Archive for Spiritual Growth Articles
From the time, we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night, thoughts are coursing through our minds. Not just one thought but many. In fact, according to Dr. Leaf we can think 4 to 7 things are the same time.
One day last year I remember feeling gloomy all day. I didn’t want to talk to the kids, I was feeling a lot of anxiety and discouragement over business and finances. I didn’t know why. Life wasn’t that bad but I couldn’t seem to get my feelings out of the gutter. I stopped myself and looked back at the week asking, “What has happened that is leading to me feeling this way?”
It took a while for me to sort through my thoughts to recognize the underlying problem. I realized that earlier in the week I had gotten a phone call about a job I had done that needed to be corrected. It was a minor thing, but from that little incident my thinking had been spiraling downward for several days. I was negative about my abilities in work, which snowballed into worrying about finances (since work is a livelihood in my mind a bad job mean less money).
Things like this happen to all of us. The problem is that we can’t let our thinking spiral because of it. Rather than just knowing that we are grouchy, we must get to the root of the issue.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are told how to take every thought captive. It says, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The verse says to demolish arguments and pretensions which are not in alignment with the knowledge of God. Here is why it is so important to know who we are in Christ and to know His promises.
An example in this situation would be that my thoughts were saying I’m never going to make it as a business woman because I made a mistake. However, that is not what God says. God says, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) He also says that He knows the plans He has for me to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) And He says that He loves me and calls me His child, reminding me that I will be like Him if I continue to hope in Him. (1 John 3:1-3)
God has given us the ability to separate from our thoughts and take authority over them. In His Word He has given Read More→
One thing I have learned throughout my life is sometimes speaking your mind only gets a piece of somebody else’s mind – and not the good piece.
The old saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I’m surprised the old dog doesn’t know the old tricks. What good is a new trick if you have not really mastered and learned from the old tricks?
My experience in this area stood me in good stead for many years. An incident happened recently bringing to light how valuable this “old trick” really is. I may not be good in the new tricks, but I think I have mastered a few of the old tricks.
I really do not know when this incident started, but somewhere along the line I said something resembling a guttural “uh huh,” and forgot about it. What you say in these odd moments may determine your quality of life for many years to come. This points out the difference between husbands and wives.
The only way a husband can remember what he had for lunch is to look at his shirt. A wife’s memory, on the other hand, is so keen she can remember things that never happened.
In the midst of a mild domestic discussion, any wife worth her salt can bring her husband to his knees by simply stating, “But, Honey, you promised me.”
At that point, no husband has the equipment to counter that argument. He may well have promised, but there is no way to prove one way or the other.
About a month ago, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage got it into her mind to remodel the kitchen. During this time, I did a pretty good job of staying out of her way. When the rare opportunity came soliciting my personal advice on a matter associated with this remodeling project, I quickly and enthusiastically supported her decisions.
The man who carefully measures his words will add happy years to his life. I sure don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want that time to be happy.
Following the kitchen remodeling my wife proceeded to remodel her bathroom. At this point I should have had some suspicions, but I didn’t. As a husband, I am not equipped with a “suspicion detector.” Experience should have taught me that if one project is done successfully it only inspires another project.
When a wife gets it in her mind to remodel part of the house that thought gets stuck and there is no stopping her. After each remodeling project is completed, my wife always asks my opinion of the job she has just done. Read More→
Getting old seems to be a long and slow process. The longer it goes the older you get.
I didn’t really think I was getting old until a few weeks ago I was visiting with some friends from high school. You know those old high school friends that you had fun with when you were young enough to have fun? And oh boy, what fun we had.
A sharp difference exists between being young and being old. You have to get old to really understand the difference because when you are young you do not have enough time to think. That’s the problem with young people today. So many things to do and so much technology they do not have any time left over to think.
Those young whippersnappers.
There is a huge difference between being young and being old.
When you are young, you enjoy having lots of fun.
When you are old, you enjoy remembering all the fun you had when you were young.
The best thing about being old and remembering those good old days is that you can exaggerate about how good they really were. Even when you are exaggerating with friends that shared the same fun, they go along with you.
Whether it is the absence of memory or just wanting to enjoy fun to its fullest extent, I do not really know.
As my friends and I were talking about the good old days, I happened to notice wrinkles on their faces. I did not say anything at the time, but they sure looked old to me. Also, I did not quite remember how grey their hair was when we were young.
When I was young and having all that fun, I never gave a thought about how young I was or that I was getting older. My whole focus was on the fun element of life and I thought that would carry me through the rest of my life.
I remember my 20th birthday very well. I was celebrating getting out of those teenage years and becoming an adult. For some reason I thought you became an adult at 20. Little did I know that it takes many years to become an adult and some do not really make it. I simply assume that the older you get, the more fun you can have. Boy, was I ever surprised!
Celebrating the good old days is quite remarkable. Because in it all, I noticed my friends were getting older. One of my friends repeated a story three times and not to embarrass him, I laughed all three times.
After the meeting and driving home, I began to think about myself. Am I as old as they look? Read More→
Sometimes, life can be pretty unfair whether you’ve been passed over for a promotion for work, the kids just aren’t behaving themselves and even though you’ve run every other day this week somehow you’ve still gained three pounds! You know what, it’s ok if you need to take some time out for yourself, have ten minutes where you don’t need to do anything else except breathe and make yourself a soothing cup of tea. We often think that the first line of defense against stress, worry and frustration is to eat better, get lots of sleep and try to exercise more frequently and while these are all fantastic ideas might there be a more adventurous solution?
While we’re not saying that you should embark on a three month Eat, Pray, Love style quest for enlightenment travel does tend to broaden our minds and open our hearts. So if you’re struggling with a big decision or emotional issue, take a trip even if it’s just to a different city for a couple of days. Having said that you could always save up for a few months, take on a couple more shifts at work or travel with friends to help split up the cost. Then visit some of the most inspiring, enlightening Christian pilgrimage sites on earth! Not only have thousands of people achieved real inner peace, come to life changing decisions and felt a renewed sense of faith here but have also been transfixed by the sheer beauty and quiet dignity of sacred spaces.
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, have been sad and melancholy for a while or are struggling with feeling fulfilled at work it may be better to take some annual leave, pack your passport and non-judgmental attitude and visit some of the most spiritual places on earth. Don’t worry, though, wherever you choose to go God will be with you as you find your renewed faith.
Believe it or not, the Roman Catholic church has recorded sixty-six separate miracles at Lourdes, where shrines were built in homage to the mysterious figure that appeared over 150 years ago. It was a day just like any other, when 14-year-old servant girl Bernadette Soubirous stopped on her way to the market and saw a woman standing over her. On it’s own this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, but what made this moment unique was the fact the woman was floating above her, surround by a halo of radiant light and would appear to the young girl over seventeen times, changing the course of Bernadette’s young life forever. Today, millions of people flock to this small French town to pay homage to the rocks where the Lady Of Lourdes first appeared while Bernadette is now one of France’s most beloved saints.
Christian pilgrims stand quietly in line, waiting for their chance to touch the rocks, leaving candles, flowers and other offerings as well as drinking the water from a nearby spring that’s said to be infused with healing properties. Pilgrimages to Lourdes usually began at Easter, going all the way through to October as Christians come to sing hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Torchlight processions, extended services and group prayer circles are common as are songs dedicated to Massabielle rocks. In the niche where the vision first appeared stands a statue of the Virgin Mary, dressed in white as she was said to have been clothed originally. Her hands clasped in eternal prayer she looks towards heaven.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
Another famous Christian pilgrimage site is the tomb of the apostle St James in Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. It’s a beautiful city, so much so that it appears on Unesco’s World Heritage register as well as being one of the major Christian pilgrimages that are still accessible. Having said that it starts near the French border and ends at the Atlantic coast so it’s certainly not an activity you can accomplish in an afternoon. Most people tend to either drive, walk or cycle the 783 kilometers turning the pilgrimage into the focal point of a vacation in Spain. The full journey, if you choose to walk it, will take around a month but there are plenty of inns, hotels, and albergues, or pilgrim hostels that you can stay in. Be aware, that many of these pilgrim hostels will be Spanish speaking, you may need help getting a prayer card, and you’ll require special credentials, or a pilgrim passport to prove you’re undertaking the great walk to the Camino.
Even the smallest child knows the story of the nativity and how Mary, Joseph and their unborn baby had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted for the upcoming census. However, on the way Mary went into labor, and so Jesus, the first Christian and Son Of God was born in a lowly stable instead of an inn. Despite a turbulent history, and the constant threat of low-level violence between Palestinians and Israelis many Christians still feel the need to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the biblical birthplace of the man they revere. One of the most popular sites is Bethlehem’s Church Of The Nativity, where in a small underground grotto, a silver shining star marks the site near where Jesus was said to have been born. Close by also lies the Manger Square, surrounded by several other churches of great significance.
For Christians, a visit to Jerusalem is not complete without paying a visit to the Church of The Holy Sepulchre, the site where Jesus is buried after supposedly ‘dying’ on the cross only to roll the stone away from his own tomb three days later. Those looking to God for strength, love and support often like to make the trek to the Mount Of Olives where it’s believed Jesus prayed on the night that Judas betrayed him. However, perhaps the most sacred site are the cracked, stone steps of the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus walked to the cross and one that countless people have taken to better understand what it means to sacrifice everything for love.
For me, every day is filled with voices. There are the sweet voices of my children, the warm voice of my husband and even the near-silent voice of or gecko.
And then there are the voices in my head. Do you know the ones I’m talking about? The voices that urge you to quit; that ask you why you bother trying … you’ll just fail anyway. The voices that say things like, “No one cares about what you have to say or what you’re working on. You’ll never succeed at this.” Some of these voices are echoes of things that people have said to me. Some of them are echoes of things I believe about myself deep down. And some are lies from the enemy wh is bent on our destruction.
When I spend time in God’s Word I find another voice – one that encourages. “I can do anything through Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 4:13).
It’s not something we think about or talk about often, but one of the major hurdles that must be overcome to be successful in working at home (or in anything really) is learning which voice to listen to.
There will always be naysayers telling you that something cannot possibly be done. There will always be the creeping doubts in the back of your mind, where you secretly wonder if you really CAN do any of these things you dream of. And there will always be the lies of the enemy, trying to throw you off track and get you to do ANYTHING other than what God has for you.
There will always be these things.
But there is also a forever truth that stands above all these. A redeeming truth that we can hear whispering to us if we choose to shut out the din around us.
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
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. – 1 Chronicles 28:20
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13
Which voice will you listen to today? Will you sit in defeat, listening to the naysayers and the mocking voices? Or will you stand firm in God’s truth and walk forward in faith?
If you feel a pull toward a business or a ministry, chances are the negative voices will get louder. You will have to make the daily, sometimes hourly, choice to stand firm in what His Words tells us to be true.
God loves you. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are chosen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Hart founded Christian Work at Home Ministries (CWAHM) in 2000 to assist other Christians who desire to work from home. She is the author of the devotional book, Do Life Different and co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom. Jill is working to complete her master’s degree in Professional Counseling.
Jill has articles published in In Touch Magazine, P31 Woman magazine and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, as well as across the web on sites like DrLaura.com. She speaks to audiences around the country about faith and business topics. Learn more about Jill at www.CWAHM.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
I have discovered over the years several types of minds. The “open mind” which catches everything except the truth. The “analytical mind” which organizes everything to the point of sterility. The “closed mind” which you can bounce ideas and they never stick.
For every man, there is the “woman’s mind.” Every husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind, all he has to do is agree with her. Finally, the “political mind,” which for all practical purposes is an oxymoron. Politicians obviously do not have a mind of their own. They change their mind so often you hardly know who they are.
I find most people’s minds are like beds – all made up and tucked neatly away. Many of these people have sound minds – sound asleep, that is.
The most valuable mind is the suspicious mind. It is in this frame of mind that the real picture has developed for me. An incident several years ago illustrated this to me.
We received one of those calls every American gets at least once a month. An invitation to come to Daytona Beach and spend two nights at a motel on the beach. The sponsor even offered to throw in breakfast, which we promptly threw out (or was it “up?”).
It all sounded wonderful. My wife and I had never stayed on the beach and thought it would be an excellent opportunity. Eagerly we said “yes” thrilled with the prospect.
“Oh, by the way,” the young woman on the telephone said, “you will be required to listen to a 90-minute presentation.”
It was then my suspicious mind kicked in. To be more honest, the kick came from my wife, who had the suspicious mind.
“Is there anything we have to buy?” my wife made me ask the delightful woman on the telephone.
“Absolutely nothing,” she said so cheerily, I believed her. My wife, “Miss Suspicion,” did not buy it for a second.
Finally, I convinced her to go and I arranged with the woman on the telephone for the two nights on the beach.
Looking back on this incident, I realize a suspicious mind does come in handy.
I must confess (which is hard for me to do) my wife’s suspicious mind has saved us from a few potentially disastrous situations. (But you didn’t hear it from me.)
When we arrived at the Daytona Beach office, they greeted us most graciously. I was smiling a smile that said, “See, I told you this was going to be great.” Read More→
Looking at the alarm clock by my bedside, it clearly read 2:37 a.m. The loud buzzing sound was not in my head after all. Who in the world could be calling me at this hour of the night?
I grumbled to myself, sat straight up in bed and gasped. An emergency! Someone’s in the hospital! Someone has died!
All kinds of such thoughts danced through my sluggish brain as I reached for the telephone.
Pastors are on call 24/7 and never know when an emergency will summon to duty. It may be in the middle of the day, or in this case, in the middle of the night.
Many telephone calls I’m not so anxious to get.
Mr. Alexander Graham Bell has a lot of answering to do for this contraption of his.
Among telephone calls I’m not too thrilled about are those infernal automatic political calls advising me to vote for some candidate – them in particular. Like most politicians, these calls never give me an opportunity to answer them.
They unleash their spiel and then hang up, probably to go to the next phone number.
What I want to know is, why don’t these aspiring politicians ever call me when they’re not running for some office? Why don’t they call me on my birthday and sing happy birthday to me?
Why don’t they give me their home phone number so I can call them and give them a piece of my mind?
I would like to get my hands on the person who taught these politicians how to dial phone numbers.
Another category of phone calls I am not too enthralled with are telemarketers. I have a difficult time hanging up on people. As long as they want to talk I can’t, or I don’t have the heart to hang up on them.
I know they are just people doing their job. I know much of what is sold via the telephone is excellent and useful, but I do not like anyone telling me what I should be buying, especially when I have just put on the feedbag.
The only thing I have been able to do is take the conversation in hand from the very beginning. As soon as the person on the other end of the phone begins talking, I start engaging them in chitchat.
I ask about their family, about the kind of day they are having and what they plan to do on the weekend. I ask for their home phone number so I can call them back.
It has become a sport for me and I am anxious for the next phone call to come so I can tell them about my day and my plans for the weekend. After all, they called me, it is my turf.
This telephone call at 2:37 a.m. was not from a politician or a telemarketer.
When I answered the telephone, I heard a raspy voice on the other end say, “Is the reverend home? I need to ask him a question ‘bout the Bible.”
By this time, every fiber of my being stood at attention, ready to serve. Someone needed me, which was all I had to know to fly full-speed into action. Read More→
As big as my ears are, you would think I would be able to hear everything I am listening to.
I like to think I am hearing what I am listening to but I have so many illustrations that prove otherwise. I’m not sure what it is, but I am working on it with the help of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
It was on a Friday and I was very busy trying to get things done for the weekend. Some in our domicile can multitask and then the other can hardly do one thing at a time.
I’m not quite sure how my wife does it, but she can do half a dozen things at the same time and get them all done perfectly. It is like one of those jugglers at the circus who can keep half a dozen balls in the air at the same time.
Not me. I can’t even keep one ball in the air at the same time, let alone half a dozen.
I was busy trying to get ready for the weekend when the wife came in and said, “Can we borrow your truck on Monday?”
I grunted and nodded my head in the affirmative.
“We need to move some furniture to a storage unit.”
Now, in those two sentences she used the word “we” but I heard the word “I.”
I am okay with her borrowing my truck and doing whatever kind of business she needs to do. A marriage works that way. One has a truck and the other borrows said truck.
I should have thought something was up, but you know how it is with us men. We do not think unless backed into a corner and we cannot do anything else. All through the weekend when I saw my wife, she would look at me and smile and nod her head. I smiled and nodded my head back at her. After all, isn’t that what a good relationship is all about? Smiling and nodding your head at each other.
As I recall, it was a rather pleasant weekend and then it was over.
Early on Monday morning my wife came into the living room where I was watching TV and drinking my morning cup of coffee. I can’t start any day without my coffee. Whoever invented coffee should actually get a Nobel Peace prize.
My wife came in and looked at me and said, “Are we ready to go?” Then she smiled and nodded her head in my direction. Read More→
When it comes to certain things, I am quite a bit confused. One thing has to do with time. What I want to know, what time is it?
I do not know why time cannot be the same for everybody. After all, everybody is squirming about equal rights. Why can’t we have equal time rights? Why do we have to split it up so much?
If that is not enough, we have this idea of changing the time. Who in the world came up with such a stupid idea? You turn the clock ahead one hour and then a couple months later you turn it back one hour. What good does that accomplish?
It is like giving somebody a dollar and then six months later taking that dollar back. What exactly is going on? It just does not really make sense to me.
It has taken me quite a while to get adjusted to this idea of “Spring Forward” and “Fall Backward.” I get the idea falling backwards, but I do not know what it means to spring forward. Moreover, why can’t we spring backward and fall forward one year? After all, there is this issue of equal rights.
It has taken me a while to get adjusted to these kinds of time changes.
One year I remember rather well when I got everything confused. I thought I would take control and not tell the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage that I was going to change the clocks. I wanted it to be a surprise for her.
Of course, I put things off to the last minute and usually get into trouble. I put this off to the last minute not knowing that my wife had already turned the clocks ahead. So, trying to impress the good lady of the parsonage that I was a responsible gentleman, I went around and turned all the clocks ahead one hour.
Some people say when you get older you forget a lot. I have been forgetting a lot all my life.
A few hours later, after setting the clock forward an hour, I could not remember if I really set the clock forward. So, very quietly I went around and set all of the clocks forward one hour. This was on a Saturday night. I thought I would really surprise my wife with remembering to set the clocks forward.
That night when it came time to go to bed, I noticed that I was not very tired. I try to go to bed by 11 o’clock each night, but this night I just could not even yawn.
“I think,” I told my wife, “I’ve had too much coffee today. I just don’t feel sleepy.”
She looked at the clock, scratched her head and said, “I don’t feel sleepy either.”
What do you do when it is time to go to bed and you do not feel sleepy but you know you have to go to bed or you will not get up on time in the morning. And church services were in the morning.
“Well,” my wife looking at me rather strange, “we better go to bed or we will not be able to get up in the morning. And we can’t be late for church.”
It was a little after 11 when I got to bed and my eyes just would not close. I closed them and they would snap open right away. I tried counting sheep. By the time I got to 10,978 sheep, I was just as awake as before. What do you do with that many sheep? Read More→
Do you read your Bible every day? I don’t, but I do read scripture every day. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), so you need to be reading scripture daily for the health of your faith. But who has the time, or even the desire, to sit down with their Bible and read? So let’s discuss some interesting ways to get your daily dose of The Word.
- Decorate your walls — Put beautiful landscape pictures with scripture on your walls. Not only do you have something pretty to gaze upon, but you will also give your faith a boost every time you walk down the hall to wash another load of laundry. My goal is to put a scripture picture in every room of my house.
- Verse A Day App – Sign up for a verse of the day app on your phone or iPad. Apps are a fantastic method of keeping up with scripture without picking up a Bible. Even better, if you find the verse to be what you need, you can read the rest of the chapter right where you are, even if you are in the grocery store. Some Bible apps will even read the Bible out loud to you while you commute to work. You can even sign up for a verse of the day in your email.
- Wallet cards — Many Christian stores, and even some regular bookstores, will carry credit-card sized cards with a pretty picture and verse. Whenever you reach into your wallet, you will be reminded of God.
- Scripture a Day Calendar — Everyday you rip off the sheet from yesterday and start a fresh verse to feed your soul.
- Answer Questions — I found a website where I answer Bible questions for other people. Those who do not understand The Word can benefit from the knowledge of others. By responding to questions, I have to dive deep into the Bible to find the right answers to the questions. Mind you this option might not be the right one for everyone. If, like me, you have a relevant degree, this might be a viable and unique way to immerse yourself.
- Facebook — Join a Facebook or Twitter group which shares scripture often. Let your news feed fill with verses, in between pictures of cats and your friend’s babies of course!
- Devote a little time — Get yourself a devotional book. Not only will this give you a little lesson every day to uplift, but will have a verse at the bottom for you.
- Listen to music — Find a Christian group you love who incorporate scripture into their songs. You might not know the exact location of the verse in the Bible, but the words will be in your heart.
- Keep a journal — whenever you receive a verse you want to remember to write the scripture in your journal, and when you need it, the verse will be close to you to read on a whim. Fill it up! You can even write prayer requests or prayers in the journal.
- Play Bible games — Find a Bible trivia game to play with your children or friends. What a wonderful way to have fun and feed your faith!
- Use Scripture on your background — Use Google to find a scripture background for your computer. Seeing scripture daily might even help you memorize more verses. When the verse is deeply planted in your head, find a new one!
- Drink your coffee or tea — Shop for a few mugs with your favorite scriptures to make your morning coffee more enjoyable.
- Read to your children — Before your kids head to school educate them with a daily verse from the best book ever created. Reading scripture to your children is beneficial to help them grow their faith as well.