Mundane Monday: Margin of Possibility

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Running on the treadmill this morning I couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a hamster on a wheel. Another Monday, another day full of routine and responsibilities. Despite waking up with a headache, in an effort to be disciplined to reach my goals, on the treadmill I go. After that, I meant to throw some pinto beans and sausage in the crockpot this morning to feel especially accomplished to have exercised, showered and made dinner all by 8:00am, but life happens.

One child lost their cell phone, another child’s car was on empty, so on a day full of school orientations in addition to my normal full-time job, I need to flex and be creative, which is why I started work earlier today and am out the door early to accomplish the new challenges of the day, including writing this blog while my teenager with a learner’s permit is driving me to follow the child whose car is on empty on our way to Verizon. I meant that to be a run on sentence for effect. And Verizon is not open this early. Great – plan B or C, whichever plan we are on now. But I digress. Oh, wait – today’s blog is about creating margins in our life. Ha.

If I have a minute, or any amount of time, I will fill it up – Lord willing with useful endeavors, but I have often been told that I do too much. Guilty. But life is so short and I want to make the most of it. So where does margin come into this lifestyle I have created, which includes 5 children, a wonderful husband, leading worship, speaking at conferences, writing a book, writing a new song and working as an executive assistant? Good question. Very creatively is the answer.

It starts with rising early. I cannot accomplish all the LORD has placed upon my heart if I am not up before my kids, and one child in particular is awake before the sun rises. I tell him to occupy himself reading or building legos while I seek the face of God. Oh wait, that should have been point #1. God first. Am I perfect in that goal of placing God first? No, but somewhere in my day I have got to get into His word and my personal preference is to use a “Bible in a Year” reading plan. Here is a link to a website where you can choose a plan that works for you. Do I complete this perfectly every year? No, but I have learned to give myself grace and to press on year after year.

Discipleship. With a full life, discipleship for myself and my children, as well as time for my husband has to be intentional. These are the “big rocks” of life. My husband truly helps in this goal of closeness with date nights almost every week and setting aside time every year to go away together. Work will always be there, people won’t.

Discipling my children doesn’t look as neat and tidy as when my kids were little, when almost every morning we would rise and do a bible curriculum together, but they are older now and have responsibilities of their own. Creating opportunities to have one-on-one time is the challenge; it might be while driving in a car, or maybe just talking late at night, or finding a spot in the house to have a private conversation. Purposeful dates with kids is also one way this is achieved. Discipling for myself is a little harder to come by. This is where I mentor myself with books and studies – but when?

Multi-tasking. While on my treadmill, I have my reading glasses on, reading an inspirational study or a book on ministry, highlighting key phrases. An iPad is one of my favorites to use while on the treadmill, because it is easiest to highlight while literally, “on the go”. Another place where I multi-task is in the car. Since I have teens, I have built-in chauffeurs. It might make me a little sick to my stomach temporarily, but I can usually get something accomplished, whether it is doctor’s appointments, planning, working on my laptop, etc. Of course sometimes I need to be sensitive that it also might be time just to listen to loved ones.

Rest. My secret weapon is Melatonin gummies to help me get a good night’s rest. This is imperative for me to have strength and energy for the coming challenges of the day. It also helps with autoimmune diseases and might even curb headaches. The verse for today convicts my soul and reminds me that I am not invincible. Acquiescing to a schedule and getting proper rest are fundamental. This is still an area I am challenged in, but setting rest as a priority helps me achieve my goals.

Goals. I can have great ambitions and plans, but if they do not have deadlines, it will not get done. My flesh is a great obstacle in this regard, but as Paul said, I press on! In the past this has included registering for races which was an impetus to make me train. But goals are not enough alone. The motivation for the goals is essential. But where does that come from?

Attitude. My attitude needs adjustment that is only found in the word of God. This is the most important fuel for my heart. But all sorts of problems try to dismantle the joy and positive attitude that is formed by God’s word. What then? I can find motivation in courses, groups, studies or courses. Michael Hyatt’s course Best Year Ever was a real encouragement to me. But sometimes we need somebody to come alongside us.

Accountability. This one is tougher to find, but within our own household we can find someone who has a vested interest in our success. Small groups at church are another great option, or if we have to go it alone, planning tools can help to keep us on track.

Planning. Speaking of planning, building in time for planning is essential. Evernote really helps me in this regard, but then so does utilizing an old fashioned planner like Amy Knapp’s that I write all of my children’s work schedules and daily reminders for me in. But sometimes you just need to come apart or you will come apart. This past weekend was such a time for me, but I confess it was not planned.

Saturday was a beautiful day. No obligations other than preparing for worship leading and making meals for the family, who were all out of the house working. I basked in the presence of God and spent most of the day planning. This was a rare moment for this girl and I cherished every moment of it.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also the girl who wants to be around my family 24/7, but in this moment God created a space for me to think and ponder for an entire day. (A dangerous thing, I know). This time served as a catalyst that inspired a lot of changes to how I approach the Seeing Deep ministry going forward. Exciting stuff!

Examination. So in my quest to be effectively used by God and maximize the time God has given me, I learned again this past weekend that I need to take one day a month to set aside to pray and plan, in addition to my daily quiet time.

It also might mean examining my life to see where precious time is wasted and asking the LORD for wisdom with what needs to be pruned and what needs to be added. This article How Americans Spend Their Time was at once enlightening and a little sobering in that it conveyed both an opportunity to be introspective and aware of how we are numbering our days, as well as hopefully an encouragement about how some of our time is well spent.

I long to be faithful and passionately pass on this faith in Jesus that has arrested my soul. Ultimately we are all accountable to the LORD for how we used this evaporating commodity called time. But to be more effective, ministry, family goals and work take planning. It is in the margins of life that our souls are replenished and refocused to the mission God has called us to. It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Lord, help us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to honor You above all else in these lives You have given.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Gives Rest

Rest

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Rest is necessary to be productive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 23:1-3

1 “A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.”

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Those who suffer with autoimmune diseases know the drill well.  Awoken by sharp pain in the back of both sides of my head, my eyes hurt to open.  Carefully, I tried to ease into the day the best I can.  Trying to move through the suffering to a place of functioning, I contemplate how grateful I am for the times when I do not feel this bad.  But for now, I rest.

Rest.  That word that should be so welcoming, but not when there is work to do.  Until I realize that there is always work to do. Inconvenient interruption of suffering!   And yet, perhaps God brings pockets of rest when we need them most.

Today it was a stubborn migraine that would not dissipate, no matter what I tried.  I continued to work despite it, but the throbbing reminder was almost too much to bear.  It is in this place of pain that I cry out to my Abba Father and ask Him to grant me strength. He does me one better.  He offers me peace and makes me to lie down, basking in His love.

This is one of those weeks where there was too much on my plate, anyway.  I rose earlier to make sure I would get it all done, but today God canceled most of my commitments.  Kind of like a snow day when all of the obligations suddenly are postponed – only today it was the threat of tornadoes nearby.

As my children and I all huddled in the basement, I found myself in awe of God’s power and protection.  With a breath or a thought He can affect our world.  We have limits and our flesh speaks loudly when our frail bodies have reached them.  In humility, recognizing that I cannot do it all makes me rely on God and recognize my need for rest.

God is so good to help us momentarily step out of our busy little boxes and see our world the way God does.  Instead of seeing rest as inconvenient, we can create moments of rest as a priority and recognize the necessity of refueling to be able to finish the race he has marked out for us.

Lord, thank You for making me to lie down – even when I would not choose to.  You are not a God Who ruthlessly works us – You want to fellowship with us and give us a rest that restores our weary souls.

 

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 9 – The God of Rest

God of rest

Ezekiel 20:12, 20

“I also gave them my Sabbaths as a reminder of our relationship, so that they would know that I, the LORD, sanctify them. 20 Treat my Sabbaths as holy and they will be a reminder of our relationship, and then you will know that I am the LORD your God.”

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Isaiah 30:15

“For this is what the master, the LORD, the Holy One of Israel says: “If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered; if you calmly trusted in me you would find strength, but you are unwilling.”

Many religions of this world mandate earning salvation by good works.  Rules are made and conditions set that must be met. But those who walk with Christ are pardoned by the only true living God, not by their good works, but by the confession of their mouth, professing their need for salvation.  The One Who set the righteous standard is the only One Who could meet it, too.

God’s provision of salvation for all of His creation was an invitation to rest.  This is completely opposite from any other man-made religion which places the emphasis on us or on anything that we could offer to the one perfect One.

The rest God offers is not so we could become lazy or take for granted His amazing gift, but so we could take time to slow down and know Him.  It is a reminder of the goodness of God who invites us to simply trust in Him instead of ourselves.

God wants to fight our battles and take care of us; to hide us in the shadow of His wings.  Our greatest joy is found in complete dependence upon Him.

It is a curious thing that the God of this universe would choose to rest when He did not need to.  He leads us by example and is faithful in all His ways, showing us the way so we can follow.  In resting in God, we renew our strength and faith and recognize our frailty before an all-powerful God.  We are just a vapor, a mist here for awhile, but God is the great I AM, the Eternal God.

Lord, thank you for the gift of rest.  Help us to rest in You and to never forget our relationship with You is deepened when we pause to focus on You in this weary, busy world.

The Modern Sabbath

Photo Credits crazybread.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
crazybread.wordpress.com

Leviticus 26:2  “You must keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary.  I am the LORD.”

Mark 2:27 “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Hebrews 4:9 “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

Leviticus 23:3

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.

Matthew 5:17-19

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Isaiah 58:13-14

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

I confess a dread to cover this topic, because I fear I fall so very short of fulfilling it.  Not because I am under law and feel a compulsion to fulfill an obligation, but because it is unclear to me what a Sabbath rest looks like today, and I very much want to honor God.

The hectic pace we all run today makes rest a scarce commodity.  I laugh when people complain of boredom – I do not know what that word means.  My “to do” list is never completely accomplished, and I often feel guilty if I just want to rest without doing something.  Yep.  Type A personality.  Being diligent is an attribute that God desires for us to aspire to, but He also, being God, made time to rest.  He modeled rest from the beginning, commanded it for His children, and when He came in the flesh, Christ, too, modeled rest.

It is often said that we are not under law anymore, so the Old Testament does not apply to us.  None of it?  Why would God give us the Old Testament, then?  The verses above indicate that the Old Testament is completed in the New Testament. Together, they are the framework for how the believer should live.  No longer outward obedience, but inward.  No longer a priest as an intermediary, but Christ.  No longer God on a mountain, but God within.  The standard is higher, the application of the principles constant.  Obvious changes in culture and the new covenant mean a different application, but the same Spirit authored both covenants.

So, a Sabbath remains.  What does that look like?  Does it mean outward rules and specifications from the Old Testament, or a vibrant relationship with God which guides us?  Asking God what He wants you to do with that time.  What rest looks like to one, might not be the same thing to another.  Some might have a conviction of not eating out, for that prevents someone else from enjoying the Sabbath.  Another might choose to eat out to have a break from cooking.  But if obeying the call to a Sabbath becomes a litany of rules and obligations, I fear we have missed the point entirely.  In general, it means coming apart from our hectic pace and honoring God.  Worshiping Him and devoting time to rest in Him, to refuel and recharge.  I have an image in my mind of crawling up in His lap and resting in His embrace.  Sounds good about now.

Man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.  What a good God to command us to rest.  It seems paradoxical to us overachievers, but my weary body admits the folly of not carving time out for what God has commanded and knows our bodies and our souls need.  May we be thoughtful how we approach the Sabbath day.  Whatever day we choose to honor the Sabbath – a Sunday, a Saturday, a Monday or a Friday –  it is all about His glory and enjoying time with our Creator.

Lord, help us to pause.  Help us to create spaces where we can rest in you – daily, weekly, moment by moment.  Convince our souls of this need and be glorified in it!

Rest in the Midst of the Daily Grind

Photo Credits www.flickr.com

Photo Credits http://www.flickr.com

Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Mt:14:23: “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”

Mk:1:35: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”

Lk:5:16: “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed”

Lk:6:12: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”

Lk:22:41: “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed.”

Lk:22:44: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Surrounded by a throng of people, all demanding His time and what He could do for them, Jesus knew all too well how difficult it was to find a place of rest in the midst of a demanding, busy schedule.  Still, He knew to put his big rock in – He knew He needed time with God the Father, to be able to minister to all those around Him.  Jesus modeled dependency on His Father and the need for it.  He, being fully God, showed us in His humanity that He recognized He could not carry out His mission without God’s enablement and strength.

I recently had the blessing of getting away for a weekend with my husband.  The aches and pains I feel every day began to vanish – it made me realize that I am not cognizant of the stress my daily life places on me.  The daily grind can be harmful if we let it be.  I get away with God in devotion time in the morning before the household is astir, but my tank is quickly depleted and I find I am needful of many bursts of solitude with God.  How to achieve this with 5 precious children, a darling husband, and multiple jobs?  I confess I do not know the answer yet, but I am on the hunt for it.  Perhaps prayer walks where I force myself out to get a breath of fresh air, coupled with hopping in the bath tub with no noise, no agenda on my mind are great starts.  Getting away for a day, if possible, also help us regain perspective that is quickly lost in the mind-numbing routine we are slaves to.

Sometimes I can be a workaholic and forget that busyness does not necessarily mean I accomplish a lot.  God does not want us burnt out – diligent and purposeful, but also resting in Him.  If you find yourself burdened or stressed, right in that place Christ can come and give you rest.  Sometimes, though, we need to step away.  Christ did, too.  You are worth it and you need it.  Or maybe God is calling you to create that space in someone else’s life – someone else who is buried in responsibility and over-burdened.  May we not forget the importance of rest and prioritize its place in our lives.  The seemingly mundane constant force of “to do’s” may never end, but the wisdom to know how to rightly handle it can make all the difference in the world.  Perhaps even some items in our daily grind need to get crossed off, pruned even.  God can reveal those things in time with Him.

Lord, we are so needful of You and Your power for everyday life.  Help us to not get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to look up to You.  Help us to have a firm perspective on this gift of life and not forget the mission we are called to in the sea of never-ending responsibilities.  You are our life – help us to live our lives out for Your glory, no matter what encompasses us about.