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New Year Resolutions Worth Keeping

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I can hear the audible sigh already. New year resolutions – why bother? Here’s the thing… often we trip over them because of our internal baggage. We start out with good intentions, only to end up in self-sabotage. • We want to be gentler on ourselves, but continue with negative self-talk We want to start (fill in the blank), but have no plan
• We want to change a behavior, but don’t deal with underlying, contributing emotional issues
• We want to get out of debt, but don't really want to do what it takes
• We want to take steps towards a goal or a dream, but allow fear to hold us back What if we made our internal lives a priority this year? What if we focused on what we can do to build our character and energize our spirits instead of yearly external resolutions? A rich internal life makes us a better, more mature person. After all, everything trickles down from our inner lives anyway. This is why God makes the “heart” a priority - for all attitudes, behavior and external issues begin t…

The Importance of Worship Together

Why is weekly worship with a local body of believers important? If we profess to be Christ-followers, we practice the teachings of God’s Word and follow the example brought to us by Jesus himself. This includes worshipping in unity, as one body, on a regular basis.

But why corporate worship? Can’t we worship God the way we feel most comfortable by ourselves? And what’s with all the singing?
The answer? As others have done, I could fill an entire book and reference all the scriptures (there are many) to prove that God commands us to worship, we were created to worship Him and in the end, all will worship Him (willing or not). For the sake of brevity, I’ll address a portion of the question here – a question I’ve been asked many times throughout my ministry.

We endeavor to pare everything down to a few strategic elements in our worship services, encouraging believers to participate fully in this worship process – worship through song, prayer, giving and hearing of the Word of God. This is a…

Lessons in the Rearview Mirror

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I was driving home the other day, heading East just about the time the sun was going down behind me.  Rolling hills, music playing, little traffic.  Nice and relaxing.
Until the setting sun just about blinded me in the rearview mirror. Blinking from seeing spots, I flipped the mirror up and tried to get back to my relaxing drive home.


Not so fast. God had something to say.
As I glanced back up to the rearview mirror, I noticed the strange pattern of shadows it was creating from the reflection of the sun. I had to squint to see any kind of detail. All the rolling hills behind me were now cast in various shades of shadow. 
I couldn't clearly make out much of anything, and the beauty I was beholding a few minutes before had now turned to ominous shifting patterns of grey.
In true form, I took notice and began to ponder how with one flip of a switch everything took on such a drastically different appearance. I use this function at night all the time, but rarely during the day.
In true form, Go…

Peacekeeping Vs Peacemaking- What's the Difference?

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Being at peace with everyone seems impossible and at the very least, improbable. It hurts to not feel at peace with everyone, because we want to be liked (and drama free) right? It doesn't feel good when relationships go badly. 
But this goes deeper than being liked or eliminating drama. It's about growing into mature people of God. That's why Paul, in Romans 12:18 encourages us to ...do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.
This is actually encouraging to me, because I may honestly do everything I feel is humanly possible, but still not achieve resolution- or even reconciliation in some cases. 
Unfortunately these things aren't always possible, but a transformation of our own hearts and the practice of maturing as a peacemaker is...
...because we can only control ourselves and our behavior,  no matter what the other person does.
(insert big sigh here. Okay 2 big sighs)  There's a big difference between peacekeepers & peacemakers.Signs of a…

Soul Tattoo: What Defines You?

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The Scripture is full of references that talk about the soul and the spirit. It’s so important in fact, that the Old Testament mentions it over 785 times and the New Testament over 103 times.
It’s pretty clear that in God’s big story for mankind, our souls- the essence of our inner most beings- is important to Him- so important that He sent His son to die for our sin, our weaknesses, and our shame. 
Our soul is the thing that makes us unique. It’s how we relate to others and how we understand ourselves. It comprises who we are.
Often our souls feel like a roller coaster- sometimes weary or unsure- sometimes comfortable, content or even at peace. We all have invisible tattoos (so to speak) that make an imprint on our souls… earthly things that work to define us. They may have been in the past or are currently influencing our perspectives.
They can make a mark so deep that the imprint may feel like it will last forever.
So the question is this: what defines you?
Are you allowing your past, you…

Living in the Light

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Recently I was leading our congregation in the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I’ve always been intrigued by a particular phrase in verse 1.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father There is no shadow of turning with Thee Thou changes not, Thy compassions, they fail not As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be
There is no shadow of turning with God. Think about that for a minute.

A shadow is formed when an object blocks another light source. This means there has to be an external light source in order for a shadow to be created.

There is no light source other than God. He is the source. There is no shadow when He turns.There is no other source of Light and Truth.He is constant, everlasting, and never-changing.Without Him, there is only darkness… not even a shadow!
Mind. Blown.Consider James 1: 17
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.…or I John 1: 5-6
This is the m…

Character Over Comfort & Control

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Control.
We all want it. We don't always get it. Sometimes we get it, then decide we don't want it.
Sigh.
In my life I've come to recognize control as an old familiar acquaintance, continually proving that my sense of having it is simply an illusion. Just when I think I have it, it's often yanked from my groping hands and there's not much I can do about it. 

When we feel like we are in control, we often feel pretty comfortable with it. You may tell yourself you've earned it. You may snatch it away from someone else and justify it. You may hoard it, thinking no one can hurt you. You may sacrifice pieces of your character to have it. You may hide behind it.
When we feel out of control, we often feel frantic. Why are we afraid to let go of it? we feel weak we feel uncomfortable we feel ineffective we feel frustrated we feel exposed we feel like we are floundering, grasping we wonder what will happen and how we'll deal with it
Could it be that God is more interested in your charact…

You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

You can’t pour from an empty cup. It always sounded good in my head, albeit a bit cliché. Until my cup was crumbling. Then I understood.
We've all been there. We've run ourselves ragged trying to fulfill the expectations of others. Or ourselves.
How can we find a healthy balance?
Check out my new post on this very subject:
Finding Balance in the New Year
With God's help, we can do better.
New year, new start.
New year, new grace.
New year, new perspective.
New year, new creation in Christ.
Happy New Year Friends!

When You Wonder Why

When life smacks you upside the head, do you ever wonder why? Why is this happening to me? To my family? To... whatever!
I took some time to reflect on this in a recent post I wrote for Seedbed.com.
There are four things I identify that help me during seasons of "why."
Hold on to what is good and true.Relax and know that He is still God.Watch for the little, gentle reminders of His love.Guard your mind.
There are ways to get beyond the spiral of the "why." You can find peace. You can find hope. Most often, it takes being a bit intentional.
For more detail on each of these,  I encourage you to read my Four Steps to Take When You Wonder Why.
Blessings on you friend!
Michelle (a.k.a. piano girl)

Stillness in Times of Trouble

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Perhaps you've heard this famous verse from the Bible a 1000 times like I have:

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
I even have it on a beautiful piece of art hanging in my kitchen. This framed photo captures a bare tree in the winter surrounded by snow, cold and complete stillness.



In the past year especially, this verse has taken on new meaning for me as our family has been through the ringer. We have endured trials of many kinds; including personal betrayal, slander, rejection, moving to several different states in one year, job losses, death of a close family member and more. All of this, on top of a previous year of burnout and major medical issues. 
Not whining, just being real with you.
Honestly, it's been hard to be still through all of this turmoil. How does God expect me to do this? There are problems to be solved here! There is justice to be had here! God, where are you?
It was one of those moments I was asking Him this very question when this picture came into …