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God Loves Renewal

I read a quote this morning that says, "The most conspicuous way to know when a person is ready to lead others is when he is able to lead himself." It got me thinking. Am I a good leader according to that statement? Do I do a good job at leading myself? Over the past few weeks I've been in a bit of a slump. You know how baseball players get into a hitting slump, and they begin to lose confidence? Well, that can happen to anyone, including preachers. I would venture to say it's probably happened to you. As Christians, we know we have a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pe. 1:3). We know we possess a "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Pe. 1:8). But if you're anything like me, you don't always feel that way.

At different seasons in our lives we can all experience a spiritual funk. Why? Well, sometimes it's because we grow careless. We are unguarded. We stop paying attention to the weeds growing in our spiritual garden. You see, sin seldom starts out with evil. It usually begins with inattention. When we're on spiritual autopilot, we think everything is OK, but in reality we begin experiencing "soul drift," and the next thing we know, we've drifted quite a distance from shore. Sometimes our spiritual funk begins due to some external circumstance that we allow to rob our joy. That's right--our joy is only taken from us when we allow circumstances to take control of our hearts and minds. This is why we tell our children that they CHOOSE their attitude. We can't control what goes on around us, but we can control, through the Holy Spirit, what's going on inside of us. And so we pray, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit" (Ps. 51:12).

I recognize in my own life that getting out of a spiritual funk isn't easy. In another blog this week I pointed out there was no miraculous spiritual growth pill. It takes deliberate action, commitment, and dedication to "right the ship" and begin the gradual work of spiritual renewal and growth. I don't have it all figured out, but one of the key elements of leading myself are the daily disciplines of prayer study, and worship, even when (and especially when) I don't feel like it. We all need a daily and weekly rhythm of work, family time, recreation, rest, and spiritual renewal.

I read that the Stanford Medical Center recently reported that our outer layer of skin renews itself every seven days, and every cell in our body is completely renewed every seven years. Isn't it amazing to think that even our physiology is consistent with God's rhythm of creation and the Sabbath? Every seven days we should cease and desist. In the Old Testament, every seventh year all Hebrew slaves were to be set free (Ex. 21:2), all land was to go unplowed and unused (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:4), and all debts were to be cancelled (Deut. 15:9). God loves renewal!

So if you're experiencing a spiritual funk right now, there are steps you can take, slowly and deliberately, to renew your spirit, revive your heart, and recalibrate your focus to the joy of your salvation and the sustenance of Christ. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16).

Originally published on 02/18/13.

The Sweet Truth

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The Easter season is in full swing. For those of you reading this in the Midwest, the flowers are starting to bloom and the temperature is more often 50 degrees than 20 degrees. What's great about spring is that the sidewalks are full of families, runners, and walkers, all taking time to enjoy the new season. With spring coming back it also beckons a new season of food! 

It seems that holiday's here in America consistently have food at the center of them. Maybe you enjoy a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving or a Christmas Ham on Christmas Eve. Easter also involves food and has a special bunny that brings eggs full of some pretty great goodies!

Easter baskets full of treats were always a family tradition for me growing up. We also had our annual family Easter egg hunt and afterwards, we had the chance to dive into our Easter baskets. In general, I am a huge fan of candy and for Easter I have my favorites.

First off, when I am hoping to go more traditional, I love Peeps. Peeps are such a unique marshmallow candy and they are the true definition of Easter candy to me. My rule is: if you are going to enjoy Peeps, they must be the chicken shape (not the bunnies or any other variations).

My other Easter candy preferences are Cadberry Eggs. These are a solid choice if you are seeking out some chocolate during this season! My next choice is the Starburst Jelly Beans.These are a more recent release with that great Starburst flavor packed into small jelly beans! These are a tasty take on the traditional jelly bean.

I hope you've enjoyed some of my favorite Easter candy! Let us know what your favorite tradition is when it comes to your candy of choice. What do you enjoy stuffing in your Easter eggs? What are you eating way too much of this Easter season? Thanks so much for reading and stay tuned for even more blogs this Easter season to help you have the best Easter yet!

 

Alec

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