It’s May! Glory!

It’s May! Glory!

Today is the first day of May and the first month I am taking part in the monthly worship event I’ve created. I was looking for creative ways to be reminded of the awesomeness of God and thought the book of Numbers would be a fun place to start.

I went to Numbers 28 and looked at how often God called the Israelites to either have an assembly, sacrifice, feast, party; what have you… and found that within the Israelite worship calendar it was near impossible to forget God. There are things to do every day week, month, season, and year.

Since we’re not in the Old Covenant of sacrificing animals and bringing the grains and the fruits to the Lord (thank God), I thought about how I could incorporate the routine of worship into a New Covenant calendar. I set up a list of events to give me opportunities to connect with God and thank Him.

Every month, the Israelites would give a burnt offering to the Lord. It was a big event with lots of animals sacrificed (🙁), fine flour, oil, and drink offerings galore! I took this practice and thought of what I could do as a monthly offering to the Lord. Paul said to the Roman church in the first century that they were to present themselves as a living sacrifice to God. They were to devote themselves to Him and seek His good. That was their spiritual worship.

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, and those who would come to believe in Him due to their testimony, Jesus said that eternal life for believers was to know God. Jesus’ death and resurrection now allows us to do just that. We can connect with God every day at any time!

So, for every first day of the month, this is what I’m going to do: have a fantastic dinner to honor God and enjoy the gift of a good meal, reflect on how God has provided the past month, anticipate obstacles that could arise this present month, think about who needs prayer, and make note of what I’m excited about that is coming up!

My goal in all of this is to connect with God on a deeper level, grow in gratitude and joy for who He is and what He has done, and share His goodness and truth with others. God is so worthy of praise and I am absolutely excited to get started on this. If you would like to join in on my worship calendar, click on this link and it will subscribe you to a read-only version of it. If you decide to participate, please let me know how it goes! I would love to be inspired by how you worship God on these days.

Before I sign out, I’m going to share one thing I’m grateful for this past month: God’s joy.

I’m at a stage in codependency recovery where I am having more joyful days and fewer days of anxiety and misery. God has increasingly been showing me why I can live a life of freedom and joy. I love Him and feel so blessed to live every day with Him. Today, my expression of happiness in Christ is through thankfulness and unashamedly terrible dancing to this fantastic song. Watch the video and try to stay seated. 😜

God loves you! Celebrate that!

 

Strategies for the Season of Rest

I hope last week was helpful for you in finding out where the weak spots were in your winter season last year. A difficult area for me is negative thinking and discouragement. It’s easy for me to get enveloped in the darkness.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were imprisoned for removing the demons from a girl who brought two men profit by fortune-telling. They were placed in the inner prison and fastened into stocks. That is some absolute captivity! But, what were they doing during this time? Verse 25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…”

It’s officially dark where Paul and Silas are. They don’t have an idea of when they’ll get out and they are quite uncomfortable. They had been beaten by rods prior to being locked up into stocks. However, we find them trapped in the dark communicating with God and singing His praises. What a testimony to the freedom we have in Christ! No environment should ever be allowed to steal our joy when we have been given so much through salvation in Jesus.

As the story unfolds, Luke (the author of Acts) continues the account by telling of an earthquake that shakes the prison and opens the doors. Prisoners bonds are unfastened, yet they all remain at will. The jailer is stunned by this and asks how he can be saved. Paul and Silas shared the gospel with the jailer and all his household. He and his family were baptized that night and rejoicing ensued. What an amazing set of circumstances all taking place within a night!

God can use the dark of night to reach those who are in low places. He can use you and me to bring the light to those in the darkness. Paul and Silas’ devotion to God was carried down into the depths of a prison. It was there they sang hymns to God and we see Luke make note that the prisoners listened. This life is not always about our earthly freedom. For a night, Paul and Silas gave up their freedom so that other people’s souls could be freed from condemnation. Paul and Silas’ actions in the darkness impacted the eternal state of those around them.

Being a light in darkness is a crucial part of Christianity. We are different than those who don’t have Jesus because we have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us, a promise of a new life in the future, and hope of Jesus’ imminent return. Let’s interact with God about the upcoming darkness of daylight savings coming to an end. Let’s strategize on how we can bring light into the long nights.

Below are some strategies to help you change things up this year:

1. Shift Your Schedule – Take a look at what you do at night versus in the morning. Can anything be shifted to the evening? I used to have my quiet time at 6:00 in the morning, but it’s been a struggle for me to wake up lately because it’s so dark. So, I switched my quiet time from 6:00am to 10:00pm. It’s been a fun change and has actually given me more time to read my Bible, pray, and process life.

2. Get Accountability – Don’t walk through this season alone! Find someone you can talk to regularly to help prevent negativity or depression. Let this season be an opportunity to deepen some friendships.

3. Treat Every Day Like A Vacation – Fun doesn’t have to be reserved for just the weekends! If you’re going to be at home and the time seems to drag because of early evenings, make use of that extended time. Make fun drinks on the weekdays, diffuse something, watch a fun movie, cook something colorful, read a page turner, do some hobby you’ve been meaning to do for awhile, create a tradition with some friends; anything that gets you feeling like each day is a “treat yourself” kind of day.

4. Let Yourself Sleep Longer – Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to sleep longer. If your schedule allows and you can shift some things around, give yourself a little more rest this season. Like I wrote in the first strategy, put some of your morning routine into your evening. I used to wake up at 6:00am, but now I wake up at 7:00am. I don’t have as much time in the mornings anymore, but I wake up feeling refreshed and know that I’ll have plenty of time to relax in the evening. It’s been a fun change for this season.

5. Do More Outside When You Can – Take advantage of the daylight hours. If you’re able to eat lunch outside, do it! Take a walk around the office building, run an errand; do whatever you can to soak in some sunlight during the workday.

6. Find Beauty In The Darkness – There’s a lot to be said for appreciating the mysteries of the night. If you live in the city, you might not see a whole lot of stars, but you’ll definitely be getting more of the night sky. Learn about constellations, listen to the night sounds, sit outside with your family around an outdoor fire… there’s a lot of spirituality to experience when an evening mood is embraced.

7. Do All You Can In The Morning – If you can catch a little bit of daylight before your morning commute, take in the beauty. Drink your coffee outside or take a long glance at the sunrise. Find out what starts your day off in a cheery disposition.

8. Softer Light At Night – Shorter days come at the start of holiday season. This is a time of traditions and family. Make shorter days special. Light candles around the house and enjoy a cozy atmosphere.

9. Get A Sunrise Simulator – For those who have to wake up before the sun, a sunrise simulator could be what you need to get up naturally. There are many variations, but click on this link to see one option on Amazon.

10. Improve Your Environment – Clean out that hall closet, redecorate the room; make your living space more aesthetically pleasing and fresh. Change rejuvenates the spirit and stimulates the senses. Coming home to a new environment or knowing you have a creative project at home can make this season have fun challenges. These kinds of projects can steer you away from the temptation to be bored or depressed at home.

There are many possibilities out there for enjoying this season of rest instead of merely getting through it. Enjoy your week! We’re almost to the end of daylight savings and the beginning of our Season of Rest.

If you have any strategies that would help, please comment below!

Week of Reflection: How’d You Do Last Year?

When things go dark, our natural desire is to use the world as a coping mechanism. We sleep and watch tv to ignore depression, we eat away stress, and relish in negative thinking. I know these things sound obviously unhealthy, but in the moment, sleeping, binge watching, eating, and obsessive thinking seem to be quite enjoyable methods to pass time. We can be self-destructive like that.

Romans 12 warns the reader to not conform to the world but be transformed. The Christian life is begun by a rebirth. When you accept Jesus as your savior, the Holy Spirit indwells in you and gives you a new life. Once you have the Holy Spirit, you have the opportunity to ground yourself in God’s word everyday. It is through the Bible that you find knowledge of who you are and what your purpose is.

This is what Paul would call a “renewing” of your mind. You filter out the worldly tendencies and fill up with spiritual renewal. By seeking God everyday, you continue to deepen your understanding of what He finds to be “good and acceptable and perfect”. God brought you new life to fill you with light, joy, and hope. Through hard times and phases of peace, you walk through this life and learn what it is to have joy in every circumstance. You learn the depth of gratitude.

Reflection is part of the renewal process. It’s an important piece of growth as an individual. If you are not working through your successes and failures via the lens of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, you are not learning the lessons that God is teaching you. Therefore, you’ll be taught the same lessons over and over again. You won’t be able to move on to the next one. Some people will go their whole lives without moving past a particular struggle!

To reflect is to pause. Our culture has made it very difficult to do that. Even when you have a moment to yourself, there’s the temptation – addiction, I may even say – to take the phone out and keep your thoughts from bringing unpleasantries to the surface. When you are in constant distraction, you’re not going to be talking through life with God, asking Him questions, and waiting for Him to respond. Keeping life experiences to yourself like that will sink you further into isolation. We don’t want that to happen!

So, being a few weeks away from daylight savings coming to an end, spend some time in reflection this week on how you handled shorter days last year. You can use the exercise below as a guide through your reflection.

Week of Reflection Exercise:

  1. Schedule time this week to sit down and reflect over last year.
  2. During your reflection time:
    1. Ask God to show you how you did last year.
    2. Write down what comes to mind:
      1. How did you feel last year when it got dark early?
      2. Did you develop any habits during that time that were self-destructive?
      3. Are you still feeling the effects of those bad habits right now?
    3. Ask God to reveal to you healthier ways to cope this year.
    4. Ask God for forgiveness if you feel you placed something over Him as a comfort last year.
    5. Thank God for what He is going to do for you this season.
  3. If you were not affected by the shorter days last year, ask God to show you others that may need your help during the winter months.