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Ready to Make Over Your Mornings?

by Cathy Baker

A favorite Lamentations verse lies between one that speaks of broken teeth in gravel  (v. 16) and sitting alone in silence (v. 28): 

Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3: 22, 23
Let’s face it. Some mornings feel consumed by everything but God’s compassion yet there it is, every single morning—God faithfulness covering our day. 
I personally love mornings. Always have. Recently, though, I’ve felt discombobulated, like there’s too much trying to weave its way into my thinking, into my days. Perhaps the decluttering process I spoke of in last month’s post needs to begin in the heart as much as it does the corners of my house.
So, with this in mind, I’ll take every Monday in September to share ways we can begin to make over our mornings – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. [Due to Labor Day, my post will be on Wednesday instead of Monday.]
To get things started, what is one area in your home or life you would like to begin the decluttering process? 
And don’t forget… 

It’s not too late to enter the August giveaway!

 
One last thing I’m learning as we close out this month’s series: Based on the elaborate displays in Barnes and Noble we are never too old to color! If
you would like to enter the random drawing for this “adult” coloring
book on Joy by Valentina Harper, simply fill in the blank via the
comment section! Winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 9th.

One thing I’m currently learning is _________________________________________. 

Purchased at Barnes and Noble

 

 

What’s New? You, As Well As Others

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17

These words breathed NEW life into my barren soul as a twice divorced woman of 27. How could this be? How could a woman so fraught with sin and despair become a new creation? As our pastors at Summit Church often saythe Gospel changes everything—and so it does. 

Even now, all these years later, I sometimes have to remind myself that I am a new creature, no longer led by a sinful nature but rather, the Spirit of God. Just as often, though, I have to remind myself that others deserve that same life-giving, God-speaking freedom I claim for myself. 

Years ago, while in a disagreement with Brian, I brought up something from his past, a time before he knew Christ. It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to remind me that the Brian before Christ was gone. 

How could someone who no longer exists be held to the standards of the NEW man he had become? He couldn’t, nor should he be.

Do you know someone who could use a 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminder today? Could it be you? If so, rest assured you’re not alone. The good news is we also share in a fresh opportunity for mercy as we claim this truth for ourselves, as well as others. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)

Goodbye Elaine Benes, Hello Holy Spirit

by Cathy Baker

Earlier this week I shared why I chose to take up the challenge of writing under one theme for 31 Days, beginning October 1st. 

Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, encouraged those bewildered by what subject to blog about to choose something that represents where they are in life right now. So it’s no surprise I decided on Join In The Dance…Staying In Step With The Spirit for the theme of my 31 Day challenge. 

See, I remember taking a dance class at a local studio to prepare for my mother/son dance at Zach and Sarah’s wedding back in 2009. We all went to the studio and had a great time but on their special night, when everyone gathered around the dance floor with all eyes on us, I froze. Everything I learned that night at the studio melted along with my confidence. And then Zach said the magic words, “Just follow me.” 

 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said…” Mark 1:17a

In the original text, “Come, follow me,” is in the present tense, meaning it’s a continuous action. Jesus is continually calling me to follow—to stay in step with Him. So why do my dance steps of recent months look more like Elaine’s than a loving, attentive dance partner? 

When I look back over this summer, I see a lot of events. Graduations, weddings, a writer’s conference, and the funeral of a 21 year-old family member that broke all of our hearts — all crammed into a few months. In some ways, it feels like I never fully exhaled from the end of May through August. In the wake of the chaos I allowed days to rumble by without some serious time with my heavenly Father. Pages left unturned and truths not grasped all because my priorities were way out of whack. No wonder my steps were too.

While I wish I could have a re-do on my summer priorities, I can’t. I can, however, learn from the experience and become a stronger Christ follower as a result. I cling to the truth that His mercy for me is fresh every single morning (Lam. 3:22,23) and in turn, move closer towards Him with the desire of following His lead. I want to leave the independent herky-jerky moves to Elaine and instead, stay in step with One who forgives the clumsy footwork and occasional wrong turn from His partner.

How about you? Has there been a period of time when you’ve been out of step with the Spirit and His movement in your life? (If not, we’re all coming to your house for the next dance!) 

I invite you to join me during the month of October as we explore simple, fresh, and hopefully meaningful ways to stay attuned to the One who calls us by name and whispers Follow Me. 

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19 ESV

10 Questions to Ask on Your Birthday

 
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

When the time changes each year we’re reminded to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. After all, stats prove it’s the wise thing to do. (Next one is coming up November 3rd)

In much the same way, I try to use my birthday and New Year’s Eve as cues to disconnect from the chaos and re-charge my spiritual battery. 

Today, I will use Don Whitney’s 10 Questions for the New Year to celebrate my b-day. I hope to share some of the answers in the near future, as God leads.

How about you? When is your big day? If it’s already passed, there’s always New Year’s Eve! In fact, every single day offers a fresh covering of God’s compassion because of His great love for us. (Lamentations 3:22,23) Why wait? 

If you decide to give these questions a try, I’d love to hear from you.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

To God be the glory!

Will You Finish Well?

Finishing well was yesterday’s topic during Jason’s sermon (which you’ll want to listen to here when posted mid-week.) Later that afternoon at lifegroup, we were asked to share the name of someone we know who finished well. Almost everyone in the room mentioned a grandparent. It was a vivid reminder to those of us who are grandparents (and those who will be in the future) of how important it is to finish our walk well—strong—to the glory of God. 

Our decisions today have the potential to impact not only our children, but our grandchildren, and generations to come. Some we will never know. 

I thank God for the grandparents He gave me. Each of them finished well and their example spurs me on to do the same.  

To God be the glory.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, 
I have kept the faith. 
2 Timothy 4:7

Who comes to mind when you think of someone who finished well? 

 


DAY 15: SUNRISE

God’s wonder meets all humanity at dawn, but we often sleep through it unaware. This morning set your alarm to awake before sunrise. You can check online to find out what time the sun will poke its head above the horizon where you live. Before you nod off to sleep, ask God to reveal himself to you in a meaningful way in the morning. As you awake and watch, pay attention to the first shafts of light. Observe the softness of dawn, the hues of the sun’s first rays, the illumination and beauty all around you. Lamentations 3:22-23 says the Sunrise Maker’s loving-kindness “is new every morning.” 

Spend some time reflecting on how God has displayed this truth not just in the sunrise but throughout your life. Let the wonder of God’s creation break through your soul like the morning’s first rays. And don’t forget to thank God for meeting you this morning. 

-Margaret Feinburg, Wonderstruck
Tiny House on the Hill

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