Perhaps you’ve heard that one of the best ways to overcome an inward focus (and the discouragement and depression that it can bring) is to serve others.
This is good advice. But what if your entire life is already built around serving others?
Let’s say that you’re a mother or a teacher or a caregiver or you serve in ministry…and practically everything you do is already either serving someone else or structured around the times and ways you serve.
And let’s say you’re finding yourself overwhelmed, and your emotions are turning in on you.
How is adding one more act of service supposed to feel like anything less than an extra burden? How is baking cookies for your neighbor, for instance, going to feel like anything other than one more thing to do for one more person?
And if baking cookies won’t help, what can you do to break out that self focus?
Here are thirteen ideas: Continue reading
Time for a confession: I’m behind on my to do list—like, really behind. (There, I said it.)
The truth is, I have more on my list for yesterday that is unfinished than I can think of today. I would say that this is just a busy season, but it would be more accurate to say that it’s a busier season. I’m always busy (thankfully so), but currently, I’m in a season full of deadlines and (seemingly) short on creativity.
I don’t like being behind…and I’m guessing that you don’t either.
The good news is that there is a sure-fire way to avoid it. Seriously. If you follow this simple step, you’ll not get behind on a single big project again. Ever.
The secret? Continue reading
Freely ye have received, freely give.—Matthew 10:8
There are two ways to look at a full week ahead: You can see the appointments, meetings, and responsibilities as demands on your time—people taking your limited resource of time from you.
OR you can see the same appointments, meetings, and responsibilities as an opportunity to give—a chance to use your time as a conduit of the blessings of God.
When Jesus sent His disciples out, He gave them the second paradigm: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Continue reading
I once found a treasure map. It was at the Indiana Sand Dunes where our family was enjoying a family day. I must have only been about five, but I vividly remember watching that map roll across our path.
We have the discovery on an old home video. It turns out that when watching this episode through a more mature paradigm, the map was more of a creative forgery than it was a discovery.
My dad actually drew the treasure map, having buried the treasure (assorted trinkets he knew his daughters would love) before our family outing. He crumpled and dirtied the map, carefully tattering the edges, to add the appearance of authenticity.
It worked alright. The old VHS includes the high-pitched squeals of three treasure-hungry sisters thrilled over the discovery of this ancient map. Continue reading
[I wrote the article below for the website Ministry127. It’s a great website with free resources and ideas to encourage and equip leaders in church ministry.]
March 7, 2012—it was the beginning highlight for what would become the delight of my year.
That evening, I had the joy to begin leading a young Christian through our church’s formal discipleship program.
What is discipleship?
- It is a front row seat in seeing God’s Spirit bring growth.
- It is a fresh reminder of the depth and grace of God’s love.
- It is spiritual energy as you observe a tender heart for God and growth in His grace.
- It is the incredible opportunity to work with God’s Spirit in pressing the button to watch a miracle of His grace unfold in a life.
- It is the perfect vantage point from which to watch God’s Word change a life…at the deepest levels of the heart.
- It is an indescribable joy to participate with God in His work.
- It is…my favorite event of the week!
If you’re like me, you periodically attempt to corral all your responsibilities into a single list. And then, with the energy of an executive (rather than the defeat of a person who has faced the reality that she is hopelessly out of sync in accomplishing all on her plate), you assign a priority value to each item on the list.
This can be an invigorating process. Something about listing it all sort of makes you think you have a fresh start…like now that you really know what your responsibilities are and now that you really know their order of importance, you surely won’t get behind. (As if ignorance were our only productivity-zapper!)
But this week, I heard a statement that gave me a fresh look at my priorities. And I didn’t even have to write a list. Here’s the statement:
Your greatest priority is what you are doing right now.
Better than any priority list I’ve ever drafted, this statement pulled several loose ends together in my mind. Continue reading
Several years before I was born, an eighteen-year-old girl was visited in the hospital by an old friend from high school friend named Dody. In the time that had passed since they had seen each other, Dody had changed, and Joanne couldn’t help but notice.
“Dody, your face looks so…so pretty.”
“That’s because Jesus has changed my life. I trusted Him, and He has changed me.”
Dody’s countenance of joy was so compelling that as soon as Joanne was released from the hospital, she made a call to the Baptist pastor of the church where her grandmother had attended and asked for an appointment. Continue reading
Carol Tudor was my Sunday school teacher when I was in second grade. She was a fun, energetic teacher when I was seven, and through the next several years, she continued to be an encouraging person in my life.
Last week, I had the joy of getting to see and reconnect with her for the first time in about fifteen years. We chatted like old friends, sharing the high and low points of the past decade and a half with each other. We exchanged cell numbers and promised to keep in touch. Without a doubt, that half hour was a treasured gift from the Lord.
Mrs. Tudor is a health care professional, and somewhere along the line, our conversation turned to health-related issues. She shared some research with me and offered to give me an over-the-counter supplement at church that evening. Continue reading
I’m not a shopper. Ask my sisters. (I’m afraid I’ve made some of their shopping expeditions rather unpleasant.) Neither am I a spender. (The way I see it, saving 50% on a sale item is no savings at all if you weren’t already planning to purchase the item. In that case, you’re agreeing to spend 50%.)
Perhaps this perspective is what arrested my attention when I read David’s statement in 1 Chronicles 21:24: “I will not…offer burnt offerings without cost.” What? David had an opportunity to have something without cost—for free, and he refused it! Why? Because he wanted to give something of value to the Lord.
Every time there is a cost involved in serving God, every time there is a price to my commitment to offer myself as a living sacrifice, it is an opportunity to ascribe worth to the Lord—to prove how valuable He is to me.
I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing. He is worthy!
“There is a reward for whoever finds Dad’s keys first.” These words, occasionally spoken by my mom when I was growing up, were like music to my ears! You might think that I would have looked just as diligently for the keys before the reward was offered—when I first heard they were missing. And, truthfully, I did look. But there was something about the promise of a reward that added zeal to my search.
In Hebrews 11:6, God promises a reward for those who diligently seek Him: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is believing that God is who He has declared Himself to be and that He rewards those who will seek to know Him personally.
But it goes a step further—faith is actually reaching for the reward. In other words, if we truly believe that God rewards those who seek Him, and if we count that reward worthy of the effort, it will affect our actions. We will make seeking Him a priority. Continue reading