Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, God, Pathway, Podcast

What is Your Pathway to God?

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

In the morning I enjoy my quiet time with God.  I start out at breakfast reading my devotionals and then move into my prayer chair, which resides in the bedroom.  This is where I can look out onto our beautiful backyard, see the cardinals and blue birds sprint around, and the daffodils starting to emerge from the soil. During the summer months, when it becomes oppressively warm in North Carolina, I take our dog for a walk after breakfast, and I will pray during my walk.  Either way I am looking at nature and speaking to God.  It connects me to nature and all that God has made.  I present my requests to God, then listen for what He has for me that day. 

Everyone has their own pathway to God.  I was always aware each person had their own relationship with God and had a preference on how to worship Him.  Pathways are new to me.  God created us with different gifts and talents, why assume we all come to Him the same way?

The podcast I am reviewing today is new to me, it is called “Confessions of a Crappy Christian” by Blake.  She is interviewing Gary Thomas, a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others.  They talk about his book “Sacred Pathways.” 

Blake starts out the podcast giving an overview of pathways.  “The different and unique ways we each experience God and how He created us individually to encounter Him in our own ways.  Stop trying to fit into a mold and our relationship with God will thrive and flourish.” 

Gary explains how he came up with the idea for this book.  He grew up learning how to have quiet time with God.  His teachers at church would say when you have quiet time you have to do it this specific way.  “I realized that a one size fits all spirituality does not work.  God did not make us as  cooker cutter Christians.  We relate to him in different ways.  I found out through scripture and the Christian classics how people related to God in many different ways.  Nine pathways or temperaments or devotional styles came out.  I set people free, you can be who God created you to be. Pathways are the windows of how you see God most clearly.”

Gary goes on to explain, “It’s about at different times in life, what is best for you, given who you are and your situation; how you can best connect with God.  I believe everything flows from being loved by God.  1 John 4:19:  We love because He first loved us.”

Gary shares with us a time when he was growing up in the Washington DC area.  He would go out to the battlefields in the Northern Virginia area and just walk in the woods for an hour or two.  It was one of the best ways he could connect to God.  He found that his pathway is a naturalist and this is how he best connects to God.   

“When I spend time with the Lord and am convicted by Him.  I am a much better husband, father, and driver. When I have that time with God, I am able to give more of myself to my family.”  Gary Thomas 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.   Deuteronomy 4:29

The final question Blake asks Gary; “What is the next step, after you identify and understand how you connect with God differently with other people?” Gary responds,  “every chapter has some tests so you can figure out, and you can do it numerically, to say this is who I am, and hopefully you will come away with two or three strong ones.  The point is you can write your own spiritual prescription.  You can identify why you are so angry, anxious, needy, or what your spiritual aliment is and you can say I have really been cheating my time with God.  I am not receiving from God or hearing from Him.  This is where I can be filled up or this is where I can meet God.  At the end of each chapter, it has the temptations, if this is your pathway, be aware of this.  The last part is planting your garden and finding your path or Gethsemane.”

This last statement from Gary encapsulates the meaning of a pathway; “Imagine that your relationship with God is the most life giving, affirming, strength building, inspiring part of your day.  Then it completely takes it out of an obligation, to an invitation, and that is what I want the pathways to do.  To make people jazzed about the fact that I can meet with God today, I can’t wait.”    

When you find your pathway to God, it will bring you into closer relationship with Him.  Then He will take you by the hand and lead you on the narrow path, which leads to life in abundance. 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

If you listen to the entire podcast, they go into more detail about the nine pathways.  It was enlightening and I would recommend it.  The “Sacred Pathways” book is on my ever growing ‘to read’ book list. 

Let me know about your pathway to God; I am interested to hear how you naturally connect with Him.

Some good news from the Goodnewsletter:  A Texas furniture store owner stepped up to help his community after fridged temps and power outages.

Confessions of a Crappy Christian podcast with Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas’ book “Sacred Pathways”

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Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Faithful, Jesus, Podcast, Word of the year

How Can One Word Keep You Faithful?

Photo by Skitterphoto

You may be asking why do I need a word for the year? How will this help me in my everyday life and in my walk with God?

The podcast I am reviewing this week is all about that word of the year and how it can help you feel better and see where God is directing your focus. The name of the podcast is “More Than Small Talk” with Holley Gerth, Suzanne Eller, and Jennifer Watson. They are all authors and real-life friends who talk about conversational topics and faith.

“Many people are looking for direction from the Lord and having a word gives you that guidance”, Suzanne Eller.

Start by spending some time in prayer and asking the Lord if He has a word for you to concentrate on this year. Listen to what rises up in your heart. This will take time and you may have to come back to it more than once.

Eugene Peterson, author of the Message Bible, says “Faithful is long obedience in the same direction.” Faithful, is Holley’s word for the year. She states, “I am going to show up in my relationships and in faith. Continue to be faithful and not measure everything.”

Goals are great and they are what motivate us to get things done but if we put too much pressure on ourselves and don’t meet our own expectations, then we end up going down into this pit of self-criticism. God has a different plan for our lives, he sees us as fearfully and wonderfully made.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful. Psalm 139:13

Forward, is Jennifer’s word. “Those small steps forward, toward progress, how powerful just moving forward can be. We don’t give ourselves credit, we are too hard on ourselves.”

I am extremely task oriented, give me a to do list and a few hours, I am happy. You should see what I can do with a pad of paper and a pencil. Turn that around, if I get nothing done because I had to help my daughter most of the day or I wasn’t feeling good, boy can I beat myself up, and end up in that pit! God does not want us to beat up on ourselves, He loves us and wants us to enjoy life to the fullest!

Here is a pivotal point that Holley makes, “Consistency is the secret sauce. Showing up and doing the small things over and over again adds up to a lot over time. Remember God is always faithful. This helps on the days when I feel overwhelmed or it is hard. I remember God is faithful.”

When you focus the word, that God leads you to, daily, and celebrate the small wins each day your mood will be buoyant. For example, my word this year is love. To show love and to realize God’s love in my life every day. The day I spend driving my daughter from one activity to another I am showing her love by being there for her, showing her support. It is important for me to come back to that word daily and see how it is fitting into my life. I can easily get frustrated at driving her around instead of perceiving it as an act of love.

I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:5-6

“Ask the Lord how can I partner with you today? What does it look like? It can be small. There is value in listening to the Lord and putting that in front of you. Be open to where He wants to take me next,” Suzanne Eller. For those who don’t have a word for the year, Suzanne is right there with you. Suzanne reminds us “That God knows the plans He has for us and He knows what tomorrow holds. Just being open and saying Lord whatever direction you want to take me next, whatever miracle you are trying to do inside of me, I am open.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Jennifer asks, “What will help you move forward and tune into the Lord this year? Maybe it is taking care of yourself more. Take a nap in the afternoon or rescheduling your plans. Whatever will help you move forward and stay faithful and tune into the Lord this year.”

Once you have a word what is the best way to remember it daily? Placing it somewhere you would see it assists, a post it note on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, or on top your devotional that you open every morning. Some people get fancy and have a sign made with the word. Whatever works for you. I have incorporated mine in scripture that is part of my email signature.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

These three ladies complement each other and their banter will put a smile on your face. I enjoyed their stories and how they apply their word of the year to their lives. This past year has been difficult, let’s give ourselves grace as we move into a new year, seeking to find God’s will in our everyday lives.

The link to this episode is below and the following podcast Holley hosted as a follow up called “A Little More: Our Plans, God’s Purpose.” I recommend listening to both episodes, Holley’s commentary is insightful and compliments this podcast nicely.

“More Than Small Talk” with Suzanne Eller, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Watson. “What is Your Word of the Year” (Episode 108).

“More Than Small Talk” Commentary by Holley Gerth. “A Little More: Our Plans, God’s Purpose”

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Christian, Christian Blog, Christmas, Faith, Jesus, Podcast

Christmastime

Picture by Gerhard G.

This time of year, is a catalyst of so many good memories and feelings. It is probably why I started listening to Christmas music in mid-November. If you know me, I have a hard and fast rule no Christmas decorating, music, or shows until Santa arrives after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. But this year is very different, not being able to visit with friends and family, no dinners out, and mostly staying at home, has put me in a melancholy mood.

What are those memories that bring such joy and elation? I remember from my childhood listening to Nat King Cole’s Christmas album with my mom and eating her delicious red and green Christmas shaped butter cookies warm out of the oven. I now make my version with my children. I have new traditions with my family of going to see the Christmas lights in the park or now that we moved to Charlotte we drive to “Christmas Town USA, in McAdenville, NC”.

All of these are wonderful traditions, our brains automatically click on the serotonin, and allow all those good feelings to flow. Really though what is Christmastime suppose to be about? Merriam-Webster defines it as: the time of year when people get ready for and celebrate Christmas Christmas day and the days and weeks before it. So, it is preparing for Christmas, which as a Methodist we celebrate Advent, the four weeks before Christmas. We are looking forward to the coming of Christ, of his birth into our world, to be our Savior.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:4-12

When I think of this miracle it brings warmth and gladness into my heart. How much does God love us to send His only son as a gift for us, to redeem and give us eternal life.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

I guess that is why the nativity scene means so much to me. It is a treasured part of my Christmas decorating.

Thinking back to when I was a teenager and my family went to church, at Easter and Christmas, I had that same feeling in my heart of warmth and gladness and at times tears would come to my eyes. I never shared this with anyone, probably as I didn’t understand it until recently. The tears in my eyes were an expression of the overflowing joy in my heart for my Savior, for what He did for me and for all of us who believe. What a gift! That is our one true gift of Christmas, that Jesus came as a child in the manger, our light in the darkness, to guide us toward love and forgiveness.

Even if there is nothing under that Christmas tree, we already received the ultimate gift from God in Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us.

The podcast I am reviewing today is another episode of “The Next Right Thing” with Emily P. Freeman. It is an older episode from December of 2018 called “Acknowledge Your Soul”.

Emily begins the podcast talking about how hectic the holiday season can be. “One thing that can get lost during the bustle of the season is our very own soul who we are at the core,
what we most deeply care about and long for. We don’t want to wait until the other side of Christmas to finally pause and say, “Oh, hello soul. I’ve missed you this month”. No, instead, we work to create that space now, in the midst of the planning, the gathering, the list-making and pie baking, the gift wrapping and Advent waiting. For a few minutes today, we’ll make room, we’ll take a moment to acknowledge our soul and remember the miracle of God With Us.”

She wraps up the podcast with a brilliant message, “We show up even when we don’t know what’s going on and we make room for Jesus, even when things don’t make full sense. And if we’ll let him, if we’re paying attention, when he appears, a thrill of hope,
the weary world rejoices and our soul will feel its worth.” Are we not all feeling a little weary this year and need to sense the worth and love of Jesus?

I pray that during this Christmastime, as we wait in joyful hope to celebrate the birth of our Savior, that you will pause and remember all of those memories that remind you of Christmas, that bring your focus back to such joyful times with family and friends. In that time of reflection remember that Jesus came into the world to be with us. To be our comforter, our healer, our provider, and our salvation. As we enter into Christmas may your hearts rejoice for a baby that came down from heaven for all of us to be saved.

From my family to yours I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thank you, Donna Johnson, for sharing this!

The Next Right Thing, Acknowledging Your Soul” with Emily P. Freeman

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Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, Podcast

Loneliness

Picture from Pixabay – YD Drasil

We can feel alone even when we are with other people. If you are a single parent working from home it can feel like you have no one to talk to. No one to chat with over coffee about how hard it was only getting four hours of sleep the night before or how the kids took all of their toys out and strewn them around the house for you to pick up later. That is after you make dinner, help with homework, cleanup the kitchen, put the laundry away, and answer a few emails. It can be very lonely but thankfully we have a God who is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:23

And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

This season of COVID has made loneliness a more formidable mountain to climb. As much as I want to go out to eat with friends I am choosing to stay home and talk on the phone or over Zoom. As you know, it is not the same, Zoom is slightly better than the phone. At least you can see facial expressions and read some body language. It is still not the same as a handshake or a warm hug.

The podcast that I am reviewing this week is “Rhythms of Life” hosted by Rebekah and Gabe Lyons. They are interviewing the infamous Max Lucado; the episode is called “The Cure for Loneliness.” Max is a teaching Minister at Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX and is an author of many books, devotionals, and bible studies.

Gabe asks Max “Has COVID put a spotlight on loneliness? Has it made it more clear to people or has it helped people find those they love and start to rectify some of that?” Max’s reply, “What I have been surprised at the negative impact loneliness has on our physical bodies. Severe loneliness has the same impact as a pack of cigarettes a day. Depression is up.” Rebekah states, community support is not there anymore.

Gabe inquires “The gospel of John gets into this perspective. What is so unique about the gospel of John as you approach loneliness?” Max states “The unique feature of John’s gospel is he declares at the end of the gospel why he wrote it. He explains I collected these events so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that by believing you may have life in His name. Deep and abundant joy and life. What is it about this miracle that will help someone especially if they need life and feel lifeless?”

Rebekah points out that there is a difference between solitude and loneliness. “Solitude means you are still with the savior. Emmanuel, He is right there, sometimes that presents is more potent when you are quiet with Him. You can sense His nearness.”

Rebekah wraps up the podcast with asking Max for a parting thought. Max says he has a “hip pocket sermon” and it goes like this, “Let God love you, let God heal you, let God hold you, and let God have you. Be quiet before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit nourish your heart and soften it.”

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:16-18

When you are feeling lonely try spending some quiet time with God. He will meet you there, He will listen, He will love you, and He will send people to love you and be with you. If you are feeling overly anxious or depressed please see a professional councilor. I see one when it is needed and it is nothing to be ashamed about.

I pray that this has been helpful to you if you are feeling lonely. Leave me a comment if there is any way I can be praying for you.

This song was playing this morning and thought it was uplifting and appropriate for looking to God during the tough times. Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue”

Rhythms of Life podcast with Max Lucado, “The Cure for Loneliness”

Max’s new book “You Are Never Alone”

Max Lucado’s website

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