Seven Things to Learn from Job

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If you are still reading the Bible Challenge, you are now in the book of Job. We are reading together as a family and if I may be honest, we had a conversation yesterday about the difficulty of reading this book. It is not really a narrative (aside from the first couple of chapters) and the style makes it hard to read. So I wanted to encourage you to keep going. And I was thinking about some lessons we can learn from this book, despite its flowery, hard-to-understand language–

1. God may allow trials in our lives to prove (or test) our faithfulness. At first, it’s tempting to wonder why God would let Satan torture Job is such a manner, isn’t it? And, yet, God had confidence in Job’s response to his trials and, through it all, Job’s understanding of God was deepened considerably.

2. There is a whole drama playing out which we cannot see or hear. Satan hasn’t stopped torturing and tempting believers and there is a spiritual battle that we are always fighting! Paul even talks about it in Ephesians 6, encouraging us to keep all pieces of armor firmly in place so we can stand and fight effectively!

3. God may use the trials in our lives to encourage others.  I was thinking about the fact that here we are — in the year 2015– reading the true story of Job. Many Christians are comforted and gain great insight into their own difficult trials through this book. Job’s experience was not in vain.

4. Trials show us our true friends. Job’s friends certainly seemed judgmental and unkind. They did come to sit with him for seven days (Job 2:13) which I am sure was a cultural (but pretty cool) thing to do. So that’s good. But when they open their mouths, instead of comforting him, they accuse Job of great sin and tell him he needs to repent. His friends were short-sighted and arrogant, weren’t they? They had no idea the drama that was playing out above their heads. But if Job had sinned (which he didn’t) true friends don’t respond this way in a trial, do they? And, honestly, many of our trials are a direct result of a sinful choice or action. And it does need to be addressed. But it’s so much about timing and the great love with which we would choose to share such information that shows if we are a true friend. Job’s friends just didn’t seem all that loving to me. Like Job didn’t have enough problems without having to defend himself to his “friends”.

5. The book of Job shows us how not to respond to someone going through a trial. This piggy-backs off of number 3, so I won’t say anything else about his friends. But we also have his unsupportive wife (Job 2:9) who gives a great example of what not to do. For she tells Job to “curse God and die.” Doesn’t seem to be a great thing to say to someone who has lost everything.

6. Don’t judge too quickly. I can tend to judge Job’s wife pretty harshly for her words and wonder how a wife could be so unsupportive–until I remember that she had suffered terrible, terrible losses as well. She lost all of her children and her total way of life. In a day. There isn’t mention of grandchildren here but if all of the children were adults, there is even that possibility. Her pain must have been unbearable. And then her husband gets deathly sick on top of it all. I don’t know about you, but trials and tribulations and stressful times cause me to say things I don’t mean. I hope that these lone recorded words of Job’s wife just indicate a bad day. I think, given her situation, we should give her the benefit of the doubt and not be too hard on her. I think this is a good lesson to think about in our own here and now. People always do things or say thing for a reason. I have said many a foolish thing before thinking and hope for great grace in those situations. I desire to extend that same grace to those around me.

7. We need to keep reading, even when we don’t get it. Some of you by now are probably contemplating giving up reading through the Bible. You just didn’t realize it would be this hard. You may even be thinking it’s rather uninteresting. Please don’t give up. Remember the Bible Study Trap I wrote about? Go re-read this post if you don’t remember what it says. It’s important. We are reading to know more about God, not to entertain ourselves. And don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for insight and keep going. I promise you that you will be glad you did!

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of things to be learned from the book of Job but just a few things I thought of as I have been reading. Have a great day and keep reading!

 

Unfinished Houses

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As we traveled through the Ukrainian countryside, I took in the scenery with amazement. For there, dotting the countryside in great numbers, were unfinished houses. Some of these brick structures were only half-built, but most looked almost finished, slowly fading in the Ukrainian sunlight as they waited for owners to fill them with life.

When I expressed my wonderment at this unusual sight– for there were many of these houses, not just a few– whoever I asked just shrugged their shoulders and said that the owners ran out of money. Apparently, after the Soviet Union broke apart, these bricks and other building supplies were available at deeply discounted prices and so lots of people started building these beautiful homes. But a functioning house is much more than the lumber and bricks of its shell. And so funds ran out and the owners walked away.

Because they did not count the cost.

I was reminded of this incident a few weeks ago in our Sunday School class. We are doing the Radical series by David Platt and he was talking about Christianity as Jesus defines it in the Bible.  It is very different from the cultural Christianity that demands nothing– that requires no sacrifice– that only needs a prayer to declare oneself as officially in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He used the following quote by John Stott. Actually, this is a bigger portion than he used, but it’s all so good, I wasn’t sure what to eliminate–

Jesus never concealed the fact that his religion included a demand as well as an offer. Indeed, the demand was as total as the offer was free. If he offered men his salvation, he also demanded their submission. He gave no encouragement whatever to thoughtless applicants for discipleship. He brought no pressure to bear on any inquirer. He sent irresponsible enthusiasts away empty. Luke tells of three men who either volunteered, or were invited, to follow Jesus; but no one passed the Lord’s test. The rich young ruler, too, moral, earnest and attractive, who wanted eternal life on his own terms, went away sorrowful, with his riches intact but with neither life nor Christ as his possession…The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called “nominal Christianity.” In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism…The message of Jesus was very different. He never lowered his standards or modified his conditions to make his call more readily acceptable. He asked his first disciples, and he has asked every disciple since, to give him their thoughtful and total commitment. Nothing less than this will do”
John R.W. Stott, Basic Christianity

I guess the deeper my relationship grows with Jesus Christ, the more I realize that much of what passes today as Christianity isn’t really true Christianity. This is such an unpopular message. And I can understand why! Because true Christianity costs us something. Yes, it’s a free gift, but it costs everything. But when our hearts are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are transformed. This isn’t a begrudging obedience to God’s laws — a list of do’s and don’t’s that plague us and keep us from having any fun.

Instead our stone hearts start beating with love for the Father and following His will not only becomes a pleasure, but our main priority.

This brand of Christianity sounds so foreign to most of us. Even as I write, I realize this. And I wonder– what does this mean for all of us in this day and age? How does this kind of Christianity look in a Western culture where indulgence and comfort reign supreme?

All I know is that I am not walking away from an unfinished house. I will keep working and building until I die or my Lord returns. Yes, it’s hard. And yes, there is sacrifice required. Great sacrifice. There is turning away from the world, being unpopular with people, doing what’s right at all costs. It means we love and forgive even when we don’t feel like it. It means we stand alone if we have to. And that our time and resources are no longer our own. This does not sound all that appealing, does it? But when we read in the New Testament, we can’t help but conclude that this is what it’s all about.This is what Jesus demands of His disciples.

And, honestly, the costs for us are really nothing compared to so many of our Christian brothers and sisters. I can’t help but think of them as they give up homes, loved ones, and even their lives for the sake of Christ. I can’t help but wonder how comfortable, indulged America would respond in the same situation. Oh, may we be found faithful if (or shall I say when?) that happens to us!

If you have started your house of faith but are ready to walk away, please don’t. If the enemy of your soul is throwing arrows and you are just so tired, hang in there. Open your Bible and read Ephesians 6, put on your armor, and beg the Lord for strength to keep going. Let’s keep our eyes focused on eternity instead of the here and now. And, remember, God’s great power is shown best through our great weakness. You aren’t alone. Don’t give up. Keep building.

 

Why didn’t I ever see this before?

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I can’t imagine why I never noticed this before. I have read the story of Joseph and his brothers many times. And yet, I had never considered this one thing.

You see, I have always viewed this story from Joseph’s point of view. I have thought of how it would feel to be him—lonely, despised, framed, imprisoned. I have admired and respected his strong stand for God as he suffered many persecutions and rightly so.

But I missed one really important point. Until today.

When Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt for food they were completely unaware that their brother would be the one giving them food. But we know as we read the story how it ends. And today I realized that God took something completely evil and not only rewarded Joseph but rewarded the evil-doers! God used the brothers’ gross sin against Joseph and actually turned it into something good not only for Joseph but for the brothers, as well.

I just never thought about that before.

I mean we often trust God to use the evil, hurtful things against us for good, but I guess I never thought about the fact that God can take something I did that was sinful to bring about something good for me.

Doesn’t this give us a different perspective about our past?

I guess as I think about this, it does make sense. For some of us have had the same thing happen to us—

-Out of sexual immorality came a beautiful child.

-Out of a broken marriage or a stay in jail came eternal salvation.

-Out of a rebellious youth, where we chose to marry an unbeliever, God drew us to Himself and rescued both for His glory.

We have seen these occur. And we see how God plucks some (not all) from the mire and mess they have made and blesses them.

I don’t know the hearts of the brothers. We know by some of their conversation that selling Joseph has weighed very heavily on their hearts for a very long time. It would seem that they are extremely sorry about what they did. (Genesis 42:21-24)

And so could it be that God will not choose to bless us until we come to a point of repentance, where we admit our guilt?

And, once again, we come upon that word humility. If there is anything I have learned through my Old Testament readings it is how much God hates pride!

And so, let us remember that God can use even our most wicked sin and turn it into something good for us. But, first, we need to have a heart of repentance and humility.

Now, the following is specifically for my Bible Challenge readers–

I hope that you are sticking with me on the Bible Reading Challenge. By now, it may be getting rough. You have read things that don’t make any sense and you are struggling. Or life has happened and you are behind a couple of (or more) days. I want to encourage you to keep going! You will be so glad you did! I promise you this. I also want to encourage you to focus more on what you do understand and the lessons you are learning from these stories than on what you don’t understand. You won’t understand everything but that’s okay. Just keep reading. Remember we are reading to know and understand God better–it’s not about us or our enjoyment of what we are reading! It may be helpful for you to read (or re-read) the most common Bible Study Trap, at this point.

Thighs are jiggly in the real world

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I saw a video on Facebook the other day that showed real women exercising. Their bodies weren’t perfect, their thighs jiggled, most had a little tummy, and they broke a real sweat. They looked like they were having a great time. It was a commercial put out by a foreign athletic company for the same reason that the Dove soap commercial came out a few years ago with Jamie Lee Curtis–to present the truth about women. And it was beautiful.

Sometimes I get so weary of trying to be perfect, don’t you? We are constantly barraged by photos on our computers, tablets, and smartphones that tell us we do not measure up. We’re not skinny enough, our houses aren’t beautiful enough, our kids aren’t perfect enough. There is always this elusive, impossible standard that hangs over our heads.

That standard didn’t really exist even 25 years ago. It was just starting to affect us. Now it can control us if we aren’t careful. A big problem in our pinterest-facebook-instagram world is the standards and expectations we set for ourselves because of the pictures we see.

It reminds me of a blog I landed on a few weeks ago. It was a young mom’s home and she had taken some holiday pictures of it that were gorgeous! She obviously has an eye for decorating and design. But even as I scrolled down through, I felt inadequate.

Now, don’t get me wrong– I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with posting beautiful pictures. Our world is a much more creative place now that the online world is filled with blogs and Pinterest. But, oh, how careful we need to be as we surf the online world.

Life is so much more than the pictures you see on social media. It’s full of jiggles and cellulite. It’s full of dirt and messes. It’s okay if our houses don’t look like they belong on a blog post. It’s okay if we have a little tummy pooch. Who in the world ever gave us the impression that’s it’s not? And why do we listen to them?

This post is not about losing weight or enjoying interior design but, instead, about trying to be someone we are not because of pictures we see. It’s about young, healthy moms who think they are overweight because they don’t look like the single girl they graduated with ten years ago. It’s about being discontent with our body shapes and our possessions. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

And if we get into that cycle of discontentment, all gratitude is gone. And without gratitude, we lose sight of our many blessings — a critical part of a healthy relationship with God.

We need to be careful of the subtle call of discontentment and view it for what it is and then take necessary steps to change it. Because life is just too short to try to be something we aren’t. Let’s instead live lives of joy and gratitude and turn to God’s Word for our standards of living. Because, in the end, the fruits of the spirit and a godly life will be so much more important than any external change we may have made.

I Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

 

 

Why Waiting Is Sometimes the Best Option

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I think I may have done the same thing. It’s hard to know, isn’t it? But if my husband would have been promised heirs as numerous as the dust and I very obviously couldn’t have children, I may have tried to fix it, too. Because that’s what we humans do. We try to fix uncomfortable, inconvenient, unpleasant situations.

Only sometimes –many times– it backfires.

I couldn’t help but think of this as I read Genesis 16. If you are doing the Bible Challenge this year, you will have recently read (or will soon read) about Sarai giving her maid, Hagar, to Abram to bear children for her.  In a culture like theirs we can’t conceive of giving our husband another woman, but that was a different time and place and Sarai was obviously desperate for a baby. So instead of waiting, she took matters into her own hands. As we read on, we see that her decision to do that not only caused heartache for her and her family, but caused strife and anguish for generations to come. She took matters into her own hands and many, many people suffered –and continue to suffer–because of it. For Ishmael is considered to be the ancestor of the Arab nation and this seems to be the birthplace of the historical strife between them and the Jews.

It is easy for me to sit back and point a finger at Sarai. How could she be so hasty and foolish to think she could fix a problem that only God could fix? And, yet, how often I am guilty of the same thing.

I have been known to rush in and try to “fix” my husband and my kids on many occasions. I have tried to fix situations at church and in my extended family. These efforts are usually not helpful and I have been slowly learning to back away and pray instead.

Of course, sometimes, God would lead us to confront someone (Matthew 1815-17) or to pull them from the fire (Jude 1:22-23) but this should only be done with much humility and after much prayer. There is a place for thinking outside of the box to solve problems and giving our energy to changing our own bad habits but human efforts should never be done impulsively or out of desperation. They should never take precedence over God’s will. And we should never, ever try to change someone else’s bad habits unless they ask for our help. Because I have learned that this is a completely fruitless and utterly hopeless task.

Of course, this is so easy to write about but much harder to put in place. For example–

The other day, I found myself growing extremely frustrated that once again my floor was filled with muddy footprints. I found myself in a bit of a panic, as Bible Study was going to be taking place in my home shortly and my family seemed to have no care about this, but continued to walk across my clean floor with their wet boots on. And so I took matters into my own hands and started yelling. Yeah, like that’s going to fix it. In my experience, yelling has never fixed anything. So why do I keep doing it?

Thankfully, this pathetic effort at trying to fix something in my life in the wrong way only humbled me and reminded me of my great sinfulness. I was absolutely mortified to be yelling at my family just before my friends walked in my house. And instead of fixing the situation, I had just made it worse.

Which is what usually happens when I try to fix something without praying and considering the ramifications beforehand.

And this was just a wrong response to a muddy floor– a tiny blip in the timeline of my life with no long-lasting consequences. I can’t imagine how Sarai must have felt after she tried to take matters in her own hands. A lifetime of strife would follow and she was to blame. Taking matters into our own hands can have minor consequences or they can have major ones, but there are always consequences.

And so perhaps we would be better off if we would wait quietly, taking time to consider and pray, bringing our baffling problems and unsolvable puzzles to the Lord instead of trying to impulsively fix them ourselves.

And the wonderful thing about doing this is that so many times, the Lord proves Himself so faithful in these situations! Even just recently, a friend shared how God worked in an absolutely astounding and surprising way to solve an impossible situation. For it’s only when we can’t solve it ourselves that we really see God work, just as He did in Sarai’s life by giving her baby Isaac. For, with God, nothing is impossible.

 

A Call to Prayer for Our Men

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{my apologies that my subscribers are receiving this post twice. I actually had to restore my site and re-post this.}

My daughter and I met some friends for lunch on Friday. The hour and a half drive there took us through a section of road that has adult stores dotting the roadside for several miles. Usually these stores have cars in front of them that are very obviously parked so that no one can see their license plates. A sure sign of embarrassment and shame.

As we drove back home on Friday, I happened to see a man get out of his work truck in front of one of these stores. He went around the side of his truck to fix or rearrange something. I stared at him as we went by. I wanted to see just what kind of men frequent such places.

And guess what? He looked like an ordinary guy that we’d hire to fix our car or stand and talk to at a sports game. He certainly didn’t look like an evil monster.

Now, truthfully, I didn’t expect him to look like a monster. So what’s my point? I believe that we women have done a great disservice to our men if we are not praying for their sexual purity.

It makes us so uncomfortable to even talk about this. Even now, some of you will be appalled that I would be writing about such a thing. But, honestly– unless you are living in blind ignorance–you must realize that pornography has become a problem of epidemic proportions in the American family. Even in Christian families. So many face the consequences of this deadly, secret sin in one way or another.

I’m not going to speak to the men since I obviously can’t understand how that temptation works for them. However, I am going to challenge the women reading this– wives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers– to pray for the men in their lives regarding sexual purity. Pray for your husbands, sons, nephews, grandsons. Ask the Lord to protect them from this particular temptation.

We can’t just turn our heads and pretend this problem doesn’t exist. Because that doesn’t keep it from existing.

Will you join me in praying for the sexual purity of our husbands and sons? Our nephews and grandsons? Our brothers and brothers-in-law? And even our pastors and spiritual leaders? God will use our prayers to help them to resist the temptation of this secret sin that destroys so many marriages and families. We must never underestimate the power of prayer!

Obviously, this is not my typical kind of post. But when I saw that normal-looking man walk into that store, my heart broke for him and his family because I know that they have a serious problem that will only grow worse unless he seeks help. And it reminded me to pray hard for the men in my life in this particular area. I thought I would share this with you, in case you, too, would like to ask God to strengthen and protect the men in your life.

 

Helping your kids through a tough time

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How well I remember that moment. I was peaking around the door to check on my oldest daughter. She was only two or three and was in Sunday School for the first time. As I watched, I saw a couple of little girls treat her unkindly. I saw the hurt look on her face and I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart.

That was the moment I realized that it hurts far worse to watch my kids experience hurt than for me to experience it personally.

Watching all that was going on from that door was rather torturous. But I knew to step in and try to fix the situation would only make it worse. And so I stood helplessly by, trying to comfort myself with the thought that I went through the same kind of snubs and survived.

Little did I know at that time just how often my kids would experience pain and hurt throughout their lives– no matter how much their father and I tried to protect them. Since that time I’ve grown older and, hopefully, wiser. And I’ve learned that there are some things we can do help our kids as they travel through those painful times.

But before we can help them, we need to understand a few things ourselves. First, we need to understand that we can’t– nor should– fix every little problem that comes up in our kids’ lives. As my oldest was going through terrible times with some friends in middle school it was all I could do to not to get involved, but, thankfully, I chose to heed my mother’s advice: do not get involved. I am so glad that I did now, although at that time it felt like I must do something.

I think we also need to understand that shielding our kids from hurt is actually hurting them in the long run. Let’s say that we were actually able to keep them from experiencing pain and hurt for the first eighteen years–can you imagine what would happen when they left our shelter and struck out on their own? What a cold and harsh introduction to a cold and harsh world. And not only that, but in our attempts to protect and shelter our kids from pain, they start believing that they are the center of the world. They become self-centered and self-absorbed and eventually end up hurting themselves (and us) in the long run.

And so we cannot think it is our duty to shield our kids from pain. It isn’t.

But just because we can’t keep them from feeling hurt, doesn’t mean we can’t help. There are some things we can do to help our kids–

1. Remind your child that they are not alone. Let them know that you love them unconditionally and keep them secure in that love. No matter what’s going on — whether bad grades, a broken heart, or not making the team– be by their side and encourage them. But, just as importantly, remind them of God’s love. Remind them that they will never be alone if they turn to God in their trials.

2. Talk about the Sovereignty of God in their life. Sovereignty is a big word, but basically we need to discuss with our kids how nothing happens outside of God’s Will and how whatever it is they are facing is something God is using to turn their hearts toward Him or to grow them spiritually. Nothing happens without a reason. Encourage them to have a humble and teachable spirit as they face trials and troubles and then follow those words up by having a humble and teachable spirit yourself when you face your own personal trials.

3. Think outside the box. So often we tend to throw our hands up in the air and say, “Oh, well, we just need to walk through this” and we put our heads down and trudge on. But sometimes– not always, of course– we can think outside the box and come up with a solution. Or we come up with a way to creatively deal with a situation. Talking and discussing in this way will help them with problem-solving later on. We never want to teach them to just “accept their fate” without first exploring all of the options. We never want to encourage them to dwell in a place of self-pity. But it is very important that we never have these discussions without prayer. Be in prayer with them and for them. God has answered and provided in many seemingly impossible situations in our family’s life– building much faith in the process.

4. And, finally, always help them to keep a proper perspective. When one of my kids and I were discussing something difficult that they were going through recently, it was so helpful to remember that this particular trial really wasn’t that much of a trial, in light of what so many others go through. It really does help to remember that it could be so much worse. At the very least, gently and lovingly turn their thoughts to how much gratitude they should have simply because they have a warm home, food to eat, and someone who loves them to take care of them.

As you have these discussions with your kids, you will see them start handling their own trials in this way. But, of course, most of our discussions with our kids will be utterly useless if we don’t respond to our own trials well. How true the old saying is: Much more is caught than taught. And so we need to be ever mindful of responding and reacting to our own trials by applying these same four principles.

Our kids are going to experience pain. It is the very nature of life. Instead of jumping in to shield and protect them, let’s do all we can to prepare them for the future, so that they will be ready to go out into the world as capable and unselfish adults who want to live for God’s glory.

 

 

What Kind of Advertisement Are You?

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Have you ever seen an unfit, overweight personal trainer? How much confidence would you have in them helping you reach your goals? I am reminded of a shop I was in that had a prominent display for some magic weight loss formula sitting on the counter. Staring up at me were photos of smiling, super-fit people and words that held incredible promises for a changed body. My eyes inevitably swung to the shop owner.  It seemed to me that if this wonderful weight loss product worked miracles, this owner would be living proof. But that was not the case.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it rather undermined my confidence in trying that particular product.

And I guess that is exactly how it is when we Christians try to tell people how wonderful Jesus is, all the while standing in a filthy mire of our own making. We don’t trust, we don’t forgive, we love the world, we worry, we use foul and crude language, we walk away from distasteful and unpleasant situations, we lie, we cheat, we quarrel, we envy, we betray, we complain incessantly, we have a bad work ethic, and our entertainment choices are just like everybody else’s. In other words, it would appear as if Jesus just doesn’t make a bit of a difference. Why would we expect someone to want what we have?

Of course, sometimes Christians fail. That is a fact of life. There are lovely, godly people who are divorced, who have spiritually lost their children, and who have had abortions. I am not talking about the past. And I am not talking about the flesh that continues to plague us even after salvation. We do slip in our language sometimes. We go to a movie and realize half-way through that this was definitely a wrong choice. We struggle through forgiving. But the key word is struggle– sincere believers are continually fighting their sin.

What I am talking about are the patterns of sin that are so ingrained in us, we aren’t even aware of them.

What kind of advertisement are we for our Savior? Seriously. Let’s stop for just a minute and think about our last 24 hours. If someone saw where we went, the words we spoke, the entertainment we set before our eyes and ears, and the food and drink we consumed, would they give evidence that we are a follower of Jesus Christ?

There is so much talk about “God looking on the heart”– and so he does–but that doesn’t excuse sinful actions, for out of a pure heart comes a holy life. We certainly do not need works to be saved but our works our evidence that we are saved. (See I John 2:3-6; 2 Peter 1:5-9; Matthew 7:16-20)

You can have righteous actions without a right heart, but you cannot have a right heart without righteous actions. It’s impossible.

I hope and pray that I am a good example of a believer. I mess up so often– especially at home. Many times I don’t even feel qualified to be writing. And yet God leads me on and continues to nudge me to keep writing.

I just know I don’t want anyone to wonder at my funeral whether or not I was a believer. I don’t want any “I think so’s” or “she said a prayer when she was little but…”

Instead, I want people to say with confidence that I was someone who followed hard after God. I am certainly far, far from perfection. Each day brings me deeper and fuller knowledge of just how far, but I want to be going the right direction, without question and without wavering.

I hope that you want the same to be said of you. Because it is only through this that we can make any difference at all. After all, what good are we if we look just like everyone else? If our decisions are made from our feelings and emotions, just like everyone else? If we don’t handle life’s tough situations differently, if we don’t bring integrity to the work place, or love and kindness to our relationships, then we are like that shop owner. We are advertising something that obviously isn’t working.

 

 

Bible Challenge to Begin on January 4

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I just wanted to write a quick post and let you know that the 2015 Bible Challenge will not begin until January 4, 2015. Because the Bible we are using is set up using Weeks (Week 1, Day 1, etc) I thought it would be easiest to start at the beginning of the first week of the new year.

So this means that you still have time to order the Bible (via Amazon Prime) or to print out the PDF plan to use with your own Bible.

Are you ready for our Bible Reading Adventure?

 

Just 15 Minutes

15-minutes-timeHow much time does it take to change your life? I think sometimes we drag our feet at putting any change in place, thinking that it will gobble up the precious free hours that we have. We honestly believe that we don’t have time to cook healthy meals or exercise or that we don’t have the time to organize, keep a budget, or read the Bible. Or perhaps we believe we will never have time to learn to play that instrument or learn how to use the computer or read that classic. And so I have a challenge for you (and for me, too!)

It’s simple, really.

15 minutes.

The challenge is to give 15 minutes per day this year to something that you really want to accomplish in your life. If a year seems overwhelming then start with a month.

There are 1440 minutes in each day. We spend about 480 of those minutes sleeping. That leaves 960 minutes to work and play. Surely, we can take just 15 of those 960 to start working on something that really matters to us?

For me, I have decided to take January and tackle some housecleaning jobs that have been neglected.  I have made a checklist of small jobs that need to be done around the house that I never seem to get to. None of the jobs will require more than 30 minutes and most will be 15 minutes or less.

I share this here, because I wonder if sometimes we don’t move forward because it just seems so overwhelming. But what if it only took 15 minutes a day?

If we exercise for 15 minutes a day, isn’t that so much better than not at all?

If we focus on our budget for just 15 minutes (or even 5 minutes!) each day, wouldn’t that be so beneficial in tracking our finances?

If we would read our Bible for even 15 minutes per day, that would still add up to 5,475 minutes spent reading our Bibles. That’s over 91 hours spent reading our Bible in one year!

Perhaps change is within our grasp, after all.

A man names Charles Atlas says this: “15 Minutes a Day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.”

I don’t know anything about Charles Atlas and I don’t know the context of this quote, but what I do know is that this is true. If we would dedicate just 15 minutes a day to something we really want to accomplish, we will accomplish it! Sure, the downside is that it will take us longer to get there, but let’s remember it was the slow and steady tortoise that finished the race in Aesop’s familiar fable.

Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention here that there isn’t anything better you could spend your 15 minutes on than studying God’s Word this next year. I am sure by now you are tired of hearing about the Bible Challenge, but I truly hope you will consider joining me and other Growing 4 Life readers as we read through the Bible chronologically. Or, if not with us, that you will be in God’s Word with another group of friends or your church or even on your own. I am convinced that– while we can change our behavior and our habits–a changed heart can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit through the reading of God’s Word. There is power in this Book. There is nothing else that could possibly be of more value to you as you head into 2015.

But whatever you choose to spend your 15 minutes a day doing, I know you will feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the year (or month) because you stuck it out and have made a change– even if it’s a small one.

Anyone care to join me in the 15 minute challenge?