How to Read Your Compass

A compass is an instrument used for direction.  It helps determine where you are and how to get where you want to go.  Hopefully the Bible is your compass.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

In an article entitled, “How to Read a Compass,” the Compass Dude shares the benefits of owning one, “from telling which way is North to finding hidden treasure or following an unmarked path over wilderness terrain”  (http://www.compassdude.com/compass-reading.shtml). But to reap those benefits, you have to know how to accurately read a compass.

1.  Know Your Basic Compass Reading

The Compass Dude explains the essential basics of how to read a compass:

  • “Hold the compass steadily in your hand…”  The compass will be no use at all if we don’t pull it out and use it.  If it stays in our pocket or gets left at home, it will offer no direction whatsoever.  If we want the Bible to direct our lives, we must hold it steadily in our hands.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).  To reap the guiding benefits of the Word, we will study it daily before taking our steps.
  • “Look down at the compass and see where the needle points.”  Sometimes we feel sure we’re going the right way or facing a certain direction only to pull out the compass and discover we’re way off course.  We must look at the Bible often to see how we’re doing and where we’re headed.
  • “Turn your body while keeping the compass right in front of you.”  In addition to studying God’s Word to know His direction for us, we need to follow through with our actions (James 1:22,25).
  • “Hold the compass level” and “read the correct end of the needle.”  These simple instructions make all the difference in accurately reading a compass.  In the same way, we must “accurately handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
  • “Use common sense.”  Regardless of what the compass shows, some will continue going the wrong way or make choices based on their own misguided sense of direction.  We have the common sense to know and understand God’s Word.  We mustn’t twist it in order to try to conform it to our own feelings or to justify what we would like to believe is right (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).

2.  Check Your Bearing

“By simply moving your compass with your body and using the N-E-S-W markings, you can get a good idea which way you are going…The direction you are going is called your heading.”  Since we are constantly on the move, changing, and being influenced, we need to continually look to the Word to check our bearing to see which way we are heading.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).

Heaven is where we want to go!   Let’s keep pulling out our Compass to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.

Google images

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Managing Stress & Anxiety

I wish I could title this post, “Getting Rid of Stress & Anxiety,” but I don’t think that’s very realistic.  With the exception of perhaps childhood, each new phase in life presents its own unique set of challenges.  Perhaps you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • New marriage, new baby, new home, new work.  While these are also exciting and wonderful, they also call for stamina and courage and wisdom.
  • Long-term care of an aging parent.  In addition to the physical exhaustion is the emotional turmoil of seeing your loved one suffer.
  • School/ work load.  I know some Bear Valley students right now who are being stretched in more ways than they ever expected.  Perhaps you’re in the midst of a project or job requirement that’s been going on for so long you can’t remember your last decent night of sleep.
  • Poor health.  After months or years of battling whatever is attacking your body, you wonder if you’ll ever simply feel good.
  • Financial worries.  Finding a job, paying your bills, wondering about retirement, health care…whether you’ve accumulated a mound of debt or you just long for financial security, money can be a very real and daily stressor.
  • Rocky relationships.  Perhaps your marriage is just barely hanging on.  Or you’re worried about your grown-up children or a spiritually wayward relative.  Sometimes the people we love most can be a source of great anxiety.

Sometimes stress is temporary and we know it.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re just trying to get through it.  Sometimes stress is ever-present and overwhelming, and we find ourselves trying to survive one day at a time.  Whichever we find ourselves facing, there are a few simple, proactive ways to manage stress and anxiety.

1.  PRAY

Prayer is probably the first reaction when something causes stress, and I don’t think God resents that.  We find many passages reminding us to turn to God in our distress.  We’re told to cast ALL of our cares on Him (1 Pet. 5:7).  Prayer brings peace in the midst of anxiety (Phil. 4:6,7).  When stress is long-term, our prayers can fade or turn sporadic.  A renewed desire for God’s listening ear can go far in calming anxieties.

2.  MEDITATE

I’m not encouraging “getting your Zen on, man,” but rather committing to quality time in Bible study.  I like the quote I ran across the other day– “Meditation is not an emptying of one’s mind, like some religions teach, but a filling of our minds with the truths of God’s Word” (Jen Thorn).  The Scriptures are powerful (Heb. 4:12) and strength-giving (Eph. 6:10-17).  Neglecting this crucial practice only exacerbates stress and anxiety.

3.  BOOST YOUR HEALTH

It’s common knowledge that long-term stress takes a toll on our health.  Is there an area of your physical well-being that’s taking a harder hit?  See if you could make some small changes for overall well-being:

  • Exercise.  It strengthens the heart, clears mind clutter, and boosts stamina and self-esteem.  Take a walk in the morning and try yoga at night.  No one ever regrets making time to get the blood flowing.
  • Water.  The benefits are endless.  How easy it is to replace empty calorie drinks with water.  Add lemon for even more vibrancy.
  • Sleep.  Who hasn’t been robbed of some zzz’s?  Sleep is essential for mental clarity and emotional stability.  Young moms, get over your guilt and take a nap in the middle of the day when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Cleaner eating.  Bad food equals yucky mood.  Studies are now linking a healthy gut to an overall sense of well-being.  The last thing we need when anxiety is churning in our gut is to add processed foods or sugar to the mix.  Seriously, while it may not be fun to talk about, better eating choices are important when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety.

4.  UNPLUG

We are attached to our devices, aren’t we?  They’re everywhere and in every room.  Unplugging for a while each day will allow us to focus on those around us, re-appreciate moments of quietness, and even remove some additional anxiety (unpleasant posts on social media, disturbing news, etc.).  It’s good to give our eyes a break from any kind of screen.  Unplug and listen for natural sounds instead like the wind blowing, leaves rustling, birds chirping.

5.  UNCLUTTER

Speaking of devices…we can remove some from our sleeping space for a more peaceful and relaxing environment.  Clearing counter tops of paper stacks and junk also helps clear our minds.  Taking the time and trouble to make the bed and straighten up makes it easier to drift off to sleep later.  Messy rooms add to a feeling of anxiety.

6.  UNWIND

Yes, we could probably use that half hour to cross an item off the to-do list, but sometimes the wiser choice would be to intentionally unwind.  Don’t think of a soak in the tub as a luxury but as a way of promoting peace and health.  Discover the calming benefits of chamomile tea.  You might have to develop a taste for it, but consider it an all-natural anti-anxiety medicine.  Light a candle, rub your feet with lotion, and take deep breaths.  Even a few minutes of slowing down makes a big difference in a trying day.

7.  LAUGH

Laughing relieves stress, lifts the mood, and burns calories!  Have you laughed today?

8.  LOVE

Looking for tangible ways to show our love for others will ultimately lead to our own happiness.  Giving feels good.  It allows us to step outside of our cares and focus on bringing joy to others.  In the midst of your crazy schedule, do something even crazier like adding in a visit to a shut-in or making a homemade, unexpected surprise for someone.

Hopefully these ideas for managing stress haven’t added even more stress.  You might be thinking, Who has time for any of THAT?!  Some of the tips can be combined, like sipping tea while studying the Bible.  Or praying while going for a walk.  It’s probably unrealistic to try to hit all 8 tips every single day, but we can be more intentional in handling our anxieties.  It will be good for us and for those around us.  God has given us many ways to combat stress.  We could even add singing, looking for beauty, and counting our blessings.  What tips do you have?

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

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The Greatest Circle

During worship on Sunday, 70-year-old Janice went forward to put on her Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27).  As is our custom, we all gathered around into a large circle around the auditorium after worship.  This “welcome circle” is meant to represent Christians all over the world who have put on Christ and are now united.  It represents Janice’s new spiritual family who stands ready to support, encourage, and help her in any way we can.  We sang songs like “God is So Good” and “I’m Happy Today.”  One of our elders prayed for Janice, and then we each went up and hugged and welcomed our new sister into the Lord’s body.  Her shining face was truly a beautiful sight to behold.

But here’s what I really love about the welcome circle:

I love being able to look around and make eye contact with every member.  It’s a treat to be able to look at the faces around the circle and think about my relationship with them, how thankful I am for them, or what prayer needs they may have.

I love seeing the expressions on their faces.  No heart is untouched by a baptism.  Whether young or old, each face reflects emotion.  Everyone is smiling, and many are doing so through tears.  I imagine most of us are recalling the day we obeyed the gospel ourselves.

I love the sense of connection.  In an increasingly disconnected society, I’m especially grateful for the sweet tie that binds us together in Christ.  These relationships are real and everlasting.

I love the joy.  After the circle broke up, I looked around in every direction.  The building was filled with groups of people whose faces were bright.  There were no polite or half-hearted smiles, but genuine teeth-showing grins.  Our hearts were encouraged and our strength was renewed.  This happiness can’t be fabricated or bought or forced.  It’s simply the unique joy experienced by those who love God and love His people.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

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I See Good People #2

Thank you to all those who are sharing your inspirational thoughts and spreading cheerfulness.  You’re lighting up social media (Matt. 5:16)!  Here’s just a glimpse of some of the good stuff going around:

-Mandy Liddell posted this poem.  I need to memorize it!

Dear Lord, may I ever refrain
From speaking ill of others;
May I have kindly thoughts, as well,
For all my earthly brothers!
May I, dear Heavenly Father,
Radiate pure love for all…
May I see good in everyone;
May I pray for those in woe…
If I can do these things, O Lord,
While I am here on this earth,
I’ll feel my life’s not been in vain—
That I was blessed at my birth!”
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

-In the past three days, I’ve been excited to read three new blogs by young Christians.  I thank God for their desire to encourage others and share God’s Word.  Let’s encourage them, too, by supporting their efforts.

-For something fun, girly, and helpful, check out this new planner by Virtuous Magazine:

-Sometimes I read something and know the thoughts will stay with me for days.  Such was the case with these words by the brilliant mind of Cindy Colley:

-Recent terrific tweets:

  • @Gospel Advocate-  “Jesus viewed the 39 OT books as inspired by God and devoted Himself to studying them. Should we do any less?
  • @Stan Butt- “If anyone ever tells you, “It’s okay to be selfish,” they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
  • @Kevin W. Rhodes- When people do not see the good in life, it is because they first fail to see the God of life.”
  • And just for grins….@Tim Hawkins- “Conversation heard:

‘Grandpa, did you ever work out?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I was out working.'”

-Hugo McCord quote posted by Jared Jackson:

When two people disagree on the interpretation of a Bible passage, one or both are wrong … but the Bible is always right.”

-Looking for some yummy recipes?  Check out the lovely Chelli Guthrie‘s blog, “The Planted Trees.

Prayer for Today:  Bless these good people, Lord, as they continue to brighten the lives of others!

New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende

New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende

Meet Brittany Davis, Christian magazine editor (and a recipe)!

Brittany Davis is a woman who decided to use her talents in a way that would spiritually uplift other women.  As a wife, new mother, editor, speaker, and author, she understands the need for good time management and proper priorities.  Anyone can see that Brittany is a beautiful woman with a radiant smile.  It doesn’t take long to discover that her beauty is heart-deep.  Please enjoy this pleasant conversation with our dear sister in Christ.

Kathy:  Tell us a little about yourself, Brittany.

Brittany:  My name is Brittany Davis I am the eldest daughter of Eric and Vanessa Owens. I’ve been married to my dear husband for five years and this past August we welcomed our first child, Landon. I am an author, speaker and publisher of the website, www.virtuousmagazine.com.

Kathy:  Virtuous Magazine is such a great resource!  What led you to start it?

Brittany:  I married my beloved in May 2009 and about a month before the wedding we found out that he had medullary thyroid cancer. So in June, right after the honeymoon, we came home and he underwent surgery.

To say I was stressed was an understatement. All went well with his surgery, but my very active and new husband was practically on bed rest for about four months.  I needed to channel my jumbled nerves, and painting rooms and scrapbooking weren’t cutting it. So I started Virtuous Magazine.

I’ve always wanted to use my talents for the Lord and I love magazines so it was a natural fit. And running the magazine has led to writing books and speaking.

Kathy:  We gave away copies of your book as awards at our teen girls’ camp.  Can you give us a brief summary of what “Style Your Soul:  Getting Dressed from the Inside Out” is about?

Brittany:  Oh wow, that’s awesome! Style Your Soul is a guide book for walking worthy and for presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. It’s unlike anything because it gets to the heart of the immodesty epidemic that’s plaguing our homes, church and nation, but also shows that modest style is not an oxymoron.

*Note:  Brittany has also written “Awakening Love:  30 Days to Renewing Every Relationship” and “Ladies’ Day Themes.”  For more information, visit http://www.virtuousmagazine.com/books/.

Kathy:  As an editor, writer, public speaker, wife, and mother, you stay pretty busy.  Do you have any time management tips?

Brittany:  I’ve definitely been on a steep, sleep deprived, learning curve with my new baby, but I’ve found that advance preparation is the way to go. I try to do everything the night before from picking up the house to putting the diaper bag together, making lunch and laying out clothes. I don’t always get it all done, but when I do it makes the next day a breeze.

Also, working in batches has been beneficial for me; meaning doing all of one thing at a time whether it’s the laundry or writing articles. Instead of having loads of laundry each day I just do it all in one day, even if it takes the whole day, to get that task checked off the list.

Kathy:  Would you mind sharing one of your favorite recipes?

Brittany:  Lately I’ve been enjoying pan seared salmon with a side of mixed garden vegetables. I simply put some olive oil in a pan on the stove and sear the wild Alaskan salmon on both sides until it’s flaky and has developed a slightly crunchy coating. I season it with Tony Chachere’s original creole seasoning, cumin and rosemary. The vegetables are frozen so I just cook them on the stove with some olive oil butter.

Kathy:  Thank you so much for sharing your time and tips with us, Brittany.  May God bless you and your sweet family as you continue to shine for Him!

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Generation Gap?

Society has changed.

The culture is different.

Communication has changed.

Opportunities are different.

Some young people are calling for change.  Some old people shy away from anything different.  “Change” and “different” seem to be the two words that embody the rift between generations.

The MILLENNIALS want to be heard and taken seriously.  They have some great ideas on how to reach the lost.  They’ve had the opportunity to express themselves in a more widespread way, thanks to the internet, and they’re eager to take advantage of all the amazing advantages afforded them.  That’s so cool and so great!  Some, however, view anything that was done in the Lord’s church by the older generation as ineffective, simple-minded, and something that needs to be tossed aside.  That’s not so great.

The older folks have wisdom from years of study and life’s experiences.  They have the ability to see the big picture.  They are energized by the new opportunities to reach out, and desire to keep up with the latest so they can share what they’ve learned.  The Word has much to say about the wisdom of older ones being a crucial asset.  Beautiful!  However, some older folks are fearful of the ideas of the younger generation and suspicious of anything different.  In their zeal to protect, they might appear short-sighted.  That’s not so beautiful.

I realize I might be oversimplifying things in the two previous paragraphs, but I do believe this generation gap is nothing new.  Remember when Rehoboam consulted with both the “old men” and “the young men who grew up with him” in 1 Kings 12?  The Bible addresses the old and the young in different ways because there are different needs/ thoughts in each group.  The Bible also emphasizes UNITY (1 Cor. 1:10).  Jesus prayed for UNITY.  It was what was on His mind before He went to the cross (John 17:23), which shows how important it was to Him.  We should pray for it, too.  It should be on our minds.  Our thoughts, words, and actions should show that UNITY is important to us.

So perhaps we Christians can enjoy the generation grasp.  From Mirriam-Webster, “grasp” means:

  • to take and hold (something) with your fingers, hands, etc.
  • to understand (something that is complicated or difficult)

Yes, that’s what we’re called to do.  To hold on and reach out to each other.  To be understanding, even at times when we don’t fully agree or see eye to eye.

How can we do that?  We can make a concerted effort to reach out to those in a different generation from us.  We can seek them out, listen to them, validate them.  We can encourage and thank them.  We can help them reach their goals.  We can smile more at them.  We can look for ways to make sure our lives intermingle.  And we can pray for them.

Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.  We ALL, whether younger or older, desire to reach the lost, love God, and stay true to His Word.  Let’s use our unique perspectives and talents to reach those goals together.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).

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Ways to LOVE MORE in 2015

What can we do that will really make an impact on others?  How can we draw others to Christ?  If that’s an important goal for you in this new year, you’ve probably already considered the words of Jesus when He shared the main way that we prove our Christianity.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By THIS all men will know that you are MY disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35, emphases mine).

If our love for one another shows the world that we belong to Christ, what does the world think when we display anything less than love?  In an effort to change/ teach/ enlighten others in the Lord’s body, we must be very careful that anyone reading or hearing our words can only think, “My, how they love each other!”  So what are some ways we can accomplish that?

  • Limit use of sarcasm, and remove snarky remarks altogether (Prov. 15:1; Col. 4:6)
  • Make sure the majority of our remarks and writings paint the Lord’s church in a positive light (Psa. 133:1)
  • Get in the habit of daily looking for ways to compliment and encourage other Christians (Rom. 12:10)
  • Avoid a reputation of being deliberately controversial (2 Tim. 2:24,25; Eph. 4:29-31)
  • Focus on unifying the body instead of promoting strife (John 17:22,23; Phil. 2:1-3; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 1:10)
  • Inject much more sweetness in speech and in writing (Prov. 16:24)
  • Be ever so gentle in defense of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15)
  • Practice patience, even if attacked or wronged (2 Tim. 2:24,25)
  • Think, think, think before speaking or posting (Prov. 12:18; 15:28)
  • Share more Word than opinion (Col. 3:16; Prov. 15:2)
  • Remember that true wisdom and kindness go hand in hand (Prov. 31:26)

As we strive to be salt and light, let’s also make it very obvious that everything we say and do is motivated by love.

Prayer for Today:  Grow our love for one another, Lord, so we can draw others to You.

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