Monday, August 27, 2012

My days are numbered...

photo courtesy pdsimao,
"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

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

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

He Loves Me!

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

photo courtesy Columbine,
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.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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, 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!


(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.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

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.

Photo courtesy criscris1

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,
  • 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.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

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

Photo courtesy xymonau.
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.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

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,

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.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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 ,
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.)