Archive | August 2013

God’s Masterpiece, Part III

God's Masterpiece logo for blogWhile God’s Masterpiece Part 1 and Part 2 cover what we discussed in our Ladies Mini-Retreat a couple of weeks ago, looking at the topic from additional angles might help us gain even more insight. To help in doing that, below are links to four articles along with a copy of the text from an email newsletter that in some way connect with being God’s Masterpiece.

Here are the four posts:

Are You a Ball of Yarn or Part of the Blanket? at Wisdom of a Fool

How to Balance Strategy & Creativity to Move Your Ideas Forward by Ron Edmondson

The Art of Doing Small Things with Great Love by Michelle DeRusha

Use It or Lose It at Christian in the rough

Here’s the newsletter article:

Do you engage in negative self-talk?

If someone asked you to name 5 things you LOVE about yourself – and 5 challenges or things you need to improve upon, which list would be easier for you to come up with?

If your “negative” qualities come to mind more quickly, you’re not alone. Most of the women and men I work with have the same experience.

Now, let’s stop and think about this for a moment . . .

Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves? We know that no one is perfect.

And yet, we continue to hold ourselves to impossible standards. Then we criticize ourselves harshly when we fall short.

You may not say those criticisms out loud. But how often do you look in the mirror and think to yourself: “I look stunning today!” . . . versus: “Ugh, I need to drop a few pounds!”?

The fact is, negative self-talk is rampant. And it’s making us unhappy, insecure, unhealthy and overweight.

How? It’s simple.

When you engage in negative self-talk you’re essentially doing 2 things:

  1. Mentally punishing yourself
  2. Reinforcing those negative thoughts as your “reality”

You see, thoughts are powerful. When you think something over and over, your unconscious mind believes it. Then – whether you’re aware of it or not – your actions start to mirror those thoughts. So when you think, “I’m so fat,” you’re actually telling your unconscious mind to reinforce that reality. Not exactly the result you were hoping for, right?There are a lot of great methods out there for training yourself out of the habit of negative self-talk (yes, it is just a bad habit!), but for the sake of brevity I’ll just share one thought with you today . . .

Start to think of your “inner voice” as a GPS.

When you miss a turn, does your GPS say, “You’re such a moron! Why can’t you do anything right?!”I sure hope it doesn’t! (If it does, I would highly recommend throwing it out and investing in a new one.)More likely it says something along the lines of “At the next intersection, please make a legal U-turn” (in that pleasant tone and accent they always seem to have).What if your self-talk were equally pleasant? When you over-indulge in dessert after dinner, you might say to yourself, “That was delicious! And for dinner tomorrow, let’s order the salad.” When your clothes start to feel a bit tight, you might think, “Maybe it’s time to do a little detox to re-set my health and hormones so I can feel great and fit into my favorite jeans again!”

When you take this firmly loving, non-judgmental approach, I think you’ll be astonished at how much happier you feel – and how much easier it is to get the results you want in every area of life.

– Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD

DISCUSSION: How do these additional angles help expand the application of you being God’s Masterpiece?

This entry was posted on August 29, 2013. 2 Comments

Traveling through the Psalms – Psalm 3

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

Can you imagine anything worse than having your own child as your enemy? I’m not talking mad at you or even estranged, as if that wouldn’t be bad enough. I’m talking having your child against you in battle wanting to kill you.

This is the place David writes from in Psalm 3. His son Absalom wants to kill him, so David flees for his life. He finds himself surrounded by seemingly insurmountable numbers. Doesn’t seem like the situation could be any worse.

What about your enemy trying to convince you that God won’t rescue you? It just got worse. That’s right, not only is David being pursued by his own son, Absalom is apparently trying to convince David that God won’t help him.

David had several choices for his response. He could have despaired as Absalom hoped. He could have simply given up and let Absalom have the victory. Please read Psalm 3 before proceeding, noting what David actually chose as his response to the situation.

Psalm 3

David chose to respond in the following ways:

  1. Looked to God for protection & encouragement (v3).
  2. Cried out to God (v4).
  3. Allowed God to sustain Him (v5).
  4. Refused to fear men (v6).
  5. Called on God for the victory (v7).

David knew God blessed His people (v8), those who remained faithful to Him. Knowing this put David in a place where he could respond in the way that he did even when being pursued to his enemy and even when his enemy was his own son. David’s reaction truly shows a heart after God.

No matter your situation or how impossible it seems. No matter your enemy, how strong or how numerous. God protects, encourages and sustains His people. Follow David’s example and look to God even in your despair and even when hope seems lost. Know that with God, there’s always hope.

RESPOND: How can you immediately follow David’s example in your current outlook?

This entry was posted on August 22, 2013. 2 Comments

God’s Masterpiece, Part II

If you missed our 2013 Mini-Ladies Retreat,
this post along with Part I were written just for you. Enjoy!

As God’s Masterpiece, Part I detailed, we are God’s best works, His masterpieces. And as such, He has good works planned that display His work and bring Him glory.

God's Masterpiece logo for blog“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Our Response

Good works have a crucial role to play in the lives of God’s masterpieces. They give us a way to display our adoration for Him, for His work in creating us anew in Christ Jesus.

Every person has both generalized and specialized good works they can use to show appreciation for God’s redemptive work in their lives. Generalized works are the same for everyone – love your neighbor, be generous, be hospitable, meet needs, care for the poor, etc. Specialized works are unique works based on each individual’s gifts, talents & interests.

We each have gifts, talents and abilities given to us that enable us to show God’s generosity to us. So, not only did He create us anew with the gift of salvation, He also gave us the tools needed to live in that newness for Him. (1 Peter 4:10).

In Matthew 5:13-16, we read how we are salt & light (flavor & guidance) in a lost and dying world. Our good deeds show the world that Christ made us alive and can do the same for them. Our response then is to show God’s masterpieces to the world.

Good Works as a Way of Life

For many people, good works are simply a part of their lives where they show their belief in God. But Ephesians 2:10 indicates, we are to “walk in” our good works. The original meaning of “walk in” gets at good works being a way of living or engaging in a certain lifestyle. Good works are to be a way of life not just a part of life.

Walking in good works encompasses the whole of a Christian, not just specific tasks like cleaning the church or teaching Sunday school. Our lives are not a division of “stuff we do for God” and “everything else.” All of who we are, what we do, and the attitude in which we do it encompass what “walk in” good works means.

In fact, we could say that we are to flourish in good works (Psalm 92:12-15). And we definitely can say that our way of living, our good works, should always aim to please the Lord (Colossians 1:9-10).

Flourishing & Pleasing

So, why don’t we always flourish? Why do we continually fail to live in ways that please Him? The combination of reasons are unique to the individual but most likely include:

God’s Word tells us that we an continue flourishing & pleasing Him with good works even to old age (Psalm 92:12-15). In other words, we can overcome weariness, busyness, distractions and deception and instead walk in good works. How? Again, the ways are many and varied, but they include…

  1. Refusing the glory. It’s about Him, not us.
  2. Staying in shape. (Ephesians 6:10-20) Be faithful in the basics.
  3. Doing what’s next. Like Abraham, we can take the next step without knowing God’s whole plan. Just start walking.
  4. Focusing on what He has prepared. Refuse to let your daily plans get in the way of what God planned for you long ago.
  5. Knowing yourself. What are your interests, abilities, skills, talents, opportunities, etc.? Consider your background, personality, dreams & appearance – God gave them to you to shape you into a specific way of living (doing good works) as His masterpiece.
  6. Encouraging others. (Hebrews 10:24) Let others know that you notice their lifestyle of good works.

God’s Will or Your Agenda?God-Or-My-Agenda

You often (hopefully) consider your appearance before stepping outside your home. I’m not talking fashion but just being presentable and respectful in your appearance.

Do you think as much about how you display God through your way of living (good works)? Do you focus on doing the good works God prepared for you to do or more on asking Him to bless your daily plans?

Focusing more on how our lives reflect God rather than what others think of us personally means allowing the good works He planned for you long ago to flourish all the days of your life.

This entry was posted on August 15, 2013. 2 Comments

God’s Masterpiece, Part I

If you missed our 2013 Ladies Mini-Retreat or want a review of the discussion,
this post was created just for you. Enjoy!

2 Magnum Opus, Charlotte's Web, page 145 illustration, 1952, GM WilliamsNext to her, attached to the ceiling, Wilbur saw a curious object. It was a sort of sac, or cocoon. It was peach-colored and looked as though it were made of cotton candy.

“Are you awake, Charlotte?” he said softly.

“Yes,” came the answer.

“What is that nifty little thing? Did you make it?”

“I did indeed,” replied Charlotte in a weak voice.

“Is it a plaything?”

“Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.”

“I don’t know what a magnum opus is,” said Wilbur.

“That’s Latin,” explained Charlotte. “It means ‘great work.’ This egg sac is my great work – the finest thing I have ever made.” – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

If you had to name some masterpieces, what would they be? Perhaps you’d name a classic novel like Lord of the Rings by Tolkein or Moby Dick by Melville. Maybe you’d cite a great sculpture like The Pieta by Michelangelo or a painting such as the Mona Lisa by da Vinci. Or perhaps you’d focus on a great piece of music by Beethoven or Bach.

Now think about why you picked what you did. In other words, what do you think makes a masterpiece a masterpiece? The Bing Dictionary says a masterpiece is a “great artistic work,” an “artist’s best work,” and that it earns recognition. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art says a masterpiece is a work that no one else could have done and that cannot be repeated.

What other elements make a masterpiece? Originality, perfection, staying power, emotional impact, style, technique, balance, harmony, communication of universal values, and the ability to defy time and fashion seem to all fit in the definition of a masterpiece.

What makes a masterpiece a masterpiece seems somewhat difficult to pin down, which is why most agree that a masterpiece holds an elusive element that makes it fit all those definitions and more.

God's Masterpiece logo for blog“For we are God’s masterpiece (workmanship). He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

Considering how we define a masterpiece, it’s somewhat humbling to discover that we are each considered God’s masterpieces. But what exactly does being God’s masterpiece mean?

God’s Best Work

Looking outside, I see many of God’s creative pieces – trees, flowers, animals. I love visiting remote places like the mountains and deserted beaches and to stand in awe of God’s amazing creation. I experience God’s amazing work every time I feel the cool breeze and the warmth of the sun, when I smell the grass, and when I hear the rush of a waterfall, an ocean wave or a rushing river. Our creative God certainly made a great work when He created our world.

As beautiful and awe-inspiring as nature is, whether in places like the Rockies, Smokies or Hawaii or just in your backyard – none are called God’s masterpieces. Only we are considered God’s best work – His masterpieces.

Made Anew

In Ephesians 2:1-9, Paul describes how we are made new again out of some pretty crude elements. He describes how we were dead because of many sins and were in fact full of sin. We obeyed Satan and followed the passions & desires of our evil nature.

Because of Jesus and His defeat of sin, death and Satan, God now saves us with His special favor as we believe and turn our free will over to Him. He takes us in our depravity and creates us anew… as masterpieces.

You Are Special

God made every believer new again through Jesus. As if that weren’t enough, we also can know that we are “fearfully” or “awesomely” made (Psalm 139:14). God created each of us as His masterpiece. We are each special to Him. No two of us are alike, each an original works. Each His best work!

Part II looks at how God wants us to live as His masterpieces!

This entry was posted on August 8, 2013. 3 Comments

A Wise Woman Builds – August Application

11-1-12 A wise woman buildsRemember that our goal for studying the Proverbs 31 Woman was to have goals and standards that we can work toward to increasingly become godly women. This description should not be a heavy burden. Please never forget that.

August 2013 Application

This is a gentle reminder to always pursue deliberate application of God’s Word.

For August… Visit Proverbs 31 Ministries and read at least one devotion on this site. Feeling brave today? Leave a comment there too!

May these monthly suggestions be gentle reminders of the potential we all have as Christian women.