Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

By faith….<3

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Good morning to you and Happy Friday!

This morning I had a devotion that led me to read Hebrews 11:1-40 and it is such a nice, cool morning here I decided to sit out on the patio and do that. These passages always make me cry. The repetition of the phrasing “by faith…” is very effective as I read line after line of what “faith” looks like. 

I don’t like the concept much, if I have to be honest. 

I like concrete things that I can see, touch, taste, hear and feel with all my senses and it is backed up by what I know in my gut. 

But faith doesn’t work like that. 

It can’t be explained or proven. 

Hebrews 11:1 says…Faith is the substance of things hoped for..the evidence of things not seen.

I think of things I hope for and then I sit for a moment and realize how these things are without a tangible presence. 

I don’t hope for time to write you this morning…I am sitting here doing it. 

But I hold hopes in my heart for other things that are not real and happening and visible to us. And yet I hope. 

I know personally in my own life hopes that have been dashed and I have watched and loved others who saw their hopes dashed and yet we continue on. 

God didn’t heal in a way we could see. 

He didn’t deliver us from the betrayal like we knew He could.

The relationship ended, the person died too young on our calendar, or suffered too greatly beyond what we had hoped. 

The law passed…the job got eliminated….the lightening struck the house…

and yet we got up again the next day and we turned to God and asked Him for help to carry on. 

We heard of another diagnosis and we prayed and believed for healing.

We heard rumors of war and we prayed for peace that would end the evil and oppression. 

We look around for evidence of revival and we see even more turning away. 

And we continue to pray and hope and share the Good News. 

We believe, in spite of mocking and derision, that there will come a day when He will make all things new and right. 

Faith. 

This is the concrete matter of the thing inside of us that won’t turn away from Him no matter what we can see, touch, taste, feel, hear…it is the intangible that holds us when everything around us falls away and apart. 

The fact that you got up today and prayed one more time? That is the evidence of what you cannot see…faith. 

You didn’t earn it, you can’t muscle it up out of your own smarts…Faith is a gift of grace to us who would prefer to have evidence that can be seen, proven, shown to the world.

 But Hebrews 11: 38 reminds us that the world was not worthy of those who did not receive the promise and yet continued on in faith. 

If you have time today, read through Hebrews 11 and then humbly thank God for the intangible, yet powerful, gift of faith that moves you forward today. 

Take a minute and just ask God to help you fill in the blank with some of the things you are still believing even though you cannot see, touch, taste, hear or feel.

“By faith, (your name)  __________________________________

Would everyone just take a seat and be quiet please?

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Every year I get a devotional as a gift from one of my friends. 

She prays about which one to get and so far she has batted a thousand every year. 

Today’s thoughts included this expression attributed to an author named Jan Johnson and refers to being plagued by “the committee that lives in my head.”

Her committee was made up of four voices and they all were her own personality quirks…and I must say it sounds rather peaceful.

Because the committee that lives in my head includes all the voices of my own quirks PLUS…the real and imagined voices of my parents, my sister, my husband, our children, and other casual and influential people who make up my circles plus assorted media, culture and current trending statistics. 

Which is why I sometimes have a melt down when the real live people I am actually currently in the presence of are all talking…because seriously…too. much. noise.

I have heard you cannot have more than one thought going on at a time, but my thoughts are often like popcorn popping and maybe they are just one at a time but they are bouncing all over the sides of my brain and it can be quite exhausting. 

Making a decision is particularly difficult because as I am attempting to weigh my options and the possible consequences of any given choice, the voices in my head start joining into the discussion. 

And as I mentioned…it may not be what they would really tell me if I could ask them..it’s somehow what I think they are thinking…so weird. 

It is at these times that I truly have to discipline myself to bring all the thoughts…all the voices…all the opinions and suppositions…under the control of the only Voice that really matters. 

Discipline is not always easy, but each time I do, I get stronger. 

Recently I listened to a very helpful audio book on this subject entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin and it was enlightening. It was also slightly encouraging in that not every single chapter left me going…yeah…that’s a problem for me. 

I found great tips for identifying areas where I struggle in my thinking and ways to take steps that line up with Scripture. 

Please note…this book is not overly Christian … but is rooted in spiritual truth. 

I highly recommend it for reading because as she points out in the conclusion chapter…we all struggle with areas that need growth and maturity throughout our lives…we are works in progress…and as a Christian I know, I will not be perfect until Christ presents me perfected at the end of my journey…but I sure want to do my part in the process <3 

Here is the link to her page for it…you can order through a variety of sources <3

https://amymorinlcsw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/13-Things-Mentally-Strong-People-Dont-Do-by-Amy-Morin.pdf

Big A…little a..what begins with A?

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Big A….little a…what begins with A?

If you knew it was Aunt Annie’s alligator A…a…A then you, like me, have read this Dr Seuss book so many times you have it memorized. 

And when I say so many times, I mean that there was a span of close to two decades between the last time I tucked that book on to the shelf and the past few years when I pulled it off again to read to the third generation of our family. 

But just like I did when I was reading it to the three R’s…I am still able to close my eyes and recite each page and turn to the next. 

It’s a beautiful thing when you are so tired you are the one who needs the nap…and you can catch a few winks whilst reading to the little body relaxing in your arms still fighting to stay awake. 

I also can sing almost word for word most of John Denver, Billy Joel and Glen Campbell’s albums as well as a good portion of Hotel California. 

I am not saying I am proud of this…just saying I can do it. 

Because I listened enough times at one time that the words are stuck tight in the deep recesses of my memory banks and yet…

I struggle to memorize Scripture. 

And I acknowledge that is lack of motivation and discipline that is the root of my problem. 

The lilting rhyme and rhythm of music added to so many things I have retained helped hold them fast in my gray matter and when I hear the beginning notes to many songs, I am able to pull it up to the front of my mind. 

And so I wonder how I can take the beauty of God’s Words and truth and turn them into a rhythm in my own comprehension so that they are planted and rooted deep in my heart. 

How do you memorize things? 

How do you hide God’s Word in your heart?

I do know that the more I read through even familiar passages, the words and thoughts shape and transform my thinking and my actions. 

I say I “follow” Christ…how can I follow if I do not read and study His word? 

It is a choice and one I choose daily…step by step…word by word…He is after all the Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end …of the Alphabet and all things <3

Seeking peace in the midst of what we cannot understand <3

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Because I fail to read the newspaper and stay current on current events, I am usually completely out of the loop on a lot of news items of the day. 

I missed all of the background stuff that has been going on for far too long of a time regarding the recent suicide of Epstein and the saga of filth that is surrounding him and his life. 

I shake my head in unbelief that this has been allowed to drag out for such a long time and I have many thoughts regarding this that I choose not to air out as they have been said in much better ways by those with greater knowledge and impact than me.

Even now the constant stream of attempts to provide us with information is nauseating and I realize that media sometimes reports suppositions and accusations with motives beyond sharing truth. 

I also believe there are powerful forces that will provide protection for the guilty and there are opportunists who will take this horrendous moment to generate fame and wealth at the expense of women whose lives have been damaged. 

I believe there is an underlying mindset of sin that disregards the value of human life and the worth of protecting the innocence of childhood.

 I believe the sins perpetrated by anyone who participated in this are as old as the first fall of man when the first people decided that what they saw with their eyes appeared to be good and pleasant for them to partake of and became something that they just had to have no matter what the cost.

And I believe with all my heart that this man did not escape justice by taking his life. I do not believe that by avoiding facing his victims he missed out on facing the One who created the very lives he deemed to be his to destroy.

I believe with all my heart that he is facing judgment and finally understanding why it would have been better to have an enormous hunk of concrete tied around his neck as he was tossed into the ocean than to face the God who demands justice for unrepentant sinners. 

And I weep that he and others will never know the broken place of repentance and true godly sorrow and then finally understand that the love of God reached into the deepest, ugliest, most lost places of humanity and offered to pay the price we owed. 

I pray for the spiritual and emotional healing of men and women who were betrayed and scarred by others whose greed and lust took what did not belong to them. 

I pray for truth to be revealed and for true repentance for those who succumbed to participate in this level of depravity. 

And I tremble in fear for the levels of depravity we are all capable of given the right circumstances and conditions.

I pray for justice that can be leveled here on earth and I pray that those who would continue in this act of defiance against the Sovereignty of God over His creation would be caught and disabled from harming more people. 

I pray as a follower of Jesus Christ, who carries the Hope of His Resurrection in my heart, that my words and my actions would reflect the great joy of His salvation and the promise that He will return and He will bring justice to all. 

I pray to be a voice of healing and hope to those who are oppressed and beaten down by sin, that of their own doing and that perpetrated against them. 

I pray to not shrink back in the face of the threat to be silent about this Hope I carry. It is the only way I know that we can be saved from the sins of our humanity. 

No laws will change the hard heart of mankind. 

And I will give them one heart [a new heart], and put a new spirit within them. I will take from them the heart of stone, and will give them a heart of flesh [that is responsive to My touch],

Ezekiel 11:19 AMP

To meditate on something that really matters <3

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This morning I came across a reference to Psalm 119: 15-16 in a devotion about how King David would seek God’s wisdom when making decisions and plans. 

As I looked at the passage and then wrote it down in my journal, I began circling words to look up and study a bit more deeply. 

The first line says:

I will meditate on your precepts.

I took a pause and looked up the word precepts, because while I think I know what it means….I really don’t know that I have a grasp of it.

For all the word nerds, here is what I found:

To command; any command or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct. 

KJV commentary

and also this take:

A commandment, an authoritative rule for action, a divine injunction in which man’s obligation is set forth.

BibleStudyTools.com

So basically, a precept is some kind of directly worded commandment that is grounded in authority and calls for action on the part of the one being commanded. 

Clearly being told what to do, by the one who has the authority to tell you to do it and the obligation of response on your part to do it.

Putting in human terms.

When your mom tells you to make your bed every morning before you go to school…she has the authority as the mom to command you to do it, the expectation that you can and will do it and you have the obligation to make follow that instruction every day.

When your boss tells you that the work day starts at 8 AM, ends at 5 PM, you get a half hour for lunch and no surfing the internet, he/she has the right to give you those instructions and you have the responsibility and capability of doing them. 

My next question would be, where do we start looking for the precepts that David meditated on and the first answer I found was the Ten Commandments. 

As Christians we are alarmed when these are removed from public places, and we certainly have our favorites that we pull up to defend what we believe to be right and true….however, in full disclosure…as I look at them this morning, I move no farther past the first four and find myself harking back to David’s Psalm.

I meditate on these:

1. Do not have other gods besides Me

2. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth

3. Do not bow in worship before them, and do not serve them

4. Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God

There are a myriad of reasons why idol worship is not a good idea. 

It robs us of the fellowship and relationship of the only God, the one who made us, formed us…loved us before we knew Him…the only One Worthy of glory and honor and praise and adoration.

But it would seem the main reason we look only to Him, worship only Him, honor His name with our mouths, hearts, minds and bodies is obedience.

OBEDIENCE

He has commanded us to do so. 

And if that rubs a rough spot in you, perhaps you have found a place where you have set up some kind of false or functional god.

If something within us still wants to be the one who controls what, how, when we worship…even if we say it’s God we want to worship…we may be bowing down to an idol we formed and fashioned by our own making. 

We may be harboring some old place of serving something or someone other than our God.

Mediate on those four “precepts” today and let the Spirit of the living God work in your heart and soul today. 

Before we move on to the other six commandments and demand those around us to adhere to them, maybe it would be good to do a heart check on our own level of obedience to the first four <3