the importance of aligning our actions with our words

aligning actions

Have you ever met someone and were astounded to discover that they were a believer? Perhaps they live a life contrary to that of a Christian. Or perhaps they act flippant about Christianity in the presence of unbelievers.

To be clear at the outset: our actions are not what makes us Christians. Rather, the only way we can become a Christian is to put our full faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, believe that He died for our sins, and repent and turn from our sins. (Romans 10:9-10; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 10:13; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9, etc.)

However, actions are important. After we become Christians, our desire is (or should be) to please the One who gave His life for us. A changed life and the continual desire to become more like Jesus everyday in our actions and in our thought lives are two ways we can show our gratitude.

What are some other ways we can align our actions with our claim of Christianity?

  • Model Christlike behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are all sinners. Only by His help can we achieve such things as honesty, kindness, compassion, and gentleness. Only with His help can we be sure to guard our speech.Colossians 4 6
  • Continue to grow in your walk. This can only be achieved by spending time in God’s Word, in fellowship with other believers, and spending time in praise and worship. Our goal should be that we strive to be more like Him this year than we were last year.

 

  • Give others the benefit of the doubt. This can be a tough one. In our culture, it is popular to think the worst of others without knowing anything about them. This shouldn’t be so for those of us who claim to be Christ followers.

 

  • Embrace humility. We all make mistakes. Everyone has things we struggle with no matter how long we’ve been a Christian. Be humble and own up to your mistakes and shortcomings. Seek the forgiveness of others when you have wronged them.

 

  • Practice discernment. Our society glorifies things that counteract what we read about in the Bible. We live in a culture that places a great emphasis on feelings and opinions. Those in and of themselves are not bad, but when we turn to the only Truth Meter – the Bible – we are told what we should put our focus on.

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  • Show grace and mercy to others. It’s been said that those who have been shown grace are more willing to show grace to others. Haven’t we been shown much mercy and grace by our Lord? Shouldn’t we extend that to others especially when they don’t deserve it?

 

  • Love others. This can be a tough one. As I sit here typing this blog post, I can think of someone I know who is extremely difficult for me to love. However, we are commanded to love others as ourselves and to place their interests above our own. Such love for others is a testament of our love for Him.1 Corinthians 13 1

We should be different. We should be set apart. We shouldn’t blend in with everyone else, but rather we should stand out. It should be plain to others who we strive to live for. Nothing temporary. Nothing that perishes. But the One who is eternal.

May our actions align with our words. May we give no reason for someone to doubt our authenticity.

 

 

 

 

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not everything is as it seems

not everything

My husband’s friend, Mario, brings a large box of fresh oranges from his farm in Texas to our family on a regular basis. These oranges are like nothing I’ve ever tasted from the grocery store. They are sweet, juicy, fresh, and delicious.

However, by the outer appearance of this citrus that our family refers to as a “Mario Orange,” you wouldn’t think it would taste good. On the contrary, one might think it was squishy, sour, old, and moldy.

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Obviously, we can’t judge a “Mario Orange” from its outer appearance. With its bee stings, mottled appearance, and pale color, it isn’t what it seems.

People are much the same way. Some of the nicest, kindest, most gracious people I’ve ever met would not be considered the most attractive. On the other hand, some of the most mean-spirited,  rudest, and malicious people I’ve ever met have been the most physically attractive.

There are many beautiful people who are also kind and many “homely” people who are inconsiderate. However, an important thing to remember is this:

Not everything is as it seems.

That’s why it’s important not to judge someone based on their outer appearance. Instead, we should look to important virtues, such as:

  • God-fearing
  • honest
  • kind
  • loyal
  • trustworthy
  • faithful
  • generous
  • selfless

And the list goes on.

Proverbs 31:30 tells us that Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Proverbs 31 30

What if we saw people through God’s eyes? What if we saw people as being made in His image?

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Our worth does not come from appearance. Our true value does not come from how others perceive us.

If we realized this, we could see things as they really are.

 

 

 

 

 

the importance of life

the importance of life

There is a lot of debate these days about pro-life and pro-choice. As a Christian, I look at things from the perspective that God created all life. Not only did He create us, He created us in His own image. (Genesis 1:27)

At the writing of this post, over 61 million babies have been aborted, and over 2,000 just today in the United States. Worldwide? 1.5 Billion so far. (Source: numberofabortions.com) )

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I developed severe Hyperemesis gravidarum. It was so serious that I lost 15 pounds in one week and was admitted to the hospital. I was unable to keep any food down and suffered from malnutrition to the point that my bones protruded and I fainted twice. Everything I ate, I vomited. A few months later, I developed pneumonia and was again hospitalized. In all, I was on bed rest for the first five months of my pregnancy. The doctors weren’t sure if my daughter would be all right. They weren’t sure if I would make it. Our lives were in the balance.

God is faithful and brought us through that ordeal. It also brought me back to Him, which is a story for another time. However, I can’t imagine ever not having that little life that had begun to grow inside of me. I had already grown to love her. God had designed her before He ever placed her in my womb.

Life is valuable. My mom has severe chronic pain and is disabled from an accident less than a decade ago. But her life, as one who cannot walk or even use her hands to send a text message, is no less valuable than the athlete running ten miles on the treadmill. A person with Down Syndrome, a blind person, an elderly person, or a person confined to a wheelchair is no less important than another human being. The baby in the womb is no less valuable than the adorable toddler swinging on a swing in the park.

Not in God’s eyes.

And they shouldn’t be in ours.

When did we, as a society, decide that some life just wasn’t valuable? When did we, as a culture, decide that some life is not important and must be extinguished? When did we decide that it was our job to make that call?

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My cousin and his wife lost their precious newborn a short time after he was born due to complications. They knew that their baby would die soon after birth, but in a valiant act, they chose life.

I have friends and relatives who have had miscarriages. They know the pain of loss of a baby who never had a chance to live.

So that brings me to abortion. A hot topic right now with a new law in New York passed allowing abortion right up to birth. I struggle with this news. For days, it has weighed heavily on my mind. The “right” to kill another human being? Isn’t that called murder? While abortion has been around for a long time and made legal in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, the thought of people doing even more to snuff out life up until the last possible moment brings about a whole new wave of horror.

You can probably tell by now that I am 100% pro-life.

My daughters and I have attended many pro-life meetings, where we spoke for those who will never get a chance to speak, prayed for those who have had abortions and those who were contemplating abortions, and prayed for the dads of the babies they would never know.

Why pray for those who have had abortions?

A close friend of mine had an abortion years ago. She confided to me that, while she remains pro-choice, not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her baby and what he or she may be like if she had chosen life. She struggles with forgiving herself.

Thankfully, we serve a mighty God, who can forgive us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

We should come alongside those who have had abortions. We should care about them. Reassure them of God’s forgiveness. Refuse to condemn.

Why pray for those contemplating abortions?

Because when you’re struggling with how you will support a new baby, or you are in high school and pregnant, or you were the victim of rape that resulted in a pregnancy, decisions can be even more difficult.

We pray for those who are in the midst of that struggle. That they would choose the other “a” word – adoption.

Why pray for the dads who will never know their child because of an abortion?

Because, in my opinion, they are some of the most forgotten in this scenario. As one who once worked in the social services field, I saw dads who were against their girlfriend or wife having an abortion. But they didn’t get a say.

So come alongside that young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Be there for her. Help her choose life. There are so many who would love to adopt a baby. To place your child for adoption, when you know you are unable to care for them, is one of the most courageous choices a woman can make. Support adoption. Support your local pregnancy center.

Come alongside those who have had abortions. Show the love of Christ to them. We don’t have to agree with someone to extend the hand of mercy.

And pray for the babies.

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Pray that someday abortion will be outlawed and that babies will have a chance to live and do all the fun things babies, toddlers, children, teens, and adults experience.

That we, as a society will truly see the importance and value of life. All life. Made by a Creator who loves us more than we could ever know. A Creator who desires for us to spend eternity with Him.

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7 ways to inspire others

7 ways to inspire others

Several people have lately inspired me. My mom, whose severe disabilities stemmed from an accident, is one of them. While she suffers from chronic pain and has little use of her arms and legs, it doesn’t stop her from serving others. It doesn’t stop her from being a prayer warrior and a mentor. Her strong faith, in the midst of the challenges she faces each day, is such an encouragement.

A man at the gym where I teach cycling takes one of my classes. That may not sound unusual as cycling is a popular way to get and stay fit. The unique thing about David? He is blind. That doesn’t stop him from navigating the way from his apartment to the gym and joining in the class. A co-worker told me that he also does the weight circuits without assistance. He never complains and never gives up.

A friend of ours works as an oxygen deliveryman. What sets him apart is that during his deliveries, he stops to shovel driveways, change lightbulbs, retrieve the mail, and any other things he can do to assist his elderly and housebound customers. He doesn’t have to do these things. He chooses to serve others.

How can we inspire others?

Lend a listening ear. Inspirational people are good listeners. They take the time to really hear people.

Persevere.  People who inspire don’t give up. They continue to fight the good fight. Even in the midst of the hardest moments, they trust the Lord to see them through. And they encourage others not to give up either.

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Care. Those who inspire care about others. They are concerned for their welfare and seek to help when possible.

Put others first. Those who are inspirational are not selfish. They seek the good of others above their own good.

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See the best in others. We are so often guilty of jumping to conclusions and finding the worst in others with the judgment of their motives. Instead, give people the benefit of the doubt.

Realize God has a plan for your life. Inspirational people know that, despite what obstacles they face, God is working all things for their good (Romans 8:28). Times can be tough and faith will be tested, but God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

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Take an active role in the lives of others. Encourage them to be their best.

 

 

 

 

 

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).

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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.