Resolutions

‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’

 

Pastors Bill and Brent Purvis said the way to have your best year is found in the 3R Method: Resolution, Reason, and Routine

My Scripture text above from Psalm 51:10 talks about God renewing a steadfast spirit with us. That simply means, help me be faithful or committed. It means having resolutions.

Steadfast – resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering | synonyms: loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated

Here are the 6 areas we should resolve to be committed to growth in this year:

Spiritually – 2 Timothy 4:13 says, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” Paul has been imprisoned and is saying, please bring me these things that are important to me – the cloak, or something to keep my body warm in this jail cell; my scrolls, the writings that kept him mentally sharp; but especially the parchments, which were the Scriptures.

You need to be most committed to growing spiritually this year.

I have always been a big advocate for taking one Scripture or passage and meditating on it all day. When you get up in the morning, read your Word, spend time in prayer, and ask God to show you what you need to meditate on. Sometimes you will meditate on the same Word for days. Others, you’ll meditate on a Scripture for one day and another the next. Don’t be tied to a ‘system’, but be consistent with with Spirit. He will lead you. You’ll know when you’re reading that you’ve found the verse or passage you need to ‘chew on’ for the day.

I recommend keeping note cards by your prayer place (wherever you meet with the Lord) and jot down the Scripture or passage you will meditate on. Then, throughout the day, take out the card and reread it to make sure you’re putting the whole word in your spirit. Remember, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without find fault, and it will be given to you.” Ask God what Scripture you should meditate on and He will show you.

You won’t have much of a relationship with God without daily communication with Him.

Physical – Proverbs 31:17 says, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” We put the spiritual first, but notice this Scripture doesn’t cancel out the need for exercise; it just says it’s not the most important.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Have balance, but make sure you invest in taking care of your body. Eat better; exercise every day; don’t do anything that harms your body; get plenty of rest (but don’t rest all day); and fuel your body for the work the Lord has for you – or you won’t complete the rest He set before you! (2 Timothy 4:7)

Mental – No matter when you completed school, you should never stop learning. Pastor Teresa Price says, “If something is not growing, it’s dying.” Don’t let your brain lie dormant because you achieved your education goal and have mastered a job. Apply your mind to learn something new all the days of your life.

Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with and I’ve heard that another great influence in our lives are the 5 books we are currently reading. Keep reading, just make sure what you’re reading betters your life. I’m not talking about romance novels or sci-fi thrillers. Invest in your mind and read biographies of people who have done what you’re trying to do in life. Read stories that inspire you in your field or an area of interest.

When I began running, I read books that talked about training plans, how to eat, and marathon mishaps. If you’re not investing in your mind, you will find this world becomes unfamiliar quickly as it continues to move forward, and you begin to shrink back.

‘Success leaves footprints’ – Bill Purvis

Emotional – How you feel emotionally is how you experience life daily.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:16-17

There is a never-ending battle between our spirit and our flesh and we must choose daily, hourly, and sometimes by the minute, who wins that battle. We can have the best intentions and still sin because our flesh wants something entirely different from the spirit within us. You know who is winning the war by the fruit you see.

Verses 22 and 23 continue, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

If you’re not experience those things in your life, your emotional health is probably a wreck.

Emotional intelligence is a term that has been around for a little over fifty years, but only gained popularity in the last twenty. It basically means someone’s ability to control their emotions and adapt to outside influences appropriately to achieve their goals.  Regardless of man’s awareness of this type of intelligence, the battle between spirit and soul has been with us from the first day we drew a breath. And the more we build up our spirit, the more stable – peaceful, gentle, good, etc. – our lives will become.

Relational – 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.”

The first thing you need to aright in the realm of your relationships is cutting off the dead weight. If someone is not enhancing your life, or you theirs, chances are they are dead weight using up the water and nutrients in your tree that you need to give to someone else.

Don’t ever fear breaking off poor relationships in your life. The faster you do, the more your other relationships will benefit.

The Bible has a lot to say about our relationship to other people:

1 Peter 4:9          “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Romans 12:10    “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Ephesians 4:32   “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11       “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up…”

Ephesians 5:21   “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

John 13:34           “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love another.”

2 Corinthians 13:11          “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

There are many more of these reciprocal commands and I challenge you to not only find them, but ask God to help you with one each week this year.

We were created for connection.

Financially – Ensure God is your authority on money.

1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

First know that money is not evil, but the love of it is. So, make sure you rule your money so money doesn’t rule you.

Next, learn and operate in the spiritual laws of finance. Tithing is not a suggestion and offerings are not so the church can pay its bills. Malachi 3:10-11 says, “Bring the full tithe (one-tenth, literal meaning; so 5% won’t do!) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”

Did you catch the command? It doesn’t say, when your budget can handle it, tithe; it says to tithe. All other spiritual laws that deal with finances are moot if you don’t first tithe because that is what removes the curse on your earthly possessions – money, fruit of your labor, etcetera.

Kevin O’Leary, known from Shark Tank, has said, “The key to having money is to have a plan for it.”

Habakkuk 2:2, “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”

Proverbs 27:23-24 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?”

Manage these 6 areas if your life this year and you will have the best year of your life.

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Hurricane Irma – The gift that keeps on giving

Weeks after Hurricane Irma blew through our city and we cleaned up all of the fallen branches and debris, I came home from my walk to find a large branch in my yard. It had been snapped during Irma, but on it’s descent from the tall tree, it’s branches latched on to others and it hung, dying. This morning I broke off the dead branches and hauled them to the curb.

branches

As I was walking back and forth from the large branch to the curb where are yard waste is picked up I began thinking about my previous post about Irma and the storms of life. Because we had just moved into this house, had not yet pruned everything back and prepared for the storm, Hurricane Irma dropped quite a mess in our yard – revealing our failure to plan.

This morning my thoughts quickly pointed to another dead branch in my life that I thought was cleaned up and hauled away, but my recent birthday proved otherwise. I’m a twin and, as explained in my book (Resurrecting the Wrong Life), I spent most of my childhood in her shadow, wanting someone to acknowledge me. Being a twin, you’re oftentimes grouped together in everything – as if you aren’t your own person (at least that is how my mind painted it for me. All. The. Time.)

So, two days ago was our (see what I did there?) birthday and, as usual, my mom posted on Facebook a joint “Happy Birthday” post to her twins. On that post, many of my sister’s friends and some of mine commented with their birthday wishes. My twin also posted a birthday wish on my page, where many of my friends and some of hers commented their birthday wishes. (Roll your pants up, honey, it’s getting petty quickly in here.) Only a handful actually posted a birthday wish on my page – and to me alone, even fewer.

petty

As petty as it was (and yes, I recognize it was petty), it put me in a bad mood on my birthday (on OUR birthday.) Add to that, I had told my husband I didn’t want a gift for my birthday, just for the family to spend time with me (that’s my love language.) So, what did he do?

He didn’t get me anything.

<Increased pettiness and pity party balloons hung>

So back to the branch that fell weeks after the storm.

branch

Here is what I learned this morning – Sometimes in life, the storm will come and drop a mess in your life that you’re forced to clean up. (I did that when I wrote my book.) However, sometimes a couple branches (issues) are held back from falling, only to drop later – revealing they still exist.

I discovered on my birthday – actually the day after when my sister, who is reading my book, pointed out that I was upset because I hadn’t really dealt with feeling like ‘leftovers’ and not being my own person growing up. Another branch just dropped in my yard that I thought was long gone.

Storms are messy. They can leave a mess in our lives that is visible to those around us for days, weeks, months, and even years. (#PrayingForPuertoRico) But they can also lodge a couple branches of our past out of sight, long enough for us to clean up the initial storm, but later drop them onto the scene so we can deal with them.

 

Shake your trees, honey. You may  not be over something from your past that is lodged in your high branches. It just takes one strong wind to bring it crashing to your yard for the world to see. Are you ready?

 

Thank you!

Thank you so much for purchasing my book, Resurrecting the Wrong Life! I would love to hear what you thought when you’re done reading. You can post a review to Good Reads, Amazon, or just send me an email: YvylynLawson@writeme.com.

Blessings & Shalom,

Yvy

Read my blog Here.

Acknowledge then Reconcile

To deny something exists because it doesn’t

1) affect you,

2) move you to action, or

3) sit well with you as truth

is self-centered, prejudice, and a sin. Racism in America exists and I, for one, apologize as a white person to my black friends, neighbors, and fellow countrymen. I am very proud that my ancestors refused to own slaves, but I am very ashamed that my race – the human race – instituted, allowed, and benefited from such an atrocity. My family chose to move from the state they lived in rather than own slaves… but that is just walking away from people who need you, so it’s still a part of the problem.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says that God will heal our land if His people will humble themselves, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. That does not just mean the ones we choose to recognize in our individual lives. It also means the ones that we as a collective body (The Body of Christ) have committed. When one person sins, we are all responsible – Either call them out, intercede, or take action, but doing nothing is a sin.

Joshua 7 shows the perfect picture of what God considers corporate sin. Joshua and the people of Israel had just conquered Jericho and were told not to keep any of the plunder. But Achan was greedy and took a robe, silver, and some gold, then hid it under his tent. (He knew he was wrong, that’s why he hid them.) Because of the sin of this one man, the entire people suffered during battle with the city of Ai. In the end, he was found out and guess what the people of Israel did?

They spoke harshly about him on Facebook.

No.

They tweeted how wrong it was what he did.

No.

They took up stones and killed him, his family, and his livestock. They made an example of him and ensured the other people of Israel learned that what he did was unacceptable.

There IS racism still in America and there IS such a thing as white privilege. Because if you can go throughout your day, week, month, and year without thinking twice about the color of your skin – that is a privilege that not all of our brothers and sisters have. And until we all start acknowledging the sins of our forefathers – whether they personally had slaves or not, whether they turned the other way and ignored the racism, or whether they benefited from the presence and system of slavery – we cannot begin the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Because if you can go throughout your day, week, month, and year without thinking twice about the color of your skin – that is a privilege that not all of our brothers and sisters have.

Whether you ‘Stand for the Flag and Kneel for the Cross’ or ‘Kneel to bring awareness to social injustice’ – if you are only trying to satisfy the cry in your heart that YOU are right and THEY are wrong – you are a part of the problem. It is only when we come together and understand that THEIR pain is MY pain, and injustice to THEM is injustice for ALL because we are all the BODY, that we will be able to heal from the wrongs done generations ago – whether it was by your ancestors or not is irrelevant.

Yvylyn Lawson #WeAreTheBody #Singular #MinistersOfReconciliation

Trump, Kaepernick, and Nike

This is going to be short, but not necessarily sweet.

I don’t watch television, so I will be the first to admit that I have not followed everything going on with the 3 in the subject of this blog. However, I do research things before blogging (wish everyone did) and here is where I stand:

Freedom of speech is just that – the right for ALL to express themselves in the way they desire, with the exception of obscenity, fighting words, defamation, child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, actual threats, and solicitations to commit crimes.

So, Trump can say, Tweet, and post on any form of media his opinion of Kaepernick, or players in any sport who decide to take a knee during our National Anthem, whatever he may want as long as it doesn’t violate one of the aforementioned exceptions to the 1st Amendment.

And, Kaepernick can refuse to stand for our National Anthem in order to raise awareness for the injustices being done in this nation towards blacks – or include the injustices done to all races by the hands of another race.

It’s freedom of speech and the very thing our men and women in uniform are fighting to protect. Regardless of how I feel about the President’s Tweets or behavior, he’s my President, and having served in our Armed Forces, I understand respecting the Office of the Commander-in-Chief.

I also understand that not all Americans have spent 8 weeks in boot camp learning WHY we do so – regardless if we voted for the current POTUS or not.

It’s freedom of speech and regardless of how I feel about Kaepernick, or the entire NFL if they so choose, not standing during our National Anthem, that is his, their, and your right to do so.

The only thing I would ask is this: If you have a problem with the President – make sure you vote in the election. If your choice doesn’t win, still pray for the President because 1) God tells us to in His Word (1 Timothy 2:2) and 2) because they are still the authority in the land and prayer can change their steps. (Proverbs 16:9) If you see something you disagree with in your area of influence – take action.

For those wondering what Nike had to do with this blog, Just do it!

Don’t remain silent when you see someone being bullied because of the ethnicity. Don’t look the other way if someone is being persecuted because of their religion, color, gender, handicap, or position in life. Don’t standby on the sidelines (or sit behind your anonymous computer or smartphone screen) and not DO SOMETHING about the very things you complain about in this world.

As Matthew West’s song, Do Something, says when he looked around and saw all the trouble in the world, he shook his hand at God and said ‘Why don’t You don’t something?’ And He said, ‘I did, yeah… I created YOU.’

Why I want to Leave my Family

I don’t know when it began. From the beginning I remember being happy and carefree because of my family. I loved them. And I mean nothing-compared-to-them type of love. The way the house flowed – everyone doing their part; the dinner menu was always on point – and tasted so good (all my favorites, if you can believe it!); and I didn’t even mind the ‘chores’ – if we can call them that, because when everyone is doing their part, it felt more like my contribution to a winning team.

So when did things go south?

Wrong Way

I think it all began when I noticed the menu started changing. We weren’t having my favorites anymore. In fact, I didn’t even know what some of those foods were – which is a annoying, right? To have to learn something new when you’re used to what you want?

Then there was the fact that I had always sat in the same chair at the dinner table for as long as I can remember. I remember that Sunday, when I was a little late to the table because I had been scrolling through Facebook, which made me late to washing my hands, and as a result, arriving at the table ten minutes past dinner time. And there she sat – my sister – in MY seat!

baby

Next thing you know, I’m being asked to do extra chores because of our family growth. (As if that was MY fault!) “Please take out the garbage.” “Can you make dinner tonight, I have a meeting, so I don’t be home in time?” “We need the house vacuumed before you leave for the day.”

Small changes led to bigger disappointments. Plus, one of my friends was telling me about her family and I could tell mine just wasn’t going to cut it for me any longer. She invited me over one weekend and I was shocked! It was beautiful and I asked to move in.

They said yes!!!

So, I left my family and moved in with my friend’s family. I loved the food, was happy to help with the chores, and I felt right at home. It was great and naturally I was happy.

But then my other friend started telling me about her family and the fun things they do every weekend. I am starting to think I need to leave my new family, too!

Heb1025

Sadly, I’m talking about church. And even sadder is the fact that so many people do this very thing when it comes to where they worship. They are ALL IN, contributing, not complaining, and growing in their relationship with the Lord. When all of a sudden, the devil plants a seed of complaint in them when the worship leader changes the songs; or sings too many worships songs and not enough praise ones; or the media department doesn’t change the words on the screen quick enough, you don’t know the song, and you can’t even follow along.

Next thing you know, you’re noticing you have other things to do in the mornings that are making you late (like respond to your Facebook or Twitter feeds or get more than one child out the door on time) and someone has the audacity to sit in your seat.

ONSD

Or… the list goes on and on. The bottom line is, we start thinking church is about us. We want to hear the songs we like ( or hear a message from the Pastor, who is that and why are they preaching? ); we want our seat, music that we like, the temperature right, a quick escape from the parking lot, our children to be entertained, our egos stroked, and

“Don’t you dare say something across the pulpit that offends me!”

Church was never meant to become a place Christians are entertained, have their beliefs and opinions affirmed, or a check block on the ‘Five Musts to Get to Heaven’ list. Church is place for the broken, the sinner, and the student of Christ – where we serve and have all things in common so those on the outside take note.

What? The Church is supposed to look different than the rest of the world?

Our family moves every three to five years, which means we are looking for a new church home that often, as well. And one thing God told me when we were looking for a church (and writing our ‘pros and cons’ lists) is:

“When you stop judging churches by your wish list for a church, I will lead you to where I want you to attend and serve.”

Yeah… ouch!

As silly as the beginning of this blog sounded – someone wanting to leave their family because Mom stopped making their favorite meals and they were expected to contribute more due to growth in the house – would you not agree that many are doing the same thing in church? And that truly is our family if we are a believer.

The Hurricane is coming

Hurricane Irma, downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time she reached us in Georgia, was my first experience with this type of disastrous weather. Growing up in Southern California, I have experienced earthquakes. My first duty station when I served in the US Army was at Fort Riley, Kansas, so of course I experienced a couple tornadoes. There are similarities and differences with all three of these and I learned something from each, as well.

During my first earthquake, I remember my dad was taking a shower and thought my sister and I were running up and down the stairs. As the light hanging from the high ceiling of the staircase swung, my sister and I just looked at each other with mouths agape. Nothing broke in our house, but it left my nerves on edge. Strong earthquakes leave you feeling shaken the entire day.

When I was first married and our daughter was six months old, my husband was working the night shift and I experienced my first tornado. Unlike Dorothy, we didn’t end up in the land of Oz, instead I ended up with a new destiny as I cried out to God in the midst of the din and gave my life to the Lord. Tornadoes, like hurricanes and tropical storms, are loud and also test your nerves.

When Irma arrived in Georgia, she had already dissipated and her gusts topped out under 70 miles an hour. Regardless, I learned what mattered when it came to the destruction and mess she left was what surrounded your house.

The house of the left is ours – surrounded by tall trees on every side. The one of the right is the neighbor’s across the street you see in the first picture. He has two lone trees, both have been cut back recently, and neither are very close to his home.

During the storm, he said it was quiet other than the wind. He and his wife went about their day and just kept safely inside. On the other hand, my house sounded like a concert that should have been canceled with tree limbs and nuts falling on the roof in a terrible beat. We hadn’t really done anything other than mow our lawn and sweep the walk since we moved in a couple of months ago. As you can see from our curbside-pick-up pile versus our neighbor’s – the clean up requires more labor when you’re surrounded by trees, as well.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

As I walked around our neighborhood this morning, grateful that we only experienced the little mess we did in the house we are renting, I noted how many other houses, like ours – surrounded with trees for shade in the summer – had a larger clean up than those whose trees were recently pruned or fewer in number. And the Lord spoke to me and said, “That’s the difference with some of My children. They surround themselves with the shade of this world, to avoid the heat of my refining fire, only to put themselves in the position of destruction when the storm comes.

3

The storm is coming, too. Whether it comes as an earthquake – where an event shakes you to your core and all that’s left standing is your faith, however small or large that may be; or as a tornado – sweeping in and blowing the facade off your blessed and highly favored life that you purport, covering up the sin and shame of a weak relationship with your Creator;  or as a hurricane or tropical storm – beating vehemently at the life you’ve built, surrounded by shade trees of this world or landscaped by the Designer of the Garden. The storm is coming.

1

I would recommend you allow the Great Gardner to come in and prune back those trees – of idols you’ve placed before Him (anything that you give more attention to than God is an idol); of watered-down Scripture (it is the whole truth that sets you free, not the pieced-together-because-it-supports-my-sins version you choose to meditate on); of reluctant obedience to what God is telling you to do (delayed obedience is disobedience and without following God, you’re wasting your energy and time in this world.)

2

Your clean up from the storms in your life is dependent on the landscaping of your heart. Allow God to come in and cut back the branches (you might have to lose some friends), pull the weeds (the devil is scattering seeds daily, that’s why you need to always put on the armor of God), and water your yard (as you draw the water of wisdom from His Word and time with Him – it is in those moments you grow, new life begins, and your foundation is strengthened. Otherwise, you’ll line the curb of your life with the debris of your storms for all who drive by to see – and that’s not a good witness to His Presence in your life.

final

~Blessings and shalom,

Yvy