the importance of priorities

the importance of priorities

Laura enjoys taking her three-year-old son to the playground. It gives her time to text her friends, catch up on Instagram and Facebook, and stream her favorite show on her phone. The only downside? Her son is constantly saying, “Mommy, look at me!” Without looking up, she usually just nods and continues spending time on her phone.

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Chuck doesn’t understand what the big deal is about going to church. Sunday is his only day off, and he’d much rather sleep in than wake up and attend some boring church service.

Megan seeks perfection. The perfect husband, the perfect kids, the perfect house in the most prestigious neighborhood (even though her mortgage has made it necessary for her husband to take on a second job), and the perfect SUV. Her children attend the best private schools in the area. In short, Megan wants – no demands – the perfect lifestyle. And she’ll do just about anything to get it. Besides, why would she want anyone to think she was anything less than perfect?

Damien is a workaholic. He is set on advancing up the career ladder as quickly as possible and trampling anyone who stands in his way. As such, he’s not a very popular guy at work. When he finally does arrive home in the evenings, he has no time for his wife and family and continues his work at home. Damien rarely clocks in more than four or five hours of sleep at night since he believes sleep is severely overrated.

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What do each of the above examples have in common?

They have mixed up priorities.

When we get off track, how do we get our priorities back in order?

We start by realizing what’s important in God’s eyes.

He places a great value on spending time in worship, fellowship, attending church, and spending time with Him. We are commanded to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” ~ Matthew 22:37.

The Lord also places a high value on loving your spouse and your children.

We are told in Matthew 6:24 that no one can serve two masters. Things such as money, status, and power can quickly overtake us.

matthew 6 24

There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but they shouldn’t be our priority. Instead, Seek to make your priorities those that are eternal. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. ~ Matthew 6:19-20

There’s nothing wrong with working hard at your job or enjoying texting friends or spending time on Facebook. It’s when we elevate those things and they become idols in our lives that they become issues.

Pray that the Lord would show you where you have erred in your priorities. Pray that He would assist you in getting back on track so that the important things in your life are Him, your family (both immediate and extended), your friends, and doing your job well (but not by being a workaholic or perfectionist). Do your job as if doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

Ask that the Lord teach you to number your days so that you may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12).

psalm 90_12

 

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the importance of new beginnings

new beginnings

At the beginning of every New Year, many make resolutions that they aim to keep throughout the year. Decisions to make them healthier, fitter, more organized, etc.

In the classic 80s song New Attitude, Patti LaBelle sings of starting a new beginning with a new attitude “from [her] head to [her] shoes.” Every time I hear that song, it brings to mind a crabby lady in need of a personality overhaul.

But what about a new beginning in Christ?

Paul in the Bible received a new beginning – a “start over”, if you will. A harsh man who made it his life’s goal to persecute Christians, Paul was the furthest thing from one who could be used effectively by God. Wasn’t he?

On the contrary. God used Paul in a mighty way. After Paul’s conversion, he was one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. He endured beatings and spent much time in prison for the sake of the Gospel.

Could you be used for God’s Kingdom?

Probably not if you have a “checkered” past, right? If you’ve done things you’re not proud of, sinned in ways you don’t care to admit, you certainly can’t be used. And definitely, God isn’t going to forgive you for all of those things you did. After all, we’re not talking “minor” sins here.

Again, on the contrary.

God can and will use you.

We serve a  God who is One of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances. Jesus took all of our sins, past and present, upon Himself when He went to the Cross. Your new beginning means your dry erase board is wiped clean from all of the junk that once cluttered it.

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So how can you have a new beginning?

Commit your life to Him. If you have not made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, that is the first step.

After you have made a decision for Christ, you are forgiven. You have a new beginning. You also have eternal life and will spend eternity with Him. Nothing can ever take you from His hand (John 10:28). But it doesn’t stop there. Find a Bible-based church where the pastor digs into the Word and preaches it each week. Find a mature Christian to mentor you in your walk.

Spend time in the Bible. The Old Testament is wonderful, and I would highly recommend reading it, but as a new believer, the best place to start is in the New Testament in the Book of John.

Turn your eyes toward Him. Listen and watch things that aren’t contrary to your new faith.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

This year, spend time in prayer to dedicate your life to a new beginning for Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “the old is gone, the new is here.” And that is definitely something to celebrate!

2 Corinthians 5 17

 

 


 

 

Other posts in the “importance series:”

the importance of relying on God

the importance of gratitude

the importance of honesty

3 changes to make in 2019

3 changes to make in 2019

A high percentage of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. Instead of making a Resolution (or having a list of them), why not decide to make some changes throughout the year?

Here are three suggestions for changes to make in 2019 for you, for your health, and for others.

For you…

Spend more time with the Lord. I have made it my goal to spend time with the Lord first thing when I wake up. I know myself too well that with all of the busyness of the day that He has to be my first priority. As such, the first words that I utter when I wake is “thank You, Lord, for another day. Please help me to glorify you, be a blessing to others, and please keep my family and me healthy and safe.”

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Don’t only take your time reading through a book in the Bible, but if you have a Bible with commentary, read those notes as well to fully understand what God is trying to tell us through His Word. Go as slowly as you need to in order to understand what you are reading.

Start a prayer notebook. Add in specific prayers for those you care about, plus any strangers (such as someone you read about online who just lost a family member). Also be sure to add in prayers that the Lord has answered.

Listen to upbeat music. There is so much negativity in some of the current songs these days. However, there is also an abundance of options for positive and hopeful music.  K-love radio is a wonderful alternative solution when listening to music.

Cut back on news consumption. Watching and reading too much news can be overwhelming and discouraging.

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For your health…

Eating healthy is an important goal. But if you plan to make it a goal just to “eat healthier,” you may not succeed. Instead, choose one or two food items to add to your menu that you are able to commit to eating. For instance, I detest broccoli – always have. But I determined last year to incorporate it into my diet slowly and intermittently. So far, my plan has been successful.

healthy food

Revamp the typical resolutions. Losing weight and getting fit are at the top of New Year’s Resolutions. It’s common at the gym where I workout and teach a cycling spin class that January will be a crazy busy month and then return to “normal” attendance by mid-February. Instead of just saying you’ll lose weight and get fit, make  your goal specific and manageable. Plan to go to the gym three times a week or take one new class for the next six weeks. Or plan to incorporate 20 minutes of weight training twice a week. One of my goals last year was to be sure I spent ample time stretching after a workout. Too often, sufficient stretching would (unwisely) be the thing that would suffer if I ran out of time.

Listen to music while working out. It will your game and make the time go faster. Check out these workout song suggestions or this ultimate list of workout songs.

Offer yourself small rewards at several junctures of attaining your goals. You made it through the first session of kickboxing. How about that new workout top you’ve been eyeing as a reward? Just be sure not to make sugary treats your motivation for working out. 🙂

Declutter your life and your home. Again, start small and aim to declutter one manageable area at a time.

Speaking of decluttering? Sometimes, sadly, it’s time to weed your garden of friends as well.

Rethink friendships. God tells us in His Word to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Thankfully, He doesn’t say we have to hang out with toxic people – those who cause us undue distress or are cruel or unkind. If you have someone in your life who is jealous, hateful, abusive, a gossiper, or any other type of negative person, it’s time to spend less time with them. Not to be unkind or to retaliate, but to distance yourself from that person and the negative effects they can have on you and your health.

Learn to say no. Easier said than done, but sometimes we have to cut back on the massive amount of things we undertake on a daily basis. Pray for God’s wisdom this year, that He would show you what to cut back on and not feel guilty about it.

For others… (click on the blue links for specific suggestions).

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Volunteer. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Volunteers spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities during the period from September 2014 to September 2015.” Volunteering can range from coaching a soccer team for kids, to delivering meals to the elderly, to teaching Sunday School.

Bless others in unexpected ways and perform random acts of kindness.

Encourage others.

Help those going through a difficult time.

Instill in your children the importance of serving others.

What are some changes you plan to make this year?

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!

 

 


*Note: Movie Monday will return next Monday.

 

 

 

the importance of gratitude

the importance of gratitude

My oldest daughter is a logophile – someone who loves words. Every day, before I begin work, she opens a tab on my computer for Dictionary.com for the “word  of the day.”

Today’s word? Thanksgiver. The definition, according to Dictionary.com is a person who gives thanks.

An appropriate word for all times of the year, but perhaps more easily remembered during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Why should we express our gratitude to God?

Below are a few of the many reasons.

  • He is deserving of our praise.

Psalm 9 1

  • He tells us to “…give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18a). Not always easy in those times of trial that we all experience. But His grace and mercy sees us through even the worst of times.

 

  • He gave us eternal life. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) 

 

  • When we have a grateful heart, we are less apt to complain or look dismally at our circumstances, no matter how bleak they may seem.

Charles Dickens

  • It reminds us how dependent we are on Him.

 

  • His love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).

Psalm 136_1

  • It is a way to express worship to our Creator.

 

  • A grateful heart comes humbly before the  Lord and realizes all that He has done.

 

  • Gratitude reminds us of how much we have, not how much we lack.

Melody Beattie

One of the ways I have found to be especially important in showing thankfulness is by staring a gratitude journal.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Any notebook will do. At the end of each day, list the things you are grateful for. It’s amazing the things we forget.

How often do I thank the Lord for His many blessings? The gift of His Son? Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross? That He chose me to be His? For food on the table? Good health for my family and me? His protection? My husband’s job?

Speaking of His protection, how many times does God protect us and we don’t even realize it? The car accident that could have happened. The illness we avoided. The lurking, unseen dangers that He has saved us from. By His grace, we emerged unscathed from potential dangers we never even gave thought to.

Not only today, but everyday, be a thanksgiver. Come before the Throne with humility, thanksgiving, and praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

How do you express your gratitude to the Lord?


 

For another post about gratitude, see Thankful for the Small Things.

For more posts in The Importance Series, check out the following:

The Importance of Relying on God

The Importance of Friendship

The Importance of Compassion

The Importance of Honesty

The Importance of Avoiding the Gossip Trap

The Importance of Influence

The Importance of Kindness

The Importance of Voting

 

 

the importance of relying on God

Relying on God

Everyday I rely on God for the big things: every breath, health and safety for my family, food, clothing, shelter, my husband’s job, help and healing for my mom, nephew, and niece for their chronic illnesses and pain; and the list goes on.

But what about the seemingly “small” things? The things that some people don’t even give a second thought to? What about relying on God for those things?

Take, for instance, my fear of needles. I have to prepare myself a week in advance for my annual wellness blood draw, and I have to lie down to avoid fainting during the procedure. It doesn’t help they can never find a vein, and that when they do, my little teeny selfish veins refuse to give up blood no matter how hydrated I am. Or the recent crown the dentist put on a cracked tooth. The several needles she used to numb me was traumatic.

But to others, needles are not a big deal. But for those of us with what I call “glitches in our systems” who have strange, but common fears like needles, relying on God to get us through the needle moments is huge.

Relying on God is an essential part of our faith. We need Him. Everyday. He tells us to trust Him, to rely on Him, that He will supply our needs and strengthen us.

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I’m thankful in a way that I do have needle phobia. When my recent crown was completed (my daughters called this my “coronation,” so I have officially been crowned, lol!) the gratitude and humility that washed over me was immense. Tears filled my eyes, as I praised God for yet again getting me through another “needle moment in life.”

Had I not struggled with the crown or the annual blood draw, or the times throughout my life when I’ve had IVs (pregnancy, appendicitis, and a dental surgery), then I would not have been overwhelmed with the gratitude of God’s provision for the small things as well as the big things.

So how do we show our gratitude to our Creator for all that we rely upon Him for?

  • Praise Him often. For everything we know about and everything that He has protected us from that we may not even have realized.
  • Praise Him with sincerity.  True devout humility to the One who gives us our every breath.
  • Praise Him with worship. Praise Him with a song and exalt His holy name. I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69 30

  • Praise His name when talking to others. Tell them of His wondrous works and how you relied on Him – and He came through for you.
  • Praise Him through a gratitude journal. Keeping track of answered prayers and the times you relied on Him is a good way to help remember all He has done.

What seemingly “small” things have you relied on God for lately?

5 ways to be your “sweet self”

5 ways

From as far back as I can remember, my mom has always used the saying, “just be your sweet self.”

Whether in day-to-day life or dealing with a difficult situation, my mom reminded my siblings and me that being our sweet selves was, in essence, treating others as we would like to be treated and loving our neighbor. Even when someone was unkind, our response was not to be one of retaliation or revenge, but of kindness.

1 Corinthians 13 4a

Easier said than done, to be sure. It’s not always easy to be our “sweet self” to the difficult people we encounter in our daily lives. It’s a continual growing process made possible only with constant prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Here  are five ways to practice being your “sweet self”:

  • Seek to bless others. Pray each morning for a chance to bless someone else – and watch God provide the opportunity!
  • Give the benefit of the doubt. We’ve all jumped to conclusions about another’s thought life or motives. But no one knows for sure what someone else is thinking, or what their true heart motive is. So…when in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt. Think the best of people.
  • Be polite. “Please,” and “thank you” are no longer used as often as they should be. Seek to use good manners, no matter what your age. (And teach your children to do the same!)
  • Live in the moment. Time passes quickly, and we can never recapture those lost moments again. Live in the moment – take the time for that hug from your husband. Spend time with your children. Visit that elderly neighbor who struggles with loneliness. Spend time in the Word and in worship of our Savior.

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  • Strive to be worthy of your calling. One of my favorite verses and one of the prayers of my heart is Ephesians 4:1. Paul is admonishing us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” If you are seeking to honor God in all that you say and do, you will have an easier time being your “sweet self”.

Ephesians 4 1

What are some ways you practice being your “sweet self”?

 

 

the importance of friendship

friendshipSome of us have had friends since we were toddlers. Long, abiding friendships that started while we were still in diapers and continued throughout school, through marriages, and starting our own families. But just as precious are those friendships that we found later in life where it feels as though we have known each other our entire lives because we “just clicked.”

So, why is friendship important?

Life is hard. In today’s world, we face a myriad of difficulties from illness to job loss. One of the many blessings the Lord gives us is the blessing of friends. Someone to come alongside us when times are tough. Someone to be there for us, and to pray for and with us.

But it’s not only friendship, but quality friendship that matters. Proverbs 18:24 has much to say about that very topic.

Proverbs 18 24

What exactly is an unreliable friend? Here are some qualifications of being unreliable:

undependable, deceptive, untrustworthy, capricious, false, unstable, and fickle.

Not good qualities for a friend. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that if we have friends that exhibit those traits, we are in danger of coming to ruin. However, on the flipside is a friend who is loyal, steadfast, devoted, faith, constant, abiding, and true. We should also strive to be this type of friend to our friends.

In addition, Proverbs 27:9 tells us that a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs 27 9In these days of busyness, chaos, difficult times, and so many unknowns, refreshment of the soul is more than welcome.

So, what are some qualities of a good friend?

  • They are avid prayer warriors and aren’t afraid to pray for and with you wherever and whenever necessary.
  • They are an ardent cheerleader and support you, even if your dreams are a bit crazy at times.
  • They gently tell you in the kindness and humility if necessary if there’s something amiss that you need to address.
  • They promote an evenly-matched (or close-to-evenly-matched) friendship (as we all have times when we are the more “needy” one). Meaning they are there for you and you are there for them and it’s not one-sided.
  • They are a good listener. We’ve all been around those folks that only talk about themselves or their problems. All. The. Time. Good friends talk as well as listen.
  • They have integrity. Nothing is worse than discovering a close friend has betrayed you.
  • They stand up for you in times of battle. When the bully is knocking down your door, your close friend is there to take on the enemy with you.
  • They help you strive to be your best self. In Proverbs 27:17, we are reminded that iron sharpens iron. A quality friend rejoices with you when you rejoice, and weeps with you when you weep (Romans 12:15). They spur you on and offer encouragement.Proverbs 27 17

Most of us have several friends and acquaintances, but who do we call in those times of need – those times of struggle – those times when no one else quite “gets us”? Those are the friends that God placed in our lives as gifts.

The ones we are blessed to have.