Tag Archives: Choices

Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

More Than Deciding

14 May

A group of junior-level executives were participating in a management training program. The seminar leader pounded home his point about the need to FrogGraphic_LOLwithGod_Freedigitalphotosmake decisions and take action on these decisions.

“For instance,” he said, “if you had five frogs on a log and three of them decided to jump, how many frogs would you have left on the log?”

The answers from the group were unanimous: “Two.”

“Wrong,” replied the speaker, “there would still be five because there is a difference between deciding to jump and jumping.” *

LOL and ouch!

How many things have I “decided to do” but then failed to follow through?

  • Deciding to save money for Christmas.
  • Deciding to eat healthier.
  • Deciding to faithfully exercise.
  • Deciding to read through the Bible.
  • Deciding to memorize more scripture.

Decide … then follow through. Sounds simple enough. But then we trip up.

Why don’t we follow through?

(1) We are human beings—we’re still sinners.

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. … as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one. … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10, 23).

(2) We don’t always appropriate what God has done for us.

We need to take possession of what God has given us: eternal life, and the power to change. The power of the cross and Christ’s resurrection will change our lives, and we can begin to see that change as we practice acting on our identity with Christ.

Humbling ourselves and calling upon God for mercy and strength, we trust in the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) enabling us to produce good fruit. God is consistently conforming us to His will; by God’s grace we are continually making progress in becoming more like Christ.

We make progress one step at a time as we trust the Lord to work, strengthening us from within (Philippians 4:13).

(3) We don’t make any serious strategies.

I need to visualize the goal and ask the Lord to show me what I need to do to get to that goal.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The Bible says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel….” (Proverbs 15:22).

Plans aren’t meant to be “hope so,” but rather a step-by-step strategy for success.

Strategies might include getting good counsel, organizing time and effort to fit godly priorities, and creating steps of action that align with our purpose or mission statement.

(4) We don’t remember the source of our spiritual progress.

When we commit to the Lord what we want to accomplish, we can believe Him to “establish” our plans (Proverbs 16:3, 9; Psalm 20:4).

We seek  His desires and wisdom (Isaiah 28:29; 55:8).

We are meant to live in a state of dependence on the Lord for everything!

(5) We don’t discipline our lives. In other words, we don’t commit to implementing the strategies with a disciplined life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

In other words:

Envisioning a goal and making strategies won’t work if I don’t take disciplined action!

Self-Discipline may be painful, but it will yield blessings (Hebrews 12:11)

Along with self-discipline, there must be a heart attitude of willing sacrifice—a “whatever it takes” heart to follow hard after God’s will. We say, “Yes, Lord!” when He gives direction. Then we can set procedures in place to back up our willingness with obedience.

(6) We don’t take time to create a reliable source of accountability.

We are stronger in pursuing holy goals when others come alongside us. As iron sharpens iron,” friends can help and support us (Proverbs 27:17) and spur us on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Remember:

Deciding to make a choice isn’t the same as actually making the choice.

And in making the choice, we need to strategize, recruit support and remember where the power and wisdom come from to move forward and accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God.

Which of these points could help you move from deciding to doing?

 – * Humor: Cybersalt Digest, “Decisions,” 5-13-14

 – GraphicImage courtesy of japanachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 – Dawn

Be Careful What You Assume

16 Apr

During a stay at an expensive hotel in New York City, a man woke up in the Assumptions_LOLwithGod_Graphic-morguefilemiddle of the night with an upset stomach. He called room service and ordered some soda crackers.

Later, when the man looked at the charge slip, he was furious. He called room service and raged, “I know I’m in a luxury hotel, but $11.50 for six crackers is ridiculous!”

“The crackers are complimentary,” the voice at the other end coolly explained. “I believe you are complaining about your room number.” *

LOL!

The man’s assumption was absurd, and refuted.

Christians often make assumptions that are just as silly, and the Word of God refutes them.

Here are just four examples:

(1) The news or my friends will tell me all I need to know about life.

God’s Word tells us people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  Wise counselors can help us, but we need to be careful not to walk in the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1).

It’s always wise to compare what’s going on in your world (and the world) with the wisdom of scripture.

(2) If I’m godly enough, I won’t have any struggles.

A study of the life of Job should be enough to refute that.

But Jesus said we would have trials in this world (John 16:33). Our struggles are meant to develop character and make us more like Jesus (Romans 5:3-5), and to draw us closer to God, our only true hope and security (Psalm 62:5; John 10:28-29; Philippians 1:6).

(3) If I know and love the Lord, I won’t need people.

God didn’t create us to live outside a community.

People are God’s gift to us, to encourage us and help us grow, to bring comfort, to add wisdom, and to help us heal. He means for us to “bear one another’s burdens….” (Galatians 6:2).

Think about it. If we were meant to live a solitary existence, why did He give us all the “one another” scriptures?

(4) If I just make all the right choices, I’ll be a strong Christian.

This was one of my basic life assumptions. I mean, my whole ministry (Heart Choices Today) is about making wise, godly choices. And one of my blogs (Upgrade with Dawn) encourages wise choices too.

But God has been teaching me this important distinction: making choices is more than mere human will power. Will power can fall short because we are totally human. Instead, we need to surrender our whole self–mind, heart, will–to the Lord. We must have His power in our lives.

Sometimes, in ourselves, we just don’t want to do right. We have other loves or idols that keep us from making godly choices (Romans 7:22-24; Galatians 5:17)

We need the transforming power of Christ (Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 5:16-18) and the desire for holiness that comes from Him alone (Philippians 2:12-13).

Making right choices is the result of growth in Christ—not the other way around (Galatians 3:3).

There are many other assumptions we make that are based on lies the enemy of our soul feeds us daily. And if we keep on believing them, we may experience great regret.

That’s why it’s crucial to study the Word of God.

Know and apply scripture so you won’t be embarrassed with silly assumptions. 

Some questions to contemplate:

  • Do I know what I believe?
  • Where am I getting my information about life?
  • Do my assumptions square with and hold up under the scrutiny of scripture?
  • Have I redefined God’s Word to fit in with my assumptions or preconceived notions?

Paul gave instruction to Timothy that would be good advice for all of us:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV).

Knowing the truth will help you become holy (John 17:17) and wise (Psalm 19:7b).

Have you ever made an assumption and later found out it was false? How can the Word of God help that not to happen again?

 – *Humor: Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3945, 4-6-13; Graphic of crackers, courtesy of xandert, Morguefile

 – Dawn

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