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!

Can you wrap it around your mind?

heart-and-brain

Today at our staff meeting, someone was talking about the love of God and how we try to “wrap it around our minds” –I am sure he meant to say we try to wrap our minds around it– but it came out the other way around. This got me thinking and I got this picture in my mind that will NOT go away!

Lately I have been praying through Ephesians 3:14-19 as a prayer not only for me, but for the people that I care deeply about.

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, 15 after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:

16 Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit 17 so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together 18-19 with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings. (The Voice)

The verse talks about knowing, understanding how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (NIV).

This picture that I have is of how infinite his love is that it wraps around our minds, instead of the other way around. We can’t wrap our minds around God’s love for us, but he can wrap it around our minds. (Tweet it by clicking on the link)

It is as if we cannot ever FULLY grasp and comprehend or wrap our head around this concept of how GREAT his love is for us.

Thankfully, we don’t have to. Praise God that his love is so great that it can wrap around our mind, our head, our heart, our life! We don’t have to understand it, because we can fully experience its power!

Though it may have been a human misspoken saying, God used it to create this picture to show me that his love cannot be wrapped around by our finite minds, instead, his infinite love wraps around us and each and every person.

Confessions

Confessions

I love the picture of humility and unity that was displayed at our staff meeting this past week: people coming together. Our leaders outwardly confessed, reconciled and forgave one another for bitterness in their hearts that may have been unbeknownst to the other party. It was amazing to see the love that was spread in these small confessions and brought healing to many! Really, forgiveness has more to do with the person doing the forgiving than the person forgiven.

I have realized that on social media, I have held bitterness in my heart and I have not been completely real or honest. The pictures I post are the life I want to portray to the world but not exactly the whole story. I post the good moments and am silent during the bad or pretend like it is all ok. Yes, I want to live by faith and not make it a habit to complain or gripe, but I also do not want others to think I do not struggle and am some inhuman perfect being. It is quite the opposite actually.

So this goes out to all of my readers, I am sorry for becoming bitter about the lives portrayed and the half stories I receive. But I also ask for forgiveness for perpetuating the very same thing that I do not like!

It’s hard to humble yourself and admit you’re wrong. Let me rephrase that. It is hard for me to humble myself and admit I am wrong. I want to be right! And if I am honest-I would like to think I am always right!

While I love the idea and picture of humility, and appreciate it in others, it is so much more difficult to actually make it happen in my own life. I want to be liked, or perceived in a certain way.

A while ago, in the midst of some difficult times, I was on the phone with a friend whom I had not spoken with in a while and she said, “it looks like your life is great right now!”

And I thought to myself, what is she seeing that makes my life so great, why would she say that?!

It wasn’t until I took a look at what I portrayed to the rest of the world when I realized just how bad it was. While sometimes I may want it to be good so I act like it is, sometimes it’s not and instead I am silent. I wonder who else out there, instead of faking like it’s ok, they are silent? The moment they find one ray of hope, they share it with the world and the world thinks life is perfect.

Forgive me for acting like I have it all together all the time.

Social media is a fragile and complicated thing. One can over share- complaints, TMI, or nonsense, but one can also portray themselves in the way they would like to be seen instead of who they are—flaws and all.

I’m working on it. I don’t have it all together or know exactly how to walk this thin tightrope of reality and truth mixed with respect and dignity. All I ask is that you join with me in not only speaking the truth, but in living it as well.

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.