New Year…New Start! – Ezra 3:11

Ezra 3:11: With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

For most of us, the New Year is a new beginning; a fresh start, a second chance, a clean slate, a resolution to do better, etc. It is filled with hope and possibilities. After all, we just came through the season of Advent talking about peace, hope, love, faith, and the light of Jesus. And now a reboot seems in order.

We need a new beginning. We need to right the wrongs, fix our broken lives, shed some pounds, break some habits, get our house in order, clean the closets, and be better people.

But no matter how much we want it…how much we need it. In the darkness of winter, we often falter and fail. And we beat ourselves up for it.

The book of Ezra is a time of new beginnings for the people of Judah. They have come out of captivity to the broken ruins of Jerusalem and the temple. They have work to be done. They need a new start. Ezra, and several other men of God, led the people to rebuild the temple to God.

Here are some lessons that we can learn from Ezra.

1. New Beginnings are possible no matter how far we have gone off track. The people of God had been derailed. They just spent 40 years in captivity. Their city was in ruins. Their temple destroyed. Where do you start to rebuild? The job seems too overwhelming to even think about.

For Ezra and the Jews it was just a matter of seeing the need and taking it to the Lord. He was the one who helped them get it all back together.

Think of it. Our God is the God of second changes. How many times did he rescue the ones who had fallen? How many mistakes had Peter made and yet he was still used by God to tell the nations of the love of Jesus. How many times did he tell us to forgive our neighbors?
It doesn’t matter how big the ruins of your life are, God is able to build something out of it.

2. New Beginnings cannot be made off old thinking. The Jews would not have been able to build a temple in the grandeur of the original made by Solomon. They did not have the resources, the labor force, the time, or the preparation.

What they made was a utilitarian temple. It was built for the purpose of worshiping God. It did not have to be impressive. It did not need to details. But it did need the people to have their heart in the right place. They were building something bigger in nature than Solomon’s temple. They were not out to please anyone but God.

It is time to throw away your old thinking and put your heart in the right place. There is nothing that can’t be done with God on your side. But let’s face it… you will never be as young and energetic as you were when you were a teenager. If your expectation is to restore the grandeur of your old temple then you have your heart in the wrong place.

3. New Beginnings must start off humbly. New Beginnings never succeed in a vacuum.

One of my biggest mistakes in my weight loss journey has been to eat up the praises of people for doing good and losing weight. I may have been the one working and trying to eat right but it took a lot of people helping along the way. I had instructors, a weight loss group, my family, and my church family behind me.

You can’t do it alone. You need accountability and encouragement and you need a humble heart.

Can you imagine how the work would have got done if Ezra or any of the people stopped to point out what they had done and have a celebration ever few bricks that were laid? “Look what I did! I put a nail in this board and I didn’t even bend it.” Great… now get back to work and keep going!

It is important to celebrate the victories… but not at the expense of the whole project.

4. New Beginnings must focus on the right start – Jesus. Ezra’s focus from the very beginning to the end was on serving God. It wasn’t as much about building a temple as much as it was about having a place to worship. The focus wasn’t on anything but God.
The Hebrew writer said to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith and throw off any sins and bad habits or anything else that can trip us up and keep us from finishing the race. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

You can lose weight and get healthier without Jesus, but doesn’t it make sense to have the one who created your body with you on the journey?

5. New Beginnings must work one step a time. Most of the time the process fails because we try to do everything at once. We clean the house of all the tempting treats, we exercise so much that we can’t walk for days afterwards, and we nibble at our salad while all the while wishing we had something more tasty and substantial.

The Jewish people made a big effort and they laid the foundation of the temple. But they were so happy with their efforts that they quit for 17 years! That is not a success. You can’t worship in a foundation!

The temple had to be rebuilt one brick at a time. Ezra made sure that everyone knew why they were building it and kept them moving forward. Some might say that the temple was built with prayer for mortar and the law for bricks. But the love and devotion of the people were the first sacrifice offered there at the temple.

Your journey will begin one step at a time. Don’t try to rush it. But make sure you finish as strong as you start.

6. New Beginnings must include praise. The people praised God. They sang. They prayed. They worshiped. They read the law. They sang psalms. I would have loved to see the temple being built. Ezra 3:11 says they gave praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.

Things happen get done when you have the right attitude of worship and praise. Several verse have the saying, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.” I like to remind our congregation of that because it gives us strength to see his love never fails. So every once in a while, I will say, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good”. And our congregation responds, “His love endures forever.”

God loves you. Praise him every step of your weight loss journey.

Dear Father, I praise you for your unending love and mercy. Help me to start fresh in my weight loss efforts and in my daily walk with you. I need to finish as strong as I start. It is my desire to worship and serve you. Help me to be a temple of worship that it fit for your service. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ― L.M. Montgomery

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” ― Meister Eckhart

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Indulge In Good Deeds – Galatains 5:13

Galatians 5:13 – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Christmas and most holiday seasons seem to be a time to indulge in the pleasures of food. Tempting treats are everywhere.Candy Canes of all flavors and sizes, cookies with icing, eggnog, fruitcake, figgy pudding, sugar plums, and Turkish delight all come with the season to tempt the taste buds and fill your tummy. Wouldn’t it be nice to let yourself go for the season?

The other day I was at a sweet little old lady’s house. She offered me a treat and then said, “It’s okay to indulge, it’s Christmas. Let yourself go for a while.” She doesn’t know how tempting that really was for me. I did take a treat home with me to give to someone else. But I did not give in to the temptation.

The word “indulge” is an action word (verb). It means to allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of something. But it also carries the connotation of hedonism and abandoning one’s will or moral stamina for a pleasure of the flesh. Synonyms of indulge are to wallow in, give oneself up to, give way to, yield to, abandon oneself to.

In every single reference in the Bible, the word “indulge” has to do with sins of the flesh. Sex, idolatry, drinking, and eating are all included.

I really am a bit taken back by this. I have never really looked at over eating as a sin but in this context it really is. Indulging is giving in to your bodies desires over living for the Lord.

James 5 talks about the rich oppressors who live in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. Although I am by no means rich, I do live better than many in our county. Often times I wonder how we could do a better job of helping others instead of helping ourselves.

Paul says in Galatians 5:13 that instead of indulging that we should serve one humbly in love. I believe that is a good remedy for overeating and giving in to tempting treats… of all kinds. Paul was talking about sins of the flesh. But serving others and putting them first could be a way to fight off temptation and burn a few calories as well.

It’s not just about moderation. Moderation is the key to weight loss and is a great thing to learn. Limiting yourself is a discipline that must be learned over time. It’s not just about taking only enough to satisfy your body… it’s about enjoying the little bit that you have. Savor the flavor and thank the Lord for it!

I believe we could have soup and salad for that church supper and spend what we would have on ourselves and give it to homeless shelter. Or perhaps we could take time out of our schedule to go and serve breakfast at the shelter or volunteer time at the food and clothing pantry.

Dear Father, I am guilty of indulging in the flesh and giving in to temptations of all kinds. Forgive me of my sins and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Help me to overcome any and all temptations… especially when it comes to indulging in the flesh rather than yielding my spirit to you. Help me to put others first and serve them in humility and love. Thanks for loving me and sending your Son to die in my place on the cross. Thank you for the promise of eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“It’s enough to indulge and to be selfish but true happiness is really when you start giving back.” -Adrian Grenier

“Self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.” -Billy Graham

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Don’t Feel Like It! – Proverbs 10:4

Proverbs 10: 4 –Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. My wife is off visiting relatives with her father. I didn’t sleep well last night. I haven’t felt that well this week. The last thing I really wanted to do was go to Steppin’ Up, our weight loss accountability group that we have at our church.
At Steppin’ Up, we share in a devotion and encouraging words. We pray together and discuss our weight loss efforts. And then we walk or exercise together.
Another reason I didn’t really want to go was that I have been slipping a bit on the scales too. I wasn’t too worried about it because it was only a couple of pounds but… I have fallen into a routine of slacking at eating right and exercising and didn’t really want to deal with it…today…. someday maybe…soon.
But I drug myself out of bed, shaved, brushed my teeth and got ready. “If I can just get through this, ” I thought.
When I started over to the church, Terri was already there in the parking lot. She smiled and waved. We went in and got started. We shared the verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 and others. We talked about encouraging each other with our words… setting the tone.
Soon it was time to exercise. Because it was cold outside we decided to do a workout / aerobic walking video. Soon we were exercising and we walked 1… 2… 3 miles.
When we were done I felt tired, hot, thirsty, …and better. The endorphins kicked in helped my attitude and energy level. I feel like seizing the day.
I appreciate all my fellow “Stepper’s” for their support and encouragement. This spring we are going to try to expand our operation and do a bit more. But it is this encouragement and support that help us get through those lazy months of winter. I appreciate the encouragement that Terri gave me this morning.
The proverb above is true. Sometimes we all are tired and feeling lazy. But we need to get to work. Lazy hands lead to fat bellies and bad health. Diligent hands bring about blessings and a wealth of good things.
Dear God, Thank you for those in my group that help encourage me to lose weight and exercise. Thank you for sending people into my life that encourage me spiritually too. Help me to be diligent and productive today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“I like the word ‘indolence’. It makes my laziness seem classy.” –Bernard Williams

“If I don’t feel confident about my body, I’m not going to sit at home and feel sorry for myself and not do something about it. It’s all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it’s fitness or whatever. It’s about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.”

-Kim Kardashian (I can’t believe I am quoting a Kardashian! Oh well… even a stopped clock is right twice a day!!! LOL.)157555-o
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What If I Stumble – Psalm 37:23-24

Psalm 37:23-24 -The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Ugh, Thanksgiving is over. If you are like me you feel like a stuffed turkey. I made the plans, cooked had alternative foods with less fat and calories, and prepared myself mentally. But all that went out the window. And now we have even more leftovers that I feel obligated to eat.

I stumbled in my weight loss journey. It’s not the first time. It probably will not be the last time. But it is not failure.

I could sit here and feel guilty and sorry for myself. I could give in and quit trying. I could sit in the depths of meat sweats and sugar rushes but that wouldn’t do anything but make the situation worse.

I need to forgive myself for getting off track and start fresh. But how do you do that when motivation is at an all-time low?

Here are 15 ways to get your weight loss efforts back on track:
1. Look at web pages to get motivated. If your look at this blog you are on the right track. There are plenty of sights sharing how others overcome similar struggles and obstacles. Looking at these can be a great source of motivation.
2. Craft ideas: Create a motivational collage. Include pictures of your goal and reasons why you want to get there.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Your morning meal sets the stage for the rest of your day, so start if off right!
4. “Play exercise” is a good way to get a workout. Go play football, basketball, or other activities.
5. Do a short workout or exercise routine. Even five minutes is better than nothing.
6. Write down what you eat today. Use a tracker program or just write on a paper. No matter how it adds up, you’ll learn from it.
7. Share your goals. Mutual accountability goes a long way toward your goal. Getting support from friends can also give you some fresh ideas. insight and encouragement.
8. Take a walk. Don’t worry about how long or far you go—just get out there!
9. Try a new recipe. Cooking healthy foods can be fun and it never has to be bland.
10. Go shopping for some healthy foods or exercise videos.
11. Make informed choices! Look at the labels and add up what you are eating before you eat it!
12. Take a leisurely ride on your bike. It has benefits for your body and mind.
13. Working in the yard, raking leaves, and putting up Christmas lights all help burn calories, make your place look good, and help you have a healthy, happy attitude.
14. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if this is the only thing you do all day, you’ll feel stronger for it.
15. Listen to an inspirational song. Music is a great way to put yourself back on track.
The idea is not to beat yourself up when you fail but to get right back in the game again. Failure is not falling once, or twice, or even over and over again. Failure is the lack of desire to get back up and try again!

Dear God Almighty, You hold my hand and keep me from falling flat on my face. I praise your name for that. I fear failing in my spiritual walk and in my weight loss journey. Help me to never give up. Thanks for being there with me and giving me your strength and power. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

What If I Stumble (DC TALK)

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians
Who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door
And deny Him by their lifestyle
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable

What if I stumble? What if I fall?

Is this one for the people? Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade for things I must afford?
You can jumble them together
My conflict still remains, holiness is calling
In the midst of courting fame

‘Cause I see the trust in their eyes
Though the sky is falling
They need your love in their lives
Compromise is calling

What if I stumble? What if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble? And what if I fall?

What if I stumble? What if I fall?
You never turn in the heat of it all
What if I stumble? What if I fall?

Father please forgive me for I can not compose
The fear that lives within me
Or the rate at which it grows
If struggle has a purpose
On the narrow road you’ve carved
Why do I dread my trespasses will leave a deadly scar?

Do they see the fear in my eyes?
Are they so revealing?
This time I cannot disguise
All the doubt I’m feeling

What if I stumble? What if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble? And what if I fall?

What if I stumble?
Everyone’s got to crawl when you know that
You’re up against a wall, it’s about to fall
Everyone’s got to crawl when you know that

Everyone’s got to crawl when you know that
You’re up against a wall, it’s about to fall
Everyone’s got to crawl when you know that

I hear you whispering my name
“My love for you will never change”

What if I stumble? What if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble? And what if I?

What if I stumble? And what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble? And what if I fall?

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You never turn in the heat of it all
What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You are my comfort, and my God

Is this one for the people?
Is this one for the Lord?


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THANKFUL FOR “THE FOOD” -1 Chronicles 29:10-18

1 Chronicles 29:10-18 –

All my life we have said a blessing at each meal for the food that we eat. Even when we eat out. Sometimes someone will come up to me and comment about it. Most of the time the response is good.

I do it because I believe that we need to express gratitude to the Lord for everything. But it may surprise some that there really isn’t any specific command saying, “Thou shalt pray for your food before every meal for I am an angry God who will smite thee if thou neglects it!” I have actually had people who thought they might get sick or choke on “unblessed food”.

As my children were growing up we taught them to pray before each meal. They would always say “thank you for the food” and then they would peek out from behind folded hands and closed eyes and name off each item we were having. Then they would thank God for the fork, the spoon, the plate, the napkin, and anything else that was sitting on the table. It was cute.

Sometimes we get so rushed in our eagerness to eat that we generically thank God for the food we are about to eat without much real thought put into the words we are speaking. God has blessed us with a rich variety of taste, textures, types, and temperatures of foods. (i.e. – cheese has a slightly different taste and texture when served at room temperature that it does served hot or cold).

Consider also the preparation that it takes for each dish. I can throw a bunch of vegetables into a pot and make a tasty soup. But if you take your time and “layer” flavors you will make a stew that will knock your socks off.

There is, of course, the ones who worked to get the food from the point of origin to our table. I once saw a show that followed the food from field to the table. One thing it made me appreciate was the effort that goes into each sip of coffee that I am drinking this morning and some of the other foods that God gives to me as a blessing.

As you know from this blog that I have always struggled with food. You might say that I like it too much. I struggle with over indulgence. I wolf down my food with less thought or gratitude than when I prayed my generic prayer and then I look for more. I think that probably is the worse sign of ingratitude.

Today, I am going to show my God that I am grateful for the food that he provides for me to eat. I am going to eat smaller portions and savor each bite and each flavor. I am going to pray that God blesses each hand that helped bring that food to my table too. And I am going to pray for those whose stomachs are going empty today. With much thought and gratitude I will show… and vocalize… my thanks for “the food.”

Dear Father, I am truly grateful for all the blessings you provide in my life. I am especially grateful for the food. Forgive me of the times I don’t appear appreciative. Forgive me for keeping my feet under the table when the fields are white unto the harvest. And thank you most of all, oh Lord, for the wonderful blessing of the bread of life, your son, Jesus. It is in his name that I pray to you this morning. Amen.

“If the only prayer you say in your life is “thank you,” that would suffice.” -Meister Eckhart

“As we join hands in fellowship around this bountiful table, we give thanks for the blessings of this food and the love of these friends as a symbol of our gratitude for all the manifold blessings of this life.” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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The Cold Doesn’t Bother Me Anyway – Genesis 8:22 /Proverbs 11:3-4

Genesis 8:22 -“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Proverbs 11:3-4 -If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain on the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

I love these two passages from the Bible. They remind me that the weather always changes. The seasons change too. Time marches on and the weather is not always conducive to our plans.

When I grew up in Indianapolis, we did not have daylight savings time because Indiana is on the boarder of two time zones. When I moved out of Indiana I was floored by the changing of times in the spring and fall. I still am puzzled as why we put our bodies and brains into this situation. It’s disorienting and doesn’t accomplish a thing (contrary to what they want you to believe). It usually messes me up. I feel sluggish and I feel the winter blahs hit all the harder.

The weather and times can mess us up in our weight loss journey as well. In the winter our metabolize slows down, sometimes we eat more and exercise less. It is easy to pack on a few extra pounds as the temperature begins to go down. The rain, the snow, the cold, also contribute to weight gain because who wants to get out in that?

You can’t change the weather. But you can change your attitude. Now is the time to work at changing our attitude and habits for the good. We do this by preparing for those short winter days.

The animal world prepares for the long winter by storing food, changing eating habits, or by preparing for a long winter’s nap. We need to prepare for a change in the weather and temps too.

I was talking to someone the other day who can’t walk because her knees and feet prevent her from doing so. But believe it our not there is a really buff granny out there that has a program called “Sit and Be Fit”. There are aerobic exercises that you can do in a chair! Her attitude changed when I told her of a different way.

For me, the biggest adjustment I have to make is getting my mind in gear. I need to dress warmer or find alternative places and activities to do when it gets colder. I need to change my eating habits for the better. I need to make sure my mind is not making excuses to stay in front of the TV and drink hot chocolate and eat holiday treats.

“As long as the earth endures there will be… cold and heat, summer and winter…” So I guess we should prepare. Are you ready?

Dear Heavenly Father; Thank you for the change in seasons that makes our weather interesting. Help me to stay active. Help me to eat right. Help me to continue to serve you. In Jesus’name, Amen.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” -Jim Rohn

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” -George Santayana

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Into Every Life… – Psalm 84:5-7

Psalm 84:5-7: Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

It has been a dreary week most of this week. Although we have had a couple really good days the majority of this week was raining and cool. One of my good friends told me that the mountains of North Carolina are beautiful when it’s sunny but the autumn rains last forever.

In one of my devotions this week I ran across a beautiful scripture. I love the image that the Psalmist projects in this writing in Psalm 84. It is an inspiring look at the splendor of God and a blessings that come from following him. And it gives a new look at the autumn rain.

Verse 5-7 speak of the rain in the desert valley. This is a blessing to me when the rainy gloom seems to settle in on me. God’s blessings are like those rains in dessert and the pools that gather. We go from pool to pool gathering strength. The rainy, dreary day is just a reminder of God’s blessings and provision.

Matthew Henry explains this in his commentary, “The pilgrims to the heavenly city may have to pass through many a valley of weeping, and many a thirsty desert; but wells of salvation shall be opened for them, and consolations sent for their support. Those that press forward in their Christian course, shall find God add grace to their graces. And those who grow in grace, shall be perfect in glory.”

The weather has made it hard for me to get my exercise in this week. It doesn’t just make it hard for me to get outside and walk, run, or jog. It also makes it hard for me to get motivated when it is dreary.

When it is cold, dreary, and wet outside you need to make sure there is a fire burning inside. The warmth from the fire inside will help you get motivated. I do this in two ways:

The first thing I do is remember that “this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Lately, I have been doing the thirty days of gratitude in November. When you spend some time looking for things to be grateful for and trying to encourage and show appreciation to others then your fire will start to burn bright.

The second thing that I do is come up with alternative plan for getting exercise in. It’s kind of fun to think of new ways to exercise. Here are a few that I have thought up. Some of them I have actually used this week.

1. Choose to move. It is easy to sit down or sleep in on gloomy days. Set your alarm and get up… don’t hit the snooze. Try doing some housework.
2. Put some shoes and magazines in a clothes basket and picked it up and put it down repeatedly. Make sure to keep your abs tight and lift with your knees instead of your back.
3. I have stairs in the back of house going down to the basement. So I have walked up a down them repeatedly as if it was a step exercising machine.
4. I also set the timer on my stove stove while working in the office or watching TV. This way at intervals I will get up and move.
5. Moving furniture is another way to brighten up the castle and also get some more movement in.
6. Put on some music and dance. (You may want to draw the curtains first cause this ain’t always a pretty picture for the neighbors.)
7. Instead of saying, “Honey, could you get me…”, you might try getting up and getting it yourself. Better yet, keep asking others if you can get them something. It will help you move more and it will make your spouse wonder what you are trying to do!
8. Play with your dog, cat, grandchildren, etc. – run and chase each other. You can also borrow the neighbor’s kids and do some babysitting so they have a mommy’s day out.
9. By a jump-o-line. They are inexpensive, fit in a closet, and you can exercise by jumping up and down in a small place.
10. Visit websites and see what others are doing too.

Feel free to comment on some of your rainy day ideas to move more.

Dear Lord, Thank you for these cool, wet days that remind us of your blessings and grace. You abundantly poor out your help and provision. Keep the fire burning in me so I don’t get lazy in my weight loss journey and so I don’t lose step in my walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” -Rabindranath Tagore

“You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it.” -Denzel Washington

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WOW, Gorgeous Sunrise – Habakkuk 3:3-4

Habakkuk 3:3-4 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.

Sunrise at the church 10-31-2013

Sunrise at the church 10-31-2015

I moved to the mountains of North Carolina two years ago. Our first morning here we woke up to a beautiful snow. A few weeks later I was up early and at work in my office when the room began to glow. It was turning orange, red, and yellow from the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen.

In the time I have been at BCCC I have never failed to be impressed with the rising of the sun, the snow, the sky, the mountains around. It makes my heart sing and praise God just as Habakkuk wrote, “His splendor was like the sunrise…”

God has given me the reminder of a beautiful sunrise in the morning. It sings out that God is good and that today is a gift. It makes me want to make the most of it.

Yes, it is a chilly 37 degrees outside. But I am ready to exercise. Our walking group meets at 9:00 a.m. and by then it may come up a smidgen on the thermometer. I hope we get a good group… the more the merrier! It’s going to be a beautiful day.

“Attitude determines altitude,” a wise person used to tell me. I sometimes get down and feeling sorry for myself. I was a moody teenager and sometimes laps back into it. A swift kick in the rear quarters was what my dad called, “an attitude adjustment.” And we all need one of those.

When I am down in the dumps I usually make poor decisions. Bad eating choices, poor financial decisions, and I fail terribly at avoiding temptations. So I need an attitude adjustment now and then. The sunrise is one way God helps me adjust my attitude.

What spectacular colors in this mornings sunrise. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice. But it was only here for a few minutes. And that’s all it took to get me going.

Dear God, Thanks for the beautiful sunrise. Thank you for glimpses of your majesty and splendor. Thanks for the attitude adjustments and the reminders that you are in control of the day. Thank you for your awesome beauty and the wonder of your  creation. I can’t wait to see you face to face on the other side of glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” ―John Calvin

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Where Are We Going Today? – Genesis 12:1-4

Genesis 12:1-4 – The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

My grandson has always had a sense of adventure. Always moving, always doing something. He would go on bike rides with me. He liked to go for a run or walk. He was always ready when we would get in the car. “Where are we going today, Grandpa?”, he would say as I buckled his harness on the bike trailer. He was ready to go.

Although he is quite a bit older, I see that same sense of adventure in the seventy-five year old, Abram (Abraham). Although God told him to get up and leave his father’s house and his home country, there is no rebuttal, no excuses, not even a word. God doesn’t tell him where he is going but rather says “Go to the land I will show you.” And Abram goes.

There was no supernatural map given to Abraham. He did not have GPS or turn-by-turn navigation. He just trusted God to get him where He wanted Abram to go.

The journey takes years and the promise is not fulfilled even when Abraham dies. But oh what a journey that was! Many adventures were had. There were times when he laughed and times when he cried. There must have been times when he felt alone but God was with him every step of the way. There were times when God asked him to do things that seemed impossible. There were celebrations and there were good times. There was also trouble on the way but God always saw them through it. And in spite of everything, God blessed Abram even when he made mistakes. God even changed his name. Oh what a journey that was!

I believe that is how it is when we live by faith in God and trust in Jesus for getting us through the tough things. As we walk with the Lord we should be saying, “Where are we going today, Lord?” We need to let God show us. We need a faith that will take us every step of our spiritual journey with Him.

As I walk this path on my weight loss journey I also feel the sense of adventure. Last night we held our first meeting at church planning for our accountablitiy group for weight loss and exercise called “Steppin’ Up”. It felt good to hear different people share where they are in their weight loss journey and their desires for encouragement and accountability as they continue going. I don’t know where this will go but I am looking forward to the trip.

I woke up today with a sense of adventure. I am not exactly sure what will happen today. But I am anxious to see what God is going to do today and where he is going to lead me. “Where are we going today, Lord?”

Prayer Thought: Dear, Lord. You have made this body of mine. The Psalmist reminds me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But when I look at this body I am distressed at what I have made of it. Where are we going today, Lord. Show me how to glorify your name with every step I take on this journey. Bless me in spite of my mistakes and lead me in the path of righteousness for your name’s sake. Thank you, God almighty, for all the blessings you give us. I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior, Amen.

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” -Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.”

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God’s Blessings – Ephesians 1:3

Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,…

John never helped around the house in spite of his mother’s insistence. He came home from school, played video games, ate supper with the family, and watched TV until he was tired and ready for bed. Whenever his mother or father began to talk to him about things he ought to be doing, like cleaning his room, taking out the trash, or helping wash dishes, he would roll his eyes and shut them out.

One day he came down to eat supper only to find that there was nothing for him to eat. When he got up in the morning there were no clean clothes to wear. When he missed the bus to school his father told him he would have to walk. When he wanted to buy a new video game his mother suggested he “get a job”.

John was angry at first. How could his parents do this to him? What had he done to deserve such treatment? After all, it is their responsibility as parents to take care of him, isn’t it?

But after a few days, his mother and father lovingly told him that they need his cooperation. That if he did his part they would continue to do all the things that they had done before and other nice things as well. John didn’t like it at first but as he began to do the things that his parents asked and he began to receive special benefits from them in return.

In this story, you may think that I am telling you that if you follow God you will be blessed and that if you don’t you will be “cut-off” from his blessings. I am not really saying that. Jesus said, “God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

But as I have talked and counseled with people I see a theme developing that I don’t like. They have these “woe is me” stories to tell. Everything is going wrong in their life. When I talk to them I find that they are living outside of God’s will and his word. And they want me to pray for them, encourage them, and sometimes even give them assistance. I try hard not to judge them. I try to help. But I don’t think my advise is always accepted.

God loves to bless people. He loves to give them their “daily bread”. He loves to show him his everlasting love. God is really cool that way. Isaiah 55:1-3 is an invitation for people to come receive God’s blessings without cost or labor. But it does require self-sacrifice, you have to be willing to come.

So why is it that we want all of God’s blessings without even trying to follow his way? Why do we want God to make everything right in our lives when we are busy trying to make things wrong. We want the milk and the water without being willing to come to him.

I talked to someone once who was caught driving under the influence of alcohol for the third time. He asked me to pray for God to keep him from doing jail time. He literally wanted a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from God. I prayed that God would be with him and help him endure the consequences of his actions no matter what they were. He ended up spending some time in jail.

It’s kind of like my weight loss efforts. I step on the scales hoping that the scales not only look past my self-indulgences and lack of effort to exercise but to also bless me with with a loss of weight. It just doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes the blessing is in the reality too. If the scales didn’t tell the truth I would probably not put the effort in to lose weight. I would not be motivated to do better. I would just continue to try to subject the scales to doing things my way in spite of eating what I want and not exercising.

For John, the real blessing is that he has parents who care and want him to be a better person. They stepped out of the roll of provider long enough to show John that he has responsibilities too. That took guts, because many people would criticize them for what they see as neglect. John could have became one more spoiled and entitled child who never grows up. But instead, his parents showed him how to be responsible.

I pray that God will bless you today. But I also pray that you will submit to his will and his word in your life. Then you will see real “showers of blessings” from above.

Dear God, I am sorry for the times I have expected blessings without submitting to you. Help me to follow your will and your way. Help me to see the blessings in all the circumstances in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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