Category Archives: Transforming

Making the Choice

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” — Ephesians 4:22-24

How many times have you heard the following words come out of your mouth?

“One of these days, I’m going to…”
“I really ought to…”
“Maybe when ____ is over I’ll get around to…”

I’m afraid they’re like a broken record playing over and over in my head and all too often they come right out my mouth. There’s just so much in my life that needs to change and yet is not getting done.

Unfinished Projects and Needed Change

I have so many projects in my home waiting to be completed. Some have been waiting a long time. Do you have any of those?

Needing to get organized a while back, I bought a beautiful new household binder and started filling it up with notes and planning forms and sheet protectors (because, of course, I wanted it to stay nice). That was…I can’t remember how long ago. I’m not even sure what happened or why I didn’t finish putting it together. And, frankly, I don’t know where that binder is right now. (Sigh.) Needless to say, I still need to get organized.

Then there’s those things that need changing. You know what I’m talking about. Those nagging little monsters like a few extra pounds and pudges around the middle. A closet that’s so chock full of stuff you’re afraid to open the door. The same old drab dinner menus. That crazy schedule!

And changes are not just needed in our physical lives, but our souls also need some transformation work. Maybe we need to spend more time alone with God, praying and studying His Word. Maybe He has revealed something we need to do differently and we’ve yet to take those steps. Maybe we just need to take time to be still and rest in Him.

Ready for Change

God’s Calling Us

Life in Christ is a journey of change. We are called to become more like Him by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. But we have to be willing to make the effort and work with Him. Ephesians 4:22-24 says: “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God’s will is to transform us to be like Him—righteous and holy. Are we working with Him on this or pushing Him away?

Now, not every change has eternal consequences. Household binders and organized closets won’t be found in God’s Word. But they can be used as tools to help us live a life that reflects the character of God and become more like Him. So while they may seem inconsequential, they can be very beneficial.

Make the Choice to Change

I’m guessing, just like me, you have a list rolling around in your head of things you need to change. So, my friends, what’s stopping us?

There are as many reasons as there are projects, I suppose. But the bottom line is: When it’s not thrust upon us, change is a choice.

We don’t change because we choose to leave things as they are.

Life is busy and things get in the way. We’re distracted by…well, everything. But if you’re like me, there’s at least one needed change nagging at you constantly, hanging like a weight around your neck. You’ve not forgotten about it. It’s always right in front of you. But making it happen will take effort. It may make you uncomfortable. It might even be painful. And so, you try to put it out of your mind and do something else.

The result? Life stays the same. Same problem. Same consequences. Same awful nagging.

You know what? I’m tired of the same.

I’m choosing TODAY to make ONE CHANGE.

There are plenty I could make, to be sure. But I can’t take them all on at once. And as I’ve often heard: The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

So, I’m taking one little bite today. I’m going on a hunt for that household binder and finally finish it. And tomorrow I can start living a little more organized.

Found it! Now to put it all together...

Found it! Now to put it all together…

One nagging monster down. A little less weight hanging around my neck.

Will you join me?

What ONE CHANGE will you choose to make TODAY?

Let’s change our words to say…

 “Today is not going to be the same. Today I am going to…”

Grace and peace,
Sabra

Holy Father, we know there are so many things in our lives that need changing. Give us wisdom, Lord, to know what to change today and to take the steps to make that happen. Thank You for promising us strength and grace to succeed and for your transforming work in our lives. May we become ever more like You in righteousness and holiness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
This post is linked up with these wonderful blogs…
Coffee for Your Heart at www.HolleyGerth.com.
Woman2Woman at www.MeredithBernard.com
Click on the link to read more encouragement from other bloggers.
 
Scripture is from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Change, Deny Self, God's Works, New Beginning, Transforming, Work

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” – John 7:37-38

Do you feel drained, like your energy and strength has evaporated, and you wonder how you’ll get through the challenges of the day? Maybe you’re going through a difficult period in your life, and it’s taking more out of you than you ever dreamed. Would you like to know how to have renewed strength and not just survive, but thrive?

Drink water.

That’s right. We all need it—a lot of it.

100_6326

Without water our bodies can’t function. We slow down. It becomes hard to think straight. We get weak and our emotions get the best of us.

Oh yes, we need water.

Recently my daughter and her friend—both beautiful twenty-somethings—were singing the praises of drinking three liters of water a day and the smoothing effect it had on their skin. Feeling like a dried prune next to them, I thought, “I really need to drink more water.

Water. Oh, no! Suddenly I remembered I had forgotten to water the plants on the patio that morning. Not good. We’re in melting season here with afternoon temps close to 100. I was afraid when I got home my plumbago would be well-wilted. If I don’t water it every morning, the heat of the day causes it to wither and those beautiful blue blooms close up and fall to the ground.

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Sounds a lot like me some days–when life weighs heavy and I start to wither. I feel drained of energy, lifeless. I close up and whatever was beautiful in me falls off. It’s in those moments I realize I need more water…the Living Water. I need Jesus.

Oh, how we need Him—a lot of Him–throughout the day.

While plants can usually make it okay with a morning watering, we need more. Our bodies must be replenished with water all through the day to function properly and flourish. And in the same way, our spirits need to drink in the Living Water throughout the day to not just survive, but thrive.

John7.37.38

We know our daily quiet time with the Lord is vital to our spiritual health. But to stay vibrant and able to withstand the pressures of the day for God’s glory, we need a constant refilling of His life-giving water.

Here are some ways to drink in more of Him throughout the day:

  • Stop and pray.
  • Read, listen to, or quote Scripture.
  • Write down thoughts of what God is teaching you.
  • Be still and take time to enjoy His presence.
  • When He reveals something you need to do, do it.
  • Pray constantly—through all your activities.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty for God. Drink Him in throughout the day.

100_6328

So how about it? Will you join me in a new commitment to drink more water, both for our bodies and our spirits?

Precious Lord, some days are just difficult. So often we press through trying to make it on our own and we end up drained, with nothing left to give. These are times You remind us how much we need You—the Living Water. Fill us, Jesus. Help us be faithful to drink in more of You and stay strong and vibrant…all to Your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible.
Images by Sabra Penley.

8 Comments

Filed under God's Presence, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Overwhelmed, Prayer, Strength, Transforming

When God Says “No”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What do you do when God says “no”?

What do you do when those prayers you’ve been lifting up finally receive an answer, and it isn’t what you had hoped? When the “no” comes at the end of heart-felt prayer about the very thing that makes your heart sing? Your work? Your health? Your relationships? Your passion? Your dream? What do you do when you hear “no”?

 

Three days ago, we received a “no” from God. In that moment, a prayer that has been ongoing for fourteen months came to an end. And I can’t help feeling a dream has died.

You see, my husband is a minister. For ten years he served as a pastor and has been a seminary professor for the last sixteen. Last year, a severe illness left him with a disability of several things needed for this calling. We long ago realized preaching was probably not going to be in David’s future. But the dream of teaching once again in a seminary classroom stayed strong in our hearts. We thought, “Just maybe….” While we knew it was possible that might never happen, we held out hope and lifted up prayers.

Receiving this sad news has, for a moment, taken the wind out of our sails. But just for a moment. For in the quiet stillness of a life slowed, we cry out to God all the more. Through our tears…through our fears.

What does a preacher/professor do with impaired speech, troublesome motor skills, and weakened memory? We don’t know. But of one thing we are sure–God knows. He knows it all. And as the quote above from Jeremiah 29:11 states, this is all a part of His plan. He isn’t surprised by any of it. And it is all in His control. What great peace this knowledge brings!

no wind, no sails

 

My husband’s new weaknesses have halted this part of our journey–that of actively teaching at the seminary, but these same weaknesses are preparing him for another part–one not yet known to us. God is transforming my husband–indeed, both of us–for our next assignment. And in His time, God will breathe new wind into our sails to move us in a new direction. He will place in our hearts a new dream. The dream that is necessary to compel us onward toward God’s new work…a work in keeping with this season in our life.

We may seem to be drifting at this point, but we are in fact still serving, still moving forward with God’s ultimate purpose–for us to bring Him glory in all we do.

sailing forth

 

Our inability to see where this is leading is okay, because God is always with us as our constant companion and guide. As long as we keep our focus on Him and follow where He leads us each day, we will be moving in the right direction.

And one morning, when the time Is right, God will open our eyes to see where He is leading us. We’ll see a new dream on the horizon.

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For now, our mission is the same as that of every believer–to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds…and to love our neighbors with the love the Lord has shown to us. That is true no matter the calling, no matter the gifting, no matter the location or health or life situation. This is the Lord’s will for us–to bring Him glory in everything.

So when God says “no” in answer to a specific prayer request, I will give Him praise. For He has heard my prayer and answered. And He is leading us on to something else–another part of this great adventure.

When God says “no,” it can feel like the death of a dream. But in reality, it is simply the birth of something new.

I love these words from Isaiah 43:18-19: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

And so we work in the waiting. Waiting in expectation for this something new.

Trusting God…rejoicing always…praying continually…and being ever thankful.

For when God says “no,” He isn’t leaving you without. He is simply saying “I’ve got something else for you.”

In Christ’s love,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from NI84.

Images:
"Ships that pass by..." by Gopal Vijayaraghavan via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
"Tucker Thompson sailing ship" by Jakob Steinschaden via flickr
     (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
"View from the bowsprit" by savagecat via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Morning Horizon by Sabra Penley

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Filed under Change, Expectation, Faith, God's Purpose, God's Timing, God's Works, Hope, Joy, New Beginning, Peace, Prayer, Thankfulness, Transforming, Trust, Waiting

The POONAPON Principle

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24

Denying self is hard work!

When God revealed my four focus themes for this year (denying self, sacrifice, humility, and love), I knew I was in store for a bumpy ride. After all, I’ve mastered the art of self-focus. Giving in to my heart’s desires is my default setting, my natural tendency. It is where my thoughts, words, and actions flow when I’m not making a conscious effort to follow Christ.

Denying self, this act of humility and sacrifice, is the center of living a life in devotion to God. It encompasses everything!

Giving up my own desires for the sake of Christ or the sake of others should be a part of all I do. It requires a constant remembrance of Jesus’ command (Luke 9:23) and the knowledge of what actions must be part of it. Effort and determination are required. It will not happen just because I want it to.

Change is never easy, and I find this to be especially true in learning to be sacrificial. It stretches me beyond my comfort zone into the realm of discomfort and sometimes pain. But as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is my calling. Indeed, it is the calling of all of us who proclaim Him as Savior.

What does denying self look like?

It is described in Ephesians 4:22-24 as a three-step process. Something I like to call The POONAPON Principle. Why that name? Because it helps me remember the steps and, frankly, I just like the way it rolls off my tongue.

San Francisco 10-2011 034

Ephesians 4:22-24 says: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The three steps are:                                                                                      (1) put off your old self                                                                                   (2) be made new in the attitude of your mind; and                                           (3) put on the new self.

P…Put

O…Off

O…Old

N…New

A…Attitude

P…Put

O…On

N…New

P.O.O.N.A.P.O.N.

Simple. Right?

Oh, yes, the principle is simple enough. But putting it into practice? Not so much!

Let’s break it down into the different steps:

Step One: Put Off Old

First, we must identify what belongs to our old self and choose to stop doing those things.

But while we’d like to just say, “Stop it!”, and it be done, it doesn’t happen that way. We must make the determined effort to not do those things any longer. And then we must replace them with the right attitude and action.

Step Two: New Attitude

Once we recognize the old self, we must understand what we are striving for. What does being conformed to the image of Christ look like?

For this, we must go to God’s Word. God makes it clear how we are to live, what is right and wrong. We see God’s character in the person of Jesus Christ, and His very life and death teach us His ways.

Writing down or memorizing Scripture verses that speak to following Christ’s example and the ways of God can help us to change our thoughts, our mindset. The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more it will transform our thinking. We will come away with a new attitude—one centered on the ways of the Lord.

To complete this process, we must take action on what we have learned.

Step Three: Put On New

A void is made when we put off the old self. To avoid falling back into it, we must fill the void with the new self of living righteously. We have to make the effort to practice the ways of Christ so that we will in essence change our default setting—or at least be closer to it.

And let’s never forget that it can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. We cannot do this on our own. God doesn’t ask us to. He gives us the sufficient grace to be successful! We must depend on His strength.

The POONAPON Principle. It’s that easy…It’s that hard.

We have our plan to follow, and now we need to get busy. Transformation awaits!

Do you struggle with this putting off the old and putting on the new? What ways have you found to help you to remember this biblical principle and follow it? Would you share them with us? Please leave a comment below.

Dearest Father, thank You for giving us a plan to follow in striving to become more like Your Son. Help us to put off the old self, to change the attitude of our minds to be filled with Your ways, and to put on the new self. May we not succumb to our weakness, but rely on Your strength. Transform us, O Lord, we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Photo by Sabra Penley, 2011

4 Comments

Filed under Attitude, POONAPON, Self, Transforming