Category Archives: Gratitude

Stop In Your Tracks!

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“Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.” Oprah Winfrey

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise woman! And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

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We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

Job, are you listening?  Have you noticed all this?  Stop in your tracks!  Take in all of God’s miracle-wonders!

Job 37:14, The Message

From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much, He wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.  He’s a cultivator.

Don’t believe me?  I have a dare for you this week so I can prove it to you!  I want you to get outside this week and find things that meet the criteria listed below! Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” He created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring.

Regardless of the season, let him remind you that He is always good.

Keep on reading your Everyday Holy Devotional, sweet friends!  It is sooooooo good, isn’t it?!  We LOVE Melanie Shankle!  And check us out on Instagram and Facebook this week for some SUPER FUN extras!  Post your photos from this week’s dare using the #cultivatespm  tag and be entered to win a surprise!  😉

Peace, love, and SO much JOY!

Wendie

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The JOY of Gratitude! (She PERSISTED Week Two!)

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Gratitude Quote

Here’s a little Bible trivia for you. In scripture, how many times to you think God speaks to us about gratitude in the New International Version?  Well, according to a word count website, christianbiblereference.org,  it’s 340 times.

That’s third in frequency only to directives regarding love, which comes in at number one at 551 times, and fear at 366 times (one for every day of the year plus leap year)!

We understand the importance of love, of course. It’s the very fabric of Christianity and woven into our DNA!  And we can also understand the need to reassured about fear and anxiety and to be directed to trust God! But gratitude?  Why would it have such a prominent place in terms of scripture themes?

Dr. Robert Emmons (UC-Davis), has helped to open the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkely to not only scientifically study gratitude and its effects on us, but also to promote the practice of gratitude world-wide.

Emmons and his associates have scientifically studied some of  the positive effects of a regular practice of gratitude (practices range from keeping a written daily gratitude journal, recording gratitude in some other way [like the 365grateful.com project we read about last week in  our Flow Book:  The Book That Takes It’s Time] to simply thinking of three things you are grateful for at the end of the day). The first thing they discovered is that you can rewire your brain to be happier by simply recalling three things you are grateful for each day for 21-days.  It all has something to do with neurotransmitters and the chemicals and hormones and stuff!  Basically, gratitude actually rewires the neuro-pathways in the brain to help release more happy chemicals than in the brains of folks who do not practice.

In addition, they identified these seven benefits mind and body benefits to the regular practice of gratitude:

  1. Strengthens relationships and helps to make new ones
  2. Improves your physical health and motivates you to take better care of yourself (less illness, quicker recovery times, exercise more, eat better, see doctors on regular basis)
  3. Improves psychological health (lead to improved memory, happier outlook, and a diminishing of depressive feelings and anxiety)
  4. Increases empathy and decreases aggression behaviors
  5. Improves sleep (one study states that if you spend 15 minutes recalling things that make you thankful at the end of the day will help you sleep better, deeper, and longer that those who do not)
  6. Improves self-esteem and helps you become an encourager of others
  7. Increases your mental strength and fortitude and makes you more resilient in times of hardship

Those are some pretty powerful and peace-inducing changes you can make to your body and your mind, right?  But, spiritually speaking, what’s so special about being grateful, other than the politeness of saying thank you?

Phil 1 3-4 Card

 

Gratitude breaks down the barrier between the mind and the spirit and is a TRIGGER for joyful and worshipful prayer!  How awesome is that?!

When we feel a sense of gratitude for something God has provided, (and let’s face it, it all comes from God!) our spontaneous response is prayer!  We don’t thank God because it’s the polite thing to do.  We thank God because we can’t help ourselves!  It’s our soul’s response to His goodness and our reward is His joy in our hearts.

Ann Voskamp, in her book 1000 Gifts, dives into the spiritual significance of gratitude.  She traces it back to the Greek word, eucharisteo, which, in Greek, encompasses the words:  grace, thanksgiving, and JOY.  Hang onto that for a sec, because we will be circling right back to it.

There is something called cognitive dissonance and that is a psychological term that means you cannot think and believe two polar opposite things at the same time. Like, you can’t be proud of your work while simultaneously being ashamed of it.

So with that in mind, you cannot feel gratitude in the spiritual sense (which we now know means grace, thanksgiving, and joy) and ALSO be sullen, burdened, and angry.

 

I did an informal poll over the weekend and asked people, spiritually speaking, what could they use more of in their lives. Unanimous two responses?

Peace and joy.

Okay.  So let’s do a quick recap of what we already know:

  • Number one thing gratitude does for your mind? Brings you peace.
  • Number one thing gratitude does for you spirit? Brings you joy.

Looking for more peace and joy in your world? The answer is to practice gratitude.

But , this is not something we do quickly, nor should we treat it as a “to do item” on a list of chores! It’s not just:  “QUICK!  Name three things you’re thankful for – GO!” and be done with it. It’s something we do persistently, intentionally, mindfully, prayerfully.  As Ann Voskamp says, “It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation.  How long do you think it takes your soul to realize when your life is full?”

I Belong to Jesus Mug

THIS is where we start getting intentional about mindfulness:  what it is, why it’s important, what it does for you, and how to begin a practice of it.  Our readings this week will be on mindfulness and gratitude and we’ll be stepping into exercises from our books to help nurture it!  Click here to access the homework exercises and click here to access additional resources for this week!

Go enjoy your week, sweet friends!  And get into the gratitude groove! 

I am GRATEFUL for YOU!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  A Special Conversation with some special guests!  😉

 

simpl.if.I: Thank GOD! (Summer Series Week #9)

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There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as if nothing is a miracle, and the other is to live as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

OOOOOooooo! I LOVE that! Two different perspectives; and you get to choose which one you will use as the lens with which you live out your life here on Earth.

As for me? I’m choosing the “everything is a miracle” plan. It’s the one that leads us down the gratitude path, and in turn grants us the great gift of grace – day in and day out.

Did you know that before every miracle Jesus ever performed, he stopped and gave thanks to our Father in heaven?  Gratitude.

Here’s the thing, sweet friends. Gratitude works miracles when we actually take the time to notice gifts and blessings from God. In other words, the second we can see something meaningful – even the tiniest of tiny things, like a smile from a stranger – as a little taste of God’s goodness, it activates something in our spirit to experience gratitude. And in that split second when we begin to feel that gorgeous feeling of gratefulness, we feel compelled to pass it along to someone else. And when we pass it along to someone else, we begin this incredible cycle of grace that cannot be stopped or contained.

It pattern that sort of looks like this:

See/experience blessings –> Experience gratitude –>

Express Gratitude –> Experience Grace –>

Pass It On –> See/experience MORE blessings…

and so it continues!

I’m loving that!

Thank God Romans 11-33

Gratitude precedes miracles and deserves our thanks in return. Always. And gratitude deposits gobs and gobs of grace. Always.

Gratitude is the state of being in which we get to take a deep breath and see things through peace-filled eyes. It’s when we see something as big as sunset and sense how blessed we are to be so small in its presence. It’s when we feel something as simple as hug and realize the hugeness of love. It’s the privilege of praying for someone in need and knowing a God as big as ours already has it covered. And it’s being in awe of the fullness of eternal life through Christ, yet confidently knowing the reality of it is ours.

Gratitude begins with “thank you” and expands into “let me bless you, too”. It’s the experience of “pay it forward” boosted by the goodness of God, which creates miracles we could never imagine, let alone create by ourselves.

You and I are never at a loss for something to be grateful for – big or small. Remember what Albert Eisenstein said – it’s all in your perspective. So this week, let’s choose the lens that helps us to see that ALL things are miraculous and trust that God prepared them with goodness and blessing in mind, regardless of how it looks in the moment.

Let’s spend our week focusing on blessings and giving thanks to God for all He provides. And when you really notice the miracles in your midst, you might find yourself surprised in how you, in turn, begin blessing others!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today to amplify your attitude of gratitude):

  1. Find/print today’s mantra-scripture card for this week! Focus on the words and remind yourself that you have a choice on how you see life – miraculous or not!
  2. Here’s a fun exercise from our book for the summer by Max Lucado, before amen: take a sheet of paper and make a list from A to Z of things you are grateful for! Get your friends and family involved in the process and don’t stop until you have a list of blessings that make you smile at God’s faithfulness and goodness in your life!
  3. Go back through all our mantra/scripture cards from our series so far. Which ones still resonate with you? What moved you the most throughout our series?
  4. Check out this very cool song from Dara McLean “Nobody Like You”!

Following along with before amen? If so, it’s time to read Chapter 8 and complete the study guide at the back of the book!

Beautiful friends, next week we bring our summer series to a close. We cannot thank you enough for your support and encouragement this year with our simpl.if.I series. It’s been life changing for our team and hope it has been for you, too!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie and the Stringing Pearls Ministry Team

Up Next Week: simpl.if.I week 10: Be Happy!

How to Please God, Not People!

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After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect in your own human effort?  Galatians 3:3, NLT.

I thought today we could have a little talk about expectations.  The great ones.  The not-so-great ones.  And the really wacky ones, too.

expectations

Because we all do it.  Create some crazy expectations, I mean.  Not only do we place them on ourselves, but we place them on others, too, even without their knowledge!  Sometimes people put them on us, as well.  And the end result just never is a good one when we do that, is it?

Holley Gerth writes about expectations in her book, You’re Already Amazing.  She says,

Expectations are laws we place on ourselves and each other.  Yep.  Laws.  And expectation equals ‘You must do X or you will be punished in some way.’  Oh , the punishment might be subtle – rejection, guilt we lay on our shoulders, a look across the room that lets us know we didn’t measure up.  No one is going to throw us in jail.  But consequences of the heart can seem even more frightening.”  Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing, copyright 2012.

You know what she’s talking about, right?  It’s like expecting yourself to plan the perfect party and even though you just feel too burnt out to do it, you end up doing it anyway because you “always” have and you’re afraid of disappointing others if you don’t. And the sad result is that you miss a million little things at home and your family suffers because of it and you can see it in how they look at you…

Or you expect that your husband can read your mind and that this year, for your birthday, he’s going to get you that beautiful handbag you’ve been eyeing in a local boutique window.  Only you never told him about it.  So you get an umbrella and an iron instead because he thought that’s what you needed.  And your heart hurts because you think he just doesn’t know you like you know him so you give him a little bit of the cold shoulder treatment…

I could go on and on here, but you get my point.

Thankfully, there are scriptures that gives me great hope in times of failed expectations.  Check them out and see if they don’t just give you a little lift, too:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, TNIV).

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

You see, here’s the difference:  YOU put those expectations on yourself and on others.  God didn’t.  We know from Matthew 11:28-30 that Jesus promises to never put anything “heavy” on us.

And we know from another scripture verse that God only expects three things from us:  to do what’s right through self-control from the Holy Spirit, to treat others like we want to be treated, and to be humble as we walk with Him without taking ourselves so seriously!  (Micah 6:8) That’s it!

Any expectation placed on us BY GOD always comes with the assurance that we are not expected to complete it alone, without His guidance and support.  Scripture is very clear on that!

And, if He wants it to get done, it’s gonna get done, honey:

The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” (Isaiah 14:24, TNIV).

This TRUTH frees us up from the “expectation-chain-gang” and grants us peace.  GOD’S peace, not just a little respite from the “chaos of daily life” kind of peace.  We’re talking “everlasting life, secure-in-Him-no-matter-what-is-happening-around-us kind of peace”!  Can you even imagine being so free to feel that?!  Isn’t that what we crave?!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

He wants nothing more than to displace worry at the center of our lives (Philippians 4:6-7)!  Because THEN, sisters, THEN we get down to the business of HIS expectations for our lives, not our own!  And that’s a lot more life-giving than trying to live up to the expectations (real or perceived) of this world!

Life events will come and go whether they “live up to” all the expectations others associate with them or not.  Why not spend the time enjoying the them as they happen instead of holding onto expectations out of the fear of not meeting up to your skewed sense of what ought to be?

Let. Them. Go.  You have His permission.

love all please one

Love all.  Please One.   

Let’s make that our new motto.  Who’s with me?

Now THAT is a Best Yes Decision!

And speaking of The Best Yes, next week is a “catch up” week!  So spend the next week making sure you’ve read through chapter 15 in the main book.  If you are also doing the study guide, you should be through session 5 by this time next week!

I hope and pray you all have enjoyed a spring break of some kind or another, and that you had a most blessed Easter with those you love!  See you here next week, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and joy!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  Word to the Wise (or NOT so wise) About Boundaries

We Are the Inmates Running the Asylum (and how gratitude graciously lets us off the hook)

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“The inmates are running the asylum!”

Have you heard that one before? It basically means that the least qualified and most incompetent people are in charge.

Um, yeah. Not such a good idea…

We humans are sort of insanely egocentric, aren’t we? I mean, we can really convince ourselves that all the good that comes our way is the result of our own effort and deservedness, while all the bad that happens to us is simply the fault of someone else (yes, even God). We love pointing fingers…while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back.

I include my own self in that mix, by the way. I’m totally guilty of the same behavior. The second something goes wrong, I can easily shake my fist at God and say, “What were you thinking? This isn’t what I had in mind! This situation belongs to someone else – I don’t deserve it!”

Then again, when something fantastic comes my way, I can also be quite quick to say, “Look at me! Look what I did! It’s all about me!” with little (if any) praise being sent up to my Father in Heaven who surely is the One who blessed me with the gift.

At the end of the day, this level of egocentricity just leads us to comparison, criticism, and discontentedness.

Dissatisfaction with the life and circumstances we’ve been given, added to our human tendencies toward jealousy and envy (not to mention dealing the realities of living in an imperfect world) can easily lead us into a good, long pity party.

I don’t want to run that insanely pride-filled asylum anymore, do you? It’s too tiring to remember all the lies that go with it.

The remedy to this egocentric life of pride is gratitude.

Gratitude, in all situations, leads us to love, joy, and humble satisfaction because – by immersing ourselves in thanksgiving – we eliminate the temptation to compare and criticize.

Placing our focus on the Creator and getting it off the “creation” helps to develop awe, reverence, and THANKFULNESS!

Romans 9 20

I don’t need to compare; to wish my life was the same as someone else’s. I ALSO don’t need to be criticizing the life I’ve got! Does the thing that is created look at the creator and say, “This isn’t good enough. I want it to be bigger and better! I want to have more, to be different…”?

Who am I to tell God He didn’t get it quite right, that His timing is off, or that what He has created and given me just isn’t how I envisioned my life to be?

I’m not the one who willed this world into being. I don’t tell the sun where to come up in the morning and again where to set at night. I do not have the first clue how to command armies of angels. (See Job , chapters 38-42, for this amazing “schooling” from God about who actually rules the Universe – spoiler alert: it isn’t us…!)

Job 42 1

Let’s move toward an attitude of gratitude together. Let’s give the glory back to the one who gave it to us in the first place, no matter what that glory looks like through our human eyes. Let’s build on our reverence for God, by adding intentional gratitude to it!

“Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Miracles

If we learn to live with gratitude, the miracle of grace begins to seep into every corner of our lives and transforms our discontent into joy and peace. It melts pride into humility. It clothes insecurity with the merciful confidence of Christ. It takes that frenetic “need to control” feeling out of our hands, and places it back into the only Capable Hands that it ever belonged – God’s.

Sweet, fellow “inmates”, this earthly life we are living can often feel insane. I know. But let’s spend some serious time being grateful that what we’ve been given is seriously good, and that the “Someone” in charge is way better for the job than us!

Oooo, I need to pray:

Father, I am so glad and grateful that you are in control. I am sorry for those times when I try so hard to take the reins of my life away from you and then mess it all up. I am so grateful that You have it covered, that nothing surprises You, and that Your grace and mercy are infinite in abundance. I need it, Lord, and I need You. Thank you, Father, for your love, Your kindness, Your blessing, and Your covering. Help me remain grateful that, regardless of my circumstances, You call me Yours. Forgive me when I neglect to see the beauty and blessings around me and I pray you would bring them to my mind when my pride and complaining get in the way. I love you. In the gracious name of Jesus, Amen.

Let’s end today with a beautiful song about putting our pride aside, and giving the glory to God.  Here’s the JJ Weeks Band – “Let Them See You”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgho0_JRetk

(I hope you enjoyed this re-blog, edited slightly from the one that originally posted here on February 27, 2014!)

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my dears.

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Butterfly Effect!

The Days I Always Dread

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“Sunday Night Syndrome”.  It’s honestly a real thing.  I don’t make this stuff up.  (Plus, Google says it’s real so I’m going with it… 😉 )

But seriously, I do believe it’s actually a REAL deal of a psychological phenomenon.

It’s that “blue-ish” kind of feeling many of us get on Sunday evenings (or ANY evening, really) as the fun and relaxation of the weekend comes to an end and we get ourselves back into “go” mode for the work week/school week, or whatever kind of week you might be dreading!

Know what I’m talking about?!

I’ve been known to experience it from time to time, especially around the time an elongated vacation comes to an end (as in:  summer vacation) or even the end of a special time I’ve spent with people I care about (as in:  the last day of Bible study).

That’s where I find myself today – feeing the blues – because today is the final day of our Fall 2014 Bible study series:

Seeing the Big Picture Romans Logo

So, yeah.  I’m feeling a smidgen “blue”.

I know, I know.  “All good things must come to an end”, and all that.

And yes, I know that we’ll start up again after the holidays have come and gone.  But it doesn’t change the fact that, today, I’m sad.

But here’s the crazy thing.  I’m also elated!  I’ve seen friends grow exponentially through the study of this amazing book of Romans.

I’ve watched as light bulbs went on in the spirited minds of people in our study because of Paul’s honesty and willingness to share from his heart.

I’ve witnessed moments of faith, steadily maturing, as we full-on dove into God’s Living Word and let it change us from the inside out.

I’ve listened as people told stories of sharing insights with their families and friends (even in the grocery store!); I’ve been amazed at stories of spouses sharing back their own experiences.

And I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for a Father in Heaven who so graciously gives us exactly what we need, when we need it.

A God who speaks to us in inspired words penned 2000 years ago, yet still somehow relevantly apply to our life situations today.

A God who hasn’t once left our sides, even when we veer directly off course, and shines the light back on the path to encourage us to come home.

So, even in the feeling of not wanting this to end, I’m realizing there is an abundance of joy in my soul!  There is evidence of change for the better; proof of His faithfulness, grace, and mercy; and a hopeful sense of anticipation for what’s next!  Listen to this:

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.  Romans 8:15, MSG

So, my friend, maybe you’re like me today and facing the end of something you treasure.  Well… take heart!  God promises that if we stick close to him, something equally amazing (OR POSSIBLY EVEN BETTER) is right around the corner.

dont-cry-because-its-over-smile-because-it-happened

Experiences with our awesome God change us for the forever better, sweet friends.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to participate in them.  They exist all around you:

Join a Bible study; plug in to your local church; GO FOR A WALK; listen to some great music.

PRAY.

Have lunch with a friend; read a great book; hug your dog.  Take a warm bath; write a letter to someone special; or simply BE STILL.

Let’s encourage each other not to dwell on endings, but instead, seek out new beginnings with God.

He’s waiting!  Go find out what He’s got up His sleeve for you.  I guarantee it’s gonna be good.

And speaking of GOOD

Even though this session of Bible study has come to an end, we are already gearing up behind the scenes to get ready for our NEXT one beginning in early 2015 – and it’s pretty awesome!  We’ll be announcing it soon right here.  In the meantime, beginning next week, we’ll be moving our posting schedule back to Tuesdays.  And not only will we be posting cool new stuff, but we’ll also be reprising some of our most popular posts from the past!

Thank you for your friendship, your comments, your insights, and your encouragement as we journeyed with Paul through his letter to the Romans!  I loved every second of it and sure hope you did, too!

One last song before we go, tho!  Check out this video for “Start a Fire” by Unspoken!  It’s the perfect anthem for our God-ignited souls!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Beauty of Saying Thank You!

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due!

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We all like a little “atta-girl” or “atta-boy” every now and again, don’t we?  You know what I mean, that satisfaction we get when we’ve been acknowledged for a job well-done, right?

One of my favorite little treasures in the book of Romans relates directly to this and is tucked into one, small line, near the end of this glorious book.  Check this out:

I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers. Romans 16:22, NLT

Wait…who is Tertius?”, perhaps you’re saying right now.  “I thought Romans was written by Paul, not a ghost writer!”

Romans was written by Paul.  But Paul had a scribe who wrote his words as he, himself, spoke them to be recorded! And, joy of all joys, Paul gives Tertius a little “shout-out” in at the end of the book!

Romans 16 - 22

Imagine being the amenuensis of a great man like Paul. Being given the important task of writing down his words that will be passed along (and unbeknownst to him at the time, passed down and cherished for thousands of years). Yes, the words are Paul’s, as inspired in his spirit by the Holy Spirit. But historical evidence and several Biblical commentaries shows that he had a scribe here, and his name was Tertius!

His name  – Tertius – means third. And Biblical commentators speculate that gives credence to the fact that he must have been a freed slave, quite possibly redeemed (remember that word from our Grace of God section – all debts paid in full and set free?!) by Paul.

Tertius.  I’d like to suggest to you that we are all a Tertius of sorts to our amazing God. First, our debts have been paid and we are free – thank you Jesus!

And second, just like Paul allowed Tertius to acknowledge himself, we, too, are given tasks and calls to carry out, encouraged to let our own gift – our own light, if you will – shine – and, as long as we give the glory to the gift giver, He will also give us credit in return – give us a Romans 16:22 moment of our own and a heartfelt, well-deserved “way to go”, too.

I was thinking about this idea of giving credit where credit is due, especially as it relates to the gifts God gives us. The longer I do this job, the more excitedly aware I am that God wired me to do this. He graced me with a gift to teach His word to others through speaking and writing. And the more often I speak and teach, not only here on this blog, but also other places, too, I get a lot of love and accolades.

I won’t lie to you – it feels great to be praised, you know?   But the one thing I always try to do when someone tells me I’ve given a good lesson or created a great handout, or explained something they didn’t understand before, I pray that I consistently remember to say that it’s not me – it’s GOD working through me. The glory belongs solely with Him.

This is an important point of clarification, because it’s due to the Giver of the gift (and in my case the spiritual gift is one of teaching) that I’m able to do what I do. In other words, God gifted me with the ability to teach His word, therefore, the glory that I am using it (and hopefully using it well) goes to HIM, not me.

What’s your gift?  Are you ever tempted, in the name of humility, to deny any credit you get for using it well?  Did you know, that by denying it or shrugging it off, you’re actually “hiding it under a bushel”?!  I’m not telling you to go shout it from the mountain tops that you’re a rock star of CPA, the world’s best salesperson, or the coolest mom on the planet (even though I’m totally sure you are!)!  But I AM telling you not to belittle it when it’s been acknowledged by someone else.

Why?  Because it’s the perfect opportunity to you to practice giving credit where credit is due!  When you’re walking in that sweet spot of what God called you to do, you WILL do it well, and people will notice!  And that’s the best time for you to share the Giver of your gift to those around you. Accept kudos with grace, all the while giving glory to God for wiring you that way!

No matter WHAT you do, it matters.  Be excited that God created you for THIS!

Are you one of our Bible study peeps?!  If so, you KNOW this is our very last section of Romans – darn it all!  I want you to finish STRONG, sweet things.  You can click here for your FINAL week of Seeing the Big Picture homework, AND to an amazing tune by Francesca Battistelli that reminds us no matter what it is we do, we are FAMOUS in our Father’s eyes:  “He Knows My Name”.  You will LOVE it!!

Have a great week! See you here next week as we wrap up our fall season of Bible study…and maybe even a fun surprise!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Day I Always Dread

 

We Are the Inmates Running the Asylum (and how gratitude graciously lets us off the hook)

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“The inmates are running the asylum!” Have you heard that one before? It basically means that the least qualified and most incompetent people are in charge. Not a good idea…

We humans are sort of insanely egocentric, aren’t we? I mean, we can really convince ourselves that all the good that comes our way is the result of our own effort and deservedness, while all the bad that happens to us is simply the fault of someone else (yes, even God). We love pointing fingers…while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back.

I include my own self in that mix, by the way. I’m totally guilty of the same behavior. The second something goes wrong, I can easily shake my fist at God and say, “What were you thinking? This isn’t what I had in mind! This situation belongs to someone else – I don’t deserve it!”

Then again, when something fantastic comes my way, I can also be quite quick to say, “Look at me! Look what I did! It’s all about me!” with little (if any) praise being sent up to my Father in Heaven who surely is the One who blessed me with the gift.

At the end of the day, this level of egocentricity just leads us to comparison, criticism, and discontentedness.

Dissatisfaction with the life and circumstances we’ve been given, along with our human tendencies toward jealousy and envy, and the realities of living in an imperfect world, can easily lead us into a good, long pity party.

I don’t want to run that insanely pride-filled asylum anymore, do you? It’s too tiring to remember all the lies that go with it.

The remedy to this egocentric life of pride is gratitude.

Gratitude, in all situations, leads us to love, joy, and humble satisfaction because we eliminate the temptation to compare and criticize.

Romans 9 20

I don’t need to compare; to wish my life be the same as someone else. I ALSO don’t need to be criticizing the life I’ve got! Does the thing that is created look at the creator and say, “This isn’t good enough. I want it to be bigger and better! I want to have more, to be different…”?

Who am I to tell God He didn’t get it quite right, that His timing is off, or that what He has created and given me just isn’t how I envisioned my life to be?

I’m not the one who willed this world into being. I don’t tell the sun where to come up in the morning and again where to set at night. I do not have the first clue how to command armies of angels. (See Job , chapters 38-42, for this amazing “schooling” from God about who actually rules the Universe – spoiler alert: it isn’t us…!)

Job 42 1

Let’s move toward an attitude of gratitude together. Let’s give the glory back to the one who gave it to us in the first place, no matter what that glory looks like through our human eyes. Let’s build on our Reverence to God, by adding Intentional Gratitude to it!

(Intentionally Thank Him is our “I” in our RISE acronym! Click here to refresh yourself on “Revere God, and click here to read all about “Intentionally Thank Him“!)

“Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Miracles

If we learn to live with gratitude, the miracle of grace begins to seep into every corner of our lives and transforms our discontent into joy and peace. It melts pride into humility. It clothes insecurity with the merciful confidence of Christ. It takes that frenetic “need to control” feeling out of our hands, and places it back into the only Capable Hands that it ever belonged – God’s.

Sweet, fellow “inmates”, this earthly life we are living can often feel insane. I know. But let’s spend some serious time being grateful that what we’ve been given is seriously good, and that the “Someone” in charge is way better for the job than us!

Oooo, I need to pray:

Father, I am so glad and grateful that you are in control. I am sorry for those times when I try so hard to take the reins of my life away from you and then mess it all up. I am so grateful that You have it covered, that nothing surprises You, and that Your grace and mercy are infinite in abundance. I need it, Lord, and I need You. Thank you, Father, for your love, Your kindness, Your blessing, and Your covering. Help me remain grateful that, regardless of my circumstances, You call me Yours. Forgive me when I neglect to see the beauty and blessings around me and I pray you would bring them to my mind when my pride and complaining get in the way. I love you. In the gracious name of Jesus, Amen.

Let’s end today with a beautiful song about putting our pride aside, and giving the glory to God.  Here’s the JJ Weeks Band – “Let Them See You”:

Enjoy the week, sweet friends! See you here next week!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: Keep On Truckin’