Archive for the ‘Renewal’ Category

Ten Questions to Ask

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Ten questions to ask at the start of a New Year, or on your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

[This] is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are ten questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God:

1. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year–and what will you do about it?

2. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life–and what will you do about it this year?

3. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

4. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

5. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

7. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

8. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

9. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

10. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace–on your phone, tablet, day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc.–where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

~Don Whitney

Cisterns or The Fountain?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

While thinking this afternoon of some friends who have been running eagerly from one place to another after a celebrated, and, I suppose, most interesting preacher–this idea forcibly struck me: Why manifest such undue concern after streams, when we have the Fountain always accessible? I can, in my humble cottage, approach the footstool of the Father of mercies, and enjoy the manifestation of His love!

“My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves–cracked cisterns that cannot hold water!” Jeremiah 2:13

~Gleanings from the diary of Ruth Bryan – November 21st, 1830

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Carrying a Heavy Burden?

Friday, March 25th, 2016

A favorite verse inspires today’s word-of-the-week…


I feel like I’ve encountered a lot of folks lately who seem like they’re carrying a lot of weight around.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

In Jesus’ time, a rabbi’s “yoke” was his teaching, the doctrine and rules his followers were required to accept. So Jesus was telling people to let go of the burdens imposed by the religious leaders–that’s not what He was about.

I love the way this passage is phrased in The Message:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

If you’re one of those folks who’s lugging around something heavy or ill-fitting, I invite you to take a moment and listen to Jesus’ words. Consider the possibility that, even in the midst of struggle, He wants you to experience the unforced rhythms of grace.

I felt prompted to write this, maybe for you…perhaps this is the week for you to let yourself live just a bit more “freely and lightly.”

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
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In Search of Rest?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

“But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.” Genesis 8:9

This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest–and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior–glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.

How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above–earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful–no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed–without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him–then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.

But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth’s surface in search of worldly good–how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken–and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy! Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in–even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.

Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world–and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark–never again wander from our Lord.

Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You–for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You–to forsake “You, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

But away from You, how can we he happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature–and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will–from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure–all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.

We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms. We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark–that glorious Heaven where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from you. Amen.

(Jared Waterbury, “Meditations and Prayers” 1840)

Take Courage!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

A frustrating truth prompts today’s word-of-the-week…


The important matters in life are a series of repeated choices.

We don’t choose to love someone and then forget it. We must repeat the choice over and over, because loving is difficult, we change, and people change.

We may forgive a horrible wrong, but we’ll likely need to forgive it again and again, perhaps daily, perhaps even hourly.

It’s easy to get discouraged. I already chose not to be controlled by that fear yesterday, and it’s back today. But that’s how it works, I think.

A series of repeated choices.

The good news is that things like love, forgiveness, and courage can become habits. If we train for them, practice them, they can get a bit easier. But in the really tough times we still have to choose them, day by day.

The REALLY good news, though, is that we’re not in it alone.

Take Courage. I Am. Don’t Be Afraid.

Jesus, I Am, puts Himself in the middle of the struggle, between the courage and the fear. I get to lean on Him.

When I mess up, that’s good to remember.

What repeated choice would you like to begin making?

Will You March on?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

After a nine-day trip to Las Vegas, I returned home exhausted. Have you ever felt that way after a business trip or a vacation?

I didn’t go there for a vacation. I went for three conferences on speaking, leadership, and business that were scheduled back to back.

Since those conferences occurred only that one time, I took advantage of my frequent flyer miles. I attended all three with gratitude that I wouldn’t need to make three separate trips.

A friend told me our third day there, “We’ve walked 59,000 steps today, and we haven’t left the hotel to go to dinner yet.”

At that moment, I wanted to skip dinner. How would you have reacted? My legs and feet felt as if I had walked 159,000 steps that day instead of 59,000. That night I propped my feet and went to bed early only to get up the next day and repeat the marathon.

The last day of the final conference I told my roommate to nudge me if I dozed. She did more than once. I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

In my defense, I must add that she was there only for the third conference.

I reminded myself of the wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the best in speaking, leadership, and business and to meet countless people with the same goals.

Judges 5:21: “March on, my soul; be strong!”

Dear God, help me march on and be strong. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to march on and be strong?

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All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
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“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
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Whose Choice Is It?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

A favorite quote inspires today’s word-of-the-week…


Monday“It’s always easier to order off the menu.” ~ Seth Godin

Let someone else decide what choices are available–and acceptable–and choose from their list. Much less risk. Just sit in the chairs somebody else already set up.

Jesus advised us to toss out man-made menus. He said we’re free to listen to our hearts and follow our own God-inspired dreams. He said we’re free to arrange the chairs differently, or to sit on the floor if that’s what it takes to follow Him.

Takes courage. It’s risky. Harder than ordering off someone else’s menu.

Is it supposed to be about safe and easy?

It’s Monday! Might be a good day to set aside the menu and follow my own dream.

Where have you chosen the easy route of accepting the choices on the menu?

The Challenge of 30

Friday, February 26th, 2016

A sermon challenge prompts today’s word-of-the-week…


Our pastor challenged us to pray for our city for 30 days.

The number rattled in my head, and I wonder what choices I’ll make in the next 30 seconds that will change someone’s path for the next 30 years? A decision, a comment, a choice. Saying yes or saying no. Walking toward or walking from.

Do we realize how we spend the next 30 seconds, 30 minutes, or 30 days will guide us toward the next 30 weeks and months and years? That number won’t leave my mind. I guess because so often I’ve failed to realize the importance of what one choice or one month can do to many lives.

Of course, pray for your city for the next 30 days if you can muster that much discipline. But also pray for and pay attention to the next 30 seconds as well. They’re the beginning of the rest of your life.

It might be a good week to pay attention.

Have a great week!

Ever heard of a “slow watch“?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

A cool new product inspired today’s word-of-the-week…


Ever heard of a “slow watch“?slow

It’s a real thing. Basically it’s a 24-hour watch with a single hand. The idea is that we don’t need to know the time down to the minute and second. So if we wear a watch that doesn’t measure life in small increments, perhaps we’ll slow down and make time for important things.

It’s kind of a a cool idea, and I suspect that a slow watch would be a great conversation starter. However, since I don’t wear a watch I don’t think I’ll spend a few hundred dollars for a high-tech sun dial.

The slow watch raises a question. What do we lose by chopping our lives up into tiny segments and accounting for every moment?

How often are we too busy for a conversation?

How often do we fill the time with urgent and miss important?

Do we hurry to somewhere that doesn’t really matter and neglect somewhere that does?

Do we pretend that quality time is a substitute for time?

Is God an appointment on our morning calendar rather than a partner throughout our day?

A slow watch won’t trick you or me into re-prioritizing our time. At best it’s a silly reminder that life wasn’t meant to be divided into smaller and smaller chunks in the name of a false sense of efficiency.

Jesus didn’t use a watch or a calendar. He was fully present with the people and tasks before Him. We probably need to learn from His example.

Let’s find some time this week that would be best measured by a “slow watch.”


From Pieces to Something Beautiful

Monday, February 1st, 2016

My doorbell rang, and I dashed to the door. The garage door technician arrived with my new garage door.

I stared at his pickup truck and asked, “Where’s the garage door?”

“On the floor of the truck in boxes.”

On my tiptoes, I looked into the truck and saw the boxes. I could hardly wait for him to tear down the old garage door and install the new one. Have you ever experienced that anticipation over something new?

Like a child waiting for a present, I opened my kitchen door every forty-five minutes or so to check the technician’s progress.

I cheered when he removed the old door. He said, “Besides being noisy, the door had two cracks in it. It wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”

I swept my hand across my forehead. “I’m relieved I had the door removed before serious trouble occurred.”

When I saw the beautiful new door in place, a smile spread across my face.

Next the technician mounted the light, the keypad, and other wonderful features.

As I looked at the pile of pieces from the old door and admired the new one, I thought of how God takes the pieces of our broken lives and makes us beautiful through his Son Jesus Christ.

Have you experienced that new creation?

2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Dear God, I don’t want a life full of broken pieces. Amen.

Application: What day this week will you allow God to make you a new creation?