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Re-Booting Our Quiet Time in 2016

by Cathy Baker
It is of no use for you to attempt to sow out of an empty basket, for that would be sowing nothing but the wind. -Spurgeon

I’ve attempted to sow from an empty basket for longer than I ever imagined possible. One day turned into two, and those melted into three, then four.

Maybe you can relate?

His voice slips into the background of our days. That is, until we need to hear from Him the most, and it’s then, in that quiet moment, we realize just how empty our basket really is—void of His power, strength, and wisdom.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.”

Perhaps I’m not the only one in need of a fresh start when it comes to spending time with God.

If not, I invite you to join me in asking God for a teachable spirit as we spend this month immersing ourselves in learning (or re-learning?) what it means to be still and know that He is God.

After all, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.

Not sure about you, but I don’t want to settle for anything less than God’s best for me. Too often in 2015 I went to gather encouragement, soul-keeping rest, and love for the unlovely from my basket only to come up empty. I was spent, discouraged, and distracted.

While we can’t do anything to make God love us more (or less), we can draw near to Him through His Word, in prayer, and simply being still in recognition of who He is.

His nearness fills the emptiest of baskets.

Hope you’ll join me this month as we’ll peek into the quiet times of some of my dearest and most Father-loving friends every Monday. On Wednesdays, we’ll consider additional ideas to spur on our time with the Father.

Welcome to the January series, Drawing Near to God. It is a blessing to have you here.

 

 

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)

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Fresh Start

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 16 }

Could you use a fresh start? I could. 

Every. Single. Day. 

It’s for this reason I snatched the mug below off the TJ Maxx shelf lickety split. Yes, my eye caught the contrast between the white matte finish and sleek cool gray interior but it was the wording that prompted me to peel out a few bucks and make it mine.

Score! Thanks, TJ Maxx.

The words Fresh Start immediately brings Lamentations 3:22,23 to mind. It’s a verse I mention often, maybe because I so desperately need it.

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.

Obviously, the truth of receiving fresh mercy from a holy God each and every morning is reason enough to awaken with a grateful heart, but when I rewind to consider the motivation behind it all, I’m blown away by God’s faithfulness.

Thankfully, the “why” has nothing to do with me or you, our performance or lack thereof. It’s all God. His love motivates our rescue every single day. The only thing that consumes and covers us today is God’s compassion. 

So, when the coffee perks and the coffee cup clinks tomorrow morning, let us remember Lamentations 3. Savor it, receive it, and walk in the freedom God offers us 24/7. 

Staying in Step with the Spirit: A grateful heart never fails to move closer to the One of morning promises. 

Heavenly Father, may the gratefulness pooling in our hearts spring forth into action today. 

What does it mean to you personally to know that the moment you awoke this morning fresh mercy awaited? 

#Write31Days past posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation
{ Sunday }
{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 
{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
{ Day 8 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search (with guest Ginger Harrington)
{ Day 9 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability 
{ Day 10 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 2
{ Day 11 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Moonlit Sunroof
{ Sunday }
{ Day 13 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Wild Goose Chase

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
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