Eat, Think, Praise!

Eat, Think, Praise!

The busyness of the season tends to breathe a cold chill on us until we remember who’s in charge of our hearts’ thermostats.

We are!

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Eat Jesus & Turn up the Heat!

“You are what you eat.”

Sometimes this saying echoes in my mind when I devour God’s Word, but mostly, I think of it when I’m reading one of a hundred Kindle books, and the Spirit calls for my attention.

Why is it so easy, so tempting, to fill up on Twinkie books at the expense of reading the Bible?

Satan reaches into his arsenal of distractions ~ even good ones ~ to keep us away from the gold mine.

The busier we are, the more we need a sweet retreat with Jesus. He warms our souls with the washing of His Word. He renews our minds and teaches us how to think, how to conform to His image ~ so we can reflect His love and maximize our impact on the world.

Think Jesus & Turn Down the Cold!

No thanks to television news, my imagination, and my neighbor’s yappy chihuahua, it takes effort to focus on the character of Jesus. But bless my heart when I do!  Because there’s no better thought in the world…

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

When I trudged into church with a bad mood one day, my pastor played a video by S. M. Lockridge, and my blahs didn’t stand a chance! Because when you feast on God’s goodness, He fans the flames of your passion. Your problems, worries, and fears shrink in the light of His flaming love. See for yourself how your perspective changes.

“He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes…”

Praise Jesus & Keep it on Auto!

King David pulled off all stops on praise when he sang, danced, and worshipped with all his might. People thought he was out of his mind, but he was too focused on God to care!  Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to be out of our minds ~ especially if they’re dragging us down.

David knew praise begins with an attitude of thankfulness.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4

During the rocky early years of my marriage, I didn’t feel like thanking God for my husband, but decided to thank Him anyway. I thanked God in my heart and I thanked him aloud to my husband. “Dwight, I’m thankful God gave you to me.” Sometimes I found it difficult to see something I was thankful for; but when I honestly started to look and I opened the eyes of my heart, I could always find something positive.

Inch by inch, my husband and I breathed God-praises into our marriage and watched God honor the fruit of our lips with restoration.

Perhaps we can start this praise habit by thanking God that we don’t need to settle for cold wintery hearts?

Thank you, God, that we can adjust our hearts’ thermostats by putting You first, and meditating on Your greatness! Thank you that we can place our highest expectations where they belong ~ on You, not on fallible people and circumstances.  And thank you that in Your presence, there is fullness of joy. When we break into praise, You allow us to gift ourselves (and the world) with happier, hot-for-Jesus hearts!

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Merry Christmas!

Have you ever praised Jesus when you didn’t feel like it? What happened?

When it comes to eating, thinking, and praising Jesus, which of these will you do more of this Christmas season?

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Thankfulness

Have you all recovered from eating too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie? Or are you still stuffing your face with the leftovers? I am going to go with the latter and use the excuse that I am eating for two. 🙂

This year I have a lot to be thankful for. I know Thanksgiving Day is over, and you have probably offered up your thankfulness list as a part of your Facebook posts these past few weeks, but I wanted to share with you a few things that I am thankful for because it is important to continue to reflect on all of the good that God has given us (and even some of the not so good).

1. Our WordServe Authors Seriously, you all make my job wonderful. I love hearing from you, seeing what God is doing in your lives, celebrating your successes, and mourning with you in your losses. God is so good to bring us all together for this season in our lives, and I love being able to share and grow with you. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are!

2. My Amazing Family Right now, I have a wonderful husband, and soon, I will have a beautiful baby boy to hold in my arms and love on and teach. I am excited to read to him, and as he gets older, I hope that he falls in love with words just as much as I have.

3. The Weather in Colorado Normally, I struggle a bit in the winter because it is dark so much of the time (usually when I get up and definitely well before I start making dinner). The weather here has been quite lovely recently, and even though I thoroughly enjoy snow, I am thankful that I have been able to take a lot of walks outside these past few days. God is good!

Side note: When it does snow, this is what I plan on doing with my husband (can anyone name this movie?) “First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then, to finish, we’ll snuggle.”

4. The WordServe Team Greg, Alice, Jason, Ingrid–you all are wonderful, and I am so thankful that God has brought you into my life. 🙂

5. My Fantastic Church I love being able to hear truth preached and feel loved on every Sunday, and I really appreciate being able to give back to everyone in our church. I feel so close with all of you, and I am grateful that God has given us the ability to get to know each other and grow with each other through the hard stuff as well as through the fun times. You all make me a better person and make me want to keep on learning about my identity in Christ. Thank you!

I Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NASB)

As we move forward into what can be a stressful holiday season, keep a list in your mind of things that you can thank Jesus for. Even if you don’t want to, have at least three things (or more!) in your life that you can focus on that are good gifts from God. Think about those things when you are doing your last minute shopping, or cleaning up your house for out-of-town guests, or sewing a dress for your daughter’s wedding while having pink eye (love you, Mom!)

So, what are you thankful for?

Loaves, Fish, and Writers

Late in the afternoon the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” 

He replied,  “You give them something to eat.” 

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”  (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”  The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  Luke 9:12 – 17

Give it up

Poking at God about what I could cook for you today, he flipped this sizzling little fish story onto my brain plate.

Eyes scrunched on “impossibility” rather than on the Master of limitless capability, it’s easy for us writers to be disciple-like and condescend to natural-mindedness.

The crowds aren’t growing less hungry, aren’t inching any closer to food. Cloistered in the middle of nowhere, fatigued and famished, the beloved twelve scratch their heads before Jesus speaks: “Give the people something to eat.”

As we shake our heads at our scanty drizzle of words, Christ tells us the same: “Give the people something to eat. Don’t worry about sparse resources or small beginnings. If I’m in it, as sure as the heavens, you can make a difference.”

“Give them something to eat.” 

Thrust in this love-test, the apostle John records a different angle in sharing Philip’s retort: “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.” Andrew speaks up. “Here’s a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

No matter how measly, how un-supersized our flounderings, if God calls us to serve fresh truth in a word-stir, if he speaks the royal “ok,” we step up.

Notice how Jesus dishes up faith-stretching instructions to the disciples. Directing five thousand people to sit in groups of fifty is no small potatoes. It takes time and sweat. Just like advancing in writing.

And so we lift our minuscule loaves and fish, and give thanks.

Give Thanks

Wouldn’t you give your lunch to see the puzzled looks on those hungry faces when Jesus raises his bitty snacks to give thanks?

Thanksgiving flows from a posture of humility. The soul bends low, acknowledging our Sovereign Source, his power, ability, and desire to provide.

Jesus gives thanks and his fingers rip the bread. I wonder if he considers how his flesh will soon be broken to feed many.

Writers know about brokenness, the heart-deep pain-sap that drives and feeds our meanderings. With battle scars, we give thanks to the living Word who uses our words and wounds to paint blood-colored pictures of grace.

No matter how few or many we touch, we give thanks for the opportunity. Chosen conduits of hope, we’re blessed to be a blessing. Our words, charged with Spirit-power, awaken God-hunger. They sustain and multiply life!

Whenever we naturally live out thankfulness, we display God’s bigness to a hungry, watching world. We become more than wishful thinkers about remote possibilities.  We reveal supernatural expectancy. This is how the world sees truth in us as we step up to our dream.

Expect Much

“It will take a miracle to get published!” We say it like miracles are viruses when they’re more likely God’s favorite pastimes.

Food in hand, Jesus says thanks because he expects the miracle. He prays and “looks to heaven.” He isn’t focused on his stomach, the food, or the crowd, but on his Father, the source.

The more we fix our eyes on God, the more we see miracles. The more we see miracles, the more we look for them in him.

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread…” God’s prayer transcends the “me,” and rests on “us,” because we, in the body, are one, and because love necessitates caring for those outside ourselves.

If we want to use our love gift to nourish souls, we can expect God’s provision to match his call. I haven’t forgotten that we can also expect spiritual warfare (perhaps even intensified tests from a rattled enemy), but ultimately mercy triumphs over Satan’s thievery. God promises to give us everything we need to win!

This gift, this impervious spawning of words, isn’t an instant dinner miracle; rather, it’s a progressive one, a long-term partnership with Chef Jesus.

Part of the miracle involves staying with the process. If God says, “Get everything and everybody in place,” that’s what we do. We plunge in for the long run, expecting to produce sweet fruits like patience and perseverance. Likewise, we expect readers, writers, characters, and observers to be transformed by our faithfulness.

We’re Christ-followers, sojourners on the cusp of miracles. In the course of our collective, out-of-this-world writer-journeys, we can expect nothing less than God cooking up his best.

Bon appetit!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.