When you slow down, you will feel calmer and have time to spend with Jesus.
You remember one of the Lord’s most famous invitations to rest, don’t you?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Jesus says “will give you rest.” This means it’s a God-given promise. He spoke it to Jews burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and by their hope to save themselves by keeping the Mosaic Law.
But salvation doesn’t come not works. Rather, salvation comes through faith by grace. You can do nothing to earn it.
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It’s a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once a believer is saved, God sanctifies her, making her more like Jesus and calling her–and you and me–to “live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way” (Colossians 1:10).
In this article, you’ll hear five simple ways to slow down. Today’s age of distration tempts you to update your Facebook status every other minute, doesn’t it? Then you’ll hear a plan to implement a new habit of slowing down.
5 Simple Ways to Slow Down
1. In every way imaginable, SLOW DOWN: Walk slower. Drive slower. Think before you speak. James 1:19 says,
Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
2. SCHEDULE FREE TIME. On purpose have nothing to do for a half-hour here and a half-hour there. Use this free time to watch birds or play tic-tac-toe with your child or read Scripture or draw.
3. Take time to ANTICIPATE. You can anticipate special events like birthdays or a daytrip to the lake or the city when you space them out. If you jam your calendar, you run from one activity to the next. You have no time to anticipate.
4. CHAT with a neighbor or co-worker about little things: her children or grandchildren, the latest book she read, her favorite hobby, and so on. As you deepen your relationship with your neighbor or coworker, you show love to her.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
5. UNPLUG from television, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media for a week. Is a week too long? How about a single day?
What would you add to these slow-down suggestions? What has worked for you?
Plan to Slow Down
Forming a new habit to slow down takes thought and planning. God plans. When you plan, you imitate him.
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Sadly, many Christians today don’t know how to put their faith into practice. Let’s say godly parents want their preteen to consistently put away her shoes when she comes indoors, but she leaves them them in the kitchen day after day. What would you recommend they do? And why? (I’ll tackle this topic in a future blog post.)
Let’s start with a two concepts for slowing down or any new habit: goals and scheduling.
- What is the long-range goal of slowing down? What are short-term goals (or objectives) that help you meet your long-range goal?
- Did you know that without a schedule of how you’ll attain your goals, your efforts will most likely faill?
You can sense God’s goal-setting in Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” The goal? Redemption. The schedule? When the time had fully come.
Design Your Plan
First, prayerfully and biblically define your goal. Your long-range goal might be, “Spend my time wisely,” based on this verse:
“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Second, determine your short-term goals. This might include study a bible passage each morning at 7 a.m., turn off the cell phone at all meals and after 8 p.m., and take a walk or work in the garden daily, weather permitting.
Third, before you implement your goal, jot down everything you do and their start and end times for a week (or at least 3 days). Use a small spiral notebook that you can easily keep with you,.
Fourth, review your time use. Identify possible obstacles and solutions to meeting your short-term goals. For example, a possible obstacle to studying a bible passage at 7 a.m. may be hectic mornings at your home. A possible solution: study the passage at during part of your lunch break.
Lastly, try out your slow-down plan and review it in a week. Make adjustments as needed. And celebrate your success in slowing down!
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
When you hurt someone’s feelings, is it enough to say “I’m sorry”?
Or do these words fall flat when spoken without godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10)? Is there a preferred alternative? Is so, what?
Years ago these questions swirled in my mind when one of my children called her sibling a name, snatched an item without permission, or smacked her on the head.
In this short article, I’ll share. . .
- an experiment that flopped
- the change that made the difference.
The main point: Don’t raise a little pharisee who knows the right words to say.
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Instead, train up a child to who desires to please the Lord.
The ‘I’m Sorry’ Method
Several Christian moms at my church, Bible study, and MOPS swore by a method to change their dear children’s behavior after a skirmish.
Picture this scenario: Carrie tiptoes into older sister Mary’s closet and snags a super cool top to wear. Later Mary sees Carrie at school in her top and pointed words fly like daggers. Later at home their mom learns of the problem and tells the swiper to return the top and say “I’m sorry” followed by “I forgive you” from the other sister, then they hug. She requires both girls to say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” for the mean words, and they hug again.
The mom in the scenario truly believes she’s getting to the root of the problem and that the girls learned a valuable lesson about taking without asking first and using hateful words. Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How did you discipline your kids?
Sort of hopeful (but not confident) this method would work, I tried a week-long experiment with my three children. I clued in my husband. A united front, right?
The plan: When one child was mean in some way to another, the offending kid had to say, “I’m sorry” whether or not she felt sorry. The offended kid had to say, “I forgive you” whether or not she truly forgave her — and they hugged.
The goal: to instill a humble, contrite spirit leading to true repentance. But did it work?
Laura called Julia a name, said “I’m sorry” while rolling her eyes, and Julia said “I forgive you” with great enthusiasm, bless her heart. Their hug resembled a vice grip you might witness on WWE. Within minutes John hit Julia in the face with a bouncy ball. It was an accident.
“I forgive you.”
Those two began throwing things at each other just to get to the vice-grip hug. Laura was “like whatever” and escaped to her bedroom.
When a lamp crashed and a cat flew out of the way, I stopped the experiment. I could not handle another six days!
The experiment flopped.
My children said the right words without an inkling of repentance. I was raising vice-grip loving, little Pharisees!
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Change That Makes the Difference
The real point behind genuine sorrow is repentance. Wordly sorrow is fakery; it’s death.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Corninthians 7:10).
“Sorrow,” in this context, refers to sorrow that is according to the will of God and produced by the Holy Spirit, says pastor John MacArthur whose Grace to You media ministry reaches millions. True repentance is impossible apart from genuine sorrow over one’s sin.
This was my problem and my kids’ problem: The “I’m sorry” were just words, not genuine sorrow.
Worldly sorrow has no redeeming value. This type of “I’m sorry” results from getting caught in a sin or from wounded pride, and leads to shame, despair, self-pity, and even death (see Mattew 27:3 for the account of Judas’ hanging).
Genuine repentance is at the very heart of one’s salvation. Believers repent of their sin continually as they turn from loveless thoughts, words, behaviors, and motivations and turn to God.
A person who is truly repentant experiences change in the inner person. Consider this:
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19, NIV)
The Pharisees were experts in “good” behavior–as my children became adept at saying “I’m sorry” and vice-grip hugs–and missed heart change. True repentance cuts to the heart.
Are your kids (young or older) driving you nuts? Do you need encouragment and godly counsel? Consider scheduling a free 15-minute phone call with me; contact me and we’ll set it up.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Abortion stories are very rarely shared in most churches today.
Christian women are far more likely to admit depression or anxiety, a rebellious kid, or a troubled marriage.
Last year’s undercover videos of Planned Parenthood got everyone talking about the horrific selling baby parts after abortion. It set social media on fire. My heart hurt as I heard of the sale of livers and kidneys and craniums.
And my heart hurts. . .for the women and girls who’ve had abortions.
I am privileged to know Tiffany Stuart, a blogger and a wonderful women who shares her abortion story at Tea with Tiffany. God is using her ministry to educate women and to bring healing to those who’ve ended their pregnancies and feel horrible, empty, numb, angry, depressed, and unforgivable. Her voice offers healing words.
It Could Happen to Anyone
Lynn was just 17. College bound. A steady boyfriend. And a missed period, then another.
Did you know that every year in the U.S., there are roughly 1 million abortions? 1.5 percent of abortions are pregnancies from rape or incest. Lynn’s boyfriend drove her to the clinic and paid for the abortion.
“I’m so scared,” she confided to me. (Names have been changed.)
We were close friends, Lynn and me. After “it” was over, we never spoke of her abortion. Like it never happened. Back then I had believed the “right to choose” propaganda, and if an abortion was right for Lynn, then fine. Just get it over with and move on right? Right?
If it were that easy, why did we never speak of it again? Ever. Were we. . .
I didn’t know then what I know now: Women who have abortions are in desperate need of emotional and spiritual healing.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)
Honestly, if I had known the devastation to women, I would not have helped my friend get an abortion. In fact, I would have yelled, screamed, laid down in front of her car, anything but stay silent.
The workers at Planned Parenthood had told Lynn that her unborn baby was a blob of tissue.
They are wrong. She was wrong. I was wrong. We know better now, don’t we?
Breaking the Silence in Churches
If you want to help make your church a safe place to share painful secrets of abortion, start with prayer. Ask God to bring a hurting woman into your life. If you’ve had an abortion, ask God to send you a compassionate woman whom you can trust.
Here are warm words for compassionate friends and hurting women.
Dear compassionate friend, the hurting woman won’t tell you her pain at first. She needs to know she can trust you. She needs to know you won’t condemn her.
The Bible says,
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NIV)
Dear hurting woman, are you afraid to tell a friend about your abortion? If you haven’t experienced healing, you need to reach out. Do you feel nervous or angry around babies and children? Sorrowful? This sorrow may show up as uncharacteristic silence. These are signs you need healing.
Dear compassionate friend, offer her hope. She must learn that nothing can separate her from God’s love. Show her this verse in the Bible:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)
Dear hurting woman, you’ll find peace when you reconcile with God, with yourself and with others. If you haven’t already, talk with God and agree with him that you made a bad decision. Ask for his forgiveness. He will give it to you. At Calvary Jesus paid for all of your sins–past, present and future. However, you do not need to forgive yourself. No where in Scripture are we commanded to do this. God’s forgiveness is all that matters.
Dear compassionate friend, help the hurting woman reconcile with others when possible by speaking the truth in love to people who had a role in the abortion. They may have sinned against her, or she against them. Guide her in these difficult conversations.
Dear hurting woman, do you need a healing way to remember your loss? If you desire, write a poem or draw or sculpt, or memorize a scripture verse, to remember God’s loving-kindness toward you.
If anyone reading these words had an abortion, may you wrap yourself is the truth that God loves you and is for you. Why not talk with him? He’s waiting with open, gentle arms.
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Happiness! God made your brain in such a way that you can radiate the joy of inner happiness every day. Amazing, isn’t it!
Best-selling conservative Christian author Randy Alcorn says in his book Happiness:
Many believers are taught that God wants us to be holy but not happy and that joy and happiness are fundamentally different. We’ve even been left with the impression that God himself isn’t happpy. Yet nothing could be further from the truth!
Wouldn’t you love to know how to practically and effectively think better throughts that align with written God’s Word? That’s what this post is all about.
- God knows science!
- Creating on-going happiness.
- 3-minute focus.
As you think healthy, godly thoughts, these new positive thoughts rewire your brain.. The new “grooves” become automatic positive thoughts and replace automatic negative thoughts. As your thoughts change so do your emotions.
God Knows Science!
Late last century, scientists began proving what God knew all along:
What you think every moment of every day deeply affects you.
Your mind is designed to control the body. Not the other way around.
While you and I cannot control the circumstances of life,
we can control our response.
Neuroscientific research underscores the truth of this verse:
As a man thinks, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
Crazy as it may sound, your thought life contributes to a whopping 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness, says Dr. Caroline Leaf, a specialist in traumatic brain injuries and learning disabilities, and author of several books including Switch on Your Brain (Baker Books, 2013).
Our Great Physician has a remedy.
Call it the 4:8 prescription, if you like.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy — this is where God wants your focus. For a good reason. Keep reading.
Creating On-Going Happiness
As you think about “such things,” you experience a happy peace. In his letter to his like-minded friends in Philippi, a city in the Middle East, a Christ follower named Paul said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
He encouraged joy and hope and loving God, knowing the results of love-in-action are peace and contentment.
More great news: You can observe your thoughts and make decisions about them! Yes, you can become aware of what you’re thinking and choose healthy thoughts leading to happiness.
God has a lot to say about the mind. The Bible speaks of “bringing every thought into captivity,” “renewing your mind,” and “be anxious for nothing.” God’s emphasis on your inner thought life makes sense when you know his amazing plan for you:
creating a life of contentment in Christ.
Make no mistake. A happy life of contentment isn’t comfort. Choosing Jesus first is outrageously uncomfortable yet always the pathway to true happiness.
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3-Minute Thought Focus
Important to a happy life of contentment in Christ is tuning in to your negative self-talk so you can identify it as decrepit. Then you change it to positive inner thoughts.
First do this:
- Find a quiet place to sit, and take two or three deep breaths. Feel your body begin to relax.
- For a minute or two minutes, tune in to your self-talk. What are you saying to yourself? Jot down a few of your thoughts.
Now do this:
- Ask yourself, Is my thought negative? Is it killing my mood?
- Then ask, What positive 4:8 thought can replace this negative thought? Write it down.
Negative thought: “My boss is a jerk. She says I can’t do anything right!”
4:8 thought: “I choose to work hard even though my boss is inconsiderate. I know God is with me and gives me wisdom in handling this work relationship, so I trust him.”
During the rest of the day:
Every time you have the negative job thought, replace it with the positive 4:8 thought.
Happy on Repeat!
As you replace your negative thought with the new positive, God-honoring thought, your brain makes new neural pathways. When you repeat the new thought, this new pathways gets “grooved” so that your positive thought becomes automatic.
Just think–by improving the environment of your inner thought life, you’ll experience peace, contentment, and extra happiness.
To help your happy success, I created the “Transform Your Thought Journal,” free to you when you subscribe to my blog. Go to my website and get your journal. Click here now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart!
Laugh your head off! It’s good for your soul!
Have you seen a hilarious YouTube video and laughed so hard you nearly peed in your pants? Laughter is medicine to the soul.
The other day my teenage son sprawled on the couch in the loft and was laughing so hard that I had to find out why. John was watching Impractical Jokers and saw Joe pull a good-hearted prank on Sal. His chuckles rolled into laughter as infectious as the common cold. I laughed too, and it felt good.
Listen to this:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13)
Laugh with Jesus
Jesus laughed too. Soon after healing many (Luke 4:40-41) including a man with a skin disease (Luke 5:12-13) and a paralytic (Luke 5:24-25), Jesus sought the lowliest of the low–a Jewish tax collector, hated other Jews–and said, “Follow me.” At once this man left everything, even his bags of coins, and asked Jesus to come to his home where he threw Jesus a party.
Can you hear the laughter? As Jesus and the tax collector and a gaggle of his low-life, raucous sinner-friends gathered, don’t you this they grinned and joked and laughed? Jesus was a scholar and had fun. Can you imagine how the party-goers responded? The God-man was with them, just as he is with you, when you’re crying and giggling.
Oh how they laughed in the home of the tax collector. Laughter of freedom from chains of sin, laughter of breaking bread at a party for the best known rabbi in town at the home of a sinner. The wine flowed. Platters of food made the rounds. Laughter rang.
To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who tsk-tsked Jesus for laughing his head off with tax collectors and sinners–imperfect people like you and me–Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)
We each have a testimony — a story of how Jesus became real to us as Savior–and every story is a reason to smile, to laugh, for God broke in to a sorry life and made it whole. Angels celebrated. Can you imagine their joyful laughter? Another one belongs to Jesus. And another one. And another one.
This one an adulterer, that one filled with jealousy, and over here a woman dripping self-righteousness. Yep, the latter is me. You can read my testimony here.
5 More Laughs
As you probably know, medical science has uncovered the laugh-your-way-to-health truth in study after study. Google laughter health and you’ll find umpteen studies to peruse. That said, here are five belly-laughing sure bets:
- Watch your favorite funniest sitcom.
- Play with your toddler. Don’t have a little one at home? Scout out a park bench at a popular park and little-people watch.
- Visit the zoo. Skip the reptile house and head straight for the baboons by way of dolphins.
- Read a joke book.
- Roll down a grassy hill, blow bubbles, or play Hide-and-Seek.
Laugh at the Days to Come!
Just as Jesus laughed and enjoyed himself, you too can laugh because you have the best reason of all. Do you know what it is?
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)
Christ is your strength (Ps. 118:14). Christ clothes you with his righteousness (Romans 13;14). Christ is your good shepherd who will never leave nor forsake you. He overflows your cup. Whether you’re facing the hardship of bad health or the loneliness of loss or the scary emotions of fear or anger or despair, you CAN delight in Christ.
Yes, you CAN laugh at the days to come. You CAN laugh your head off.
Need help finding your laugh? I’ll help. Contact me.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
YOUR EMOTIONS tell you a lot about your thoughts. Guess where your thoughts originate? Your thoughts come from your deeply held beliefs! When your beliefs line up with God’s Word, you experience a transformed life
You feel what you feel because you think what you think.
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What does this have to do with a transformed life? More than you might imagine. Your thoughts are the key to transformation.
In the short article, you’ll discover:
- Emotions “talk.”
- Change your thoughts, and you’ll change your emotions.
- Experiencing life transformation.
Emotions Say Something Important
Emotions “talk.” They reveal thoughts. When you know what you’re thinking you can ask yourself, Do my thoughts agree with God’s Word.
To see how this works, “hear” the thoughts in this parable where the rich man feels the emotion of fear of loss.
And he (Jesus) told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’
And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21, ESV)
In the parable, the rich man thought he’d have his crops a long time and told himself to relax, eat, drink, and be merry (actions). His thoughts and actions were based on the godless belief that pleasure is what matters, not God. His fearful emotion was an early signal to pay attention to his thoughts and change them as necessary.
What is one of your common thoughts?
- Life’s not fair?
- I’m a loser/ugly/stupid?
- If I had more money/status/popularity, then I’d be happy?
Ask yourself, Does my thought agree with Scripture?
Change Your Thoughts and Emotions Change
Years ago I counseled a Christian woman I’ll call Anna, who was sexually abused by a family friend at age 13. This family friend led a Christian camp, contributing to her twisted image of God. To her God was weak and uncaring, even evil.
She thought sex was a way to get what she wanted most: affection and love. She settled for the false love of naked embraces and murmured “I love you”s” from high school boys.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23, NIV
In time, Anna discovered that only God fulfills her deep need for true love. Her emotions changed from fear and sadness to peace and contentment. Her beliefs changed too as she believed God’s Word and applied its truths to her life.
Experience Life Transformation
Believing the Word of God is crucial to thinking in line with God’s thoughts. As you believe God and spend time reading and meditating on Bible verses, God renews your mind. He transforms your life. Check out Romans 12:2.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
As God transforms your thinking, your actions change too.
- You thank God for your home rather than complaining about your old furniture.
- You pray more often because you want to draw near to God.
- You replace the habit of spending hours on Facebook with spending time with your kids.
As you take your eyes off your emotions and as your thoughts change, guess what happens? You begin to experience inner contentment, joy, hope, and peace. Who doesn’t want the abundant life?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10, ESV
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,