Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 12 Blog Posts of 2012 on A New Day Café


It’s time to wrap up 2012—to review the past year and celebrate the new one that’s just around the corner. So here are the top 12 blog posts of 2012 that you, my readers, chose as the most read:





5. Holy Tenacity: Hope When Life Is Hard








 
And, the #1 most read blog post of all time on A New Day Café?



 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year 2013! Will This Year Be Different?


New Year's Eve is upon us and soon it will be 2013. Sure, many people make--and then break--their New Year's resolutions, so this year I am going to call them "Things I Want to Do Differently in 2013." 

By not calling them resolutions, I think I have a better chance of making real and lasting changes in the next 12 months.

How about you? It doesn't have to be hard or complicated, but take some time to think about how you want the next year to be better. Pray and talk to God about what you want to GET RID OF and what you want to ADD and what you want to KEEP.

Get rid of
Like, I want to get rid of some pounds. So I will set a specific number and ask God to help me to do what I cannot seem to do on my own--lose this weight once and for all. Maybe you want to get rid of a bad habit or finally clean that closet that's been bothering you for months. Whatever it is, it's time! Out with the old, in with the new!

Add
OK, so you want to shed some things in your life. Now what do you want to add to your life to make it better? Do you want to have more joy? A better attitude? Increased income? Or, maybe closer friendships or a life partner? Once you know what you want, you can list some specific steps you can take to get there. We do our part and God does His part--He empowers us, gives us the strength and willpower (or won't-power) to accomplish things we never thought we could do.

Seriously. Prayer is the biggest thing to add to your life in 2013. Without God's help, we often remain stuck in our old ways. And that's not what we want for this new year. Nope! We want things to be different, better, happier, and more abundant! At least, I do.

Keep
Finally, ask yourself what you want to keep on doing or being in 2013. What's working well and should continue? Like, you want to keep being nice to people even when they treat you poorly (again, that's where prayer comes in!) You want to keep on serving the poor or opening doors for others or supporting worthy causes or...You fill in the blank for what's on your list.

I think 2013 is gonna be a good year. With positive expectation and hope, I will pray this prayer for myself and all my readers:

Prayer for 2013
"Lord, we come before you at the start of a brand new year---we are hopeful and expectant. Will you show us all that you have for us in 2013? I ask for blessings and favor, peace and abundance. Bless us Lord, so we can be a blessing to others! I ask for healing and good health, and wisdom to make right choices. I ask for open doors and new opportunities that a good and exciting--and the energy to accomplish them. I ask for love, connection and community with friends, family and those I have yet to meet. May this new year be better than I expected--for me and for my readers--so next year at this time we can share our praises with joyful thanks to You! I ask believing. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Amen!

Happy New Year to You! Many blessings!

Jackie M. Johnson 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Single at Christmas: Help When You Feel Alone

 
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” So says the popular Christmas carol. But for many singles, the holiday season can be one of the loneliest times of the year.

If you are not in a relationship, you may long for someone’s hand to hold as you shop, ice skate, look at Christmas decorations or sit by a cozy fire. Or, you may live far from family and friends, and can’t afford to fly home this year. Most of your friends have already left to visit their families, and here you are.

Alone.

Sure, there may be people bustling around you at the stores or coffee house. It’s some comfort to see others at holiday parties or church events. But something inside is still amiss. You long to have a deeper connection, positive and loving with someone of the opposite sex.

And yet, here it is: another Christmas alone.

Our mood can change when we change our perspective, and start feeding it words of truth and hope. I love the fact that we celebrate “God WITH us” which is what Emmanuel means. So in reality, you are never alone. The One that loves you most, The One who created you, God Almighty, is with you…right now…wherever you are reading this on the planet today.

You may be in France or Finland, Brazil or Boston, USA, but wherever you live, you are never out of the reach of God’s love for you. He cares about you; he is your protector and provider. He listens. When you talk to him in prayer, like you would speak with a friend, he hears it all—and sees your needs.

This Christmas, give God the desires of your heart. Tell Him how you feel and what you need. Ask God to fill your loneliness with a heart of joy as you…

Seek to help others. Service brings your heart joy! Find one small thing you can do to help someone in need. Lucy’s advice to Charlie Brown still hold true today: help someone else and you feel good too.

Adopt a pet. Many homeless dogs and cats need love and attention.

Call a friend or family member. Be the one to reach out and connect—you may just be surprised.

Get out of the house. Sometimes you simply need to be around other people and not just “virtual” connections on social media. We need face time with others!

Pray. Talk to God. You don’t have to use big words or long sentences. Just talk in a real way, in a heartfelt way….and He will listen. God always answers prayers. We just don’t know how or when. The answer may be yes, no or wait. But know that God wants the best for you!

So, to all my readers—single or married, young or seasoned, around the block or across the globe…

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and new hope for this bright new year!

Jackie M. Johnson

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The True Meaning of Christmas?

 

 What is Christmas?


To some it is Santa and snowmen and toys,

To some it’s the shopping, bright wrappings and noise,

To others it’s family and everyone’s home,

To me, it’s much more. Let me share in this poem…

 

Christmas is where it all began,

  An infant child who became a man.

Eternity came down so we could understand,

  The child of Creator, the true Son of Man.

 

He was not unexpected, for the prophets foretold

    The events that had happened would surely unfold.

Four hundred years later the miracle came,

  The star over Bethlehem shone where He lay.

 

They came to attend Him from near and from far,

  The shepherds and wise men who followed the star.

  All were rejoicing that first Christmas night

At the child of a virgin, a humbling sight.

 

So what is the meaning of that first Christmas night?

  Simply, He came to make everything right.

  For the Child had a purpose in coming to Earth.

He came as a light and to give us new birth.

 

He gave us forgiveness and paid with His life.

  What kind of love would pay such a price?

For death could not hold Him; He rose from that grave.

And freedom and life were the gifts that He gave.

 

No longer divided, no longer alone,

  Because of His love the wall had come down.

  Live free forever! O, what a gift!

Both now here on earth and forever with Him.

 

Wise men and angels followed Him then.

  Wise men still seek Him, again and again.

 

                                                  -- Jackie M. Johnson

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayer for the Tragic School Shooting in Connecticut


Yesterday was a sad day in America. 27 lives lost. 20 children. 7 adults. Even one life lost by violence is one life too many.

We grieve for the families in the tragic shooting at the grade school in Newtown, Connecticut. We pray for comfort and healing, and one day, new hope. Children are so innocent and many will need years of counseling and help to recover.

We wonder what drives a young man to commit such a horrific crime. And we remember that in this world of good and evil, evil is right in front of us on a level so black we can barely comprehend it.

Many talk about gun control. And yet, no matter what your viewpoint on that topic, it's not the gun that kills. It's the person behind the gun. They make choices. And we need to pray for people to have a moral compass--a deep sense of right and wrong and to value life.

And we pray....

"Lord, we pray for the victims (children) and their families in the shooting in Connecticut. Our hearts break for this tragedy. Comfort them and heal this broken land. Help us, as a nation, to return to our moral compasses and live with love, not hate; with healing, not brokenness. Help us, Lord."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lesson from a Snow-Flocked Pine Tree


 

Snowfall on tall pines,
Sunrise and stirring
Of quiet and big dreams
As a new year awakens.

Dark-covered winter with
Dormant believing
Leads joyfully into
Spring’s hope-filled returning,
 
When flowers and faith
Resurrect from earth’s slumber
Alive and reminded
Of God’s faithful goodness.
                     -Jackie M. Johnson

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Breakup Book - Healing the Hurt After a Breakup

 
Going through a relationship breakup? Know someone who is? "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" can bring comfort and healing to the dark time of a breakup or divorce. You'll discover how to process the pain, deal with your greif and loss, and learn ways to make better choices in what you want (and don't want) in a relationship next time.
 
Share the hope with someone who's hurting. Here's a brief excerpt from the book:
 
          And then the day come comes when you don't think about him every day, and the mention of his name doesn't pierce your heart like a verbal arrow, a barb straight into your heart. You can drive past your special place it no longer has a hold on you. It’s just a place. You know who you are and what you want and it's okay. You know God loves you. And that makes all the difference.
 
The sun sets, the heart breaks, but the light of God’s brilliant and illuminating truth shines on. You come to realize that endings are a part of life, and so are new beginnings.
 
And you learn that God redeems your loss and pain, and heals the heart to love again. And one day everything really will be okay.  Maybe not today, but some day. 
 
As the tears pour out you discover that everything happens for a reason, even when you don’t understand or like it.  Bleary-eyed, you look up and smile as it begins to settle in your heart that God really is in control; He knows what He’s doing, He cares and He is working all things together for the good whether the relationship door slammed shut or gently closed behind you.
 
A door closes, a window opens, and a fresh breeze blows into the stale mourning stillness that lingers your heart. In the midst of your mess, God surprises you, and things begin to change…
 
What time is it in your life?  The edge of evening is approaching; it’s time to get the comfort and support you need to begin the heart healing process. The rest of your life is waiting.
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Standing Strong in Hard Times



Standing strong in hard times isn’t just for other people. You can be an overcomer! You may feel like you’re living in a black and white world, but God wants to bring back the living color.
 
As you learn to believe God and bask in His presence, you’ll discover wild hope—hope beyond your wildest imagination. When life tries to drag you down, you make new choices and keep telling yourself the truth.
 
Basking in His presence
You can tell yourself the truth in many ways. When you read the Bible, God’s truth in written form, consider reading the words out loud. When you pray—which is talking with God—you might choose to speak out loud instead of praying silently to yourself.
 
Or, write your prayers in a journal or notebook. Remember and record the good things He’s done, and how He’s come through for you in the past.
 
Read the Psalms for healing words of hope in hard times and discouragement. Like Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
 
Remember that the Lord really just wants to spend time with you. He wants you to linger, to “hang out,” to bask.
 
Think of the most beautiful full moon you’ve seen. Perhaps it’s a harvest moon hanging low in the October night sky. The moon reflects the light of the sun because it has “basked” in its brightness. And in the dark of night it shines brightly.
 
Likewise, as we bask in the light of the Son, Jesus Christ—as we spend time abiding—His light will shine brighter through us.
 
Having wild hope
Wild hope means hoping anyways, even when you feel you haven’t got a chance. It is daring to believe that God will come through for you even in your toughest times.
 
You never know where help will come from. It just may surprise you who (or what) God will use to bring relief to your situation. It may be something tangible like a hug from a friend or an unexpected check in the mail. Liberation may come from acceptance of the situation, or from forgiving someone who’s wronged you.
 
Believe God, bask in His presence, and pray, expecting things to change. Then, one day you will begin to feel something unusual: joy. Darkness begins to flee as the sunshine of hope rises in your heart like the dawn of a new day.
 
Dare to believe that the One who can do anything is at work even now restoring you and rebuilding your life.
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day: What Lincoln Said



Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love!

Here's a cool bit of history. As you may know, the first Thanksgiving was in 1621 with the pilgrims. But it wasn't until the mid-1800s that it was proclaimed a national holiday.

On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, for the first time setting aside the last Thursday in November as a National Day for giving thanks, setting the precedent for the annual holiday we will celebrate tomorrow.

Here’s his Proclamation:

"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
 
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
 
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
 
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
 
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler. Rutgers University Press, 1953.
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankfulness on Thanksgiving Day--and Always



Pumpkin pie, turkey, family and friends, and football are just a few iconic things about Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving Day is just one week away.

I am grateful to the first settlers, the pilgrims and the American Indians who helped us in our time of need...and for the harvest, the abundance of blessing they reaped more than 200 years ago. More so, I am grateful to God for all that He has done--and will do.

As you begin to ponder what you are thankful for, here are some good Bible verses to remember about thankfulness. God is our helper, healer, wise counselor and He is worthy of our thanks!

Give thanks always.
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

Give thanks because God is good.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1)

Give thanks for God’s unfailing love.
“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.” (Psalm 107:13-15)

Give thanks because we have victory.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After a Breakup: Dealing With Anger



The start of a new relationship is often bliss. You’re energized, excited and happy. You think about him all the time and you can’t wait to be near him again. It feels so wonderfully good to have that air of anticipation and expectancy as you wonder what’s going to happen next.

You soon discover that you really enjoy each other, and maybe you even begin to envision a life together. I think Robert Browning must have been in love when the poet penned, “God’s in his heaven—all’s right with the world.”

Then Cloud 9 bursts. Instead of walking on sunshine, you can hardly slug through the day because longing and loss are weighing you down. Or you’re a bundle of nerves, you’re totally confused or you’re mad as a hornet.

Breaking up produces a multitude of emotions. What do you do with them? Or should you do anything with them?

While your relationship may be over, your life isn’t.

By identifying, expressing and releasing emotions you can find relief. It's not the emotion itself, it's what you do with it that matters. Left untreated or unexpressed, emotional pain can wreak havoc in your love life. You may sabotage a perfectly good relationship because of your own commitment fears. Or, you may withhold affection and trust because others have wounded you deeply.

The good news is you can get rid of emotional pain. In time, night will give way to day, and then a brand new day—your new beginning!

Let's take the emotion of anger, for instance.

1. You can write an anger letter expressing to God about what happened during your breakup and/or since then, and how you feel about it. It can even include things that happened during the time you dated, if needed. Pour out your heart—what you’re mad about and why.

2. Or, you could write a different kind of anger letter. This exercise helps you to get the release you need, but you never ever mail the letter. Picture the person who broke up with you sitting across the table from you as you write. If you could say anything you wanted to him or her right now, what would you say?  If you could say anything to them in a Christ-like way, what would you say? It’s up to you how much to include.

Basically, the purpose of the letter it to get the emotion out of you and release it. No one else will ever see what you write and you can feel safe to express yourself, vent, and be free of the tangled emotions inside of you. When you’re done, you can choose to burn or shred it if you’d like, but never (never!) mail it.

3. Write an anger action plan. In the midst of a heated conversation, sometimes you may need to leave so you (or the other person) can cool off and address your issues later. When you need to think through why you’re irritated, this can be helpful. Make a list of what happened, if you need to respond (you may not), how it makes you feel, and some potential ways you can respond. Then, after you’ve reviewed your options you can choose what to do. It will be helpful to pray before you begin.

For example:

What happened? Tony constantly cuts me off before I can finish a sentence.

Do I need to respond? Yes, I feel like I need to stand up for myself.

How does this make me feel? I feel angry when Tony doesn’t let me finish what I’m saying. I feel like what he has to say is more important than what I want to say. I feel diminished and unimportant.  

Options to responding: When Tony cuts in when I’m talking, I could say, “Could I please finish my sentence?” or “I wasn’t done yet.” Or, I could spend less time with Tony.  Or. . .?

4. Other ways. There are other ways to manage your anger too. Some people find it helpful to get punch pillows, talk to a trusted friend, pull out the Bible and read, journal their thoughts, go workout, or get outside for a long walk or bike ride. A good hearty laugh or getting some humor into your life can advance your heart toward joy again. In other words, find activities that relieve stress for you.


For more help getting through a relationship breakup, see When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty by Jackie M. Johnson.
 
 



Monday, November 12, 2012

Tired, Sad or Feeling Hopeless? Here's Help...




Are you sad, worried or feeling hopeless? How do you press on when you’re emotionally or physically drained? When times are tough, here are some vital things to help you persevere with God’s strength:

Cast your cares. Don’t take on burdens you were never meant to bear—like worry, fear and doubt. They’ll weigh you down and hinder you from being effective. Instead, give God your fears; surrender trying to do it all on your own to Him.  

In other words, like a fishing line, cast your cares, and don’t reel them back in again. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  

Press on in prayer. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built in your life. It the most important thing you can do. You may think, “I’ve already prayed, what other solutions are there?”  

Keep on praying. Talk to God about your situation, because He is the one who has the power to change it. Maybe you need a course correction in your life, or you need to stay the course. Ask God for discernment.  

Speak freely and openly about how you feel and what you need. Thank Him for what He’s done already in your life and expect Him to answer. As you pray, believe God is working and stand in the strength you receive. 
 
Send in reinforcements. Sometimes you need backup. It’s amazing what happens when you receive support in prayer from friends and family members who are willing to pray for you and with you.

When you don’t know what to pray, when you’re spent emotionally or physically, or, like Moses, when you need someone to “hold up your arms” (to support you), the prayers of others on your behalf can give you a boost to keep going.

Praise anyways. One of the most powerful things you can do is worship. Despair cannot journey where praise and worship reside. Put on a music CD or worship music and just listen. Relax into it. Let God comfort you.

Life may be challenging for you right now; you wonder how things will ever change. Take heart. Even in your darkest times, the hope of Christ shines brighter. When you are weak, He is your strong comfort. When you are exhausted, He is your strength—firm and secure. The Light of the World shines as your beacon—a lighthouse in the midst of the storm to guide you to safe harbor.

Light always overcomes the darkness.

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And Justice for All

 
Righteousness and justice are
the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
(Psalm 89:14)
 
Prayer for today:
 
Lord, so many people seem to have misplaced their sense of right and wrong. They can be dishonest or downright mean at times.
 
But the very basis of who You are is integrity--You make promises and KEEP THEM. You value acceptance and kindness. Your heart is filled with compassion toward all. Where would I be without Your justice?
 
Thank you, my faithful God, for restoration and making things right. In Your way and timing. In Jesus' name. Amen.
 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: The Re-Marriage Adventure



 
Preparing for a lifetime of love and happiness
 
 
Susan and Dale Mathis are passionate about helping couples prepare for remarriage. As a remarried couple themselves, they know firsthand about blending lives and families.
 
Their new book, "The Re-Marriage Adventure," offers practical help, hope, encouragement and wisdom for preparing for a healthy, godly marriage.
 
One of the key concepts the authors start with is Redemption: "Whether you've lost your marriage through a death or a divorce, pain is a natural part of any loss, and redemption is God's plan for healing that pain. As a couple, having a vision for a redemptive marriage can be one of the most inspiring, productive, and motivating ways to view your future together."
 
As they share on page 9 of the book, " God can buy back (redeem) your past and deliver you from your broken dreams, heartaches, mistakes and sins, your fears and your pain.
 
He can restore your joy and hope, and so much more."
 
For authors Susan and Dale, a redemptive marriage played out by caring for each other physically, emotionally, spirituall, and every other way. They wanted to create an intimate and inspiring relationship that could show others the beauty and promise of God's plan for marriage.
 
The book offers helpful advice on communication, expectations, sex, finances, blending families and more. With real-life stories from other remarried couples, this book is a must-read for every couple who is planning a re-marriage.
 
May this book bring you hope and joy--and a healthy, strong marriage to last a lifetime!
 
 
The Re-Marriage Adventure is available on amazon.com or wherever books are sold.
 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Leaves: A Lesson in Letting Go


 
There’s something about the brilliant colors of autumn leaves as summer's green fades to flaming red, vibrant yellow or amber orange.
 
Before the first snow falls, each leaf wafts to the ground and only the barren tree branches remain. It’s a shedding of sorts. For a season, it looks as if the gnarly trees will be empty forever. But just as sure as spring comes, tiny buds appear; lush green leaves form again and mighty maples, oaks and aspens come to life once more.
 
Old leaves fall; new growth comes.
 
In your quest to clean up your house or redecorate your inner life, remember that there is a reason for release and a season for renewal. Letting go, like the brown, crunchy leaves at autumn's end--and letting go of the past and pain in our own lives--is possible as you pray. Ask the Lord to blow a mighty wind in your life to empower you to let go when releasing the past is difficult.  
 
And then, you will find more peace and freedom.
 
You’ll feel lighter, as if a weight has been lifted from you. Mostly, you will be making room for new things. And when you do, you never know what surprises God may have in store for you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feeling Overwhelmed? A Prayer for Peace

Photo credit: Kit Dennis

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way.
2 Thessalonians 3:16


Prayer for Peace

Lord, I am frazzled. My hands are full and my mind is reeling with so many things to do--at home, at work and in other areas of my life. Will you please help me to accomplish all that needs to get done each day and find rest? As I work, help me to be productive and peaceful.
As I love others, help me be calm and encouraging. I need Your peace in every area of my life today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


For more prayers, see Jackie M. Johnson's Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times (Revell/Baker).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Value of Rest: Finding More LIFE in Your Life




I am a lot like my German grandmother, Lena. She constantly bustled around the kitchen making späetzle and sauerkraut, and it took some doing to get her to actually sit down at the dinner table with the rest of us.
 
Like her, I want to get stuff done. I have many lists and find satisfaction in crossing off what I’ve accomplished. While it’s true that being productive can be a good thing, I’ve often gone to extremes and it has taken time to learn the value of rest. It is essential for many reasons.

First, we need rest, both physical and emotional. It’s essential to life and good health. Without enough sleep we may get cranky and tired. Sadly, we may become so preoccupied with trying to gain more in life that we often fail to realize what is lost in the process.
 
In the demanding pace of life we may lose perspective, forget things or mess up our priorities. We lose peace of mind, and connection with God and others. Our health and relationships suffer. We feel cluttered, scattered, or alone.
 
In our efforts to be efficient, we may not always be effective. Often, we lose heart.

And we need to find it again.

Perhaps we don’t value rest because we’ve forgotten what it means. Our perception may be skewed by a culture that praises busyness and devalues silence, stillness, and reflection.

Rest brings margin to your life, spaces that allow you to replenish and restore beauty and balance. Without it, life is an endless cycle of work, chores and errands. And that’s not what God intended. Joy, peace, fun and play are essential parts of life, too.

It’s like a score of music. Without well-placed rests, beats of silence, a song would run on and on; it would fail to achieve its true purpose. And it would surely weary the listener’s ear. So composers use whole, half or quarter rests—longer or shorter beats—to make beautiful music. Is there a way for you to find some well-placed rests in your own life? For example:
 
A quarter rest, which is brief, could be a 10-minute walk to clear your head and say a short prayer. Often I get my best ideas when I get up from my desk and have a change of scenery.

A half rest could be a weekend away or even getting a restful night’s sleep.

A whole rest, a longer period of time, could be a much-needed vacation or   spiritual retreat.

 
Replenishing rest looks different for everyone. Whether you linger over a cup of tea with a friend, take a twenty-minute nap or a one-minute vacation gazing at the Hawaiian beaches on your wall calendar, think about how you can get refueled in your life.

Because when we’re well-rested, we are better equipped to serve God and others, and enjoy our lives.

 
Read more about finding rest when you’re busy and stressed in Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson.
 
 
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Busy and Stressed? 5 Lies Keeping You from Peace & Rest


We are a generation of busy people—working hard but hardly living. Getting enough rest, replenishing rest, is often at the bottom of our priority list. But, why?

All of us have reasons we don’t make rest a priority. Some are self-imposed, like people who stay continually busy in order to avoid pain and disappointment. Others live a life of constant motion because they’re trying to please others or keep up appearances.

Of course, there are busy seasons in life, like a couple with a newborn baby, or an accountant during tax time. But for some, being busy all the time seems to be a badge of honor.

To be sure, there is a time to work. God uniquely created each of us with talents and abilities to make a contribution in life. We may be good at what we do and find satisfaction in a job well done. But there is also a time to cease from our labor.

What are some of the lies we believe about rest? When we acknowledge them and release them, then rest and inner peace can replace worry and fear, and things can begin to change.

Read each one listed here and talk to God about what is keeping you from getting the rest you need.
 
1. LIE: I can do everything, and do it all on my own.  This is the person who believes she has to make it all happen, to do everything for everyone and do it all by herself. Some may call her a martyr; others may call her a control freak. She believes her way is the “right” way or she feels she must save the world. The truth is we are sorely deceived when we think are a Junior Jesus. We don’t save the world; He already did that for us. It’s the ultimate deception when we think we are like God or we are God. (Genesis 3:5)

2. LIE: I feel guilty when I rest. I used to think rest was a luxury for a privileged few. It was a time in my life when I was short on funds and working three jobs just to stay afloat. It didn’t seem fair. I came across the book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty by Tim Hansel and learned that I had a right to rest. In fact, rest was God’s idea! (Genesis 2:1-3)

3.     LIE: I don’t deserve to rest. Rest is a gift. You don’t earn it. A slave driver mentality is not from God but the enemy, the one who is out to destroy you. The truth is, when you come to know Christ you are set free (John 8:36).

4.     LIE: Rest is a waste of time. In reality, taking time to renew your weary self is time well spent. It’s an investment that will pay off physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally because you will be a better you—for others and for yourself. Stopping periodically to get refreshed ultimately helps you get the job done more effectively.

5.     LIE: If I rest, I won’t get it all done. That goes back to the fundamental question of whose agenda you are following. A major heart shift happens when we begin to realize that life is about God’s plan, His story. We live for God, not for ourselves. He will enable us to get done what He wants accomplished each day when we are surrendered and willing.

Have a productive day—and then get the rest you need to live a better life.

 
For more about peace and rest in the midst of a busy, stressful life, read Powerful Prayers for ChallengingTimes by Jackie M. Johnson



 


Friday, October 12, 2012

Perseverance: A Lesson from Mountain Climbing


 
A mountain is climbed one step at a time. You begin by putting one foot in front of another, and another, until you reach the summit.
 
Mountaineers know the importance of staying hydrated and never climbing alone. As believers, we can stay hydrated with refreshment from God’s Word, which is as essential to life as water. We can build a team around us for support and encouragement from family and friends. And we can learn to trust our guide, Jesus Christ.
 
When life is hard...when you're going through a breakup or divorce...when someone has hurt you...when you're low on funds...or you simply don't know what to do....
 
Press on. Pray on.
 
And in the process you can find joy in life’s journey. The power of prayer helps you to persevere. That's because the power comes from God, the one who loves you most and has the POWER and STRENGTH to help you in your time of need.
 
Even when you feel like giving up, believe that the ascent is worth the climb. You are not alone, and you don't have to do this journey called life on your own. Keep on. For once you reach the peak, the view is exhilarating.
 

 

Read more about help in times of need in PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Holy Tenacity: Hope When Life Is Hard



When life is hard....when times are tough...when you don't know what to do about your job, health, career, friends, family or spouse...

Press On.

Perseverance takes courage. Believe that God is who He says He is: loving, mighty, powerful, and willing to meet your needs when you come to Him. When the road is long and life seems impossible, remember that God hears your prayers; He sees your tears. God is with you always, and He is at work in your life.

There are still purposes to be fulfilled—lives to touch, things to accomplish, and character to be formed on the inside. 

Press on, pray on, with holy tenacity, holding on to hope that one day—maybe soon—the check will come, the job will be yours, or the house will be filled with a child’s laughter.

Whatever it is you long for, tell God your heart’s desires and He will answer.

Whether it’s a “yes,” “no,”or “wait,” know that the One who loves you most is working all things together for His good purposes. We may not always understand or like it, but we can know with certainty that one day everything will be made right.

Today, we pray and trust Him.



Excerpted from PowerfulPrayersfor Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson
 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Casting Your Cares

 
How do you press on when you’re emotionally or physically drained? Rest when you need to, and take care of yourself so you can be your best to help others and live your own life well.
 
When times are tough, here are some vital things to help you persevere with God’s strength:

1) Cast your cares. Don’t take on burdens you were never meant to bear—like worry, fear and doubt. They’ll weigh you down and hinder you from being effective. Instead, give God your fears; surrender trying to do it all on your own to Him. In other words, like a fishing line, “cast your cares, and don’t reel them back in again.”
 
Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

2) Press on in prayer. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built in your life. It the most important thing you can do. You may think, “I’ve already prayed, what other solutions are there?” Keep on praying. Talk to God about your situation, because He has the power to change it.
 
Ask God for discernment. Speak freely and openly about how you feel and what you need. Thank Him for what He’s done already in your life and expect Him to answer. As you pray, believe God is working and stand in the strength you receive.

3) Send in reinforcements. Sometimes you need backup. It’s amazing what happens when you receive support in prayer from friends and family members who are willing to pray for you and with you.
 
When you don’t know what to pray, when you’re spent emotionally or physically, or, like Moses, when you need someone to “hold up your arms” (to support you), the prayers of others on your behalf can give you a boost to keep going.

4) Take action. Taking one small step can lead to another and another and it builds momentum, and things begin to change.
 
You will not be in this hard place forever. God will help you through. Unlike others who may have let you down, God keeps His promises. When you take action in prayer, He moves on your behalf.

 

For more about finding help in hard times, see PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God loves you—and He likes you


 
Some people find it hard to believe God will actually help them, and the weight of the world on their shoulders is crushing. They think He doesn’t care, or He’s too busy being CEO of the entire universe to be concerned about their unhappy life. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, God loves you. And he likes you. Despite your feelings of insecurity, inadequacy or other emotion you’re ashamed of, God is all about loving you.

Give yourself permission to believe that what you hope for is actually true. You are not alone; He is with you always. Making life happen, hard and messy as it is, is not all up to you; help is available. And it’s a prayer away.

 

Excerpted from PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson