Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: godly living

What I’m Reading: Holy in the Moment

Have you ever thought about the process of panning for gold? You dredge up boxes of sediment from the bottom of a creek or river, allow the water and smallest particles to be sifted back into the river, and painstakingly search through what’s left behind in hopes of finding a little nugget of gold. It seems like a lot of work for very little payoff especially as prospectors flocked to places known for their gold deposits in order to strip them bare of anything of value. I imagine more hopes and dreams were shattered than came to realization during those days, but not even risk of failure stopped them from coming in droves with dreams of glistening gold driving them on. Every man wanted to find his fortune.

Solomon understood that inner prodding of man to find their fortunes, and he shared with all of us the map he used to find a more lasting treasure than any prospector ever found. In Proverbs 3:13-15 he describes the worth of godly wisdom by saying, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more previous than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.” Five short chapters later, in Proverbs 8:19, he reminds us, “My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, And my revenue than choice silver.”

Godly wisdom comes from hearing the Holy Spirit speak and applying what He has to say in our lives. We gain it first and foremost through God’s word. But God has given us pastors and teachers in our local churches, ministers of music, and speakers and teachers on national stages to supplement our search for godly wisdom. Believers helping each other grow in faith has been God’s plan for the church since the beginning. The treasure of godly wisdom isn’t something we should hoard. We should be sharing these spiritual nuggets of gold with others.

Ginger Harrington accomplishes that goal with humor, sensitivity, and transparency in Holy in the Moment. Ginger shows us through her own experiences how holiness belongs in everyday life. While the details of her story may vary from ours, Ginger shows us the heart of her story that we can all relate to. With plenty of scripture and practical helps, she shows us how being intentional in our daily choices allows us to live in holiness every day and brings the joy of an abundant life into ours.

Broken into three sections, Ginger begins our journey to holiness with knowing God instead of knowing about God. Through the gift of a personal, growing relationship with God we learn to love Him in practical ways every day. The desire to love Him more leads us down the path of understanding spiritual truth and learning to listen to God. These truths applied lead to loving obedience and the final section of Holy in the Moment.  Ginger brings the idea of holy living into our relationships. From home to friendships to work, she discusses how we can choose to live holiness in each arena of our lives and find joy that reaches beyond our circumstances.

Dealing with a subject as rich as holiness, one might expect a heavy, hard to read book. Holy in the Moment is nothing like that. Easy to follow and completely relatable, I found myself looking at things from perspectives I hadn’t considered before. Readers can keep the message at arm’s length. The truths can simply be added to the list of things the reader knows. But with equal parts encouragement and challenge, Ginger has made it easy embrace the application of the heart of the message and watching it at work in our lives. Holy in the Moment leaves us excited to see what our lives will look like when we make daily choices to live holiness in each of our moments.

Life of Pie

“Worshiping God is for all our moments, but we often divide our devotion to God. Compartmentalizing life like slices of pie, we offer Him one slice and keep the rest for ourselves.” – Holy in the Moment by Ginger Harrington

I love the way Ginger creates such an understandable, vivid image. I picture a sweet, tangy lemon pie covered in meringue with perfectly toasted peaks. I see my knife’s point cutting it, first into fourths, then eighths. Each piece exactly the same size. Each piece ready for those waiting to savor that summery flavor.

Reality varies from my perfect slice of pie dreams. The pieces aren’t ever exactly the same size. One is invariably smaller, or at least it always seemed that way when I was the only girl with two older brothers vying for the best piece of whatever dessert our mother made to accompany supper. Were we the only children who suddenly became scientists, measuring each dessert offering with perfect precision, paying attention to height, width, and depth in order to ensure all were equal? Could we be the only ones who judged the separate components of the dish to make sure the piece we grabbed wasn’t the one that was overdone or underdone but just right? That it had the perfect amount of chocolate chips or nuts? It was of vast importance to feel like what we received was equal if not better than what our siblings received.

When my own children did the same, I realized desserts don’t cut evenly. There is always a fraction of an inch difference. What each child was given was essentially equal whether they wanted to believe it or not. Hopefully, I’ve had an increase in manners since childhood and don’t demand the “best” for myself but instead give those I’m with the first choice. In inconsequential things I hope I think of others more than self. I pray it happens in the truly important situations too.

But it’s about more than my attitude toward others. Ginger’s quote makes me consider whether I do the same to God. Do I hoard my time, allotting Him only what I feel I have to spare? Often I’ve looked at ideas like these and thought they pointed to the Sunday morning Christian. Through the week, they may be good people, but they reserve all thoughts of what God might want for Sunday morning services. Their work and faith don’t intersect. Their family and faith don’t work in cooperation on a daily basis. Faith is only wielded when it benefits. “Children obey your parents”, flows from the tongue with surprising  ease considering it’s the only time His word is really given place in their Monday through Saturday lives.  

When I looked at the idea of worshiping God with our lives, I would consider the Sunday morning Christian and walk away with a false sense that the message wasn’t for me. I believe my faith should enter into every decision, my values, and the way I conduct myself every day wherever I am. As a Christian writer, I have a strong belief that my God-given talents and passions can be put to best use when they bring glory and honor to the Giver of those gifts. That being the case, I must be fine. Message received and applied. Right?

Not necessarily. When I stop to consider the actual pie and the way my siblings and I painstakingly reviewed each piece to find the absolute best, I’m struck by two truths that are not easy to swallow. The difference between what is and what should be tends to get stuck on the way down.

My siblings and I painstakingly judged each piece of dessert looking for the absolute best. Do I spend that same amount of effort giving God my absolute best at all times. He’s not the God of leftovers. He’s not the God of good enough.  He gave His all for me, and I should look to do no less for Him. Galatians 2:20 states it this way, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Am I guilty of neglecting Christ in me during any part of my life? Have I forgotten the direction in Philippians chapter two that I should have the mind of Christ in all areas of my life? Have I made myself of no reputation in order to look to the needs of others before myself? Have I adopted the heart of a servant faithfully in each thing I do?

Then there are also the slices of the pie. We want to make sure that God is in each slice of our life, but we don’t want to forget one important fact. The whole pie is God’s.  Each and every slice is a gift He’s given us to bring honor and glory to Him. Whether or not we do that, it doesn’t change the truth. Our lives are His. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 puts it this way. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Our work life, church life, home life, friend life, and any other slice of our lives are to bring God glory not simply because it’s a way to give back the love He’s given us, but also because they all belong to God to begin with. He put us together. He wrote our days before we were born. He is the one who bought us back from sin with Jesus’ death on the cross. God and His love is not just the reason we do, they are the reason we are to begin with. Do I make the conscious effort every day to remember that truth and consider how it should change my outlook, priorities, and actions? I know I do sometimes. But can I say I do all the time?

In light of these truths, I think I need to revert to my childhood and study with equal intensity the pie of my life to see where God wants to grow me. How about you? 

Write Stuff Wednesday: Good Advice

way“Beware of advice – even this.” Carl Sandburg

I spent the first few years of my writing journey wondering if I had what it took to be a writer. I always thought I did. But after a few writer’s conferences, I began to think maybe I needed to change my process. Every workshop I attended preached the same idea. To write well, to have the strongest plots and most well-rounded characters, I needed to plan out everything before my fingers touched the computer keys.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the planning process. I understand how it works, and when I must, I can use it. I can pick my own brain for all the details about my main character and write them in an easy to use list that takes me from past experience to character quality to outward actions. I can apply these traits to my character and fit them to an equally well-developed plot.

I can use this method for writing. But it isn’t natural to me. One look at my life and it becomes apparent that there’s rarely room for planning. I can organize with the best of them. When I must, I can craft a plan for an event that takes into account every possibility and the contingencies needed to face each one. I am actually very proficient at doing these things, but I have no love for them. I’d much rather my life be filled with pursuits that didn’t require all that extra time and energy to complete. That feeling carried into my writing life, and each workshop I attended pointed out where I was failing.

Then it happened. I attended a very small conference where each presenter was also an author. It was a more personalized and focused experience than the other conferences I’d attended. And the best part was one of the presenters was my favorite author. I’d admired her story-telling ability from the time I picked up my first book by her. Her characters were complex. Her plots were intriguing and entertaining. Each consecutive series showed growth in her ability. I gave all my attention to her as she stood to speak. When some of her first words to the group were about us all being unique as writers, that some people tell you a writer must be a planner to be a good writer, and that if that’s not who you are that’s more than okay I thought I must have misunderstood. When she shared that she’s not a planner either, I finally felt freed to write my way without wondering if it would hold me back. She didn’t say there was no benefit in planning. She expressed pros and cons for each method. But my take-away was encouragement to be myself in my writing, and it went against all the other professional advice I’d heard.

Advice in the writing process can be tricky. There are most definitely universal ideas that can help anyone better their ability to craft a story. Market changes are constant and require someone in the business to navigate them in the best way possible. I’m a firm believer that we must learn the rules and their reasons before we can even think about manipulating them to work in our stories. We learn them from others.  It’s good to listen to those who have gone before. They have a lot to teach us. But as I found, there is a place where you have to determine if the advice you hear is good advice or good advice for you. Then, you do what fits best with your writing personality and face the consequences, both good and bad, knowing it was your choice that put you there.

While there are some times writing advice comes down to whether it fits you or not, there are still times when it falls into the good or bad categories. I doubt I’d be quick to sign up for a workshop on character development if it was taught by a math teacher. That doesn’t make sense. They aren’t a credible source of writing expertise. When I want to learn about writing, I go to those in the writing profession.

It’s a good practice to get into no matter what advice I seek. We seek advice all the time, but how often do we think about who we’re going to for that advice. It seems everyone in today’s society has an agenda, something to sell us. The results are conflicting information that lead to frustration and confusion.  But when it comes to the important matters of how we live our lives, we don’t have to settle for the mixed messages.

The Psalms and Proverbs are full of warnings about choosing our friends and confidants wisely. Scripture teaches us that good character helps build good character in us. It warns that bad character will corrupt our ways. Why the warnings? God knows we are curious people. We will seek answers outside ourselves, and He wanted us to be prepared to know what advice was good and which should be ignored. He wanted us to understand that to choose the godly path, we needed to surround ourselves with people who would advise us in godly ways.

Knowing even that much is sometimes hard. People are adept at showing us only what they think we want to see. But God knew that too, and He gave us a way to judge the advice we’re given. It begins with weighing it against scripture. With scripture as our authority, we know that any advice given that goes against it is not godly advice. He also gave us the Holy Spirit and discernment. When the answers are less clear, we can spend time in prayer and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to our spirit about the validity of the advice.

It takes a heart willing to search out the answers. It takes openness to learning and listening to the Holy Spirit. But we can learn to spot godly advice. We can learn to weed out the ungodly. When we do, we will find the freedom and peace that comes from knowing we are living inside God’s will.

© 2020 Heather Greer

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