August 05, 2021

The Power of One Thing (Randy Carlson), A Review by Susan Barclay

 

Carlson, Randy. The Power of One Thing: How to Intentionally Change Your Life. Tyndale House Publishers, 2009.

In The Power of One Thing, author Randy Carlson’s goal is to help readers intentionally change their lives. With the academic credentials to go with over 25 years of counselling experience, Dr. Carlson is well-equipped to help people improve in the five essential areas of life: faith, family, health, finances, and work.  As President of Family Life Communications Incorporated, he oversees the ministries of Intentional Living and Family Life Radio, where he fields numerous calls from listeners dealing with problems in one or more of these spheres. 

Divided into two parts, the book’s primary arguments are that you’re only “one thing” away from a better life and that changing one thing at a time is the most sensible approach. Most of us have tried to ameliorate our lives by biting off more than we can chew in one mouthful (I know I have!). Carlson encourages us to see the power in doing just one thing differently. If, for example, the idea of writing a full-length novel has struck you with writers’ paralysis, why not keep your sights on the next 1,000 words and produce them daily?  If you’re spending too much time on social media and failing to accomplish more important work, why not limit social media time to an hour each night? Can you think of other ways to use this principle to improve your writing life?

Overall, Carlson covers nine things to consider changing, and you can start wherever you need to most. Do you need to change your thinking or attitude, how you deal with emotions, or the words that come into your mind and out of your mouth? There are chapters on each of these. Do you need to change your use of time, the state of your house, the friends you choose? How about the questions you ask yourself and the way you make decisions?

        Change is possible. Look to the power of one thing. 

_________________________ 

You can find out more about Susan Barclay's writing at www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com.

August 03, 2021

Labouring for God-Lynn J Simpson



Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV


Work. We all do it! Work is defined by more than what we do for wages. Work is also labour and efforts to achieve a desired result. From the daily tasks such as unloading our dishwasher to the longer term projects such as writing a novel, all is work really. Even in sleeping, we are working toward a rested body and mind. 


 Our labours while living on earth do not end. We are also to honour God in all that we do. The tension, though, between the pull of the world and being true to God in our work, including our writing, can weigh us down. Responsibilities to our families, our wage work, our volunteer work, our publisher, and others, can challenge us to the point of exhaustion. 


In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us to take His “yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Taking His yoke means to be attached to Jesus in all our labours. When I imagine this, I see Jesus upfront, where the load is the heaviest. How incredible is that! Jesus helping  ME! Suddenly my heavy responsibilities, my tasks, and my worries are lighter. I continue my labours with a lightened heart and refreshed soul even though the work has not changed. It’s my relationship with Jesus that changes my weariness to lightness. 


“A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual production and purpose.” Life Application Bible


So how can I labour for God and rest in Him? 


1. Prayerfully consider every day how God wants me to serve Him and spread His abundance. 


A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25


2. Work to show His abundant, beautiful creations in nature that evoke calm, peace, and a sense of gratitude. 


You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. Psalm 65:11


3. Ask God to reveal where I need to pay attention to better work for His purpose. 


Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3


4. Take to heart that God is my strength. 


I lift up my eyes to the mountains-

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2


How has Jesus changed your weariness to lightness? Have you taken Jesus’ yoke upon you?


July 31, 2021

How Do You Find Rest and Peace? By Sandi Somers

 

Image by Reddit.com

The story is told of a contest in which the artists were to paint “perfect peace”. Of the many paintings submitted, the judge liked only two. One picture was of a calm lake, perfectly mirroring peaceful towering mountains and a blue sky.

The other picture was of a dark angry sky filled with flashes of lightning. Down the side of the mountain gushed a foaming waterfall. Peering closely, the judge noticed behind the surging water a tiny bush. There a mother bird sat secure on her nest. The judge chose this picture. “Because,” he explained, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.” *

Don’t we long for peace and rest, free from heavy responsibilities and worries? Time to relax and renew our spirits? God does give us these needed times. Even Jesus told His disciples: “Let us go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

However, Scriptures focus more on resting amid storms and burdens. “Come to Me, all you who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said (Matthew 11:28).

How can we find that rest?

I can sometimes get tied in knots with worry. Several years ago I was pressured with too many duties and worried about how I would accomplish everything. My devotional reading one morning mentioned a woman who felt the same way—pressured, worried, and exhausted. The Lord whispered to her, “It's not all the work that’s wearing you down, it’s your worries.” (I don’t remember the wisdom or advice God gave her.)

I went on my prayer walk, knowing full well that God didn’t need to remind me of my worries. But what would He say? Hardly had I gone two blocks when He quietly outlined the next steps to break down my projects into manageable pieces. I walked home refreshed and began tackling the next things. I discovered that when we bring our worries to God, He gives us His word: a promise or direction or how to restfully handle our dilemmas. And then we can go on.

Several InScribe bloggers last year also gave us an insight into their agitated spirits and how they found rest and peace.

Sharon Espeseth shared what God was teaching as she cared for her husband. “We may not have all the answers about Hank’s ill health, but we are thankful for what we have.” And then Sharon listed eleven points for praise and thanks—(a “must-read”)! She knew then that giving thanks clears our minds from debilitating fear of the unknown and gives us patience and a rested heart.

 When Alan Anderson chose “Rest” for his word of 2020, he posed the question: “What is the answer to all this weariness, this reality of being ‘heavy laden?’ Is there an answer?”

 Later in the year he wrote that he was tired, tired, tired. Admitting his weariness, the Lord’s gentle words reminded him of his deep need for Jesus’ promised rest. “This is not an elusive emotional longing, but a stated result of an honest heart after God,” he added. As a writer, Alan found emotional healing and rest when he wrote, giving hope to others in their own grief and hardship. Alan illustrated the principle that doing something engaging and interesting releases our minds and bodies from weariness and tensions. Endorphins pour into our bodies and bring about euphoria and well-being. They help us relax, release energy and productivity. And then we can move forward, fulfilling part of God’s purposes for us.

Pam Mytroen shared: “The stress from my job and family situations had been building like black angry clouds, and swirling into tornadoes of anxiety. After much prayer, the Lord showed me that I was trying to meet everyone's expectations, which was impossible. He showed me that I needed a new mind-set.”

She began to stop thinking about the “what ifs” of job difficulties, to let go of unrealistic expectations, to accept that she can't be perfect and please everyone, to stop worrying about her family, and to be thankful instead. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), Paul said. Brain science is now catching up to what God told us those millennia ago—developing new patterns of thinking regrooves the brain and nervous system with new patterns. But it takes time. Pam added,“Switching one set of thoughts for another takes self-discipline. I am amazed at the freedom and the space in my mind that was once taken up by stress and anxiety.” 

My prayer for you is that you’ll discover Jesus’ rest from worries, tiredness, and people’s expectations. Rest to a new mindset, thankfulness, and new steps in God’s purposes for you.

 What is it for you?

How has the Lord come to you when you’ve been burdened? What has he taught that you can pass on to others who are careworn?

Or perhaps now you’re struggling with an issue and the Lord is challenging you to enter into rest (Hebrews 4:11). What are you learning?

How do God’s promises in Matthew 11:28-30 (or other scriptures/insights) give you peace and rest in what you have faced and/or are facing?

Tell us your story.

 

(*Note: This story of a mother bird on her nest in a storm is only one of a number of variations I’ve read.)  

July 29, 2021

Fall Conference - Don't Miss It!

Registration for InScribe's Fall Conference is open! We are very excited that this year's event will be back at Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton and will be in person! However, for those who can't travel or who live far away, there is also a virtual option. Check the website for details: https://inscribe.org/events/fall-conference


There is also still time to submit your entry to the Fall Contest, including a 'published' category: https://inscribe.org/contests/fall-contest



July 28, 2021

The Guess Who: "The Key" - Bruce Atchison

Summer reading? Who has time? I find that the only book I read with regularity is the Bible.

Holy Scripture is one wonderful place for inspiration. Canadian Group The Guess Who certainly felt inspired enough to sing about various characters in the Bible, as you can hear on this song.

In my personal life, I admire Gideon. He wasn't from any popular or mighty family and tribe. He was just a person chosen by God to liberate Israel during the time of the judges.

When the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, he felt inadequate for the task he was called to do. As Judges 6:15 (Bible in Basic English) says, "And he said to him, 'O Lord, how may I be the saviour of Israel? See, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.'"

But instead of chiding Gideon, the Angel said in verse sixteen, "Then the Lord said to him, Truly, I will be with you, and you will overcome the Midianites as if they were one man."

I relate to other misunderstood and underestimated people in Scripture too. Christians down through the ages called one Disciple "Doubting Thomas." But we read his declaration of Christ's divinity in John 20:27 and 28 (BBE). "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put out your finger, and see my hands; and put your hand here into my side: and be no longer in doubt but have belief.' And Thomas said in answer, 'My Lord and my God!'"

And having read the accounts of these faithful saints, I rejoice in the knowledge that we'll meet them in heaven. Revelation 19:9 (BBE) tells us, "And he (the angel) said to me, 'Put in the book, Happy are the guests at the bride-feast of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God.'" What a wonderful day that will be!