Be Still

By Janelle Pollard

I’m so tired.

I’m exhausted.

I would (fill in the blank with some kind of social activity or event you’ve been invited to attend), but I’ve got to get some sleep.

Do any of the above phrases sound familiar? (I’m sure Dale would respond with a resounding “yes,” if I asked him.) I rarely get enough sleep and all too often complain of being tired. Thankfully, this is something I can easily change with a little intention and discipline.

In our day and age, there is so much going on and are so many distractions to fill our minds and time that we rarely get enough (good) rest. But we need rest! Not only do we need quality sleep to be able to function and be happy, but we also need rest. If there is any evidence of how badly we need rest, it can be found in Genesis 2:2.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”

If our own all-powerful Creator rested, we should definitely be resting too. Of course we need sleep to function. But we need more than sleep. We need rest, to be still. It would greatly benefit us to put away all of our many distractions: TV, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. These things are fine if used sparingly, but not many of us do.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 46:10, 

Be still, and know that I am God. 

I will be exalted among the nations, 

I will be exalted in the earth!

And in the beginning of 37:7,

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him”

We need to slow down and take time to be still before the Lord. To turn off all the noise and just listen. There’s so much to be gained from quiet time spent with God and we won’t come away from it feeling more tired and drained, but just the opposite. This kind of rest isn’t just good for the body, but good for the soul! If daily Bible study isn’t already a part of your normal routine, try it for a week. Start with maybe 5-10 minutes in the morning and at night. And as you begin to make this a part of your daily habits, increase the time and you will find that it’s never enough! 

Let’s all be still, not busy…

B-eing

U-nder

S-atan’s

Y-oke

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Living on Leftovers

By Emily Moore

Eating leftover meals for lunch or dinner is a great way to save money on groceries and save time preparing food after a busy day. There are countless ways to get creative with leftovers, like turning them into casseroles or soups. Nonetheless, the leftovers all get eaten after a few days, or your family gets tired of them and is ready for different meals. Sadly, leftovers don’t last long! As a soon-to-be wife, learning how to work with leftovers has definitely been on my mind. But I also started to think about how easily the idea of “living on leftovers” creeps into our spiritual diet.

Everyone experiences those seasons of life where you have such a full plate (pun intended) that feeding your soul becomes very difficult. It’s in these times that we often start trying to spiritually survive on leftovers. When a week has been stressful or exhausting, think about how a refreshing worship service on Sunday or one hour of mid-week Bible class will keep your soul full and thriving for the other five days of the week. But what happens when an evangelistic opportunity appears or when you’re hit with a conflicting decision or when you suddenly find yourself having doubts or temptations you’ve never before experienced? When these situations arise, it doesn’t take long to realize that leftovers aren’t enough. A fuzzy recollection of Bible verses here and there or a small excerpt from a sermon heard way back when will not be strong enough to sustain spiritual strength. Of course it is good and useful to remember those things, but just like babies mature and require more than a few ounces of milk, so we must continue to grow and ensure that our soul’s appetite grows with us (1 Peter 2:2).

As Christians, constant renewal, growth, and learning are essential to survival. Think about the idea of renewal in 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.

Renewal is a perpetual process; it takes time and intentionality. If you’ve been scraping by on spiritual leftovers, here are a few ideas for feeding your soul throughout the day:

  • Pray everywhere (1 Thess. 5:17; Jam. 5:13)–At work, while driving, on your lunch break; you can also set reminders on your phone to pray for specific people.
  • Sing (Psa. 13:6; Eph. 5:19)–Singing or listening to hymns in the car with the kiddos or by yourself is guaranteed to bring joy and encouragement to a new day.
  • Listen to podcasts or an audio Bible (Psa. 1:1-2; 119:16)–A car ride, lunch break, or any free moment can be filled with the Word.
  • Set aside time each day for in-depth Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15; Jam. 1:5)–Alone time with God and His Word is the heartiest meal for the soul.

**If you’d like suggestions for podcasts or Bible study tools, feel free to email me at emnem317@gmail.com.

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Faith-building Questions

By Kathy Pollard

There are many passages in the Bible that describe God’s character, and I’m thankful for that.  Anytime I read about His mercy and compassion, it encourages me.  His power and might created everything, yet His love is expressed to me personally.  What a beautiful truth!  It reminds me that I have worth.  His holiness demands purity and goodness, yet His grace covers my sinfulness.  This makes me want to try harder to live as Christlike as possible.  How blessed we are to love and serve our great God!

Gather around the table with your family and look up the answers to these questions so you can be encouraged together. Or just grab a cup of coffee and your Bible and spend a few quiet moments soaking up some reassurance. God is good and always is, no matter what’s going on in the world.

1.  How is God described in 2 Cor. 1:3?

2.  What three character traits are ascribed to God in Exod. 33:19?

3.  What does God abound in according to Exod. 34:6?

4.  What words do Psa. 86:15 and Psa. 103:8 have in common?

5.  Can you memorize Psa. 116:5?  😀

6.  What is God’s compassion compared to in Psa. 103:13?

7.  What all did God do for the one who waited patiently for Him in Psa. 40:1-2?

8.  What do we learn about God’s lovingkindnesses in Lam. 3:22?

9.  What should God’s mercy cause us to do, according to Luke 6:36?

10.  What can our High Priest do, according to Heb. 4:15?

Wasn’t that a faith-building study?

Managing Stress And Anxiety

By Kathy Pollard

I wish I could title this post, “Getting Rid of Stress And 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.  Maybe you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • New marriage, new baby, new home, new work.  While these are 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 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.  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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Revive Me #44–Think Souls

Revive Me, Week 44–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Think Souls

“Who is God putting in front of you?”  This question was asked by Pam Randall.  She is a soul-winner so when she talks about how to reach others, I want to listen.  She is always involved in a Bible study and usually multiple studies.  She cares about people and wants them to know the Savior.  One time she even struck up a conversation with a stranger in Costco.  That stranger is now our sister in Christ!  How does she do it?  Here are a few of her tips:

  • You can’t wait until you’re good enough.  You just start.
  • Have a plan for soul-winning.  Then you can be ready at any time.  Pam uses the Open Bible Study method.
  • Attach Scriptures to emails, payroll checks, or any other correspondence.
  • Remember you can study anywhere.
  • Be a big respecter of their time and they will invite you back.
  • If you are asked a question you can’t answer, never try to guess it.  Write it down and tell them you’ll get back with them.
  • Send written thank-you notes in the mail.  There’s power in that.
  • Take failure or rejection.  If Christ and the apostles were rejected, why shouldn’t we be?
  • Be slow to be offended.  Try never to offend.
  • Never say, “I think,” or “I believe.”  Let the Word speak.
  • Never put down other religions.
  • Do the Open Bible Study with your children and grandchildren.  Don’t just assume they know it.
  • Go to assisted living homes and show the “Searching for Truth” DVD.
  • Remember that when God sees us trying, He will help us (Ex. 4:11,12).

Pam treats the opportunity to share the Good News as an honor.  She said, “Isn’t this a wonderful thing that we get to do?”  Indeed it is!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Create your soul-winning action plan.  Be prepared for open doors.
  2.  This week ask someone, “Would you like to study the Bible with me?”
  3.  Think souls.  See people as you go about your day.  Smile, interact.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Image credit: Michael Hite

 

Revive Me #40–Take the 5 Star Challenge

Revive Me, Week 40– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Take the 5-Star Challenge

The challenge comes from a quote and may change your life.  It’s simple yet powerful.  You can do it by yourself.  You can do it with your family.  You can do it with your ladies’ Bible class.  You can create your own special team to do it with.

It will grow you.  It will make an impact on those around you.  If you want to make a difference in the world, this challenge is how you can.

Here it is:

“God’s Word…read it through, write it down, pray it in, work it out, pass it on.”

(Smith Wigglesworth)

See how simple?  And yet we know the Word is powerful and penetrating (Heb. 4:12).  It’s so powerful it can keep young people on the path of purity (Psalm 119:9).  It’s profitable (2 Tim. 3:16).  It blesses those who hear and obey it (Lk. 11:28).  It can make a difference in this dark world because the unfolding of it gives light (Psalm 119:130).  It saves (James 1:21).

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Daniel 12:3

Suggestions for the Week (how the challenge will work):

  1.   Ask others to take this challenge with you.  Decide if you all want to do the same texts or each choose your own.
  2. Option A)
  • Monday- Read it
  • Tuesday- Write it
  • Wednesday- Pray it
  • Thursday- Work it
  • Friday- Pass it.

Option B)

  • Monday-Friday- Do all 5 each day

3.   Continue it at least until the end of the year (12 weeks).  Discuss with your team on Jan. 1st if/ how it made an impact.  Compare notes.

4.    Suggested text:  Psalm 119

           Psalm 119 has 176 verses.  This equals 15 verses a week for the next 12 weeks.  That is     3 verses a day (Monday through Friday).  This passage covers multiple ways in which the Word of God can change our lives and the lives of those around us.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #31– Get the Message

Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Get the Message

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since.  Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside.  It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.”  I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then.  All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me.  Now I like the bracelet even more!

I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Bible study.  I always have a Bible nearby.  I try to read it daily.  But am I paying attention?  Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details?  Am I seeing God’s message?
  • Relationships.  I have family and friends all around me.  But am I paying attention to them?  Do I see their cues, hear their hints?  Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me?  Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
  • Blessings.  They’re everywhere, everyday.  But have I taken them for granted?  Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?

“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study the Bible intentionally.  Look closely.  Examine each word.  See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
  2.  Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you.  Acknowledge them.  Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
  3. See the blessings, physical and spiritual.  Help others see them.  Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
  4. Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away.  Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people.  Smile, connect, and see their messages.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me, Week 11– Read the Bible Through

Revive Me, Week 11– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Read the Bible Through

It doesn’t get any more basic than that.  Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve read the Bible from cover to cover.  Or maybe you’ve never actually made it all the way through.  How many times have you started reading Genesis one on January first but ended up getting bogged down somewhere in Leviticus?

When my middle son, Dale, told me he was going to read two chapters in the Old Testament and two chapters in the New Testament every day, I decided to join him.  It has been so great!  We keep saying things like, “Did you notice verse four?  I don’t remember ever seeing that before.”  For instance, if someone had asked me where we read about the land where the good gold is, I would’ve been surprised to learn that it’s in Genesis two, a chapter I thought I was pretty familiar with.  These little nuggets (ha!) keep popping up as I enjoy reading through the chapters each day.

It seems like reading the Bible through has gotten a bad rap.  While we do need to include digging deep in our personal Bible study, what could be more reviving than making sure our eyes see every word in the Word?

“…Your word has revived me” (Psa. 119:50).

“Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word” (Psa. 119:107)

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible.  If you read four chapters a day, it will take you 297 days to read the whole inspired Word.  There just happen to be 292 days left in this year!  You could easily double up on the reading for a couple of days (especially with those shorter psalms).  On December 31st, you’ll be able to look back over this past year with satisfaction, knowing that you read the whole Bible from cover to cover!

WHEN I READ THE BIBLE THROUGH

(Amos Wells)

I supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third!);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs—
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book—
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look—
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you’re not already on a Bible reading plan, get started today.
  2.  Ask someone to join you.  Not only will this add an accountability factor, it’ll make it even more enjoyable as you share your thoughts with each other.
  3. Pray before and after your reading.  Ask God to open your eyes to His truths and to soften your heart to His will.
  4. Look for opportunities to share what you’re learning!

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Image credit:  pinterest

 

 

 

Revive Me, Week One

Revive Me–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord, Week One

Rest Your Faith on the Power of God

What is the foundation of your faith?  As you begin a brand new year of living for Christ, this basic question is crucial.  Listen to Paul’s message to Christians:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with the superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

The word “rest” here means “exist; be located in.”  Paul warns Christians not to build their faith on the wisdom of men (including himself), but on the message of Christ.  The wisdom of men may be persuasive, but it is powerless.  If your faith feels a little weak or uncertain, perhaps you’ve neglected to spend enough time tapping into the right Source.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you spend more time reading the good writings of men/ women than you do the Bible?
  • Are your convictions based on what you’ve always been taught or from your own diligent study of the Word?
  • When you listen to or read the messages of preachers, do you “search the Scriptures daily to see whether those things are so” (Acts 17:11)?

This may be the year your faith is tested like never before.  Make sure you are building YOUR faith on the power of God.

Some suggestions for this week:

  1.  Read 1 Cor. 1-3.
  2.  In that text, note the contrast between the wisdom of men and the word of God.  If you like to mark in your Bible, underline the words that describe the wisdom of men and circle the words that describe the word of God.
  3. Listen to sermons and read articles with discernment.  Follow up by looking up the Scripture references that are used to make sure they aren’t taken out of context.
  4. Pray each day for desire to grow your faith in the Word.
  5. Consider memorizing Heb. 4:12.

Pray it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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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.

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