Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Resource List for the New Year

Resource List for the New Year

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

As we consider potential goals for this upcoming new year, the following simple questions can help us develop an appropriate, Christ-centered mindset with which to evaluate how we choose each one:

Will this help me to be the man or woman God intends for me to be? Does it align with God’s Word?

If you can answer yes to these two questions, my advice is to prayerfully proceed with the planning required to meet your goal, and may they prosper and succeed through the grace of Jesus Christ.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

In hopes of encouraging and supporting you as HDD readers, I wanted to comprise a quick resource sheet that could serve as a blessing as you set any of a variety of goals.

1. If you’re in the Atlanta area and are looking to become a healthier, confident, and more positive person, then it may require the support of Christian counseling. You will be amazed at the amount of joy and freedom that comes from confronting and releasing our past hurts and trauma. Trust me, I can attest to this from personal experience. Here’s a great (and affordable) place for you to get started:

The Hope Counseling Center

2055 Mount Paran Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

404-266-0695

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

2.  If you’re interested in learning something new (maybe in a subject that has always interested in you), or want to sharpen a specific skill, then why not take a free online course this year at a highly ranked university? I’ve recently taken incredible courses in entrepreneurship and food economics, all at no cost. Now could be the time to sign up and expand your knowledge base.

Coursera – The World’s Best Online Courses for Free

https://www.coursera.org/

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15 

3. Become more financially savvy. Every person I know has some sort of financial goal, whether it’s creating a budget, saving more, paying off debt, or becoming more generous. All of those goals are related to money, and developing financial wisdom is a must. You can check out Crown Financial for a plethora of free online tools, great articles, and additional resources. I am a huge fan of understanding the biblical reasoning behind financial strategies, and this ministry will give you just that. Their topics cover everything from choosing a career to establishing an estate to dealing with bankruptcy.

Crown Financial Ministries

http://www.crown.org/

“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

4. Develop intentional, healthy, and mutually edifying relationships with others. If this is your goal, let commend you because it is extremely wise and ever rarer in our culture. Check out these books for some incredible insight and advice (whether you’re married or single).

“Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

“Safe People” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” Galatians 5:14

5. Develop a stronger, healthier body this year by incorporating a few new items into your diet:

1. One tablespoon of Arctic-D Cod Liver Oil each day can give your brain a powerful dose of mental clarity and stamina, your body a boost of energy, and your heart a smile, all while cleaning out your arterial walls from plaque (caused by cholesterol);

2. Chia seeds serve as an incredibly quick source of fiber (and they are a great tonic for your large intestine), amino acids (protein so it helps fill you up quick), and a load of vitamins and minerals so your cells work quicker to repair themselves and communicate (giving you more energy and a stronger immune system). All you need is 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds in your food, a smoothie, or your juice.

3. A probiotic, such as Bluebonnet’s Acidophilus plus FOS, can serve as that “ounce of prevention” you may need against illnesses. A single serving will  deposit over 3 billion viable microorganisms in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that will bad bacteria in check, keeping your body strong. Recent studies have shown that over 85% of illnesses can be attributed to a poor GI tract.  If you are prone to diarrhea or constipation, this is also a great option because it helps maintain a nice balance of microflora, keeping your large intestine and colon clean.

4. Finally, I would suggest glyconutritional supplements, which have proven to be incredibly beneficial in my own health. They’re made from organic vegetables and fruits (including the super food aloe vera), making them super convenient if I miss my day’s worth of fresh salad. Highly potent, they only need to be consumed once per day (in powder form) and provide a noticeable increase in energy and body strength. You can find it in the link below.

http://us.mannatech.com/

In addition to these suggestions, check your BMI to accurately set weight loss goals and know how many calories to consume each day in order to lose the pounds you are desiring. For example, let’s say I am 5″5 and weigh 165 pounds, and want to lose 15 pounds in the next 6 months. This is a healthy goal, but will require a consistent eating regimen and some exercise.

With the info I provided above, my BMI would be about 27.4, which is overweight (normal is below 25). The approximate caloric intake required to maintain this weight would be 2204 calories per day. In order to lose on average 3 pounds per month, I will need to cut my daily caloric intake from 2204 calories to roughly 1700 calories. Because 1 pound of fat contains 3500 calories, I’ll lose about one pound a week to reach my goal. Take the time to strategically plan so that your goals can be successfully achieved. Here are some links that can help you determine your metrics:

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2

6. Develop your character this year by learning to make incredibly wise decisions. Wisdom that teaches us to fear the Lord, and wisdom brings forth wealth and long life. The entire book of Proverbs located in the B-I-B-L-E is  seriously worth reading, re-reading, and re-reading again. It’s an incredible manual for making very wise, healthy, and God-honoring choices.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:13-18

7. Grow in your God-given strengths. And encourage others to grow in theirs as well. Check out Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton. Whether you’re the parent of one child or a corporate executive with a staff of twenty, this book will help you produce greater results by focusing on what God has already gifted others with, rather than trying to meticulously fix the weak links in their personalities. This resource has served as a personal eye opener that has strategically forced me to improve what I already do well, instead of wasting energy on the things that I don’t naturally like to simply become mediocre at everything.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 

Here’s to our personal improvement this upcoming new year! (Through the grace of Jesus Christ, of course!)

Photo provided by theatlantic.com

Repost: Failing to See the Big Picture

***I felt this post was one that needed to be re-shared today. Hope it encourages your heart and draws you close to the Father’s heart. May His will be done.

Failing to see the Bigger Picture

As much as I wish this were not true, I often fail to see the bigger picture. Whenever I become too focused on how I believe events should transpire, I’m left feeling disappointed.

Time and time again, I’m baffled at how similar my mindset can be to the ancient nation of Israel. These chosen ones await the coming of their Messiah and King through a lens of their own design. Despite thinking they have God all figured out, the Messianic prophecies are fulfilled far differently than they can even imagine. In the same fashion, I can take the promises of God, prophetic words straight from His mouth, and build a kingdom of assumptions – of lofty, unrealistic expectations.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

“The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:11

Having the thought that my plans are equal with God’s makes me cringe in utter dismay.

When you take a step back, it may be obvious that elevating our plans to the level of God’s is sacrilegious or profane. However, in the moment, as we live our lives, we can easily become mixed up. My hope is to help others avoid making the same mistakes I have made.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very  nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2: 5-8

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

As human beings, we like to think we’re in control. Even if it means interfering with the plans of God.

Peter is a great example of this very point.

He and Jesus are tight. In fact, Peter vows to love Jesus and follow Him well into eternity. He’d do anything for Jesus, but the moment the Lord states that His time on earth is coming to an end, Peter interrupts to contradict Him. Then, of course, Jesus rebukes him for pushing his carnal opinion onto the will of God. Ouch!

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to lifePeter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’.” Matthew 16:21-23

I get it. I know how Peter must have felt because I have done the exact same thing. I reason with Jesus. I talk with Jesus. I laugh with Jesus. I include Jesus in my decisions. I am totally down for Jesus being my everything. But if He moves unexpectedly in a way that I don’t like (without even consulting me), then I become a pretty miserable person. In these moments I certainly need to lean on His abundant grace.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.”James 4:6

Because we’re close and intimate, I can start thinking that I should be able to figure Him out.

Or, more succinctly: if I could predict God, I can control Him. That’s a better way of saying it. This thought leaves a knot in my stomach and makes me shake my head in disbelief! Thankfully Jesus can change my heart and bring redemption. Praise be to Him!

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7-8

If God decides to carry out His promises differently than our expectations, we tend to resist Him.

Why? Because it means we were wrong. We’re hit with the sobering reality that, as limited human beings, we are utterly dependent on the hand of God. However, this is actually (and ironically) the BEST place we can be.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

In theory, it sounds great to depend on God. We know it’s the right thing to do, but when the outcome doesn’t transpire according to plan, it’s not so great. We’re hurt, we’re challenged, and we’re humbled. We must arrive at a deeper understanding of who we really are (limited and futile), and who God really is (omnipotent and everlasting).

God is sovereign and unpredictable. He’s also incredibly sweet, forgiving, gentle, and honest.

We truly can trust our Lord and look to Him for help.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” Psalm 40:3-4

May my lessons learned serve as a tool of encouragement for your heart today. Whatever God is speaking to you, trust Him. His timing is perfect, and He delivers on His promises better than anything we can imagine. Since we are so focused on the small things, I am thankful that He can see the big picture.

Photo provided by farm3.staticflickr.com
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boundaries and Alcohol Part 2

Boundaries with Alcohol Part 2

After yesterday’s three examples of wise boundaries in alcohol consumption, we will finish this segment today with one last point about drinking. May He alone receive the glory, and may His will be done in each of our lives as His invaluable children.

4. If you do choose to drink (and feel it’s a wise decision), what is your motive in drinking?

Are you seeking to make an investment in your health? Do you enjoy the taste and the experience? Or, are you trying to forget your problems? Are you trying to numb a broken heart? If you are downing shots of whiskey while professing Jesus as your King, a great question to ask yourself and bring to the Lord is “why am I truly doing this?” If our bodies belong to the Lord (as His temple), and we’re genuinely interested in loving Him, then why do we need an excess of alcohol flowing through us? What’s really going on here?

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,” 1 Corinthians 6:19

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” Psalm 104:14-15

Because alcohol is such a taboo topic in the South, its abuse is easy to characterize as sin. If you do struggle with alcohol right now, I want to encourage you with the perspective that if you had instead chosen to stuff your body with junk food or go on binge shopping sprees to cover up your hurt, it would all be equivalent to God. He is deeply interested in our hearts. As you present this question to Him on every occasion, don’t be surprised if, in His love, He says, “Not today. I don’t want you to drink any wine or eat any sugar today”. Again God sees the heart, which is His interest.

“To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” Isaiah 46:5

“Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!” Habakkuk 2:15

Many people ask me what and how I choose to drink. Because the Lord has given me a strong scriptural foundation in this area and His wisdom and peace regarding how to handle alcohol, I feel I can be very honest in my answers. Because of Him, I don’t need alcohol to relax, to lift burdens, or to find a place to put my trust and comfort. Jesus Christ alone deserves that right, and He alone has the power to direct my life. Never have I personally been drunk, nor do I have the slightest desire to be. My God is enough for me.

With my interest in global cultures, I do thoroughly enjoy tasting new wines and an occasional beer (especially while in Europe). I always share a single beer, and I never drink more wine than what is beneficial to my health. My palate loves to explore the flavors in a good glass of wine, especially Merlot and Pinot Noir. But I will not drink it every day, nor do I desire to consume in quantities that would cause me harm. Most importantly, however, is that the instant He tells me to stop, then my choice is to obey Him. He owns my will, my body, and my mind. And I trust that Jesus knows best.

Allow Him to be Lord over your decisions as you choose what is best for you. The purpose of writing these posts about alcohol has been a deep conviction the God has given me concerning the freedom of His beloved.  Freedom to make important choices, whatever they may be, with the guidance of His word and His counsel. May the Lord grant you His wisdom so that you may act in such a manner as to give Him all the glory.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  2 Corinthians 3:17

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

 

Photo provided by alansmithonline.com
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: