The Advantage of Bumpers

The Advantage of Bumpers

Today as I was thinking about life and such, God brought this picture to my mind.

Bowling has gutters and if we aren’t careful or skilled, the ball will end up in the gutter. However, someone came up with this wise idea to put up bumpers in order to guide the ball to where it needs to go (for those of us less skilled at bowling).

Often in life, we can foolishly end up in the gutter and miss the mark completely. However, God put wisdom in place to guide us to where we need to go. James tells us that we don’t have to do anything special to receive that wisdom except ASK!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

We only need to ask God for wisdom and he will generously give it to us without finding fault!
We have the opportunity to live with wisdom to get us going in God’s direction, and help us make that mark. We cannot do it on our own, we just need to ASK GOD!

Will you ask Him today?

 

#WinningNovember

#WinningNovember

I have made my decision. I am not going to live defeated. October felt like a race I was not prepared to run, many times I was left panting and exhausted. This November, I am going to win, but not at the cost of others. We are going to win together. I am tired of one sided winning, competition that puts others down and discourages them. This month, I am #winningNovember!

I heard it said in a class (so don’t credit me), and ever since have grown more and more to love the idea that I don’t have to have that attitude of defeat. I can choose—in advance—to win November. So who’s with me? With all the No—‘s of November, no shave, no pants, no sweets (wait what?!), what are the yeses?! I say yes to winning this November.

John 16:33 says, “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.”

Even though I know it will be a crazy month, with many things to do, holidays, and thankfulness, November will be won and won together. Not because of ourselves, but because Jesus has already overcome the world and everything it has to throw at us!

I am choosing to win November by not wearing pants—a challenge I have been doing for about 4 years now—speaking about Abide and their mission of #nomoreinnercity, staying disciplined with my health and homework, and investing in relationships–both with God and with the people he has place in my life!

So who’s with me?

Who is #winningNovember?!

Comment below with how you plan to win November!

Victory Dance

Victory Dance

Today was deep cleaning day for my bathroom. It had been quite a while because, hey, I’m busy and who else every uses my bathroom besides me, right? Yeah, we’ll just say it was long overdue. Apparently our apartment has hard water because you can see it all over the drains and there is a ring around the toilet where the water sits. Disgusting, I know.

toilet(looked a little something like this)

So I did the whole bleach thing and scrubbed my heart out. Although I got a good amount of it with the first try, there were still those deeper stains that had been there the longest. I let the bleach sit for 10 minutes to really sink into those stains.

I probably scrubbed that toilet for a good 15 minutes and there are still some little spots of hard water stains. So frustrating to leave the toilet knowing that I did not get it all, though those spots may be virtually invisible to the person who just happens to glance in there. AND it did look a whole lot better than what it looked like before. For some reason I could not be fully satisfied. Even now, I go back and think to myself, if only I scrubbed harder or longer, or just didn’t let it sit that long in the first place, it would be all clean!

This process reminds me of Jesus and how he cleanses and purifies us. While we may be considered 100% righteous, because we are justified by his blood, we still have to undergo this process called sanctification. Sometimes the stains are easily removed with a little bleach and the swipe of the brush, and others are tougher and require more attention and time to really scour away. Nonetheless, I know I look a whole lot better than I did before.

BUT… what about that little thing that I can’t seem to get rid of? That little imperfection that always seems to come out at the worst time possible? That daily battle that reminds me just how human I am? Why can’t I seem to get rid of those things and be wholly perfect?

I forget about how far I come and instead of saying “WOW! Look at how far God has brought me!” I think, wow, there’s that little grimy stain, still staring at me, and I can’t seem to scrub hard enough to remove it.

Tonight, we had family night at our church. We celebrated the victory we have in Christ and made the decision to not live with the victim mentality, but to live in the reality of victory because 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Instead of saying “why?” we can say “wow!” and live in awe of all that God has done and is doing in us and around us and through us. We can live with an expectation of victory because we serve a victorious God.

Thank you Jesus for the victory that I have in YOU! May I never forget what you say is true. Recently I’ve felt a little displaced, so please remind me of you unending grace. When all I am says why me? Why now? Please give me the strength to instead say WOW! When I think all is lost-at first glance, now I know to do the victory dance!

victory dance

Discipline and Creating New Habits- Part 2

Discipline is hard. Lately I have been experiencing the grueling realities, but also some of the surprising blessings. Also, I have been too enveloped in becoming more disciplined and developing other habits, that my habit of blogging was pushed aside. Balance is also hard.

Nonetheless, I will press on because I know it is worth it!

In part 1 of this series, I discussed Hebrews 11 and 12, and just the other day, I had to reread the words again. I have been reading through the Bible, and am currently in the first half of the Old Testament. As I read Hebrews 11, it was amazing to read the highlights of everything I have just been reading for the past couple weeks. I also noticed something at the end of Hebrews 11 that I had not noticed before.

These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed. Hebrews 11:39-40

Our great acts of faith, that belief in something not yet seen (vs. 1), may still be unseen in our lifetime. Our goals and dreams of something better may not be accomplished in our lifetime. Thankfully, we know that God is the one ultimately working in us and through us, and he will complete his good work. At the same time, we have been created with a longing for eternity, and some of the things we set our sights on will not be accomplished until we reach that completeness in Christ. Here on this earth, we will never be fully mature and complete. However, in this life here and now, we can still prepare for that eternity. If we hold eternal values and seek eternal goals, we possess that eternal mindset. Sometimes, however, our values that we hold and the values that we want to hold do not always align.

Understand your values and set your goals accordingly. 

Recently, I got a chance to meet with a friend while I was in Chicago. She discussed how important it was in a marriage relationship to know and understand your values because it helps your spouse better understand why you do things the way you do.

I think the same could be with our goals, passions, and desires. When we can understand our values, we are better equipped to know why we have the passions that we do, and set goals according to both of those, using values in conjunction with our passion and strengths. Sometimes, the values we hold are not always the values we want to hold. We can set goals to create habits to form ideal values within our lives, that were not there before.

You can find a list of 400 value words here, or you can look up another list.

While it may take some time to go through the list, you will gain a better understanding of yourself and might learn some new words in the process. At first glance, you may find about 20 words that you may think are your values. Now whittle that down to five. Those are your five current values, and ask yourself if that matches up with what you want to value or what you would like to think you value. This requires us to take an honest look at ourselves, with our current habits (including money-spending habits and time-spending habits) and see if all of the things we are currently doing matches with what we currently value.

In the last post, I ended with Hebrews 12:12-13, and today I will end with it again, but for a different reason.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Aligning your goals and habits to match with your desired or intended values helps you on your way to straightening your paths. One step in front of the other, and we will do this together!

This post was originally part of a two-part series, which will now be a three-part series. I would love to hear of the steps you are taking to create new habits in your life to align with your desired values! You can comment on this post or you can email me at elstewart12@hotmail.com.

Discipline and Creating New Habits -Part 1

Summer is a time where many of us have that little bit of extra time in our schedule to do with as we please. For me, that means I finally get around to all of the things I have been wanting to do, but simply did not have enough time for during the rest of the year. AKA Goals, aspirations, book lists, exercise habits, eating habits, money budgeting, the list is endless. It seems like every day I find another thing to add to my summer goal list. The hard part, however, is actually creating the time and space to accomplish those things and do what you want to do. Life happens, you get tired and want to veg on the couch or sleep in that extra five minutes, and before you know it, the summer is over and it is back to a packed schedule and shorter days.

This summer, I am stepping up and not letting the long days pass me by. But, I did not realize how hard it is to form new habits. Sleep seems so much more vital in the morning than when I set my alarm the night before, and it seems so much easier to watch a quick show on Netflix (or maybe two, or three) than to read a couple chapters of that book, or my Bible.

Thankfully, quite a long time ago, I wrote this verse on a notecard and placed it on my wall. Normally I walk right past it, but today I paused and read it over again and thanked God for his sovereign timing and wisdom.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11(NIV)

I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 and 12 in their entirety to fully understand the context and direction of the entire passage. Chapter 11 speaks of all the great people throughout the history of the Bible and chapter 12 goes on to encourage those in the present day to not give up. Now the content of this particular passage in chapter 12 discusses discipline as discipline in the form of hardship or similar to that of a father disciplining his child. Discipline is a part of training a child in the way he or she should go, meaning it is not always an act when the child misbehaves or makes a mistake, but a constant presence guiding and directing the path of that child to help him or her learn and grow to one day become a mature adult.

Sometimes God can give us the direction or desire and it is up to us to obey and take those steps of forming the habits that will set us up for success in what he wants to do in us and through us.

How are we able to do this?

Verses 2 and 3 tell us to look at the life of Jesus for our example of someone who did not give up and lived a life devoted and disciplined, because his eyes were focused on the joy set before him.

What is the result?

Like verse 11 above says, discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Maybe the discipline you are experiencing is in the form of a trial, or maybe it is in the form of creating new habits to take you to the next level in your relationship with God or his call on your life. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to keep pressing on and take a look at the two verses following verse 11:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)

The discipline, that leveling of the paths for your feet, is worth it, the harvest of righteousness and peace is coming!

to be continued

 

 

This blog post is one of a two-part series about discipline and creating new habits.

Coffee is like sin?

coffee-eh

Coffee is like sin…

for me at least

I am a tea drinker. I love tea and have so many different kinds as well as methods to drink it, loose leaf, tagless tea bags, silk tea bags, French press, different steepers, etc. The list goes on and on and my collection is somewhat extensive, as I like trying new kinds. However, in the midst of my deep sea of tea, every once in a while I have a craving for coffee. I usually can put it off and continue in my tea drinking ways, but sometimes, I just have to give in to those wonderful memories of how warm and cozy coffee tastes and the smell and energy it gives. By now, I should know that my memory so often fails me and I deceive myself into thinking I actually like coffee, when in reality, it causes me nothing but trouble. Today, for example, I decided that I had enough of this longing to drink a cup and so I made some this morning. I doctored it up with milk and honey and cinnamon to make it taste better (obviously), and took my first sip. Disappointment. It was not as good as I remembered it being and left my mouth feeling weird. Now maybe I just don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee or maybe this is real, I’m not sure, but I know what happened later on was real. I went about my usual day with my roommate but soon started to feel uneasy and queasy and had to go to the bathroom a couple times! What was wrong with me?! I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so nervous and jittery all of the sudden and then it hit me…. Well it already had hit me, but this time mentally. THE COFFEE. In just a short conversation with a friend about the negative effects of coffee, I realized how it seems to always promise energy and goodness but never delivers, leaving me with dehydrated jittery energy and an upset stomach. I guess it does deliver, just not in the way I wish it did.

This seems to be a lot like sin. We build something up in our mind, forgetting the negative impacts from previous times and only remember the bright and glittery promises. However, when we actually cave and experience it, the memories of the regret and negative effects come back, and we realize why we weren’t doing it in the first place. So often we get caught up in the empty promises of this world that just leave us feeling uneasy and ill. We forget the good that we already have and try to go back to the empty promises of yesterday.

This time, I found someone to keep me accountable. I told my roommate, do NOT let me drink coffee. It is horrible for me and I hate the way I feel. Now I need to do the same about my sinful habits. Do not let me do _______; I will regret it and it will only leave me feeling empty and wanting.