Living Life Together With Purpose

Limitless Life Photo CoverI am participating in another OBS through Proverbs 31 Ministries and their Blog Hop. This particular post isn’t being “linked up” due to my lateness in finding the time to sit down and write, however, I am looking forward to Blog Hop Thursdays and the community of bloggers who participate throughout this study!

Speaking of which – this brings us to the first Blog Hop topic!

COMMUNITYWhat does community mean to you? What do you need from community? What can you give to community? 

I view community as a body of people who share life together with purpose. It’s different to me than a “gathering”, because a gathering is for a shared purpose. When you gather with people, you may or may not ever really know them. An example would be in large churches, we gather together to worship the Lord and may never even meet one another depending on how large the church is. I don’t believe that is a bad thing in and of itself, I think the danger comes when that is as far as our idea of “community” goes. Speaking of which, I have to share an image I came across on Facebook this week as I can’t get it out of my mind, especially with this topic….

 

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I have to chuckle because it’s true. We are imperfect people striving towards the same goal, to be more like Christ, completely dependent on the Grace of God. I want to grow in my Faith and I know it’s the Lord’s Will for me to mature because He says so in scripture (Colossians 2:6-7). A Godly community, people whom I am sharing life with and living together with that purpose, is one of the many ways the Lord helps me to grow.

People who are living their lives together know one another, which means we have the opportunity to love and serve one another, therefore fulfilling God’s Will per His commandments (John 13:34-35). Serving is vital to our Christian growth because Jesus came and served. How can we expect to be like Him without learning how to serve? Community helps us to do this.

Community helps us admonish one another. When we live outside of community it’s easier to get “picked off” by the lone wolf prowling around. Sometimes it’s the wolf within that attacks first. A community of people living with you will know, and will then have the opportunity to point it out and encourage you in Godly love to overcome through Christ. I am most thankful for the women who have admonished me in love and walked alongside me through trials. I know my family is thankful to have had the blessing to walk alongside other families. To know someone on a deeper level, to pray for them, to feel compassion for them, and to act out of that compassion I think gives us beautiful glimpses of what Jesus did when He walked the earth and of the compassion He feels for us.

 

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What I need most from community is to give. Giving keeps me outside of myself. It’s so easy to become “me” focused. My culture tells me it’s about “You have to Love yourself” and “You have to forgive yourself”. Neither of these statements are statements I can find in Scripture. Scripture actually points to a completely different idea which is summed up best (in my opinion) in Matthew:

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40

Without getting into a debate about self-esteem (another blog for another time) I think it’s easy to say we struggle more with putting others first. At the very least, I can say I DO. I need to live in Biblical community so I have constant opportunities to put others first. Other Godly women spur me on to Love my husband, children, and extended family. My husband and son spur me on to love others. All of this is done under the covering of Loving God first. It means I give of my talents (spiritual gifts), my time, financially and emotionally, to others in the community who are in need of my giving. It also means there will be others to meet my needs when they arise. It grows me beyond myself, it grows my understanding to love deeper. It grows me to be more like Jesus.

Which I think means community is a precious, complex, beautiful gift from God.

Yes, our human-ness will at times mess it up, bringing sin into a beautiful gift and causing frictions and irritations. The reality is that is a beautiful part of it too. Those frictions and irritations serve as opportunities for us to fulfill other commandments, like forgiving as we have been forgiven. God tells me His forgiveness is ENOUGH, so I don’t need to waste time trying to “forgive” myself. If I could do that, I wouldn’t have needed a Savior to reconcile me before a Just and Holy God. I am however called to forgive others. Community gives me that opportunity as well, as I’m positive others have found themselves having to forgive me. As we forgive, our faith continues to grow. If you really sink into thinking about just how much community can grow you in faith, it’s pretty amazing, and humbling.

Yes. Our God is THAT good to put together such
a remarkable plan for community.
He is Glorified as our Faith Grows in Community with one another.

My hope and prayer is that everyone out there would take off their mask and allow themselves to be transparent and part of God’s community.
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Want to check out an awesome Online Community of Bloggers who are living lives together with purpose? Check out the link up 🙂 and please make sure to let me know if you blogged about community too so I can drop by and leave some comment love!

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Did I Need Him on the Cross Today?

Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies

I have a confession to make my friends. When I originally decided to read Made To Crave and participate in the online Bible study, I thought it would be a nice little book to help me stay motivated to lose weight and be healthy.

I had no idea the depths it would bring me in regards to my spiritual health. I had no idea I would at times find myself in tears, scribbling down painful answers in a journal as I dug deeper into how I think and what I really believe.

This week has been no exception. I have been encouraged by Lysa Terkeurst in her writing to not be defined by the scale, or anything else, and instead to be defined by my obedience to God.

So how do I do that exactly? How do I live a life that finds my significance in Jesus?

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. ~ 1 John 3:21-22
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

First, I need to be honest with myself and with my Father about the ways I’ve tried to find my significance apart from Him. I need to repent of putting my worship/trust in something other than Him, of loving something above Him. For me, this has been my family, my career, my writing, and food. I have looked to other people and placed them on higher thrones than God to be disappointed, to turn and focus on my own abilities to be disappointed, then turn to fried foods, sweet foods, and any other food I could get my hands on to be disappointed – and start over again.

Father, forgive me for trying to find my worth, my value, and my purpose in anything other than you. Forgive me for placing other people, myself, and food on a throne before you. I want to repent of this, to turn away and trust in You, to seek You, to know You and know who I am in You. Help me to turn from Idols Father. I ask your Holy Spirit reveal to me when I am turning to an idol and cry out for me, to help me keep my heart and mind focused on You.

Which brings me to my next question. Do I trust Him?
I mean really trust Him?

Do I trust Him when He says He will forgive me? That there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2)? How can I repent of something and still have no confidence? How can I seek forgiveness and still hold closed my heart and not change? Do I Trust Him and What He Says?

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8
For I the Lord, do not change; ~Malachi 3:6a

Father, hear my cry, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Lord, reveal to me when I am not trusting you and help me through your Holy Spirit to have faith. To have faith that knows you and believes you. A faith that takes you at your word and lets the confidence of my heart be in You.  Help me Father to look to You more, and myself and others less. 

When weights are pulling down my shoulders, feelings of failure and despair threatening at my door, I need to stop and evaluate what’s going on. Evaluate what I’m doing and why I am doing it. Is my motivation my Lord and Savior, or is it something else? Am I doing something to bring Him glory and point to the gospel, or am I doing something to point and bring glory to myself?

Those questions may bring me back to confession and repentance. Sometimes I think we forget the necessity of confession and repentance.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Now, my next thought may not be very popular. Honestly, I’ve been wrestling with it for several days. Wrestling because my sin nature doesn’t want to admit it. I can’t find my significance apart from Christ, because I am not good. I am sinful.
When I read scripture, it’s easily seen I am not good. When I am not confessing and repenting – I am deceived. When I am deceived, I start looking to other things for my significance because I don’t need Jesus on the cross.

That has been the hard pill for me to swallow. When I go to bed at night, having nothing to confess, nothing to repent of,  nothing to seek His help with growing in, what I’m really saying is “I had today Lord, today I was good, and I didn’t need you on the cross today because I took care of it“.

Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying it’s about beating myself up and looking at all the ways I’m a failure.
I’m only a ‘failure’ when I look to MYSELF to accomplish what HE accomplished on the cross. When I look to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, when I humble myself before Him and realize my need for Him, I have NO condemnation in Him. He is faithful to forgive me where I confess and repent. He is faithful to give me a new heart and transform my mind.
As He does this, I can see where I am obedient to Him, and that is where I find my significance. In Him.

The beautiful thing, is when I believe He is who He says He is, and His words are Always Truth, then I know my worth, my value, and my dignity can never be diminished or taken away by anything or anyone. People can not diminish my worth. Age cannot diminish my value. Money cannot remove my integrity. I find my significance in my Father. The confidence of my heart comes from Him. It’s then I realize the chains are gone, I’ve been set free.

ME chapter 7

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

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Wellness Wednesday and Financial Peace

For those following along with the Mark Study, please excuse the delay. The final post for Mark will be here next week.
For the book review portion of these, please skip on down to the bottom 🙂

It’s Wednesday. I try to use Wednesdays to think about my wellness goals, hold myself accountable to them.
I have a confession to make.
I was really excited to Weigh In today.
REALLY EXCITED.

I moved up to level two  on the 30DS. Last time I tried this workout, it was right about now I gave up. Not being able to exercise and breathe at the same time was a turn off for me. I believe when exercising I need to push myself. I’m aware of my own laziness. It’s possible this 30 minutes of exercise will be the majority of my movement for the DAY at times. I also believe trying to commit to a program that’s too physically intense is a waste of time and energy. A constant feeling of failure isn’t going to motivate me to show up the next day and do it again.

Over the last year I have been doing more. So this time I could feel the difference in my body, my energy, and my ability. Hence why even though it’s intense right now and I’m sore all over again like I was in the first four days, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and want to keep pushing on.

So with a smile I stepped on the scale:

Last Weigh-In: 136.6lbs
Today’s Weight: 136.2lbs (-0.4)
Bottom Line: +6.2 lbs from Goal

That defeated feeling crept up and in and over with rapid speed. It lingered all morning.

Then came the domino effect. Maybe you’ve experienced this?

Thoughts of “Why bother with this? My husband loves me, who cares about weight? I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Why bother exercising? This is just too much work. It’s taking too long. How much does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?”

Then a very quiet thought, in the very back of my self-pity and frustration, barely audible yet recognizable the whispered “How much does this matter? Ask why does this matter?

The Why isn’t about a number on the scale.
The Why is about my food addictions. About food easily and quickly becoming my IDOL.
About the number on the scale becoming my IDOL.
About finding strength in a God who offers me complete freedom from bondage, guilt, and shame through His son, even though I have done nothing to deserve it.
About truths – my body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.  My body needing to be in motion to stay healthy.
About seeking Him in this journey of bringing my body under control and using it to honor Him. Having Faith that He will help me do this.

It’s the Why I needed to remind myself of today.
It’s the Why that helped me eventually change into my workout clothes, pop the DVD in the player, and put in twenty minutes of intensity as Jillian would say.
And it’s the Why that lead me to the elliptical to put in twenty more minutes of cardio for this beating heart of mine.

Then I realized something else.
Our God is unbelievably perfect. He knows I need exercise to stay healthy. He knows my flesh would rather work one day and rest six. So He designed my body to release endorphins when I exercise. To relax my body and reduce my stress. To literally give me a “good feeling” so after I get started I honestly enjoy it. WOW.

The other thing I wanted to share with you was a book I read.
During one of my elliptical training times, I began thinking about all the different aspects of life “Wellness” could apply to.

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The mind wanders when you have a wall and Tom Hanks to stare at for 20 minutes

I’ve been thinking about finances this month because my husband and I had some major financial prayers, and thankfully, major financial blessings. With the blessings came a new financial prayer, for wisdom, discipline, and the ability to have an open hand with our finances for the Lord’s purposes. I decided with all the research and reading I do on nutrition and exercise, maybe it was time to take a few days and research finances.

I stopped by my church library and checked out the financial shelf. I love my church library. I saw two Dave Ramsey books and decided to start with him, mainly because I’ve heard good things about him through the grapevine.

I decided to read while on the elliptical and I could not put the first book down. It’s his Financial Peace*.

I think what I needed most from the book was the understanding of just how dangerous debt is. Facing how much of the culture’s buy-in I’ve accepted over the years that “debt is the norm”.

I like Ramsey’s writing style. It’s very easy to follow. I came across a few sentences that made me literally laugh out loud. For example, “Avoid the lifestyles of the rich when you are not rich“. I mean, that should be common sense right? I know there are times when I NEED to hear that. Hence why I laughed. Followed by “You must find your income level and live below that mark“. Another chuckle from me.

I don’t believe Ramsey is the end-all be-all of financial knowledge. I think there is a danger in putting too much focus on “building your personal wealth” against the many teachings of Christ.
I do believe savings is a smart idea, and planning for a retirement that would not burden your children is smart too.  I now have a new appreciation to understand the slavery debt is.
Ultimately I think it’s more about submitting the numbers to the Lord’s will over your own, something I’m sure I will struggle with until the day I die.

Ramsey has some great advice on getting out of debt, things to consider in a monthly budget, and even suggestions on teaching kids about finances before they are grown and on their own. The book made me really take a hard honest look at my view of money, my spending, and gave me some insight as to what I do and why I do it. It helped me realize things I need to be in prayer with the Lord about when it comes to me and money, and it left me with a written plan my husband and I are committed to.

These were my wellness lessons this week.
The reminder I needed yet again about WHY I am on this journey to physical health, and realizing financial wellness is important too.

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Oh, and one more thing! Realizing I’ve finally developed enough balance to read while on the elliptical. FANTASTIC.
I look forward to utilizing this new ability for researching all areas of “wellness”.

How did your week go?

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

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32085: Financial Peace: Revisited Financial Peace: RevisitedBy Dave Ramsey

Want to get out of debt and stay out? Financial Peace Revisited gives you the tools to understand why you are in debt, create a budget you can stick to, set goals you can achieve, and make things right for you and your family emotionally, spiritually, and financially, for good. Updated version of the bestseller Financial Peace includes new chapters on marriage, singles, kids, and families.

 

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