RESTRAIN YOUR SPEECH

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The ninth step of humility is that a monk restrains their speech, not speaking until an answer is required. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10:19 (The Message)

 

1500 hundred years ago Benedict of Nursia wrote his rule for the small group of monks who resided with him about 80 miles south of Rome in a monastery called Monte Cassino. Quite unlike our modern life today, these monks lived extremely simple lives that revolved around worship, work and study.

In those days the monk’s primary focus was spending contemplative time with God while also performing their daily duties. But they had one challenge: other people were around all the time. So Benedict wrote these rules to manage their community life and all things that entailed.

This particular step of humility is usually directed at our need to be quiet and respectful around others. But it could just as easily be applied to our relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Like me, I’m sure when you’re trying to have a time of contemplation with God, there seems to always come an interruption of some sort… whether it’s the internal monkey-mind chattering away or a physical distraction that occurs.

“To listen closely, with every fiber of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.” ~ Esther de Waal

Like most people when we’re trying to communicate with someone, we expect them to have proper manners, to restrain their speech, give us their eyes and listen. God isn’t any different. He wants our undivided attention when He’s trying to speak to us. However, we rarely give Him the respect due Him… to stop rambling on about our needs and wants, close our mouth, be still and  listen.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle in this area. I’m often too quick to speak and too slow to listen when it comes to my conversations with others and especially in my devotional time with God.

Take a few moments to practice the art of contemplative listening to God with this great song by Chris McClarney below:

“I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Cause everything You say is life to me

I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Quiet my heart, I’m listening…”  ~Chris McClarney

NOT WHAT IS SEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

“All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen…”

 

The world is all about the seen. People say, I’ll believe it when I see it. But God tells us to believe even when we don’t see. That sounds crazy and impossible, which is exactly what God is best at… doing the crazy impossible things!

What are you looking at today?

An empty bank account…

A dead-end job…

A dream unfulfilled…

We must stop looking at what we see and focus our eyes on what we can’t see: God and His promises for our life.

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1 (The Passion Translation)

The verse above tells us that our faith, now faith… today’s faith… this moment’s faith becomes the foundation that we need to reach the things we long for. Our faith is the only evidence required to prove what is still invisible, the things which we are hoping for.

Think about that statement for a minute. Our faith, your faith and my faith is the only thing standing between us and the manifestation of what we are hoping for!

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a great many things… financial provision, physical health, complete family restoration, reunited not just in spirit and truth but geographically. I’m hoping for my dream to teach and minister to women… the list could go on but your get my point.

“…[Abraham] is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.” ~ Romans 4:17 (TPT)

Now… today… this moment… I must have the faith to see these things that are yet invisible to my physical eyes. I must reach deep into my spirit, put on my Jesus glasses and see these things with my eyes of faith and believe that they exist even before I can see them… like Abraham did.

Maybe the most important part of this kind of faith is not just to believe it and see with eyes of faith, but to thank God for them with faith-full words in advance.

Lord, give me the kind of faith Abraham had. Help me to believe, see and profess with faith-filled words of thanksgiving, and receive the things I am believing you for!   ~ AMEN

Watch this wonderful video by Hillsong United and contemplate how you can fix your eyes of faith on the unseen things in your life today.

THE PREPARED TABLE

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

In our culture today we don’t really have enemies surrounding us like David who faced lions and bears that were trying to get his sheep. However later in his life, David had to run for his life many times when being chased by enemies like King Saul and even his own son sought to kill him at one point.

What enemies do we face?

Because you’re reading this column most likely you have all the basic comforts of the Western world: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc… In a spiritual sense the biggest enemy we face I believe is doubt and fear. Our physical enemies are often things such as lack or sickness.

Our own worst enemy.

Sometimes my biggest enemy is my own mind. I may have physical struggles although I have all my basic needs met. But when I wake up in the morning my mind goes right to today’s challenges or to the things I wish could be different. Starting my day with worship music always helps me with this. Maybe that’s why David wrote so many songs.

See the blessings not the struggle.

The lesson I get from this portion of Psalm 23 is that no matter what enemy we may be facing: lack, illness, fear or doubt… We need to look around and see all the things we already have before we grumble about the things we don’t have.

God has already blessed us with so much.

See His Goodness now!

Contemplate God’s goodness with this beautiful video by Elevation Worship.

TRUST GOD

In The Serenity Prayer column, published the first Friday of each month in 2019, we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our lives today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right…

 

Attitude matters.

Whether we trust that God will make all things right really doesn’t change what God is going to do. What God does is always right whether we trust Him or not. The lesson here is more about how we live in the process while we’re waiting.

Time passes the same.

When waiting for an answered prayer, a new job, a life season to change… we can either be stressed, angry and sick or peaceful, happy and healthy. Either way, the same amount of time will pass from the beginning of the wait to the completion. How I walk it out is up to me.

Simple but not easy.

This principle of trusting God seems so simple. We hear it a lot in Christian circles. But little is taught about how to actually live out this trusting time. The season I’ve been in for the last three years has been one of the hardest in my adult life. It’s been all about waiting for God to make something right out of something that was very wrong. I’ve struggled often with a poor attitude while watching my sweet husband be so positive. Different things are easier for different people.

How to trust.

When I think of trusting, I think of the childhood game where we would fall back into the arms of a trusted friend who would catch us. We knew our friend wouldn’t drop us or let us fall because we believed they cared for us. If we can believe that our girlfriend can love us so much to catch us, why can’t we believe that our God, our Heavenly Father, who loves us even more, will not only catch us when we fall, He will make the circumstances into which we fall be perfect for us! And hose circumstances will then help us rise higher.


Trust in the Lord completely,
and do not rely on your own opinions.
With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong. Then you will find the healing refreshment your body and spirit long for. ~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (TPT)


Let’s not be shaken or disturbed about where we’re going, how we’ll get there or when we’ll arrive.

Fall back.

Trust God.

He has a perfect plan.

He is with us all the way.

 

Contemplate trusting God with this beautiful song by Bethel Music.

BOOK REVIEW: ANONYMOUS by Alicia Britt Chole

 

 

 

Anonymous:

Jesus’ Hidden Years… and yours

by

Alicia Britt Chole

 

This book has been a life changer for me. Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole is one of the most applicable books I’ve ever read. I first read it when her series on the TBN network began airing in October 2018. Once I began reading I was blown away by how much it spoke to this season of life I’ve been in for more years than I care to count.

In this groundbreaking book, Alicia teaches us about the 30 Hidden years of Jesus Christ’s life before his ministry went public. A topic I’ve never read or heard anyone teach about before. Here’s a snippet from Part One:

…Consider the growth of a plant. Before a gardener can enjoy a plant’s fruit, she must tenderly and strategically attend to its root. So a plant’s birth begins with its burial. The gardener commits a generally unremarkable seed to the silence of the soil, where it sits in stillness an sightlessness, hidden by the smothering dirt. Just when it appears as though death is imminent, its seeming decay reveals new life. The seed becomes less and yet more of its former self, and in that transformation takes hold of the darkness and reaches for the sun. All that is to come rests greatly upon the plant’s ability to tightly and sightlessly develop to roots in unseen places.

As with a child in the womb and a seed in the ground, God’s unanticipated move of hiding Jesus granted him protected, undisturbed room to be and become. From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative, to be rested in, not rushed through and most definitely never to be regretted.

Unapplauded, but not unproductive:  hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness. ~ Alicia Britt Chole

If you’re in a dark season of waiting. If you have a dream in your heart that you want to share with others, yet the perfecting time fails to appear… this book is for you.

I highly recommend Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole!

Watch Alicia Britt Chole on Praise introducing her book and then watch Anonymous series on TBN. Here’s a sample of one of her interviews… enjoy!

BE MOLDABLE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is recommended by the common rule of the monastery and the example of the elders. ~  The Rule of Benedict

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. ~ Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)

 

One of the most important principles Benedict tries to teach us on this humility path is that we should be willing to be taught by anyone of any age. Being teachable isn’t just a challenge for the young in our culture. Many of us in the older generation also struggle with being taught by others.

Having re-entered the corporate workforce in my sixth decade of life, I find most of the people in charge are the age of my adult children or even younger. This can be quite off-putting some days.

A good measure of our moldable-ness is how we accept correction.

 

To be honest, when I first took this job in 2016 it was quite difficult to be supervised by a woman who was younger than my daughter. It proved my own lack of humility. Here I was writing a book on humility and struggling with it almost on a daily basis.

God has a weird sense of humor some days. He likes to put me directly in the lesson that needs to be learned not through a book but in the trenches of life!

 

For most of us our community isn’t a monastery with an abbess who leads us. My work community is a financial institution with managers and customers. Our life communities: cities, states and countries have managers and citizens. In each of these communities there are people who lead and those who need to follow the leaders.

God gives us leaders for a reason. They are His authority representatives and we are to see them as such. When we lose sight of this value our work places and communities will break down. I believe we’re experiencing this more than ever in our culture today.

Being moldable and teachable isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength, faith and trust. The challenge is to make sure the person who is molding us is following God’s direction and Biblical values.

The best place to start is to totally surrender myself to God so that He can make me what He wants me to be. As I do, my heart will be more open to the directions that come from and through the authority figures in my daily life.

Take a few minutes to contemplate how moldable your heart is as you enjoy this beautiful worship video by Hillsong United.

FIX YOUR EYES

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes…

 

What we focus on draws our attention. When we focus our eyes on something, we will eventually gravitate towards it. If I am riding a bicycle and start looking at a tree on the side of the path, there’s a good chance I will ride towards the tree.  While driving a car, if we take our eyes of the road in front of us and start looking at something on the side of the road, it’s possible we will run off the road.

What influences our life changes our behavior. In our lives if we focus on the wrong behaviors we will eventually begin to act on those things. If we are hanging around people who have bad habits like drinking, smoking, gambling, using drugs, etc… it’s just a matter of time before those same bad habits will show up in our life as well.

I will meditate on your precepts, 

and fix my eyes on your ways.  

~ Psalm 119:15

By keeping our hearts and minds focused on Christ, keeping God’s Word in front of our eyes daily we will be certain to walk out the right behavior, good habits and attitudes.

Where are your eyes fixed today?

 

Contemplate where your eyes are fixed today with this lovely song by People and Songs.

THE COMFORTER

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

 

In the shepherd fields of David’s day the sheep depended on their shepherd for everything. Because sheep aren’t very smart creatures they need guidance to food and water; protection from predators and from getting lost or hurt. If a sheep wondered off from the fold they could easily get lost and die.

In his most famous psalm, David uses the rod to represent discipline and protection. While the staff represents grace and comfort.

When a sheep got lost it could look up and see the shepherds staff guiding them back to the fold. Or when a sheep got caught in a bush or a ravine the shepherd could use the crook at the top, which is the staff, to rescue it.

In much the same way God is always ready to guide us when we need it or to correct us when necessary. And with His sweet amazing grace He reaches down and rescues us from a bramble bush when we get caught.

Where can we find our Good Shepherd’s rod and staff today?

How does God guide, discipline and rescue us today

The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
    down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
    better than red, ripe strawberries.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
    and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?

~ Psalm 19:7-11 (The Passion Translation)

Certainly God uses people and circumstances to direct, protect and discipline us. But primarily today God guides us through His living Word: The Holy Bible.

This is why it’s so important that we stay close to God’s Word everyday! As sheep, we’re easily distracted. We may wonder off and put ourselves in a tempting, even dangerous situation.

Just like a loving parent, whose child has wondered away from them, we may need to be rescued and then disciplined. It’s sometimes hard, but we need to see our corrections and rescues as comfort from a loving father.

With this sweet song by Ellie Holbomb contemplate God’s loving arms reaching out to comfort you today.

NOT AS I WOULD HAVE IT

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it…

 

 

The Serenity Prayer is one of the most familiar prayers of all time. Although widely used around the world, it’s primarily known in the addiction recovery communities. While the entire prayer is asking God for help, I believe this particular portion (including last months section), is referring to our most painful moments in life.

Most of life doesn’t turn out the way we want. So we have two choices: to either accept life as it comes or not. This is where most addictions start. Because most of us can’t physically run away from our life, we will mentally or emotionally run away by abusing food, sex, drugs, alcohol, work, shopping, the Internet, social media, video games, etc…

The beginning of recovery step work starts with accepting that we can’t but with God we can. God knows what’s best for us. Some days we want what God wants, but yet we don’t.

We want to accept this painful situation, but how can we?

Scripture tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that lay ahead. Maybe this particular pain we’re going through holds a special blessing for us that will only come when we’ve made it to the other side of the struggle.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. ~ Hebrews 12:2

Just as Christ endured pain and suffering at the hands of people and situations, we too have struggles to endure.

Whether the pain we’re dealing with is from our own personal challenges,   caused by other people or situations out of our control, we often ask… Why?

In times of painful struggles instead of asking why try reciting The Serenity Prayer. Another Scripture confession I like to use during troubled days is this verse below:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~  Philippians 4:13

Hold on to this hope.

Look to Jesus.

Knowing your reward is coming!

We must remember, no matter how hard things are, God’s will is always better than our own. Contemplate letting God’s will be done in your life with this beautiful song by Feast Worship.

 

 

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The seventh step of humility is that we admit with our tongue and are convinced in our heart that we are of less value than others. ~ The Rule of Benedict

If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:30 

 

Benedict’s Rule goes against our grain and most everything we’re taught today. In today’s terminology the seventh step of humility is asking us to make room for personal growth.

This radical self-examination, seeing ourselves as inferior to others, is not to be done in a self-deprecating or undervalued way. However, we are to humbly consider ourself lower than others in the hopes of lifting them and ourselves up to God.

In recognizing our personal limitations we find the first secret to victory. If we can humble ourselves and admit our human weaknesses, see our need for help from God and others, we’re on the right path. Scripture teaches us, God’s power works best through those who know their limitations and who turn their weaknesses over to Him. Those who pridefully think they can do everything on their own strength are in great danger.

Knowing that God’s power shows up when we recognize our weaknesses should give us hope and courage. As we depend more on God for our energy and effectiveness we’ll not only develop stronger Christian character but we’ll deepen our faith and bring God glory to those around us.

As we examine ourselves in comparison to others it may be easy to put ourselves down. However, if we humbly take a balanced look at both our strengths and weaknesses, we can prayerfully put them in God’s loving hands. Then in His perfect timing, with His unlimited power, God will give us what we need to overcome our limitations.

When we give God our limitations, He makes us limitless in His love!

Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (TPT)

Contemplate the limitless love of God with this fantastic song by Colton Dixon.