Time-drainer or Time-saver?

Do you ever stop to consider the near-infinite amount of resources, tools, and information that many of us keep in our back pocket? Our phones (along with our computers and other devices) are extraordinary works of technology that can help us in countless ways. And yet, so often they end up wasting our time instead of giving us time. Today, we’re going to discuss some practical ways your technology can be used as a time-saver instead of a time-drainer.

Method 1: Schedule Priorities

On Tuesday, we discussed how to recognize our main responsibilities—now we need to actively live that out. Otherwise, that information is wasted. One of the best ways to make time for your priorities is to put them in your calendar, digitally or otherwise. And here’s a bonus: scheduling a time for your priorities should be a little easier now that you’ve established what your “prime time” is after reading Thursday’s LIO.

Once you’ve scheduled in your responsibilities, I highly recommend setting a reminder for them. If you’ve put your responsibilities in your phone or computer calendar, you can set an alert for each event. You can also use your phone alarm or a physical alarm to remind you.

Here’s a personal example: since our primary responsibilities are those as children and followers of God, I schedule my devotional time every morning from 8-9 (my prime time). I have it in my computer and phone calendars with a 15-minute warning.

 

Method 2: Create Accountability

So, you have your responsibilities in your schedule and your reminder goes off. If you’re like me, sometimes you just ignore it and go on with whatever you were doing. This is where communicating your schedule and prime time to others can be helpful. Tell your friends and family members about your intentions to read your Bible every morning at 8, go jogging at lunch every Wednesday, or whatever it may be. Then, ask them to help keep you accountable. This can be an in-person reminder, or it could be a text or phone call—whatever works best for you. I use an app called Habitica to keep track of my daily responsibilities and whether I’ve done them.

 

Method 3: Limit Distractions

One of the biggest downsides of constant access to our phones is their ability to distract us from more pressing responsibilities. While it’s good to make technology work for us, it’s also important to make sure it’s not working against us.

For me, constant communication through texts and phone calls is distracting and sometimes draining. As a result, not only do I put my phone on silent when I’m reading my Bible, but I also respond to my texts, emails, Facebook messages, etc. all at once, once a day. Obviously, I make exceptions to that rule, but because I’ve communicated this to my friends, they don’t worry or get upset if they haven’t heard from me in twenty-four hours.

Maybe social media is a major time sink for you. Try only allowing yourself to use Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest for 30 minutes, once a day. You can also make social media just a little harder to access by deleting those apps (or at least moving them to a screen you don’t look at as often).

Once you’ve scheduled your major responsibilities and reduced your major distractions, you can see more clearly how much time you have in your calendar and whether you truly have time to say yes to other concerns.

 

Questions:
Review what you’ve learned this week: What are your primary responsibilities? What energizes/drains you? What is your prime time of the day?

What are some of your primary distractions?

Is technology a time-drainer or a time-saver for you? If the former, how could you change that?

Next Steps:
Schedule times for your primary responsibilities in your calendar.

Communicate your schedule with a couple of friends or family members who can help you be accountable.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the time and tools you provide us with. Please help us to use them for your glory and Kingdom. Teach us to manage our responsibilities and distractions wisely. May your will be done in us and through us. Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton Lechner is a college grad currently working at her local library. In her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher and freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Tick Tock…

I think God has a great sense of humor! He constantly puts people together who are complete opposites. Take my husband, Mike, and me. I love, love, love getting up early in the morning, spending time with the Lord, exercising, getting to a breakfast meeting, and continuing through the morning with things that fill my tank. By the time I get home around noon, Mike has made his way out of bed and taken the protein drink I made for him at 8am from the refrigerator to read the Blade online upstairs. We then get on to the tasks we have for the day, usually finishing up by 6pm or so. After dinner, it’s time to watch some Cleveland sporting event, which I may watch for a short time before I turn to Netflix or Amazon until 9pm (maybe 10!) when I go to bed. Mike will finish watching the event and maybe watch the news before he’s done for the day. Our schedules couldn’t be more different, but for us, it works because over the 22 years of our marriage, we have communicated and accepted (mostly!) that we are at our best at different times of the day. Recognizing and embracing these differences has been a huge factor in our successful marriage.

You probably know who you are, what makes you tick, and when you function best, but if not, the other people in your life do! You probably have recognized when you are the most productive during your day and when your mind and body say, “Honey, you need to take a nap!” This is part of God’s design, the unique person he created when he designed you!

 

Luke 4:42a

Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place.

 

Jesus was a morning person (at least I like to think he was). Maybe it was out of necessity—the only time he could be alone with his Father was when everyone else was still sleeping. That’s what I have found; my best time with Jesus is early in the morning when all is quiet and still. Mike’s routine is different. He sits with his Bible later in the day; it is quiet and still then, too. Neither my way nor his is bad, just different, and our God loves different (in case you haven’t noticed).

So, figure out when you are at your best! Realize that your best time is not necessarily another’s best and learn to make allowances for that. Let people know what you want to accomplish during your most productive times and respect their boundaries as well. If interrupted, be like Jesus and think of it as a divine appointment. Always remember, God doesn’t need you to do anything for him. He simply wants you to love the people he puts in your path.

 

Questions:
Which time slot is your “prime time”?

  • Early Bird: before 7am
  • Morning:  7-11am
  • Midday:  11am-4pm
  • Evening:  4-10pm
  • Night Owl: after 10pm

 

Once you identify that prime time, how can you maximize that time? Who do you need to tell, and what boundaries do you need to set?

 

Next Steps:
First determine your best time, when you are the most attentive, productive, and engaged. Now, determine your priorities and list them so that you focus on them during your most productive time.

Tell a friend, so they can hold you accountable for how you are using your time.

Prayer:
Lord God, I thank you so much for making us so different. I thank you that you give us so many opportunities to grow into the people you created us to be. Give us insight into our strengths and our weaknesses and show us how to use them to bless others by our desire to serve and submit. You are the Lord of my life. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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Energize Your Life

Singing to my daughters at bedtime always energizes me in a very profound and special way. I have done it since the day they were born, and luckily at 8 ¾ and 10 ½ (those fractions are very important to them, so I better not leave them out!), they still let me sing to them. It is our nightly ritual, and to the best of my recollection, I have never missed it unless I was too sick with a cold. Because I sing to them only in German, it is a very special bonding moment, passing on the songs that my mother sang to me as a child. We were always a musical family, all of us playing a variety of instruments and singing. By singing to my daughters, I am passing on my culture and language, and we have formed a bond that only the three of us share. My heart especially swells up when they sing with me or sing for me. And no matter how crazy busy the day has been, I feel joyful and energized after I have sung to them.

Whether you are a parent or not, life tends to get very busy, and we have been learning this week about how to best allocate this precious commodity that is time. Love is the foundational tenet of what Jesus tried to teach us, and spending time with those whom we love is probably the most precious gift we can give them. We show our love by giving our time and choosing to be with someone because after all, there is only a finite amount of it in our lives. Would it not be wonderful if we could only do that—spend time with those we love? But, alas! Life will get in the way. Unfortunately, dinner does not cook itself, money does not magically appear in our bank account, school lunches do not pack themselves, and the dog does not take itself to the vet.

But the key to allocating time well—even when you are only considering the must-do tasks which are our responsibilities—is to remember that not all tasks are created equal.

Luke 4:43
But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.”

I am sure it was hard for Jesus to leave those who begged him to stay, but he recognized that he had the responsibility to also teach elsewhere. In living out his why, I bet that there were tasks that energized Jesus, some that were manageable, and others that were draining. I know that in my life, the tasks that I must complete to live out my why are not all equal.

If we recognize that some of our responsibilities are energizing, some are sustainable, and some are draining for us, we can utilize our limited time better. If you do not mind washing and folding laundry but hate changing bedding, but your spouse detests doing laundry but is neutral when it comes to putting on those fresh sheets (and appears not to be wrangling with the bedding like I tend to do), then the obvious solution is to allocate our joint responsibilities to fit with our individual likes and dislikes. This way we all end up energized, or at least not as drained.

I have also found that a draining task can be less draining when coupled with something you like—like folding a pile of laundry (with kids there are mountains!!) while catching up with your favorite Netflix show on your iPad.

Another thing I learned when I became a parent is to let go of the need for perfection and the need of full control over every aspect of life. Do not get me wrong, tasks need to be completed to a level that is required and necessary for sustained health, safety, and job security. But sometimes, we have a tendency to let a need for perfection ruin our lives and rob us of precious time that could be spent with loved ones. When you talk to people with terminal illnesses, they rarely agonize over not having had the perfect house, or the perfect career, or that expensive car. No one will wish toward the end of their life that they would have folded their laundry more perfectly or alphabetized their CDs. They realize that their time with those they love was the best gift from God in their lives, and that will be the only thing that they wish that they had had more of.

 

So, I choose to focus on the energy that singing to my kids gives me rather than bemoan the wrangling it sometimes takes to get them to bed. The time I get to spend with them makes all my responsibilities as a mother worthwhile.

 

Questions:
What responsibilities in your life do you find energizing, sustainable, or draining? Which ones do you focus on? Could you trade or share the draining one with someone else? Could you couple them with a more energizing activity?


Next Steps:  

Make a list of all your tasks and categorize them as energizing, manageable, or draining. Identify them as a responsibility or a concern. Once you have identified the things that are responsibilities, look at how much time you really need to spend on the draining ones to achieve an acceptable standard. Organize your responsibilities so that energizing ones are intermixed with the draining ones to keep you going.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making some of my responsibilities energizing so that they may help me through the draining ones. Thank you for the gift of time you give me with my loved ones and please help me to prioritize my life so that I may recognize what is truly important and what is really not when I decide how to allocate my time. Please give me the strength to accept some imperfection and let go of my desire to control everything so that I may spend my time wisely. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Lutheran church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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The Hats I Wear

I am a child of God. He created me in his image. In his eyes I am beautiful and perfectly made according to his plan. The responsibilities he has given me are similar and different than the ones he has given you. Working together, we can further his Kingdom and spread the Good News!

The first hat that God blessed me with was that of a daughter (first born, only child), and with that came the hats of a granddaughter (second generation Italian-American) and cousin. As I grew, he trusted me with the hats of a neighborhood playmate, then student, friend, girlfriend, fiancée, wife, mother, and GRANDMOTHER. I have also worn the hats of daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, and mother-in-law. I have also had the responsibilities of employee, business owner, partner, and consultant.

Each of these responsibilities are mine and mine alone. No one else can do them. We can learn from Jesus in the passage from Luke that he also understood his responsibilities. Not only that, he was careful not to make every concern his responsibility. He communicated his intentions with compassion, because it is not that he didn’t care about the concerns of the crowd. He did, and does. But, Jesus was committed to obeying the will of his Father, and he trusted that the Father’s will was best.

 

Luke 4:43
But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.”

God has truly blessed me with many interests and talents. I have to learn to say “yes” to the important things, guarding my time and strength. Even as a leader, the concerns of the crowd will pull you from your responsibilities.

As long as you’re alive, there will always be demands on your time. The goal isn’t to eliminate the demands; it is to learn what and where to say yes. When all your concerns become your responsibility, you become exhausted. Make sure that you get clarity on the difference between your responsibilities versus your concerns.

Questions:
What hats do you wear?

Can you identify the difference between your responsibilities and your concerns?

Have you ever mistakenly made others’ responsibilities your concerns?

Next Steps:
Know your role by making a list of your responsibilities versus your concerns. Invite a friend to hold you accountable to not confusing the two.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for making me me! Help me to see your plan, to prioritize my time, and to not be overly distracted by the concerns of others! And help me to pray continually! Amen.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and three grandsons.


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The Real Issue With Time

This past weekend, we continued our series, Issues, and Ben talked to us about time. Many of us would say that we need more time. A few of us might say that we have too much time. The truth is that each day we all have the same amount of time to spend. We all have 1,440 minutes, no more, no less.

As Ben pointed out, time really isn’t our issue though. The real issue is not knowing how or when to say no. The real solution is clarity on what and where you were designed to say yes.

In the book of Luke, we have a great example of how Jesus lived this out. The story starts in chapter 4 with Jesus returning to Galilee. His reputation had been growing, and crowds of people were excited to see him and hear him teach. As he spent time with the people in the town of Capernaum, he performed many miracles. He healed the sick and cast out demons.

Luke 4:40-41a
40 As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed everyone. 41 Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command ….

As the story continues, we see that Jesus woke up early the next morning to spend some time alone. His time to himself did not last long though. The news of his miracles was spreading, and of course, this heightened people’s excitement to see Jesus. They all had hopes that perhaps he could heal them or their loved one. They just needed a few moments of Jesus’ time. It is in Jesus’ response to the crowds request that we can learn so much about time.

 

Luke 4:42-44
42 Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. 43 But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” 44 So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.

Here we learn from Jesus that knowing your why will clarify your “yes” and “no.” Jesus had a clear understanding of his purpose. So, when the crowds begged him to stay, he knew his answer to them was “no.” Not because he didn’t love them, but because he had to say “yes” to what God sent him to do. Which was to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to other towns, too.

To start this week’s study, challenge yourself to begin getting clarity on your why. As Ben shared this past weekend, the more you understand your purpose, the clearer your direction becomes and the easier it will be to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

 

Questions:
Do you have clarity on your why?

If not, what is keeping you from discovering it?

If yes, what is your purpose?

How does knowing your purpose give clarity to your “yes” and “no”?

Next Steps:
If you have questions about your purpose, complete GrowthTrack at any one of our six campuses. To find out more, visit cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack.

Consider enrolling in Carey Nieuwhof’s online course, The High Impact Leader.  You can find details about this course at https://thehighimpactleader.com/open-now

 Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for the example we have in Jesus. He demonstrated that having clarity on our purpose helps us know how and when to say no. Having clarity also helps me know what and where I was designed to say yes. As I head into my busy week, help me have clarity on my purpose, so I can know when to say “no” and when to say “yes.” Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Breaking the Sabbath?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus specifically commanded the lame man to “… pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:8b)?

Jesus never did anything by accident or because he didn’t know what effect his words or actions would have. He knew this previously lame man carrying his mat on the Sabbath would break the rules that the Pharisees had set up. God’s command was to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8-11). Sabbath in Hebrew means “rest”. So why, knowing that the Pharisees would be in a rage when they saw the man breaking one of their rules by carrying his mat on the Sabbath, would Jesus command him to do so? Who were these Pharisees anyway?

To put it simply, Pharisees were zealous Jews and keepers of the Law. Mostly middle-class businessmen, who, although only holding a minority position in the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council), they were popular among the people and thus wielded a tremendous amount of power. They believed the Torah, our Old Testament, was the inerrant Word of God, but they also made additions to the Law. For example, they added chapter upon chapter of rules to what it meant to keep the Sabbath. A few of the “traditions” enforced by the Pharisees are as follows: no climbing trees or smelling flowers, no selecting out bad fruit before eating the good, and no tearing paper or separating glued papers (ou.org).

Really?  Yes, really.

So in reality, when Jesus told the man in John 5 to pick up his mat and walk, he was not actually telling him to break the Sabbath, at least not God’s Law concerning the Sabbath.  Jesus was demonstrating that God’s Law trumps the laws of men. He did this on more than one occasion, such as the healing of the man with the withered hand (Mark 3) and the allowance of his disciples to pick heads of grain (Matthew 12). Furthermore, Jesus condemns their attempts to treat their traditions as equal in authority to God’s Law.

Mark 7:6-8 (ESV)  
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

It can be easy to fall into the trap of following our own list of rights and wrongs in an attempt to obey God. Our heart may even be in the right place initially. We have to be so careful not to replace the inward submission of our hearts to God with the outward observance of rituals and traditions. God is interested in a deep, abiding relationship with us. As we pursue him, he will provide the wisdom and strength to deal with everything else.

Questions:
Have you ever been tempted to try and please God by following human traditions?

Have you ever judged someone else for not following traditions that you deem important?

Next Steps:
Pray and ask God to reveal to you any area where your heart might be far from him. Confess the times when you have held to the traditions of men over the commandments of God.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your patience with me. I confess that there have been times when I have developed pride in following man-made traditions when my heart is not where it should be. I want to live in a way that is pleasing to you but help me to want you more than anything else. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Martha Preckler and the LIO team. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.


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Change Your Path

At one time or another, most of us have thought about going on a diet. This is a common New Year’s resolution and something most women think about before the summer swimsuit season. You may not like how your clothes fit, your lack of energy, or that number on the scale. I often browse Pinterest for the latest diet trends—Keto, 21 Day Fix, Low FODMAP—all while eating a chocolate chip cookie (and not the kind made with almond flour and coconut oil)! But a quick fix is just that—quick and temporary. Until we are ready to a make a permanent, long-term change to our eating habits, any weight lost will just be gained right back. The same holds true for all areas of our lives.

This week, we began a new series called Issues. We show that we really want to be healed when we stand up, pick up, and walk.

Stand up:     Identify the real issue behind the issue.

Pick up: Take control of things that you have allowed to control you.

Walk:    Set out on a path of intentional direction.

Today, I want to spend some time looking at how we can be intentional about fixing our issues—how we can change our path and mark out a new way of living.

2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Changing our path starts with understanding that when we become followers of Christ, we no longer have to do life alone or with our own strength. Although changing behaviors and attitudes is difficult, God is there every step of the way. Jesus never leaves us on our own to figure things out.

Deuteronomy 31:6  
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

When God asks us to start taking issue with one of our issues, and we stand up and pick up our “mat,” we start walking in a new direction with him by our side.

Questions:
What does it mean in 2 Corinthians 5:17 to “become a new person”?

Is God asking you to start walking in a new direction?

Who can you ask to help support and encourage you along the way?

Next Steps:
Take a step toward the plan you identified yesterday. And then tell somebody about it! Sharing new plans is a great motivator and helps with accountability.

We believe that one of the ways we find freedom from our issues is by having authentic relationships with people who will help us get through whatever it is we are going through. That is one of the reasons that we want everyone to be in a CedarCreek Group. To learn more about groups visit CedarCreek.tv/groups.

Prayer:
Dear God, help me be brave this week as I take a step toward confronting and fixing my issues. Help me when I stumble and get discouraged to remember that I am a new person because of you. Amen.


This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye is honored to be a member of the LivingItOut writing team. In her spare time, she loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.


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Taking Issue With the Issue

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I made a huge change in my life! I felt very strongly that God wanted me to make this move, but once I had made it, many things happened to make me question the decision. This year has been quite the roller-coaster ride, with more challenges than I could have imagined. I didn’t necessarily think my new job would be a cakewalk, but because I felt strongly about my purpose, I didn’t think it would be so hard, either.

Things definitely have not gone the way I planned, and I realized the other day that because of that, I had become like this man on his mat in John 5, waiting for something to change. I came in with all these great ideas and plans for changing the climate of the work place and when they got shot down, I sat back on my mat and put my head down. I have been struggling with fear. Fear that my ideas are not sound, that I really don’t have what it takes, that I might even lose my job.

Now that I have recognized the issue, I take issue with the issue!

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

God did not bring me all this way to have me sit on my mat waiting for something to happen! I started assessing the situation and came up with some actionable steps that I can take. Just doing that, standing up and picking up my mat, made me feel better, more calm and sure. There are things that I can do to change my situation. Even if this new adventure doesn’t work out, I know I’ll be OK because my God will never leave me nor forsake me. He is always in control, and he tells me over and over not to fear. So I do what I can, I do my best, and I let him take care of the rest. Because it’s not only about me taking control of what I can but recognizing what I cannot control and giving that to God. Even that is action!


Questions:
How often are you fighting with things beyond your control? How much have you done to change the things that you can?

Next Steps:
Take a look at something in your life that is feeling unsatisfactory. Make a list of factors within your control to change and those that are not. Make a plan to start changing the things within your control and pray for God to help you let go of the things over which you have no control.    

Prayer:
Papa, thank you for giving me a spirit of power, love, and self discipline. Help me recognize what is within my control and give me the courage to make changes where I can. And please help me to realize what I cannot control and give me the strength to give those things to you. Thank you for being with me every step of the way. Amen.


This post was written by Kelda Strasbourg. Kelda is a grateful member of the LivingItOut writing team. She has a love for Jesus and desire to help others find that same love.


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Dig Down Deep

What do blowing up at your child for spilling milk, road rage, and the fight you had with your spouse over arriving late for dinner have in common? The circumstances in each incident are not the real issue. Most likely, you’re angry at your child because you have to clean up a mess, at the other driver because you feel disrespected, and at your spouse because you had an agenda, and it was disrupted. In short, you’re not getting what you want.

As a mother of five young children, I find myself losing my temper at my children far more than I’d like. It seems like sometimes I’m on the verge of an eruption, and one little thing can cause angry words to spew forth. I was contemplating this issue last weekend and came across a blog post that spoke to my heart. It was titled, “When Your Children Don’t Bow Down to Your Gods.” It seems like a strange title, but it strikes right at the heart of most of the issues we encounter on a daily basis. Most of our issues come down to the fact that someone else is not “bowing down” to the idols of our hearts.

So much of my anger comes down to selfishness. Maybe selfishness is not your struggle, maybe it’s pride or control. These underlying issues manifest themselves negatively in almost every area of your life. Until we realize what our underlying issues are, we cannot be healed. One of the signs that we want to be healed is that we are willing to dig down deep inside ourselves to see what is really at the heart of our anger, insecurity, fear, or whatever causes us to struggle.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)  
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

In John 5:8 Jesus told the man to stand up. He had to stop making excuses for his lameness and stand up. In the same way, you need to stop making excuses for your struggle and look into your heart. You do not need to be defined by anger or fear. You were bought with the blood of Christ and can be healed. The next time you feel yourself tempted to fall back into your old patterns of anger or fear, stand up, get a new perspective, and remember that you have been healed.

Questions:
What are the underlying issues that cause you to struggle? Give them a name.

Next Steps:
Today, when you feel the anger or pride or resentment rising up inside of your heart, stop and think about what is the real issue underlying it all. Pray that Jesus will give you the strength to “stand up.”

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I struggle with so many things throughout my day. It seems like I’m always on the verge of yelling or saying something that is unkind. Give me the strength and wisdom to look into my heart, identify the real issue, and stand up against it. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Are You Willing?

Imagine being sick and unable to walk for 38 years. Your only hope of being healed and made whole is a pool where it is believed that an angel moves the waters at certain times, thus providing healing for the first person who enters afterward. This is how the story of Jesus healing a man at the Pool of Bethesda begins.

John 5: 1-5
1 Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years.

To this man, his day probably didn’t seem any different than the other 13,000+ days before. It was just another day filled with the same issues. What he didn’t know, was that today was a very different day. On this day, he was going to have an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God, who has the power to heal him.

John 5: 6-7
6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” 7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

This weekend, Ben shared with us that Jesus was a master at helping people see their issues. Some people loved him for it, while others hated him for it. In this story, when Jesus asked the question, “Do you want to be healed?” it may have seemed to be a silly question. After all, the man was there by the pool. By asking this question, Jesus was helping this man look deeper into his issues and look past his excuses.

When it comes to the issues we have in our lives, the same question applies. Do you want to be healed from your issues? Our quick emotional response is always “Yes!” but let’s be honest, while we don’t like our issues, we often don’t want to do what it takes to fix them. We, like the man at the side of the pool, often find ourselves making excuses.

It is when we can get past our excuses and discover the real issues behind our issues that we can begin to find solutions. Ben shared with us this weekend that Identifying the real issue is the fastest way toward REAL SOLUTIONS.

Over the next few days, we are going to look at the steps Jesus invites us to take to live this out. Today though, there are some very important questions that we need to wrestle with first. My encouragement to you is to not skip over these questions. Pray about them and ask God to help you see the answers to them.

Questions:
When it comes to the issues in your life, what are your excuses?

Do you want to be healed? Are you willing to take steps to move past your excuses and begin identifying the real issues?

Once you identify the real solutions (this may not happen today), are you willing to do what it takes to live them out?

Next Steps:
Commit to attending each weekend of the “Issues” series. Complete this week’s LivingItOut and ask God to help you identify the real issues in your life.

 

Prayer:
Dear Father, please give me the courage to commit myself to identifying the real issues in my life that have held me back from getting up and walking. Please give me patience and wisdom to seek the real solutions needed to resolve my issues. Please give me the strength to follow through by living out the real solutions to my issues. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


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More Resources

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