The Whole Heart Challenge – Chapter 2

Today we are discussing chapter 2 of my book, Giving God Your Whole Heart. In this chapter we see the importance of reading our Bibles every day. There are a lot of things we can do in our daily lives to draw closer to the Lord. But I believe in my own life, this one habit has helped me grow the most. I love opening my Bible and seeing what God wants to show me each morning. In my book I wrote about a time when I was on vacation and had skipped reading my Bible for a few days. Well, something similar happened again recently. Due to my busy schedule, I was not reading my Bible every morning. You’d think I would’ve known better! My days felt messy and I lost my sense of peace. So I vowed to not let that happen again. Reading the Bible each morning really does connect us to the Lord, it helps us face our day, and it brings us some much needed serenity. God longs to spend time with us and will happily meet us as we sit down with His Word in front of us.

Share in the comments: Was there something from this chapter of the book that resonated with you?

Don’t forget to check out today’s song: Word of God Speak by MercyMe

(If you want to join the Whole Heart Challenge, then I invite you to grab a copy of my book, Giving God Your Whole Heart. We will meet up here each Tuesday and Saturday throughout the month to discuss each of the nine chapters in the book.)

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The Whole Heart Challenge – Chapter 1

I am so excited to be hosting the Whole Heart Challenge! I hope you are excited too! I decided to hold the challenge this month because it falls during Lent. If you want to join the Whole Heart Challenge, then I invite you to grab a copy of my book, Giving God Your Whole Heart. We will meet up here each Tuesday and Saturday throughout the month to discuss each of the nine chapters in the book.

Today we are discussing chapter 1. One of the things that we touched on in this chapter of the book was the story of the prodigal son, which is found in Luke 15:11-32. I really love this parable because it illustrates just how much our heavenly Father loves us. When we walk on this earth, we will have doubts, pain, regrets, heartache, and difficulties. All of these things tend to consume us as we walk through them. As a result, they take our eyes off of our Father because we are too focused on our worries. And in turn, we might forget just how much the Lord loves us. As time goes on, we might let life get in the way of our relationship with Him. But when we read this story in the Bible, it reminds us of God’s unfailing love. And hopefully it will help draw us closer to Him. Whatever you are facing today, remember that God loves you beyond measure. And He will help you with any battle you might be up against. Just turn towards Him and He will be there.

Share in the comments: Was there something from this chapter of the book that resonated with you?

Here is today’s song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Whole Heart by Brandon Heath.

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Happy Leap Day!

Happy Saturday! Happy Weekend! Happy Last Day of February! And Happy Leap Day! There is no official post for today. I just wanted to stop in and share two links with you.

Leap day is something that most of us do not give much thought about. But this year I invite you to make it a special day. To learn more, read my Christians Read blog post here: 86,400 Seconds.

And don’t forget, we have the Whole Heart Challenge starting soon. You can learn more about that by clicking here: The Whole Heart Challenge.

I hope you have a blessed day!

The Whole Heart Challenge

Do you long to draw closer to God? Do you want more of God’s presence? If the answer is yes, then I invite you to join the Whole Heart Challenge during the month of March. In the Whole Heart Challenge we will read through my book, Giving God Your Whole Heart, and meet up here to discuss. I chose to do this during the month of March, as this falls during Lent.

Depending on what church denomination(s) you have been to, you may or may not have heard of Lent. I currently go to a non-denominational church that doesn’t observe Lent. But I still find Lent to be a valuable time, so I prefer to observe it.

What is Lent? In anticipation of Easter, Lent is meant to be a time of spiritual reflection. It can be a very rich, soul-nourishing season if we make the right decisions.

When is Lent? Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (which lands on 2.26.20 this year) and lasts for about forty days. Lent ends just before Easter. (Easter will be on 4.12.20 this year.) Depending on the denomination (such as Catholic), some say it ends on Holy Thursday. But in the churches I went to when I was a child (such as Methodist), it was said to end on Holy Saturday.

You will often hear people say that they are giving up something for Lent. Some might say they are giving up chocolate or coffee (for example) in the name of the Lord. They are sacrificing something that they love, for God. However, rather than giving something up, another option would be to add something new to your routine. And that is what I plan to do this year, by hosting the Whole Heart Challenge. And I hope you will join me on this journey!

There are nine chapters in my book, Giving God Your Whole Heart. So we will meet up here each Tuesday and Saturday to discuss a chapter. You will need to grab a copy of my book and read the corresponding chapter by the date listed below.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 – Chapter 1
Saturday, March 7, 2020 – Chapter 2
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 – Chapter 3
Saturday, March 14, 2020 – Chapter 4
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – Chapter 5
Saturday, March 21, 2020 – Chapter 6
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – Chapter 7
Saturday, March 28, 2020 – Chapter 8
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 – Chapter 9

I am looking forward to the challenge and I hope you are too. I pray that by Easter, we all will see that we have drawn closer to God and deepened our faith!

One more thing. When we went through the Redeemed Challenge a few months ago, many of you especially enjoyed the corresponding song with each post. So, I decided to include music videos once again. Here is a song to get you warmed up! This song has been a theme song for me as I pursue writing and working for the Kingdom of God. And it fits well with the Whole Heart Challenge. Basically this song relays the message that I don’t want to just go through the motions. I want to be all in. Enjoy! The Motions by Matthew West

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Navigating Life

I am not perfect and I never will be. You are not perfect and you never will be. (Sorry) The only person who walked this earth who was perfect was Jesus.

I make mistakes every day. You probably make mistakes at times too.

I am not better than you. You are not better than me. The only person I strive to be better than each day is the person that I was the day before. We should all strive to improve and grow in our Christian walk. And as long as we are on this earth, God will mold us more and more to be like Jesus.

We are not here to judge one another (Matthew 7:1). Jesus is the ultimate judge (Acts 10:42).

But if we do see one another sinning, we are to steer our Christian sibling in the right direction (Matthew 18:15-20). However we should also encourage one another and build one another up with love (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We should seek to extend grace trying to think the best of others. We are all Christians (hopefully), doing our best (hopefully).

But we still have to remember that even though we live in this world, we are not of this world (John 15:19). And we need to be careful who we associate with (Proverbs 13:20). We have to be careful what we feed our minds; and we have to allow God to transform our minds (Romans 12:2).

So what is my point with all this? It can be difficult to navigate life in this world. And I think it’s even more difficult for Christians.

I strive to be open. I strive to be loving. God has extended so much grace, mercy, and forgiveness to me. And I strive to also extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness to others. But sometimes I fall short. As I said, I am not perfect. So each day I try to do better than the day before.

We should strive to be the light of Jesus to those around us (Matthew 5:16). After all, Jesus said to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:16-20).

But it takes a delicate balance. Jesus also said that if someone doesn’t listen or welcome us, we shouldn’t stick around (Matthew 10:14). And ultimately we also have to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). We cannot allow toxic things to take residence in our minds and hearts. At times those toxic things might come from other people. So this might mean making difficult decisions in our relationships.

Ultimately, I pray that, as Christians, we can put our best foot forward. I pray we can meet one another with grace and love. I pray we can encourage one another and build each other up.

So how exactly can we navigate our lives? How can we know if we are making the right decisions, have the right friendships, are saying the right things, or are doing the right things? It all boils down to one question:

Am I honoring God?

If the answer is no, then something has to change. Am I honoring God with my words? If not, then they need to change. Am I honoring God with my actions? If not, then they need to change. Am I honoring God with my relationships? If not, then they need to change. Am I honoring God with fill in the blank? If not, then blank needs to change.

As I said earlier, we will all make mistakes. But we can start over in this very moment. Starting right here and right now we can strive to honor God with our words, actions, and relationships. If we make a mistake tomorrow, then we can pick up the pieces and start over again. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

Are you with me? Will you strive to honor God in all you do? Then you can’t go wrong as you navigate life.

Biblical Prayers About God’s Love (Part 2 of 2)

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. On this day, many of us look to other people for love. But people can never love us perfectly. God’s love is the perfect love. So this is a great time to remind ourselves of just how much He loves us.

In the last post, we began talking about God’s love for us. Sometimes this can be really hard for us to understand. We might say that we know He loves us. But believing it deep in our core is another story. Getting into the Bible and praying scriptures about God’s love can help you unleash a new power in your life. Here are some more of those Biblical prayers about God’s love.

Abba Father, I know that You love me so very much and You are by my side through every difficulty. And if You are for me, then who can be against me? (Romans 8: 31)

God, the enemy likes to tell me how disappointed You are in me. But I know that You are merciful and gracious. You are slow to anger and You are abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

Father, I am thankful that I don’t have to earn Your love. By grace I have been saved through faith. This was not my own doing. It is a gift from You. So I thank You that You love me unconditionally and that I do not have to work for it. (Ephesians 2:8)

Lord, I know You are always with me. Thank You that You loved me first, and this in turn helped me to love You. (1 John 4:19)

Heavenly Father, it’s astonishing just how much You love me. And I am in awe and amazement that You love me just as much as You love Jesus. (John 17:23)

God, sometimes it feels like You’re silent. But I know that You have not forgotten me, for Your Word says that You have engraved me on the palms of Your hands. (Isaiah 49:16)

Lord, when I am facing a problem, I turn to You. You are my rock and my refuge. (Psalm 62:7)

Dear Father, I don’t ever want to doubt Your love. I want to remember that with You in my life, there is always hope. Please help me to remember that Your love has been poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:3-5)

Lord, Your steadfast love never ceases. Your mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear God, I overflow with gratitude when I think about the fact that You are always with me, You take great delight in me, and You rejoice over me with singing. Thank You for Your beautiful love. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

Biblical Prayers About God’s Love (Part 1 of 2)

Do you struggle with accepting God’s love for you? I know this can be hard to grasp. We can be hard on ourselves and only see our own faults and mistakes. So we think that is the way God sees us too. But once we become children of God, He sees us with unconditional love. He sees us as clean and white as snow. He sees Jesus when He looks at us. Here are some Biblical prayers you can pray, to help the love of God get deep within your soul.

Father, help me to remember how much You love me. For when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

God, when I am worried, I ask You to help me remember that I should not fear. You are with me and You will strengthen me, as You uphold me with Your righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Lord, when I am feeling down, I pray that You help me to keep in mind that You loved me so much that You gave Your only Son for me. And if I believed in Him, then I would not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Abba Father, when I doubt Your love for me, please remind me that nothing can ever separate me from Your love. (Romans 8:35-39)

Heavenly Father, I believe that You love me. You are love and whoever abides in love abides in You, and You abide in them. (1 John 4:16)

Father, I am not going to forget how deeply You love me. I know that You loved me so much that You sent Your Son to atone for my sins. (1 John 4:10)

God, when things in life are difficult, I will not fear. I will remember that You are on my side. And if You are on my side, what can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

Lord, how could I ever possibly doubt Your love? For there is no greater love than laying down One’s life. (John 15:13)

Abba Father, I thank You for loving me. And I thank you for healing me when I am broken-hearted. (Psalm 147:3)

Heavenly Father, each and every day I vow to remember that You have loved me so much with an everlasting and unfailing love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

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Grace

Grace is my one word for 2020. I previously mentioned this in a post on the Christians Read blog, but I haven’t talked about it here yet. If you want to read the original Christians Read post or learn more about choosing one word for the year, please click here.

Grace might sound like a nice, fluffy word. A word that brings comfort and serenity. This can be true. However, walking in Grace can be uncomfortable at times as well. Every single day I have had opportunities to choose grace, extend grace to those around me, or maybe even to myself. I am sorry to say I didn’t always succeed in this area. When we begin focusing on something like this, suddenly a multitude of learning opportunities will come our way. I have seen this happen many times in my life, as I’ve tried to become a better person. And each time I think that I could learn grace (or whatever it is I am trying to learn at the time) so much better and quicker and easier if I didn’t have to deal with difficulties. LOL. But finally I am starting to realize that’s not how it works.

One of my dogs really loves to eat. If we feed him past his normal meal time, he looks stressed. So I will tell him, “Endurance builds character.” It’s easy for me to say this to him because I know my dog will be fine and he will get to eat. And the same is true for us as well – endurance builds character. How can we learn to overcome obstacles and trials if we only ever have to face good things in life? We can’t.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 (NIV)

As I said, the word Grace has a comfy side too, which far outweighs the discomfort. Learning about the Grace of God brings a sense of peace. To know that we were sinners, yet Jesus died on the cross for us. His sacrifice for our sin is priceless. Something we can never repay. But how glorious it is to know what when we accepted Jesus, we were washed clean. We used to be filthy rags and became as white as snow. We have a loving Father who never gives up on us. He chases after us with a reckless love. He is relentless. I am so very thankful for the Grace of God.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16 (ESV)

I am only beginning to scratch the surface on learning about Grace. But I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for 2020. There is a TobyMac song called “Edge of My Seat.” They played a clip on the radio in which TobyMac explained the meaning behind this song. He said something to the effect of: There are two postures we can have. We can either sit back, passive, not caring much about what happens next. Or we can sit on the edge of our seat, waiting to see what awesome things God does next. I choose the latter. How about you?

(Listen to the song here: Edge of My Seat by TobyMac.)

Set Yourself Up for Success

Are you the type of person who cringes at the thought of making resolutions at the beginning of the year? Some people love them, while others steer clear. But I think it’s safe to say that we all would like to see changes in our lives. We all have areas in which we want to grow or learn or improve. One key that will help you in this area is to make small changes in your life which will set yourself up for success. Here are some examples.

I have a problem with books. I love books and I love to read. But I don’t always have the time to read all the books that I want to read. At times I will try listening to the audio version of a book, in order to help shrink my TBR (to be read) pile. This especially works well with fiction books. Unfortunately, though, if it is a non-fiction book, I feel as though I don’t always get everything out of the book that I could if I read it for myself. So I am trying not to make a habit of that.

But I did make a change recently that helped increase my reading time. I wanted to start reading a little each evening before going to sleep. The light switch is across the room. I didn’t want to have to get up to turn off the light after I was done reading. As you would expect to see in many homes, my husband and I have nightstands on each side of the bed. Well, I didn’t want to put a lamp on my nightstand because it would leave little room for other things, like my alarm clock. So I put another table, which I was not using otherwise, beside the nightstand and put the lamp on it. However, I still had a problem of reaching the lamp without risking falling on the floor! Haha! So on Amazon I purchased something that I could plug into the outlet, plug my lamp into the new gadget, and then I could turn the new gadget (and the lamp) on and off with a remote control. This might sound trivial, but it helped increase my reading time each evening. (I am also trying to not read quite as many different books at once, but that’s another story.)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. – Proverbs 16:3

Around this time of year, you hear a lot of people saying they want to lose weight. I am in that boat as well. I have not been exercising much lately because I feel it takes time away from my husband. It seems like I only get to see him for a short window each evening between work and bedtime. If you are having trouble squeezing in exercising as well, some suggestions could be to take a walk during your lunch break at work. Or if you sit at a desk all day, you could buy inexpensive bicycle pedals to put under your desk. As for me, I began exercising when I got home from work, but only for twenty minutes. I feel as though a little time is better than no time. The point here is that sometimes when we want to lose weight, we take on too big of a task, like running for an hour a day. If this is something that we are not used to or something that we hate, we will easily get burnt out and quit before long.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

I will share one more example. In the mornings before I head to work, I wanted to spend more time reading my Bible and praying. But I wasn’t keen on the idea of getting up earlier (I already get up around 4:20). So I made changes to my morning routine so that I would not have to spend as much time getting ready in the morning. The ladies can probably relate to this one better than the men, since ladies tend to take longer getting ready. By tweaking my routine a little, I was able to increase my time with the Lord by 200%.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

What changes do you want to make in your life? Take some time to think it over and write down your goals. Next consider what small changes you can make in your life or your routine to set yourself up for success. It doesn’t have to be something monumental. Often times when we make too many changes or too big of changes, we will not last. Small changes can pave the path to seeing your goals and dreams come to fruition.

Time to Throw Away

Papers drive me crazy. Things like junk mail, bills, scrap paper that I jot notes on, receipts, papers that my husband leaves lying around which I don’t know what to do with, and so on. I don’t know if I always had this problem, but I can tell you it definitely escalated eight years ago.

At my place of employment we were switching which software we used. This meant everything had to be moved over from the old system to the new system. I was working long hours and weekends to get caught up. So during that time, any mail that we received at home went into a bin. I would glance at it first to make sure it didn’t look like a bill. Everything else went in the bin to be looked at later. Before long I had a bin overflowing with junk mail and other miscellaneous papers. I even remember telling a coworker that I never received my new medical insurance cards in the mail for the new year. Well, the truth was that I had, but I had tossed them in the bin and didn’t realize it.

Sadly, even after the hectic time at work ended, the papers continued. I always had a pile of papers from then on. At times, I would try to go through them, file important things, and shred or trash unneeded items. But I would get overwhelmed before going through all the papers, so I would get fed up and set it aside.

Over the holidays I dove into the pile of papers once again. I ended up with a pile of papers that I pretty much didn’t know how to handle. In most cases I considered them to be my husband’s papers. Some were receipts from the auto parts store. Or maybe paperwork on a new weed eater. Things that I cared nothing about. LOL. So I asked my husband to help me go through them and before long we had an EMPTY box!

I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I was grinning and my husband asked me what I was smiling about. I told him he didn’t have to buy me any Valentine’s, Anniversary, Birthday, or Christmas presents in 2020. Haha!

Since then I have been trying to stay on top of the papers. Any new mail or receipts that we acquire I go through right away and either trash it or handle it as needed. So far, so good.

But it wasn’t only papers that we have been cleaning up at my house. My husband and I have also tried to go through different things in our home and get rid of excess clutter.

I think this time of year is the perfect time to go through each room and purge. Here are three reasons why:

1 – In the northern hemisphere in particular, with the weather not always agreeable for outside activities, staying indoors and cleaning up is a good way to pass the time and make you feel productive.

2 – Also, no matter what hemisphere you live in, we all recently celebrated Christmas. For most of us, this means we acquired new things, whether they were gifts from others or things we bought ourselves as we were out shopping. When new things come in the home, we should be mindful of purging old items to make room.

3 – And it’s a New Year. As we cross over from one year to the next, we want to be mindful of starting fresh. Removing old items that we no longer need will help us to step into the new year with a clearer view. My friend Lorraine has been “weeding” as well and she put it this way, “It’s a great way to see the old year out and an even better way to see the new one in!” So very true!

So my whole point in this post is to encourage you to do the same. Take a weekend and go through one room at a time. Don’t overthink it. If you’re not using it and don’t love it, you don’t need it. If you are tempted to keep it because you “might need it one day” – remember that there are people less fortunate who would love to have that item. Knowing you are blessing someone else will make all the difference. And even the Bible says there is “a time to keep and a time to throw away” (Ecclesiastes 3:6).

So let’s get started! You can do this! I believe in you! Let me know how it goes! You won’t regret it! In fact, once you clean up some of the clutter, you will feel refreshed!

(Photo by Angel Norris.)