Mindfulness

I have been trying to be more mindful about a lot of things but it is exhausting. It takes a lot of thinking and planning to be more intentional. And since I can only be more mindful about a few things at a time, I need to choose wisely. What deserves my focus? I can’t possibly be intentional about everything. So I struggle with balancing what is vital with what would be nice as well as how to go about it.

Recently I have been working on mindful eating. I know, I know – this is a First World problem. For some reason, this is my challenge. And definitely a work in progress but I need to find a good groove for this because I do travel quite a bit these days and that can be a challenge if I have not given it some thought. So I have tried to break it down a bit. Maybe whatever you are being more mindful about can fit in these categories. Or, please feel free to share how you are thinking through and acting on the things that are important to you!

WHAT – having a meal and snack plan is important. I need to have healthy snacks as well as healthy meals but I also have a budget. Thinking through my meals and making s

WHEN – These days, I can’t have a meal late without feeling yucky so I like to finish my last meal by 7pm, and then no snacks afterwards. I like to be in bed around 9pm or so because my day starts early.

WHERE – I have to admit that there is quite a bit of snacking in the car, particularly if I am trying to stay awake. Once in a while we are trying to push through and we might even eat a meal while driving. I am sure this isn’t a great plan. The other thing I need to work on is since our dining room table always has work project on it, it isn’t always ready to eat on. I don’t like that. I need find a better system so I can eat at our table.

WHY – This might sound crazy but I do need to think a little more about why I am eating. Am I really hungry? Am I bored? Is everyone else doing it? Does it just taste sooo good? Or am I automatically doing it without any thought? Have you ever been to a nice, satisfying dinner and then went out for a movie and bought popcorn and had a bucketful? It’s crazy…but we do it. Somehow it seems like going to the movies automatically means having popcorn. Now, I don’t go to the movies except for, maybe, once a year but the above scenario is a great example of mindless eating!

HOW – I have a tendency to eat too fast – so building in time to relax and enjoy a meal S-L-O-W-L-Y is important for digestion but I have either waited too long (and then I am too hungry) or I have some other task I need to accomplish. Being mindful about pace is important for me. I love the idea of “slow food” cooking but maybe I just need to think about “slow food” eating???

HOW MUCH – For me, this is my extra challenge. But eating more slowly will help me eat less. Serving portions in restaurants are large and I need to be more mindful when ordering but also as I am eating. Leaving food behind (if I can’t take it with me for later) is better than just eating it so I don’t “waste” it!

Really now, bring mindful about food requires that much thought? Apparently, for me, it does.

What are you being more mindful about these days?

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:15-25, NIV]

May God bless your day!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: DIRECTION

The Law

I have been flirting with The Law a bit lately. It always happens on our trips, especially a really long one. I am tired of being in the car and I am ready to get where I am going and, once in a while, I tend to be a little heavy-footed and my speed creeps up.

Are there areas in your life that have you flirting with disaster?

Knowing the law is certainly one thing. Striving to obey it is another. I knew the law and willfully disobeyed it. This is definitely one area in my life where I try to see how far I can get away with breaking the law. I push my “luck” on the open road.

Even though I haven’t been ticketed for speeding in a really long time I know I would completely deserve whatever comes my way. There is a boundary line and if I knowingly cross it and I am mature enough to accept the consequences. That ticket would mean a fine and maybe points on my license. I am sure I would be sorry I was “caught” but that is definitely not the same as being sorry for my sin.

And there is a difference.

When my heart is contrite, I experience guilt, regret, remorse, rue, and/or shame. It isn’t about being caught, it is about the sin in my life.  Coming to the knowledge of my sin is overwhelming. But knowing my Savior delivers me from my sin and cleanses me from all unrighteousness is also overwhelming.

 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. [Psalm 51, NIV]

May God’s law work on our hearts and root out the sin that wants to rest there!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BONES

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

Buso Fire w
Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, Hungary

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,
Liz

 

Offenders

Our congregation participates in a program called Kairos Prison Ministry International. There is a lot to the organization but one thing they do is take trained volunteers into correction facilities to share the Gospel during a carefully and prayerfully planned weekend. Here is a link to their website: Kairos Prison Ministry International

If you or someone you love has been in trouble with the “Law” you know the heartbreak, the stubbornness, the relief, the fear, the anger, the hesitation, the disappointment, and the hard work it takes to turn in around.

Please pray for offenders and their families. Pray for those who have changed their ways to be strong in their resolve to live a healthy and law-abiding life. Pray for those who are heading down that path to be caught sooner rather than later and wake up to the trouble they are causing. Pray for the families who are often caught in a cycle of shame and blame.

Pray about your involvement in ministry to offenders and their families. If you feel ministering to offenders (or their families) is a direction God may be leading you, there are several organizations out there.