I want to do.  I don’t ask God what I should do.  I have been trying to do everything by my own willpower and planning, and Joyce says that does not work! 

So I began this week, to ask God to help me do the things I want to do, and the things I need to do.  I have also begun to ask Him, “What should I do today”?  I am still getting the hang of it.  But I noticed that I got more done, and I felt more satisfied with my day.  So asking God for help seems to work.  Maybe you should try it!

I really like how Joyce explains the nitty gritty of living on purpose.  She tells how to do it, the advantages of doing it, and the consequences of not doing it.  If you have read any of Joyce’s books before, you know she uses examples from her own life.  Joyce lives on purpose now, but she didn’t always do that!  We can really learn from her experience.

If you want to read “Seize the Day”, click here.

If you think other people should read this book, please share my review on Twitter or Facebook.  The share links are below (You may need to click on “Leave a Comment” to find the share button).  Thank you!

I received a free copy of “Seize the Day” from the publisher, through NetGalley.  All I promise is to read the book, and write an honest review.  Thanks for reading my review!

NetGalley Challenge   www.NetGalley.com

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Views on the U.S. election

Because I am having trouble untangling issues about Christianity and the Presidential election just finished in the U.S., I am quoting some people who are better at explaining the problems we see. 

I am a follower of Jesus, and so are all the people I have quoted below.

In her book Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders, Dr. Elisabeth Vasko says “To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option.”   

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM from his article “Rebuilding From the Bottom Up”.  “There was a palpable fear and anger leading up to Election Day, and for many it has grown even stronger.…  Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love. Let’s use this milestone moment to begin again with confidence and true inner freedom and to move out into the world with compassion.…  Maybe some of us naively thought that we could or should place our loyalty in any political agenda or party. Remember, Yahweh told Israel that they should never put their trust in “princes, horses, or chariots” (Psalms 20:7, 33:16-17), but only in the love of God.”   

Khristi L. Adams  from her Huffington Post article, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up”.  We are in the same church together, But –“You might be holding my hand in prayer, but while I’m praying God would provide a place for the poor and marginalized, you’re praying ”those people” would just go away. You might be holding my hand in prayer, but while I’m praying for the walls to come down, you’re praying the walls would go up. You might be holding my hand in prayer, but we’re praying two different prayers and possibly to two different versions of who we think Jesus is.”  

Christena Cleveland  from her book Disunity in Christ.  “Despite Jesus’ prayer that all Christians “be one,” divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present…. I wonder if our understanding of Jesus is limited by our inability to see him represented in the diversity of the body of Christ.  I wonder how much Christ’s heart is broken when we denigrate followers of Christ who differ from us.”   

What I can say —

Christians do not all think the same, do not all dress the same, do not all vote the same.  Please don’t assume that just because we follow Jesus, we are all the same.  I did not vote for Mr. D. Trump.  Following Jesus does not make us all the same.  Christians are of every race, every nationality, and every political party.

 When we get to Heaven, maybe we will find out if we followed Jesus well or not.  I imagine that we all have made some wrong turns, maybe even forgot who we were following for a while.   I hope we can admit that none of us has the perfect way to follow Jesus.  I hope we can accept that we can be Christians, and still not agree on everything. 

Those of us who dislike Mr. Trump, it is not about whether he is a Christian or not.  It is because he is against so many people who live in the U.S., or want to live here.  He has divided us, and encouraged violence and hate, specifically toward Muslims, Mexicans, women, and anyone who did not want to vote for him. 

Let us, as followers of Jesus, work in love with our neighbors to bring peace and cooperation back to our communities.  Let us follow Jesus in our own ways, and still love one another.  Let us follow Jesus, and leave politics out of our religion.

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The Secret Power

scripture-delight*picture from FaithGateway

The Secret Power, of speaking God’s word” is a book by Joyce Meyer.

I have come back to this book over and over.  It has been so helpful to me.

The book is broken up into topics (like anger, worry, and loneliness), and lists Scriptures that are relevant.  We are supposed to read the Scripture out loud, maybe even memorize it, so we can repeat it whenever we need it

Most issues like anger, worry, and loneliness, do not go away forever when we speak Scripture over it.  Those feelings may weaken, or they may go away for a while.  When the feelings return, we can use Joyce’s book to find the Scriptures to help us again.  This is why I have kept my copy, and refer to it when I need help with a problem.

For me I have dealt often with fear, and the need for healing.  When I was battling cancer, I used Scriptures and prayer.  Here are two Scriptures I used listed in this book –

“I will listen closely to God’s words.  I will not let them out of my sight – I will keep them within my heart; for they are life to all who find them and health for the whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)

“He sends His word and heals me and rescues me from the pit and destruction.” (Psalm 107:20)

After battling cancer for 4 years, today I have been cancer-free for 6 years!

Now, I find myself reaching for this book again.  This time I am dealing with grief and betrayal, so I looked at the Scriptures listed in the section on “forgiveness”.

If I forgive people their trespasses, my heavenly Father will also forgive me.” (Matthew 6:14) 

Joyce Meyer explains this Scripture further — If we forgive people their reckless and willful sins, letting them go, and giving up resentment, our heavenly Father will also forgive us.

This has helped me so much.  Today I am reaching toward forgiveness, and changing my attitude toward these people.  I will most likely need to return to this Scripture and Joyce’s explanation of it several times, but I will be able to forgive in time.  I plan to memorize this one sentence Scripture, so I can repeat it every time the feelings of grief, hurt and betrayal return.

God’s word is powerful!

 You have an entire Bible full of powerful Scriptures, but Joyce Meyer’s book helps to find the right Scriptures for our problems.

You can look inside the book at Amazon.com to see the entire list of 55 topics.

Click “Look Inside”.  The book is available for purchase there as well.

joycemeyer-thesecretpower

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Have You Wandered Away?

hiking-map

Sometimes we are on a path toward a goal, and then somehow we wander away from it.

Sometimes we feel close to God, and then we wander away, and wonder if He is still there.

There are times we have a pattern we follow in our daily habits, yet somehow we wander away from some of those habits, and suddenly we wonder why we aren’t doing that anymore.

We can wander away from friendships, family members, a savings plan, or celebrating a special holiday.  We might get busy with other things, or our priorities change, or it starts to be a burden instead of helpful.  There are lots of reasons why we wander.

When we wander, it could be because something didn’t work out as well as we hoped.  In those cases, wandering can be showing us something needs to change.  But there are important things that we really don’t want to wander away from, for those things we need to get back on track. 

Realizing we have wandered away from something important, is the time to take action.

For my health I knew I needed to start exercising.  I started out going to a gym three times each week.  One of the classes was just too hard for me, so I gradually stopped going to it.  Suddenly I noticed that I was only working out at the gym twice each week.  When I noticed that, I asked myself why.  I realized that the one class was not working for me, and it was draining my energy, so I decided to let that go.  So then I did another class one day, and working out on the machines the other day.  I was really struggling with some of the machines.  They were causing me pain, and some were difficult to set up.  Gradually I was leaving out some machines, so even though I was going to the gym, I was not working out long enough.  Once again I had to evaluate why I had wandered away from my work out plan.  I realized that some of the machines were not going to work for me, but I needed to get more exercise.  What I did was change gyms.  I switched to Curves, because I can do those machines without causing pain, and they have a class I enjoy.  Now I am back to work outs twice each week, and they have a stretching apparatus, so I get stretches that I never did at the other gym.  My body really needs those stretches.  Now I am happy with my exercise plan.  I feel better and have lost some inches!

Many times in our busy lives we wander away from something very important, like God. 

We might start skipping church some weekends because of being too busy or too tired.  We might drop out of a small group or Bible study because we don’t get along with some of the people in the group.  These little wanderings can end up taking us far from God over time.  We may realize we aren’t praying as much.  We might even start to think that we don’t need God.  Watch out!  Your relationship with God is too important to let that stand. 

If you find you have wandered far from God, you need to make some changes! 

You could start by getting back to worship service every weekend.  Put some prayer time in your calendar, even if it is just 10 minutes each day.  If you can’t find a group you like, you can find a Bible study online, or do a Bible study with a friend, or by yourself.  I have done several Bible studies by myself or online.  FaithGateway.com does Bible studies online that I have enjoyed.

When you wander away from something, it is important to see what the cause is. What have you stopped doing? What have you wandered away from gradually over time?  Is it something that you can let go?  Or is it something you really need to get back to now? 

Don’t wait, make the changes you need to get back on track!

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Play With Fire

Yeah this sounds like bad advice. 

Most moms would tell their kids, “Don’t play with fire!

The title of this new book “Play With Fire”, by Bianca Juarez Olthoff, is about the fire of the Holy Spirit, and the transforming fire of suffering that refines us into pure gold.

Bianca tells her story from a child up through her life in her 20’s.  She tells about her struggle to believe God through her suffering and her family’s suffering.  She tells about doubting God and being angry with God.  She ends with transformation later in her life. 

Her story is compelling.  I like the way she links what she is thinking with quotes from the Bible.  She shows by example how the Bible is relevant to anything we go through in our lives.  She seems to relate closely to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years after being freed from slavery in Egypt.  She keeps coming back to that story, and the difficulty the Israelites had trusting God.

In the chapter on “Community”, Bianca uses the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to explain the transforming power of fire.  She says, “In the fire, the very presence of God was revealed.”  Bianca says that the ultimate promise of God is the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I did not grow up knowing about the Holy Spirit. 

It is only in recent years that I have had an urging to find out more about the Holy Spirit.  I search out books like this one to learn more, and hopefully to find out how the Holy Spirit can work in me. 

This book gives me hope…

that the Holy Spirit can work in my life, without requiring me to do amazing miracles.  Bianca shows through her life, that the Holy Spirit works in our lives even in the everyday things like forgiveness, hope against all odds, and provision when there is none visible.  Bianca has seen that “what is empty can be filled”; “what is broken can be mended”; and “what is divided can be multiplied”It is the power of the Holy Spirit.

All this is certainly enough reasons to read this book, but there is another section in the book, that I found useful.  The Appendix has a list of 25 spiritual gifts with a definition and the corresponding Scripture reference.  I wasn’t expecting that, but I am so glad Bianca included it in her book!

To find out more about the book or to purchase it, click onPlay With Fire”.

 

 

 

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This is the Day

“This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Do you recognize this song?  It’s simple and easy to remember.  I sing it in the morning sometimes when I get up.  It makes me feel more positive about the day.  It also reminds me that this day and every day is brought to us by God.  He has a plan.  Now we must decide if we will follow Him this day.

God gives us each day, and gives us free will to spend the day as we choose.

What time will you get up?  Will you get up early enough to pray before you start the day?  Will you exercise in the morning, or maybe later in the day?  Will you eat breakfast?  What will you eat?  How will you greet the day?  Will you be grumpy?  Will you be hopeful?  Will you plan to do something nice for a neighbor or co-worker?  These types of questions go through my mind most mornings.  There are some days when I am just too tired and achy to think clearly.  On those days I sleep late, but then I spend the rest of my day catching up.

I am trying to start each day with a plan, so I can get more of the important things done.  I set a time to get up.  Spend 20 minutes stretching and praying.  (Sometimes I get up late and am so hungry I skip the 20 minutes, but I notice later that I am not feeling as well, and not as positive about the day.)  Next I eat breakfast.  I have about the same thing every day, so I don’t even have to think about what to make.

After breakfast I may read some news if I have time, then I wash up and get dressed, ready to start my day.  Depending on the day, I have different plans.  Some days I work on my blog, or write a grocery list if I plan to shop later in the day.  Some days I go to the gym.  It helps if I decide my plans before I get up, but sometimes I am not that organized.  I am working on that.

Although I spend part of my morning in prayer, I realize that my days are not as mindful of God as they should be.  I have started reading a new book “Seize the Day” by Joyce Meyer.  She says we need to ask for God’s guidance for the day.  It makes sense to ask God what plans He might have for the day.  She suggests we should be flexible enough with our plans to allow for important interruptions that just might be God delivered.  These types of interruptions could involve helping someone with a task, or giving advice, or encouraging someone.  There are countless ways that interruptions can be time well spent.  We do need to determine when an interruption is just a distraction from working on an important planned task.

One of the distractions that I am trying to minimize is Facebook.  For you it might be Pinterest, or texting friends.  It is important to minimize time wasters.  One way I am trying is taking a 15-minute break to enjoy a time waster, but reducing the time wasted.

Once again I find myself trying to re-focus my life on what is important, and making God my first priority.  I struggle with this, but at least I am making some progress, and find myself more interested in each day and what I can do with it.  Getting more things done that are useful is a good motivation to get up each morning. 

–>Greeting God in the morning, whether it is with a song or prayer, points my day in a better direction. 

Questions to ponder —  What do you do to get your day on the right track?  Do you have troublesome time wasters you need to minimize?  Do you feel that your days are productive enough?  What project are you wanting to work on, but just can’t seem to find time for?

If you want to look at Joyce Meyer’s book “Seize the Day“, click on it.

Here is a great tip from Beth Moore about God.

 

 

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Juggling Elephants

jugglingelephants

I don’t know if there is anything harder to do than juggle elephants!

No this book won’t teach you how to juggle elephants, but it will tell you how to juggle all the different parts of your life.  This book explains how to re-focus our lives.  My “One Word” for this year is “re-focus”.  It has been a year of wandering away from my purpose and priorities, and then pulling myself back on track.  This book makes this process easier and more fun!

Have you ever thought that your life was as crazy as a 3-ring circus?  I know I have.  The authors of “Juggling Elephants”, tell a story about the circus to give us a method of re-focusing our life, putting our priorities first, delegating some tasks, and leading it all so our “circus” life runs much more smoothly, and you feel happier with your life.

It might seem crazy to think of a circus to make more sense of your life.  But really, using the circus as a guide, not only can help you make more sense of your life, but you will have more fun doing it!  You really have nothing to lose, because this is a very short book, and the points are made by looking at how a circus is run.  So even if you don’t use the steps given in this book, you will find the book entertaining.

I think it is a hilariously funny way to actually make life work better. 

I have had arguments, frustration, confusion, the last straw, and still I did not get my life as orderly as I wanted.  Now I can use the points in this book to get my life more orderly, and have fun too!  There are two people in the book who use the technique, so you get two examples of how to use the circus template in your life.  Much of this technique is up to you to make it work in your own life.  Take that as a challenge. 

Do you remember ever being at a circus? 

I remember so many things going on at the same time, that I couldn’t see it all.  I remember laughing a lot, and being relieved when no one was injured.  Everyone, performers and audience members, all seemed to be having fun.  The acts went on and off their ringed stages smoothly, and sometimes with clowns in between to make us all laugh.  There were animals that were dangerous (elephants and tigers), and others that were funny (tiny dogs or monkeys).  A circus really does make a good metaphor for life.

I have read other books about organizing or prioritizing my life, but none of them were as interesting, nor as fun as “Juggling Elephants”. 

I decided to review this book, because it has such a simple technique to re-focus your life.  I was impressed at how much such a short book covers.  Since I bought my copy at a library book sale, I paid only a quarter for it.  I have no obligation to review it, I just thought you would be interested in reading it yourself.

It is available at Amazon.  Enjoy!

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