Archives For Discipleship

Christmas ChaosWhere did we get the idea that Christmas needed to be perfect?

How many of you stress over the holidays because you want to be sure to give that perfect gift, set that perfect table, serve that perfect meal, say that perfect thing?

Christmas is a mess. That’s how Christmas started – messy.

Normalize It — Mess is the way it is. Normalize it by giving yourself permission to be less than perfect. Give the gift of this same permission to others. Take the pressure off. Take a deep breath and soak in all the blessings of Christ.

How do you make the most of your Christmas times?


Originally posted at http://servingstrong.com/christmess/.

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Jump for Joy

  1. Smiling
  2. Taking a shower
  3. Calling up a friend to talk
  4. Exercising
  5. Doing a random act of kindness
  6. Making the bed
  7. Reading the Bible
  8. Cleaning the kitchen
  9. Sweeping the floors
  10. Going for a walk
  11. Praying
  12. Taking a few deep breaths
  13. Going to see your doctor
  14. Meditating
  15. Organizing your closet

When your mental map says that nothing you do matters, you stop focusing on the things that you do have control over, things that actually do matter and that can make a difference. When you regain control of yourself, strong results can be obtained, even in crummy environments. (from Necessary Endings, by Dr. Henry Cloud)

What would you add to the list?

Source: Serving Strong

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Smalley'sStrained marriages begin to break under the pressures of trying to have the perfect Christmas. During a time that is supposed to be one of the happiest and most joyful, many couples feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Gift giving can become a financial strain. The added busyness at Christmas can cause spouses to feel neglected and frustrated. Shopping for gifts, decorating, cooking, and baking can all easily take priority over quality time with your special someone.

According to Dr. Gary Smalley, “The key to a close-knit marriage is maximizing the times together and minimizing the times apart. The more activities you can do as a couple, the better are the chances that you’ll develop a deep, lasting relationship.”Another approach that can help couples make it through these tough times while still honoring their spouse is to choose love in all circumstances. Every day a married man or woman must make a choice…choosing love or anger…and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, imagine the change in conversations you have with your spouse if you both make an intentional choice to respond in love.

“You can strengthen your marriage this busy Christmas season,…

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Purpose Driven LifeEditor’s note: You may freely adapt this article for use in your congregation.

If you are looking to grow deeper spiritually in the New Year, try one of the following next steps —

You were Planned for God’s Pleasure

Ask God to help you find purpose – You’ll never find purpose until you’ve made the most important decision imaginable – make God the CEO of your life.

Breath Prayers – God wants us to connect with Him on a moment-by-moment basis. When we pray once a week or even once a day, we fail to take advantage of everything God has for us! Breath prayers are a great way to keep in contact with our Heavenly Father throughout our day. Just repeat short heart-felt prayers, such as “You are my God,” “I love you Lord,” and “Thank You, Jesus.” (Consult Chapter 10 of The Purpose-Driven Life for more information.)

Commit it all to God – Your Heavenly Father wants every bit of your life, even the parts you don’t want to give – especially the parts you don’t want to give! Take a look at your life and find the areas you haven’t really…

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Kingdom InvestingJesus taught, ‘Use your worldly resources to benefit others and to make friends. In this way your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.’” (Luke 16:9b NLT)

He isn’t saying you can buy yourself into heaven. That’s impossible. God has already paid the price for us to spend eternity in heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross paid everything. We can’t earn or buy our ticket to heaven.

But Jesus is reminding us of two particular truths about money —

Money can’t last. Jesus calls our resources “worldly resources.” That’s because it will only last as long as the world lasts. God has put what we have in our lives in our hands for a very brief time.

Say I hold stock in two different companies. Imagine I could tell you with complete confidence that one of these companies will go bankrupt in six weeks and the other will see growing profits for as far into the future as we can imagine. Which one would you invest in? The answer is obvious.

That’s the same choice we have with our money. This world won’t last. God’s world, God’s plan, God’s people, and God’s salvation…

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5 Reasons Believers Should Be BloggingYou may not own a home or even your own car. But if you’ve got a blog today, you’re sitting on a very valuable piece of property. With the trust in traditional media decliningand trust in social media channels on the rise, bloggers today have undisputed influence. This moment in time is especially true for Christians who are brand advocates for history’s most powerful message—the gospel.

Think about it. Some blogs get more visits each day than churches get on Sunday, giving some bloggers more influence than some pastors. While that’s certainly not the intended goal, it is the reality.

Brian Bailey, author of The Blogging Church, says the case for Christian bloggers comes down to one point: “Blogging is simply a new way of telling stories. In the same way that we seek out new modes of worshipping, preaching and reaching out, we must find new methods of sharing stories. The message doesn’t change when the methodology changes. If the methodology fails to change, however, we begin to distance ourselves from the people we are called to reach, and we risk becoming irrelevant.”

So what’s your…

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Hand BookEver notice God is constantly “flipping the pages” of our lives? We go from place to place (page to page), and season to season (Chapter to Chapter). Some places are easy, some hard, some seem unbearable!

But in each place God wants us to Win It! Have victory in EVERY place, every page and in every season.

I have found these 4-steps to be invaluable to me in seeing that victory. Simple but very powerful…

Step

God leads and directs our next move as we delight in Him. In life we will take many steps, if we walk in the Spirit, each step will be in the right direction, and lead to the right place.

Stand

Once there, we ask God “What must I do here?” With each new place, we have to take a stand there. There is something we are to get done for the Kingdom in that place. Make sure you know what you’re supposed to do.

Surrender

We ask God “how” are we to get done what He said. There are a lot of different ways to “getter done!” But, there is only one “how” that will actually get it done, make sure…

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Grace Based LivingEven though none of us actually plays by the rules (according to Romans 3:10, 23), we still try rather hard to do so. We’ve all sinned and fallen short, but in our broken condition, we just keep on plugging away in hopes that in eternity all of our trying and fighting and working will somehow qualify us for heaven in God’s eyes.

Most of us find ourselves living a rules-based life. We have an assumption that our Creator will someday evaluate our performance to see if we’ve measured up to His standard. If we’ve been mostly good, we’re in! But Scripture is clear that God has already evaluated our performance. And the bad news is that He has already concluded that we don’t measure up. So that issue is settled. We can stop trying, stop fighting, and stop working.

When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he expounded significantly on the subject of the grace of God. In chapter five, he proclaims that, “since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,…

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Working Woman2011 was the year in which it became clear that while women were outperforming males in education and their early careers, they were running into the same challenge: burn out.

Think about this, pastor. Many families start regularly attending church after the birth of a child or a career move often at the behest of the mother in the family. And now, research is showing that these same women, aged 25-32, are experiencing career burn out in greater numbers than men (via ForbesWoman).

This screams out for an outreach to women in the workplace specific to dealing with stress God’s way. Here are three quick outreach keys:

MAKE THE IMPACT IMMEDIATE

Service projects that have an immediate impact will attract the career obsessed who don’t think they can help, until they see a web video about a single Mom in need of tax help.

DON’T BE SHY

People that see themselves as ‘busy’ also see themselves as ‘doers’. Clearly asking for their help to achieve a specific, achievable outcome, will start that internal conversation of, ‘I can do that, and it is only a Saturday morning.’

LET SERVICE BE SERVICE

Start the project with a very…

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During every minute of the day, people around the globe are actively using the Bible App to engage with Scripture. This infographic shares a quick look at what happens in just one minute in the YouVersion Community.

Click the image to view full size.

YouVersion Community

 

Source: The YouVersion Blog

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Pain CenterAs Paul concluded his second letter to Timothy, he expressed some hurt. Demas had forsaken him. Alexander the coppersmith had caused him much harm. At one point, no one was willing to stand with Paul. Rejection, criticism, and abandonment hurt! The world is watching believers to see how we’re going to handle it all.

Most of us handle hurt in one of two ways: we ignore or hide it so that nobody sees, or we handle it in all the wrong ways. Paul demonstrates some appropriate responses to hurt…

  1. Stay positive. Paul had been through some rough stuff, but he was looking forward to Timothy’s coming, to seeing John Mark again, and to receiving the parchments. There’s always a brighter day coming for the believer.
  2. Forgive. When Stephen was stoned to death for his faith in Christ, he asked God’s forgiveness upon his persecutors, who were laying their garments at the feet of Paul, who in turn prays the same for those who had forsaken him.
  3. Cling to God’s Word. Paul was looking forward to getting his books, but he couldn’t wait for the parchments – the Scriptures. The Bible speaks to…

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Turkey HeadThanksgiving is a great holiday. I find that this holiday provides a great time to refresh and recharge for the final push of the year.  I must admit that I have not always maximized this time.  Below I have tips to help you not MESS UP Thanksgiving.

1. Work more than you rest.

It is okay to STOP and REST.  Your body and mind need rest.  You have been going hard for almost an entire year. Twitter, Email, Facebook can all go on hold.  Put down the phone and step away from the computer.

2. Talk more than you listen.

More than likely you will attend many social gatherings over the holiday with friends and family.  Please do not be the one who talks more than listens.  You know this person …  The one obsessed with using the popular pronoun “I” over and over again.

3. Spend more than you give.

Black Friday.  Need I say more.  It is called Black Friday.  The color black reminds me of death.  Do not blow all the money you earned on what retailers call “great deals.”  Set a budget and buy only what people need and want….

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