I love to take walks. Early summer mornings are my favorite time to walk. How about you? Do you like to walk in the rain? How about in the snow? God also liked to take walks. He met with Adam in the garden and walked with him. Like Adam, God calls us to walk with Him also…in love, light and wisdom. To do the study Walking in Love, Light and Wisdom, please click on the link.
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In the last blog post, we discussed four ways you could do this in 2012. After having some time to mull these over and maybe try a few of the suggestions, let’s look at the next four items on the list.
5. Choose a non-fiction Christian book to read that challenges you. Before you start reading this book, pray and ask that God will change you in the process. Ask Him to show you what you need to learn from this book, and pray that you would be open to making the changes God wants you to make. Stick with it, even if it’s slow going. Actively read the book. If the book is your own copy, this means you should write in the margins, highlight sections you want to remember, and make notes in the text. The more you interact with the text, the more of it you will take in. Try to repeat this process a few times this year. If you’d like a few book suggestions, you could start with one of these:
6. Schedule a retreat at a retreat center. Do this with a group from your church, some of your friends, or take a night or two or three by yourself at a retreat center and spend some time with God in prayer. I know you spend time in prayer at your own home, too, but there’s just something different about getting away to a retreat center that you can’t duplicate elsewhere. First of all, when you’re away from home, you can’t be distracted by all the work you think you should be doing at your house. You’ll be able to use the time to completely disengage from the responsibilities of child care, cleaning the house, or doing the laundry–guilt free.
Secondly, retreat centers have resources for you to take advantage of like prayer labyrinths, chapels, libraries and even classes for you to take. Try it. You’ll love it. Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn from the weekend. Be sure you write down what you are learning and where you go from here. You can use the following link to help you find a retreat center near you, searching by your state: Retreat Finder. Keep in mind that not all of the sites listed are Christian, so research the listings before you make a reservation. I even found a site close to my house that does not charge a set fee–it’s on a donation basis!
7. Begin a new spiritual discipline in your life. Have you ever wanted to explore fasting? Or perhaps you have an interest in journaling, or maybe the discipline of self-examen has piqued your interest. Spend some time learning about a discipline and then begin to incorporate it into your life. Both Dallas Willard and Richard Foster have classic books available on the disciplines, and either book would be a good place for you to start learning.
8. Begin praying through the World Watch List of the 50 most hostile, restrictive countries in the world (to Christianity). Open Doors USA compiles this annual list. Click for the 2014 version.
I’m excited about living a life of purpose in 2012. I wonder how God will change me through this process. Have you tried any of the suggestions yet, or are you planning on doing one soon? If so, we’d love for you to leave a comment and tell us about it.We’ve got four more suggestions to go, and Mary is going to cover those in the next blog post.
Until then, pray on!
These words have been ringing through my mind today as Christmas draws near, and it’s more than the obvious reason that I’ve heard this Christmas carol on the radio or that Christmas is only five days away. Much more. God has been readjusting my vision this Christmas.
Christmas 2011 will be a different Christmas for us. It’s the first Christmas that we won’t have both of our children with us. For the past 23 years, the four of us have always been together to celebrate. We have our traditions, our special things that we do together as a family to welcome Christmas Day. They’re very much a part of what makes Christmas Christmas for me. Maybe too much so?
As many of you know, our son Jesse is on a walk across America to raise money for the burn center at Riley Hospital for Children where he was a patient in June of 2010. Three months ago when Jesse decided to do this walk, I thought surely he couldn’t be meaning to miss Thanksgiving, his birthday and Christmas. Could he? When I asked Jesse this over the phone, he said, “Mom, how is that going to look if I fly home for Christmas when people are sponsoring me, and I’m supposed to be walking across America?”
The reality that I knew was coming but had been avoiding thinking about had arrived. With the certainty that Jesse would not be home and possibly not Amber either as she now has her fiancé and his family to consider for Christmas plans, I was forced to look at where I was getting my real joy for Christmas from. Was my joy coming from my perfect plans all going according to schedule, or was it from the gift of Jesus in my life?
As I have had to adjust my perception of celebrating Christmas, God has been shifting my focus to where it should be. The priceless gift of having Jesus as my King is coming clearly into focus. To know that He is with me each day in the nitty-gritty good-and-bad that makes up my life is what God is showing me I should be celebrating.
I’m wondering what your Christmas will look like. Maybe you’re struggling through a painful divorce. Perhaps you’re hooked up to a chemo IV. Or maybe you’re blessed this year to have all of your family with you. Whatever your life is or wherever you are this year, Jesus is there. And that’s Something to celebrate.
O Come let us adore Him …