Monthly Archives: January 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas Update – January

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath to hear how the first of my twelve days of Christmas for 2010 went. (Ha Ha)

Well, exhale and be prepared to be disappointed.

Was there ever a time in your life when you received a message from God and it seemed so clear how things would go? Then as time progressed events didn’t unfold quite like you thought they would or should. Maybe the message was still clear but the avenue of execution was looking like a different story altogether. That’s my life this month.

I still feel strongly about taking the spirit of Christmas through the entire year, but I’m also beginning to realize it likely won’t be as neat and prettily packaged as I thought. For example, I didn’t count on dealing with a season of Why Bother (read about that here). I also didn’t expect to be so preoccupied with the after effects of the Haitian earthquake and how God might want me to respond to that crisis.

There have been a couple other opportunities that I couldn’t have anticipated and they look nothing like what I thought God was going to have me doing to celebrate Christmas in January. I like checking boxes, one for the 25th of each month. God’s not into boxes so much. He’s more concerned with how these experiences grow my heart and draw me closer to Him.

So I’m learning how to adjust my plans (no matter how well-intentioned) to be in line with God’s plans and also to look for the opportunities each day to be God’s hands and feet, however that may look. Who knows what things will look like in February? Not you and not me, but God knows and I have confidence that He will continue to provide the invitations and the way to accomplish whatever plan He has for me.

So stay tuned, if you dare, to see how this journey will unfold. I have a feeling that it’s going to accomplish what God wants even if it looks nothing like I think it should. It should be interesting if nothing else!

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Fighting With “Why Bother”…

So the New Year started off with a bang. Strong out of the gate. Many plans, many ideas, and many opportunities for…what?

Success?

Failure?

Making a difference?

Sure. All of those were possibilities. What I did not anticipate was an appearance of the demon, Why Bother. Pesky little creature, but he caused the biggest headache!

My battle with Why Bother started off as busyness. Innocent enough, right? Everybody has busy times, especially when we’re playing catch-up after the holiday season. Well, I just couldn’t seem to get caught up. The harder I tried to accomplish anything, the worse it got. So I thought, “Why bother? It’s probably not worth it anyway.”

But then he upped the ante. Suddenly it felt as if everything I’d ever done was in the category of “Ineffective and Meaningless”. I began to question a large portion of my life. When you focus on failures of the past it’s impossible to see the promise of the present and the future. I was sliding downhill fast. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t put up much of a fight. That is until the darkness descended.

It was sudden, like a fog rolling in. All it took was one little mistake to tip the scales in the demon’s favor. Within a couple of hours I was so deep in a funk that I was convinced I would never do anything that mattered again. I was done. Finished. Caput. Where’s the fork? Go ahead and stick me.

The words of Why Bother echoed deep in my soul.

“What good are you to anyone anyhow?”

 “Why do you keep getting up every time you fall?”

 “Why don’t you just stop trying and quit altogether?”

Thankfully God’s voice is stronger, more persistent and infinitely wiser than the ones in my head. His Word was louder and it dispelled the fear, defeat, and lies of my enemy.

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made…”

“Whoever believes in [Me] is not condemned…”

“[I] began a good work in you and [I] will carry it to completion…”

That last one, Philippians 1:6, was like the mallet in the Whack-a-Mole game. I took it and pounded old Why Bother square on the head. He tried to pop up again and again in different places, but I had my weapon and I wasn’t afraid to use it. Every time he said, “Why bother?” I’d smack him with that verse and say, “Because God’s not through with me yet! That’s why!”

The fog lifted almost as quickly as it appeared and I stepped into light a little stronger than I was before. Plus, I don’t let that mallet with Philippians 1:6 on it too far out of my reach. I never know when I’ll need a game of Whack-a-Mole with Why Bother!

What about you? Do you have a “go to” verse when Why Bother or his cousin, Doubt, show up at your doorstep?

The Sweet By and By, Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

Once upon a time my literary diet consisted primarily of works of fiction. I felt there was plenty of reality in my life already and if I was going to enjoy my leisure reading time it would have to offer a means of escape. For some reason the past couple of years I’ve drifted away from fiction and concentrated on other things.

When Thomas Nelson Publishers provided an opportunity to review Sara Evans’ new book, The Sweet By and By, I was anxious to find out if I had missed a “made up story” as much as I thought I would. I’ll admit I didn’t have very high expectations especially since this was a “Christian Novel” and they usually prove to be so watered down and sugary they are barely realistic.

Well, this story is full of three-dimensional characters with flaws, pasts, problems, and issues. It’s a story of a family’s journey through the years where everyone makes mistakes and uses less than perfect judgment.  But you’ll also find the elements of forgiveness, redemption, and mercy woven in among the anger, resentment, accusations and fears we all face in our real lives.

Other than a few instances of “typical Sunday School” talk, the dialogue in The Sweet By and By is real and believable. There are unexpected plot twists around each corner and the anticipation as main characters are drawn to an unexplainable place of peace in the midst of adversity will keep you turning pages until the very end.  I am certainly looking forward to “escaping” with these two gifted storytellers more in the future.

Wii Fit™ and the Word of God…

My daughter’s been after me to try her Wii Fit™ game for months. Since we just entered a new year and one of the things on my “To Do List” was to pay more attention to my physical wellbeing, I figured it might be good start to some type of exercise program – a VERY slow start, but a start nonetheless. I have to gently warm up to these kinds of things.

If I started off with a gym membership or thousands of dollars worth of equipment and wardrobe, then it’s a sure bet  failure is lurking around the corner for me. If I start fast, I burn out fast. If I start slow, I have a better shot of sticking with it. (Feel free to judge and come to your own conclusions about what it says about me. Then talk to God, ‘cause He’s the one who made me…)

Okay, back to the subject. We have the Wii Fit™ game set up and Rachel’s in charge of the “A” button – I don’t have a clue what to do. This thing has an assessment tool. It gives you ratings and calculates your BMI (body mass index). Let’s just say the lady in the game groans every time I step on the balance board. Now if that doesn’t build self-esteem, I don’t know what does. So we agreed, the Wii lady and I, that there is work to be done.

The first day after my assessment my Wii age was calculated as 46. Perfect! On the second day my Wii age was 26! I think I’m gonna like this game after all! Okay, I know, the credibility of the assessment tool just went way south…whatever.

Along the way the game shows you markers of your progress. I’m sure there are ways to “trick” (cheat) the game, but I’m not necessarily out to beat another player’s score (although I do the happy dance when my name shows up as #1. It’s quite a sight!).

My favorite feature so far is that while you are working on a balance activity or doing the yoga (which is harder than it sounds) there are indicators to show you how well you are balancing. Keep the little red dot in the yellow circle and you score more points. Now I could do the exercises without the balance board, but then I couldn’t be sure that my center is really aligned, could I? I would be guessing and going by how I “feel”.

This is where I see a comparison between the Bible and Wii Fit™.

I could go about my daily life and try to exercise my spiritual self alone, without any outside help but would that be healthy? How would I know if my center is aligned? How would I measure my progress? See what I mean? God has given us the only tool we need to measure our spiritual health but it only works if we use it. We have to read and apply the truths from God’s Word to ensure our success. In it we find all we need to point out the areas we need to work on as well as the tools of correction for these areas.

It’s also true most of us need accountability with physical fitness programs. Some people have personal trainers, coaches, mentors, or other accountability partners. My Wii game keeps track of the days I log in and I get to put a stamp on my calendar for each day I work out! Yipee! So far my daughter is serving as a reminder to keep at it daily. We’ll see how long that lasts. And now everyone (both of you) who reads this will know that I’ve started something I need to follow through with.

The same is true of our need for accountability with spiritual fitness programs. This is why community and fellowship with other Christ followers is so important. Support and accountability from others on the same journey is invaluable to spiritual fitness. Small groups, bible study groups, prayer partners and mentors are a few ways to maintain progress and guarantee support that we are sure to need eventually.

There will be walls we’ll hit. Plateaus that we’ll need to overcome. And days where we feel like we’re going backward instead of forward. Before we face these, let’s make sure we have a system in place. Who’s your coach? Your cheerleader? Who’s got your back?

*I also recommend a daily plan to bring you to The Word. If you need a tool, I suggest looking at YouVersion.com. They have at least 20 reading plans to choose from. This year I’m using the Historical Plan to read the entire Bible through in 365 days. So far it only includes reading 3 to 4 chapters per day. See, I told you I have to start slow!