I am an educator, counsellor, minister, writer and aspiring author. I am on a quest to transform my life - more fun, more family, more living life and more spirituality - so here goes!
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Christianity can so easily become a nicely packaged religion where we believe and get baptized, but our life only changes a little bit.
This problem is becoming more noticeable in our modern churches, where rather than standing out from the world, we seem to be trying to fit in. (See Romans 12:12; 2Cor. 6:14).
Even our church marriage counselling efforts seem more concerned with how we feel or whether our ‘love tank’ is full or empty, than denying self, honoring each other and honoring the vows we made before God and our families.
Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me…’ (Matt 16:24).
Christianity begins with conviction of sin and repentance.
When the crowd felt convicted on the day of Pentecost, they asked Peter what they should do. Peter told them in Acts 2:38, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’
The word ‘repent’ in the Greek means to change your mind. In the Hebrew, it means to turn back. True repentance is followed by decisive ACTION. You change your mind on the way you were living, your turn around and you start to live a different way.
As Christians we are called to stand out because we are different from those who don’t yet know God. The Bible says we are the ‘light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket…’ (Matt 5:14-15). We are also the salt of the earth as we ‘shed abroad the love of God.’ (Romans 5:5).
When you’re a Christian, your life must significantly change – you are on a journey of transformation – to become like Christ. You and I may be the only true light & love some people will see. We need to shine brightly the glory of our Lord.
Being salt and light is not about our great church programs, it’s about lifting up Christ, the cross and the resurrection. Jesus said, ‘If I be lifted up I will draw all men to myself.’ It’s about becoming like Jesus (Romans 8:29) and walking as he walked – in love.
Being salt and light is about dying to self, taking up our cross and FOLLOWING HIM! It’s about doing our part to fulfill the Great Commission.
Lesson 6 – You don’t have to win every argument, sometimes you need to surrender (you know who’s right)
I like to have my say in a discussion and give my ten cents worth, as much as the next person. However, I do not enjoy getting into heated debates with others about topics such as non-essential religious doctrines or politics. I will usually keep my views on controversial matters to myself, unless I am in very familiar company.
When it comes to discussing and debating issues with my husband, however, I will defend my ideas, beliefs and position to the death – well almost… My husband is also very opinionated when it comes to defending his thoughts and ideas. As a result, while we get along really well most of the time, we have had a number of heated discussions over the years with neither of us willing to surrender. Mostly, we would eventually end up agreeing to disagree to keep the peace or not talking until we cooled down.
Well, wisdom has a way of dawning upon us as we grow up and mature causing us to see the folly of arguing over things that really don’t matter in the long term. I have been blessed with enough wisdom to now see the futility of having to win an argument, and also the futility of arguing at all. I really don’t always have to give my opinion on a topic.
I am pleased to say that these days I will more often simply keep my mouth closed or even just agree to save an argument over unimportant matters. It saves wasting a lot of emotional energy, creates a more peaceful home and hey, I know who’s right!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Blessings, Lynda.
Lesson 5 – No matter how tough life is, get up and get out there – life is waiting
While it’s taken me a long time to learn some of life’s valuable lessons – I must be a slow learner – the older I become, the more I tend to step back and evaluate each challenging and difficult situation that comes along. While I rarely go looking for hardships, I find my happy and peaceful existence is periodically invaded by some pretty hairy ‘challenges.’ There have, in fact, been times when I have felt totally overwhelmed by tough times that seem to go on and on.
Most of us can withstand some pretty tough challenges in life, but sometimes hard times go beyond what you would expect the average person could cope with. In times like these it can feel like life is kicking you while you’re down – when one difficulty piles on top of another, and another, to the point where you feel you can’t go on. You feel like you could just give up because it is simply too hard…
Keys to making it through the hard times
Key 1 – Tough times don’t last, but tough people do
I’ve reached the point of wanting to ‘throw in the towel’ a couple of times in my life, but when I have, I also found that I couldn’t just give up! I have a faith and hope in God, I believe the Bible to be God’s holy Word and I’ve found that every time I’ve thought of giving up, God has spoken to me through the Bible, my thoughts or another person and given me the hope and strength to go on. Every time, over time my situation has improved and the tough times gave way to better times. God has a plan and purpose for each one of us and has placed us on the earth, at this time and in this place, for a purpose. We can’t just give up! We need to shine light and hope in a world that needs God more than anything else. We can say we have faith and trust God, but the only time we get to prove this is by trusting God and keeping our eyes on him in the midst of our difficulties. Faith is never tested in easy times and we won’t grow if we are never challenged.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:7-11 “Endure hardship as discipline: God is treating you as sons… it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” When I realize that God allows tough times to help me to grow and become a better person, I can look for the lessons it can teach me (I have certainly become a lot more compassionate to the hardships others face through my own struggles).
Key 2 – you only need to take one step at a time
I have found that a problem can seem huge and overwhelming if I try to tackle the whole thing in one go, rather than breaking it up into smaller steps. If we are going through the ringer, instead of worrying about how we will make it through the next few weeks or months, focus on making it through today – even the next hour or minute, and then the next and so forth. The Bible tells us: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough worries of its own.” I find that I have endured some very difficult times by focusing on just one step or one day at a time, and before I knew it, I’d made it and it was over.
Key 3 – step back, pray, and trust God
Rather than panicking, I find that taking a step back helps you to remove yourself from the emotions and pressure of the situation and gives you time to gain a better perspective and clearer understanding of just what is going on. Then, if you are a believer, seek God: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3). God always helps us and gives us strength and hope when we seek him in the midst of our struggles.
Key 4 – Success is more about attitude than aptitude – never, ever give up!
The reason some people can keep smiling in spite of the hardships usually boils down to attitude. Numerous studies have shown that when we have an attitude of negativity and defeat, we will not cope as well as people who have a positive and cheerful attitude to life and its challenges. If we focus on the negatives it will drag us down. Instead of allowing ourselves to go down in hard times, we have the power to choose to look at the positives and focus on being thankful for these.
My stress management book gives a number of proven strategies for changing your outlook from negative to positive. You can access it by clicking on this link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/298747
Key 5 – If you’re not dead yet – there’s still time to live a wonderful life
I believe in the saying “Where there is life, there is hope!” If you have been through tough times that have left you destitute, most of us have the ability to get up and have another go. Yes, it may take some courage and hard work, it may take some creativity and ingenuity! If you still have the use of your hands and your feet, your mind and your voice, you can have another go. If you are limited in what you can now do, you can still try to make the most of your life, as best you can. When I think about excuses for giving up, I think of people like Nick Vujicic, who hasn’t allowed the fact that he was born without arm or legs to stop him doing anything. Link: Nick Vujicic – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tip 1: If everything has gone bust – you can nearly always start again
Tip 2: If life has given you lemons – make lemonade!
Tip 3: Don’t waste time holding grudges – it’ll hurt you more than them, in the end
That’s it for now, until next time enjoy your wonderful life, take time for the people who matter most and keep on growing and moving onward and upward.
Lesson 4 – Believe in miracles – they’re happening all around you
Most days feel ordinary, but don’t be fooled into thinking today isn’t the most important day of your life. On ordinary days amazing things can sometimes happen, even miracles!
I Googled the word and found two wonderful dictionary definitions of miracle:
1. A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by nature or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.
2. A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development or accomplishment.
I love these two definitions of the word “miracle” as I often experience both of these types of miracles in my own life. Although I’m not quite sure which category some of these should go into…
Miracles, I have seen a few – divine or just extraordinary?
1. I was travelling in a car at 100 klm per hour with my 7 month old baby sleeping on a pillow on the floor at my feet (It was in the 1970s before baby capsules were compulsory or even available). For some unknown reason, I picked up my baby and held her. Next thing, the car rolled and landed on its roof. I was wearing a seat belt and somehow managed to hug baby tightly and nobody was hurt. We all walked away.
2. It was 2am and my daughter had been experiencing strong contractions for a couple of hours with her 2nd baby. She’d had a 10-hour labor with her first. I prayed and asked the Lord if he’d tell me when the baby would be born and I felt like he said, “4 o’clock”. I told my daughter this, and she said, “I think I can hang in for another 2 hours” (such faith in her mum!). Four am came and went and by mid-day the next day I figured I must have gotten it wrong and she’d surely have the baby any time now. I went home for a while and left her with her hubby. I returned to the hospital around 4:15 pm, thinking that she would have had bub hours ago, and hubby had forgotten to call me. When I arrived, the baby had just been born and my daughter told me that just after the baby was born, the nurse looked up at the clock and said, “Right on 4 o’clock!”
3. We live and breathe and have our being in God. If anyone is in Christ (believes in and follows him) he or she is a new creation – a totally new person who is filled and led by God’s Holy Spirit, and who will never be the same again!
4. We are wonderfully and fearfully made – the body’s ability to keep us alive, to repair itself and to protect itself from illness and injury is absolutely amazing – a miracle!
5. I had sciatica once and had been in pain for days. My husband and some dear Christian friends prayed for me and placed their hands on me (like the Bible says) and the pain left immediately, and I could stand up straight right away.
6. I have felt a precious child grow inside me and given birth to an amazing, beautiful, living person!
7. Any number of times, we have been hard up for the means to pay bills and prayed – somehow (every single time) the money has turned up.
8. Every morning when I get up the sun shines and I breathe in clean air, I enjoy my family and friends and thank creator God that I’m alive in so many ways. And I’m thankful that I have hope and a future.
9. My hubby and family love me and care about me – and I’m not perfect!
There are so many more “miracles” that I could tell you about, but I’d be writing all day. Sometimes they are extraordinary events, sometimes they are divine events, but they are always miracles!
What miracles have been happening in your life lately?
Until next time, may the Lord bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you.