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Letitia "Tish" Suk

Jill Swanson

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Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

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Joan C. Webb

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Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson

 

Thursday
Aug292013

Worship Service

Lynn Mosher blogs about how we should live as we are “heading home” to be with Jesus. I invited her to write about one way to UPGRADE our Worship.

“‘Worship service’ is more than a phrase given to our church assemblies,” Mosher said. “Worship is service to God, as the priests of old worshipped God by their tabernacle or temple service.”

She continues . . .

“The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;for the Father is seeking such to worship Him . . . For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, Him only you shall serve.’” (John 4:23b; Matthew 4:10 NKJV)

In Greek, one word for “worshipper” means a temple servant, or one having charge of a temple to keep it clean and adorn it. Our word “worship” is derived from the old English word meaning worthship.”

We are all temple servants of God, doing our duty by taking care not only of the temple of the church building but also of the temple of our hearts.

Paul tells us of the highest form of worship-service we can offer God: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you…to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12:1 AMP)

Our godly service then is keeping our temples clean and unspotted by the world, adorning them with acts of service, and having a lifestyle of holy living that honors the worthship of God.

In all we do, we should “Worship and serve Him with (our) whole heart and with a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9 NLT).

To worship the God of creation is:

  • to bow down in reverence to Him because He is worthy, acknowledging His divinity;
  • to bow in humility and obedience;
  • to bow to His will, His plan, and His purpose by relinquishing one’s own agenda;  
  • and to bow in service to Him with one’s life, honoring Him as the One True God.

Do we seek the Lord’s Presence or His presents? Do we seek His handout or His hand? Do we always seek something from Him as the multitudes did, or do we lean upon His breast as John the beloved did, just to be with Him; to sit at His feet as Mary did, just to serve Him in worship by pouring out our thanks and tears as fragrant oil upon His body?

     How lavish is your worship of the Creator’s worthship?

Lynn Mosher lives with her hubby (since 1966) in their Kentucky nest, emptied of three chicklets and embracing three giggly grand-chicklets and an inherited dog. Lynn’s greatest passion is to fulfill God’s call on her life to encourage others and glorify the Lord with her writing.

Note: Praying woman Photo Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Tuesday
Aug272013

A Time to Plan

I’ve always been impressed by Debby Lennick’s approach to homemaking. I asked her to share some of her expertise with us in the months ahead so we can all UPGRADE our homemaking perspective and skills. Many in the younger generation might not have the slightest idea where to begin.

“When was the last time you thought of a homemaking or Home Ec class?” Lennick said. 

Now I don’t know about you, UPGRADE Friends, but it’s been a long, long time for me. (My Home Ec class resembled this cover photo at the Saturday Evening Post!)

Lennick continues. . .

Remember cooking and sewing back in the day? Maybe you’re thinking, “I still have that apron!” Or, “That’s where I learned to cook!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Not me then, and not me now! Either way, let’s revisit Homemaking 101.

What does “homemaking or Home Ec” mean nowadays? It simply refers to the economy of the home. The Dictionary.com definition of economy includes “thrifty management . . . management of the resources; an organized system or method.

Home economics or homemaking class may be from the past, but the principles are for today!

It’s the management of all home resources from food to finances, from tasks to time management. For this post, I want to discuss the resource of time.

A key to unlocking successful time management is planning.

Planning - a Spiritual Side 

God role-models planning.

We see this in the Old Testament. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). In the New Testament, Jesus said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John14:3). 

What a relief to claim these promises! He’s planning and preparing, and everything is perfectly synced! In today’s hectic pace, this is comforting.

Planning – a Practical Side

1. Since planning is about time, evaluate by answering these questions:

  • How much time does your household have at home?  
  • Do you want more or less time at home?  Why?
  • Is time wasted by family members spending hours and hours on electronics (TV, computer, phone, the internet)?  
  • Is it routine to run in the door faced with a dirty house, barely time to scarf down prepackaged or take-out food, just to be tortured by homework then flop into bed?
  • How can meal planning be improved?

2. After evaluation, make a home schedule; aim for a balance between tasks and family time. The results will please you. In my house, it gives opportunity to foster relationships through intentional time at home, less media, cooking together and playing games.

3. Learn how to sync electronic calendars with family. This will help eliminate stressful over-planning and double-booking.

4. Review your electronic passwords and PIN numbers. Not remembering or finding them can be a frustrating time waster. With your spouse and/or older kids, intentionally research and discuss strategies to safely store and access passwords and PINs. Various solutions can include apps for smart phones, cloud/sky drives, and Google research. Banks and other professional institutions can be excellent resources.

5. Make “God-Time” a top priority. Non-distractive quiet time with God is a must in our busy lives. Be intentional to make this time.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. 

Absorb His Presence, and then absorb life around you. Seek Him for wise time management and planning.  The result?  An awesome home upgrade!

What is your biggest struggle with home time management? 

Debby Lennick taught Home Economics at Christian High in El Cajon, California, for more than 20 years. She earned a Home Economics degree from San Diego Christian College (formally Christian Heritage College) which emphasized “economy of the home” topics. Debby is committed to women’s ministry at Shadow Mountain Community Church and has a deep love for helping others make the home a Christ-centered place for everyday family life.            

Thursday
Aug222013

The Ultimate Life Upgrade

The Bible talks about one woman who certainly UPGRADED her life!

Dianne Matthews, who wrote the devotional The One Year Women of the Bible—reflections on women of the Bible and women today—writes about this transformed woman.

“While researching women in the Bible,” Matthews wrote, “I fell in love with the story of an unnamed woman in Samaria.”

She continues…

As I read the fourth chapter of John, I pictured this woman with the bad reputation plodding along the path to the village well. She occasionally paused to shift the weight of her clay jar. At least the other women can draw water in the cool of the day, she thought bitterly. She hated waiting until noon when it was hot, but she knew how they’d treat her if she showed up when they did.

What the woman didn’t know was that she would leave the well a short time later as a changed woman. A conversation with Jesus would upgrade her life.

Jesus’ request for a drink shocked her. Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each another. A Jewish man who drank from her water container would be considered unclean. Then Jesus made a mysterious comment: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (verses 13-14).
 
Her curiosity aroused, the woman asked the man to give her this miracle water. Jesus responded by telling her to go get her husband. The woman probably stiffened.

“I don’t have a husband,” she answered. To her amazement, Jesus’ response showed that he already knew the sordid details of her life—that she’d had five husbands and currently lived with a man to whom she wasn’t married.

She didn’t like the direction the conversation had taken. The fact that this stranger knew all about her personal life horrified her. So she steered the talk away from herself. Surely this man was a prophet. Perhaps he knew the answer to the debate between the Jews and the Samaritans over whether Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim was the appropriate place to worship God.

Jesus explained that since God is Spirit, a worshiper’s attitude matters more than location. Then Jesus astounded her. For the first time in his ministry, he overtly revealed his identity as the Messiah. The woman’s mouth must have dropped open—she’d received more than an answer to a theological argument.

She'd just met the One who is the Answer to everything in life.

At that point, the Samaritan woman ran off to share the news. I find it interesting that the Bible makes a point of telling us she left her water jar behind at the well. I think it’s to let us know that she left much more than that.

When Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah, she understood that he offered forgiveness instead of condemnation for her sinful past. Besides her water jar, she left behind a heavy burden of guilt, shame, and humiliation, along with her old identity as an immoral woman, an outcast from society.

She began the new life of a woman accepted by God as a beloved daughter. The woman with the bad reputation had just received the ultimate life upgrade.

        How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

[Photo credit of Jesus and the Samaritan woman - "Living Water" by Simon Dewey]

Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of our daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation. She also writes regularly for websites and blogs (such as CBN.com and FindingGodDaily.com), and contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ 2013 Mornings with Jesus). Learn more about Dianne at her website or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


    

 

Tuesday
Aug202013

Becoming an Intentional Woman

Joan C. Webb believes in the power of a woman’s story. In this powerful post, she shares how you can become an intentional woman—embracing who you are and making choices to fit God’s design for your life.

“‘If I live intentionally, being true to my own personality, serving out of my God-given giftedness and calling, I’ll no longer feel the urge to envy another woman’s marriage, ministry, talents or work.’ As I jotted this ‘aha’ into my journal,” Joan said, “my shoulders relaxed.”

Joan has given me and other women many “aha” moments, but I was curious about this “aha” that changed her life and ministry.

She continues …

Believing this “aha” gradually transformed my life. Although I rarely voiced envy, secretly I felt disappointed that others had fulfilled their dreams (or so I assumed) but I hadn’t. I longed to live out the secret desires that God had planted deep within my heart.

Yet I felt trapped. My life revolved around working hard and making others happy and satisfied, especially my husband. I didn’t want anyone (including God) to call me “selfish” for taking time and energy to nurture my own interests and gifts. People-pleasing and over-doing gave way to my burnout.

I prayed, “Lord, show me who I am now, and who I can become—the person You had in mind when You created me.”

I wanted to be intentional, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to whatever happened.

I didn’t realize it initially, but God answered my prayer through a re-usable process that has helped other caring women like you. I invite you into this intentional journey:

Step One: Come As You Are Today. Ask yourself three awareness questions:

  • What is good about my life right now?
  • What concerns me about my life right now?
  • What is missing in my life right now?

Step Two: Celebrate Your Yesterdays. Realize that:

  • Every woman has a story written with the multi-colored pens of her experiences, relationships, pain, disappointments, choices, failures and successes. 
  • There is power in your story and you maximize that power when you partner with God.
  • You can courageously remember and celebrate past experiences, learning to appreciate God’s goodness in developing your unique life script.

Step Three: Commit It All to God.

  • Embrace Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)
  • Assess your God-given personality traits.
  • Surrender your present, past, temperament, and gifts to Christ.

 Step Four: Consider Your Choices. Understand that:

  • You live in an age of over-choice.
  • Without acknowledging the roles (including your Child of God and Self-Care Manager roles) that you’re attempting to manage currently, you’ll find it hard to be objective about your needs.
  • Discovering your current stressors and supports in each role will help you make intentional choices to relieve your overwhelm.

Step Five: Clarify Your Next Steps. You:

  • Pinpoint one intentional action you want to take.
  • Pray for wisdom.
  • Picture your desired outcome.
  • Plan how you’ll achieve it.
  • Act. Set a date for implementation. Share your decision with a safe person. Step out with God to make the change.

The key reason for living intentionally is to glorify God as the person He created you to be. I love that, because it is doable and reasonable.

What He has for me fits me—and what He designed for you fits you.

What intentional decision have you been avoiding—and how can you be intentional this week? What loving encouragement is God whispering to you right now?

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit www.intentionalwoman.com

Thursday
Aug152013

Overcoming Fear and Regrets

We all have fears—big and small. Priscilla Jensen’s amazing story (read it here) is a testimony to the grace of God and how she overcame her fear of death.

“Because I was pronounced dead and got a second chance in life,” Jensen said, “I often get the question, ‘How do I overcome fear of death?’”

Maybe you don’t fear death, but there’s an UPGRADE lesson here for all of us as Jensen continues…

Everyone has some type of fear—heights, spiders, failing, speaking—they’re a fact of life, an emotional response to pending danger. 

I had to ask, “Why do some Christians have such a strong fear of death when we know what our eternity holds once we have put our faith in Jesus?” I feared death even after I’ve already experienced death.

Death: no possibility to change anything ... the finality of it all, at least of what I knew and saw.

The fear of death can be explained as the realization of being powerless against the inevitable, while making choices that can exacerbate the inevitable.

Maybe that is why so many people are afraid of death: REGRETS!

Regrets of the unfinished… mistakes… unfulfilled dreams… of anything else. We will never be able to live life having always made the right choice. We will always have regrets. I had tons of regrets. They secretly ate at me.

What would it look like if we didn’t have any regrets?

Is that even the right question? Could we live life with absolutely no regrets? I believe that is the wrong focus. Regrets are essentially always going to be focused on one person… me!

There is a huge difference between regrets and disappointments. Regrets are focused on what we did or didn’t do. Disappointments could be described as a hopeful beginning with an ending that is less than desirable. Regrets focus on us and our decisions. Disappointments focus on the outcome.

Imagine if we flipped that question around. 

What would it look like if the choices we make were all done to bring glory to God? 

We will still have disappointments, but our regrets would be astronomically lower. Why? Because it is no longer about us. Our lives were never about us; we’re not created for our own purposes. This has huge ramifications in every area of our lives.

This paradigm shift completely changed how I view life. Since my life was never about me, then who instilled purpose into my being? God did that. He bestowed His breath of life into me. He formed me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Not created for me, I was created for God Himself. God created me for His glory.

As I went through the process of overcoming fear of death the first years after that dreadful night (believe me, it was a real fear), time and again God, through His Spirit, counseled me regarding the ultimate purpose of why He created me. I was created in His likeness and to bring glory to His Name.

God freed me from the continuous pressure to live up to my own impossible standards,  buried by my regrets. Suddenly, I had a rope thrown down so I could crawl out my self-created pit.

When my focus was no longer targeted on me, a whole new world opened up. I had one task: bring glory to God. I needed to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind. I caught myself being in constant communion with Him.

The fear of death was taken away, because ‘to die is to gain’ (Philippians 1:21). I’m blessed to get a second chance in life—spiritually and physically! My focus is no longer on my death; my focus is on my decisions right now.

Are your thoughts, actions, attitude, relationships and everything else bringing glory to God?

Priscilla Jensen is a motivational and inspirational speaker and writer who was pronounced dead and is now living a daily miracle. She was born and raised in the Netherlands with Asian ancestry, and received her graduate degree in Intercultural Studies from Biola University. After living another 12 years in Europe, she and her husband and teenage son now reside in California, teaching at San Diego Christian College and helping to plant Catalyst Church in downtown San Diego.