Devotional

Self-Forgetfulness

Self-Forgetfulness

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Rick Warren How do we forget ourselves in a God-honoring way, without neglecting ourselves? What does that look like in real-time? How on earth can we be “free of me” (a concept from Sharon Hode) when nothing seems right or easy, let alone joyful? We are all isolated to varying degrees. Our face to face socialization as we know it has changed radically. Mundane daily rhythms, we no longer have, seem much sweeter now that they are no longer options. How do we respond rather than react to those we live with or take care of or who may care for us? How is it possible to separate ourselves from what comes naturally and live supernaturally? Intentionally, prayerfully and in complete and utter dependence on the One who can. “Self-forgetfulness” is freedom. To focus less on self

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Strong Will or Strong Won’t?

Strong Will or Strong Won't?

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Deuteronomy 30:11 “Reach.” This is an action word—as in “reach for a cookie,” which is one choice we can certainly make; or a better choice, “reach for the ceiling,” which we do while exercising. God first spoke to Moses, who then delivered His commands to the Israelites. The will to obey precedes carrying out His greatest commandments, which come down to two actions: to love and obey God. Not difficult—right? If only it were that easy! Personally, I battle weight control daily. But before First Place I considered it a losing battle. I now realize the battle is not mine but God’s. And His greatest battle with me is not controlling my weight but commanding my obedience. Oswald Chambers said, “The battle is fought in the domain of the will.”1 So the questions

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A Recipe for Gratefulness

A Recipe for Gratefulness

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. COLOSSIANS 3:16 Which comes first, the gratitude or the actions that turn our heart toward gratitude? Does it matter? If you are feeling grateful, run to God’s Word so that it can dwell in you even more richly; share the wisdom you learn with others, then burst into song as you praise God with a heart that is already full of gratitude. That’s the easy part. But on those days when you are struggling to feel grateful, do the same thing, even though it is harder—cling to God’s Word and praise Him anyway. It is amazing how gratefulness rises in your heart when you take your eyes off of yourself and put them on God. I

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The Perfect Anxiety Prescription

The Perfect Anxiety Prescription

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. PHILIPPIANS 4:6 I type medical reports for a living, and I’m saddened by the number of reports I type daily in which the patient is struggling with severe anxiety. It has become an epidemic affecting people of all ages. I certainly understand feeling anxious. I would often find myself struggling with anxious thoughts and was called a “worry wart” by others. If there were nothing to worry about, I would find something to worry about! I used to even feel anxious every time I decided to eat healthily and lose weight. I would obsess about how long it would be before I fell off track again and went right back to my old habits. I worried about failing before I even got started. Yet, the more I studied the Bible,

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How’s Your Face?

How's Your Face?

I am a strong woman. There is no getting around it. I know that there are times that I am intimidating and (dare I say) loud and sometimes come across as pushy and demanding. In my 20s and 30s, I really fought against this and so wanted to be different. To be meek. To be mild-mannered. To be gentle. I did not like the skin I was in (and, to be honest, I am not sure if many folks around me liked it either.) But in myself, I could not be different. I couldn’t change. I couldn’t stop being my selfish, rebellious, strong-willed woman. That all changed in 1992 when I came to the end of myself and cried out to God. I bowed my knees to the one true God and received Him as my Lord and Savior and the gift of His Spirit living in me. Now, because

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Help When You Need It

Help When You Need It

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. GALATIANS 5:13 I will never forget the day when I was driving with Vicki Heath to look at a conference center where we planned to have a Wellness Retreat. The conference center was about halfway between Charleston, South Carolina, where Vicki lives, and Savannah, Georgia. Vicki was driving when my cell phone rang. The call was from our precious daughter-in-love (law), Lisa, telling me that her dad, George Gerdes, had died. George was only 71 years old. He had died from an abdominal aneurysm. We were all in shock; George had not been sick, and he was driving home from work when the aneurysm struck. I flew home immediately, and we all pitched in to help plan the service and the dinner afterward at the

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Everyday Encouragement

Everyday Encouragement

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11  My neighbor Marcia lives just a few houses down from us. What a blessing she is to me as we walk together six days a week early each morning, starting out in the dark, but ending in sunrise, and thanking God for it! One morning this week, it was apparently too early for me. I put on two shirts, as it was a chilly morning (in Texas, a cold morning), laced up my walking shoes, and was ready to go—except, I looked down and noticed that I was still in my “glow in the dark” pajama bottoms. I quickly changed, but Marcia is such a good friend that she would have gone with me in those pj’s, and we would have started our morning walk with a good laugh. We spend the

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Way Beyond My Strength

Way Beyond My Strength

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13) The five volcanos that make up the Big Island of Hawaii create a challenging course for the mini-triathlon I do each year. My favorite part is the first and shortest segment of the race, a 1/3 mile ocean swim. Once out of the water, I race barefooted to my gear station to don socks, shoes, helmet and sunglasses, and off I go to tackle the longest segment of the race, the 15-mile bike ride. The biking is 7.5 miles out and back. The first part of the ride is enjoyable with stunning ocean views. At mile six, the road turns in toward the mountain and begins the climb to 191 feet. I think about how hard this hill will be when I face it again on the way back. A devilish whisper suggests, “Turn back now. You

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Way To Go

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11 My own personal definition of the word “encouragement” is to catch someone doing something right and to tell him or her. When we encourage someone, the words we say need to be true. Encouragement can transform another person and give them hope for a brighter future. Encouragement is an important part of the First Place 4 Health program. In our classes, we are assigned one person each week to pray for and encourage. I have never been disappointed when I take the time to call my prayer partner on the phone. I learn things about this person that I would never learn in class, and then I know how to encourage her or him even more. Getting to know another person is the key to being an encourager in a person’s life.

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Just Shut Up and Pray

My friend and I have a slogan we jokingly say to each other when one of us starts to stress out about things that are happening in our lives: “You know what you need to do: just shut up and pray!” It’s a reminder that we can’t fix a thing by dwelling on our problems. It also reminds us that we need to run to God, because He is our joy and our hope when the world seems to be falling apart around us. Our little slogan brings much-needed laughter into our sometimes very stressful lives. I’m thankful I have friends who remind me that my hope is in God when things seem to be spiraling out of control. We don’t need to be experts on anything to reach out and offer encouraging words to others. Often a simple reminder to keep going and keep looking to God are all

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