Disciplined Busyness

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

What exactly are we trying to accomplish? Is anything really getting done? Who are we trying to keep up with? How does anyone find God’s peace if life is a rat race? How do we give God’s best when we are exhausted? How can we hear Him if busy is our common response to, how are you? How do we come up for air?  Am I?

These thoughts came pouring out of me as I observed people when I was out getting some groceries. People ran around pushing carts in a flurry, yelling at children, running into people instead of breathing a second and letting them pass, throwing things in the cart like they could never shop again. And sighing heavily when the lines were long. I wonder if it occurs to people that they are a part of the line too? I got these pictures of hamsters in a wheel, endlessly spinning, creating the same result.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is me and I don’t speak these things to just judge or condemn others. I am questioning my own habits and life. I awoke this morning thinking about discipline and how when I am undisciplined, it brings such damaging consequences. Busyness is sometimes a precursor to this lack of discipline. When we don’t seek God to fill us first, we find everything else to try to whet the appetite of our empty souls.

If I fall into the day headfirst without seeking God and choose to get right onto my device instead of on my knees before Him, I can use information as a substitute for Jesus. Jim Richards says, “In order for me to want Kingdom life, I’ve got to want it more than I want anything else. So I need to do whatever it takes for me to connect with Him everyday.”

I think busyness becomes a symptom of our emptiness. We live in an age of information. We don’t have to go any further to find most answers than by a search on our phone, right at our fingertips. There is always that one next thing to go to, one more thing to read, one more thing to watch and unless we are careful and disciplined in our choices, we will get on that wheel, spinning, trying endlessly to fill ourselves. Yet when we take time before our day starts to seek Him and ask for His perspective and be available for the things He wants for us in that day, the rest of the day will be more ordered.

I understand that there are times when we will be busy or extra things get added to our plate. If we have sought after God, we are better able to discern what are God things and what are just good things. I believe the enemy is king at distraction and in this day and age, it does not take much to pull us away from the things that are important. Is seeking God a discipline you want to add into your life? The bible has much to say about the wisdom of discipline or how foolish we are when we don’t practice it.

Proverbs 5:23,”For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.”

Proverbs 10:17, “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores connection leads others astray.”

Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” (tell it like it is Solomon!)

Proverbs 19:20,”Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

This is just a sampling, I encourage you to study the word discipline and see what God has to say to you.  Reading this blog can shine a light into God’s truth but it doesn’t substitute for an encounter with your heavenly Father. It can teach you and perhaps change your perspective but it cannot change your heart, only God’s word and having an intimate relationship with Him can. Dig into it today and seek His heart. He is waiting.

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Stop, Grow and Heal

Romans: 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

I don’t normally study the Message paraphrase but this speaks these verses exactly as I want you to hear them. I encourage you to go back and read them again, out loud, remembering this word is for you. It is not just words on a page but God’s living breathing Word that can change your life.

Take your everyday life & Place it before God as an offering take – lay hold of something with one’s hands, place – put in a particular position. These are both verbs, they are action words. It does not say just go through your day and let whatever comes at you roll over you. It takes intentional actions to submit our life and all the things in it to God daily.

Embracing what God does for you, embrace – accept or support something willingly or enthusiastically. Are you enthusiastic about the fact that the God of the universe became fully human in the form of a baby to have the hardest mission ever known, saving the souls of mankind, and yet still be willing to lay down His life for us. Still His mission was not complete until He rose again so that we can have eternal life!!! Let us all pray to keep the freshness of this truth in our hearts. Embracing is our worship to Him.

Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Fix – direct one’s eyes, attention or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward. This is another deliberate discipline that we need to practice. In the NIV version of verse 2 this says, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ As Christians we have to option for God to renew our minds and the way we think through His word and prayer. I love what Steven Furtick says in Crash the Chatterbox, “When your perspective is preloaded with the Word of God, lies lose their power over your life.”

Readily recognize – Quickly respond… Knowing Him and His will are the only ways this is accomplished. Steven Furtick uses the term chatterbox essentially to describe all the other voices that come at us that aren’t God. These two statements in Pastor Furtick’s book have changed my paradigm drastically. ‘You locate the lies of the chatterbox at the intersection of what is written and who you are.’ ‘It is not only that you know the Word of God but who you are in relation to that word.’ So we take what is true, what God says about us, (readily recognize) and find the lies, replace them with God’s truth and overcome them. (quickly respond).

It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. misinterpret – to understand something incorrectly.  In other words, ‘Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought’ (NIV) This was the impetus for writing this blog. I was praying for people who seem to have an ongoing dissatisfaction with life and it overflows from their heart to their families, their work, their churches and creates a sphere of negativity that invades these places. I can speak this because I have been there but I have been letting God change me from the inside out, trying to stay humble in the midst of a selfish society. It is difficult, I know, I fight it everyday but we are so easily misled by ourselves when we are not submitted to God. The tongue is a fire and is quickly unleashed and when we have places in us that need healing it doesn’t necessarily benefit others around us to set it free.

So the thought came to me Stop, Grow and Heal. You know like the slogan Stop, Drop and Roll if ever by chance you would catch on fire. Well I challenge you when you recognize these places that are causing you to sin through your words, gossip or actions to let the fire of Jesus get on you and Stop, Grow and Heal.  I sat and let the fact that God’s truth is the truth for me in relation to who He says I am sink deep into my spirit the other day. Something changed, something I can’t really put into words yet and my perspective is different. I am His child, totally loved, and actually liked!

There is nothing too hard for Him to heal and change. NOTHING! Today in the YouVersion devotional my husband and I are reading it said, “Small thinking results from a lack of exposure to the Word and a lack of ownership of the Word. Small thinking limits who we become and what we are able to accomplish in the Lord.” She went on to say the enemy knows this and constantly fills our mind with thoughts contrary to the Word. We let lies become our truth because we don’t counter them with the Word of God. I know this is a lot, apparently I need to write more to spread my thoughts out haha but I think the last sentence of Romans 12:3 in the Message ends this well, “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him.” AMEN

Crash the Chatterbox – Steven Furtick

Youversion – Life Principles for Living Out the Greatest Commandment – Cheri Strange

The Brevity of Impact

‘We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth not knowing who will spend it.’ Psalm 39:6 New Living Translation

The first portion of this verse really pierced my heart and it nudged me to pay attention to the things that I am doing with my time. Last week I took a day unplugged, no social media, no checking texts every few minutes, no electronic devices. It was amazing, refreshing and convicting. Now please hear me when I discuss this subject, these are my observations and thoughts that I believe God has shown me. You do not need to own these ideas but consider them and experiment with them and see if any of them fit. My challenge is for you to find what works best in your life while paying attention to how God wants to speak to this subject for you.

I believe distraction is not only a tool of the enemy but another way that we protect ourselves from hurt, often unknowingly. I am sure those that know me and my ADD tendencies are wondering how I can stay focused enough to write this. (just for the record, I have made some breakfast, texted a couple of people, brought the laundry upstairs and took a picture of Owen’s schedule while writing this haha) I say that just to show I have some expertise in this field of distraction. I have mostly learned to work with these tendencies by persevering with the project at hand and being deliberate about finishing things. The biggest help has been submitting these things to God and asking Him to order things and my thinking. I know I cannot accomplish this on my own.

The distraction I have been observing the most in myself and others lately has been the infamous cell phone. The first mobile phone was invented over 40 years ago and the evolution of it has been astounding. Do I believe it is incredible that we can contact anyone, anytime, anywhere they are in the world practically, absolutely. Do I believe it is necessary? absolutely not. I do believe that there is use for them but I believe they are highly overrused and feed into the neediness of our souls. The parts of us that are longing for God and connection with Him are tied up in the constant barrage of messages, postings and ideas. I realize as I type on my computer through the media of wordpress and that this will land on my timeline in facebook shows how integrated media is in our lives and sometimes necessary to communicate to others. For me, it has been recognizing how this has infiltrated my life causing fractures and disconnect and in that recognition to ask God how to set the boundaries in how this will play out in my life.

I wanted to address a bit why I think that we use cell phones to protect us from hurt and in essence don’t interact in healthy ways. They have become a buffer in relationships, a tool often used wrongly to try and communicate with someone. We need to remember that in communication only 7% is actual words and that non-verbal communication is actually the most telling with about 38% being your tone of voice and 55% is your body language. So how on earth is it possible to get the full affect of what is being communicated by looking at a device with words. The art of understanding and conflict resolution are becoming a thing of the past and relationship difficulties are multiplied with the lack of real communication. There is nothing like sitting face to face to resolve things or know someone.

God recently had me challenge a nephew with these thoughts, God has placed you on this earth to make an impact. What does that look like for you? What do you want the future generations to remember you for? In turn this challenged me especially as I have been praying about the best ways to utilize my cell phone time. I want to be remembered as being present and engaged, constantly checking my phone does not portray that picture to the ones I am with. I want to be remembered as having made a difference in people’s lives, encouraging them to live in God’s fullness, wasting hours on social media everyday will not make room for that. I want to write and impact people with that gift, the fracturing of time with constant phone interaction obliterates my effectiveness.

This is a constant discipline and it will look different depending on what I am doing but I want to use my best for God and His Kingdom. Psalm 90:12 NLT says ‘Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.’  Brevity – shortness of time. Think next time before you mindlessly reach to check your phone and especially think before doing this while driving or you may truly know the meaning of brevity. Is it worth it? Have you set some boundaries? If you are constantly looking for likes and messages and notes, ask God what it is you are missing and ask Him to fill it instead. This is the only place you will truly find the fulfillment your soul longs for.

Get up on the Inside!

Pollyanna Mindset was my diagnosis. If anyone is familiar with the classic novel Pollyanna, a little girl by that name is known for her optimistic attitude and blasts into a town to try to spread her positivity. You may think, well that is not such a bad rap! I agree in and of itself a personality of that nature is good  but when it is referring to the way I handle money it is not quite so rosy!

This ‘diagnosis’ as I’ve called it is based on $pent by Stephanie Holmes -Winton. A book referred to by our new financial advisor as God continues to speak into aligning this area of our life. These are some of the characteristics that are described from a Pollyanna mindset : blissfully unaware when it comes to finances and you are fine with that, a delight to be around and don’t see bad in anyone or any purchase for that matter, if you have a spouse you abdicate your financial responsibility to them, just as likely to overspend on others as you are on yourself, if you and your spouse make a healthy income, it is not unusual for you to turn gift buying into a sport…okay, okay we get the picture and it is ugly to me because it is accurate, although I still don’t see what is wrong with gifting others…

Needless to say, hard work is necessary in this area. Especially when my husband’s mindset is an Undercover Agent but that is a story for another time. Let’s just say thankfully our marriage is strong and he is Very patient with me. So when I heard Joyce Meyer teaching on Living Courageously this morning and she said we need to get up on the inside, I knew what direction this blog was going today.

Jim George wrote, ” Complacency happens almost without notice. Check and renew your heart daily.” It is so easy for us to drift into those comfortable places that don’t call for radical transformation or any big interference in our lives. As I am learning though when we are fully surrendered to God’s will for our life or moving toward that place, it is impossible to sit in the comfort because even that becomes uncomfortable.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful, Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

I mentioned this verse in my last blog and there was a time when I would always associate the word discipline with punishment and although that is one meaning of the word, it also means training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. God wants us to become like what He says we are. He says we have been given all we need for life and godliness and that we are more than conquerors through Him and that the power that rose Christ from the dead is in US!!! That truth in itself should have us standing up on the inside and every side in astonishment at His goodness, grace and mercy. Sit in that for a moment…

My Pollyanna confession is part of the hard-line decision I am making to line up with God’s will. As Joyce said, “Make a decision, do something, lest you do nothing.” It starts with one choice, one move to get up on the inside and let the power of Christ move through you to do the things He is calling you to do to be more like Him. As you become more like Him, you will impact the world one decision at a time.

Ready or Not?!

September always seems to catch me unawares. I watch it coming full tilt as I mourn the end of summer and then Boom! Here it is. Although the cooling of the temperature brings some sadness, the turning of the leaves and the structure of the return to school does bring excitement to my spirit. I love organizing things and having things in order which in my apparent lack of discipline seems like quite a conundrum. You may not be able to tell that the area of discipline is in need of an upgrade just by looking at me, unless of course you peeked at my bank book or looked at my scale or watched me manage my time. These areas have been specifically highlighted to me recently with much conviction by the Holy Spirit and even though I know changes in all areas at once would be difficult, it is all inter-connected and I believe this is a time of new beginnings.

As I prayed about this new season, I was humorously reminded about the conversation in the movie Shrek between Shrek (who is an ogre for those who don’t know) and Donkey ( who is a … donkey). Shrek was trying to explain to Donkey that there is a lot more to ogres than people think.

“Ogres are like onions.”

“They stink?”

“Yes, NO!”

“They make you cry?”

“NO!”

“Oh, you leave them out in the sun and they get all brown and start sprouting little white hairs?”

“No! Layers! Onions have layers, ogres have layers.”

I am sure that we have all heard this analogy at one time or another. As God continues to heal and redeem things in my life, I am astonished by how some things seem to have endless layers. Sometimes God highlights an area and I think, really God, still? Now hear me too that the devil loves to tempt us to think that Jesus hasn’t finished with some areas and we need to go back there. This is when we need God’s discernment to know whether to dig deeper or remind that tempting voice, ‘It is finished.”

As Joyce Meyers quips, “I know I am not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be!”

Do I have the answers to more self-discipline? No but God does. He is aware of my layers. He has seen how I have not utilized the self-control that He gave me. Does He love me any less? No? Does He love me so much that He won’t leave me here? Yes!

God is a God of transformation and He desires to do that in our hearts. At this time I am to cocoon in and gather his strength to be able to face these lifelong battles , in the process I will be changed, as will my writing and in effect everybody else that He allows my words to reach.  Discipline in Greek means ‘to instruct’, so as God disciplines me, this instruction will echo into my behaviour.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained for it.” Hebrews 12:11

Is there an area in your life that you need to submit to God’s transformation? Onions have layers, ogres have layers and we humans have layers. It is what makes us unique, made in the image of Father, Son and Holy Spirit 🙂 Enjoy the process as we become more like Him.