New Blog

I am currently writing at two other blogs: Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer and Freedom from Emotional Eating. If you can’t get the links to work, the addresses are: http://www.beyondthesinnersprayer.wordpress.com and http://www.emotionaleatingfreedom.blogspot.com.

Hope to see you there!

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Is the easy life the good life?

When my boys were little, I used to let them wear their clothes to bed at night. My thought at the time was, “Why make your kids go to all the work of changing into their pajamas when they just have to get dressed all over again the next day? Why not let them sleep in their clothes?”

So I did, and my boys were the envy of all the other little boys in the neighborhood whose moms made them wear pajamas at night.

I was all about fun and easy in those days. I avoided anything that looked like work unless it was absolutely necessary. My goal in life was to have fun, and because of that, I was frustrated. Life was never easy enough and fun enough to suit my purposes.

I was looking at life through cultural glasses, and what I saw through those glasses was a life that didn’t measure up to expectations.

Things got better when I took off the glasses.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we shouldn’t expect life to be easy. Paul tells us in Hebrews 12 that hard things build our character. James tells us in James 1 to be thankful for trials. Throughout the Bible we see countless examples of men and women who loved God. They weren’t living fun and easy lives, but they were living with joy.

Sometimes hard is better than easy. And sometimes no-fun is better than fun. But serving God is always better than not serving Him–even when He asks us to do hard things.

Francis Chan has a great video with a similar message. I hope you enjoy it.

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Fat in a World That Worships Skinny

When I was a sophomore in college, I used to hide out in my dorm room because I felt too self-conscious about my weight to go out and meet people. I was looking at myself through the eyes of others, and in their perceived eyes, I was a loser.

I wish I’d known how to renew my mind in those days because I desperately needed to see myself through God’s eyes. Unfortunately, our society has become even more focused on looks now than it was when I was growing up.

I feel for all you younger women and girls who are being told you have to be skinny and beautiful to be acceptable. What I’d like to do is give you some ammunition you can use to fight against those lies.

The ammunition comes in the form of some questions you can ask yourself when you’re feeling insecure. These are the questions I asked before the writers conference, and they always pointed me to the truth of God’s Word. I’m hoping you’ll give them a try on those days you feel like hiding out in your room because you don’t measure up.

Let’s take a look at the questions first, and then we’ll try them out with an example.

Insecurity Questions

  1. Why do you think you’re not acceptable?
  2. What (or whose) standards are you using to determine whether or not you’re acceptable?
  3. What does God think about those standards?
  4. What standards would He like to see you using?
  5. Who are you in God’s eyes?
  6. What will you need to accept to find peace?
  7. Are you in a place of feeling loved and cherished by God despite your weaknesses, or are you feeling like you have to be perfect so God and others will love and accept you?
  8. What can you thank God for in this situation?

When I use these questions, I think of them as a springboard for a conversation with God. It’s almost like God is asking the questions, and I’m talking them over with Him. He adjusts my view of life, and that frees me from my insecurity. Let’s see how this works with a practical example.

Pretend you’re back with me in college. Let’s say I agree to go to a Campus Crusade meeting with a friend, but I’m feeling really intimidated by the whole situation because of my weight. This is how I would answer the questions if I were that girl again:

Why do you think you’re not acceptable?  Because I’m not skinny.

What (or whose) standards are you using to determine whether or not you’re acceptable?  Hollywood’s, maybe?

What does God think about those standards?  He hates them. He doesn’t think I need to be skinny to be acceptable.

What standards would He like to see you using?  Biblical standards.

Who are you in God’s eyes?  I’m His workmanship, created for good works. I’m His bride. A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. I’m His delightful child, and He exults over me with joy. (Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 62:4-5, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Zephaniah 3:17)

What will you need to accept to find peace? That I’m not as skinny as I want to be and that some people will judge me because of my weight.

Are you in a place of feeling loved and cherished by God despite your weaknesses, or are you feeling like you have to be perfect so God and others will love and accept you?  I’m feeling like I have to be perfect so others will love and accept me. (Note: If I’m still feeling like this by the time I get through with all of these questions, I try to pray through Scripture. Nothing works better than God’s Word to bring me to peace when I’m feeling insecure. If you want a list of the verses I use, please e-mail me at truthwaypress@gmail.com.)

What can you thank God for in this situation?  That even if everyone at the Campus Crusade meeting shouts, “Oh, you fat person!” when I walk in the door, I’ll still be okay because God loves me. That God is not a condemning perfectionist. That He’s full of grace. That He can use this trial to build my character. That He’s the king of the universe, so it’s more important what He thinks than what others think. That I don’t have to measure up to the standards of others. That God is enough.

The next time you’re feeling insecure, why don’t you give these questions a try? See if they help you see yourself through God’s eyes. I’m hoping they do.

Note to those who have done my Freedom from Emotional Eating study: I started writing these questions last summer when I realized that truth journaling didn’t help me with insecurity. All of my truth journaling entries looked like this: He thinks I’m . . . She thinks I’m . . . And of course, since I don’t know what others are thinking, it’s hard to figure out what the truth is! So I came up with these questions to help me renew my mind. If truth journaling doesn’t work for you with feelings of insecurity, give these questions a try.


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Insecurity Anyone?

Do you ever feel inadequate? Like everyone out there is more on the ball than you? That’s the way I felt when I was getting ready for the Mt. Hermon Writers Conference. I won’t lie. I was dreading the experience.

In my mind’s eye, I was picturing myself walking into the conference headquarters. The room was full of perfect people. Perfect writers. Perfect editors. Perfect agents. How could they ever like imperfect me?

I felt like they couldn’t. And that’s why I was stressing out.

Since I don’t enjoy living in an insecure frenzy, I began to work on my attitude. I don’t know how many times I went to God in those pre-conference days to see life—and more importantly myself–from His point of view.

I went to Him every time I felt inadequate. Every time I was looking at life through cultural eyeglasses.

And every time, without fail, He leaned over and took my glasses off.

He replaced them with eyeglasses of truth: I wasn’t a horrible loser. I was a delightful child of God. I wasn’t a peon in the writing world. I was a beginning writer who wanted to serve God. I wasn’t a total writing failure. I was a writer with gifts God could use to reach others through me.

Each time I renewed my mind, I became aware of two things: my beauty and my sin. Yes, I was a delightful child of God, but I was also a self-absorbed woman who was so focused on my own inadequacies that I was incapable of reaching out to others.

The more time I spent with God, the more my focus shifted from myself to others. By the time I got to the conference, I was actually feeling pretty peaceful.

And you know what I discovered? A bunch of delightful children of God who were a lot like me. Not perfect, but beloved. I thoroughly enjoyed our visits. I felt blessed to hear about their lives and what God was doing in them.

I hate to think what my experience would have been if I hadn’t taken the time to renew my mind before the conference. I would have missed out on a lot of joy. God is so incredibly good. It’s only when I look at life through cultural glasses that I forget how good He is.

Maybe you’re feeling the same way I was. If you are, I encourage you to go to God and let Him remove your glasses. Life is far more promising when you’re looking at yourself and others through His eyes.

As you celebrate the resurrection this week, my prayer is that you’ll see yourself through His eyes and delight in His love. After all, if He loved you enough to die for you, you’re not inadequate!

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Difficult Relationships: Part Two

Romans 12:1-2 tells us we should expect two things when we make the effort to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. First, it’s going to be a sacrifice. And second, it’s going to be good.

Expect it to be a sacrifice.

It’s hard to wrap our minds around the idea of sacrifice when we live in a culture that tells us life should be fun and easy. We’re encouraged to sacrifice for our goals and dreams, but that’s about it.

The idea of sacrificing to love others is foreign to us. Think of Joan from my last post. If we were her, would we automatically think, “Oh, I need to love and accept Mark even though he’s not meeting my needs”? Probably not.

Instead, we’d be sitting there thinking, “Well, if he’s not going to communicate, then I’m not going to  . . . whatever.” We’d fill in the blank with whatever it was Mark wanted us to do.

I don’t know of an easy way to put this: transformation requires sacrifice. We’re going to have to die to ourselves. In Joan’s situation, we’d have to be willing to live an unfair life, give up our dreams of the perfect marriage, and love Mark even when he’s not loving us.

Too often in situations like this we make the sacrifice with our behavior – act nice, for example – but fail to make the sacrifice with our hearts. We continue to hold a grudge, keeping a mental checklist of all the ways we’ve been wronged.

But God is all about the heart. He wants us to love with pure hearts. 1 Peter 1:22 tells us to purify our souls so we can love others from the heart. Joan would have to do this every day, maybe even a few times a day, if she wanted to love her husband well.

If Joan continued to renew her mind, God would bless her – maybe with a great marriage, maybe not – but He would certainly bless her in other ways.

Is there more than one way to have a great life?

Think of it this way. Have you ever watched a little kid throw a tantrum at a discount store? He cries and screams because he doesn’t get what he wants. There are two ways for that little kid to find happiness – he can either get his mom to buy him what he wants, or he can learn to be content without it.

Let’s say his mom buys him the toy. Will he suddenly become a joyful kid with a great life? Or will he only be happy until the next time he sees something he wants that he doesn’t have?

Wouldn’t the little kid be happier if he learned to be content no matter what – even when his mom refuses to buy him the toy?

Expect God’s will to be good.

Now think about Joan’s marriage. Just as the little kid in the store was dependent on his mom to buy the toy, Joan is dependent on her husband to do his part in building a good marriage. But if he’s not willing to communicate, there’s not a lot Joan can do to make him communicate.

Since she can’t control him anyway, she’ll be much happier if she learns to be content no matter what. Which, surprisingly, is just what God wants her to do. God asks Joan to give her husband grace, accept his weaknesses, and continue loving him even when he’s hard to love. *

Joan thinks this will make her miserable, but in reality, it’s her best chance for happiness.

If Joan makes the sacrifice (and yes, it will be a sacrifice), she’ll find God’s will to be good. Actually, she’ll find God’s will to be incredible.

Look forward to His blessings.

Think of all the things God could teach Joan through this experience (remember this is all about transformation): He could teach her how to love when it’s hard to love. This would help all of Joan’s relationships. He could teach her how to accept when it’s hard to accept. This would make Joan happier. He could teach her to be kind, humble, and gentle. This would help Joan become a more likeable person.

Maturity is a good thing, but God gives even more than that. If Joan were to submit herself to living the way God wanted her to live, both with her heart and her behavior, God would give her the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. This is exactly what Joan needs to live joyfully in her marriage.

God would also pour Himself into Joan’s life. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” If Joan were to seek God with all her heart, even when seeking Him required sacrifice, she would find Him to be worth the sacrifice. Nothing is better than an intimate walk with God.

Have faith.

The problem with sacrifice is that you don’t usually see the reward until you get to the other side of the sacrifice. When I first started renewing my mind, I thought I was going to be miserable. I barely mustered up the strength to keep going. It was only my (weak at the time) love for God that kept me going.

But then He surprised me. I found joy on the other side of the sacrifice. The more I walk with God the more I see the truth of the Bible. God is enough no matter what.

Even when we’re not getting what we want.

Question for Reflection

We’ve been told we need certain things to be happy. Do you think that’s true? Or have we been fed a lie just like the little kid watching all those toy commercials?

* Scripture References: Matthew 5:43-44, 46, Matthew 18:21-22, Romans 15:1, 7, 1 Corinthians 13

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Running the Race: Difficult Relationships

What I’d like to do in the next few weeks is work through some examples using the four steps to transformation based on Romans 12:1-2. Here’s our first example:

Joan and Mark have a struggling marriage. Their biggest problem is and has always been communication. Joan wants more of it, and Mark wants less. Today was another fruitless discussion. Joan accused Mark of not loving her, and Mark accused Joan of always expecting him to be perfect. Joan walked away feeling angry and hurt.

Step One: Renew your mind.

Can you picture how you would would feel if you were Joan?  In situations like this women often jump to the wrong conclusion. We think our husbands don’t love us (because if they loved us they would communicate) when in reality they just have relationship weaknesses.

We also have relationship weaknesses. Men get accused of lack of communication. Women get accused of never being satisfied. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.

It’s more than likely that Mark does love Joan, but just has a problem with communication. Maybe he feels insecure communicating because he’s afraid he won’t live up to Joan’s expectations. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to communicate. Maybe he wants the easy life.

There’s also a chance that Joan is expecting too much from him. At any rate, if Joan wants to get rid of her anger and hurt and be transformed by her trial, she’ll have to make the effort to see the situation through biblical eyes. This will be hard because she’s probably been inundated with cultural messages about relationships throughout her life.

Cultural viewpoint

These messages would have focused on Joan’s rights and her husband’s weaknesses. “You deserve better than that,” the culture would say. “Your husband’s a jerk. Look at him. All he cares about is himself. He doesn’t love you. If he did, he’d make a little more effort to communicate.”

Biblical viewpoint

The Bible, on the other hand, focuses on giving up one’s rights to love others well – even when they don’t deserve it. Jesus would say, “It’s easy to love those who are nice to you, but I want you to love even those who aren’t nice to you. I know it’s hard (after all, I went through the same thing), but you need to accept Mark’s weaknesses. Love Him and give Him grace, just like I do for you.” **

Step Two: Accept God’s view of the world.

Let me ask you something. Do you think it would be easy to accept God’s view of the world in this situation? I’d say that’s a big no. Wouldn’t everything in you be screaming, but this isn’t fair! I shouldn’t have to be the one to compromise. He should be the one to change.

Accepting God’s view of the world is often the hardest step in the transformation process. We’re so saturated with cultural thoughts that it almost seems crazy to live life biblically in some situations. But it’s not. God’s way is always good, even when it doesn’t seem good (more on that in the next post).

Step Three: Change your attitude and behavior.

In this situation it would be almost impossible to change your behavior without first changing your attitude. And it would be impossible to change your attitude without first renewing your mind.

That’s why it’s so important to renew our minds when we’re in the middle of the trial. Because if we don’t, more than likely, we’ll respond in a way that’s contrary to Scripture. Or we’ll respond the right way with our behavior, but leave our hearts back in I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-put-up-with-this land.

We’ll talk about step four in the next post, but before we go, let’s just review Romans 12:2, so we end with some hope for Joan:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

If Joan renews her mind so she can be transformed from the inside out (accepting her husband’s weaknesses and giving him grace), she should expect God’s will to be good, not bad. We’ll talk about that good will in my next post when we cover the last step to transformation.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What will happen if Joan chooses not to accept her husband’s poor communication habits? Does that mean he’ll automatically (and cheerfully) change?
  2. Since Joan can’t change her husband, would her life be better or worse if she decides to give him grace?
  3. Is grace a beautiful thing or a degrading thing?
  4. What would grace look like in this situation?

**Step One Scripture references: Matthew 5:43-46, Philippians 2:4-8, Romans 15:1-7

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Overcoming Procrastination

For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall. Psalm 18:29

It’s Monday again. That day of the week when we all feel hopeful. Ready to get to work. Ready to accomplish. Ready to overcome. At least that’s how I’m feeling this week! I’m hoping to figure out how to write the chapter I’ve been struggling with for the past few weeks.

Before I get started, though, I want to share some questions with you that I’ve been working on to help with procrastination. If you have a job on your to-do list today that you don’t want to do, why don’t you give these questions a try? Maybe they’ll help you get started on that project or homework assignment you’ve been putting off. Here they are:

Procrastination

  1. Why don’t you want to do this?
  2. Will this item on your to-do list get easier or harder if you put it off?
  3. What would you gain by doing it now?
  4. Can you break this project into smaller steps?
  5. If so, what is one thing you could do that wouldn’t be intimidating?
  6. Why don’t you do that right now?

Let me give you a little more explanation for the fourth question. Often, the reason we procrastinate is because the job seems overwhelming. So big and bad that we hate to even think about it.

If we can get that image out of our minds and instead focus on just one little part of the job, it will be a lot easier to get started. Here are a few examples. Let’s say I want to paint a bedroom. The first step is to go to the hardware store and look at paint swatches. While that doesn’t sound all that fun, it’s better than painting the whole room. It’s a step I could make myself do.

Chances are good that when I got to the hardware store, I would go ahead and buy the paint. My second step would be to gather all my supplies – the rollers, the tape, the paintbrushes, etc. By the time I gathered all those supplies, there’s a good chance I would say, “Well, I have all these supplies ready; I might as well tape the windows.” Do you see how that would work?

Let’s look at another example. Let’s say I’m going to college, and I have a big paper due in two weeks. My first step might be to think of three possible topics for the paper. Hard, but not too hard. If I already have my topic, I could think of two or three possible outlines for the topic. Maybe spend ten minutes working on the outlines. And if I’m really struggling, I could just take out a sheet of paper and write, “Outline for Paper,” at the top of it.

The trick is to wipe thoughts of the whole project out of your mind and focus on one teeny little part of the project. This will make you actually want to do the project.

If you have a project you’re putting off today, why don’t you give it a try and see if it works? As for me, I’m off to write one possible outline for my first chapter. (And who knows, maybe that will be so easy, I’ll feel like writing it!)

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Four Steps to Transformation

In my last post I talked about a training plan that would help us put God first and get rid of the sin in our lives. That plan can be found in Romans 12:1-2. Let me start by outlining the plan, and then we’ll flesh it out in the next few posts.

Four Steps to Transformation

  1. Renew your mind.
  2. Accept God’s view of the world.
  3. Change your attitude and behavior.
  4. Expect two things when you choose to do God’s will: 1) It will be a sacrifice. 2) It will be good.

Renewing of the Mind

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

The Greek word for transformation is interesting. It talks about a change that starts on the inside and works its way out. In other words, you’re not just changing your behavior, you’re changing the way you think about life and people, which will in turn produce a change in your behavior.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a problem with procrastination. If you took the behavior approach to the problem you would just try to force yourself to do your job. Maybe you would make a list or create a reward for yourself to have when you finish your job.

While these aren’t bad ideas, they don’t do anything to change who you are on the inside. You’re still a person who dreads work, or at least the type of work you’re procrastinating.

Paul’s approach is different. He tells us to take the time to be transformed on the inside (by renewing our minds) so that we actually want to do our jobs. Do you see the difference? The outward behavior is motivated by an inward change. Or as George Ricker Berry says in his index to New Testament Synonyms, “the outward form expresses the inner essence.” We become people who like the idea of work and that motivates us to do the work.

So how do you go about renewing your mind? It’s very simple. You change the way you think about life. Replace cultural thoughts with biblical thoughts. Replace lies with truth. Or, to tweak a popular phrase, learn to think like Jesus thinks.

Let’s see how this would work with our procrastination problem. We could start by taking a look at what the world (at least the American world) has to say about work. See if any of this sounds familiar:

Life should be fun and easy, and we shouldn’t have to suffer. If it feels good, we should do it. If it doesn’t feel good, we should skip it. After all, life is short! We need to enjoy it.

If I’m buying into these beliefs, do you think I’m going to want to do that crummy job on my to-do list? Of course not! I deserve a break—not a crummy job! The best thing to do would be to go take that break. Have a little fun. Enjoy life.

Do you see how your beliefs would keep you from doing your unwanted jobs? If this is what you’re thinking on the inside, you’ll always struggle with doing your jobs on the outside.

But what if you were able to change your beliefs? What if you were able to start seeing work as a good thing? Do you see how life-changing that would be? You wouldn’t have to force yourself to work because you would actually want to work.

So how do you change the way you think? You do it situation by situation. Each time you don’t feel like working you take the time to renew your mind. Replace cultural thoughts with biblical thoughts. Replace lies with truth.

You could pray Scripture. You could talk yourself through it. You could truth journal.* Do whatever works best for you. But always make sure that you’re changing your thoughts to a biblical perspective.

I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with writing. To a large extent I’m still buying into the cultural belief that life should be fun and easy. Because of this, I’ve been having a hard time these last few weeks with the starting of this new blog.

God, in His great goodness, though, showed me a few verses that I think will help a lot. I’ve put them on sticky notes on my computer, and I read them whenever I start thinking, “This is too hard. I can’t do this. I have no idea what to write.” (If you struggle with a similar problem you can find these verses in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and 15.)

These Bible verses help me accept God’s view of the world, which is the second step of the transformation process. I change my attitude, which makes it easier to change my behavior. Yes, it’s a sacrifice. Life would be much easier without writing. But God’s will is always good.

When I submit, He blesses.

And one of His biggest blessing is the peace that comes when I submit to His will, not just with my behavior, but also with my heart. In the past I’ve always found His will to be good.

I expect it to be good this time, as well.

*Note: For ideas on how to truth journal, see the Freedom from Emotional Eating blog and look under the heading “truth journaling” over on the left side of the blog.

Helpful Procrastination Bible verses: Psalm 18:29, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 42:6b, Galatians 6:9, Philippians 4:13, Philippians 4:19, Colossians 3:17.

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Do Little Trials Count?

When we think of people growing closer to God through trials, we usually think of big trials—cancer, persecution, the death of a loved one—that sort of thing. But God also works through little trials—at least He does when we turn to Him for help.

Unfortunately, we don’t always turn to Him for help. Instead, we bluster through life getting by on our own strength until we run into something so huge we can’t handle it. At that point we panic and yell, “God, help us!”

Then we sit back and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Sometimes nothing happens.

That’s when we think, “God, where are you?”  We pray a little harder—still no answer. The trial is looming big as ever.

We say, “God?  God???  GOD???? I’m suffering here!!”

And there’s a dead silence.

The problem isn’t that God doesn’t hear. The problem is that we’re only looking for one answer. Solve our problems. Fix the crisis. Make us feel better so we can get back to regular life.

Wait a minute . . . regular life? Isn’t regular life supposed to be life with God?

And therein lies the problem. Too often, regular life isn’t life with God. It’s life believing in God. It’s life going to church. It’s maybe even life with a ten-minute quiet time in the morning . . . but it’s not life with God.

And that’s why we don’t hear from Him. We haven’t developed the habit of walking with Him through the little trials of life, so it’s hard to find Him when we get to the big trials of life.

God uses trials to draw us near to Him. He also uses trials to make us more like Him. Hebrews 12:10 says, “(Our fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

Did you catch that phrase near the end? “To those who have been trained by it” It’s not the ones who go through the trial that get the peaceful fruit of righteousness. It’s those who have been trained by the trial. If we want our trials to bring us closer to God and make us more like Him, then we need to be willing to let Him train us.

That’s a little scary, isn’t it? Think of the Biggest Loser show. The trainers (Bob and Jillian) tell their trainees what to do and expect them to do it. The training isn’t easy. The athletes sweat. They work hard. They suffer. Sometimes they feel like giving up. But they keep going because they have their eyes on the reward at the end of the battle.

We need to have that attitude in our walk with God. Expect to sweat. Expect to work hard. Expect to put in the time necessary to really walk with Him. We have this idea that Christianity is only difficult in countries where Christians are persecuted. But that’s not true.

Biblical Christianity is difficult no matter where you live because God calls us to give up everything to follow Him. He wants to be first in our lives, not just a nice add-on to enrich our lives. God also calls us to be holy. Not only in our behavior, but in our hearts as well.

We need a training plan that will help us do what God wants us to do: put Him first and get rid of all this sin flab we’ve been carrying around. Fortunately, God has already provided us with a plan in Scripture. And He’s willing to be our Trainer.

We’ll discuss that plan in my next post.

Note: If you’d like to see an example of what not being trained by trials look like, see this post from my old blog.

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Are you tired of running the race?

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of running the race. It’s not that I get tired of living for God, exactly. After all, I love Him.

What wears me out is the constant struggle of life itself. Trying to live for God when it seems like one hard thing after another.

When I find myself in this discouraged state, it’s usually because I’ve lost my focus. I’m forgetting what life is really about—loving God and loving others—and I’m all wrapped up in the idea that life is about something completely different.

Like having fun, for example.

When life isn’t fun (and I’m thinking it should be fun), I do what comes naturally. I complain to myself about what a boring life I have. I try to find something exciting to do. Or, if I have an unusual burst of will power, I try to do what God wants me to do—even though I don’t feel like doing it.

This rarely works. I’m lousy at living for God when my heart isn’t in it.

Sometimes—and this is happening more and more often—I stop my pity party just long enough to meet with God. I ask Him to help me see life from His point of view. Renew my mind—that’s my plea.

And you know what? He does. 99% of the time I walk away from Him with a different outlook on life. The other 1% of the time, I just need a little more time with Him. (Okay, sometimes, a lot more time.)

This habit of renewing my mind has done more for my walk with God then anything else I’ve ever done. God has used the habit to pour out truth on me. He’s used it to draw me near to Him and give me joy. And He’s used it to change me in ways I desperately needed to change.

Renewing the mind is like going to the chiropractor. You know something’s out of line, so you go in for help. The chiropractor finds the problem, gives you an adjustment, and you walk out of there feeing great.

God is my chiropractor (yes, I know, that sounds hokey but I had to say it). I know when I’m out of line because I feel it in my emotions. I’m discontent. I’m bored. I’m tired of life. Something is wrong, but I’m not quite sure what. So I go to God.

I show Him my thoughts, and He diagnoses the problem. “Hmmm,” He says, “I think I see the problem. Let me adjust your thinking.”

“Life isn’t about having fun, remember?” He tells me.  “It’s about loving Me and loving your neighbor. “

“Oh, that’s right,” I think.

“And one other thing,” He says. “Do you remember Hebrews 12? I told you that you should expect trials, but that I would use those trials to bring good things into your life.”

“Oh, that’s right,” I think.

“Plus,” He says, “Do you remember Jeremiah 2:13? You’re putting your trust in the wrong things. If you’re living for excitement, you’ll never get enough excitement to satisfy you.”

“Oh, that’s right,” I think, “I’ve gone down that road before. It didn’t work.”

“Come to Me,” He says, “And I’ll fill you up. I’ll be your shield when life is hard. I’ll love you with an everlasting love. I’ll rejoice over you like a bridegroom rejoices over His bride. You don’t need an exciting life. You just need Me.”

“THAT’S RIGHT!” I think. “GOD IS ENOUGH!

Forget the pity party, I’m a beloved child of God—and I’m going to live for Him!

One of the ways I live for Him is to write for Him. And if life is about loving God and others—and I love through my writing—then writing is a good thing.

Even on the days when it makes life boring.

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