Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

christmas-giveawayHow many of you find that listening and loving come naturally? Before you answer, take a quick quiz with me:

  • T/F: I always actively listen when my friends are talking with me, instead of anticipating how I’m going to respond.
  • T/F: I can remember all of the prayer requests from Sunday school class.
  • T/F: If I can remember last week’s requests, I prayed for them regularly throughout the week.
  • T/F: I make a point of being nice to the kid in class who is socially awkward and unpopular.
  • T/F: I welcomed the new student/coworker instead of racing off to my next class/meeting.

I wish I could say “true” to all of those (that apply to me), but the truth is that sometimes, I can’t. And maybe you can’t either.

Perhaps unintentionally, we become so busy with living that we’re swept up in our own little worlds and unaware of the hurts and needs of those around us.

That’s the problem Karen Ehman addresses in her book Listen, Love, Repeat. Her bottom line is that we need to be intentional in listening to and loving others.

About Listen, Love, Repeat

When I first picked up Karen’s book, I was intrigued by the sub-title: Other-centered living in a self-centered world. She talks about our “selfie-centered” culture and sets about to combat this mindset with the challenge to “live alert.”

… to become a person who thinks of others first takes great effort on our part. It requires us to live alert (18). – Ehman

She calls for Christians to cultivate sensitivity to “heart drops” or “when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or heart heart” (15). Do we pay attention when others share their interests and needs, or are we too busy to notice?

Karen builds upon the premise of Matthew 22:36-40 and outlines what she calls a Three-Step Life Plan:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love others.
  3. Love yourself.

Then, she spends the rest of the book outlining the major categories of people who cross our paths and develops ideas for how we give of ourselves to them.

She’s quick to clarify “the why” for loving people. Our motivation shouldn’t be that others notice us but that they notice our Savior.

We need to remember our why: the reason we love and serve and give thoughtful gifts and do good works. It is so that others will see Jesus. They may look at us, but we hope they see him (100). – Ehman

An ideal Christmas gift for Christian women

Are you not sure what to give your mom, sister, or friend for Christmas? I recommend Listen, Love, Repeat for godly women (and godly young women, too) who want to make a difference right where they are but maybe aren’t sure how.

Karen drives home the reality that we pass people every day who are hurting and in need of Jesus’ love. Some of them may even live in the same houses with us.

Blending the biblical with the practical, Karen offers easy recipes to share with hurting families, simple ideas for making someone’s day, and personal stories of victory and failure.

Christian women who love Jesus and lead busy lives will find this book refreshing and challenging. The beauty of Karen’s message is that we can serve God and love others right where we are.

Because Jesus wasn’t about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul (19).     – Ehman

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas.

Book Pack Giveaway

I’d like for you to have a copy of this resource to use yourself or share with someone you love. It would make a great study for your small group, Bible study, or with your mom or girlfriends.

Merry Christmas early! I’m giving away one gift set, which includes:

  • (1) Copy of Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman
  • (1) Study Pack, complete with a six-session DVD and Study Guide

Four Ways to Enter

To enter, simply do one of the following: 

  • Leave a comment below. (It can be a comment about this post or something as simple as: Please enter me into your drawing.)
  • Subscribe to the Think True Thoughts newsletter.
  • Share this post on Twitter and tag me @kjhogrefe.
  • Share my Facebook post with your friends.

The winner of the random drawing will be announced on this blog next week. I hope this resource will be a blessing to you as it has been to me.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for making this book pack giveaway possible!

 

Tweetables

Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Problems from God’s Perspective

Recently, I flew to Georgia to see some of my girlfriends and their families. During my first flight, I was sandwiched in the middle seat, but the returning flight, I reveled in my window seat view.

The day was clear, and as the plane took off, I watched its shadow grow smaller and smaller on the ground until it disappeared from sight. Once we cleared the cloud line, I couldn’t see a trace of it.

God is greater than our shadows.

Do your problems seem larger than life? When we focus on how big they are, we often can’t see anything beyond them.

In those times, we need to step back and ask God to help us see from His perspective. Like a plane’s shadow, our problems become smaller from God’s viewpoint, because His power and plan are much greater.

In John 16, Jesus tries to prepare His disciples for His coming death and the persecution they will face for sharing the gospel. He warns them that they’ll have troubles in this world, but He offers them a greater hope.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (I John 16:33 ESV).

What an amazing truth! Yes, as God’s children, we’ll experience trials and troubles, but be encouraged: He’s already overcome them.

God strengthens us in the shadows.

The Lord can even use problems to strengthen our trust in Him. In 2 Kings 20, we find an incredible story of God’s power and presence in dark times.

King Hezekiah was ill, so ill, in fact, that the Prophet Isaiah told him he needed to get his house in order, because he was going to die. Talk about some bad news!

The king wept and pleaded with God to spare him. God heard and answered his prayer, sending Isaiah to give Hezekiah the message he would live another 15 years. However, the king doubted, asking for a sign or confirmation that he would indeed live.

We’re in no place to judge the king for his doubts, and perhaps he was so ill that he felt as though he were dying! Regardless, God graciously strengthened Hezekiah’s faith by giving him a supernatural sign, literally turning back time or “the day’s shadow” to prove His promise (2 Kings 20:8-11).

God may not turn back time today, and sometimes, He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we ask. However, He does give grace when we need it and hope for eternity.

God sees us through the shadows.

I don’t know what you’re facing today (and I certainly hope it’s nothing as serious as King Hezekiah’s illness), but the words of Psalm 23 remain true. Regardless of how dark and deep your problems look, if you’re God’s child, He’s always with you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … (Psalm 23:4a ESV)

In youth group, we sing a song by Chris Tomlin entitled “Our God.” Let the words of the chorus wash over you and help put in perspective whatever you’re facing.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God, You are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, awesome in power,
Our God, Our God.

Yes, He is.

If you’re tempted to become discouraged, remember the plane’s shadow. On the ground, it looks enormous, but from the sky, it’s small.

How has God demonstrated his power and grace in your life? What biblical promises help you keep problems in perspective? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Problems from God’s Perspective – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Keep problems in perspective – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Contentment: Truth and Lies

Fall has officially reached Florida with cooler morning temperatures and lower humidity. Break out the boots, and get ready for bonfires!

Over the weekend, I enjoyed my first smore of the season with some friends. I watched as people piled dry branches onto the bonfire. Almost instantly, flames engulfed the branches, and the radiating heat made me step farther back.

We’ve been talking about contentment here, and as I thought about the weekend, I realized that the bonfire is a perfect analogy. If we’re discontent in one area, that spark will spread to other areas of our lives.

However, the opposite is also true. Remember that song we sang as children? This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

Contentment can be equally contagious. If we’re grateful, we can challenge others to focus less on what they don’t have and more on what they do.

Today, we’re going to look at a few more truths about contentment that I hope will help spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle in this area.

Where we find contentment

Have I mentioned lately that I love the girls in my youth group? Well, I do. Their sweet attitudes and big hearts refresh my spirit.

One high school student who follows my blog handed me a slip of paper on Wednesday with some verses about contentment she wanted to share with me. One of the verses was Acts 2:28, which paraphrases the Old Testament truth of Psalm 16:11. It spoke to this very question: What is the source of our contentment?

You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:28 NKJV).

We find true joy and contentment when we live in God’s presence. And not just live as in scrape by and survive. No, live as in abundantly! After all, Jesus Himself said:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

The bottom line is that we find contentment when we make Christ our center and stay grounded in His truth. In His presence alone are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

What contentment is not

Some of us will still face the battlegrounds of discontentment. Sometimes, these encounters leave us feeling defeated and ashamed that we grew so easily discouraged.

Satan will try to shame us into believing we’re not enough. This is a dangerous lie, because in one sense, it’s true. In and of ourselves, we always fall short.

But we aren’t the source of our sufficiency. God is. Let the words of these two verses wash over you:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

And one more:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Every time you’re tempted to give in to a defeated spirit, remember that God is always more than enough to see you through the struggles you face.

One last truth for the day

My final thought about contentment is this: Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. A few years back, I talked about this truth in a post called I shall not want.

Many of us may have unanswered prayers or unmet desires. If that describes you, take heart in these lines penned by R. Leighton, based on Psalm 37:4:

Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee thy heart’s desire,—HIMSELF; and then surely thou shalt have all.

Live in abundance,

Kristen

 

Tweetables

Contentment: Truth and Lies – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle with contentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Is Contentment Possible?

A few weeks back in youth group, we were talking about what contentment means. One of the discussion questions asked, “Do you know someone you would describe as content?”

One of my middle school girls looked at me and said, “You’re content, right?”

My words spilled out like a lukewarm apology. “Me? Well, not all the time, but I certainly try to be.”

The struggle between wanting to set an example and being transparent split me in two. In the area of contentment, I sympathize more with the language of “striving after” but not yet “attaining” that Paul uses in Philippians 3:12 to describe the Christian walk.

However, my response seemed to disappoint the teen whose expression suggested: Well, if you’re not content, how can you expect any of us to be?

I thought about the question long after youth group ended: Is true contentment possible?

The next two weeks, we’re going to wrestle with this question. Read on, and let me know your thoughts.

Contentment is possible.

I Timothy 6:6 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment is part of sanctification, the growth process of our Christian faith. To have contentment is “gain.” We can’t gain something that’s unattainable.

I also believe contentment is possible, because our God is good. He wouldn’t dangle a worthwhile state before us and yank it away just before we could reach it.

The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 4:11-12:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (NKJV)

We might be tempted to think, “Easy for him to say. He was an apostle, after all.”

Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s story. I don’t think “easy” was any part of his equation.

Contentment isn’t connected to circumstances.

Remember, Paul (once called Saul) was the man whose life God radically changed. He went from persecuting the church to boldly proclaiming the gospel, even at his own peril.

2 Corinthians 11 recounts some of the trials and hardships he endured:

  • 5x – received 40 stripes minus 1
  • 3x – beaten with rods
  • 1x – stoned
  • 3x – shipwrecked

The list only grows from there. Paul continued his account:

… a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:25b-29 NKJV)

Yes, this is the same man who said he learned to be content in any situation! In other words, he was able to experience contentment simultaneously with the following:

  • Weakness
  • Suffering
  • A state of want or need
  • Responsibility and cares
  • Frustration

But wait! Don’t we usually equate those things with discontentment? At least, I do.

Perhaps we’re missing the point. If contentment demanded a perfect set of circumstances, it would be impossible to attain (at least for long).

Much like joy, contentment isn’t grounded in experience. It’s grounded in an eternal perspective, possible only when we fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I didn’t say contentment was easy. I just said it was possible.

Next week, we’re going to tackle another misconception about contentment, but for now, I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree that contentment is possible? Why or why not?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Is Contentment Possible? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Contentment isn’t grounded in experience but in an eternal perspective. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 2

Are you satisfied with your prayer life, or do your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling back at you?

If we could do a show of hands, many of us would fall into the second category.

Today, I’m sharing the second part of an article I originally wrote for the fall of issue of Girlz 4 Christ magazine on the topic of prayer. My challenge is simple, though not always easy: Instead of us doing all the talking in prayer, let’s learn to listen more.

God has something to say to us, even today. Let’s look at two more ways He communicates.

He speaks through the Holy Spirit.

Did you know the Holy Spirit is our partner in prayer? According to Romans 8:26:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (NASB).

Not only does the Holy Spirit intercede for us, or intervene on our behalf, but this member of the Trinity also teaches us and reminds us of Jesus’ truth (John 14:26). How can He do this if He doesn’t speak?

If you’re God’s child, you can probably think of a time when you felt a pricking in your chest to do something—maybe pray for a friend or check up on an elderly widow from church. Maybe you’ve felt a desire to start a Bible study or serve in a ministry. Maybe there’s something else on your mind and you want to know what God has to say.

I challenge you: Ask Him. Keep your Bible, a notebook, and a pen ready. Be still before Him.

Did not Jesus invite us to “come” to Him and “learn” of Him in Matthew 11:28-29?

If you make a habit of listening for God to speak, He won’t disappoint you.

He speaks through circumstances.

The other day, I was reading Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Suddenly, I started crying over a circumstance in her life that so much resonated with something I was experiencing. Using the words her father had spoken to comfort her, God spoke comfort to my own heart.

That’s just a small example. God can speak to us whether we’re reading a book, having lunch with a friend, listening to our pastor at church, or simply going about our everyday lives.

We never know when or how God will use circumstances to point us to the truth we need to hear.

Again, the question is whether or not we’re listening.

A challenge for you and me

A few weeks back, my class in youth group finished a Bible study, so my fellow leader and I asked what topic the teens would like to talk about next.

“I’d like to know how to pray better,” one girl said.

Amen, sister!

Oftentimes, God doesn’t give easy answers to prayer, because He wants us to pursue a relationship with Him. He asks us to seek Him with the questions we have, and He promises that when we do, we’ll find what we need (Jeremiah 29:13).

We might not find the answer we wanted, but we’ll find Him. And He is infinitely better, and His ways are infinitely higher.

So will you join me? When we pray, let’s learn to talk less and listen more.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 2 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Talk less and listen more in prayer. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 1

“Why doesn’t Jesus answer my prayers?”

I looked at the little girl in front of me. If you’ve ever worked with children, you know they can and will ask whatever is on their minds. I’m used to the unexpected questions, but for some reason, this one seemed harder to answer.

Maybe because I’ve asked it so many times myself.

Many of us have heard the typical and truthful responses to this question. Sometimes, God answers our prayers yes, no, or wait. Perhaps He is protecting us or has something far better in mind. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “God’s refusals are His mercies.”

All of the above are true, and yet there is something inside us that still aches.

Perhaps the reason is that we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking why God doesn’t answer our prayers, we should be asking: God, what do you have to say to me?

Seriously. When is the last time we asked God to speak to us and then actually took the time to listen for His answer?

But, Kristen, God doesn’t speak—not anymore.

Oh yes, He does.

He speaks through His Word.

God may not speak audibly today, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t speaking.

After all, do we not have the Bible, God’s Word? It is as relevant now as it ever has been.

Instead of accusing God of not speaking, we should honestly examine ourselves. Are we spending time in His Word? Are we seeking to hear what He has to say to us? Do we want to know His truth, or are we too comfortable with our “little sins” that separate us from Him?

Nothing is more important than your relationship with God. If some sin in your life is keeping you from Him, forsake it, and get right with Him.

Pray this prayer from Psalm 139:23-24: 

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (KJV).

***

This post first appeared in full in the Girlz 4 Christ fall issue. To learn more about Girlz 4 Christ or subscribe to this free Ezine, click here.

Next week, we’ll look at two more ways God speaks today. In the meantime, how will you listen to God this week?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 1 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

The question we should ask in prayer – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

When God Turns Up the Heat

One of my least favorite chores is ironing. Yes, I would rather scrub the bathroom than iron. As a result, some of my favorite blouses tend to be cotton/poly blends which, if you don’t already know, require almost no ironing. That’s today’s free tip, and you’re welcome. 🙂

I’m much more friendly with the flat iron for my hair, which is a good thing, because the 70s happened before I was born.

What do regular irons and flat irons have in common? They use heat to smooth out wrinkles or straighten stubborn waves.

Sometimes, I think God turns up the “heat” in our personal lives to work out some spiritual wrinkles or use the pressure to mature us. Many times in the Bible, we see fire associated with testing or purification, and I want to look at two of those examples today.

Molding Clay

When I was in middle school, my brothers and I did 4-H for several years. I was even elected to the enviable role of Refreshment Committee member, which essentially meant nothing. Our moms organized everything.

One craft was to shape clay, apply a color coating of choice, and then place our creations in the oven to “set.” Going into the oven, my clay design was rather bland. When it came out of the oven, it was still unimpressive–but it was pretty. The heat had transformed the outer shell’s coating into a deep, glossy blue that was smooth and shiny.

I’m thankful God is a much more skilled Sculptor than I am! He’s at work in your life and mine, molding us to be who He wants us to be. He might have to work out some lumps, and the heat might hurt, but in the end, we will come out vessels for the finer.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NKJV)

Refining Gold

I know little about metallurgy, the science of working or heating metals, but this basic concept I understand: The way to refine metals is to heat them. The heat purifies the metal, burning off the “dross,” or waste product, and leaving behind the metal.

Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived, observed this truth in Proverbs 25:4.

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. (KJV)

On a spiritual level, God often refines His children. To remove things that don’t belong in our lives, He puts us through the fire. Or sometimes, He simply wants to make us more like Himself. Conforming to His image doesn’t come naturally but takes some fire and time, as a gospel song says.

Molding and refining aren’t processes we wish upon ourselves, but they deepen our character if we respond to them with a humble heart.

Heat Sensitive

Maybe you’re going through a trial right now, and you wish God would turn off the iron for a while. Perhaps life feels just fine at the moment, but you can look back at a time when God brought you through a tough experience.

Either way, remember this: If God didn’t care about us, He wouldn’t turn up the heat. His hand at work in our lives, even in the tough times, is evidence of His unfailing love.

I like what the Apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 1:7:

… that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (NKJV)

Wow! Our faith is more precious than gold.

I may never grow fond of ironing, but I recognize its purpose and place. And I may never be especially eager for God’s refining work in my life, but I know He has my best interests in mind.

Dear Father, thank you for caring more about our character than our comfort. Help us trust you in the fires of life, and may you be pleased with the work of your hands. May our faith be found for your glory. Amen.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

When God Turns Up the Heat – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

If God didn’t care about us, He wouldn’t turn up the heat. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

All That Glitters

I’ll never forget the year I went to Nicaragua on a mission trip. My team and I organized a week of Vacation Bible School for some village children and helped tear down a parsonage so the next team could rebuild it.

When you think of VBS, you probably imagine your church’s annual summer ministry, complete with Bible stories, memory verses, silly songs, and craft activities.

We translated those components in a third world country—and improvised. I quickly learned that our craft expectations were a little unrealistic. Okay, way unrealistic. For the story of Noah’s ark, we had construction paper, glitter, and glue so the children could design their own rainbows.

To keep this story short, let’s just say that very little glitter ended up glued to the paper. Glitter fights (all friendly) broke out. In one sense, the craft was a brilliant success, because the children loved it. On the other hand, some of us were still picking glitter from our hair when we returned home.

Let’s face it: Children aren’t the only ones who find irresistible things that glitter. Teens and adults migrate toward the flashy phones, the latest toys, and the bling that keeps jewelry stores in business. We like to look our best and have the best.

What’s on the inside?

There’s nothing wrong with looking pretty and enjoying nice things unless these practices distract us from what’s most important: what’s inside.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (I Peter 3:3-4 NKJV)

Incorruptible beauty. I love that expression. Time and wear can’t touch this type of beauty. So much that glitters fades.

William Shakespeare eloquently described this truth in The Merchant of Venice, my favorite of all his plays.

All that glisters is not gold,
Often have you heard that told;
Many a man his life has sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded [tombs] do worms infold. (Act II, Scene VII)

“Gilded” tombs were covered with gold. Sure, from the outside, they glittered in the sunlight, but inside was nothing but decay and bones.

Jesus Himself criticized the Pharisees for putting too much emphasis on their outward shows. By their standards, these religious leaders appeared to keep the law, but they missed the point of true worship.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  (Matthew 23:27 NKJV)

Harsh? Sometimes the truth is.

There’s a warning here for us today. If we worry most about our appearances and what others think about us, we’re wasting our time. What matters more is our character, “the hidden person of the heart.”

Where’s our focus?

After Saul chose disobedience over God’s way, God sent the prophet Samuel to Jesse’s home to anoint a new king. Now Jesse had eight sons, and Samuel wasn’t sure at first whom God had chosen.

Then, he saw Jesse’s oldest boy, Eliab. He was tall, handsome, and kingly in appearance.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7 NKJV)

In fact, God said “no” to all of Jesse’s sons except the very youngest, a shepherd boy named David. Though David seemed the least likely choice, God saw in him the makings of a man after His own heart.

I’m so glad God cares more about our character than our cosmetics. If you like things that glitter, you don’t have to toss your lip gloss and ruby red slippers.

Just remember the issue that matters most: Does your heart sparkle for Jesus?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

All that Glitters – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

So much that glitters fades. Desire incorruptible beauty. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

God cares more about our character than our cosmetics. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Rest and Be Thankful this Labor Day

Labor Day is a day set aside to recognize the hard work that has helped build America.

The Department of Labor explains the holiday this way:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

We know that God commands hard work (Colossians 3:23), rewards hard work (Proverbs 13:4), and equips us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Sometimes, the temptation can be to boast in our accomplishments, yet the Bible makes clear we are not to boast in our works themselves but in the power of Christ that works within us.

Although I realize some of you will spend the day working (your job) or catching up on personal work or house chores, I hope you find time to rest and relax with family and friends.

Perhaps the best advice for the day are the words of William Wordsworth:

Rest and be thankful.

Thankful to Whom? James 1:17 reminds us.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights … (ESV)

Blessings to you this Labor Day,

~ Kristen

 

Tweetable

Rest and be thankful this Labor Day – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

Keep Your Shoes Sparkly, and Spread Joy

My mom is always shopping good deals for her grandchildren. The other day, she found a bright, glittery pair of shoes for my one-year-old niece.

“Mom, those are Dorothy slippers!” I said, admiring how adorable they were.

If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, you probably would think the same thing I did when I saw them.

I wonder: If a trivial object like red slippers can trigger an immediate response, how much more powerful are our words and actions? What do people think when they see us coming?

Isaiah 52:7 describes the type of “shoes” we should want to have:

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation … (ESV)

Do we spread good news or gossip? Are we quick to encourage or tell others about Jesus? Remember, the “preparation of the gospel of peace” should be part of our Every Day Carry (Ephesians 6) that we learned about last week on Lindsey’s site.

But I’ll be the first to admit. Some days, I’m not bubbling over with joy or enjoying the overwhelming peace of God’s presence. I get tired and weary just like the next person.

How do we keep our shoes “polished” when our souls feel less than sparkly?

  1. Spend time daily with God, rain or shine. Like any relationship, our relationship with Him requires work. He’s always ready to meet with us when we lay aside the “stuff” that weighs us down (Hebrews 12:1).
  2. Thank God for your blessings (I Thessalonians 5:18). Ask Him to use you, and be prepared to do what He says.
  3. Praise God even when you don’t feel especially joyful. Open a hymnbook, and meditate on the words. Or, sing along to Rend Collective’s “Joy of the Lord” until the truth sinks in. The joy of the Lord, not the things that bring temporary happiness, is your strength.

How do you keep your shoes “polished” and prepared to share God’s joy and good news? Please leave a comment below, and be an encouragement to someone else today.

~ Kristen

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Keep Your Shoes Sparkly, and Spread Joy – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)