Reading Scripture for Life Transformation

Scripture is a life-changing love letter. Counselor Donna Hart, PhD, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here, experiences life change personally as she reads the Bible for understanding and transformation. Do you desire life transformation too? Donna’s article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.

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A while back, I attended a women’s theology conference where Ruth Haley Barton spoke of our need to pay attention to our God-given desires. . .and to practice spiritual disciplines. She said believers through the centuries have practiced them as a way of opening up to the transforming presence of God.

As I listened I felt my spirit start to stiffen in resistance. I like to practice disciplines that are theologically correct. And I don’t like going off into a lot of emotion and commotion without any devotion.

Then she said something that captured my attention.

When we engage the Scriptures for spiritual transformation, we engage not only our mind but also our heart, our emotions, our body, our curiosity, our imagination, and our will.

We open ourselves to a deeper level of understanding and insight that grows out of and leads us deeper into our personal relationship with the One behind the text. It is in the context of relational intimacy that real life change takes place.

Scripture Is a Life-Changing Love Letter

Barton went on to clarify the importance of reading Scripture as a love letter from someone who loves you deeply. Indeed, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are active, alive, and God-breathed, just it says:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

How to Read Scripture

I followed her instruction to experience the Word for myself: Take a moment to become quiet and close your eyes to eliminate the distractions. Then let your body relax and allow yourself to become consciously aware of God’s presence with you.

  • First Reading: Pick a Scripture of 4 or 5 verses, maybe a Psalm you particularly like, Isaiah 43:1-4, or Psalm 23. Read it out loud, listening for the word or phrase that catches your attention and savor the Word.
  • Second Reading: Read the same verses out loud again and listen for the way in which this passage connects with your life today.
  • Third Reading: Read the verses again listen for an invitation contained in God’s Word to you. Respond honestly to God about what you are hearing. This is a response that flows out of your deepest longing for God.
  • Fourth Reading: Read these verses out loud, this time to rest in the word God has given you, knowing that he who has called you will be faithful to bring it to pass.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Experiencing Life Change

I walked away from this exercise with a deep sense of peace and excitement. But I wanted to stay in that word the Lord had just given me, resolved to do exactly what He told me to do. Also I wanted to hold on to it and carry it with me all day and savor the moment of intimacy with God. It was like entering the throne room of God. And I did not want to leave. It was like the Lord was giving me a little taste of heaven.

I encourage you to try this discipline for yourself and experience the transforming presence of God. I would also love to hear about your encounter with God.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

A-to-Z Identity List: Your Tuesday Tool


list“A-to-Z Identity List” is this month’s Tuesday tool.

When you tell yourself the truth of who you are in Christ, your life undergoes a beautiful transformation.

“I am Chosen by God”…”I am Made to worship”…”I am Victorious over sin” — these A-to-Z truths and others come from the Word of God. And they will encourage you to stop false beliefs and start seeing through the lens of scripture. Then as you embrace them, healing follows.

Get the Most from the A-to-Z List

Here are two excellent ways to delve into your God-given identity and get the most out of the A-to-Z list.

1) Once daily look up the scriptures for one of the words, until you’ve completed all 26.

2) Read through the entire list of words. Circle 3 to 5 that are meaningful to you. Then in a journal, personalize the verses. Example: For Lamentations 3:22-23, you might personalize it by jotting down,

God loves me and has great compassion for me.

I don’t have to let trials rock me because God is always faithful to me.

Journaling God’s truth is among the best helps for my counselees and for me.

A-to-Z List

Accepted–John 15:15; Ephesians 1:6

Born Again–John 3:5-7

Chosen, confident–Ephesians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 3:3-4

Direct Access to God–Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 2:5

Established by God–Genesis 1:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Forgiven—Ephesians 1:7; Psalm 32:1; Isaiah 43:25-26!

God’s Child—John 1:12; 1 John 3:1

Heir with Christ–Romans 8:17, Galatians 3:29

Immersed in Jesus Christ–Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4

Justified—1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-8

Kept for eternity–John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6

Loved–John 3:16, 15:13; Ephesians 5:2, Colossians 3:12

Made to worship–Ecclesiastes 3:10-11; John 4:24

New creation in Christ–2 Corinthians 5:17

Optimistic–Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:28-29

Peace—John 14:27; Philippians 4:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Quietness of Soul–Psalm 46:10, 62:5, 131:2

Rescued from Satan’s domain–Colossians 1:13

Secure, sealed – 1 Peter 1:5; Ephesians 1:13-14, 2:8-9

Temple of God–1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:1

Unique–Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:14

Victorious over sin–1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4

Whole, no longer incomplete–James 1:2-4, 1 John 4:12

Xtra valued by God–Psalm 17:8, Deuteronomy 32:10

Yoked with Jesus–Matthew 11:28-29

Zealous for the things of God–Revelation 3:19; Titus 2:14

A Freebie for You

Would you like an attactive handout of the A-toZ Identity in Christ list? Simply ask for it. Contact me now and type “Send me A-to-Z Identity List in the subject line. This list was inspired by my fellow counselors at Biblical Counseling Center.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Beautiful Truth of Who You Are

truthHere’s beautiful truth: You are who God says you are!

And God says you’re worth it and you’re lovely.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? God cares about you and me and everyone. But isn’t it tough to believe that something so wonderful is true? That he protects you? That he cares?

In fact, you may have struggled with believing you matter and that God has a good plan for your life. Have you ever asked yourself questions like,

  • Do I make a difference in anyone’s life?
  • Does God smile when he thinks of me?
  • How can God love me?

The truth is, Jesus is with you. He loves you. He cares.

Two Encouraging Stories

Corrie Ten Boom: God’s Protection

Chances are, you’ve heard parts of Corrie Ten Boom’s WWII story. Her family hid Jews in a secret place in their home above their watch shop. When the Nazis discovered their secret in 1944, they arrested the Ten Boom family and sent them to a concentration camp.

Upon arrival at the camp, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, waited in line to be searched. And guess what Corried did? She prayed.

With a bible hidden in her clothing, she prayed that the Nazis would not find it. She prayed, “Dear God, you have given me this precious Book. You have kept it hidden through checkpoints and inspections.” The Nazis searched the woman in front of Corrie, and they searched Betsie.

But Corrie? They left her alone. The bible stayed with her in the camp, and God’s word kept hatred from her heart.

Like Corrie, you are secure because you are hidden in Christ.

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble. Psalm 32:7

Sandi: Small Acts of Kindness

Years ago I counseled “Sandi,” whose parents were addicts and abused her every which way imaginable. As the eldest, she would stand between her parents and her little brothers and sisters, sparing them and taking the punishment. And she was a child too!

The authorities caught up with Sandi’s parents, who were convicted of child abuse and distributing child pornography, and served time in prison. Sandi and her siblings ended up in foster care. Yet God blessed her and gave her a desire to be kind to others.

Among her stories I love is the time she noticed a homeless woman taking food from a dumpster behind a fast food joint, She offered her her own uneaten lunch. The woman declined at first. Then Sandi began regularly buying two lunches a few times a week–one for herself, one for the woman–and the woman ate hers.

Sandi’s small acts of kindness demonstrated the truth that God treasures all people–Sandi, you, me. And the homeless.

Like Sandi, you are significant because you are precious in God’s eyes.

You are precious and honored in my sight…because I love you. Isaiah 43:4

Scriptures About You

Read through this short list of the truth of who you are. May I encourage you to look up the bible verses too? They are hope for your heart.

I have a long list too. If you want the long list, please send me a message with the words “Who I Am in Christ” in the subject line and I’ll send it to you.

You are precious to God. (Isaiah 43:4)

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are complete. (Colossians 2:9,10)

You are secure. (Romans 8:31-39)

You are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are God’s treasure. (1 Peter 2:9,10)

Father, thank you for reminding us who we are in Christ. Thank you that when you look at us you see true beauty that comes from your Son, our Savior. Amen.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

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Stop Food Cravings and Glorify God

food cravingsFood cravings come on quick and strong, don’t they? You’re driving along singing to KLOVE or whataver, and out of nowhere food cravings strike.You may crave a Snickers bar or chips or ice cream or a Ding Dong. Perhaps you crave strawberries, carrots, or freshly baked multi-grain bread.

Up the road sits a 7-Eleven, beckoning.

In this short article, let’s look at…

  1. Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
  2. A biblical solution to food cravings

Choose Your Choice 

So what should you do when hit by food cravings?

A. Try your very, very best to ignore them.

B. Proceed to the 7-Eleven and get the goodies..

Well, it depends! Biological food cravings differ from emotional food cravings. It’s wise to fill the biological kind because your body needs what is craves. Just think of how delicious a glass of water is when you are super thirsty. So when you fulfill this type of craving, you’ll think and feel better. But fight the temptation of emotional food cravings. If you cave, you’ll feel worse, and you’ll miss out on God’s best too.

So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Biological or Emotional?

Here’s a simple what to tell whether your food cravings are biological or emotional:

When you have a biological food craving and fulfill it, you feel nourished. And it doesn’t take much food to meet such a need either. One bagel, a wedge or two of low-fat cheese, or a couple of chocolates–that’s it.

In contrast, emotional food cravings aren’t about food. They are an attempt to meet a need apart from God. An emotional eater looks for comfort in food. Sometimes it follows “I’m a loser” self-talk. And a small treat is never enough. Never.

Emotional eaters confuse love and self-acceptance with food. It is their drug of choice. Their god.

Solution to Food Cravings

The good news is by obeying and trusitn God, your can have victory over food cravings.

To have victory, you’ll need to break the vicious cycle of emotional eating. You can make this break when you begin desiring what God desires and, with God’s help, change your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of you where your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions reside.

For life transformation you need heart transformation!

God’s life-changing power helps you embrace a right perspective of food, make good and godly food choices, straighten out your thinking on food, and practice, practice, practice. A great resource with helps for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.

God wants you to live life based on truth, not emotions. The truth of who he is. The truth of who you are. His truth is sure. Our emotions go up and down like an elevator.

Now emotions are fine; God gave them to us. You and I must not trust them to influence our decisions. We need to turn to truth.

10 Tips for Healthy Choices

Here’s truth talk on healthy eating. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:

~ Choose water over coffee and soda pop.

~ Shrink your portions by using smaller plates.

~ If you desire seconds, go for the veggies.

~ Eat at least five vegetables and fruits daily.

~ Choose whole grains.

~ Limit your consumption of sugar.

~ Skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.

~ Sit down during meals.

~ Eat slowly.

~ Remember eating becomes sacred when it becomes worship.

Remember the Bible verse I mentioned? So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Let this command guide your motivations and desires.

When you do, then everything — from washing dishes and sweeping floors to helping your children with homework and writing blog posts — can be worship. As long as you line up your thoughts with God’s, the simplest things become sacred.

And so it is with food.

For YOU!

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Sharing hope with your heart,

 

Know and Accept your New Identity in Christ

New Identity

Your new identity in Christ matters; shake off your false identity. It’s gone. Accept the truth you are a wonderful and treausured new creation.

Did you know that when you embrace who God says you are — blessed, forgiven, precious and more — you discover true contentment? Who doesn’t want unwavering contentment, a very real and blessed happiness?

But you’ve struggled with self-acceptace, haven’t you? Dare I say we all have. Our false identities cling like cat hair. We don’t like them but they are hard to shake. . .even after we become Christians and get an inkling of the Truth.

Believing the World’s Lies

Many years ago, like many overly self-counscious teen girls, I stared in the bathroom mirror and my 14-year-old eyes spoke the question of my soul: Who am I?

A gangling eighth-grader; a highly sensitive, gangling eighth-grader, I tried to smile at the right times at my new school and not do something stupid. Basically I just wanted to fit in.

Did I mention I was shy?

Then the popular (aka mean) girls at my new school thought it hilarious to call me spacey. I wondered if this was who I was.

Was I “spacey” like the mean girls at my new school said?

Insecure, yes. Quiet, yes. Spacey, no.

Then, later that year — and I didn’t tell a soul at school — my dad spent more than a month in a psych ward, and his diagnosis of manic-depression scrambled my thoughts. Like father, like daughter? Did his problem determine my identity?

Even later that horrible year, a boy molested me several times. Was my identity now “victim”?

Where to Find Acceptance

For a long time, yes. I saw myself as an insecure, anxious victim who longed for acceptance. I tried and tried and tried to make people like me. My happiness depended on what others thought of me and how they treated me. I was a people-pleaser through and through, and that’s a horrible way to live, being jerked around by others’ opinions.

Then God showed me a better way: What matters most is who God says I am. The same is true for you.

Think about it. Who knows me best? Who knows you best? The real you. Your Maker, right?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s careAnd even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

In Christ alone, you discover your new identity and know God accepts you because of the Cross.

What Would You Add to the List?

Here’s the short list of who he says you are. Would you like the long list? I’d be honored to send you a complimentary download. Just leave a comment below or contact me.

Please notice they are present tense. They are true of you now.

You are blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)

You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are complete. (Colossians 2:9-10)

You are eternally secure. (Romans 8:31-39)

You are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are God’s treasure. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

These statements are true of folks who are believers in Jesus as their Savior. If you are not certain that you are a believer, may I encourage you to go here to find out? Easy to understand. Interactive. Answers your questions.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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