Luke 9:57-62 (NET) "As they were walking along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Most people now-a-days would rather bail out than bust through. Times can be hard and hearts can be even harder. I once heard someone say that the only thing that can pierce a calloused heart are Jesus's calloused hands. It takes Jesus to make things work. Too many of us would rather leave a relationship than do the work it takes to have a relationship that last. When things come easy they can go just as easy. We have monthly memberships instead of yearly. If God is in it, or He told you to do it it's never ok to throw in the towel. Stay in the game!
From our scripture above we can see three groups of people that fear commitment. They are the casual, the cautious, and the careful. We can get stuck in any of those three areas. This week I challenge you to move into total commitment to Christ, and all that He desires for your life....because He cares for you!
The holiday are here. One down and one to go. Sometimes it seems like that. Check the list--done! Move on. Holidays are to be pleasurable but many times they are far from it. They are full of pressure to buy gifts, cook meals, address cards, visit relatives, and then hurry up and clean everything up, and get ready for the New Year. It has taken me a long time to get here, but I can honestly say, "I am going for enjoying the holidays rather than enduring the holidays". I want to squeeze every bit of enjoyment, out of every moment I have. Sit a little longer in front of the fire place. Linger awhile on the couch curled up, looking at the tree. Spend a few more hours decorating the cookies with friends. Rather than trying to get it all done, which only ends up with me being done. This Christmas I want my mantra to be, "I'll be home for Christmas", instead of "Going out of my head". For you younger readers these are both titles to songs.
I can't imagine what the first Christmas must have looked like. Sure I know what I was taught in Sunday school, which many young people would ask, "What is Sunday school?" Just in my short life span things have totally changed, can you imagine going back to Bethlehem? Donkey's instead of Toyota's? A star in the sky instead of on top of our tree? A meager stable instead of New York or Macy's? The contrast is certainly drastic. However, it is just as drastic a contrast between rushing around and getting through the holidays, and actually being present and enjoying the holidays. I purpose in my heart to the later. How about you? I'm referring to what is going on on the inside of you? What are your thoughts? How are you really feeling?
This holiday season ask yourself, "How am I feeling about what I am experiencing?" "What do I really want to be doing?" "Where do I really want to be?" If you can't answer that with, "I am right where I want to be, with who I am with, doing what I am doing", then take a pause. Put yourself in "Time Out". Then spend a few minutes asking the Lord to help you. He is Emmanuel--meaning God with us. This is His birthday after all. Why do we feel as though we get to celebrate His birthday anyway we feel like? Or worst yet, anyway others feel we ought to celebrate?
After your "Time out", you may feel differently about what you are doing, and the expectations that you allow others to put on you. Once you asks yourself the hard questions, and get some real answers, decisions can be made. Christmas is not really about ribbons and bows, turkey or fish, red or gold, but about the gift too few take time to receive. The gift of eternal life. This means life here as we know it will one day be over, and a new life will begin that will last for an eternity. I want to be ready for that life. I want to have a relationship with that person, who made that a reality.
A labor of love is when you do something because you love. I love my friends, family and those I do life with. Well, there are also a lot of people I love that I don't get to do life with nearly as mush as I would like to, and so I labor for them from afar and then mail them the results. I mail them my Biscotti.
So, every holiday season I attempt to bake. Baking is a lot of work, "labor of love". Prep time and clean up time are the worst. Next to that, the waiting while baking is time consuming. I've never really thought of baking as fun. I consider baking work. A true labor of love. I'm really good at baking, but it is so time consuming, for things that I really shouldn't eat any way, and for the most part I don't. I do however, love those I bake for. I love giving my baked goods to others. They throughly enjoy them and that is my reward. Every year they are the most requested gift.
Thinking about all of this, caused me to think about my life. I certainly am not growing younger. Who will continue this tradition? Who can I hand this "labor of love" over to, so all the request are filled. Will I only be missed when the cookies don't show up? Just kidding. However, in reality it's really all the ingredients that go into the cookies that makes them great. It's also how they are blended together, and what temperature I allow them to cool to before I cut them. Then how long they are re-baked, and cooled, before they are iced. Even if I gave someone the recipe, the cookies wouldn't be the same.
See we are not all to be the same. There are different ingredients that go into each of us. Some of us have had opportunities others have not. Some of us have been through some heat, and fire, that others have not experienced. Still there are those that have been cut on, but never made it to the icing of life. God is the one in charge. He alone decides our purpose. But, then it is up to us to work with what we have been given. It is up to us to yield to His hand, and divine purpose for our life.
Today allow me to challenge you to submit to whatever the will of God is for your life. Go ahead and go through the process God has set before you. He considers this process that He has mapped out for you, His "labor of love". God wants you to be a gift to the world. God wants you to be all that He has planned. Yield to the process. All the ingredients are what makes you, who you are, and they are important. Leave one thing out, and you wouldn't be the same, anymore than my Biscotti's would be the same if I left out the oranges. No one ever mentions the oranges, but they are in there. I know you wish this or that hadn't become part of your history, but it's in there and with God...He makes all things work for your good and the good of others. You are a labor of love to the world.
There are times that only come once. Then there are times that circle around again like seasons. Roses bloom within a certain time within a season. Kairos (καιρός) is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical or opportune moment. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older but I'm starting to count minutes not days. I want to rest assured that if God opens a door I walk through it. If God says, "Go" I go. If God says, "Stay" I stay. I refuse to miss my season. What about you?
God is a God of second chances. If you missed your moment ask God to bring it around again. Roses will bloom again. The timing of God will circle around again. Step into your moment.
Habakkuk 2:3 “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Inevitably people will be people when it comes to wanting what they want. Black Friday is one of those days. When they want the Parking Place they want, the doll they want, the shirt they want, and no one better get in their way. People get hungry, they might be lonely, they may even be tired from shopping all night, so show some kindness. Why me? You may ask? Because of all people if you read this Blog? You probably know better.
Not let's all get out there and shop! Pay it forward. Do something nice for someone. Give them your cart! Help them with the door. Say, sorry when your bags almost knock them over. You can do this. After all we aren't taking any of this stuff to Heaven, but we may very well have one or two people wondering how we ever got to be their neighbor.
Ephesians 4:32 - And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
Enjoy your family, friends and food today, but don't forget to enjoy and share your faith!
Yes, gratitude is an important attitude in anyones life. People who are grateful live longer, sleep better, have greater health. So, today as we all have so much to do regardless if you are traveling, shopping, cooking, entertaining, or just plain hanging with the family. Really? Yes, because when we interact with people it takes a lot out of us. Emotionally if we approach the holidays with a grateful attitude we will enjoy the holidays so much more.
Let's not try to control everyone! Be thankful everyone is different, and yes.....be more tolerant of everyones idea of what the day looks like. Of course we live in a social society and to those of not just different ages but different generations. When you put everyone in the same room sparks can fly and not because someone has the cellphone Samsung Galaxy Note 7. the Bible even says we sharpen one another. Well when you rub to object together things can get a little heated.
Proverbs 27:17 (AKJV) "Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
We really have so much to be thankful for. It takes a lot from everyone for a truly enjoyable memory to be created. Sure it may take a little work to bite your tongue but turkey taste better with a healthy tongue, right? So, look at everyone with the eyes of gratefulness and soon you will begin to feel that gratitude start to build in everyone. Come on, go first!
Sometimes I allow others to have my Blog space because they say something so much better than I can. I felt this way when I read this from Jon. You all know I stock him....not really. But, I do read everything of his I can get my hands on.
BECOME A GRATITUDE MAGNET
Like most things in life, we seem to get back more of that which we give.
When you are grateful for the things in your life, big and small, you always seem to find more things to be grateful about.
I believe that...
Abundance will flow into our life when gratitude flows out of our heart.
When we live this way we become a gratitude magnet and experience more joy, love, peace, and happiness.
This was something I learned a number of years ago. At the peak of my misery, struggles and failures I realized I had to stop being disappointed about where I was and needed to start looking forward to where I was going. Once I started being thankful for the simple gifts in my life and became excited about the road ahead I experienced a completely different journey.
You can too.
Here are a few ways to start...
1. CREATE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Take out a piece of paper or open the notes app on your phone and write down 5 things you are grateful for. Every day do this and reflect on what you wrote down and why you are grateful for these things. Overtime you will become a gratitude magnet.
2. TAKE A THANK YOU WALK
It’s simple. It’s powerful and it’s a great way to start feeding the positive dog. How does it work? You simply take a walk... outside, in a mall, at your office, on a treadmill, etc and while walking you think about all the things, big and small, that you are grateful for. The research shows you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time so when you combine gratitude with physical exercise, you give yourself a double boost of positive energy. You flood your brain and body with positive emotions and natural anti-depressants that uplift you rather than the stress hormones that drain and slowly kill you.
3. APPRECIATE OTHERS
Take a moment to let someone know that you appreciate them… a spouse, family member, co-worker, or friend. Call them, write a letter, send them a text... whatever it is, just be intentional to let them know how much they matter. Sometimes they need to hear this more than you know.
4. GIVE THE GIFT OF KINDNESS
As you go throughout your day look for opportunities to serve and help others. We often think helping others is about the big things but it’s really about doing the little things with a kind, compassionate and grateful heart. Open the door for someone. Pay for a stranger’s meal. Help someone with their carryon bag on an airplane. Take a co-worker to lunch. Smile as you walk down the street even if you live in NYC :) . The list is endless. Just know that when you decide to be a blessing to others you will be blessed.
5. SAY THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT
At bedtime reflect on your day, identify and share all that you are thankful for. If you have children you can read Thank You and Goodnight with them and add to it.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you for allowing me to share this newsletter with you. I'm thankful for YOU.
Fear is like a virus. It's easy to catch, quick to spread and can put us out of commission. Fear can even be handed down to our kids. There is however a way to avoid it. Fear God. When we know the power and presence of God we understand that know weapon formed against us will prosper. We refuse to get in fear because perfect love cast off fear. God loves us and He cares for us. God's desire is to protect and provide for His children. Fear on the other hand prevents us from doing and being all God has called us to be and do.
Most of us have cell phones. Many of us use our phones to call people. Some of us even go a little further and text and maneuver around in Social Media. But, most of our cell phones will do all sorts of things we are unaware of, so we don't use the phone to it's capacity. Much of the church use God only to the extent they use their cell phone. Call up God when someone get's sick. Text God when I need help at work. However, God has an entire program that He wants to download us with that is an anti-virus to fear among thousand of others things. It has a program for success, wealth, health, humility, honor, warfare and so many other things,yet just like the programs on our cell phones they go unused. We hold them right in the palm of our hand,yet like a virus keeping them from running, our lack of knowledge sits and spins, stuck, frozen and incapacitated.
It's time for an upgrade that was purchased for you thousands of years ago. It is time to move into faith and out of fear. It is time to utilize all that the fullness of Christ has provided for us.
Action Step: Set aside the cell phone for fifteen minutes a day and get into the Bible (The Program) that will and can change your life. Learn about the "Fear of God" and you will no longer have to fear man or any other person or thing.
It has been years of watching some of the funniest people, that I have come to the conclusion, that most of them are dealing with depression and past wounds an hurts.
Looking outside of ourselves into the window of others lives can help us to be more aware of how we can help others. We all are called to be Jesus with skin on, but what does that look like? We are not just going to put on the old WWJD Bracelet and suddenly become little Jesuses. In wanting to help others, perhaps we should look to see what we can do for others, rather than looking to what they can do for us.
Think of people that are your friends and family members, and ask yourself today what makes them smile? What do they need? How can I be a blessing to them? We take time to do this during Pastor Appreciation Month, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, Grandparents Day, but what about today? What if today was the only day you had? How do you want to spend it? On whom do you want to spend it?
Action Step: Jesus came to serve not to be served. Sure a lot of people's job may be to make us laugh, but some jobs are pretty "Thankless" jobs. Today thank someone who isn't expecting anything, and watch it bring healing to their soul!
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Rena Perozich is a wife, mother, mentor, author, and encourager. Her life's purpose is to become all God has called her to be and to encourage others to do the same. Learn more.