Speaking With an Open Heart

As a teenager, I attended a group camp one summer at a church near the Alps, and there were about 20 to 25 of us. After our meal time (mmm, we had some yummy Leberkäse and Spätzle!), we all settled in for some fun time together as a group. We were told there was a game to be played to determine which one of us had to leave the room first. Somehow, I ended up being that someone to leave the room. When I came back in, the group leader said that she could telepathically let me know what object she was thinking about. So, she looked me in the eye and I held her gaze.

Even then as a 13-year-old, I was a scientist at heart, and what she had proposed seemed preposterous to me. I picked the most random, out-of-the-way object in the room, behind her and above her head (I think it was a decorative ceramic jug on a shelf). To my great surprise, everyone excitedly exclaimed that that had been it! Could I have been wrong, and there really was telepathy? I was very confused, and for a brief moment, the world did not seem to make sense to me. I learned later, however, that everyone had been in on it, and they had agreed in my absence to go with whatever I would pick. It turned out to be no more than a joke played upon me by everyone else. I felt like a fool.

This past weekend, lead pastor Ben Snyder talked about how relationship conflicts can create distance between two people or between someone and God. Yesterday, we learned to assess when a perceived offense is serious enough to try to resolve it rather than just let it go. And today, we will look at what the offended individual’s role in the conversation is. There are several practical steps we can follow.

Matthew 18: 15

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”

First, we should self-reflect to identify the real issue underlying our feeling of being offended. Back then, as a 13-year-old, I did not have the tools or experience to deal with what I had experienced. Looking back now, I know that I felt shame for having been fooled, albeit only for a short amount of time. I was upset because I felt picked on, which played into my already existing teenage angst of being “different” from everyone else. Surely, they picked me because I was the one not fitting into the group.

Second, we need to prepare them for the conversation. We do this by bringing to the attention of the offender our need to speak with them. Ask for “an appointment” to talk about the situation. We need to make it clear to them that we need to have a serious conversation. It is not recommended that you ask them to meet you for pizza and then drop this kind of conversation on them unexpectedly while eating! Looking back, I now realize that I should have asked the group leader to talk later in private to tell her how her actions had made me feel, but instead I avoided her for the rest of the camp as well as I could.

Next, we must have a desire for the real win. This means that we are not having a meeting with them to prove a point, or to belittle them. Instead we want to see real solutions come from our conversation with them and our relationship restored.

The fourth thing we need to do is to explain our perspective. While this was not really a traumatic event for me, I, even years later, have imagined what I would have said to her. I know now as an adult that it would have been important to stay calm and use “I feel” instead of “You did” statements. It is important to remember that the offender may not have realized that they hurt you and did not intend to do so. I choose to believe that this was the case with the group leader, who was probably in her twenties and still learning about life herself.

Finally, we need to offer next steps they can take to avoid offending you again. These should be practical and presented without judgmental words. Remember to avoid making the worst possible assumptions about the offender’s motives. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to do so with the group leader—I was too young and did not know how to handle the situation. But I have found as an adult, that a conversation with an open heart can clear the air and allow issues to be resolved, especially when both parties are willing to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Equally important is a willingness to try and understand where the other party is coming from.

Of course, if the offender is someone who is actively trying to harm you professionally, personally, or physically, such a conversation will most likely not be possible. All you can do under those circumstances is to decide not to hate them, and to ask for God’s mercy on their lives, as such people are usually truly unhappy individuals themselves trying to make themselves feel better by hurting others.


Questions:
Is there any incident in your life where someone truly offended you? How did you respond in the situation? Are you happy with how you handled the situation? If not, what could you have done differently?

Based on Matthew 18:15-17, what can you do better before having a real conversation?

Next Steps:
Make a list of how you could have handled a past situation better as the person who was offended and take some notes on how you could approach a similar situation in the future. If you decide that you would still like to approach the offender, write out what you would like to say to them given what you have learned today. Then ask for an appointment.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, it is hard to face someone who has offended us. Please give me the wisdom to discern between a situation that I should let go and one where I should try to clear the air. Give me the strength to take the necessary steps to approach the offender with an open heart. And give me the resolve to forgive any offender who shows no remorse or understanding of their wrongdoing so that I may move forward with no hate in my heart, because I know that hate would only hurt me and achieve nothing. Instead, help me pray for this person and our relationship. 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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


Can We Talk?

The best job I had in the years that I worked for CedarCreek Church was that of Staff Liaison Pastor. For nine years, I met monthly with most of the staff to talk about their work, their faith, and their families. At the end of our time, I would pray with them, bringing their concerns to God. Then, I would continue praying about those things until we met the next time. In my position, I got to see God do many miracles in the lives of our staff.

You may think that working for a church is a dream job, and in a way, it really is! This is especially so at CedarCreek, since our founding pastor, Lee Powell, set an example and an expectation for biblical conflict resolution.

Matthew 18: 15
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”

If you came to Lee with a problem about another staff member, his first question was, “Have you talked to them about this?”

So, conflict resolution should be a piece of cake, right? We were all working out of the same rule book—the Bible! That really did set us up for success, but still, it wasn’t easy. Most of us had come from the marketplace, public and private sectors, where conflict resolution looked very different from what Jesus teaches us. We had to figure out if something was even worth talking about! Should we just turn the other cheek? Let it go? Forgive and forget? It was a learning experience for us as we navigated through the steps Jesus gave us. But, what glory God received when we went the extra step to try to understand the points of view of our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Whatever your environment or organization, whether it be your work, your family, or your tribe, it is peopled by … people! Imperfect, selfish, self-centered people, who each have their own needs, wants, and agenda. Yet, God’s principles remain the most effective way to navigate through areas of conflict and contention. So many times we assume the worst without knowing the facts. There is no way to know what the facts are unless you ask. Asking involves humbling yourself enough to approach someone and find out their real intentions. Finding common ground, with grace and understanding, will often move your relationship in a positive direction. In Philippians 2:3 Paul writes, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” It’s hard to admit that you may have come to a wrong conclusion from an interaction, but restoring relationships is why Jesus came in the first place. You honor him when you take the time to see another’s viewpoint and try to move toward understanding each other.


Questions:
What do you do when some sort of drama separates you from the people with whom you work or interact?

Are you willing to speak privately with the person who is causing you distress?

Next Steps:
If there is someone with whom you have started to build a list of offenses, have started to avoid at work, or whom you gossip about, pray for wisdom and an opportunity to speak with them about your concerns.

You may want to practice with a trusted friend, who will also pray for you and your conversation.

Prayer:
Lord God, you created us to live in community, but community is hard because you also created us so differently. I believe it is your desire for us to love each other enough to find common ground. That requires us to be humble and to acknowledge that each of us brings different gifts to the table. Give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen. In all our actions and words, let us love our neighbor and honor you. 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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


The Real Issue in our Relationships

Relationship drama! It is probably safe to say that most of us have some level of relationship drama in our lives, and if we don’t have any at the moment, just wait. It’s coming.

As we continued our series entitled Issues this past weekend, Ben shared that when it comes to relationship issues, the real issue is that we don’t know what to do with the separation that drama creates. The truth is when a friend does something that hurts or offends you, it creates distance between the two of you. You may feel the distance in the conversations that you have or in the way they respond to your texts or phone calls. Whatever the interaction is, it causes you to get the feeling that you are not as close as you once were, and that something has created a gap between you and your friend.

So, when we experience relationship drama and feel separation in our relationship, we have to decide what to do about it. One of the choices we can make is to do nothing. This might seem appealing to us because we believe that the PAIN HERE is less than the PERCEIVED PAIN of dealing with it. We think that telling someone that they hurt us or admitting to someone that our actions hurt them will cause us more pain then it’s worth. We tell ourselves that it is easier to pretend that nothing happened. We might even believe that by doing nothing, we are avoiding drama. However, when we don’t address the separation in our relationships, it actually doesn’t fix the drama; instead, it creates a life of separation and loneliness.

Maybe we do believe that it is worth it to try fix our relationship, but we just don’t know what to do about it. We are unsure what the practical steps are to deal with the separation.

This weekend, Ben shared a real solution to this real issue we face in our relationships. He said that the real solution is to have a real conversation about the real issue.

Matthew 18:15-17
15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

When it comes to reaching the real solution, these verses give us great practical steps. They also show us the role that sin plays in relationship drama. The definition of sin is to miss the mark. In this context, it means to miss the standard that God desires for us to live out. When we sin, it causes separation from God, others, and ourselves. It is the root of all relationship drama and recognizing this truth is a great start in moving toward better relationships.

Over the next few days in LivingItOut, we will cover some very practical steps on how to have real conversations about the real issue. I am excited for you and what God wants to do in your life and in your relationships through these practical steps.


Questions:
What are common excuses that keep people from dealing with the drama in their relationships?

Do you currently have relationship drama in your life?

Are you willing to do what it takes to find a real solution to your relationship drama?

Next Steps:
Write out the names of the individuals with whom you are experiencing relationship drama. Begin praying for them and ask God to use these next few days to lead you toward a real solution.

 

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you that you chose to do something about the separation that sin caused in our relationship. You never said that I wasn’t worth it nor ignored it. You always had a plan and a solution to bring us back together through your Son’s sacrifice and resurrection. You have given us a great example to follow. I pray that in my relationships that have drama, that I also pursue a solution toward restoration. Give me wisdom and courage to take the steps I need to as I move toward eliminating relationship drama in my life. In Jesus’ name, 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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


Freely Giving to Others

Money. I used to think it grew on trees. Every time we’d ask for something my parents would say, “What? Do you think money grows on trees?” Being a helpful little girl, I went out in the yard to find the money tree, sadly, to no avail.

Back in those early days of my life, there was a time when my dad was unemployed for two long years because of a labor dispute. To provide for his wife and four children as well as help support his widowed mother-in-law and mother, he ended up taking a job 5 hours away from home and commuted while my pregnant mother held down the fort.

I still remember going to church every Sunday with my family. Every week, whichever of us little monsters was the best behaved in the pews was rewarded with the task of placing the offering envelope in the basket. Mom and Dad modeled God’s call to give generously even when money was tight.

The last letter in C.O.S.T. stand for Thankfulness. Ben shared with us earlier this week that it is part of counting the cost. When we are thankful, it puts our focus on what we have and takes it off of what we don’t have.  Being thankful also helps us recognize that God is our provider and we can trust him to provide for us everything we need.

Matthew 6:31-33                 
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When we recognize that God is willing and able to provide all of our needs and we trust him, it frees us to be generous.

Deuteronomy 15:10 in the Bible says, “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (NIV).

The beautiful truth is that by freely giving to others we learn to trust God and through that we will find spiritual blessings beyond our imagination. We can increasingly feel God moving in every situation, guiding and guarding us, and providing us with wisdom, patience, and love. By giving generously and cheerfully, we grow closer to him and become better able to give even more of ourselves and resources to others.

Paul was right when he wrote, In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive’ ” [Acts 20:35 Amplified Bible (AMP)].

So be generous and watch God move in your life.

QUESTIONS:

Do you recognize that all you have comes from God and belongs to Him?

Are you afraid of not having enough?  Why?

NEXT STEPS:        

Do a Bible Study on giving to bring light to this area of your life.

Thank God daily for all of His wonderful gifts.

See how you can be generous with others based on your means.

PRAYER:

Please Lord, give me guidance as to how I can be generous within my current financial situation. Please give me the insight to trust you in this area of my life. I really want to be closer to you and serve you with my life.  In Jesus name I pray. 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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


Where Does Your Significance Come From?

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people that they don’t like.” -Will Rogers

Today we take a look at the “S” in C.O.S.T. It stands for Significance and the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I finding my SIGNIFICANCE IN GOD more than this?

Whether we admit it or not, we all worship money to some extent. We use it to purchase inessential things that we hope will encourage others to see our value. We hope that if we have the right clothes, the right house, or the right car, then people will see we’re truly something.

Ok, you say, but I don’t do that; I just acquire what makes me comfortable.

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Comfort” is subjective and to use this as a reason to focus on and worship money is a flawed excuse. Once one discomfort is treated with money, another discomfort will quickly fill its place.

1 Timothy 6:6-8   
6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Yes, but I require a certain level of security. A lot of people depend on me. What if something happened?

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” And Jesus said, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Money cannot protect you or deliver you from every trial you will ever face. Only God can. All money does is give you a false sense of security, allowing you to fixate on that instead of on the one who can (and will) protect you.

Luke 12:15   
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

This doesn’t mean don’t manage your money wisely, it simply means that making it the source of your significance and worth is not what God calls us to. He is the source of our value. He is the only one who can fulfill the promise of eternal deliverance, comfort, and security, and he does this through his Son, Jesus. Everything else is just not worth it.

Luke 14:25-26
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

 

Questions:
In what way do you worship money? Is it to achieve status? Comfort? Security? How can you shift your focus onto seeing your significance through Jesus instead?

Next Steps:
Create a journal, documenting the ways God has provided for you in the past, so you can see it on paper just how faithful he is. If nothing is coming to mind right away, start by writing out your prayers and eventually how God responds. This will allow you to see that God has your back much better than money ever will.

Prayer:
Dear God, you are my source of significance. It is through you that I have eternal worth and significance. Through you, I have the comfort and security of knowing I will one day be relieved of all my struggles and trials. I have the status of “child of God,” which is the best title I could ever hope for. It is through your Son that I am made worthy, and nothing could ever take the place of you. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a former nurse who is now embracing her role as a stay-at-home mom. She is married and has a daughter and a son. She loves writing for this team, and feels she grows a great deal through writing and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She hopes to help convey God’s message through this 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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


Loving Others is Priceless

I absolutely LOVE how God works! I had the privilege to write for LivingItOut the week we kicked off this series. Now, we’re in week three, and my topic today totally relates to my post two weeks ago. Coincidence? No, GODincidence!

In my last post, I wrote about a big decision that God made for me last year that required a big move and its impact on my issues. Yes, I have issues. Most of them (not all) have to do with my family. How about you?

I struggle with abandonment issues from my dad. He wasn’t there for me, but I know there is no one else to help him in his time of need. It’s been a long road to forgiveness, and it’s been hard to travel. Honestly, when God told me to come back to where my dad was, I didn’t want to come. My life was so comfortable and safe. Sometimes, comfortable is what God has for you, and that’s awesome, and I loved and cherished every moment. And then sometimes, he leads us to fulfill obligations that are not fun or fair. As my dad gets older and doesn’t care for himself, I prepare for the inevitable. The Bible tells us again and again to care for people we are responsible for, and I love what Paul says about this.

1 Timothy 5:8     
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

So, what is the “true faith” that was denied? It is the unconditional love of God, who loves us even when we are unlovable. He gave us his son out of that love, and Jesus tells us to to love others as he has loved us. That is an obligation that we all must commit to. Many times, our issues cloud the fact that this is exactly what Jesus has commanded us to do.

As Ben mentioned this weekend, when we count the cost of MORE we need to ask ourselves this question: Am I PROVIDING for those in my CARE? The “O” in C.O.S.T. stands for Obligation and it is part of counting the cost of MORE. My obligation at this time is to my father. The truth is that we all have obligations in our lives. No matter what our obligation, whether it is a spouse, child or parent, it is important that we don’t neglect them in pursuit of MORE.

We get caught up in our pursuit of wealth and things—we forget that life is about relationships. Family and friends and faith are what is important. Love of people, not stuff, is messy and hard and sometimes uncomfortable or downright painful, but it is so worth the reward!


Questions:
Is your pursuit of more keeping you from providing for those in your care?

Is there a relationship in your life that needs more care and attention from you?

Next Steps:
Write down some practical steps to help you repair and care for that relationship.

Prayer:
Papa, thank you for loving me, even when I am unlovable. Thank you for showing me by example that love of people comes first. Help me to pursue more of you and to share your love with the people in my life. 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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


Are You Enslaved by Your Debt?

Today, we unpack Cash from the acronym C.O.S.T.  that Ben spoke about last weekend. Remember that C.O.S.T. stands for Cash, Obligation, Significance, and Thankfulness. When counting the C.O.S.T, the question Ben asked us to think about in regards to cash is this: “Am I able to buy it without going into debt?” This may seem obvious, but a high percentage of Americans purchase items without having the cash to pay for them.

In July 2018, U.S. consumer debt rose by 5.1 percent to $3.918 trillion. Of this, $2.881 trillion was non-revolving debt, which is not intended to be paid off each month. Non-revolving debt would include items such as automobile and education loans ((mortgages are personal investments in residential real estate and, therefore, are not included). Credit card debt, which is revolving debt that is expected to be paid off monthly, totaled $1.037 trillion. The American household owes approximately on average $7,055 in credit card debt. This statistic includes households that do not have credit cards, so the amount would be much higher if only credit card households were included. This exceeds the record of $1.02 trillion set in 2008. According to statistics from July of 2018, almost 80 percent  of full-time workers live paycheck to paycheck.

Proverbs 22:3
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Proverbs 27:12
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

Yes, the same words are recorded twice in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs was written by King Solomon, who had received supernatural wisdom from God. He was the wisest man, besides Jesus, to ever live. Leaders from other nations would sit in his presence just to hear him speak, because he understood things no one else could.

The book of Proverbs contrasts between the wise and the foolish. Applying this verse to our topic today, the prudent person recognizes that an unsustainable spending pattern will have the potential to destroy his or her finances, while the simpleton continues to spend with no regard for the future.

Proverbs 22:7
Just as the rich rule the poor,
so the borrower is servant to the lender. 


Howard Dayton, a Christian financial expert, said that there are 2,350 references to money and possessions in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that debt is a salvation issue or a sin. The Bible does say, however, that debt is foolish. When you are in debt to someone, you are enslaved to that creditor. It’s hard to be generous when you are a slave.

Questions:
Do you spend money that you do not have?

Do you have personal/family budget?

If yes, is it up to date? If no, what is keeping you from creating one?

Next Steps:
Our Group Semester is just kicking off and now is a great time to join one of our financial Groups.  For more information visit     https://cedarcreek.tv/groups.

Check out RightNow Media. It is an incredible video library that includes financial studies from Dave Ramsey and Crown. All of this amazing content can be accessed from a phone, tablet, computer or television. You’ll even find a CedarCreek Library with recommendations for our Issues Series. For Free access to RightNow Media visit https://cedarcreek.tv/resources/rightnow.

Visit Dave Ramsey’s website at https://www.daveramsey.com/get-started/budget to learn about how to prepare a budget that really works. He hosts The Dave Ramsey Show, a nationally syndicated radio show that is heard by 13 million listeners and he also founded Financial Peace University, which has been attended by 4.5 million people. 

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to use your wisdom with my finances. Help me to trust you in this process. Show me where I need to change. Grant me the insight of when to say no. Help me to work toward being more generous. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


The Real Issue With Money

One of my all-time favorite movie characters is The Jerk’s Navin R. Johnson. Navin was adopted into a poor family in Mississippi. He loved his family and the life that he had. He was content living at home, helping around the farm, and spending time with his family on the porch of their small house.

That all changed on his 18th birthday. While lying in bed, a song came over the radio that spoke to Navin—it inspired him to believe that there was MORE for him outside of what he was experiencing in life.

As he laid in bed listening to the music, he said to himself, “Well, if this is out there, think how much MORE is out there. This is the kinda music that tells me to go out there and BE somebody!”

This was the beginning of Navin’s journey for MORE. It started innocently. There was nothing wrong with Navin’s desire to experience more in life. In fact, at first his desire for more was to find purpose and to be somebody that makes a difference in the world.

As Navin’s story continues, he accumulates a large fortune through his invention of the opti-grab, a device used to keep your eye-glasses from sliding down your nose. Navin now had the MORE he always wanted. He found a beautiful, kind woman to marry him. His dog had become a loyal companion. He purchased a big house, extravagant clothes, and even found friends to join him at his in-house disco club.

Navin had a problem though; he still wanted more. It had become the driver in his life, and he could never get enough. Another problem Navin had was that he didn’t count the cost to the MORE that he was chasing. Eventually, the cost finally caught up to him. He lost all of his money, his wife, the dog, and his friends. In the end, he was a shell of who he was at the beginning of the story. He became a homeless, lost soul believing that he had no purpose, meaning, or significance.

Last weekend, Ben Snyder continued our series Issues by teaching on the issue of money. For many of us, we believe the issue that we have with money is that we need more it. Ben encouraged us to look a little deeper into our money issues, though, and find the real issue. When we find the real issue, we can begin finding the real solution.

The real issue behind our money issues isn’t that we need more money. The real issue is our desire for more, and when more drives your life, there will never be enough. Jesus was not anti-money, but he was concerned about our desire for MORE and what it could do to our souls.

Matthew 16:26
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

In sharing Navin’s story, my point isn’t that if you pursuit more, you will lose everything or that pursuing more is wrong. Instead, it is to illustrate that when the pursuit of MORE becomes the driver of your life, there will be a cost.

Ben shared with us this weekend that the real solution to this real issue is to count the cost of more.

Luke 14:28-30
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

In these verses, Jesus is teaching us the importance of calculating and evaluating the cost of the “more” that we want. So, how do we count the cost? This weekend, Ben shared a helpful tool to deal with this real issue and to begin calculating the cost. That tool is the C.O.S.T. acronym and we will be going through it in the remaining days of this week’s LivingItOut.

Our prayer and hope is that this week you will begin to count the cost of your “mores” and determine what you can afford. As you do that, we hope that it will clarify and define what is “enough.”

Questions:
Name a time in your life that you were focused on pursuing more. What did it cost you?

Read Luke 14:25-33. What stands out to you from this passage of the weekend message?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the things you would like more of right now. Out of that list, circle the ones that are driving your life.

From that same list underline the ones that might not be driving your life yet, but you need to be aware of their potential to become a driver in the future.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, please help me to have a receptive mind and open heart to learn more about what the C.O.S.T. of things in my life are. Please help me learn to distinguish what will enrich my life and what will cost too much to be worth pursuing. Please help me to let go of the things with too high a price tag and to focus on those that will bring me closer to you. 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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media


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.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media