Selfies

self·ie

noun \ˈsel-fē\

:  an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.
We are a self-absorbed people. Everywhere we look or listen things are geared to our selfish desires.
For example, one chain restaurant has a jingle that encourages us to have “breakfast just the way I say”.
Years ago, a fast-food restaurant set itself apart by telling us to “have it your way”. No longer did we have to conform to ordering a standard sandwich but could choose our toppings at the drive-through.
And selfies have become a way of sharing where we are, what we are feeling, something new about ourselves, or just to say, “Hi – I’m still here!”
I’m not against selfies. I’ve taken a few, although I’m not very good at it. (there seems to be a talent to taking selfies that I don’t have)
selfies
It just got me to thinking. If we are always focused on taking the right photos of ourselves to share on social media could we be missing an opportunity to share something in our surroundings that might positively impact others or inspire them to look at their world differently?
As I pondered all of this I also realized that being focused on ourselves is not a new thing.
From the very beginning when Eve chose to eat the fruit that God instructed them to leave alone we have given up potential blessings because we do not look past the moment and our own desires.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.     Genesis 3:6
The next verse tells that when they ate the fruit their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. When they heard the Lord walking in the garden as He did with them each day they were frightened and tried to hide from the One they loved. By choosing what looked good to them at that moment and craving instant satisfaction from the food that didn’t last Eve and Adam were cast from the garden and faced consequences of pain, suffering and hard work the rest of their lives.

The Israelites are another example of selfishness that led to suffering. They grumbled  & complained on the way to the land God had promised them, thinking only of their present state and what they were lacking instead of the blessings God had for them at the end of the journey.

For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”  Psalm 95:10-11
The journey that should have taken 11 days (see Deuteronomy 1:2) took them over 40 years and only two of the people who were promised that land lived to reap the blessings God had for them there. Only Joshua and Caleb thought more about following God than their own desires and were the only two whom God allowed to cross into the land.
As Christians we are called to die to self.
I don’t think this means God denies us pleasure in things that we enjoy but rather that our focus should be on His desires for our lives and showing His love to others. By focusing outwardly on God’s creation or the good qualities in others our perspective changes. We are more open to God’s leading instead of being led astray by instant gratification.
Paul pointed out how easily we can be swayed in one of his letters to the Corinthians:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,
your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3
Sharing our lives with others helps us keep in touch and can be inspiring. We can encourage others by our accomplishments and help change their perspective on their own abilities and challenges. It is when we focus more on ourselves than our devotion to Christ that we risk running into trouble and possibly miss the blessings God has for us.
As this weekend begins I’m going to work on focusing outward and less on myself. Will you join me?
Blessings and peace to you…
Paula
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PRAY in Writing?

Do you keep a prayer journal?

Perhaps the term journal is too intimidating. We can call it a notebook, or even a list if you like.

However it is referred to, keeping a record of prayers can benefit you now and in the future.

But what is a prayer journal and how do we use it?

Each person is different in their style of recording. Some who journal every day mix prayers into our daily written visits with God. Some keep a spiritual journal that is separate from a prayer journal. Others keep a notebook that is a list of needs, wants, names and dates.

Since this is your prayer notebook YOU decide what it looks like. Make it as simple or complex as you like only be sure it has two key components.

A prayer request with a date and a space to record the date the prayer was answered.

That’s it!

You can write more if you want but these two pieces are important.

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Those who have kept prayer journals can share with you many benefits. Here are four to consider:

A prayer journal:

Preserves

Just as scrapbooks of photos and clippings of our lives preserve memories and remind us of our history, a prayer notebook preserves a history of our spiritual lives and a pattern of growth through the years. When we go back to our older journals we see where we used to be and how far God has brought us. We may see a change in focus as praying for ourselves and our wants matures into prayers for others and God’s guidance.

Reminds

As we record our hopes, dreams, plans and concerns for ourselves and others in our journal we are reminded that we are not alone in our walk with the Lord. Recording the needs of others as we pray for them reminds us both that we walk with other believers who share similar struggles and that our lives intertwine with unbelievers who need our prayers as well.

Keeping this record also reminds us to follow-up on requests and record how God has answered. We are reminded to never give up praying for others just as Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth.

Assures

A prayer journal assures us that there is nothing too big or too small for God to care about. Reflecting on our prayers and answers over time reinforces God’s faithfulness to us. He hears the prayers of those who are faithful to Him and loves to pour blessings out on His people. At times when we doubt we can look back and assure us of His goodness.

Yields

Recording our prayers and their answers yields growth and takes us deeper in our relationship with the Lord. As we watch God answer prayer after prayer we doubt less, believe more and walk closer to Him.

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So I ask you again: Do you keep a prayer journal/notebook?

If so, would you share ways it has impacted your spiritual life?

If not, would you consider giving it a try for a few weeks?

Don’t be intimidated, just start writing down what’s in your heart and the needs around you.

 

Blessings & Peace to you as you seek the Lord in prayer.
Paula

Feeling Far Away?

Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you found wonder in things all around you?

Simple things became magical, like splashing in mud puddles, blowing bubbles, or swinging. I could spend hours just exploring and finding things I hadn’t seen before. Sometimes I would just lay in the yard and look up at the clouds, thinking about how awesome it all was.

SwingHave you lost that wonder?

I sometimes do.

I get so used to seeing things around me and forget how our world is so full of wonder and how awesome is the One who created it all.

As the days flow into weeks and the calendar page is turned to another month I too often get caught up in the challenges of each day and sometimes find myself drifting away from God and all that He is.

My beliefs don’t change mind you, and I still have faith in Him, but honestly sometimes I find my prayer time becoming rote instead of real. Prayers begin to just get tossed out to Him as I go through my day instead of carving out time to just spend with Him, not asking or seeking, just adoring Him and listening for His voice.

Think about the earthly relationships that are important to you. I can guarantee the healthiest are with those you spend time with, communicate with and appreciate. These relationships aren’t all about you but instead are a two-way street, listening and caring about the other person more than about what you want for yourself.

And when time or circumstances prevent you from spending that time together you crave it.

Sometimes I forget that my relationship with God should be like this too.

When was the last time you craved time with God? Time to just sit with Him or walk with Him and soak up all that He is and the wonder all around you? Being quiet enough to shut out the world and the problems inside & out.

make time

Sometimes I wait too long and it becomes difficult to know what to say. I wonder if God still hears me or if I’ve waited too long between visits. I feel an uncomfortable distance and don’t know how to bridge the gap.

There are times I fear I’ve messed up too badly, disappointed Him or strayed too far from Him and He has distanced Himself from me too.

Never.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
    to all who call on Him in truth.

Psalm 145: 18

 

This doesn’t mean sometimes, or when He’s in a good mood. God is always near those who love Him but He also needs each of us to cultivate our relationship with Him and not take it for granted.

If you find yourself feeling a distance has grown between you and God I encourage you to go back to the basics. Remind yourself of the wonder of God all around you. Find the awe in each flower, the design of the clouds or how the raindrops fall. Think of how He created you – not how your body is not what it ought to be – only concentrate on the wonder of His creation.

Tap into your inner child and begin to thank Him for every little thing around you; even the fact that you can breathe.

As you thank Him, begin to add words of adoration. Don’t look in your bible, just speak from your heart. Tell Him how grateful you are for your life and how much you love Him. Don’t focus on your problems, or even your needs. Just focus on God.

It all seems too simple you say.

I’m beginning to think God never intended for it to be any other way.

Give it a try and let me know what you discover.

 

blessings & peace to you as you seek to know Him better…
Paula