Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Path Forward - Day 3

Compare your thoughts from yesterday to your Purpose Statement, (if you didn't create one for yourself, see the blog on Stewardship - Monday December 7 2009) and see if it elicits any further thoughts. Again, we are using our Purpose Statement to help keep us focused as we examine ourselves from different perspectives - specifically the areas of our lives where change has occurred.

Prayer: Pray that God helps confirm and direct your purpose in life.

The Path Forward - Day 2

Notice the meaning of James 1:10&11 in the context of the verses before and after. Among other things, it’s evident that the rich man is, by contrast, arrogant and lazy. When the troubles of the world come along, this content and prideful person doesn't have the tools to cope, and as a result, “fades away”. Contrast this with the humble. They persevere and live full, rewarding lives.

As we processed our own humility yesterday, there were likely some things - obstacles, whether large or small, that stood out to us. Our familiarity or comfort with them may have dulled their impact on our lives. Sometimes exploring these things can lead to deeper, unrelated issues. Take time today to process the large and small thoughts you had yesterday. Use the action of confessing these thoughts to God so he can own them with you. Follow them as deep as you can and see where they connect. We might be closed because we think we’re too talented, educated, experienced, or intelligent. We might put too much faith in our opinion of our demographic, family, habits, personality, or even style. It's worth it to see where we hold pride, and how it keeps us from forward momentum in our lives.

Prayer: Pray for motivation and wisdom to discern the thoughts that you process today.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Path Forward - Day 1

James 1:9-11 talks about the difference between those in humble circumstances vs those who are rich. Although James alludes to a financial state he is speaking more to the spiritual state of the person. It was common of his audience to speak about the poor in reference to those in difficulty and hardship and the rich as those who are arrogant and exploitative.

As we look at our path forward through a time of change, we need to be honest about the place we currently are and the needs we must address. In order to be effective in this self assessment we need humility. If we are guarded, high-minded or unrealistic about our issues, we will not be able to see ourselves for who we really are in order to find where we need to go.

Are we willing to look past the successes and triumphs in our lives to address areas where we may harbor shame or fear? Are we willing to ask people close to us where we could improve ourselves or our relationships with them? Are we willing to sacrifice something that makes us comfortable to achieve a higher purpose? Are we willing to accept humility in order to be spiritually rich?

Deeply and prayerfully ask yourself these questions today as we prepare our spirits to look honestly at ourselves as we move forward.

Prayer: Ask God for true and honest humility in your life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Isolation for Preparation 2

Deuteronomy tells the story of a God imposed isolation on the people of Israel. His chosen people were sent out into the desert to wander for forty years to learn to truly depend on God.

In Deuteronomy 8:2-3, we read that God purposefully lead his people into the wilderness for the purpose of proving himself to them. God used this place of isolation to develop their confidence in him as their God. They did not labor for their living, they simply believed God and received their living. There was no Wal-Mart in the wilderness, therefore they had to trust God for their food, clothing and care. God proved to them that he was their one and only "true source." They would never have received this revelation, without this time of separation and sanctification with God.

We also read that it is essential that they remember this lesson. When the time of isolation is over and they have the option of choosing many other types of food and living in much more comfortable surroundings, they must never forget that God is the source of what they truly need. This deep knowledge and trust in God is called faith. That is the kind of faith needed in times of difficulty and challenge.

Have you ever experienced a time of imposed isolation? Maybe you've lost a job, had a breakup with someone very dear, lost a loved one, moved to a new location. Maybe it is something wonderful like having children and losing alone time and couple time. That time of isolation might be a time of God preparing and positioning you to discover something about God that he cannot reveal to you while you are surrounded by other things. They might be distracting you from hearing and seeing the things he wants to show you. During this time of isolation, we discover things about ourselves that we otherwise would never have known.

Prayer: Take about three minutes to be quiet and ask yourself if you are experiencing an "imposed isolation." Ask God what you might need to make this a time of preparation.

Isolation for Preparation 1

There are times when God removes us from the routine of life so that he can spend some time with us. Without God "taking this time" with us, we would drift through our lives preoccupied and distracted by life, never pursuing the destiny and purpose he created us for. Because these places of separation are often uncomfortable, we resist them and conclude that God must be punishing us, when in reality He is preparing us through separation.

Have you ever had the experience of having limited use of your senses? When you have a cold it is difficult to smell, when it is very loud you rely on your eyes and gestures to communicate, etc. Deprivation in one area has been proven to lead to an enhancement in another. By isolating our senses we strengthen others. This is the type of isolation to which we are referring. Isolation from something that may be very good and helpful, yet may mask a weakness or underdevelopment in another area.

Try playing with isolating your senses. Close your eyes and try to identify sounds in the room. Determine how close or far away another person is just through sense of smell and touch.

Now, think about the most pressing influences in your life. Your "to do" list? Media? (facebook?) other people? What would you notice if you were isolated from these things.

Prayer: Spend some time with God today with your eyes closed and trying not to "tell" or "ask" God anything. Try to simply listen. Try to isolate your senses from other distractions for 5 minutes and see what you are able to "hear" from God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Safety - Day 12

Take today to reflect on the the week, or maybe the month, and see how your mind may have changed and grown from the beginning to now. Maybe skimming over the blogs will help you remember your journey.

Go over the change you have experienced and revisit and process the time. See if something else stands out to you this time. If you have experienced change, think about how much transformation you will experience in the future as you work on these issues. Sometimes taking some time and looking back on your growth can be an enormous encourager.

Prayer: Take this day to thank God for the work he is doing in you and the work he has planned for your future.

Safety - Day 11

Considering your thoughts from yesterday, let's start planning and placing emotional boundaries.

As we did with physical boundaries, look for the smallest and most impending emotional boundaries that you need to protect. Start easy and with situations that will be relevant soon, then use that momentum to start setting larger boundaries as you are ready.

While you are processing these things, think of your emotions as if you were given responsibility over them from your future self who is depending on you for their protection. In reality that future self is relying on you to protect them and make them a healthy, able person. You have a responsibility to work on these areas and own yourself and your emotions.

Prayer: Don't let failure frustrate you. Pray again for grace from God as you work through these difficult and confusing areas.

Safety - Day 10

Now let's look at emotional boundaries.

Our feelings are our own and we are responsible for them. Other people are not allowed to make us feel ways we shouldn't. We also aren't responsible for others feelings, but often we damage ourselves trying to be responsible for the happiness of others. If we try to make everyone happy then we can never move forward in transformation or anything else. In the end when we stand up and put our foot down, people may not like it, but they usually respect us in the end. Also, we are empowered and freed to movement in our lives.

How many times have you regretted not taking a stand where you knew you needed to? Many times we yield to someone else's will though we know that doing something different is the right thing. When we end up being part of the blame because we didn't do the right thing, we feel like we betrayed ourselves and we lose trust in our own decisions.

Where in your life do you allow people to effect your emotions or actions? Why is this? Is it because you respect the other person so much? Is it because you feel inferior to them? Is it because you want to avoid conflict? Really think about these things today. These are some of the most prevalent boundary violations in many people's lives and it often comes down to the strength of our identity.

Prayer: Pray that God would help you to be honest with yourself about the confronting the people and situations that effect your emotional boundaries.

Safety - Day 9

Revisit the physical boundaries that you processed yesterday and spend today thinking about where you need to put your boundaries to protect and free yourself. If you know that you are going to face a boundary soon, start with that one, especially if it is a small one. Maybe there is someone at work that you know you are going to have to deal with first thing in the morning. Starting with the small issues will help to build the confidence to deal with the larger issues.

Through out the week start expanding your physical boundaries to the larger issues. Some of them may take some forethought before you deal with them, so that you have realistic expectations, or are ready to deal with surprises that may present themselves.

Our physicality is our most obvious boundary, so it is good to start here as we begin to learn how to deal with boundaries, especially if we haven't really been good with this in the past.

Prayer: Pray that God with give you the strength and wisdom to place boundaries in areas where you have not had them.

Safety - Day 8

Spend today processing the physical boundaries that are currently being crossed in your life. You may not even know that boundaries are being crossed if you haven't learned too much about setting them. Even though you may feel the effects of them being crossed, sometimes we grow used to destructive forces and let them become a part of our lives and sometimes our foundations.

Our bodies are our own and are the first and most important boundary to protect. Think about people , things or situations that physically violate your space. Anything that happens to our bodies creating discomfort is probably crossing a boundary of some sort. The variety of these kinds of encroachments could span anything from, variations of physical abuse, to a crowding roommate, or a neighbor making too much noise at night, to a bad smell in your house.

Spend today identifying these crossed physical boundaries. Think of all parts of your life, large and small.

Prayer: Pray that God would help you to see where you need to learn to protect yourself.

Safety - Day 7

Last week we looked at negative presences in our lives and thought about how our lives would look replacing those with positives. This week we will learn a little about setting up boundaries to to help us interact between the two. Developing boundaries is essential to give ourselves a safe personal space to have movement, whether that movement is change, progress or just the freedom to be ourselves.

Can you think of places in your life where your boundaries, large or small were crossed? These could be small daily situations like someone talking our ear off and not respecting our time, or someone dictating to us how to raise our child, or dictating how we should function as an artist. On the opposite scale many of us have experienced physical, verbal or sexual abuse. How have these broken boundaries in your life effected you? How have they effected your beliefs, identity, attitude or abilities?

Prayer: Let God guide you in his grace to help you process potentially difficult memories in your life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Safety - Day 6

Now that we have processed our negative presences and envisioned a healthy place, think about the good, strong or healthy things that you do have in your life. Can you spend more time on these things to help displace the negative? Are there relationships that you know are good, but have not made a priority for one reason or another? Are there places you have wanted to go or things you have wanted to do but have let other, less important ventures, obstruct you from what you know is best?

As we have mentioned before, it is often healthier to focus more on replacing negativity with something good than to only focus on stopping the negative issues.

Prayer: Pray that God would help you identify and embrace healthy things in your life.

Safety - Day 5

Try to picture your life without the negative presences that you identified yesterday. Really try to visualize what your life would look like if all of your relationships were safe and affirming. What if you had the time you needed to reflect on yourself, journal, pray, or be alone doing something you enjoy. What if you felt comfortable in your own head without thinking about things you regret or things that you fear or hate.

The point here is to try and give ourselves an image of the place where we need to be, in order to deal with change, so that we can strive to be in that place. If we don't know what it looks like, then it can be harder to get there.

Prayer: Pray that God helps you to visualize his next step for you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Safety - Day 4

Today, identify unsafe or destructive presences that effect your area or areas of change. They may contribute directly as an obstacle, or simply create an environment where change is unsafe. Look first at the presences that may effect you physically or environmentally, then look at the presences that effect you emotionally.

These presences can be relationships, habits, jobs, beliefs, wall color, dirty rooms, influential messages, stressful pets, or even time drainers like tv, hobbies, or community involvement. Sometimes you can feel where these things effect you before you can actually know what they are. They might even be good things that need to take a back seat to other areas where you need to build or heal. Remember that you have much more to offer when you are a whole, healthy person than when you are struggling or hurt.

Prayer: Pray that God would help you look in the tiny areas of your life and thank him that he cares even for things we consider trivial.

Safety - Day 3

Sometimes just categorizing issues can help us process them in a different way and let us see more clearly the effects they have on our lives since different issues require different amounts of energy and time. As you have thought about areas of change, separate them into one of the following three categories to help you organize and prioritize your efforts.

Very difficult – Issues that are very severe such as things induced by traumatic events like abuse, or death.

Difficult – Issues which create significant stress in your life. These could be relational issues, job or financial problems for example.

Minor – Issues that are problematic or annoying but not very serious. These could be bad habits or everyday common obstacles. Minor issues can be deceptive as we can often ignore them or play them off as not serious enough to address, but they can add up to larger issues or become inflated in their difficulty when we have to deal with something far greater.

Prayer: Pray that God helps you to clearly see the effects of your issues on your life.

Safety - Day 2

As you thought about areas where you may need change yesterday, you may have been either excited or intimidated by tackling these issues. Often when we think about our progress, we hold to expectations that are too high which can create trepidation in our start or frustration in our failures along the way.

We will try to look at very realistic and practical ways to deal with change, so don't be worried. As we look at change, be realistic with yourself about what you need and where you will be. The more difficult issues are, the more time they take to work through, but every day offers the reward of improvement.

Look back at the issues you thought about yesterday and think about the grace you need to give yourself for each one as you move forward.

Prayer: Offer these issues to God and pray for his grace on them.

Safety - Day 1

We have heard many times that we can't save the world, but it may be more accurate to say that we can't save anyone. We can offer help, but it is up to each person to own their issues as much as they are capable. Unless we take responsibility for our own issues we will never experience transformation. Sometimes we are faced with change that we must face or ignore, but other times we need to seek out areas where change needs to occur.

Think about areas where you know change is needed in your life and what that change might look like. Also, think about issues that you have let live in your life without taking time to process them deeply enough to find where they begin.

To deal with deep change we must be very honest with ourselves about what needs work so that we can plan properly.

Prayer: Pray that God will help you own your issues and give you the strength to confront them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Foundations 12

Our beliefs are at the core of our person. Everything that we think about and act on is a result of what we believe. Our identity and passions all come from the importance we place on certain beliefs.

Today, think about everything you believe and offer it to God. Process these things and sort out why you believe the things you do and where you need to be stronger or more clarified.

Prayer: Pray that God would help you develop proper and realistic beliefs.