The Belt of Truth

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,” (Ephesians 6:14a)

What is the Belt of Truth?

The word girded comes from the word gird, meaning “to encircle or bind with a flexible band (as a belt);  to make fast (as a sword by a belt or clothing with a cord)” (source). It’s related to the word girdle, that many people are familiar with now, from the definition that says, “anything that encircles, confines, or limits” (source). Often, when the word gird is used in the Bible, it’s used as a call to action. So, what this verse means is, essentially, to prepare yourself for action against the devil with the belt of truth.

Keep in mind that the physical armor we’re discussing here is comparable to Roman armor, with many separate, heavy parts a soldier would put on. The girdle, or belt, would be a band around the soldier’s waist that held the sword and tightened around the other pieces of armor to keep them steady (source). In Ephesians 6, this belt is an analogy for truth.

Truth refers to absolute truth, and absolute truth only comes from God. Cruden’s Complete Concordance says:

“What is opposed to a falsehood, lie, or deceit, Pr. 12:17. Fidelity, sincerity, and punctuality in keeping promises. Generally to truth, taken in this sense, if referred to God, is joined mercy or kindness as in Genesis 24:17. Truth is put for the true doctrine of the gospel, Gal. 3:1. Truth is opposed to hypocrisy, dissimulation or formality, Heb. 10:22.”

We know that God is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4) and Jesus calls Himself “the truth” in John 14:6. The belt of truth holds the sword of the Spirit; God’s word is the sword of the Spirit (this will come up again in a later post). Because the word of God contains and is truth, it only makes sense for the belt and the sword to be so closely tied, for the belt to actually hold the sword. Just like a Roman soldier can’t wear the belt and expect to fight without the sword and carry the sword with nowhere to put it, the Biblical soldier can’t wear truth without also carrying the word of God. So, it makes sense that we would need all of our armor to be held firm by truth. Without God we wouldn’t have a solid standard of truth to rely on.

Why do we need it?

God’s truth provides us with a standard to keep ourselves aligned with Him; we can find everything we need to know about walking the narrow Way in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). Truth is needed to combat the lies of the world which come from Satan himself. As I mentioned in the preface to this series, the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Any lies the world tells us are planted by him; Satan is the influence of evil and he will stop at nothing to make sure he succeeds.  He may use a relationship, social or entertainment activity, or temptation we have (probably all of the above!) to pinpoint our weaknesses and attack us where we think we’re strong. He will be successful if we don’t know and gird ourselves with the truth.

Because Satan spreads lies, what we believe as truth isn’t going to be accepted by most of the world. We need the truth in order to be sanctified, or set apart, from the world, just as we’re called to be (John 17:19; Romans 12:2). If we didn’t have the truth within us, we wouldn’t know how to be set apart from the world in a way that would be pleasing to God — we probably wouldn’t even know that we’re supposed to be different in the first place.

John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This freedom John writes about is freedom in Christ, outside of the devil, a freedom that we have because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The only way we can truly be free from the clutches of Satan is by adorning ourselves with God’s truth — the only absolute truth.

The truth can preserve us. Psalm 40:11 says, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” A synonym for preserve is protect, which is why truth is included in our protective armor.

How do we use it?

What we need to do to fight is to wear this belt at all times, because now we understand that knowing God’s truth is powerful. We have to be constantly alert to any untruths and act on that. Because Jesus is the truth we know that if we have Him on our side, we’ll be able to fight the devil’s lies with success and win our battles over evil. We can do a few things to stay in action.

1 | Think on good things

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

“These things” that Paul refers to here are all the good things from God — all good things that come from His truth.

Because we know the truth and what these good things are, we can resist the devil with our minds. I don’t mean with telepathy or anything like that; we can fill our minds with the truth so much that it’s easier for us to resist temptation. Now, because the devil is so persistent and because we’re human, those temptations are always going to be there. But we will be more successful in resisting them when we’re able to remember God’s truth in the midst of being tempted. Our consciences will be pricked, and we’ll be able to win more battles against temptation.

2 | Use the truth as a basis for fleeing or correction

If we have the truth, we’ll be able to use it when others try to cause us to stumble. This may mean fleeing, like Joseph did, or it may mean correction. If Satan decides to use a human relationship against our souls, we can both remember God’s truth in that moment and explain to the other person exactly why we won’t participate in his or her sin, whatever that may be. If he uses entertainment, we can think on God’s truth and decide whether we’re going to participate based on whether that activity would glorify God.

3 | Pray for a deeper understanding of truth

We can pray to understand the truth more thoroughly and that God will help us use it to combat Satan and sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing; this is one of the biggest and most important things we can ever pray for. Our souls, and others’ souls are at stake in this war, and, like I mentioned in the preface, God wants us to know that we aren’t alone if we’ll only look to Him. So prayer for focus on the truth is entirely necessary if we want to move forward. As a side note, David even prays in Psalm 40 for the truth itself to protect him (“preserve”) him (mentioned above). He recognized that he needed the truth if he wanted to be free from the burden of iniquity.

4 | Spread the truth to everyone

Psalm 96:3

“Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.”

Another significant thing we can do with the truth is simpy to spread it! We need to teach it to others so that more and more soldiers will enter the ranks and enter the gates of heaven. We can share it with our friends, our co-workers, our families, and our children both through example and the spoken/written word. The more we do this the more we glorify God and defeat Satan.


This is part one of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the sword of the Spirit and prayer combined (it should wrap up around Thanksgiving).

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here).

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Armor of God + Resisting the Devil

This post is the preface to my series about the full armor of God.


Resisting the devil is a constant, 24/7, never-ending spiritual fight. We have to protect ourselves against the many different strategies the devil uses because he’s constantly seeking to tear us away from God. He’ll use relationships, entertainment, social activities, and any temptation we have in our lives to rip us out of the hands of God. He seeks to keep any and all people — Christians or not — away from God and heaven, and it’s up to us to make sure we don’t let any of those things get in the way of our relationship with God.

So, we have to put on spiritual armor — something the Bible calls the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6. Each piece of armor is listed individually, some of which have a short explanation.

Ephesians 6:10-12

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the hosts of the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

One of the great things about the armor of God is that it’s of God, and all good and pefect things come from God. So we know that if we have everything listed, we’ll be able to defend ourselves from the devil. Ephesians 6:10 says that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; this is before the passage dives into the description of the armor. So, even though we need to be fully prepared to fight this war, God first makes sure we know that we won’t be alone. Of course, since this is a spiritual battle, Paul uses some figurative language, but the things the armor represents are fully legitimate.

Putting on the whole armor to be able to withstand evil is repeated in both verse 10 and verse 13, bracketing an explanation of the type of war we’re fighting. We need every piece of armor to be able to fight successfully. The full armor includes:

  • Belt: Truth
  • Breastplate: Righteousness
  • Shoes: Gospel of peace
  • Shield: Faith 
  • Helmet: Salvation
  • Sword: The Spirit (the word of God)
  • A bonus is prayer. We are to wear all of this as we pray with perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Because, remember, we aren’t alone.

Ephesians 6:14-18

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”

 

// Usually this is a topic we hear about in kids’ classes because it’s written in a way that they understand, but since it’s so important to Christians (and it’s just part of the Bible), I’d like to do a study about it. Over the course of the next several weeks, I plan to address each piece of armor, including what they are, why they’re needed, and how to use them. It will be a 6-part series (with the sword and prayer included in one post). So, if you want to know more about this armor and how you can use it to resist the devil, look for one post each week!


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Work

This was originally posted on February 8, 2014 and has been slightly updated.


Ability + Opportunity = Responsibility

Over the past couple of years I’ve heard this phrase used several times in reference to teaching others about the gospel of Christ. While it seems simple, the message it sends is one that comes directly from God’s word. If we have an ability to help further the gospel and the opportunity to share it, we have the responsibility to do whatever we can with it to bring others to Christ.First, we need to figure out what abilities we have and use them in a way that will benefit the Kingdom. Matthew 25:14-30 contains the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, Jesus tells us about a man who entrusts his servants with talents. He gives one servant five talents, another two, and to the third he gives one talent “each according to his ability” (15). As we read on we see what each of these servants did with his talents. The servant with five talents traded to receive five more, the servant with two talents traded for two talents more, and the servant with one talent went and hid his in the ground. When their master came to them, the first two servants told him how they had traded and make more talents. To both of these servants, the master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (23-24). But when the last servant with only one talent came forward here is what happened in verses 24-30:

“Master I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. But his master answered to him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You know that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Each servant had talents based on their abilities — what they were able to do with their talents. But what they do with their gifts is the important part. The first two servants recognized their abilities, and were willing and happy to trade and grow in their talents, but the last servant selfishly hid for himself the one talent he had. He was in no way ready to take his opportunity, so he was not allowed to go with his master.

In the same way, if Christians see an opportunity to use what talents we have been given –even if it’s just one small thing that we can use to help — we need to take that opportunity to lead other souls to Christ! If we’re not willing to share this gift that we have so graciously been given, then how can we expect to inherit the Kingdom? We cannot be selfish.

This leads me to the last part of the phrase — responsibility.

Jesus talks in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:13-16 about the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” We have the responsibility to spread the gospel to all people. In verse 13, Jesus says,

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

Salt is used for seasoning food and for keeping foods fresh. Without salt, many things are useless. Here, Christians are compared to salt; we are to season the blandness of this world with the salt of gospel, but we can’t stop there. We have to keep spreading the gospel and encouraging others because without us, the salt, the Kingdom probably won’t grow. In order to do this, we have to make sure that we remain genuinely zealous for the Lord.

Next, in this discussion, Jesus uses a visual of the light of the world. He says,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (14-15). 

So, now we are both salt and light. We refresh and give light to the world with the gospel. If we have light, why would we hide it? Light is used so that we can see and open our eyes to what’s around us. It’s not meant to be “put under a basket” — what’s the point of hiding what we’ve been given? We are to give light to all in the house. Not one, not a few, not the people we feel like giving it to. We give the light to all.

So, while we are in our earthly home, we have the responsibility to shine our light to all people — whoever we have the opportunity to share our abilities with.

Jesus concludes the discussion about salt and light with “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (16). While we’re letting our lights shine, we have to remember we’re living our lives to glorify God (related post here). God will use our talents and our good works to further His purpose. We need to let others see the Christians we are, and tell them who God is and about the plan He has had for us since the beginning.

That being said, of course we don’t all have the same abilities, but God has given each of us something we can use for His glory. There’s no room for excuses to not spread the truth to the world — especially when that’s the very reason we’re here.

We have the ability and an abundance of opportunities, leading to a responsibility to work in God’s Kingdom. Everyone needs to hear the gospel, and withholding that from them is selfish. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it, because while we do our part, God will do His. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (3:6). If we have the faith in God that we should have, we will be willing to work in whatever ways we can spread the truth. Let’s work diligently so that we, and others, can receive and eternal home with our Father.

Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 


to-the-work-pinterest-1 Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Small Minds Discuss People

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt 

I’ve always liked the entirety of this quote because it shows a certain level of social maturity that’s very desirable, but today I want to focus on one portion: small minds discuss people.

“Small minds” here comes from the phrase small minded. It doesn’t mean stupid or unintelligent as it seems at first glance.

Small minded (adj.): having or showing rigid opinions or a narrow outlook, petty (a Google result); having narrow interests, sympathies, or outlook; typical of a small-minded person:  marked by pettiness, narrowness, or meanness (Merriam-Webster).

When I read this quote, one of the first things I think of is gossip (sometimes called slander, scandal, and meddling) which is rampant in our society and, unfortunately, among many groups of Christians. In essence,what Roosevelt is saying is that small-minded, petty, narrow-minded, mean people are the ones to gossip. This doesn’t mean all who have gossiped could be described by each of these things because all people sin in one way or another (Romans 3:23). But, if this is usually how gossips are characerized, why would anyone want to engage in something that will make them appear petty, narrow-minded or mean (1 Thessalonians 5:22)?

Roosevelt says that small minds discuss people. Discussing people is the exact definition of gossip, and I wouldn’t want to be described as small-minded, much less be caught in such a malicious sin. Gossip is one of those topics I learned about in Bible classes persistently when I was in middle and high school; admittedly, I wondered why until I figured it out several years later. Gossip is not only mentioned by name several times in the Bible as a sin, but it’s also one of the underlying causes for things such as sowing discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19) and is a result of anger, bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions (cliques), and envy (Galatians 5:19-21). There are more examples I could give, but the list would be pretty long. Gossip is a sin that both causes and comes from other sins; it’s serious, and it’s one of the easiest sins to fall into.

It takes many forms; it can be direct or indirect and extremely subtle. It covers magazines in the form of lies and rumors, our Twitter feeds as subtweets (a tweet about someone else without acutally tagging them — usually not very kind), Facebook in the form of “news” articles, and the news on television as “the latest scoop on celebrities.” And it comes out of our mouths when we’re talking with our friends because it’s just what you do. It’s one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered (I’ve both participated in it and watched it happen) in my short lifetime.

But friends, this sin needs to stop. It does damage to our attitudes, relationships with people, and our relationship with God. If you’ve read James 3, you know that the tongue (talking) is the hardest part of our bodies to control, so that’s why gossip comes so easily. Everyone has feelings and interests, and we’re all inquisitive by nature; we all like know things, some just for the sake of knowing. But God isn’t pleased by the way so many of us choose to speak and learn about each other, so we shouldn’t be either.

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Picture found on Pinterest from NewLife Church

The good thing is that we can be forgiven of this and turn ourselves around. We can make the necessary steps toward ridding our lives of gossip; we’ll be pleasing to God and much more pleasing to ourselves and our friends as an added bonus.

How can we combat this sin?

I’ve found that gossip is most often the result of an attitude probem or heart problem, like jealousy, anger, or bitterness, to name a few. There are several things we can do to get out of the gossip circle and set our eyes on God. We’ll see a beautiful transformation if we do any or all of these things.

1 // Pray for forgiveness and help. 1 John 5:14-15; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:13; Matthew 26:41; Psalm 102:17; Romans 12:12; Psalm 145:18; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 John 1:9

2 // Fill our minds with good things. Colossians 3:2; Philippians 4:8-9; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 16:8; Psalm 119:15-16; Luke 2:19; Psalm 119:11

3 // Genuinely love people. Luke 6:31, 35; Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8; Ephesians 4:2; Proverbs 17:17

4 // Remove bitterness and unprecedented anger and put on kindness. Ephesians 4:31-32; James 3:14; Hebrews 12:14-15; Colossians 3:8, 12-14; 1 Peter 2:1

“Bitterness will make you a crazy person.”

-Larry Rouse

5 // Work on bridling our tongues (controlling our speech) on all platforms. James 3; Proverbs 21:23; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 17:28; Titus 3:2; Ecclesiastes 3:7; Colossians 4:6; Proverbs 31:26; Psalm 19:14

6 // Focus on purifying our hearts and minds. Matthew 12: 33-37; Psalm 19:14; Matthew 6:21; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 15:10-20; Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Timothy 2:22

The verses I’ve included show that there are biblical ways to combat this sin and purify ourselves. Pleasing God should be at the top of every list, and our speech should never be an exception, no matter how much we want to justify ourselves.

When in doubt, ask yourself if what you’re choosing to say is helpful, necessary, and kind or discouraging and hurtful, plus why you’re saying it. Any type of speech requires forethought, careful consideration, and humility.

Everyone stumbles and needs forgiveness from God and each other, so let’s choose to encourage!


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

 

 

How To Be Productive If You Stay At Home

Being a stay-at-home or work-at-home wife isn’t about Netflix binging or nap taking. A big challenge for stay/work-at-home wives or really anyone who does the majority of work inside her own home is how to stay productive. It can be easy to spend the majority of your time on the couch, watching TV or doing whatever it is that interests you more than actually working. People often ask me if I’m finding things to do or if I’m keeping myself busy or sometimes if I get bored. Usually, I answer yes, yes, and no. But, I don’t aim to have a schedule that’s filled every minute of every day; I don’t view that as a healthy, productive schedule.

It’s easier than you think to find thing to do within the home, and in my case, I prefer and enjoy being at home over a conventional job. I’ve written a post in the past about why I’m a stay-at-home wife (post here), how I got my dream job (here) and today I want to share how I follow through.

This is my motivation for staying productive:

Proverbs 31:27

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

(And all of Proverbs 31.)

Colossians 3:23

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

1 // Pray

You can never pray too much. We know from the Proverbs and various New Testament verses that God isn’t pleased by laziness and idleness; we are supposed to work and completely fulfill our God-given roles in order to live and prosper. He always wants to help you if you ask according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Pray for God to help you stay motivated, productive, and that you’ll know what you need to do throughout the day. Pray that you’ll find plenty to do and have patience to deal with the unexpected as you work through your day.

2 // Establish a Schedule

Working at home is going to require a more strict schedule because of the environment you’re in. Because you’re surrounded by couches and fluffy chairs and pillows and beds, it can be so easy to just turn on the TV and get comfortable! So I use my Simplified Planner (post on how I do that here) and I establish myself a constant daily schedule. Depending on the size of your house, these things could take a substantial amount of time: Monday-Saturday I do one big cleaning task, plus at least one load of laundry (adapted from cleanmama.net), and I’m working on establishing a blogging schedule. Sunday is reserved for worship, relaxing with my husband, and preparing myself for the next week.  A couple days a week, there’s an extra task, like grocery shopping and a ladies’ morning Bible study, and I study my Bible alone one or two times a day.

Aside from my big tasks, there’s always something I can find to do; I can take my dog for a walk, prep for tonight or tomorrow’s dinner, something can always be organized or cleaned and put back in its place.

3 // Get Some Exercise

I take a few short walks throughout the day because I have a dog, and I like to do around twenty minutes of yoga when I can. An option for someone who doesn’t walk a dog would be to start with or pause your day to do some kind of physical activity. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, wanting to quit and sit down, you could take a walk or a jog, do some stretches, or even head to the gym for a set amount of time, then get back to your task. (It’s also energizing just to get up, get a drink of water, and walk around your house for a few minutes!) Now, I do take breaks, but when I find myself slipping into quitting mode, it’s always helpful to get back up and move around. Getting exercise regularly will help you stay energized and increase fatigue, as well as keep you healthy throughout your life (source). Taking care of yourself will pay off in every other aspect of your life.

4 // Eliminate Distractions

Trying to do more than one thing at once is not only unproductive, it’s bad for your mental/brain health (source). If there’s something that’s been standing in the way of your ability to get things done, eliminate it. For me that can be the TV or the apps on my phone. I often keep the TV on during the day for noise, and I usually have my phone close by. So if I see that one of these things is getting in the way, I’ll either turn off the TV completely or change it to a Pandora station or podcast, and I’ll put my phone in another room so that I’m not tempted to sit down and scroll. Figure out what it is that distracts you and make the necessary changes so that they no longer get in the way.

5 // Keep a Clean House

This is a little bit circular, BUT, if you keep a clean (or at least clutter-free) house you’ll likely be more motivated to stay busy around the house. One study showed that people who live with more clutter are susceptible to more stress, anxiety, depression, and joylessness. Another study showed that people who keep their homes clean experience a boost in their mental health as well as some physical health benefits (source). So, even though cleaning is probably one of the things you’re trying to stay motivated to do, just think about all of the benefits you and your house will have once it’s clean and stays clean (related blog post here from another blogger).

6 // Make a Reasonable To-Do List

“We are too busy (or lazy or intimidated) to prioritize, so we may never be getting anything important done. We are too busy to be effective.”

-Corey Kohn (source)

Aim for productive, not busy. Nothing makes me want to ignore a to-do list more than when it’s packed completely full — I just get overwhelmed. Try to remember that you only have 24 hours in a day and make a reasonable to-do list — God gave us plenty of hours in the day, we just have to choose how to use them effectively. Pick the most important things to get done that day and prioritize down from there (read The Difference Between Being Busy and Getting Things Done). My to-do list usually consists of Bible study, walk Widget, my big cleaning task for the day, laundry, and make dinner. When other things come up, they’re prioritized from there by importance and time. I never pack my day so full that I can’t sit down for a minute. Depending on your lifestyle, your list might look different, but I highly suggest taking a minute to evaluate what’s important to accomplish during any given day and stop glorifying busyness (related post here).


Related: Why I’m a Stay-at-Home Wife / Because I Need Routine / Full, But Not Busy on BlairBlogs.com / Multitasking Damages Your Brain and Career, New Studies Suggest on Forbes.com

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. Have a blessed day.🙂

It’s Not About Us

Being a Christian is a wonderful privilege — we get to worship our Creator in spirit and in truth, and we get to pray to Him about anything and everything. We worship a God who keeps His promises and is faithful to us as we’re faithful to Him.

But, being a Christian also comes with the huge responsibility of spreading the good news further and acting in a way that not only would be approved by Jesus, but in a way that Jesus would have acted. It comes with making constant changes in our lives as we see errors. Christians have the responsibility of adhering to the unwavering standard that’s been set before us so that we will be in heaven with God and His Son in the end.

Because of this responsibility, there’s one big thing that we all need to remember on a regular basis:

Nothing is about us.

Every Christian or person thinking of becoming a Christian should always be conscious of this fact. From the beginning, it’s never been about us. There’s a thread throughout the Bible, beginning to end, that all people are to magnify God and glorify Him in all things. Old Testament worshipers were completely consumed by sacrifice after sacrifice for the one true God (see the book of Leviticus). Although the Old Law has been replaced with a perfect, Jesus-focused, New Law — one that only required the sacrifice of Jesus to cover all of our sins, modern worshipers (Christians) still need to be consumed with serving God. This starts with recognizing that nothing is about us. 

God has had a plan since the beginning of the world, and that plan was never really about us. In short: He created the world, established the Old Law as a shadow of things to come, brought prophets forward to pave the way for Jesus, brought Jesus into the world, sent Him to teach the gospel and perform amazing miracles as well as sending disciples into all the nations, allowed His Son to be crucified for our sins, and made sure the church was established. He also made sure the Word was preserved for Christians until the end of time. He established this plan, and as we read through the Bible we can clearly see that it’s not about us.

Of course, God wants His people to be with Him — but that’s exactly the point — we were made to be with Him, not the other way around.

Humans all were made in His image (Genesis 1:27) because we are supposed to glorify Him. Even the non-human creations point back to God. If you look around, you’ll see God’s majesty clearly in the clouds and the trees and the oceans and the grass and in every tiny, microscopic being. All things glorify God and through Christ all things were made.

Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

 

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word [referring to Jesus here], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The life of a Christian should be no different. All humans have an innate need to worship; whether we know it or not, we need something to worship. Sometimes the things we obsess over are the things we’re choosing to worship consciously or subconsciously; that could be a person, hobby, thing, place, job, whatever it is we put first in our lives. But, what we were created to worship was the Creator Himself. Christians need to remember to put God first and put worshiping God first because that’s what we were created to do.

I want this to be abundantly clear: Being a Christian isn’t a tagline; it’s not something to use to our advantage because we like to think we’re good people or because we want to seem like good people if we’re not. And it’s certainly not just something to put in our social media profiles to make us look good or fit in with any particular group of people. Our ability to be Christians is a gift that was only obtained through the world’s most meaningful sacrifice: Jesus on the cross. Holding the title “Christian” is an honor and should be taken seriously so that we don’t drag Christ’s name through the mud.

Because it’s still not about us.

So what is it really about?

It’s about lost souls. It’s about sharing the gospel with people who need it. It’s about taking time to serve others because that’s what Jesus did. It’s about giving our best even when we feel our worst. It’s about getting up and trying again when we fail. It’s about giving, not receiving. It’s about serving a glorious, giving, patient, and just God who gave His Son’s life when He was falsely accused so that we could be in heaven with them both. It’s about giving the glory to God through the Jesus who saves.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

 

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. Have a blessed day. 🙂

Reading Your Bible For Profit

The Bible is a guide for your soul, so it’s meant to be studied, not skimmed. How you read your Bible is as important as actually reading the Bible. In order to gain more knowledge and understanding of God’s word, you have to read it and understand it, right? That’s how learning works with any topic. You go to school to learn, but in order to learn you have to put in the effort on your own time and study the presented material. It is possible to sit down and read your Bible — just your Bible — and gain that precious knowledge that only comes from God. But it takes effort, and it takes time.

Two key words here: effort and time

Psalm 119:103

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Effort

The effort you put into reading your Bible directly correlates with what you gain from your study. There are no boring subjects, only boring teachers. This is something my husband and I hear regularly where we attend worship services. The Bible isn’t boring, and it is relevant — you just have to read with intention and read for profit (something else we hear regularly, by the way). Effort also requires focus on what you’re reading, Who inspired it, and how you can use it to better your walk with Christ. Go into your reading time with an attitude of positivity and perseverance, determining to learn from what you read and apply it to your life. If you don’t understand something you’re reading, stop and take the time to read it again and ask someone else who might understand.

Time

Because of the effort required to study the Bible, you’ll need to allot time for it. Notice I said “allot time,” meaning to give or distribute time to, as opposed to doing it if you have time. For most of my life, I’ve been told to plan my life around God, not God around my life, and this is something I take seriously. God deserves the best of our time, not the leftovers. Depending on your reading style, you might read five chapters during your time slot or you might only read one; what’s important is that you’re reading to understand. The amount of time you put into your Bible study is important for your soul and it’s important to God, so always make sure to spend time in the Word.

2 Timothy 2:15

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

When you realize how much you’re gaining and how much you can learn about God by reading for profit, you’ll want to read more!

But, keep in mind that reading the Bible isn’t something to be added to a list just so you can check it off at the end of the day. You’re supposed to love and crave this spiritual food. It’s the nourishment your soul needs every day, every hour, and every second to fight in this world. God has provided us with everything we need to know in order to be faithful Christians.

Profit: advantage, benefit (not monetary gain)

This profit you’re gaining isn’t just more knowledge; it’s biblical knowledge that will sustain you as you apply it to your everyday life. We all need to read for the benefit of our own souls and the souls around us. The benefit we’ll be gaining is a closer relationship with God, our brothers and sisters, and eventually a place in heaven with God and our Savior.

2 Timothy 3:16

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

2 Peter 1:3

“…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…”


Related: I recently watched a video from Project Virtue with 6 helpful and straightforward tips for studying your Bible. Go check that out here if you’re interested in enhancing your Bible study or if you just don’t know where to start!

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Love Never Fails

I think we need to understand some things about love. About real, true love. It can be beautiful and exciting — it’s pure, it’s healing, and it’s holy, and we need to make sure we understand it.

Love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a strong or constant affection for a person.” I agree with this definition, but there’s more to be said; there’s more to be done. Love, in the Bible, is put to action:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love, as defined by society, is only the feeling — the warm feeling of only doing what your heart desires and what wouldn’t emotionally hurt the other person. It’s based on passing emotions, something no one should have to work at. It’s the butterflies-in-your-stomach, jittery, swooning feeling you get when you look at a person you care about. You can’t control it, you don’t want to control it, and it’s the best emotion in the world. Within the right context, these are all very good things! There’s nothing wrong with getting these types of love-feelings.

But real, Biblical love is something more solid, withstanding, and even more beautiful than this. I don’t think I would even classify it as an emotion because it doesn’t depend on feelings to exist. Real love is an action.

It’s accompanied by patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, morality, truth-telling, and it’s strong.

Merriam-Webster’s definition says “constant affection.” Almost anything we do that’s constant requires effort and work. I think this word “constant” aligns perfectly with God’s definition, because love doesn’t give up. Those who truly love are patient and kind, and they don’t give up on a person.

They don’t leave their brothers and sisters in the dirt when they’re struggling because they don’t want to deal with it. They don’t give up on someone who’s isn’t quite grasping the truth; they keep trying to teach because God doesn’t give up on them. They don’t forsake their spouses just because one or both parties have changed since the wedding day.

Real love works. Real love gives. Real love won’t bend to the world’s influence.

Real love isn’t easy — we have to work everyday to be loving, to understand how to love. We have to put the amount of effort specific to the love we’re giving. When we love someone, no matter who it is, we’ll work to show them that. We’ll work within ourselves to really love them, and not just act like it. Giving up isn’t an option — love endures all things; love never fails.

But it doesn’t mean we let sin abound. This means that if we truly love, we will be patient, but disciplinary. We won’t let our brothers and sisters continue in sin because we know what that could mean for their souls and for ours. If we really love, we’ll teach the world about the light and truth of God’s word, and we’ll show them Christ through ourselves. We won’t let God be blasphemed and His word twisted by untruths.

There’s another facet to love: correction.

1 John 4:8

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God is love. God is the embodiment of love; He possesses each and every trait listed above. How can we compare God to a passing, fleeting feeling? How can we compare our great and holy Creator, the very one who sustains us and is patient with us each and every time we forsake Him before giving Him our all, to an emotion? We can’t set Him on the same plane as something the world portrays to us as wavering, unsteady, and circumstantial. And if we can’t put Him there, then we can’t put love there, for God is love. 

Our parents correct us because they love us. Hopefully our friends correct us because they love us. Because if we were never to receive correction, how would we ever be able to progress?

Correction in the Bible

In each of his letters, Paul begins with a greeting. They usually include a note of thanksgiving for his brethren, emphasis on the good that church is doing, and then he goes on to offer ways in which they can improve to please God. At the end of each letter, after his correction, he bids them farewell, and wishes the grace and love of Christ and God be with them.

We’re given all these letters of firm correction, but we wouldn’t dare say Paul didn’t love his brothers and sisters. Because it’s clear that he did! He even suffered violence and imprisonment trying to teach them what was right.

Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18) took Apollos, who was actually speaking boldly of the way he understood the Scriptures, aside to explain the word of God to him more accurately; he obliged because he loved God. Philip (Acts 8) stopped to explain the book of Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch not because he was prideful or a know-it-all, but because he wanted this man to be part of the Kingdom. All of the apostles and other disciples went from city to city proclaiming God’s word because they loved the people and wanted them to be saved.

Love is going to act upon what is right — on solid, firm truth, not just feelings of affection. Because feelings of affection can lead us down paths that we never dreamed of. We can have these loving feelings toward sin, toward things or people that we aren’t meant to emotionally love, that are opposite of what God has commanded we love. They can drive us into darkness instead of into God’s light because they’re not always the same as the logical truth.

2 John 6

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

Because God loves us, He gave us His word — He gave us this New Covenant to live by. He knows what’s best for our souls, and because He wants us to have a hope of being with Him in eternity, He disciplines us through His word. Everything God does for us, including discipline, is because He loves us. It’s because He wants us to be with Him.

Everything Jesus taught and everything He did while He was on earth was because He loves us. If we want to shine Christ’s light, we should love the way They love, with both God’s mercy and justice in mind.

If we truly love God, we’ll do His will, and we’ll pay attention to all of the truths found in the Bible, not just the ones we like. We won’t base our decisions and our loyalties on feelings. If we truly love people, we’ll treat them the way 1 Corinthians 13 describes real love — with patience, humility, kindness, hope, while bearing their burdens. We’ll walk in truth, show them truth, and proclaim to them truth because these are things that will lead them toward heaven.

 

// How do you show love to others? What are some ways to do this? Or verses about love you want to share? I’d love input in the comments section. 🙂

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How Exercise Can Be a Spiritual Discipline

For me, exercise has been encouraging in more ways than one. I’m always going to be encouraged to push myself further in my exercise routine and in my everyday routine when I exercise. It’s a natural energizer because it’s working to keep my body healthy. But I’ve also found that it can help me spiritually.

Although I’ve never worked out in the traditional sense of the term, I’ve done some running and I’ve practiced yoga for around three years. Both of these routines were big steps for me because:

1) I didn’t care about intentional exercise for a long time.

2) I’d never done either of them before (outside of that mile run in middle school that I mostly walked).

It didn’t quite hit me until just this week that not only are there Bible correlations with running, but any type of exercise can be or lead to spiritual discipline. A lot of yoga classes I’ve attended incorporate setting an intention at the beginning of the practice; this could be anything from a physical component you need to focus on or mindset you’d like to achieve. At the end of my practice on Monday, my instructor (online – I’ve been using FitStar Yoga) said, “Now go back to that intention you set at the beginning.” I don’t usually set one just because I’m focusing on the poses, not any one aspect of the practice. (I realize this could sound fluffy and a little bit out there, so stick with me.)

But as soon as she said that I realized how I could be using my time during my yoga practice to focus my mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). Instead of setting an earthly intention like a better stretch or getting a tough pose or grace when you fall out of a pose, I decided the next time to set my mind on a Biblical virtue. So, during my next practice, I set my mind on patience. I chose to be patient with myself and with the practice, and to be fully there while I was exercising my body. Then I thought about patience with others, and as I was holding poses thought of situations in which I would need to practice patience. Not only did this help get me through the yoga practice, but I also felt that I’d grown.

The same is true with running. While you’re giving yourself grace and pushing yourself to just run through that pain, you’re also training your mind. Because in a lot of ways these types of exercises are teaching you tools you also need to fight as a Christian.

Through exercising, we can learn patience and grace and perseverance and strength and so many other things. The writer of Hebrews says, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” in chapter 12, verse 1. And in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the same type of analogy is given as a lesson about discipline and perseverance toward the “imperishable crown”:

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I realize that Paul is talking here about spiritual discipline, and he isn’t even saying that we all need to spiritually discipline ourselves while we’re exercising, but in the Bible, both parables and analogies are given that will increase understanding because people can relate to the topic – or are at least familiar with it.He’s talking about fully disciplining our spiritual bodies to strive toward an eternal home with God. If learning some type of discipline during exercise weren’t relevant, this wouldn’t have been written.

It takes self-control, perseverance, and confidence to get through a tough exercise. And it takes self-control, perseverance, and confidence to get through this tough life.

That’s why the time we spend exercising, which is usually a big chunk of time, can also be a spiritual discipline, even if we aren’t specifically “setting an intention” during that yoga practice or those two miles or during every weight-lift. It can teach us lessons about our minds and bodies that will help us learn physical and spiritual discipline. We can apply the same mindset to our spiritual walk through this life because that perseverance is the same perseverance that will help us reach a heavenly goal.

 

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How Exercise Can Be a Spiritual Discipline

9 Ways to Be a Careful Listener

Everyone in this world has a different personality, and with those different personalities come their own tendencies, strengths, and struggles; they all have their own skills. Being able to listen to others – really listen to what they’re saying – is one of these skills, and it’s one of the most important skills to master if we’re going to communicate well and show care for each other.

It’s always helpful to know how you can better yourself in terms of listening because many relationships are contingent on this kind of communication. Romans 12:15-16 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” So, in order to be followers of Christ we need to know how to listen to other people, and bear their burdens and their joys. I’m no communication expert, but through both my experience listening and being listened to, I can give you a few tips.

1 | Listen to understand, not to respond.

I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before, but it’s always helpful to remember when you’re conversing with another person. Many times our minds have a tendency to jump ahead to what we can say back. Sometimes we’re just letting the sound of our friend’s voice bounce back and forth in our heads among what we want for lunch or plan to do later, or whatever else we think about. And that’s where the problem comes in: we’re still not truly listening; we’re only hearing so that we can start talking again. So, we need to remind ourselves to listen to understand.

2 | Get to know the speaker.

By “get to know,” I don’t necessarily mean become best friends with the speaker (although that would be helpful, too 😉 ), I mean learn her personality, and find out the basics about her life and situation. Learn likes, dislikes, passions, and try to gain insight on her perspective before or during the conversation because it will not only help you become a closer friend to that person, it will help you understand where she’s coming from when she’s talking to you.

3 | Look at her when she’s talking.

Simple eye contact can help when you’re trying to listen and understand. You can read your friend’s facial expressions better, might be able to pay more attention, and you can focus on who’s speaking. All of this will enrich the conversation.

4 | Put yourself in her shoes.

Now that you understand more about the person you’re talking to, you have an opportunity to put yourself in her shoes. Especially if you already have trouble paying attention, it could be helpful picture yourself in your friend’s situation. Really put yourself in his or her shoes and try to understand from that perspective. Try not to think of it from your own viewpoint because your understanding of the situation based on any number of variables might not be strong enough to understand.

5 | If you don’t understand, ask.

This one is huge. It’s a little hurtful when you’re trying to talk to someone about your life or something that happened during the day (big or small), and they just pretend they know what you’re talking about just for the sake of conversation. So, don’t be that person; never just say, “yeah” or “gotcha” if you really don’t “got them” – it’s annoying and makes you seem uncaring and uninterested. If you’re not quite sure what your friend is talking about or don’t understand something she just said – all you have to do is ask! I’m sure she won’t mind repeating it if that’s the case. It will go a long way for the conversation, and you might even learn something new.

6 | Don’t let your mind wander.

This may seem obvious, but it’s so important to realize that we’re in control of our own minds. We have the ability to pay attention to something if we need to and want to. If someone is talking to you, do the best you can not to let your mind wander. Like I mentioned in number one, it can be very easy to let your mind trail off to what you’re going to eat for lunch or your to-do list – but it doesn’t have to. Focus on all or one of the tips above and focus on the person across from you.

7 | Eliminate all distractions.

Technological distractions are probably the biggest distraction for bad listeners. Put away your phone, your iPad, your laptop; turn off the TV, and even music if you have to. We don’t always realize it, but most of the time we can’t actually multi-task. While it may be easy for you to listen to music while you study or read, it could be that the TV or radio can distract you from your friend because you’re waiting to hear your favorite song or see what happens to the character on a show. But we all have to realize that those things aren’t as important as the person you’re sitting next to or across from, and most of the time, it’s fiction. As far as phones, iPads, and laptops – it’s plain unfriendly and rude to hold a screen in front of your face while someone is trying to have a face-to-face conversation with you. I’ve certainly been guilty of this (I’m sure most people have), and it’s extremely harmful to relationships if we’re texting another or scrolling through Instagram while trying to have a conversation. That’s not multi-tasking; it’s just not paying attention.

8 | Remember that person is a soul.

It’s helpful to me to remember that the person I’m listening to is a soul. She’s a soul in need of love, encouragement, advice,  or care, and she wants my friendship, or she most likely wouldn’t be talking to me. You never know how much that one conversation could encourage her, so make the most of it. If you can help even one soul by simply listening to them, then that’s absolutely worth your time and attention.

9 | Follow up.

Don’t let that one conversation be the last one. If your friend was telling you about a problem she’s been dealing with or sharing something personal, it might be a good idea to follow up with her. You could send her a card, text, email, or call her and ask her how she’s doing or if there are any new developments. This isn’t nosy; it just shows her that you care and that you were listening, especially if she came to you first. I like to do this, and it’s always encouraging when someone does it for me. Sometimes it can be difficult to do, but it’s worth it if you’re able and have her contact information.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfull the law of Christ.

 

// These 9 things always help me! You may not need them all, but even doing one of these things could greatly improve your communication and relationship with another person. And that’s always worth it. If you have any more to add, feel free to comment below! 🙂