Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category
Posted in Faith, grace, intentional living, Let's Get Real, Living by Grace, Praise, prayer, Spiritual disciplines, United in Christ, tagged blurted inconsistencies, duct tape, God, mouth, praise, sin, words on July 31, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Sometimes I think I’d do well to bind my mouth with duct tape before going out. From blurted inconsideracies to complaints and arguments over trivial things that, when pointed out, reveal more about me than the actual issue.
If only I’d remain safely behind my computer with its delete key.
My biggest problem? OJM disease–overactive jaw muscles and a very me-centered brain that likes to believe I have the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, and necessary input for every debate.
The problem with this? Proverbs 10:19 puts it so well: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” (NLT).
I suppose it’s a law of averages thing–you spew enough words some of them are bound to be sinful, hurtful, not productive or effective.
So what’s the solution? Invest in duck tape? Hide out in my bedroom? Throw up my hands with the concession that this is who I am?
None of those options progress the gospel, which is a huge problem, me being Christian and all as quite frankly, it is for the sake of the gospel I–and other Christians–are still here. On earth, I mean.
So once again I ask, what’s the solution?
Gritting my teeth and proceeding with the utmost determination won’t solve this, not long-term, anyway, because the moment I relax or get distracted I’ll revert to my old, verbose ways.
Pausing to acknowledge Him while I wash the dishes.
Praying while I fold the clothes.
Singing songs of praise, out loud or internally, while I go about my daily tasks.
Checking negativity and consciously focusing on my Savior and all He’s done instead.
For Christ-like behavior comes not from me but from Him.
Consider David’s words in Psalm 139:4 “You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD” (NLT).
In other words, God knows, the moment you sit down to read your Bible each morning, when you’re going to flub it in the day ahead.
And He’s already got a plan in place. More than that, He’s ready and able to communicate that plan, to guide you, your thoughts, and your words to those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Phil. 4:8)
God is true. God is honorable. God is right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
See where I’m going with this?
What’s the solution to a wayward tongue? To fix our eyes–our thoughts and focus–on God, checking in with Him throughout the day, pausing to acknowledge His presence when we’re stopped at a stop light or waiting in a check-out line. Listening to His soft, gentle whisper that guides us throughout the day and continually draws us to Himself, the only place we’ll receive the strength and peace needed to speak words of love, grace, and truth.
Because living the Christian life isn’t about trying harder but rather, drawing closer to our Savior.
Let’s talk about this. What is your greatest struggle? How might checking in with God throughout the day help you in that area? How might centering your thoughts on Him fill your heart with praise and peace?
How much room is there for angst, frustration, or ungodliness in a heart filled–saturated–with praise?
If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following helpful:
Oh, and since my book launch is but a few days away, and since some of you aren’t on Facebook, I thought you might want to know where I’ve been and where I’m going.
Yesterday I chatted with the editor of Family Fiction about my book, where the story came from, and what I hoped y’all would gain from it. You can read the interview here.
On July 7th I chatted about books in general (and my addiction to them) on Writing For the Soul. You can join the discussion here.
On July 28th, I was honored to be on June Foster’s Author Spotlight. You can join me here.
My sweet friend Jennifer Hallmark was interviewed regarding her contributions to Sweet Freedom, the book itself, and her writing journey. You can read about all that here.
Next month, book launch month, I’ll be all over the web, but unfortunately, I’ve run out of time for link posting. ;)
As a fun aside, I recently finished plotting book three in my Midwestern Romance series, two stories that continue where Beyond I Do leaves off. Here’s hoping my publisher loves the plot and premise for books two and three as much as I do! I should also add, with my books release but days away, the pre-release discount will soon be over. So… if you were planning on buying the book, now’s a great time.
But then came smart phones and Facebook and all those alerts and instant messages that come with it, and suddenly, these things that we thought would free our time actually hold us in bondage. Those devices that we believed would keep us connected actually distract us from the very people we most want to connect with.
And I am by far the most guilty of this. I think it’s the instant gratification thing. Or maybe some sort of conditioning–you know, like Pavlo did with dogs and dog food. The bell rang; they got dog food until the bell alone could make them salivate. Now swap dogs and dog food with humans and instant messages. ;)
This week, I’ve been focusing on living fully present in the present. This started on a particularly hum-drum day when my body decided to rebel but my mind wanted it to behave like it had five years ago. I think that’s maybe the hardest part of chronic illness, well, the hardest part of adapting to it; realizing that life has changed. And that you can still find joy in that.
Unless you’re consumed with thoughts of what once were or what one day might be.
Because you can’t live–fully live–in the present if you’re always searching for a way back to the past. Nor if you’re trying to leap up ahead. It’s like maybe we feel we’re missing out on something.
Which we are. If we’re not living fully present in the present. We’ll miss out on a lot.
And we’ll never really enjoy the blessings God is giving us now.
Today I focused on doing just that. I put my to-do list, hum-drums, concerns for tomorrow or thoughts of yesterday aside and spent a wonderful afternoon with my princess.
It started with a trip to the UP building to join my hubby for lunch. The weather couldn’t have been better. Overcast, a slight breeze, maybe 75 degrees. Plus, I had annoyed my daughter a total of 0 times on the drive over. (If you didn’t believe in miracles before…)
We get there to find my husband waiting, inching toward the exit. We’d fully expected to eat in the company cafe’, which is lovely.
But he–and God–had other plans.
My husband surprised us by asking if we’d perhaps like to eat somewhere else, saying he “had time”. Guiding us out of the building and toward the historical Old Market area with it’s cobblestone streets, amateur musicians, eclectic stores, and every flavor of cuisine one could imagine.
We chose to eat at Blue Sushi Sake Grill as sort of a thank you for the generous donation they gave to the Hope for the Homeless event. Then my husband returned to work and my daughter and I spent the rest of the afternoon being silly-goofy.
Being fully present in the present.
Let’s talk about this. You can’t fully enjoy today if you’re trying to cling to the past. Nor if you’re always looking ahead for what might be. And it’s easy to allow all those momentary distractions to occupy our time, but though they may give us “pleasure”, they’ll never give us joy. Rather, left unchecked, they’ll steal from us those very things that do bring joy: close relationships, peace, solitude, gratitude, and praise.
In what ways are you living a partial life? What have you allowed to hinder your joy of today? What can you do today, right now, to live fully present in the present?
For those of you wanting to go deeper in your friendships, you might find my latest Crosswalk article helpful: How to Maintain (Imperfect) Friendships.
That noise! It grates on our every last nerve and sets the hairs on our neck on edge. It’s worse than nails scraping on chalkboard or our spouse grinding their teeth at night. It’s that high-pitched, face scrunched, body slumped whine. Parents, you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?
God does, too. Only He gets it not from one child but from oh, a few billion. Nonstop.
Kinda makes you cringe, huh?
We’re all guilty of this. We have times, more than we’d like to admit where, surrounded by blessings, we zero in on the inconvenience or struggle and soon our heart’s a mess of frustration and discontentment. Even in our greatest struggle, we’re surrounded by blessings. Always. We just lose sight of them, is all.
This is why we are to thank God with ALL of our heart–every last nook, cranny, and crevice. Leaving no room–nada–for angst, frustration, or discontentment.
This has been my focus this week, and to help with this, I’ve posted Psalm 111:1-3 throughout my home:
I will thank the Lord with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails” (NLT).
I will thank the Lord with ALL my heart. Every last crevice and fiber, pushing the discouragement, worry, fear, angst, frustration–everything other than gratitude–away, choosing to praise.
And I will surround myself with people who do the same, because gratitude and praise is contagious. (v. 1b)
In fact, since gratitude and praise are contagious, I will determine all the more to cultivate a thankful heart, so that my words can build up and strengthen others.
When I am tempted to fret or fall into a rut of negative thinking, I will ponder the deeds of the Lord.
This week, I’ve been doing just that, and I’ve found, if I were to attempt to list all God has done, I’d never finish!
Perhaps that’s the point. ;)
Finally, as I’m contemplating the deeds of the Lord, I’ll pause to reflect on who He is, for everything He does, big and small, reveals His glory and majesty.
This week I challenge you to cultivate a thankful heart, pondering all God has done in your life, then consider what each deed reveals about God’s character. At our house, we’ve made a list. During dinner, we reflect on Psalm 111, sharing two things God has done–one from the past and one more recent–and then we discuss what this tells us about God. Through this, we’ve seen His incredible faithfulness, noting even our times of greatest struggle turned into wonderful blessings.
Because as Ephesians 4:6 says, God is over all and in all and living through all.
Let’s talk about this. How have you seen that to be true in your life? Pause to reflect on the past year. In what ways has God been faithful? How has He revealed His glory and majesty to you? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
Other resources, articles, or posts you might enjoy:
With every thought, I teeter in one direction or another. Right now, I’m in more of a grit-my-teeth mode as a busy weekend and what appears to be an unsuccessful attempt to wean off some meds have set me back.
Last night, as I lay in bed, in pain from the tips of my toes to the top of my head, praying for the reprieve that would allow sleep to come, I thought, “No one understands.”
Which is true of whatever we face for unless one has been in that same spot, they’ll never truly get it.
But then a second thought came, just as quickly. No one needed to understand, for God knew. He knew my every struggle, my every tear. More than that, He was and always has been walking this journey with me.
This morning was no exception. I follow a habitual reading plan, going verse by verse, chapter by chapter: one from the Old Testament, one from Psalms or Proverbs, and one from the New Testament. When I come the end, I begin again.
Today, I landed in Psalm 39, written by David during a time of chastisement. He begins the psalm by saying–by determining within himself– not to sin in what he said. The notes in my study Bible say David was determined not to complain to others about what he was going through. David goes on to say, the more he thought about “it” (which I believe was the struggle he was enduring), the “hotter” or more upset he became.
Oh, how true this is! The more we contemplate our problems, the bigger they become until we are pulled into a pit of despair. So what is the answer? What can we do when our mind and our body is in revolt?
We put our hope in God”
“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You” (vs. 7 NLT).
As some of you know, I have two chronic illnesses, both of which can lay me out, and on good days, make normal life more of a struggle. When I was first diagnosed, I spiraled into poor-me mode. It wasn’t pretty; it was counter-productive, and it kept me from fulfilling God’s purpose each day.
I’ve learned I must be extra diligent with my thoughts and consistent with my praise. No matter what’s going on physically, I always have a reason to praise–for God’s ever present comfort; for His Word, which I can always turn to for strength and peace; for the promise of eternity when pain and sorrow will be no more; for the blessings He’s given. For His strength made perfect in my weakness and for His purpose, even in my struggle.
The last truth is one I camp out on. I believe God is sovereign, faithful, and good, even when things get bad, and because He is sovereign, I believe everything has a purpose. Therefore, I can keep walking, knowing He will perfect that which concerns me, and that He *will* use every tear and struggle for His glory.
Today my sweet friend and sister in Christ, Delia Latham, wrote a devotion that really resonated with me. I know many of you have way more difficult struggles than I, and I know you, too, fight a daily battle between peace and despair. If that’s you, I encourage you to stop by Faith-filled Friends to read about our tendency to worship a sometimes God, and why we need cognitive rerouting. You can read it here.
I also encourage you to listen to this song. I find it simply beautiful.
Let’s talk about this. Do you ever feel as if no one quite understands what you’re going through? During those times, do you tend to draw closer to God or pull from Him? The beautiful thing about grace is, whether we draw near to God or pull away from Him; whether we’re faith-filled or faithless, He remains faithful and faithfully near.
Like the song above says, never once has He or will He ever forsake us. Let that truth sink in today.
How does that make you feel? Do you still feel alone?
Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.