Tag: motivational


Sunday Inspiration: The Encouragement of Solitude

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).

Day 23:  The Encouragement of Solitude

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:16 NASB)

One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of encouragement. In every type of professional work I’ve done, I’ve been able to use my gift to serve my clients and my students. Likewise, in certain friendships and relationships, I’ve had the opportunity to give comfort and confidence to others in times of sorrow and anxiety, and have also had it reciprocated. To get to operate in my spiritual gift is an encouragement to me.

I remember listening to a podcast series by a well-respected pastor on the topic of encouragement. He said that people are in more need of reassurance and relief today than ever in the history of the world. He described different ways we can be an encouragement to others, and how we can be an encouragement to ourselves when we need it most. The pastor said one way we can reassure and restore ourselves is through solitude.

Solitude may be something some people are uncomfortable with, but I’ve learned to relish it, even when I don’t feel like being alone. Here’s what the pastor had to say about solitude:

God used certain people in a mighty way, but before He could, He had to teach them to be alone, teach them what isolation was all about. There is ministry in solitude and if we don’t learn how to cultivate that, we will have a very difficult time encouraging ourselves in the Lord. To be quiet so you can talk to God and so God can talk to you. King David understood the importance of getting alone, and so did Jesus. If a man considers his time to be so valuable that he cannot find time to keep quiet and to be alone, that man will eventually be of no value to anyone. To spend all of one’s time with people is soon to have nothing to give any of them of any value. ~Dr. David Jeremiah

For me, there are a few things I do in solitude that serve as a big encouragement for me. First and foremost, it’s reading the Word at the start of each day and recording in my journal what I think God is saying to me through His Word, as if He were talking directly to me. (Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 NIV) When I later go back and read what I’ve recorded, it’s often what I needed to be reminded of at exactly that point in time, or it’s to confirm that He did what He promised He would do.

The sounds of nature are also an encouragement to me. Being alone outside, especially paddling on the water, is soothing for me. God’s Word reminds me of the hope I have in Him, while being on the water makes me forget my sorrows and anxieties, at least for those few hours. The rhythm of the paddle strokes, coupled with the sounds of the water and the birds, make everything just melt away for me.

I love paddling on my own when I’m feeling discouraged (which was how I was feeling the day I wrote this). But I also enjoy paddling with a friend or a group who can also serve as an encouragement. I hope whoever is reading this is finding encouragement from the words God has put on my heart to share.

What are your own spiritual gifts (take the spiritual gifts test)? How are you using them, and are you getting encouragement from using them in various areas of your life? Spend some time in solitude to reflect on how you can better fulfill your purpose.

Side Note

Just last weekend I took a retreat on my own that required complete silence and solitude. It was a reminder of just how true the words of this post are. I encourage you to find time, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day, to get alone and be with yourself and with God. You’ll return to your daily routine refreshed and renewed.

Purchase the entire 30-day devotional

If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!

SUP

Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!

If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.

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Sunday Inspiration: Don’t Look Down

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).

Day 1:  Don’t Look Down

But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” (Matthew 14:30 MSG)

After first seeing and hearing about stand up paddle boarding (SUP), I decided I was going to try it, but not on the ocean. I wanted to try it first on flat water, and figured there had to be a place near me here in Nashville since we have a large river and several lakes.

After a quick search online, I found a place at the marina closest to me that rents boards and offers a beginner course, making the thought of trying this new sport a little less intimidating. I invited a few friends to join me, but didn’t have any takers. I didn’t let the fact that I’d have to go solo stop me. I’ve been to the other side of the world to Australia by myself. I go hiking and biking by myself all the time. I could do this by myself too. And besides, I knew I wouldn’t be truly alone because God is always with me, and there would be some other newbies in the beginner class I could meet.

Not personally knowing anyone who had previously tried SUP, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be harder than it looked or easier than it looked. Would I have the balance to get up and stay up on the first try? I mean, you’re basically standing on water! I was sure it was something that probably doesn’t come naturally, at least not at first.

Despite how hot it was that day, I didn’t want to end up swimming with turtles in the Cumberland River if I could help it. So before heading out to the marina I prayed, “Lord, please let me be able to get up on the board on the first try and stay standing up.” (It’s true you can pray anytime about anything!)

Not only did God answer that prayer, but throughout the process of the beginner’s lesson, He showed me just how much this experience of learning SUP is a direct parallel to some of the lessons in His Word. For instance, just as I was about to stand up for the first time, the instructor told me to keep my focus on the horizon and not look down or I would likely fall in the water. As soon as she said that, I immediately thought of the story of Peter when he walked on water with Jesus:

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-30 MSG, 31-33 NIV) emphasis added

Peter started to sink because he took his focus off Jesus.

One of the other things the instructor told us was, “Your board will go where your eyes go.” This is why it is so important for us to guard what we look at and watch. If we take our focus off of God and peer down the path of darkness and destruction, before we know it we’re likely to be steering ourselves in that direction and heading down that road.

Take time like Jesus did to be by yourself and pray. Be like Peter and take a step in faith. Don’t look down. Keep your eyes on God, and when you feel like you’re sinking, reach out for Jesus’s loving hand. He will catch you.

Purchase the entire 30-day devotional

If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!

SUP

Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!

If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.

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Sunday Inspiration: Just Start

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“An intelligent person aims at wise action…a fool starts off in many directions.”

PR 17:24 GNT

Successful people have one thing in common…they’ve developed the habit of doing what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. We all want more money, but we don’t all want more work. We’d all like to be slim and trim, but we’re not all willing to eat right and exercise daily.

Commitment and Consistency!

Without commitment we will never start, and without consistency we’ll never finish. Getting started is the hardest part. Why? You know why. There are so many reasons not to.

So:

1) Start Small. Take the first step. You can’t take step two until you’ve taken step one. Taking the first step to prioritize your life will focus you in the right direction. But don’t expect to immediately understand all that’s required. “By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing” (Heb 11:8). God guides you when you’re in motion, so “you’ll know as you go.”

2) Start with Yourself. If you want others to respond to you differently, give them a different set of attitudes and actions to respond to.

3) Start Early. Someone said, “Noah didn’t wait for his ship to come–he build one.” Hard work is an accumulation of the easy things you didn’t do when you should have. The truth is, the work doesn’t seem nearly so hard once you stop putting it off.

4) Start Now. What are you waiting for? Until you finish school, get married, have kids, the kids leave home, you retire, or you die? If you wait long enough you’ll only have one regret–that you didn’t start now. [Jo]

Source:  http://www.skiatooknaz.com/cgi-bin/journal.pl?ID=1005&template1=template1&method=exact

Sunday Inspiration: Break Out of the Box!

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“He will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.” 
Nu 14:8 NLT

When others saw giants in the Promised Land and wanted to return to Egypt, Caleb said, “The Lord…will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.” At that point two things happened. “The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle” (v.10 NLT). When the people around Caleb said no, God said yes—and all you need is His approval! When you have that, you can disregard the nay-sayers and move forward. If you wait for everyone to approve, agree with you, and applaud you, you’ll get nowhere. There was a time when people thought the earth was flat, and that man would never walk on the moon. In 1899 the U.S. Patent Office almost closed because the commissioner, Charles H. Duell, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” In retrospect this statement is ridiculous, but some of us have this same mindset. We stop learning because we think we’re too old. We’re afraid to change careers in case we jeopardize our pension. We don’t pursue our dreams in case we fail or get ridiculed. We’re so used to self-imposed limitations and telling ourselves, “I can’t do that,” we think we can’t do anything. In essence, we’ve built a box, crawled inside, and now we’re looking for something or someone to blame for our lack of faith. God didn’t box you in, you did it to yourself, and you need to take the initiative to break out. Today decide to do it—and God will bless your endeavors.

Source:  https://jentezenfranklin.org/posts/break-out-of-the-box