Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

In His timing <3

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Happy Monday!

I put a load of laundry in this morning and it was a mixture of shorts and turtlenecks because the weather has been a mix of summer, fall and winter all rolled into one wild and crazy week. 

I want to catch my breath and process all the wondrous notes I have scratched down from the Declare Conference…before I can’t remember what I wrote. 

Because even I can’t decipher my handwriting after too much time passes. 

I have a note on our calendar for today that says “Did you send your _________?”

and honestly…

the word looks like chuus….

Since I can’t even come up with something I should have sent that remotely looks like that, I am going to have to assume I sent them…or I will just sit in the kitchen puzzling my puzzler all day and accomplish nothing.

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October is half over and if anyone can tell me how that happened, please…please…let me know. 

Thankfully the weeding that never got done is about to die off under the first frost of the year so I can check that off the To Do list. 

Life is busy and every single season is jam-packed. 

Recently I was laughing remembering a time when our three were in multiple sports and activities, choir, band, church…you name it…we did it.

Those were the days when I needed a spread sheet just to map out the car pools I was a part of.

One night, I grabbed what was left of my uneaten dinner and set it on the console of our van as I piled kids in the car. We were picking up a neighbor girl and headed to some kind of practice. 

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As she climbed in she glanced at the plate perched next to my elbow…my plan was to use stoplights and the inevitable blocked train crossing to try and consume the remainders of my meal. 

Her eyes were wide as saucers and I realized her mom was one of those who planned ahead…fed kids early on nights like this…didn’t hurtle through life with a flurry of papers and laundry following close behind her as she went. 

I believe it was in that moment that I decided…perhaps we have overcommitted. 

Perhaps it is time to reevaluate our quality of life and learn the importance of the word “No”

We have a million and one choices today for how we can spend our time. 

Only God knows the things He had planned for our day though. 

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Take time.

Seek Him first.

Write down all the ideas and the schedule and the plans.

But then lift them up to Him for clarity and purpose and direction.

Last week, I set out with my list of errands but I asked God to order them according to His plan for my day. 

As I worked through the list, there were several times I ended up in an unexpected place able to help someone else with their interrupted schedule. 

I managed to get all my tasks done, but even if I hadn’t …I would have been on His schedule. 

So much better. 

Always.

Be blessed as you start out your week. 

Seek Him…adjust…be flexible. 

It is the people along the way that matter most and yes, we have to balance maintenance of home and errands and practical things…

But check out what God’s mission was for you today and do it.

Do it as well as you can with the strength you have and by the way…

Come back tomorrow…

Please? 

<3

 

Look! There He is…<3

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Good morning!

Here in the Midwest the forecasters are using the S word…S.N.O.W.

It’s the second week of October and on Monday I was wearing shorts to walk around the block. What in the world?

The weather patterns are crazy and as Christians, we are called to pray for those who are weathering horrific results of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes…as well as the spiritual storms that are raging through homes and families and countries. 

We are told to heed the signs of the times and to speak boldly of what we know and believe. 

This morning I am on a portion of the opening of the New Testament accounts in the Chronological Bible and I stopped on this phrase with an Aha! moment. 

John 1: 35 & 36…The next day John (the Baptizer) was there again with two of his disciples.

When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.

Wow. 

Two things jumped out at me. 

The first one is the impact John had on his followers. 

He had to have lived out his daily life, done his ministry, spoken, acted, reacted in ways that had built a high degree of trust in his followers. 

When he said…

Hey guys, there He is.

That right there is the Lamb of God…

Messiah..

the One we have been waiting for….

they didn’t hesitate.

They took him at his word because he had not led them astray before. 

What he said could be taken at face value. 

What a powerful word for us today.

If you are a follower of Christ, all that you do and say matters to people you influence. 

It is not your perfection or impression or worldly success that matters. 

It is …

Your integrity. 

Your honesty.

Your consistency. 

In your walk with the Lord.

It’s your transparency and acknowledgment of your own humanity. 

It’s knowing you are not anyone’s savior…but you know the One who is.

And when you bring that one who has been “following” you to the place where you can say….hey…look…there HE is….

that you gladly and joyously allow yourself to become less…

so He can become more. 

So I ask myself today..

Who is “following me?”

And…

How am I leading them to Jesus?

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Good question to ponder…if you are looking for a place to start…join one of the area churches involved in the Tell Me More series or check firstdecatur.org sermon series <3

Go out and be transformed more into His image today …be blessed and I will see you next week <3

The “write” mindset….

It’s Friday! and I am able to say now that I survived a call to Jury Duty this past week. 

I didn’t put anything about it on the blog because my overactive imagination, that could probably come up with some decent thrillers worthy of a screenplay, was living in fear and dread that I would get put on some kind of controversial case and then I would have let all ten people who read this know I was serving on THAT jury. 

But I escaped unscathed and the closest I got to the courtroom was standing out in the hallway for a few minutes before they sent us back in to the waiting area. 

Whew. 

We were released around lunch time every day and I actually managed to have one of the most productive weeks of my year. Somehow knowing I may have to be sequestered at any moment the following day motivated me to get a lot done with whatever time I had. 

One day as I took a walk, I looked for some new podcast to listen to and stumbled upon a writing coach. Her contributions average ten minutes and that was about my attention span that day, so I listened to several as I made my way around the block. 

Her name is Ann Kroeker and her podcast is http://annkroeker.com/podcasts/

Truth is truth and one of the topics she covered was on busting the fear that you aren’t “good enough.” She talked about how it’s true…we are never going to reach perfection in writing, but we need to have the right (no pun intended) mindset. 

I found her words applicable to our faith walk as well and so I am sharing some of the nuts and bolts of her message. 

She said that we can struggle with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset can cause us to accept the place we feel we were meant to occupy OR it can hold us in a place of moderate success where we have become comfortable. 

But a growth mindset means we take the attitude of an apprentice who will never become a master of the craft – she took this from a quote from Hemingway about writing. 

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I certainly see how we can take those words and apply it to our walk of faith. 

It is easy to stop at any point of our journey and say, this must be as far as I can go so I will just camp here and scan the skies and wait for Jesus to come back.

Thoughts that fall into being stuck can look like:

I will never change. I will always be….fill in the blank with your deal.

This situation, person, dynamic in my life, family, workplace, community, church….will never change.

I am not gifted in that area, others do it so much better. Even though I feel a tug on my heart, I don’t have what it takes to serve there, go there, do that.

I can also think of times in my walk when I felt I had come pretty far and had reached good enough so became tempted to just camp out there. 

I have to say, God in His love and mercy has always made sure to interrupt me there and remind me He is not finished with me yet! 

It was encouraging to me as a writer to hear this coach remind me that I need to be always growing if I want to improve at something that matters to me. 

Hearing that growth means I will face new beginnings all the time and with each new effort comes a measure of some learning curve is to be expected. 

So I challenge myself and each of you to look at your walk with Christ and ask if a fixed mindset has sidelined you away from growing more into His image. 

We can become content and comfortable in our discontent or our moderate success. Stuck in a state of complacency with whatever we consider our potential growth in Him to be, we have in effect become the “master” of our spiritual life.

And as we know, always, you and I make lousy masters. 

So how about it?

How about putting on that apprentice hat and stepping out in a new level of faith today by asking God to teach you something new?

2 Peter 1: 5-8

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. NKJV

 

 

 

In the eye of the storm <3

As you know if you visit here often, this blog is 96.2% off the cuff every morning. 

Oh sure, there are rare occasions when I actually plan and write ahead…but those blissful days are few and far between.

So if you missed yesterday’s post, you may want to hop back and read that or this one stands not a prayer of making sense. 

And speaking of prayer…I pray if you DID read yesterday’s, you can glean some thinking from this one to get your own mind and heart seeking God.

I am not coming to you with answers, just thoughts on fasting in America in the year 2018 where even Taco Bell can make a convincing argument that you need to hurry on down there and grab one of those weird combos of whatever they are peddling today. 

After I wrote my thoughts and posted on Wednesday, my mind was a rush of things and since I have to be out the door by 6:15 sharp and I still have plants to water outside…I am not prettying them up. 

Here they are in no particular order or grammatical finery…and I will check back later when I have time and attempt to correct typos so apologies up front to all the English teachers.

<3 It’s not just peaches. Fasting is about abstaining from food and possibly drink. It’s about not giving the body sustenance. and how foreign in many ways that concept is to an overindulgent culture like ours. Oh, we are used to the concept of fasting, but it is to lose weight or maintain weight. 

There are many who fast regularly to the point of famishing but it is to feed a self image of being thin. 

So the “fast” isn’t the thing.

Think of the people of this time. 

They were not inundated with choices of foods.

They didn’t seven day meal plan or prep lunches for the week.

They lived day by day on a pretty standard diet based on what was available around them.

I have visited such places in this world and I can tell you…the fast would not be about denying oneself a tasty morsel of sweet treats. 

The fast is about saying…this situation that we are facing is so much bigger than we can humanly handle, we need a big God. 

We need God to show up even more than we need the life-giving sustenance of our next meal. 

Esther and Mordecai and all the Jews fasted because the King had signed papers authorizing the annihilation of their entire people group in that country.

David fasted for the life of the child born out of the sin of his affair with Bathsheba. 

Jehoshophat called the nation to fast when they were surrounded on all sides by several great armies. 

Daniel fasted to hear from God to understand the visions he was having. 

On and on we have examples in history of people who fasted out of a response to some great need. 

We also have Scripture that sets us to believe that we probably need God more than just those moments of intense crisis. 

Jesus mentioned….to us…. “and when you fast….” setting the expectation that we would fast as part of our regular worship and spiritual journey. 

God also made clear that the heart of the fast matters when he said in Isaiah 58:6 that the fast isn’t just a rote event that we participate in, but rather there should be a heart bent toward the things God cherishes as we deny ourselves sustenance and seek only His Face. 

I had about twenty minutes near the end of the afternoon to jot down these thoughts before our Spanish class last night. 

After class, we came home and yes…ate some dinner….(no peaches, I promise) and then we turned on the Weather Channel to catch a bit of the news regarding the storm that is about to hit. 

As I watched the team of meteorologists forecasting all their theories of patterns in front of colorful swirling maps and the Governor giving warnings and some command center filled with important people in a room in Washington DC and interviews with people who have evacuated, it came to me the contrast. 

And I wonder. 

What if at the first sign of it gathering strength out there in the ocean, long before it hit a small island or was headed to the populated areas of the southeastern United States…what if the whole nation had, as one, fasted and prayed to God to save us?

We will never know, will we?

I do know many, many have been praying though. And I know that there are those who have most likely fasted and I see the progression of the downgrading of this storm from previous predictions. 

So there are some more thoughts for you to mull over…sorry they are scattered…but for me it is time to gather my things and head out. 

Will you come back tomorrow? I promise the concluding thoughts on this are going to encourage you <3

Real fast…here are my thoughts for today <3

www.laurareimer.net

On Monday I didn’t write because I was simply exhausted from too many days in a row of being on the go. 

I spent the extra time that morning reading the entire book of Esther and I loved every single word of it. 

Today I knew I wanted to write something, so I just read a shorter passage as I move on through finishing the Old Testament and guess what. 

I loved every single word of that too. 

And I came away with something to share, even though I only read a page and a half this time. 

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I love the Chronological Bible because it is putting the books of Scripture in time order and helps me gain new understanding as I am able to place God’s Word into the time frame of the history of His people. 

My reading today covered the miraculous and gracious letter of commendation and the equally miraculous and gracious gifting of provisions given to Ezra by King Artaxerxes. All of that amazing information is outlined in Ezra 7. 

How a pagan King wrote a letter of passage and gave a ton of material goods to Ezra so he could take a group of people back to Jerusalem and rebuild. 

How this King mentions the God of heaven so many times, you start to think you lost your place and are reading the same sentence over and over. 

And all of Chapter 7 is good stuff. 

However, my thought for today comes from his passage:

There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the King for soldiers and horseman to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the King, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is against all who forsake Him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayers. 

Ezra 8:21-23

I have several thoughts about this as I read that familiar passage of Scripture. 

First of all, Ezra says that in order to humble themselves, they proclaimed a fast. 

Yesterday I used the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14…If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves….

I will put myself in the examining seat here and say that I do not often make the connection between “humbling myself” and “fasting.”

I think I get humbled when I trip up socially or spiritually. 

I can feel humbled when I complain about some small first world problem and then realize some people exist every single day without even the most basic of necessities. 

But to intentionally humble myself usually ends up with me being hypersensitive to trying to play down anything that is looking like a blessing…piously bowing my head and chirping about how grateful I am to God for all He has done…trying to point to others and to Him so the spotlight is off of me…and while all of those things are definitely good things…they are not what Scripture is suggesting is the means to humbling myself before God. 

Ezra …. proclaimed a fast…..so that…the people might humble themselves before their God. 

Not sing praise songs to feel His presence more….

Not lay everything out and dedicate it to God and ask Him to bless it….

No. 

Do without food so that they would be humbled before God. 

Let me tell you. 

That is hard to do. 

Right now we have a box of peaches that I believe God Himself sent to us from Heaven straight to the fruit section of our local Sam’s Club. 

We bought them on Sunday and I have had at least one every single day. 

And right after I eat one, I stare longingly at the remaining orbs of deliciousness and plan when I will be able to eat another. 

I think about them when I am away from them. 

And while I thank God for every bite of them, who do you think I am exalting in all of this?

Me

My wants. My appetites. My happiness. 

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So do you see that by denying myself the fulfillment of my need to eat one of those today, I would be intentionally humbling MYSELF before my God?

Powerful.

The peaches are not evil. 

My enjoyment of them is not wrong. 

But to be intentional about denying myself one by fasting today, would be to … by faith…obey a spiritual law. 

In fasting we ARE humbling ourselves before God. 

The example is clear in Scripture. 

There are so many other things I want to share about this so come on back tomorrow…that is enough for us to … wait for it…chew on today <3