Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Project Lifestyle: What Does My Reality Show?

I am a huge fan of Project Runway.  It always amazes me how the designers can create such unique designs.  The process is fascinating.  They receive the challenge, create a pattern, get their materials, and physically construct the garment that shows their individuality while self-evaluating, and fitting it to their models before it is shown on the runway.   It truly is a process, and consistency is key while sticking to their goal no matter the curve balls that might be thrown at them. The lifestyle that we project as Christians to the world is relevant to this. 

Receiving A Challenge
When we truly have Christ in our lives, it shows.  There is a definite change in our behavior, our demeanor and in the way we deal with challenges.  When we have Jesus as our Savior, we are changed from the inside out and our new lives reflect that change.  It is evident in everything we do.  You can’t hide a light, no matter how dim.  It always shines in darkness.  I’ve been around families that know Christ and some who don’t that are facing tragedy.  The difference in their attitude and outlook is night and day: literally darkness and light.

Creating a Pattern
A pattern is a reliable sample of observable characteristics of a person.  Designers use patterns to form a foundation of their ideas.  The patterns that are observable in our lives form the foundation by which people see us.  A fake or phony can be spotted a mile away.  It’s important to back up what we say with our actions.  As Christians we know that we can’t be bad enough to make God love us less, and we can’t be good enough to make Him love us more.  To show a reliable sample of Christ like characteristics to the world, we just need to obey.  It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about trying to be consistent and being humble enough to apologize and ask for forgiveness when we mess up.

Getting the Materials
Where do I get the stuff to make my lifestyle reflect Christ? God’s word gives us what we need.  It is important to know what the Bible says about this.  Ephesians and James are great books to start with.  Reaching out to other people who are also on the journey is a good resource too.  Many times we think that we are the only people in the world that have our specific problems, but that isn’t true.  Having a support system that will listen and help you find the materials you need is a gift.

Constructing our Individuality
God created all of us as individuals.  He loves each of us individually.  There isn’t a cookie cutter that we all have to fit into.  It’s important to be yourself- completely genuine, so that when you do talk about your faith, people believe you because they know you are authentic.  It’s also important not to judge others for being individuals.  God created them the way they are, and they might think you’re as wrong as you think they are.  Loving each other will always trump judging each other-ALWAYS.

It’s important to evaluate ourselves and how we are representing Christ.  Are you going to struggle with messing up and not showing self control all the time? Yes.  Don’t give up, though.  Take responsibility for your struggles, own up to your mistakes and stop beating yourself up for not being perfect.  Personally, I want to hear about Christ from someone who will share their struggles with me, rather than someone who never admits to facing difficulty.  Don’t be afraid to share your process of self-evaluating.  Someone might really need to hear it.

Fitting and Adjusting
If after some self-evaluation, you feel that your lifestyle needs some adjusting, don’t be afraid to do it.  We might need to add some love and humility into our lives, while cutting off some areas of gossip and greed.  While this will help us fit better into God’s plan, it will almost always make us not fit in as well with those who don’t follow Him.  Faith that does nothing, is worth nothing.  Have faith that adjusting your lifestyle to fit into God’s plan will work out for the best, and allow Him to make the needed adjustments in your life.

Being on the Runway
All eyes are on the model on the runway.  All eyes are on us too.  What kind of model are you?  Are you a work in progress that is willing to create a consistent pattern and readjust your lifestyle to reflect Christ in the best way? If so, people will notice and they will want to know what is different about you. 

God loves all of us.  He knows we are imperfect, and He loves those things about us too.  Be yourself, and consistent in your faith when life throws curve balls.  Be who God created you to be and represent Him in the best way you can.

Passages to Ponder:
Matthew 3:8- Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
Ephesians 5:8- For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.  So live as people of light!
James 2:24- So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, Tammy Holtzapfel, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Things to Say When The Words Won't Come

Have you ever had a time when you really just didn’t know what to say?  Someone comes to you and pours out their heart and problems.  You want to respond in the correct way, in the way God wants you to respond, but the words just won’t come.

 It happens when we pray too.  Many times, we want to tell God how we feel, what we need, what we want, and what we are worried about,  but the words just won’t come.  Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-28 that the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words, and that God knows and understands what the Spirit is pleading for on our behalf in harmony with God’s will.  I love that! I NEED that!

An effective and powerful tool to use when the words won’t come in prayer or with a friend, is to use God’s word.  Praying God’s word back to Him can relieve stress and burden from you because His word is true and it accomplishes all it sets out to do.

Here are 10 Scriptures to say when your words won’t come.

1.       I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.- John 17:15
This is a verse that I pray for my children.  Jesus prayed this for His disciples before His arrest, when He knew the time was coming.  Jesus knew that they would need protection from the evil one.  I find it powerful to pray this verse for my teen children as they face the world on a daily basis.

2.        I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those he called- His holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance- Ephesians 1:18
When people begin to doubt God’s goodness, and their importance to Him, this is a great verse to pray.  Change the words a little “I pray that ______’s heart will be flooded with light so that _______ can understand the confident hope You have given to those You have called.”

3.       May He grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed- Psalms 20:4
We all have times when choices have to be made.  Should I take that job?  Where should I live?  Is it time to buy a house? Etc.  Although, it is essential to remain humble in order to please God, He wants us to come to Him with our heart’s desires and let Him know what we want.  This verse can reassure someone or yourself that He really does care and wants us to be happy as we seek God’s will in our lives.

4.       Come close to God, and God will come close to you- James 4:8a
It’s easy to become distracted by the business of life, and put God on the backburner.  Some feel when that happens, that they aren’t worthy of God’s grace, and they don’t know how to get close to Him again.  This passage makes it simple.   That’s what busy people need- simplicity.  If we come close to Him, He will come close to you.  That’s comforting.

5.       Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us.  Only then will we be saved.- Psalms 80:19
It can be heartbreaking when someone we love turns their back on God.  One mother of a son who proclaims that he no longer believes in God prays this verse in this manner, “ Restore him, Lord God Almighty; make Your face shine on Him, that He may be saved.” 

6.       How can a young person stay pure?  By obeying Your word- Psalms 119:9
Purity is hard to come by.  Whether it’s someone who is young in age, or someone is young in their Christianity, this Scripture can be prayed as encouragement in its simplicity.  Obeying God’s word will keep you pure.

7.       I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit- Romans 15:13
When friends come to you and they are depressed about something, they are lacking hope, joy, and peace.  God is the source of hope.  You cannot be depressed and be hopeful.  These words are powerful to hear.  Don’t be afraid to pray it for yourself.  “ I pray that You, the source of hope, will fill me completely with joy and peace because I trust in You.  Help me overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Try it and mean the words, you will see change happen in your life.

8.       Now all glory to God, who is able through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think- Ephesians 3:20
When someone is struggling with confidence or feeling unable to do something, this proclamation that God is working within them can be very encouraging.  He can not only help them succeed at what is before them, but can lead them to even greater things.  This is another verse that can be prayed for our children as they set out in their own lives. “Now all glory to God, You are able through Your mighty power at work within _____ to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think.”

9.       This is my command- be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.- Joshua1:9
God doesn’t want us to be afraid, but it is a common emotion.  Fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear for a medical report result, fear of confrontation in a relationship.  Remind yourself or a friend when fear sets in, that God is with you wherever you go.  He is there.  Be strong. Be courageous. Look for Him and He will be found.

10.   He does great things too marvelous to understand.  He performs countless miracles- Job 9:10
This passage is one that has brought comfort to many people as they are facing a crisis in their lives.  God still performs miracles.  He does things that we never see on our behalf, and we couldn’t understand them if we did see them.  When fear, exhaustion, and doubt start to set in, pray this verse to God and thank Him for doing these things on our behalf.

You might be asking how to remember these when you need them. 
  • ·         I have a list on my iphone, and when someone asks me to pray for them,  I find the one that speaks to me at that time, and I pray it for them, and then I let them know what the Scripture says. 
  • ·         Make a list on a piece of paper and stick in it your wallet.
  • ·         Highlight or underline in your Bible.

When the words won’t come, use the Word of God and watch the power of it transform a situation.

Do you have Scripture that you pray?  Please share to encourage each other.  

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Maria Kucharczuk and Kim McClure

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Friend Factor

If you have children, you know how important their choice of friends can be.   It is hard when they become older and we, as parents, are not their main source of advice.  Who we count as friends is important in our lives too.   When you watch those safari shows and you see herds of animals, notice that it’s the one that gets separated from the herd that gets attacked.  It’s important to have a group to stay in for protection from attacks.

What is the friend factor?  The word factor means “one that actively contributes to the production of a result”.  Have you ever considered that your friends are actively contributing to the production of a result in you?  They are.  And you are doing the same for them.

So, what are some things that constitute a friendship that will produce a good result?

F- Faithful:  Many, especially women, get caught up in the concept of being popular, and will let anyone into their inner circle, to create an image of popularity.  There are also many of us that have learned that it’s more important to have a few really good friends you can trust, rather than a lot of “friends” that you can’t.  These faithful friends are people who share your beliefs and will respond to a quick prayer request text or a question no matter what time of day or night.  It’s a lot easier to try new things and shoot for the stars in life when you have friends who will love you and have your back whether you succeed or fail. 

R- Reason:  A friend serves as a voice of reason.  Let’s face it, we can tend to get carried away and blow things out of proportion at times.  We all need that friend who isn’t afraid to call us out on that, the one who isn’t afraid to set us straight when our thoughts are on ourselves, whether we are wrapped up in work, relationship problems, addictions or anything else that turn our thoughts away from God in a situation.

I-Influence:  Every girl at every age needs a friend that can be completely trusted with your heart, and even with the sins you are battling.  Loving one another in the not so fun times, the trials, the differences, etc. without judgment is crucial. Allowing yourself to be influenced by someone that you trust and shares your beliefs can lead to being a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate person.

E-Encourage:  We all need encouragement.   Even when we don’t fully understand what our friend is going through, it’s okay.  Being there with them is what matters.  Having a friend that will hit the gym with you, comfort you when you are sick or your child is going through a tough time is a treasure.  Knowing that you have someone who will point out the positives when you feel vulnerable can be very fortifying.

N-Nurture:   Your friends mold you into who you become.  Sometimes, we find friends who have a negative effect on our lives.  Those relationships can be tricky and it’s difficult to end a friendship, but if a friend is bringing things into your life that are keeping you from growing, they are not good for you.  Friends  nourish your spirit, not drag you down. 

D-Discern:  When developing a friendship,   it’s key to remember that each person is an individual truly made by God, not a clone of yourself.  A discerning friend will help you recognize things, people, or events that may not be good for you.  They have the advantage of standing outside of a situation and looking in with their unique perspective.  If you really trust this person, don’t just brush off what they are saying, try to see it through their eyes.

I hope that everyone out there has at least one friend in your life that fits within the friend factor.  Think about your friendships, and ask yourself:
  • ·         Do my friends know that I will support them in new adventures whether they succeed or fail?
  • ·         Am I willing to listen to someone be my voice of reason?
  • ·         Am I vulnerable enough to trust my friends when I am struggling with something?
  • ·         Am I ready to be there for my friends even though I don’t understand what they are going through?
  • ·         Am I willing to release any friendships that are dragging me down spiritually?
  • ·         Can I open my eyes and try to see things from a friend’s perspective?

That’s the kind of friend we should be.  Pride makes that difficult for many of us.  Once you have been betrayed by a friend, it can be hard to trust someone again, but it’s worth it.  Let’s strive to be the kind of friend that produces a good result in others.

Passages to Ponder:

Proverbs 27:17- As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 24:26- An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.
Proverbs 12:26- The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.
Malachi 3:18- Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Jodi Dunbar,Tammy Holtzapfel, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley