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Entries in Lysa TerKeurst (3)

Wednesday
Jan312018

Create More Opportunities for Margin - Part 2

In Part 1 of the Self-Care UPGRADE, “Create More Opportunities for Margin,” Dawn Wilson, explained the importance of creating more “spacious opportunities” in our lives to counter the busyness and mindlessness that can lead to stress, over-commitment and exhaustion.

To repeat from Part 1: We won’t have wonderful, spacious opportunities unless we're purposeful in making room for them.

“Margin,” said Richard Swenson, M.D., “is the space between our load and our limits.” We want to intentionally fill that space wisely, even if it means “not filling” by allowing more space to grow.

In Part 1, we considered the need for more margin in our home, calendars and budgets. In Part 2, let's tackle four more areas: Health, People, Mind and God.

4. Create more space in regard to your HEALTH. For the Christian, this is important not only for ourselves, but as a testimony to others of the power of God working in our habits (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

How do we create margin for better health?

  • Leave more time at nightfall for quality sleep. Work toward a healthy nightly rhythm that leads to better and deeper rest.
  • Think: healthy eating! Stop stuffing your body with multiple snacks and processed foods. Give your stomach “room” to function efficiently. Intermittent fasting can be beneficial. So is mindful planning for a weekly caloric budget and sticking to it.
  • Carve out time to move your body with whatever exercise you find most enjoyable. Think in terms of freedom of movement and building core strength.
  • Practice deep breathing! Breathe in through your nose, hold that breath, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.

One of the strongest voices helping me create nutritional margin is Lysa TerKeurst in Made to Crave, especially her devotional based on the book. Also, Lean Body, Fat Wallet is a double-whammy for health and finances, writen by Ellie Kay and Danna Demetre. Danna is one of the founders of Ageless Woman Living.

5. Create more space for PEOPLE, especially for family and friends. Our office files can’t hug us, and the television won’t give us love. Creating margin for relationships is even far more than social media, although that can play a small part.

Time is limited, so aim for true connection. Quantity time AND quality time.

Shut things off and turn up the volume on face-to-face connections. These times together will feed our need for emotional growth, and they will help us understand how we can “spur on” family and friends “toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

We need one-on-one time to practice the "one anothers" of scripture.

Our busy lives leave us less than satisfied. God’s Word and people, it is said, are the only two things that last from earth into eternity; and that should give us a sense of what is truly important.

There are so many good books available on this topic. Just be sure their relationship counsel lines up with scripture truth. I learned a lot from Mary Kassian's Conversation Peace; Shaunti Feldhahn's book, The Kindness Challenge; and Gene Getz' book, Building Up One Another. And "Relationship specialists" Bill and Pam Farrel at Love-wise offer many, MANY books on building relationshps.

6. Create space for your MIND … time to think, ponder and meditate.

If we don’t want our brains to become mush, we need to feed them with truth and wisdom (James 1:5; Psalm 90:12). We need to renew our mind so we can know and do the will of God (Romans 12:2).

Spend time with a good book. The Bible, of course, will train our minds (2 Timothy 3:16); but biblically-based books or books of wise principles that do not contradict scriptural truth will also challenge us to think better. Or planning a social-mental “spacious opportunity” in a Bible or book study with a group of friends (Proverbs 13:20)

Think Biblically! (edited by John MacArthur) helped me think with a Christian worldview; and Lies Women Believe (updated/expanded edition) by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helped me zero in on some foolish, unbiblical thinking. (Note: Lies Men Believe, written by Nancy's husband Robert, will come out in August 2018.)

7. And this is most important: create a greater margin of time for God.

  • We need space to pray and worship without distractions.
  • We need time for the Lord every day (Psalm 55:16-17) to feed our spirit, train our responses and calm our hearts.
  • We need to “Be still” and listen—to get to know our Father’s heart so we’ll know how to make wise choices (Psalm 46:10; Proverbs 2:6).
  • We need to live with eternity in mind, walk by faith, and aim to please the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:6-10).

A life filled to the brim with a crowded or misguided schedule will never allow time for the Lord to fill us to overflowing with Himself.

By far, the book that helped me understand the need to create a daily time with the Lord was Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Wolgemuth) and Tim Grissom; but Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby also built that relationship.

Notice the word “create” in each of my seven points about margin.

Be creative. Be intentional.

How can you create more spacious opportunities? Ask the Lord what would be best eliminated or pared down in your life so you will have more room to breathe and grow.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe

Thursday
Mar302017

Obedience ... and My Bathroom Scale

Dawn Wilson discovered a simple concept that changed her health overhaul, but it had far deeper consequences. In this Health and Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she focuses in on a key life-changer: Obedience.

I stepped off the bathroom scale one morning with disgust. Hadn't I stayed "on program," following my nutritionist's counsel carefully? (Maybe I deviated a wee bit... OK, twice.)

But really, the scale should have budged a little over a week. I was eating healthier and exercising more than a year before.

What happened?

Now I knew, from my nutritionist's cautions, that many things can influence the scale: gaining muscle from exercise as we lose fat, overeating, emotional eating, the time of the month, and even being constipated!

So I shouldn't worry. I knew I should just stay the course and over time, I'd see change.

But I was still mad that morning.

I started questioning the whole process. I grumbled. I was ready to throw in the towel, or maybe toss out my scale!

But wouldn't you know it. God was watching.

And the Lord provided an answer for me that very morning.

It came from Lysa TerKeurst. She quoted a friend who said,  

"Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale."

I tell you, I cried as I read those words.

When it came to my weight and appearance, I was trying to live according to human expectations, not with joyful obedience to the Lord.

Lysa continued, again quoting her friend:

"Yes, eating healthy and exercising get our bodies into better shape, but we are never supposed to get soul satisfaction from our looks. Our looks are temporary ... The apostle Paul wrote, 'We must obey God rather than human beings' (Acts 5:29).

"I read that verse differently now. 'I must obey God rather than human values'—like a number on the scale or the size on the tag in my jeans."

I wanted to solidify that thought in my mind, and my study on obedience that day encouraged my heart. I simply asked:

Why do we obey the Lord? (Or maybe, why should we?) And here's what I discovered:

1. We obey the Lord because He IS Lord!

Obedience is the right thing to do, because He is our Lord, our Master, and He has every right to tell us what to do. He rightly expects obedience. He says, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16), and "love each other as I have loved you" (John 13:34). Commands like that.

In the Old Testament, God required obedience regarding particular laws. He told his people, "keep my commandments and do them" (Leviticus 22:31). In other words, put them into practice!

Why? "... I am the LORD."

God also connected obedience to His sovereignty and His rescuing of Israel from Egypt (v. 33). Their obedience was a humble response to their gracious Lord's deliverance.

Likewise, we must respond to His Lordship and holiness from grateful hearts, because He has "delivered" (rescued) us from sin and spiritual darkness (Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13-14). We glady offer ourselves to Him as living "sacrifices" (Romans 12:1-2) to do His bidding.

What we want (desire, crave) is always to take second place to what He wants.

This is so crucial. In fact, our desire to obey the Lord is one sign to others that we know Him (1 John 2:3).

We are to obey the Lord IMMEDIATELY, COMPLETELY and JOYFULLY (Psalm 119:60; 1 Chronicles 28:8; Psalm 112:1).

2. Obedience demonstrates love for the Lord (1 John 5:2-3).

If we love Him, we will desire to keep His commands (John 14:15, 23).

It's not a matter of obedience to a plan, program, any list of arbitrary rules or people's preferences for our lives, but rather: "What is the Lord teaching me through the things He brings into my life and the disciplines He wants me to cultivate?"

If I love the Lord, I will seek to obey Him as I'm prompted by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16; John 14:26). It is the Spirit who gives us necessary wisdom and empowers us to obey (1 Corinthians 2:9-13, 16; Zechariah 4:6). It is the Spirit who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us when we struggle with obedience (Romans 8:26-27).

3. Our obedience in faith pleases the Lord (Hebrews 11:6).

It's about our hearts. God sees our hearts and delights in us when we obey (1 Samuel 15:22).

We can be such disobedient creatures—willful and independent of God. Disobedience can indicate a heart filled with fear, lack of faith, wrong desires, personal agendas or even idolatries.

The Lord showed me a deep idolatry I cherished: the idol of food. Food is good and nourishing, but giving in to my rebellious appetite controls and enslaves. Constant cravings and lack of discipline point to a tremendous heart issue. My false god will never satisfy the deep needs in my heart. I need to give my food idol to the Lord and worship Him alone—not fudge and French fries!

It takes faith to obey the Lord when we can't see the end results. But when we choose to "trust and obey," this pleases Him.

4. Obedience is one way to prove our faithfulness to the Lord (1 John 2:3-6).

God does not respond to our mere discussions about obedience, but rather to our active obedience (James 1:22-25).

He evaluates our behavior for signs of faithfulness. He checks to see what values are driving our actions. He looks for intergrity.

In the Old Tesament, God said he would "raise up a faithful priest" who would serve Him and "do whatever I tell him to do" (1 Samuel 2:35). Likewise, God is looking for faithful servants today. It's ESSENTIAL.

5. Obedience opens the door for the Lord to bless and reward (John 13:17).

As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." Obedience may be difficult at times, but it ultimately brings joy, freedom and fulfillment (Psalm 119:1-2).

"Blessed (HAPPY) are all who ... walk in obedience" (Psalm 128:1).

Throughout the history of God's people in the Old Testament, the Lord promised reward and many blessings to those who obeyed Him and His Word (Genesis 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:39-40; 5:29; Proverbs 3:1-6; Jeremiah 7:23-24). Truly, in keeping (embracing and obeying) God's Word, there is great reward (Psalm 19:11).

Jesus echoed this truth. If we obey His commands, He said, we will be blessed to dwell in His love and find joy that is complete (John 15:10-11).

Some of the rewards of obedience are long life, gladness, protection, a sense of God's presence, assurance, peace; and answers to prayer. (Scriptures for these are at the end of this post.)

God rewards those who seek Him with a heart bent to obey.

6. Obedience glorifies God in our lives and before others (Matthew 5:16).

We should never want to bring shame on God's holy name; we should deeply desire to bring him honor and glory.

Our testimony of obedience to our loving Father shows the world God is working in and through us (1 Peter 2:12); and the sweet blessing is, God honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30b).

In these terms, living according to human expectations or values cannot be compared to living in obedience to God. Obedience is a far superior way to live, and with eternal dividends.

And it might even nudge that bathroom scale!

How can you apply these points of obedience to something practical in your liferegaining your health, getting out of debt, working on a relationship or something else?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Scriptures for "rewards" of obedience: long life (Deuteronomy 32:46-47; Proverbs 3:1-2); gladness (Nehemiah 8:17; 1 Chronicles 16:27; Acts 2:41, 46); protection (Deuteronomy 23:5); a sense of God's presence (John 14:21); assurance (1 John 3:24); peace (Psalm 119:165); and answers to prayer (1 John 3:22).

Graphic adapted, courtesy of HyenaReality, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Tuesday
Mar312015

Three Times to Say 'Yes"

"I’ve noticed many women, in recent years, mentioning the idea of saying 'yes' to God," says Dawn Wilson. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us with three kinds of “yes” responses to the Lord, using words from three special ladies.

It all begins with the heart. First, there is:

1. The Yes of Surrender

James entreats Christians, "Submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7a). In Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s Revive Our Hearts outreaches (True Woman and Revive conferences), one of the interesting facets is a focus on immediate obedience when God speaks to women through His Word or through the Holy Spirit during the messages and prayer times.

In these conferences, women receive gift bags, and in the bag is a white hankie with the words, “Yes, Lord!” embroidered in the corner. Women are encouraged to wave their “white flag” of surrender to the Lord when He speaks, showing their willingness to obey. This idea is spelled out in Nancy’s book, Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

“To call Him Lord means to say Yes—to His will, His Word and His ways,” Nancy wrote. “We cannot call Him Lord and then proceed to run our own lives. . . .

“To some, that type of surrender might seem to be bondage; but those who have bowed the knee—those who have laid down their arms and waved the white flag of surrender—know that it is the only pathway to true freedom. And with that surrender comes a host of blessings . . . I have seen this so many times in my own life that I often look back and wonder, Why did I ever resist the will of God?” (1)

In her book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst wrote, “You don’t need perfect circumstances to be a woman who says yes to God. . . . You simply have to surrender all that’s clamoring for attention in your heart with the answer God is longing to hear spill from your lips—‘Yes, God.” (2)

A surrendered heart is the launching pad for a surrendered life.

Then, we have to respond with:

2. The Yes of Action

James reminds us of the importance of being "doers" of the word" (James 1:22). In her book, Following God One Yes at a Time, Connie Cavanaugh wrote about “moving forward” with our yes.

“When God points you in a certain direction, say ‘yes’ with your feet. One simple, immediate, possible yes leads to another, and another, as you obey His directives and attain your dreams.

“Move forward even if it looks like the water won’t hold you (like Peter stepping out of the boat), even if you’re not sure where you’ll end up (like Abraham when he left Ur), and even if it looks like it doesn’t make sense (like Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac).

“When you move, you’ll begin to hear Him more clearly. Why? One simple reason: You have put yourself in a place you can’t make it without Him. You need Him now to pursue and realize His and your dream. This “active need” sharpens your spiritual hearing. The absolutely best place to hear from God is while you’re moving forward to achieve the dream because you are in the center of His will.” (3)

We must not take our “yes” lightly. There are times we need real wisdom to consider the best response. Paul told believers to church show discernment "so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9-10).

Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes, highlights the importance of saying yes to God in order to make wise decisions in the midst of our endless daily demands. I call it:

3. The Yes of Discernment

“I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don’t know they’re part of the equation," Lysa wrote. "I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes.

“. . . What is a Best Yes, you ask. . . . In God’s plan, you’ve got a part to play. If you know it and believe it, you’ll live it. You’ll live your life making decisions with the Best Yes as your best filter. You’ll be a grand display of God’s Word lived out. Your undistracted love will make your faith ring true. Your wisdom will help you make decisions that will still be good tomorrow.” (4)

There are likely many other times and reasons to say “yes” to God. But do any of these three speak to you today? What will you do to respond to the Lord?

 Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is the Director of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in MInistry (NEWIM San Diego). Dawn is the co-author of LOL with God and contributed "The Blessing Basket" in It's a God Thing. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Sources:

(1) Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Surrender: the Heart God Controls, (Moody Publishers, 2008), pp. 161, 163.

(2) Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, (Harvest House, 2007), pp. 13-14)

(3) Connie Cavanaugh, Following God One Yes at a Time, (Harvest House, 2011), pp. 80-81.

(4) Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes, (Thomas Nelson, 2014), pp. 5-6.