Redeem the Time!

What would you do if you only had five years left to live? Dallas Willard was battling cancer when he said, “he regretted all the time he wasted, not because he compared himself to other more efficient people, but because he began to see what life could be” (pg. 191). Dallas Willard was a pretty famous Christian speaker, writer and ministry leader but he even wondered how much more there could be in life if he had redeemed the time he had been given.

Dallas explained that if he had  redeemed his time, he would have been able to say yes or no without anxiety, speak honestly and confidently, willingly disappoint people as well as bless people, fill his mind with noble thoughts, share without thinking, see without judging, and been ever so humble that each person he saw would be an object of wonder and he would have loved God (pg. 191).

What would you do to redeem the time you have left? I would like to live with the truth of what God says to me and be a soul-full person doing some pretty amazing stuff for God! I would like to live my life a little more boldly and expectantly and with a lot less fear and worry. 

A character in the Bible who lived a redeemed life is Joseph, a young boy sold into slavery by his own step-brothers. Yet, Joseph knew he was going to be great. He had been given a dream. He bragged about it to his brothers and told them they would one day bow down to him. He believed what God showed him. But I wonder how Joseph felt when he sat in the dungeon for years. Did he still believe God then? Did Joseph realize in his heart he would one day become the Ruler of Egypt and save his people? I think he did. It was wild for sure but inside his heart, he knew what he was destined for. I think you and I do, too.

Have you heard God’s voice showing you what He has for you? Is it something great but hard waiting and trusting Him for it? I encourage you to believe and care for your soul in the meantime by, “arranging your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God” (pg. 89). Let God develop your soul and lead you into His plans for you. Don’t get discouraged and give up. He has too great of a plan for you to do that.

If you have your Soul Keeping book, read page 191 about what  a redeemed soul looks can be. Then, get out a pen and some paper and determine what the life you are called to be living looks like. Make a bulleted list of at least 5 things you know God is showing you about the life He is calling you to live. Make people ask what they asked at Dallas’ funeral: “How did such a life happen” (pg. 194)?

Many blessings as you care for the most precious part of you. . . your soul!

Confession Time!

Confession time… I talk too much, think about what I want to say before the other person is finished, get extremely angry at my husband for not good reasons, let my three year old watch way too much TV while I work, let my mind wander with thoughts that are not aligned with God’s will, and I think poorly of others and myself at times. There’s more but I need to keep this a blog post and not a War and Peace sized novel!

What does this say about my soul?

  • I am selfish at times.
  • My priorities might be out of focus.
  • I struggle with anger.
  • I trust myself more than I trust God at times.
  • My soul needs God’s unconditional love.

The good news is that “God is merciful, showing us our true hideousness only in proportion to the courage he gives us to bear the sight,” says John Ortberg…Wow!!!

I desperately want God to give me courage to bear the sight of my sins but not so I can beat myself up. God doesn’t even do that. Instead, He humbly gave up His life for me so I could walk in forgiveness and freedom. But I want to know what so easily ensnares me so I can grow.

Jacob in the Bible deceived his brother for his birthright. He had a heart that was deceptive. Later,  he was the one who was deceived and was given the wrong wife. He had to work for another seven years to get the woman of his dreams. Years later, Jacob was tricked again by his sons who had sold their little brother into slavery and told their father that he had been killed by a wild animal. Trickery! Deception! Repeated Sin! We all suffer from it!

What will the consequences of it be in our own lives? For me, it’s living with an unsettled and fractured soul.  My sins are like road-blocks that detour me instead of allowing me to run the race full speed ahead.

Let’s take some time and write an honest letter to God and confess our sins. Let Him fill us up with His cleansing and healing love. Then, let’s write ways we want to change as we move forward. Feel free to “share with the class” or keep it between you and God. As we progress, let’s trust Him enough to move forward in ALL He has for us!

Chiseled

I want to discover who I am meant to be much like Michelangelo did. He said, “Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him.” He knew what he was made for and became it!  How about you? Have you discovered your calling? Do you work at it or are you just waiting for it to happen?

One way to find out if you are being proactive is to  look at your schedule to determine what is important to you. If you have 17 workout sessions listed, maybe health is important. For me, it’s meetings, kid’s camps, and work.  My calendar is telling me that I am a woman of appointments and a working mom but it is also not saying something. It is not saying that I love creativity, writing, speaking, research, working toward my calling, and soul-care because those things are not scheduled into my day.

Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  What do I need to “chisel” away in my schedule to get to the “angel” or the core of who I am and was designed to be by my Creator?

Think for a minute about what things are blocking the real you from emerging. What can be “chiseled” away? What is the core in you waiting to be freed and discovered? May the Lord work on us and transform us! The world needs to see the Masterpiece we were created to be for His glory. Chisel away and find it!!!

Obedience

“I want to do whatever I want! Why do I have to follow that dumb rule? If I follow the rules, will I still have fun? I have followed all of the rules and my life still stinks,” are words I hear from my friends and even from my own mouth at times. It is not fun following rules but ironically, the soul gains freedom by doing it, says John Ortberg and oh yes . . .God, too!

But how does  that work? How does following God’s Law revive my soul and increase my freedom?  Ortberg suggests, “to become truly free, you must surrender” (pg. 147). Abraham was willing to surrender his only son (much like Someone else we know) because his trust in God was greater. Because of that act of obedience,  Abraham’s faith was strengthened and his soul became free.  Maybe his freedom came when he embraced God’s overall plan for the world and his place in it…He didn’t have any control over what God might do but He obeyed anyway.

As I drove through the Starbucks line to get my 4-year-old a cake pop, I pondered how I could obey God more by living more simply… I know, ironic, right?  We all resonate with this… it’s the tension that inevitably comes from living in the time and place that we do.  What does obedience look like in our everyday  busy modern American lives? The ten commandments are a great place to start but what else might God be asking us to do. Let’s pray and ask the Lord for what He wants from us.

God’s law and my soul’s freedom are connected! Maybe that is why I am so often depleted and downcast and. . .un-free.  I may not be obeying God.   If so, then how might I learn to obey God more in the future?

After praying, list five ways God might be asking you to obey Him:

So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).

Big Gifts from a Big God!

Grab a pen and paper and jot down 7 things you are grateful for. Here are some categories to get some ideas going: (Health, Home, Family/friends, Job, Food, Nature, Education, Opportunities, Talents and Skills).
Here are mine:
I am grateful for…
1. Being in a Bible study group with authentic ladies who love Jesus.
2. My two daughters who teach me how to play.
3. My amazing husband who encourages me daily.
4. My church and the people who go there
5. Books that lead me closer to Jesus.
6. The ability to play softball.
7. Coffee and dear friends to share it with
Now, think of some things you desire and list those: These are more personal and revolve around your heart’s longings, not necessarily your goals.
Although we have many things to be grateful for, we still find ourselves longing for more at times. King David was a man who wanted more (maybe not in a good way) but instead of talking to God about it, he took something that didn’t belong to him and caused a lot of pain for the people around him as well as in his own life.  God confronted David after he sinned with Bathsheba and was grieved that He had given David so much but it wasn’t enough. God told David that He could have given him much, much more if he had only asked.
Bob Hudson suggests that behind every sinful act there is a holy desire. This makes me wonder two things…can we ask our Good Father to meet our longings or will we sin in order to get what we want? I wonder what David was really longing for when he made a terrible choice that afternoon. Take some time to get specific with God about your heart’s desires. If needed, take time to repent for not going to God with your requests. He loves us and forgives us!
 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~Matthew 7:11

Attending to the Soul!

If you were walking past a plant and saw it looking a little droopy, what would you do? Would you dump the last of your Starbucks coffee into it? Walk by and ignore it?  Tell someone else about it and hope they do something? Would you get some water and pour it into the soil and fix the problem yourself?

Personally, I was pretty droopy on Monday. Actually, that is an understatement. I had one of the worst Mondays ever! My soul woke up and decided to have a temper tantrum all day. I was depressed, angry, grieving, bitter, closed off to others, and had eaten three cupcakes on Mother’s Day  (thanks, Jill!)..not good!!!

Instead of lovingly caring for my soul and giving it what it needed, I damaged it even more by exposing it to the harsh elements of unkind self-talk, shutting out my husband, and entertaining bitter and unloving thoughts…all day long! It took until 8:30 that night and my dear Muslim friend from Syria to snap me out of the danger frostbite zone I was heading for.

Thankfully, I began to give my soul some much-needed nourishment by talking with friends, reading my Bible, asking for prayer, going to sleep, talking with my life-coach, journaling, and exercising. My soul began to thaw and straighten up a bit.

How about you? If you took a look at your soul, what would you see?  Would you see a soul that is shallow, cluttered, or hardened or a soul that is thriving, healthy, and flourishing or maybe a little of both? Do you offer your soul refreshment just as you would water a wilted plant when it needs it, or do you further the depletion process by neglecting your soul, hoping it will hang on a little bit longer and not wither completely?

We have a choice to let our souls become unhealthy, infecting others with our foul moods and bitterness or we can, “keep our souls carefully because we want to bring life and not death to those around us” (pg. 97).

Would you quickly jot a list of 5-7 things you do for yourself when your soul is a little wilted? And if you are so brave, would you share some not so healthy things you do to your soul?

In Sunday school this week, we are learning about Barnabus and how he encouraged the Christians in Antioch. May we, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). Maybe we can learn some new soul-care tips from each other as we attend to our souls this week. May we be so healthy that we BLOOM in all that God has for us.

 

 

Significance!

“Significance is about who we are before it is about what we do” (pg. 133).The enemy wants us to prove and earn our worth and to make our lives about us but Ortberg says, “our lives were meant to be signs that point ourselves to God” (pg. 133).

So who are we? Take a minute and write 5 things about who you are and 5 things about who you want to be.

I am:

  •  I am…a woman seeking her life purpose & calling.
  •  I am…a follower of Jesus (on most days).
  •  I am…a hurting soul who wants a mother’s hug so much that I leaned against a Catholic statue of Mary and wept.
  • I am a very loved Child of God!
  • I am…a woman who struggles with my self-image.

I want to be:

  • I want to be…important and significant
  • I want to be…a really great life coach.
  • I want to be…someone who shares the hope of Jesus with others.
  • I want to be…skinny, healthy, and beautiful (just sayin!)
  • I want to be…free from my limiting beliefs and fears.

I have a lot of work to do to discover and accept more of who I am and live in that freedom as opposed to who I crave to be and to make myself significant. How about you? I encourage us to keep asking great questions such as these from Ortberg (pg. 134):

  • What is the core part of you God made you to be that [people] will talk about at your funeral?
  • Why do you think God  put you on this earth?

“For Jesus, identity and acceptance came before achievement and ministry” (pg. 127). May we accept who we are with grace this week and may we let the Lord give us our significance rather than try to achieve it on our own. ~ Amen!