The Art of Going to Bed

I enjoyed this post on preparing for sleep. I do struggle to sleep sometimes and will be coming back to this again:

prayer & practice

The lack of proper sleep can have an overwhelmingly negative effect your mental health, physical health, productivity and overall quality of life.

The Art of Going to Bed celebrates simple steps for investing in the most important part of the day, preparing to sleep! 

Between our careers, families and other important things we care about, taking the time to care for ourselves often takes a back seat.

As a mom, wife and entrepreneur I had to find creative moments  to nurture and sustain my mind, body and spirit and preparing to sleep has become a vital and sacred practice that I award myself with at the end of the day.

This practice helps me to resign the stresses of the day, submit to rest and rise better prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow!

Sleep Basics

We all know what it means to sleep.  And because it’s so easy even a baby can do…

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And There’s More: “You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide” Book-Review

I looked forward to reviewing this book because if I had to choose a favourite author, Holley Gerth would be it. A Christian counsellor and life-coach, she’s one of the most encouraging women I know. I’ve never met her in person; only online, but I’d thoroughly recommend her blog and any of her books.

This LifeGrowth Guide was written in response to readers of “You’re Already Amazing” who wanted more resources to help them use the book for group study. Holley does a great job of dividing the book into sections. She’s currently running a book club on her blog, working through the guide with her readers, and videos to accompany each session are available at http://holleygerth.com/amazing/

I think Holley’s tips on how to facilitate are useful to leaders of any small group. However, the outlines for group facilitators are at the back of the book. It might be easier (particularly for readers of the eBook) if the outline for session 1 was with session 1, etc, but that really is just personal preference, and I know in many Bible-studies you’ll find the leaders’ notes at the back. Throughout the guide, Holley refers to the Go Deeper questions in “You’re Already Amazing”. I wish these had been included within the guide as well as in the original book, but she does say a printable version can be downloaded from her website.

I hope this is helpful, and that like me, you’ll benefit from Holley’s writing.

A Time of Remembering

This weekend is special to me. I can stand with other Christians as the Bible is read in the open-air, as we remember Jesus and His journey to the cross, but even more important, I can remember that I’m His. It’s personal. When Jesus asks us to be ‘In remembrance of Him’, I believe He would want our hearts to dwell on His presence – the tremendous privilege of being able to spend time with Him.

Isn’t that why He did it? So that impure, unclean people like me, so unworthy and unfit to be seen by a pure and holy God, could come to Him and find our rest? Come to Him as we are and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing He took the punishment for our unloveliness so we wouldn’t have to?

Because Jesus took that punishment, God can look at us. We don’t have to cower away, but can linger in the presence of the heavenly King – our Father the King! Once, Jesus couldn’t rely on His friends to stay with Him for even one hour; now His true worshippers can sing about resting in His presence, not rushing away.

Jesus went to the cross despite Peter, James and John failing to stay with Him. He didn’t need heavy-eyed humans in order to do God’s will, but we need Him – always, and His work on the cross has made a way, the only way, for us to get to know God. We could resist; sadly many do, or we could lean in to what He has for us. Saying yes to Jesus, trusting Him fully with our lives – it takes a simple, childlike faith to do that.

And when we have the faith to say yes, Lord, You died on my behalf, then we have something to look forward to! Like the child of a millionaire, you or I become an heir: An inheritor of God’s promises and a co-heir with Jesus, who’s unashamedly our Brother. We belong! We have a place in God’s family, but that’s not the end; not the happy ever-after. Instead, it’s a new beginning! It’s not just a metaphor when Christians talk about being baptised into Christ’s death, and being buried with Him when we go underwater. Asking God’s forgiveness and undergoing baptism is a burial of the old self, and the start of life as a new creation. Now every day, we can count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.

I heard a story of when King George was still on the throne. Some children stood expectantly with a man and his dog. The man barked a command; it was always the same. “Rex? Die for the king!” The dog threw himself to the ground. However much the children poked and prodded, there was no sign of life. But as soon as the owner clicked his fingers, Rex sprang to his feet! We can count ourselves dead to sin. We can die for our King! And when He snaps His fingers, when He calls on us, we can be ready for complete obedience.

Obeying God wouldn’t be possible without getting to know Him, and the way to get to know Him was opened for us that dark day when Jesus laid down His life on a cross.

* * *

Thanks to Bonnie Gray, whose 7 OneWordLent prompts inspired this post, and to Rex the dog of course.

Big Disappointment: “Becoming a Disciple-Making Church” Book-Review

I was pleased to receive a free copy of this from Bethany House because the title makes you think it’ll be an encouraging look into helping people grow as Christians. The reason I chose it was because some people I know have done Neil Anderson’s Freedom in Christ course and enjoyed it.

The book deals with overcoming various aspects of life that could be barriers between you and God: Anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, etc, but the author comes across as lacking in compassion. He writes that we must give the gospel with compassion, yet some of his other statements contradict this. For example, he says: “Spirit-filled Christians have found their sanctuary in Christ”, implying that anyone who struggles with fear isn’t filled with the Spirit. The truth is, we all struggle with sin, otherwise John wouldn’t have needed to write: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Neil also says confession is the first step to repentance, but doing this alone will not bring resolution – again, a contradiction of John’s words in the Bible: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). John says confession is our part in repentance; then it’s God who does the purifying.

Neil would have us believe the key to overcoming depression is commitment, but when a person’s deep into depression, they lack energy and the thought of committing to anything long-term is overwhelming. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two here from the friends who lowered a paralysed man through a hole in the roof to see Jesus. The man himself was in no position to act, but their faith and action got results. If you’re a friend of someone who’s struggling and overwhelmed, perhaps you could be the one to commit to helping them.

It really comes down to what you believe about depression – whether you regard it as a sin, or an illness. I personally believe certain sinful behaviours may cause depression (unforgiveness, anger etc), but when a person reaches the depression stage, then I believe they’re ill and need help to recover. There is certainly hope for recovery, and I’m all for including God in that. Paul writes about us being transformed by the renewing of our minds, but Neil’s pronouncements that: “A victim is only a victim by choice” or “We need to be health-oriented, not illness-oriented” seem very critical. If someone broke their arm, their brain would focus on the pain of that broken arm. That wouldn’t be the fault of the person whose arm was broken. If physical problems are accepted in this way, why should someone with a mental illness be condemned? There are, of course, strategies we can use to overcome depression and Neil highlights some of these. We do have to take thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, E.G. rather than focus on feelings of inadequacy, we can dwell on who God is and the strengths He’s given us. We should stay connected to the important people in our lives, and I’ve always liked what Jarrod Cooper says: “God’s Word will fix you.” Psalm 107:20 talks about God sending His Word and healing.

I realise Neil Anderson has ministered for a number of years, and this is the culmination of his life’s work, but even some of the testimonies in the book don’t sit right. He talks about an unmarried woman in a sexual relationship. At the start of his time with her, he asked: “What would you do if I said you shouldn’t see the man again?” She answered, then he heard her story and they prayed together. Afterwards she said: “I’m never going to see that man again”. Neil says that conviction came from God, but did it? Don’t get me wrong; it may well have done, but it could also be that having been confronted previously, she made the statement because she felt it was expected of her. For the sake of all those who’ve been ministered to by Neil, I hope my opinion of him is wrong.

“Becoming a Disciple-Making Church” has the potential to put people off Christianity. I’ve found books like “Give Yourself a Break”, “You’re Already Amazing”, and even the secular book I’m reading at the moment on overcoming anxiety, to be far more beneficial.

Sweet and Lovely

One of my friends is a Catholic and used to get upset that her mind wandered when she prayed. She once told a priest: “I think about my brother, or what we’re having for tea.”

This lovely priest asked her: “Have you thought of including those things in your prayers?” He encouraged her to talk to God about her brother, and thank Him for the food she had.

I think we can do a similar thing with worship: Not always; there’s definitely a place for those times in God’s presence when our focus is on nothing else, but when others around us are singing and our mind’s wandering, we can bring those wanderings back to God. I sat beside a good friend in church yesterday. I found myself thinking what a privilege it was to sit next to him and how I loved to hear him sing, and then I thought: “That’s how God feels about all of us.”

Song of Solomon is perhaps the most passionate book in the Bible. Written by King Solomon years before Jesus was born, it depicts the romance between Christ and His church. In it the Lover says: “Show me your face, and let me hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Whether in church on Sunday or in your lounge at home, imagine God saying that to you:
Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”