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Trading Anxiety for Peace and Joy

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5-7

For the past week or so, I've been anxious. You see, November 21st was my last day of work. My job was not working out for several reasons and after prayer and talking with my husband, we decided it would be best to leave that position. I was excited about some new possibilities and eager to be home and explore those possibilities. So, what have I done since being home?  I've been anxious. Not worried, but anxious to get things going to find my direction, my new enterprise and to delve into it wholeheartedly.

The problem is...was...that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I prayed about it - have been praying about it - but have not yet received any direction. That's when I let anxiety creep in.

What if I had made a mistake in quitting my job? What if I didn't find something to bring in some money to help pay the bills? What if my life slipped back into the state it was in before I found that job? I had been anxious, constantly scrambling for ways to make money, to validate myself, to feel like I had a purpose. I didn't - don't - want to go back to that, and yet, I could feel myself slipping right back into it. Until this morning...

God, in his awesome faithfulness opened my eyes this morning to realize that every minute I spend in anxiety is a waste of the day that He has given me NOW. This is the day that the Lord has made and I should rejoice and be glad in it, not be anxious in it. Anxiety steals your joy and God wants me to live a joyous life. I dug further into my Bible, then read a few pages in one of my journals where I had recorded some powerful truths about praying in faith and through that portion of time I spent with God this morning, He lifted the anxiety.

Today, I will be joyful, I am trusting God to lead me in the direction He wants me to go in this next stage of my life and I am trusting Him to provide for our needs in whatever way He chooses. I'm open to His will and I'm refusing to be anxious. And, yes, I feel His peace. Just as He promised. When we lay anxiety aside, we receive His peace.

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your peace that passes all understanding. My circumstances haven't changed, but my heart and mind have. You have taken away the anxiety and replaced it with peace and joy. What a wonder you are!

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Ministry Burnout - Are you doing someone else's part?

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Romans 12:4-5

photo courtesy  weirdvis, rgbstock.com
I've heard this verse used many times to remind us that each of us have a part to play in the church (the body of Christ). Each of us is blessed with gifts, talents and abilities that qualify us to fulfill specific needs in the church and if each one of us will use those gifts, the body functions just as it was meant to function. That's the usual application of this verse and it's spot on, but today I saw a different side of it.

Not only do members not all have the same function, no one member has everything it takes to do every job in the church and yet, it's common to see one person filling several rolls within the church, just because there's a need, just because they're available or just because no one else has stepped up.

There's so much wrong with that picture that I don't know where to begin. First, that "do-it-all" person is going to burn out. Second, that person will do their best, but probably not do as well as someone who has been gifted in a particular area would do. Third, if they keep stepping into the roles that others were meant to fulfill, they are thwarting the will of God.

Now, that's a shocking statement. Most of us (yes, I'm including myself) think that if we volunteer (willingly or out of guilt or need) that we are doing God's will, but that's not so. It's not God's will for one person to be stretched so thin that ministry becomes drudgery. It's not God's will that some people don't step up because they are lazy, or because the position seems to already be filled.

I can hear what you're saying..."but if I don't do it, it won't get done." I know because, that's what I've said, but really, God is capable of bringing others in to do the work, isn't He? If it's something He wants done, He will provide the worker. Maybe we just have too many projects going.

As for me, I have learned when to say no and when to say yes. I've learned to identify those things that God wants me involved in and those things that are not where He wants me. That doesn't always make others happy, but I believe it makes God happy when I'm not overloaded and angry about doing way more than my share of work while others just sit.

So, what are your thoughts on this matter?

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Are You Wasting Away

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. " 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

Have you ever noticed that the older people get, the more they talk about their aches and pains? I had an aunt that used to talk about someone named Arthur all the time and how he was "kicking up." It took me a while to realize that this guy named Arthur was really her arthritis. My grandma liked to talk about her bunions, psoriasis, diabetes and her old ticker.

I thought it was all gross...until now. When I hit 40, my body began to fall apart. I found out that heredity was not my friend and that many of the things the old folks used to talk about had been handed down to me.

While I do my best not to bore people with my ailments, it can be disheartening at times not to be able to do the things I once could and to know that it won't really get much better. At least not physically, but spiritually...my life is getting better and better in every way.

As I draw closer to old age, I draw closer to God and experience an increasing excitement that the time for us to be together forever is growing closer every day. It gives me a sense of urgency about focusing on the things that are truly important. It helps me realize that as distressing as life's problems can be, they are all just temporary. And it helps me to depend on God more and more for strength, wisdom and provision.

Growing old ain't for wimps, so while my body may be wasting away, I'm looking at those things that are unseen, but more real than what we can see - the eternal things like faith, hope, love, joy, heaven, angels, streets of gold, loved ones who've gone on before. No more bills, no more taxes, no more diets, no more pain or sickness, no more tears...

We sure have a lot to look forward to, don't we?

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Today I am stepping across the line...again.


Because life throws curve balls, because temptation is...well, tempting, and because your life speaks volumes to others, sometimes you just gotta take a stand, make a declaration - and stick with it. 
 
Several years ago I made the following declaration with thousands of people at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and every once in a while I feel the need to refocus my heart, so this is me taking a stand...
 
Today I am stepping across the line. I'm tired of waffling, and I'm finished with wavering. I've made my choice; the verdict is in; and my decision is irrevocable. I'm going God's way. There's no turning back now!

I will live the rest of my life serving God's purposes with God's people on God's planet for God's glory. I will use my life to celebrate his presence, cultivate his character, participate in his family, demonstrate his love, and communicate his Word.

Since my past has been forgiven, and I have a purpose for living and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying. Instead I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of his family.

Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, "we" over "me," character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most and I'll give it all I've got. I'll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.

I won't be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil. I'll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me. When times get tough and I get tired, I won't back up, back off, back down, back out, or backslide. I'll just keep moving forward by God's grace. I'm Spirit-led, purpose-driven, and mission-focused, so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.

I'm a trophy of God's amazing grace so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for every day, and generous with everything that God entrusts to me.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say: However, whenever, wherever, and whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes! Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I'm ready. Anytime. Anywhere. Any way. Whatever it takes Lord; whatever it takes! I want to be used by you in such a way that on that final day I'll hear you say, "Well done, thou good and faithful one. Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!"

Originally shared by Rick Warren at Angel Stadium, April 7th, 2005. Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose-Driven Life. This covenant may be reprinted for nonprofit use as long as the following tagline appears: "This article is printed from the website www.PurposeDriven.com. Copyright 2005 by Rick Warren. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
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A Grandmother's Legacy

My beautiful grandmother, Mable Glaze
A blogging friend of mine posted this verse on her blog today...

I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 1:4

It brought back wonderful memories of my Grandma Glaze. She was a colorful and fiesty lady and I loved her spunk. When she passed, I inherited her Bible. While thumbing through it I came across this same verse in 3rd John. It was underlined and "My favorite verse" was written in the margin.

My Grandma gave birth to 14 children. When she passed, she had 52 grandchildren. I've lost track of how many great-grandchildren, but it's very near 100 and now we're into the great-great generation - maybe about 35 so far...and almost all of them are believers!

Never underestimate the power of a praying mother and grandmother!

The greatest thing you can do for your family for generations to come is to pray them into the Kingdom of God and never, ever give up.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

How Soon We Forget!

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I was reading Psalm 106 this morning. It tells the story of how God delivered the children of Israel from slavery and led them out of Egypt. He allowed them to escape the pursuing army by parting the Red Sea, enabling them to cross on dry land. What a time of rejoicing that must have been!  They were finally free and headed toward the Promised Land. God had performed many miracles to bring them to this place, and yet, the Psalm goes on to say…

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” Psalm 106:13
When I read this, I just want to shake my head. After all God did for these people, it says they soon forgot what he had done and instead of waiting for his plans for them to unfold, they started making plans of their own. When God didn’t seem to be working fast enough for them or in the way they thought he should, they began trying to figure things out on their own – with a bunch of mumbling and complaining thrown in, I might add.  Isn’t that just crazy?
Uh…isn’t that just what we do?
I’m raising my hand…guilty as charged. I hate to admit that, but it’s true.
Just recently my husband had to have complete knee replacement surgery. The cost to us was going to be over $4000. (and that’s with insurance!)
I don’t know about you, but we don’t have that kind of money laying around. We had no idea where we would get it, but God had it all under control. We received checks that we did not expect, friends started giving us money, co-workers took up an offering, we auctioned off a few things and they brought in more money than we dreamed they would.
By the time his surgery came around, we had it all paid for – and that was God’s miracle to us. But, what happened next?
Our income changed and we were bringing in $400 a month less than we had been.  What did I do? Did I remember the financial miracle God had just performed? Did I relax and wait for his plans to unfold for us?
Nope!  I started wracking my brains for ways to earn extra money, spent scads of time on the computer researching different small business possibilities, and began to let worry and anxiety creep in. Until this morning, that is. Until God led me to this passage of scripture and showed me that I was behaving exactly like the children of Israel did. Those people that I was so quick to judge.
So, now I’m back on track, but wondering…
Does this kind of stuff ever happen to you?
If so, let me encourage (read strongly urge) you to go read Psalm 106. I can pretty much guarantee that once you’ve read it, you won’t want to travel the same road the children of Israel did. Remember how long it took them???
 -------------------------------------------------------Previously published as a guest post on Encourage 365

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Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

It's all Found IN Him

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In church Sunday morning during worship, certain words started skipping across my mind. Words like...

Peace
Joy
Comfort
Provision
Wisdom
Healing
Grace
Mercy
 
...all things we long for, things we pray for, but as I thought about how we ask God for these things, it occurred to me that if we are seeking God with our whole heart, there is no need to pray for these things, for they are all found in Him. When we find Him, we have all these things, so rather than seek them, seek Him. I know this is no big revelation to most of you, but for some reason, it was a light-bulb moment for me. Now I can just focus on knowing God and experiencing His presence, sitting with Him and soaking up all that is in Him. When I do that, I will lack nothing, for every good thing is found in Him. 
 
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If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

J.O.Y. – Jesus On You by Debra Torres


            Aeropostale, American Eagle and Abercrombie … oh my! Today’s brand-named clothing makes a heavy mark on our teen generation doesn’t it?  When my boys turned a certain age, and the hand-me-downs and Wal-Mart sale rack suddenly didn’t cut it, I had no idea what I was in for. I remember the day I found out. I was on a field trip with my son where I was surrounded by young teens his age. I was waiting in line for something and doing a bit of “people watching.” Looking at the kids around me, I was amazed at all brand names I saw plastered on their shirts and hoodies. It was an epidemic!


I’m really no different. In my day, we had our own brand names.  In the 80s folks wore popular clothes like Izod, ESPIRIT and Gitano. And for myself today, even though my choices are more for comfort and warmth, what I put on still matters to me. I guess there’s still a certain image I want to reflect. 
In some strange way, brand names  can seem to “identify” us with who we want to be. And yes, I’m talking to you “John Deere” and “Harley” fans too!
In a sermon I heard last Sunday, the pastor made a reference to the cross and having it as our identity. He talked about the importance of having Jesus “on” us. Pointing out someone in the back of the church, he said that he could see Jesus all over them. It was then that he made the cute acronym that I liked--J.O.Y – Jesus on you. You know, I know what he meant. There have been times in my life when I could sense the presence of God on a person so strongly that I could see it their eyes.
The Bible talks about this in Romans 13:14:  “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”
I remember once when I visited a physical therapist for the first time, and she came out to the waiting room to greet me.  After introducing herself and talking with me a bit, the physical therapist gently put her hand on my back for a moment to lead me in the direction of her examining room.
Later, when I began to tell her about myself, she beamed. “I knew you were a Christian when I put my hand on your back,” she said, a believer herself. “I just felt it!”
She felt it?! What a compliment – probably my best ever. Because, you know, like most people, I love it when someone makes a positive comment something I’m wearing.  But it wasn’t the brand on my shirt she admired, nor was it the leather tab on my jeans, but it was Christ on me and in me – the hope of glory.
I remember reading about Moses’ journey through the desert with the rebellious Israelites. Whenever Moses would go up to speak with God and learn his commands, it says in Exodus 34 that: “the skin on his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
Wow! Now that’s some serious evidence of God’s presence. In fact, this was so powerful that it freaked out the Israelites a bit, and Moses took to wearing a veil over his face whenever he was done speaking with God!
So, when we’re dressing ourselves each day, we need to remember what’s most important to put on. And, I’m not saying that wearing brand names is a bad thing. In fact, I make my kids laugh when we visit a big mall and I make a bee line for their favorite teen clothing stores. Hey, I gotta keep up don’t I? But, as I’m working on my “cool mom” image, I hope that above all - they see Jesus on me. 
Ephesians 4:22-24 (New Living Translation)
throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (New Living Translation)

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

Psalm 149:4 (English Standard Version)

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Debra Torres writes about life and the Christian walk in a way that’s real and personal. Check out her free devotions over at ChristianBlog Devotionals. It’s a down-home Christian devotional blog that'll water the garden of your soul.
 

©Debra Torres Copywriting and Design. Writer retains full reprint rights.
 
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Is Complaining a Spiritual Gift?

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The other day I teasingly called my Pastor a slacker. It's not true.  He's one of the hardest working men I know,  His response? "It's what I do best," which set me off.

Me: "I know just what you mean, Pastor. I am totally gifted at complaining. It's what I do best and I don't understand why I shouldn't be allowed to use this gift on a regular basis!" It was all in jest, but the thread of truth is that, by nature, I am a complainer. I've gotten so good at it that I often don't realize I'm doing it.

Yesterday my husband and I went to a huge antique store to browse. During the hour or so that we wandered through the booths I heard myself saying, "I'm a little dizzy. My stomach is a bit queasy. These prices are too high. Too bad we don't have enough money to stop and eat after we get out of here. I'm hungry. These stairs hurt my knees."

Now, all these things were true to a minor extent, but none of them were really stressing me. I wasn't really sick enough, sore enough or poor enough to complain. It just came out without effort or thought on my part. It's a habit. A bad habit. I know this and I need to change my thought processes and my words.

God must think so, too, because in reading my morning devotions from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, this is what it said...
You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent. Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand. I am pleased with your desire to stay close to Me. There is one thing, howeveer, that displeases Me: your tendency to complain. (ouch) You may talk to Me as much as you like about the difficulty of the path we are following. I understand better than anyone else the stresses and the strains that have afflicted you. You can ventilate safely with Me, because talking with Me tempers your thoughts and helps you see things from My perspective.
 
Complaining to others is another matter altogether. It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage. Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me and talk it out. As you open up to Me, I will put My thoughts into your mind and My song in your heart.
(Jeremiah 31:25; Philippians 2:14-15)
 
Ahem...uh, yeah, that hit me right between the eyes.
 
How about you?
Are you a complainer?
Why do you think we complain?
What do we get out of it?
Are you going to make any changes after reading this?
 
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
 
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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


The Seen and The Unseen


Don't ignore the world around you, but subordinate your concept of this world to the unseen reality of a God who sees and knows and is in control of both worlds - the seen and the unseen.

Seek His guidance and wisdom for relating to this world so that you will see with His eyes, hear with His ears, love with His heart and minister with His hands. 


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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)
 
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Wait Quietly in My Presence


 
"Wait quietly in My Presence while My thoughts form silently in the depths of your being."
(taken from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

photo courtesy mokra, rgbstock.com
I read these words this morning and they really struck a chord in my heart. How often do I get quiet enough, still long enough to discern the voice of the Lord? To let his thoughts be formed in the depths of my being? Not often enough, I can tell you! So, I took some time this morning to just sit quietly in His Presence. Did I receive any earth-shattering messages from God? No, but I did experience a deep sense of peace that has stayed with me throughout this day. I will definitely be developing this new habit from now on! How about you? Do you sit quietly with God on a regular basis? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. If not, will you be giving this a try? Blessings,Jan  -------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

This World is Unraveling

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via photo pin cc
"You inhabit a fallen, disjoined world, where things are constantly unraveling around the edges. Only a vibrant relationship with Me can keep you from coming unraveled too." ~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I seldom listen to the evening news anymore. Why? Because when I do, within a few minutes I hear about murders, break-ins, abuse, abductions, bank robberies, disease and which celebrity/politician stole/lied/cheated on his wife.  Talk about a world that is constantly unraveling around the edges!

I know that in this vast world there has to be some good things happening. Someone helped someone, a child was adopted, a disease was cured, the hungry were fed, someone found a job...good things happen, but they are seldom seen in the media. Why?

When I read the sentences above from my Jesus Calling devotional this morning, it just confirmed how critical it is to cultivate (work on, plow, nurture, improve, prepare) a vibrant (energized, enthusiastic, fresh) relationship with Jesus. It's important to note that a vibrant relationship with Jesus doesn't just happen. You must cultivate it - that takes time, dedication and consistancy. It takes faith and trust. It takes getting His word into you and getting into agreement with His word. It takes obedience and submission. But for those willing to put in the time, the benefits of a rich relationship with Jesus are never-ending...joy, peace, love, comfort, guidance, wisdom,hope, fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment....and the perfect antidote to the crazy, mixed-up, unraveling world.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

We can't stop the world from unraveling, but we can make sure that we're not coming unraveled with it.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Dual Realities?

As some of you know (because I’ve posted it on Facebook), I am loving a new devotional book I got about a month ago – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and here is why.
 
This morning I read this...
Living in God's Presence means living in two realms simultaneously; the visible world and unseen, eternal reality. God has equipped us to stay conscious of Him while walking along dusty, earthbound paths.
Doesn’t that just make you stop and think about the reality that we are in this world, but not of it? That what we cannot see is far more real than what we can see?
Prayer is a vital part of this equation. We whisper a prayer here and may think that not much is happening, but in the spiritual realm prayer is the catalyst that initiates miracles!
All heaven springs into action and all hell cowers at the power unleashed by prayer. Let’s hit our knees and shake things up a little!

Pick one thing that you really want to see God do in your life or the life of someone you love. Spend this week in concentrated prayer for that one thing and let's see what happens. Feel free to post here what you're praying for and we'll pray with you about it.
 
And do yourself a favor - pick up a copy of Jesus Calling - Enjoying Peace in His Presence 
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If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


My days are numbered...





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"Our time is limited. You (God) have given us only so many months to live and have set limits we cannot go beyond." Job 14:5 (NCV)


Yep, my days - your days - are numbered. We are only given so many days, months, years to live. How many? We have no idea. God knows, but we don't know. Sound morbid to you?


Our mortality is not something we like to think about, but ignoring the fact that our time is limited doesn't make it any less true. Recognizing that our time is limited, allows us to prioritize our lives better. It causes to think about what's really important. 

God's word puts it this way...
"So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do." Ephesians 5:15-17

When we're asked to add another thing to our schedule, to our children's schedules, we should stop and ask ourselves...

In light of the knowledge that our days are limited, is it wise to add this particular thing to our schedule? Not, is it right or wrong, but is it wise?

Add things to your schedule by putting the things that are a top priority for you on the calendar first.

How will you know which things are most important?

Pray...ask God to give you wisdom.
"But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you." James 1:5
 Prayer...

Dear Father,
"Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise." Psalm 90:12
Amen

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


He Loves Me!

This week, I celebrated my 60th birthday. Woohoooo - and - are you kidding me?

photo courtesy Columbine,
 rgbstock.com
It's hard to believe I'm 60 years old, but you know what's harder for me to believe? That up until a few weeks ago I didn't really "know" that God loves me.

That's a strange statement coming from someone who's been a Christian for over 35 years. It's not that I didn't believe God loved me...I did. And the reason I believed it is because the Bible says so, because He sent His only Son to die for my sins, because that's what the Pastor says. 

I knew it, but I didn't know it.

I'm talking about that deep down, knowing in your spirit - where you are so sure of something that you can finally relax and enjoy it, because you know it and you know that it's never going to change?

Am I making any sense, here?

Because of my background, I've always been very introspective. Examining myself to see if I think I measure up to what I think I should be as a Christian. Striving - always striving to be better - not so I could earn salvation (I know that's a free gift of God), but so that I might be pleasing to God - so that He would be "proud" of me. I know that's a throw-back to trying to please my earthly Dad, but I couldn't shake it...until now.

What brought me to the realization that God really loves me after 35+ years of following Him closely, reading my Bible, attending church, working in the church, telling others about Him?

A little devotional book called, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Seriously, I've read many, many devotional books, but this one is different. This one is written as if Jesus is speaking to me personally - as if I am sitting with Him each morning while He gives me a special message from His heart.

It has brought me closer to God and has finally helped me to know, that I know, that I know, that He really loves me - just the way I am.

And it only took 60 years for me to figure that out. Sheesh - talk about a slow learner!


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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

To Pout or Not to Pout...

that is the question.

How do you behave when things go "wrong" in your life? Do you take it in stride, knowing that life throws curve balls at everyone, or do you sink into what my Mama used to call the mullygrubs?

photo courtesy  mokra, rgbstock
mullygrubs: a despondent, sullen, or ill-tempered mood

What happens to your relationship with God when problems arise? Do you act as if you are being punished for something you aren't aware of? Do you cut off communication with Him? Or whine all the time about the problem?

I'm only asking because...ummm....well...er, this is how I act - sometimes. That's an awful thing to have to admit, but I'll admit it, because after reading this verse...

"People, trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our protection. Selah" Psalm 62:8 (NCV),

I'm rather ashamed of my own behavior. God is good all the time. We should trust Him all the times. When problems hit (as they always do), we should tell Him our problems - not blame Him for them.

If we're really honest (and heck...let's be really honest here) most of our problems are of our own making. Not all - sometimes we're blindsided by troubles, but if we trace the crisis back to it's roots, it's often a consequence of a bad choice we made somewhere along the road. And then we blame God for letting it into our lives.

And here's another truth that's hard to face - sometimes God allows problems into our lives to shape our character and help us mature into the image of Christ. I mean, how can He teach us patience if we don't experience situations where it is necessary? How can we know He will provide if we're never in need? How can we understand the depth of His forgiveness if we never have to forgive someone who has hurt us?

So, the next time I go through a rough spot in life, instead of getting all pouty...instead of acting like I'm being punished unjustly, I'm going to be intentional about drawing closer to God in the stickiness of life. I'm going to spend lots of time talking (not whining) to Him, because He is my Protector, not my Punisher!

Selah!

(definition of Selah: "pause and think of that" (amplified bible) - in current venacular: word up!)

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

When Satan Goes In For the Kill

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about Strengthening our Spiritual Core. A friend posted a comment that read...

"My spiritual core gets weak when I don't read the word and stay in communication with the Lord. That's when Satan attacks the most because he knows I am weak then." ~Chelle

As I read her comment, I had to agree...especially with that last part - that it seems Satan attacks hardest when he knows we are weak.  But that made me wonder - how does Satan know when we are weak? What makes him think that we are wounded enough that he can go in for the kill?

I don't believe that he is able to read our thoughts, so how does he sense our vulnerability?

I think we tip him off.

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How?

With words of discouragement, doubt and frustration.
With slumped shoulders and shuffling feet.
With a defeated attitude and a joyless demeanor.

You can usually read a person's state of being by observing them for just a short amount of time, so maybe that's the same way the enemy knows when we're feeling weak...and he goes in for the kill.

Life can be hard at times. It wears us down and unless we are proactive in building spiritual stamina, we soon begin to exhibit signs of weariness, tipping off the enemy that we may not be able to withstand his attacks at that moment.

I, for one, do not want to be an open book for Satan to read.

My plan?

First, to be diligent in building my spiritual core, knowing that God says...

  • I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13
  • I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
  • Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • To put on the whole armor of God so that we might take a stand against the devil's schemes. Ephesians 6:10-18
.
Second, I am not going to tip off the enemy when I am feeling weak. Instead I will...
Photo courtest mokra, rgbstock.com
  • Let the word of Christ dwell richly in me
  • Sing, rejoice and give thanks to God (out loud) from a grateful heart
  • Stand firm and speak words of faith to let the devil (and those around me) know that I trust God in all circumstances and that even in the hard places of life...He makes me strong
If Satan thinks he can read me like a book, then that book is going to be the Word of God!

How about you?
  • Do you have a plan in place to keep yourself strong in the faith and therefore, less susceptible to attacks from the enemy?
  • Do you recognize ways that you tip off the enemy, making you an easy target?
Share your thoughts in a comment. We'd love to hear from you.
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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Pray Like You Mean It

“While Jesus lived on earth, he prayed to God and asked God for help. He prayed with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death, and his prayer was heard because he trusted God.” Hebrews 5:7

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It’s amazing to me that Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears. It wasn’t with perfect words, spoken in just the right tone. No, Jesus prayed with all that was within him – anguish, frustration, desire, longing...he poured out his heart to God with everything he was feeling. He prayed urgently, with emotion.

Do we do that? Or do we just read through a list of prayer requests and gloss over each one? Emotionless prayers with no sense of an urgent desire for God to answer the needs of our brothers and sisters?

Honestly, I have to raise my hand to this question and say "guilty". Sometimes it’s just a quick, perfunctory prayer that I utter.
 
I’m not saying we should work up false emotions when we pray, but if we are called to be intercessors, we should be praying like we really want God to answer.  If we're praying for the needs of those in our church, we need to pray like these things are happening in our own families, for in truth...they are.

This week, let’s put a little more effort in our prayers. If this does not pertain to you, just dismiss it and carry on, but if it does...then I’m right there with you, my friends.

The last part of that verse says that “his prayer was heard because he trusted God”. Let’s really trust God to go to work in each of these situations. Let’s expect him to answer.
 
What do you do to keep your prayer life vibrant?
Share your thoughts in a comment.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

How our words affect our emotions

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
Photo courtesy lusi, rgbstock.com

Have you ever noticed that when you say something nice about your - spouse, friend, co-worker, neighbor, church that you like them a little bit more, but if you say something negative about them, you like them a bit less?

Our words matter. They not only affect how we feel about others, even when we're only speaking to ourselves, but they influence the feelings of others who hear us speak...especially our children.

Have you ever been influenced by the negative comments of other?
How can you counteract the effects of negative comments spoken in your presence?
Will you be more careful about the words you speak, now?

Leave a comment with your thoughts.




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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Why would God give you more blessings than you need?

"And God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything—enough to give to every good work. God is the One who gives seed to the farmer and bread for food. He will give you all the seed you need and make it grow so there will be a great harvest from your goodness...He will make you rich in every way so that you can always give freely. And your giving through us will cause many to give thanks to God."
2 Corinthians 9:8,10-11 (NCV)

God does not bless us with more than we need so that we can indulge ourselves. If He gives us more than we need (not want), it's because He wants to use us to bless others.

Photo courtesy lusi ,rgbstock.com
All around us, people are in need. Kids who need back-to-school clothes and supplies, a single mom who needs diapers and formula, an elderly person who needs help with medical bills or house repairs.
God has placed us exactly where we are in our neighborhoods, our jobs, our churches. He knows the needs of those around us and would love to use us to help meet those needs. 

"But I don't have lots of extra money," I hear you say. Here's a radical idea...what if we downsize a bit - simplify our lives? What if we get rid of those things we don't really need. Sell them and give the money to help others. What if we really step out and give away something we need? Do we trust God to provide for us as we show generosity to others?

It's tempting to hold on to what we have...just in case. Fear of the future keeps us from stepping out in faith.

Sometimes we cop the attitude that "I worked hard for this, why should I give it away even if it's extra money?"

I don't have all the answers, but what I do know is that God is challenging me to trust Him more. To be willing help others, then trust Him to help me.  Recently God supplied over $4000 that we needed to cover the expense of surgery. It came in bit by bit from unexpected sources and arrived just at the right time. This convinced me that God wants us to help others and that He is able meet all my needs..

We (my husband and I), are excited about this new season in our lives...learning to stretch our faith and trust God beyond what we can see and do for ourselves.

Here's what I know...God is faithful to His Word!

Has God provided for you after you helped someone else?
Do you use extra funds to help others?
Would you consider downsizing or selling some things off in order to help someone in need?

Would love to hear your comments.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Strengthening your Spiritual Core

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A few weeks ago I picked up an exercise video at the thrift store. I might as well confess to you right now that I am really out of shape. In an effort to change that, I popped the video into the DVD player and prepared myself to sweat.

This video was different. It was a Yoga workout. The music was soft and soothing, the movements gentle and I was doing great until I was instructed to lie on the floor and do what they called some core strengthening movements.

I couldn't do them. No matter how much I tried to scrunch my abs, I couldn't do it. I have no stomach muscles to speak of. I tried-I tried hard, but could not lift myself from the floor.  The instructor droned on about how this would strengthen my core until I finally yelled at the TV, "I have no core!"

I finally gave up and turned the stinkin' thing off.

Today I was thinking about that video. Not because I wanted to try it again (I've since taken up walking and find that much easier.), but because I I started thinking about my spiritual core.

You know, that part of you that stands strong in the faith, trusting God, believing His Word, unshakable in the storms of life. At least that's how it is if our spiritual core is strong, but if we've allowed our spiritual core to grow weak, we are an easy target for discouragement, fear, doubt and an attack from the enemy.

How do we strengthen our spiritual core?

  • Reading the Word, hiding it in our hearts, speaking it and standing on it
  • Staying in communication with God (prayer) and walking in obedience to Him
  • Surrounding ourselves with strong believers at church, in our small groups
Does that mean we should cloister ourselves within a tight Christian circle? No, it means that if we practice these things, we will strengthen our spiritual core so that not only are we able to stand strong, but we will have something to offer others, an unshakable faith to share with unbelievers and those who are going through the storms of life.

This is one kind of exercise I can do - one that I love to do...and I'm working on the other kind...strengthening my physical core.

How about you? Are you maintaining a strong spiritual core? What do you think are some things that weaken our spiritual core?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Help me, Lord, I'm going under!


"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

Sometimes life's struggles, trials and temptations feel as if they are dragging us under, as if they will swallow us up. It's hard to see a positive outcome and God seems to have left us to fend for ourselves, but He hasn't!

It's the enemy who whispers...

"You'll never make it out of this one."
"You've messed up too bad this time, God is through with you."
"The thing you fear the most is going to happen."
"You're in this one alone."
Lies, all lies!

The Bible says this about the devil - "there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. " (John 8:44b)

The best way to deal with a liar is to stand firm on the truth. Here's some truth you can stand on...

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Dueteronomy 31:6

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Dueteronomy 31:8

"So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:6

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. " Psalm 55:22

"Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth." Revelation 3:10

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

We can stand on these scriptures, assured that though the floods come and the fires rage, we will not be overcome, but will be carried in the arms of God.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Ouch!

"Sometimes we choose to live with the burden of sin until it causes chronic pain that weighs us down, holds us back, and makes us miserable." ~Tresa Walker

I read that sentence over at Strength Renewed this morning.

My response?

"OUCH!

This is such a true statement that I almost recoiled when I read it. Why? Because it hit a nerve, that's why. Without exposing myself entirely, suffice it to say that I have struggled with a particular sin nearly all my life.

Ok, it's overeating. There, I said it.

With one sentence, God used Tresa (author of Strength Renewed) to put a finger on my issue (issue sounds so much better than sin).  He pointed out that this sin is causing chronic pain that weighs me down (literally) and holds me back. And yes, it makes me miserable.

So, why do I choose to live with that sin? To continue in it day after day? Honestly...I don't know.  I've fought this battle so long and in so many ways that it almost seems destined to win over me, but I'm a stubborn gal. I don't want sin to control me.  I want my life and my behavior to be pleasing to God, so I'll keep fighting and I'll keep trusting God to do in me what I can't do by myself.

I'm so blessed by other Christian bloggers that speak truth into the blogosphere so that God can direct people like me to the words I need to hear.

Thank you, Tresa, for letting God use you this way.

God bless all Christian bloggers!

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

You can put away the duct tape!

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29


Image credit: martyhaas, 123RF Stock Photo
The past few days have been rough. I've been feeling discouraged and out of sorts with several things in my life. How did I handle it?  The wrong way!

I mumbled, I grumbled, I complained and whined. I nursed and rehearsed hurts and problems. I neglected my time with God and made those around me want to run the other way.

The words that were coming out of my mouth were anything but wholesome. While I pride myself on not being a person who swears, I know that negativity can do more harm than a cuss word ever could.  Negativity tears down not only the speaker, but everyone around them. Negativity is contageous and I was a carrier.

It's a wonder my friends and family didn't pull out a roll of duct tape and shut me up!

Fortunately, this evening God got ahold of me and gave me a good talking to. He reminded me that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are supposed to be acceptable to Him (Psalm 19:14)... Mine weren't.

He reminded that reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

He reminded me that the tongue has the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21)

Positive, faith-filled words bring life, contentment and hope to both the speaker and the hearer.

Negative, discouraging words bring death to the spirit and hopes of both the speaker and the hearer.

If I have to be a carrier of either life and hope or death and hopelessness...I choose life.

This girl is gonna be watchin' her words from not on, so you can put away the duct tape!

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Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)