Thoughts of Praise

In my readings last week I discovered a hidden gem in 1 Chronicles.  I’d like to share these thoughts of praise with you today.

1 Chronicles 16:31-33:

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!  Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”  Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!  Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!  Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise, for the Lord is coming to judge the earth.”

This joyful passage caught my eye because it reminded me of a song “The Lord Reigns” by Christ for the Nations.  You can check it out here on YouTube!

I encourage you to listen to the song, read the whole song in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (great psalm by King David in Chronicles, not the book of Psalms!), and then give God some praise for the great things he is doing in your life and in the lives of those you know.  Even if you’re not in the mood or don’t think you have things to be praising for, by doing it anyway, I dare say you will think of praise-worthy things.

I know that life is tough, many are struggling with the changes that are transforming our world right now, but I know that the best thing you can do is spend time each day praising God.

What are you praising God for today? (share below)

Celebrate Today

Today I want to talk about something that gets overlooked frequently, but especially in the time of economic change we are going through; celebration. Celebration not only helps to transform feelings of depression, it also unites people.  I can remember back to some parties where the next time you saw someone from the party it was a celebration all over again because you had had such a great time together.  So let’s look at two things we can celebrate here and now.  By the way, there’s never a need for a holiday; you can simply celebrate because it’s Tuesday, or any other day of the week.

Celebrate each other.  Celebrate that you’re not alone, celebrate for the sake of working together, living together, driving together or meeting an old friend at a coffee shop or bar.  Plan weekly celebrations even if you don’t have a birthday or want to spend a lot of money.  Celebrations can simply be people getting together with coffee or a drink from their house and just having fun!  You don’t have to have large or catered parties every week, just get together and have fun!

Celebrate life.  When you’re alone and don’t have others to celebrate with, or even when there are others around, you can celebrate simply being alive in the world today.  It is truly a gift to have life and be alive, no matter what is going on in the world or challenging you in your life.  So curl up with that book and a cup of tea, perhaps a snack also, and just enjoy being who you are, doing what you like.  Or treat yourself to some ice cream or a funny movie rental, or take a walk and celebrate the beautiful creatures and plants outside.

Laughter goes a long way to healing broken hearts, wounds, and physical illnesses.  And with celebration usually comes laughter.  What will you celebrate today? (share below)

Required Rest

As I shared on Monday, I read through the book of Leviticus in the Bible last week.  One thing they talked about was giving the land rest every 7th year*.  If they didn’t let the land rest, and not farm on it, there would be consequences and God would send away the people living in the land who didn’t give it rest so the land could have rest.  Basically, either give the land rest as you’ve been told, or God would make sure that the land would have rest.  Today I want to talk not about giving the land rest, but us getting rest!

This Biblical principle is actually seen over and over in the lives of people today.  If you don’t exercise, don’t eat right, don’t rest, don’t put good thought and things into your body, you will reap consequences.  I’ve heard countless stories of individuals who were pushing on 200+% and not taking time to eat right or live right and they had a heart attack or got sick with some illness that made them bed-ridden for a period of time. I want to be clear though:  this isn’t just a Biblical principle, and the reason I’m sharing these thoughts with you is not so you read the Bible.  I’m sharing this with you because I want you to be serious about your health and lifestyle, and know that there are consequences to not taking care of the body and life that you have. If you’re thinking that you’ll start taking care of those things once you have time, you’ve got it all wrong.  You could be dead before you have the time to take care of those things.  If you don’t start now, you may not be able to start ever.  So let’s get started with some things you can and should implement immediately.

Immediate steps you can take:

-Food: Put good food into your body. If you’re a big soda/alcohol drinker (2+ per day, every day) cut back immediately. Cut back on the junk food you eat and start eating healthy snacks.

-Emotional: Watch what you watch on TV, who you interact with, and what you’re reading.  Set aside time every day for you to meditate, educate yourself and/or relax.

-Exercise: Start taking a walk every day, or at least walk more than you do now.  Get a pedometer, take a walk outside and/or get a membership at a gym.

-Sleep: Make sure that you’re getting enough, good sleep at night.  Try going to bed an hour earlier once a week and see how you feel.

These 4 aspects of you are absolutely essential.  If you aren’t caring for all 4 areas, you’re setting yourself, and your body, up for a meltdown.

Share below the first thing you are going to do to begin resting and taking care of your body, before it makes you!

(*you can read all about this in Leviticus 26)

Cheer or Fear?

This past week I dove into a book that isn’t frequently read or highlighted as suggested reading in the Bible: Leviticus.  While I didn’t have as many insights as I usually would in a 27 chapter book, I did have a few that I will be sharing over this week’s blog posts.  Today’s topic is from Leviticus 25, the Year of Jubilee.

According to the laws set up in Leviticus, the Year of Jubilee happens every 50 years.  Basically in that 50th year the Israelites return to the land that was their ‘original’ family land (in the Promised Land), return any land they purchased to its original Israelite owners, eating only what the land provides, not working, and freeing any Israelite servants.  The 50th year is a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land, as well as rest for the people and encourage a specific, more direct focus on God.

As I was reading about the Year of Jubilee, two thoughts crossed my mind about how the Israelites would be feeling during this time; scared and excited.

Scared: Think about it.  You’ve got your whole life about to be turned upside-down.  You’re either going to lose your hired help or you’re going to be losing your land, or moving to a new place.  There’s a lot of change and transitioning going on.  And if you’ve got little babies, old relatives or a large family, it’s a challenge to make this transition.

Excited: You’re going to a new place most likely.  This journey is an opportunity with unknown blessings and challenges.  If you’re a servant being freed, you’ve now got your freedom to find a new family to work with, or if you’ve saved enough, to buy land and have your own business.

The Year of Jubilee is really a big year of trust in God.  Your whole future is up in the air and you have to trust that this Year of Jubilee is a good idea and works to your benefit.

The Year of Jubilee is none too different from the challenging, tumultuous times that we’re living in right now.  It’s evoking a lot of fear as well as a lot of excitement.  It is an opportunity for you to take hold of your life.  Start a business, work at a job you actually like, or spend more time with your family.  Regardless of how you have approached this time of transition so far, all is not lost, you still have time to make empowered decisions about your future.

What opportunities will you be taking advantage of now? (share below)

Light in the Tunnel

Are you struggling right now in your life?  As I was thinking about healing and about the past today, some of the words to Matt Maher‘s song, Hold Us Together, popped into my head. The part I want to share with you goes like this:

“This is the first, day of the rest of your life
This is the first, day of the rest of your life
‘Cause even in the dark you can still see the light
It’s gonna be alright, s’gonna be alright”

I know it’s hard when you’re in the midst of a ‘dark night of the soul’ experience, or it seems like everything in your life is changing to be positive, realistic or even looking towards the future.  What I love about Matt’s words are that he recognizes you’re in the dark and you’re still in the struggle.  But what Matt also says is that you can see the light.  Someday soon you will realize it isn’t the light of a freight train bearing down on you, but the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are few things you can rely on when you’re struggling in life.  What I can guarantee you is that it will be OK.  Things most likely won’t return to what they were in the past, but that’s usually a good thing.  But instead of being stuck, unhappy and frustrated, think of it as the first day of the rest of your life, as Matt says.  (This includes new opportunities, new friends and new blessings!)  I’d rather spend that day working through the darkness so that I can run to the light and live the rest of my life helping other people and not being stuck and unhappy.

If you’re struggling with darkness, a family situation, relationship problem, self-esteem issue, career change or any of the other things life can throw at us, please don’t spend your time in the dark tunnel.  Get help and get out into the light.  Once you’re in the light you can see things so much more clearly.

I invite you to share below: what will you do with your hope-filled future today?

Plans: Yours vs Source

My thoughts today are inspired by a little passage I ran across in the Bible the other day.  It shares: “”So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”” (Acts 5:38-39)

These words are talking about planning.  They describe the two kinds of planning there are in the world: planing by you and I, and planning by our Source.  Now, I have nothing against planning.  In fact, if you don’t spend some time  planning, unless you’re really good at stumbling upon victories and large sums of money, you won’t be getting very far in life.  That being said, planning is important.

We are all told that there is a purpose and plan to our lives.  Each of us was created by our Source to do something special and unique during our time on earth.  This means that Source has a plan for our lives.  But if we’re all busy planning our lives, and not checking in with our Source’s plans, will we accomplish anything?  These verses seem to indicate that we won’t!

Planning our lives in accordance with the plans of Source, is a strong win-win situation.  Think about your life for a moment.  When you took the time to inquire of your Source or guides, were your plans more successful?  Did they seem to go better than you expected, had less complications, or the challenges that did arise actually made the plan better?  Even stopping to take the time to listen to what your gut was saying may have helped save you from making the wrong plans!

The warning given here is two-fold.  If your plans don’t line up with Source’s plans for your life, your plans won’t be as successful, or last as long as they would otherwise.  Also, if you try to fight against the plans that Source has for your life, you could also reach serious consequences. I think the encouragement here is don’t mess with the universe!

What guidance has your Source given you that has helped you plan or go a certain direction in your life? Share below!

Heaven on earth

This week in my readings I was enjoying the book of Acts in the Bible.  One of the things that caught my attention was the reference of a passage from the book of Isaiah. It reads:

“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine.”  I, the Lord, have spoken!  “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”” (Isaiah 66:1-2)

There are two things I want to discuss today.  First, early in this passage we see God’s delight in heaven and earth.  God is clear that He is proud of what he has created!  He wouldn’t change the earth for anything!  It says “Could you build me a temple as good as that?”  God knows that his design and construction is far superior to anything we humans could create.  It also puts emphasis on the beauty of creation.  It says that God is happy to rest His feet here, so shouldn’t we be?  Shouldn’t we spend time enjoying God’s creation as much as He does?

Second, the theme God has had me exploring this year is humility.  It’s been an amazing year so far and God has continued to point out passages, books and teachings on humility for me to learn from.  While I won’t go into an extended conversation on being humble, I will tie it in to my first point.  Here humility has to do with respect.  If as God’s people we don’t respect the earth He has created, not only can we not get God’s blessing He offers us here, but we will hurt ourselves.  God created the earth to support, nourish and meet our needs, yet as we cut down more and more trees, don’t recycle and use more  [dangerous] chemicals, not only are we hurting the earth, we’re hurting ourselves and our future.  When we start respecting the earth, and treating it like the precious thing it is, we will see God’s abundant blessings ever so evident in our lives and around the world.

I encourage you to spend time with God outside, either meditating, doing devotions, reading your Bible or walking.  After you do, I encourage you to share your experience here, encouraging others with your experiences and discoveries.

The Attribute of the Strong

One thing I’ve been hearing recently is the importance of forgiveness throughout your life.  Not only is it important to frequently practice forgiveness of others, it’s also important to forgive yourself.

So what is forgiveness anyway?  The American Psychological Association defines forgiveness as “the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.”  My favorite words in this, and the most crucial, are “concluding” and “ceasing.”  Practicing the act of forgiveness allows you to move on to a new part of your life.  It means you’re not dragging someone’s bad actions or words around behind you any longer (including your own). It means you’re free to live your life without anger, hurt and frustration because of what happened in the past.  Is it easy to forgive? No, not always.  But, as we’ll find out, the benefits of forgiving yourself and others far outweighs the challenge of forgiveness.

Countless individuals live with emotional scars and baggage because of past actions or words.  Yet it is very possible to heal from those scars.  Countless new research studies are indicating that emotions are the root cause of many physical issues we all deal with.  If this is true, it would behoove us to really work on healing our emotional scars and living with good emotional relationships.   If we don’t start having healthy emotions and healthy emotional relationships with others, we can look forward to more heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, obesity, and stress than ever before.

Forgiveness can help us work on the emotional healing.  So frequently it is someone from a “past life” that we have scars from; our parents who are long gone, someone in grade school said something about us, or someone we used to know didn’t treat us with respect.  Whether you’re still in contact with the individual, or not, it is possible to forgive them and forgive yourself.  This involves pardoning the other person, or yourself, for the deeds or actions that were committed.  You don’t have to forgive the action, but you do have to forgive the person.  The longer you hold onto your resentment for the person, the unhealthier and unhappier you will become.  While it’s not necessary to verbally ask for or give forgiveness to another person or yourself, although it is beneficial for repairing relationships, it is essential to release yourself or the other person from the guilt you are holding on to.  Holding onto this guilt and resentment will hinder your living a happy and fulfilled life.

There are countless resources available on the internet to get you started on your forgiveness journey.  If you’re ready to make a lasting impact on your emotional health, physical well-being and your happiness, schedule a session with someone who can help you work your way through it (I would love to help you too!).  Don’t wait until the anger and resentment kills you.  Get help now.

Beach Song

Would you sit with me?

Just for a little while, here where it’s cool, sunny and calm.

There you go, have a seat next to me.

I’m so glad you’re here.

Let’s listen to the crashing waves together,

Feel the warm breezes blow.

Relax, it’s just us and the ocean.

No screaming children, no nagging parents,

No piles of work, no partner demanding attention.

Do you smell that salt air?

It reminds me of being a kid again,

Running with the waves, chasing sea gulls.

I can feel my heart beating again.

My breath is slow, calming.

The earth, whispering to my heart,

The oldest love song.

Feeling the ocean wrapping you with love.


Must you go so soon?

Come back soon my friend.

We’ll be waiting.

Hearing from God

One of the most frequently considered topics in the spiritual world is how to hear from your source, in my case, God.  Let’s consider some case studies about listening to and for God.

Samuel: Samuel is an interesting case.  He was a boy dedicated before birth to God for work at the temple. One night he heard a voice.  He checked with his spiritual leader, Eli, who told him he didn’t call Samuel.  Samuel heard the voice again, and asked Eli again, who said no again.  On the third time, Eli realized that it was God calling and told Samuel that the next time he heard the voice to say “Speak Lord, your servant listens.”  Samuel heard the voice again, and spoke as Eli instructed, and God gave Samuel his first message of many throughout his God-dedicated life.   (If you’re not familiar with this part of Samuel’s story, you can check out 1 Samuel 3)

Ezekiel: Ezekiel had many visions from God throughout his, and the Israelites, captivity around the 6th century BC.  God told Ezekiel He was sending him to Israel to be a prophet.  (Check out Ezekiel 2 for Ezekiel’s commissioning).

Saul/Paul: Probably one of the more dramatic examples of hearing from God, Saul was ‘taken down’ by God on his way to Damascus.  God blinded Saul with a bright light, and told him that he would no longer persecute God’s people.  Saul learned from this experience, was baptized shortly and led a God-centered life, sharing God with everyone he met for the rest of his life.  (Check out Acts 9 for Saul’s first encounter with God)

What can these 3 men teach us about listening and hearing from God.

1-Sometimes we don’t know it’s God!  Maybe you’re not in the practice of listening while you pray, you just dump on God and leave.  Or perhaps you don’t recognize the way God is talking to you.  Samuel was used to God speaking through Eli and other prophets, and what was shared in synagogue, not directly to him. So he wasn’t prepared to actually hear God.

2-Listen!  Eli instructed Samuel to say “Speak Lord, your servant listens!”  Samuel stopped talking and trying to find answers and just listened.

3-It may not be your time yet.  God could have spoken to Ezekiel sooner, but he waited until he and the Israelites were in captivity to speak to, and through, him.

4-You may have a dramatic encounter with God like Saul.  They’re less frequent and typical than other ways of hearing from God, but you can’t mistake it, and certainly won’t forget it.

Spending regular time with God will increase the likelihood that you will hear from God, and know how God speaks to you.  But if you’re not taking time to listen (are too busy talking), God may be waiting for you to be quiet to speak.

I encourage you to share your frustrations, and experiences in hearing from God, below.