Contentment, Fasting, Prayer, Resilience, Uncategorized

Day 13: "Work"

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

Colossians 3:23-24 (MSG)

Work is the focus of a big part of your life. If you’re a student, it might be homework, but it’s work nonetheless. If you’re a mother, not formally employed earning a wage, you’re plugging away from dawn until dusk.

The daily grind can be a major source of stress in your life. Work mates can be difficult as can bosses. You might be doing a job you don’t love or feel any passion for and if so, you struggle to find joy in it.

Today, you no doubt have some sort of work ahead of you. Whether it’s in the home, at school, in another city or online, see it as a gift from God. You have been given a capable mind and hands with which to carry out your labour. You are surrounded by others who are moving ahead and you are blessed to not be idle. Seek to honour God in every task you perform today. Allow him to speak to you about your work and to show you how much you glorify him by putting your hand to the plow.

Pray for your boss, no matter how he or she treats you. Bless your annoying co-worker and pledge not to join in on workroom gossip. Seek to live in such a way that gratitude trumps your fatigue. Your ability to earn, provide care, or study is a gift.

*You might be praying for breakthrough in your job situation during this time of prayer and fasting. Be brave and trust God for a new season. Maybe you’re dealing with extra stress at work. Study Philippians 4:6-7 and trust God with every detail of your situation.

Contentment, Courage, family, Finance, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Lady Wisdom

Happy New Year! 2020… a new decade! Time to pull out the diaries and start goal setting, resolution-ing, and asking good questions:

“Do I have time for this?”

“What should I say “yes” to?”

“What items in my cupboard need to go?”

“Can I afford this?”

These are questions I’ve heard my friends, my family, the teams I lead, all asking. I bet you are too. Andy Stanley wrote a great book many years ago called “The Best Question Ever” and it changed my thinking. Andy says, “In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?” (Emphasis mine.)

Before Greg and I ask if we can afford something, what we should cull from the calendar, we query, “What’s the wise choice?” When someone begs me to take on another volunteer role, it’s not “Do I have time?” Rather, “In light of my current and future priorities, dare I say ‘yes?’

Does this expenditure align with my value to put God first in my finances? To stay out of debt? To live minimally so I create margin to do the things I love like supporting my kids’ endeavours, traveling, etc?

If I take out the buzz of emotion that’s shouting in my ears, do I hear the whisper of prudence and sanity speaking to me?

This method takes off so much pressure and fuels my priorities! Wisdom tells me I need space in my days to feel alive, to hear the voice of God, to rest. Savvy says my budget is stretched and one more activity will only add to my stress. Wisdom reminds me that my kids are going to be just fine if they skip a year of XYZ sport or music or art. Chances are, they aren’t the next Beethoven or Steph Curry so giving them space to play outside, eat a proper dinner with the family most nights, and giving them my undivided attention as their mother (not just their Uber service), matter more. Good judgement calls out to me from the early mornings reminding me how much I need exercise for my sanity so my day must include TIME for that as a priority. Experience has taught me that I can make time for another activity but I won’t because these other priorities rank higher.”

In your gut, your heart of hearts, your intelligence and discernment, you hear Lady Wisdom speaking her truth to you too!

Listen to her!

She teaches you how to establish your values as a person and family. Then, you must find the courage to not let other people dictate how you outwork those values. What other families do or don’t do, how big their cars and houses are, how smart and amazing their kids might seem, what their social media account looks like with regards to their travel and experiences shouldn’t be factored into your goal setting or planning for the year ahead. This year, be brave and chart your own wise course.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Colossians 1:9-12 (MSG)
Contentment, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Permission to Dominate

Calling the shots, running the show. Who’s the boss? If you’re anything like me, you’ve realised with some age and experience, there are very few things over which you truly have control. You might oversee, manage, direct, lead. But ultimate power over your life is fleeting, an out of reach mirage.

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I used to live under the delusion that being fun, attentive, engaging, and kind would govern how much and how many people liked me. The more amazing I was, would surely hold sway over people, forcing them to fancy me.

That’s a hallucination totally not worth the striving.

Worrying what people think of me to the effect of second guessing my decisions used to be a way of life.  Tethered to this issue of control, as if I could create a world where no one would disagree with me. What an illusion!

I’ve had struggles with control my whole life as they relate to an outward fixation on my environment or other people.

Thank God, I’ve found ONE area where I can give full vent to my desire to dominate – the elixir to my insatiable need to be in charge. Imagine, it’s right here with me, in my own possession, accessible 24/7, and ready to be put to use at my beck and call. It’s TOTALLY and utterly subjected to whatever I decide.

You have one too. It’s free of charge and comes with euphoric endorphins that make you feel high on life: your and my “Attitude of Gratitude” has been there all along, lying dormant at times but easily awakened. Just look up from your pain, your frustration, your stress. Thankfulness has the power to change your perspective and shift the atmosphere in your home.

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My Thankfulness Journal, where I document 3 things for which I’m grateful each day. Why not join me and let’s swap stories on its effect?

When I give thanks for the people around me, I suddenly have grace for their mistakes. Praising myself (instead of self-loathing) for working out or eating well, causes my reflection in the mirror to suddenly shine brighter. Words of blessing upon my children for their uniqueness diminish my frustration at their non-cooperation. A Thank You note to my husband helps cross out that list of wrongs I thought about keeping. Praise for my cute yellow house and its great entertaining space makes me less upset about how small it is.

What a powerful feeling – taking control of something so important, so life-giving, and so necessary. What would happen if we all acknowledged this untapped potential we have inside, utter reliance on something as firm and unwavering as gratitude? How might our days differentiate themselves when they find themselves full of fondness?

To look heavenward each day, governed by the Spirit of God who loves us and has our best interests at heart should be our aim. Dominate that space.

“And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:16-17 MSG).

 

Devotion, Fasting, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 4: “Forgiveness Matters.”

forgive-one-anotherForgiveness is the platform on which our faith stands. Seeking God’s forgiveness for our own sin by accepting Jesus as our Saviour is our first step in relationship with him. But it doesn’t stop there.

One barrier to intimacy with Christ is un-forgiveness towards others. The Bible is clear that we must forgive in order to be forgiven (Luke 6:37, Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14). As you seek to have deeper intimacy with Jesus during your time of fasting, your attitude towards others matters. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting what someone did to cause you pain. It doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be walked on as a victim. It means you purpose to release those who have hurt you from having any hold on you. CHOOSE forgiveness. It’s not a feeling. Hand your heartbreak over to God and allow him to be your advocate in impossible situations.

When you make this a practice in your life, the enemy will not be allowed a foothold. No root of bitterness can implant in your heart. You will walk in another level of freedom and your pathway to hearing the voice of God will become clearer.

“Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 MSG)

Devotion, Fasting, Kids, Leadership, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day SEVENTEEN

Read Colossians 3:18-25 (MSG)

You’ve probably heard the mantra, “God First, Family Second, Job Third.” Although I don’t believe life can be so simple as to compartmentalise our relationships in a linear fashion, I understand this thought speaks to priorities. In any given moment, I’m loving God, my husband, my kids and my work all at the same time! However, the out working of my first love and affection being Christ means my other obligations fall into alignment. I love my husband better. Then, when we are healthy and walking in unity, our kids benefit. As our family prospers, we can invest in other areas with joy and ease.

When our jobs become more important than our kids, people suffer. When our personal expectations and image trump our kid’s feelings and struggles, we risk crushing their spirits. As employees, husband and wives, we must serve and work as though we are serving the Lord. This removes any chance of offence or bitterness when our own expectations aren’t met.

As we continue to focus on our families through prayer and fasting this week, let us commit to doing everything in our power to serve and bless those whom we influence. Keeping our priorities and investment of time, energy, kind words, and service in the right order, we not only bring honour and glory to God, but our families prosper as well.

Heavenly Father, only YOU know what the dynamics of my work and family life are like. Give me strength to do what you have called me to do to love and honour those in my life. On good days when it’s easy, I rejoice! On bad days, when life is hard and I don’t receive the respect and love I so desire, help me to focus on YOU first and honour you anyway. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion, Inspiration, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day SEVEN

Read Colossians 3:1-17

(Today’s post submitted by Paul O’Rourke.)

Paul is reminding us that we are different as a result of our relationship with Jesus. We now must follow our convictions instead of caving in to feelings (our hearts), setting our minds on things above, not earthly desires. We put to death the useless behaviours of the earthy nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. These were our default settings along with anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language.

We must renew our minds, making our emotions subject to our minds rather than the other way around. Inner turmoil, a lack of peace, and confusion often stem from a conflicted mind. We want to hear God’s voice and know His will, but are still living in the ways of the old nature.

We may be holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness, and allowing jealousy, envy, anger and lust to pervade our thoughts. In short, we haven’t set our hearts and minds on the things above.

Today, as we continue to fast and pray, let us make a concentrated effort to set our hearts and minds on things above, thinking on things that are true, noble, right and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. There will be evidence of our new ownership: compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and patience. We are to forgive and to love.

Dear Lord Jesus, I make up my mind to choose the things above at the expense of the things below. I ask you to forgive me for the areas where I have fallen short. Holy Spirit, show me which characteristics of the old nature are impeding my progress and robbing me of joy and peace so that I may walk in the fullness of what you have for me. Thank you for your faithfulness. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Fasting, Prayer, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Two

(Post Submitted by Pastor Greg)

Colossians 2:1-5

Often the greatest treasures are mined from deep within the Earth. Diamonds and rubies aren’t lying on top of the ground waiting to be collected; rather, they are found under the sand and rocks hidden from plain site. It takes time and purposeful energy to mine gold and oil from within the Earth.

The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 2:3 that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Fasting and praying are our way of mining for this awesome treasure. Everything we need can be found in Christ. When we have the wisdom of Christ, we know how to handle tough circumstances we face. When we know God’s word, we have a clear path to follow when making decisions.

Part of the “knowledge of Christ” is knowing who he is. He’s our healer. He is peace. He is a refuge. He is our Father. he’s mighty and powerful. He is LOVE.

Spending disciplined time hearing from god allows us to tap into the treasures he has for us. We uncover a firm faith that cannot be shaken.

Heavenly Father, thank you for promising us access to great treasure like wisdom and knowledge. Speak to me during this fast. Reveal your secrets and set my mind at ease that you are at work in every circumstance, much greater and more knowledgeable than I could ever be. I trust you to lead and guide me. I seek to know you more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.