Tag Archives: Glynnis Whitwer

Do I Pursue Goals More Than God?

Glynnis Whitwer February 22, 2016

Do I Pursue Goals More Than God?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Today I have a confession, one that is hard to admit. Many times I want the satisfaction of completing a goal more than I want to experience God.

This is a battle every morning, knowing my to-do list beckons, tasks await, people expect, emails ding.

All the while my Bible sits on the table with a silent invitation. It’s not demanding, simply a peaceful promise. Sadly, it’s easy to pass by as I move on to things I “need” to do.

I’m wired like Martha — maybe you know her from the Bible? She was concerned about her to-do list too.

Luke chapter 10 records a day when Martha was the hostess and Jesus was the guest. It’s a short story, but we know Martha fussed at Jesus because her sister wasn’t working hard enough. Rather than helping Martha fix the food, Mary was sitting listening to Jesus.

Jesus loved both Mary and Martha. But in that moment, as the story records, Jesus was more delighted with Mary’s heart to be with Him than in Martha’s heart to serve Him.

I can be a fusser too. Too busy with the details, too worried about planning for what’s next, too preoccupied with my to-do list. Sometimes I even worry about other people’s to-do lists.

Yet, I want a heart that pursues God more than goals. I want to long to spend time in Jesus’ presence more than I long to spend time on my computer or phone.

It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I do. I’ve devoted my life to serving Him. I’m aware of His presence and talk to Him throughout the day.

But so did Martha. She loved Jesus. And I’m sure she loved having Him as a houseguest, where she could hear Him talk as she went about her daily tasks. Maybe she asked Him questions and served Him lunch. Touched His shoulder as she walked by and picked up His plate.

But she didn’t stop to sit at His feet. She didn’t pause her preparations to give Him wholehearted attention.

Jesus so gently and lovingly corrected Martha and gave her advice on the right way to go about her work:

“Martha, Martha,’ the LORD answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

Jesus loved Martha’s heart of service, but He wanted her wholehearted devotion first.

This was a message Jesus consistently taught in His ministry. Get your heart right first; that’s the most important place to start.

In fact, our key verse is from Jesus’ teaching recorded in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I wonder if Martha changed her habits. Did she check her heart and consider where Jesus fit? Did she review her priorities and put Jesus before cleaning up?

We don’t know the answer. The only thing we can know is what we decide to do with this story.

It’s so compelling to jump into our days — whether it’s carpooling children or leading a meeting at work — without ever pausing to sit at Jesus’ feet. It’s so much easier to whisper a prayer while driving or listen to the Christian radio station and consider that time with God.

And we can be sure that God loves to hear our prayers and songs of worship. But Martha’s story challenges me to do a heart check. Why haven’t I carved out time every day to just enjoy the presence of the Lord?

It’s a challenging question, and one I’m determined to answer. But more than that, I’m committed to putting God before my goals in a very practical way … to stop being worried about my “many things” and choose what is “better.”

Heavenly Father, thank You for welcoming me into Your presence no matter how I approach You. You never shame me for my selfish choices, only love me. Help me re-order my heart and my schedule to put You before any task or goal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (NIV)

Luke 10:41-42, “But the LORD said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you feel overwhelmed and need help managing your schedule, Glynnis Whitwer’s book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, offers spiritual truth and practical tips.

Goals aren’t a bad thing; we just need to have our hearts right with the Lord before pursing them. So if you sense God has called you to write or speak, we’d love to help you gain a fresh vision and get the tools you need at our annual She Speaks Conference this summer, where we offer professional training grounded in having a right heart before God.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take a look at your calendar this week. When can you schedule 15 minutes to sit at Jesus’ feet? Write it in and consider it an appointment you can’t break.

© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Can This Year Really Be Different?

Glynnis Whitwer JANUARY 11, 2016

Can This Year Really Be Different?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” John 21:3 (NIV)

Each year as I hang up the blank calendar in my kitchen, empty of appointments but full of promise, I think to myself, This year will be different!

This will be the year I finally finish that house project, exercise consistently, lose weight, pray faithfully, spend more time with friends and so on and so forth. This year has to be better than last year … right?

And yet, for so many years I’d get to March (if I lasted that long) and give up on my goals, feeling like a failure once again.

I got so frustrated because I knew how to do this stuff. I might not do it perfectly, but I can paint a wall, take a walk, put less food in my mouth, sit and pray and schedule time with friends. This isn’t rocket science!

But … for some confusing reason I either stopped trying or kept making the same choices as before, expecting a different result.

I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt the night they went fishing and caught nothing. The story is told in John 21, after Jesus’ death when the disciples had gone to Galilee to wait for His return (which He’d told them about in Matthew 26:32).

While in Galilee, at least on one night, the disciples returned to their old lives … to fishing. They knew how to fish, as they’d done it all their lives, but that night after hours sitting in wooden boats, floating in dark silence, they caught nothing.

The story takes an interesting turn as the sun starts to rise. Jesus stood on the edge of the lake (although they didn’t recognize Him at first). He asked if they’d caught anything, and when He learned they hadn’t, He gave them a simple instruction: “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” (John 21:6a, NIV).

Scripture doesn’t record the disciples’ thoughts, but I imagine they were confused and a bit annoyed at this piece of advice. After all, they’d been doing everything they knew to do, why should they keep trying? The fish obviously weren’t there!

And yet, they threw their nets on the right side of the boat. This time, in obedience to Jesus, Scripture tells us they caught so many fish they were unable to haul in their nets.

This would have been a nonstory had the disciples ignored the suggestion to try again, but in a slightly different way. They could have insisted they knew how to fish, they knew the water, and they knew the behavior of the fish. Instead, they humbly listened and obeyed. The blessing of the fish was minor in comparison to seeing Jesus and His power at work in their lives again.

This passage encourages me to press pause at the start of the New Year. I’ve already proved I can’t do much in my strength. So before I go back to my old ways, forging ahead, certain I just need to try harder, I want to stop and seek Jesus’ direction and help.

As I look back on my life, those are the times I’ve seen the Lord work in the greatest ways. When I admit my natural strength isn’t enough, God’s supernatural strength is evident.

So maybe this year things can be different. Not because I’ve got a new game plan or brilliant strategy. I haven’t found a short-cut or an app to make things easier. Maybe the difference is simpler than that. Instead of looking to myself, I need to wait on Jesus. Not just in the big questions and problems, but in everyday, seemingly mundane choices.

As the disciples learned that morning, we are never far from success when we allow Jesus to direct our course.

Dear Lord, I’m so sorry I’ve lived much of my life guided by my own direction, while You have always been there offering wisdom and power. I want to become a woman who looks to You first before trying harder in my own strength. I need Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 7:8, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Are you ready for this year to be different in an area of your life? If so, join Glynnis Whitwer on her blog for a free two-week online series titled: “This Year Can Be Different.” It begins January 18, and sign-ups are open today.

Glynnis’ book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, can help you deal with that pesky procrastination habit.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about your life, what would it be? (Make sure it’s something you can actually change — not like winning the lottery.)

Why is it hard to make changes in this area of your life? List your reasons for resistance.

© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Making My List, Checking it Twice

Glynnis Whitwer DECEMBER 14, 2015

Making My List, Checking it Twice
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 (NIV)

Some people love Christmas and look forward to it all year. Me? I love the reason for Christmas … but the extra work required? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

Although Christmas should be a season of pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering, it can turn into just one more thing on my overloaded to-do list. It’s so easy to lose the beauty of the season in the bedlam of my schedule.

And that’s not God’s wish for me.

I’m confident God longs for me to use this season of joy as an opportunity to connect with Him in a deeper way and to connect with others as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. Christmas is a time to remember Emmanuel, God with us. And my heart and home need to be prepared for this Special Guest.

I wish I could simply follow Mary’s example, like our key verse from Luke 2:19 reminds us, and that treasuring and pondering things in my heart came more naturally to me.

But without planning ahead, my heart will struggle. I’ll feel resentment at the added expectations. I’ll feel frustration at the extra time shopping takes. I’ll feel stressed when other people are stressed, and then I can add to the tension with out-of-proportion reactions.

I don’t want to be the Grinch! I want to be a woman who reflects God’s love and grace, especially when others might be feeling the pinch of the season.

Yet I also realize the only way the overflow of my attitude and words can be gracious is when I’ve made time preparing my heart first, then crafting a plan for the details.

Even if you’ve never had a practice of a personal quiet time, it’s okay to start now. Create a place that physically says, It’s time to be quiet before the Lord. For me, that’s my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my to-do list. A lit candle helps set the mood.

Then, I use this time to just be still, sometimes to speak, sometimes to listen. And many times I imagine Jesus sitting across the table from me. It’s easy to have conversation with someone who’s right there with you.

Then here’s where it gets very practical: I ask for the Lord’s help in making to-do lists.

Maybe that seems a bit irreverent, but God is the greatest source of wisdom around. So when I need help organizing my lists, He’s the first one I consult.

Christmas is a time when more is required of us. It’s also a time when we as Christ-followers want to make the most of the season and celebrate Jesus in our hearts and homes.

While some people can spontaneously make all this peace and joyfulness happen, I need some intentionality to bring about special moments and experiences.

Lists help me track everything and prepare in advance so I can enjoy the moment. They help me think through gift giving so everyone doesn’t get a mug. They help me plan events where I can show the love of Jesus.

Lists don’t just have to be tasks. Think through what would make this Christmas special for you and your family. What are your hopes? Once you’ve thought about it, invite your family into the discussion. Capture these ideas on your lists.

Here are some lists you might consider making:

 

  • Prayer requests
  • Gifts for others
  • Books to read
  • Stocking stuffer ideas
  • Outreaches (e.g., Operation Christmas Child, Project Angel Tree)
  • Menus for special dinners
  • Holiday events to attend
  • Decorations to buy or create
  • Traditions to start or continue
  • Special treats to bake
  • People to connect with

 

Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly. The goal isn’t to have a perfect Christmas. The goal is to be with Jesus. To be more intentional and create a foundation where everyone will experience more peace and joy, and less stress.

Careful planning and to-do lists certainly aren’t the solution to every holiday challenge. But in a season when we tend toward overload, they help. And hopefully they’ll create some margin in your life to do more pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering.

Heavenly Father, I don’t want to miss what You have for me this Christmas. Help me have the details of my life in order, so I can relax and truly experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 90:17, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List, is a fabulous gift for anyone looking to gain control over their schedule and enjoy more of the best things in life.

Visit Glynnis’ blog for suggestions on creating a Christmas planner.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take time to sit quiet in the Lord’s presence today. It’s okay if your desk or home is a mess. The meeting place is really in your heart.

What are a few things you can do in the next two weeks to make Christmas special? Start a list.

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Discovering Hidden Treasure in Our Homes

Glynnis Whitwer NOVEMBER 11, 2015

Discovering Hidden Treasure in Our Homes
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34 (NIV)

A yard sale prompted a day of sorting through a dusty, neglected storage shelf. My hands and shirt were filthy as I cleaned, sorted and bagged up items to sell. At the back of the shelf, I came across a tarnished silver bowl. As I was about to add it to the “sell” bag, something made me pause.

I wiped the dirt from the bowl, remembering the day I got it — my wedding day. Turning it over, I could still read the engraved name of the maker. Despite its tarnished appearance, it was still an item of value, and I had almost sold it for a fraction of its worth.

There were years at the beginning of my marriage I was proud to have such a lovely bowl. I remember buying silver polish and maintaining its shine. But then came the years of diapers and sippy cups, followed by backpacks and cleats. At some point the bowl got set aside … forgotten … neglected.

Despite the dust and tarnish, my wedding bowl still had value. I had a treasure I hadn’t treasured. Immediately, the Lord showed me that bowl was like my marriage.

It too is a thing of value, but it needs ongoing care to keep its beauty. It needs to be treasured and is worth the effort.

But it’s so easy to neglect my marriage in the busyness of life. And just like the bowl, over time it gets dusty and tarnished. And when it’s tarnished, I can forget its beauty.

The good news is both the silver bowl and a neglected marriage can be restored. First it takes recognizing the treasure we already have. Scripture tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). When we identify something of true value, our hearts will be devoted to it.

Next it requires ongoing attention and care. This will take an investment of time and effort, and maybe some creativity. Marriages aren’t easy to maintain, but neither is silver. But when someone puts the effort into either their marriage or silver, the results are brilliant.

That tarnished silver bowl inspired me. First to reinvest in my marriage. I needed a reminder to see this treasure in my home with new eyes. I needed to remember that things of quality are worth the effort to keep them beautiful.

As I prayed about how to do that, God brought to mind a practical way I can invest in my marriage. My husband particularly appreciates words of affirmation and encouragement, and I needed to be more intentional to speak words of life to him. Sometimes I slip into thinking he’s just overly needy in this area. But the truth is, he wants and needs to know I think the world of him.

Second, I was inspired to clean the silver bowl and place it on display. It can serve as a reminder of the treasure I already have.

In the busyness of life, we all need reminders of what we have. The stress and challenges of life are like tarnish. Every disagreement, disappointment and discouragement adds another layer, until we’ve forgotten the beauty of our most treasured relationships.

The Bible encourages us to really see the treasure we have in order to keep our hearts in the right place. When we forget, we can find them straying away from what really matters most.

Whether it’s a silver bowl or a precious relationship, I need to watch for the first signs of tarnish, and then polish till it shines.

Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me the importance of caring for the treasure I already have. My marriage may have some tarnish, but it can be made beautiful with Your help. Help me to see it as a true treasure so my heart will follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (ESV)

Proverbs 11:25b “… he who waters will himself be watered.” (NASB)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you’ve procrastinated on investing in an important relationship due to an overly busy schedule, Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List can help you identify and live according to your priorities.

Visit Glynnis’ blog for information on her free 5-day series, the “Do it Now Challenge” and get help addressing the important things on your to-do list.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Identify the “treasured” relationships in your life. Are any of them “tarnished” due to neglect?

What can you do this week to reinvest in one or more of those relationships?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

 

 

How to Find an Unshakable Identity

Glynnis Whitwer OCTOBER 28, 2015

How to Find an Unshakable Identity
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NIV)

For so many years, I had the ability to move from success to disappointment in a heartbeat. Just when I thought I had it all together, something happened. I’d forget an appointment. Snap at one of my children. Or procrastinate on a project until I was stressed out and mad.

I’d built my identity on the shaky foundation of my circumstances and abilities. As soon as the delicate balance was tipped with a mistake, misstep or mishap, I kicked it in to overdrive to try and compensate. But all that frenetic activity never made a lasting difference.

My roller coaster identity took me on a wild ride for years, but not the fun theme park kind. It all changed when I read about the difference between being and doing. These two things are opposite, but somehow, I had connected them.

Why do so many of us draw a straight line from our actions to our identity? Why are we so quick to connect dots that aren’t there, slap a label on ourselves and believe it to be true? We stumble and call ourselves clumsy. We forget to pay a bill and call ourselves stupid. Our home is cluttered, and we call ourselves pathetic.

Those aren’t lines God draws. Only Satan, the enemy of this world, draws a line from our work to our worth. Only the enemy wants us to find our identity in what we do, because he knows when the lights dim and the “success” is gone, so is our value.

God, however, has another identity for us, one that’s unchanging and independent of our actions. It’s as His chosen and beloved child. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

When I first learned this truth about my identity, it took a long time to accept. Each time I caught my belittling self-talk, I had to make a choice about what to believe. I had to choose to take God at His Word, and believe in His love. This took my faith from academic head knowledge to real-life heart belief.

If I have any doubt that God’s approval is conditioned on my perfect behavior, Romans 5:6-8 tells me the truth: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV).

God’s acceptance of us, and hence our identity, is NOT defined by our actions. So we will never be a “failure” when our performance doesn’t match our expectations. When we reassign the source of our value and worth to its rightful place, we will be free from the fear of failure or the opinions of others. We will be free from the labels we place on ourselves. And free from the shifting sands of our self-worth.

The only thing that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks about us. And that is unchanging. We can rest knowing we are safe and secure in God’s unconditional love.

And once we really believe this truth, our identity will be unshakable.

Heavenly Father, thank You for embracing me as Your beloved daughter. Knowing You will never turn away from me, nor forsake me, fills my heart with joy. I want to love You and serve You more each day, free from the lies that hold back my potential in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (NIV)

John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If your overwhelming circumstances have you feeling like a failure, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List. It’s filled with encouragement to help you learn the truth about your worth, identify your priorities and develop simple strategies to live that out every day.

Join Glynnis on her blog today for a special announcement about her FREE Do It Now! Challenge and a giveaway of her book, Taming the To-Do List.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What labels have you put on yourself that you would never put on someone else?

How would your life change if God’s thoughts about you were enough? How would you approach your relationships, work and ministry differently?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Have You Forgotten How to Dream?

Glynnis Whitwer OCTOBER 7, 2015

Have You Forgotten How to Dream?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” Jeremiah 1:5a (NCV)

“What God-inspired dreams do you have in your heart now?”

As a table leader for our church’s women’s event, I read the question aloud, then smiled expectantly at the small group of women surrounding me.

Eyes looked down, up and to the left. Fingers fiddled with pens. One woman sipped her coffee and focused on the rising steam. Seconds ticked by silently as I gave them time to think.

Surely someone will say something, I thought, as the silence turned awkward.

But no one said anything. Hmmm … I’ll try another approach. So I revised the question, “What would you do for God if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”

Again, crickets.

As I looked at those precious women, all ages and stages of life, my heart ached. I knew from the ice-breaker question their days were laden with concerns. Although they weren’t complaining, real challenges slipped into their answers: jobs, demanding schoolwork, caring for children with developmental needs, serious health issues and more.

The idea of a God-given dream must seem impossible when your 2-year-old isn’t walking and your savings are dwindling. In fact, getting through the day without falling apart was the only “dream” shared that night by one sweet lady when the quiet was just too much.

The very lack of dreams then became the discussion as we realized we’d forgotten to dream for ourselves.

We knew how to dream years ago; children have no problem dreaming big dreams. Yet as life responsibilities piled up, it was easy to forget to dream. In fact, sometimes a dream even felt selfish when there were so many great needs.

Yet when God gives us a dream, it’s not for selfish reasons, it’s for Kingdom reasons. And He has uniquely wired us to be able to fulfill that dream with His help.

Scripture tells us God chose us and set us apart for a special purpose: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work”(Jeremiah 1:5a).

It’s one thing to read those words on the page and understand them intellectually. It’s another thing altogether to believe them with my heart. Especially when inner doubts find their way to the surface:

… How could God choose me for anything important when I can’t even go to Target with my kids without a meltdown?
… How could I be set apart when there’s nothing special about me?
… And a “special work”? That’s for people much more important than I am.

But here’s what I know about God: He crafted each of us with such great love and intentionality that the dream He wants to give us is what we were created to do.

He knows our potential because He placed it there. Inside each of us, He deposited seeds of talent. He appointed our personalities. He established our strengths. And all lay in wait for His Spirit to empower us to pursue our God-given dreams.

Because we serve a loving God, many times the “special work” He assigns comes in the form of a dream that will bring us joy. I’ve met women who dream of caring for foster children, bringing fresh water to a village, writing a book or teaching Bible study from a stage.

These dreams can feel selfish because we want them so much. But we can know they are God-given when they are aligned to His Word, and we want God to get all the glory and take none of it for ourselves.

Dreams are never easy to accomplish. In fact, sometimes they seem downright impossible. And yet, Scripture tells us in Matthew 19:26 that with God, all things are possible.

Perhaps this is the greatest reason we stop dreaming God-dreams. We let people and percentages, facts and figures determine the probability of achieving our dreams.

But what would happen if we took the “impossible” label off our dreams? What if we declared God’s power to fulfill every dream He plants in our hearts? Wouldn’t it be amazing?

Today, let’s rip that “impossible” label off, scrunch it up and toss it in the garbage. And then, like a child, let’s remember to dream again.

Dear Lord, thank You for calling me to serve You in ways that bring me joy. I want to always be open to the next dream You want to plant in my heart. Help me keep my eyes and heart tuned to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Timothy 1:9, “It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began — to show his love and kindness to us through Christ.” (TLB)

Matthew 18:3, “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Many men and women say the God-dreams they’re experiencing are related to writing. At COMPEL Training, we are excited to equip beginning authors and bloggers with the tools they need to breathe life into their writing dreams. Our newest resource is a free eBook called The 7 Secrets You Need to Know as a New Writer: Wisdom from 30 of the Industry’s Top Authors and Bloggers. Lysa TerKeurst and her team have gathered writing tips and advice from some of the most well-known authors in the industry. It’s all HERE in this eBook, available free for those pursuing a dream to write.

Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog to learn how God fulfilled her childhood dream, and enter to win a copy of her latest book, Taming the To-Do List.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What were some of your dreams as a child? What happened to those dreams? Invite a trusted friend to join you this week in talking about your God-given dreams again.

What would you do for God if you knew He would give you the strength to accomplish it?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

The Only Thing Stopping Me is Me

Glynnis Whitwer SEPTEMBER 14, 2015

The Only Thing Stopping Me is Me
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

For most areas of my life, the only thing holding me back from achieving my goals is me.

I know what I should do … what I could do … but when it comes right down to it, excuses slip in and override my good intentions:

 

  • I want to read my Bible every day, but I’m tired and the kids are so loud.
  • I could go to the gym, but I’m sure the elliptical machines will be taken by now.
  • I should start a diet … but this lasagna and garlic bread are calling my name! I’ll start tomorrow.

 

And so it goes. The Bible says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). I must be a super weakling, because self-discipline is as unnatural to me as exercise.

Recently, I heard today’s key verse read over the radio and it gave me a new perspective on self-discipline. It’s a familiar verse to me and I love the first part of it: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Some versions of the Bible say God did not give us a spirit of fear. I love the idea of not being afraid or timid. I cheer when I read that!

And He gives us “power” … woo hoo!

And “love” … YES, YES I want more of that.

I know this verse well. But when I heard it read aloud, for the first time that last word jumped out at me: “self-discipline.” Have you ever seen a cartoon character come to a screeching halt, with dust and pebbles flying?

I seriously wondered how someone snuck that word into my Bible without me noticing it before.

Apparently, God had been offering me the gift of self-discipline, and I’d been ignoring it. So I decided to give it a try the next week on something mundane that I really didn’t want to do.

I had ignored my ironing for a while, and decided to tackle the laundry baskets. After an hour, stopping sounded great. But I remembered the verse and asked the Lord for the self-discipline to continue. I kept going. I’m guessing you’ve never let your ironing pile up like this, but I ironed for three more hours until every last shirt was pressed. (Now I know there are lots of other issues surrounding this fact, like why I iron t-shirts, but the point is, God gave me the discipline to finish what I’d started.)

So often I ignore the gifts God wants to lavishly share with me, like power, love and self-discipline. I try to power through in my own strength, which simply isn’t enough for the best things in my life. And yes, even ironing qualifies as a “best” choice when my family needs work shirts.

Beyond the daily tasks of life, I long for the discipline to achieve long-time goals and dreams. I want to leave behind the disappointment in myself when I fail to achieve them yet again.

Having a natural bent away from self-discipline is an opportunity to discover God’s power, as I need to return to God often and ask for His help. Once a week just won’t cut it. It needs to be hourly and sometimes by the minute. Even though God wants to give me the gift of self-discipline, I still have a strong free will, which can reject it.

What more might God want to do in me and through me with this gift of help? I’m pretty sure God’s got a list for me, and with His help, I’ll be ready. It might even include saying no to lasagna.

Heavenly Father, thank You for freely giving me Your Spirit to help me with the hard things in life. My heart longs to be more self-disciplined, but my flesh is weak. Help me remember when faced with a choice, I don’t have to give in to excuses. I can call on You for help. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)

Proverbs 25:28, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you’ve got an overflowing to-do list and need some practical encouragement, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day.

When you order your book through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you’ll receive two free Time Management Tools to help prioritize your best work over busy work! Your bonus includes printable planner sheets to organize your master to-do list and weekly assignments. To claim your freebie, please submit your receipt to TamingtheToDoList@proverbs31.org.

It’s not too late to join us for our current P31 Online Bible Study of Glynnis’ book, Taming the To-Do ListClick here for more information and to sign up.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is one thing you wish you had the self-discipline to do this week?

Why would Paul, the author of 2 Timothy, combine “power, love and self-discipline” together in our key verse? Do you see any connection to these three gifts from God?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Are you Busy or a Busybody?

Glynnis Whitwer AUGUST 31, 2015

Are you Busy or a Busybody?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NIV)

Busy and I have a complicated relationship.

There were years when I was too busy. Fast-forward was my mode of operation, and my family got lost in the wake. Looking back, I regret many decisions that kept us all on the go!

After a near meltdown, things had to be different. I made significant changes to balance my schedule. I stepped out of volunteer positions, cut back my hours at work and learned to honor the Sabbath. I still kept a productive pace, but this time it was healthier. Yet when people commented on how much I got done, there was this bit of shame that crept into my heart.

Were their observations innocent or a veiled suggestion, with a hint of disapproval, that I still work too much? Why did I still feel so guilty about my level of work? Was being busy bad?

In my search to understand the truth about busyness, God led me to our key verse for today from 2 Thessalonians 3:11: “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.”

This chapter as a whole shines a completely different light on being busy. It elevates it. Here’s what Paul (the author of 2 Thessalonians) says just before our key verse: “We were not idle when we were with you … We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:7b, 9, NIV).

So if busy isn’t the real problem, what is? In this passage, we get a hint at a potential problem: being a “busybody.”

Busybodies can look busy, but in reality they are busy with things that don’t concern them. As a result, they neglect the work they should be doing.

This truth cut right to my heart. When I take on responsibilities that aren’t mine to assume, I’m ineffective in what I am called to do. As a result, my schedule gets chaotic, and the people I love suffer from my too-busy life.

Here’s another truth. The Bible doesn’t say we need to be busy all the time. We need God’s wisdom to know when to work and when to stop. Jesus modeled rest as well as hard work. He knew when to draw away from the crowds, from ministry, from work and press pause in the middle of the day. Jesus also modeled honoring the Sabbath as a complete day of rest and honor to God.

The Bible shows us how to be busy in a healthy way. We can learn to care for our priorities and not take on those assigned to others. We are not slaves to being over busy. We can trust God to help us get our work done in six days so we can honor His command to rest.

When I realized my life was out of my control, it took time to rein it back in. There was plenty of time in prayer asking God to show me my best choices, my priorities, my work. It was a yearlong process of stepping out of wrong commitments and recommitting to right ones.

For me that meant cutting out evening activities and nighttime phone calls so I could be available for my family. It meant saying no to responsibilities I’d done for years, but consistently added stress, like singing on the worship team Sunday mornings. It meant working at home so I had flexible hours.

Getting control of our schedules isn’t always easy, but it is possible. I’m still learning to rest, and I still struggle with keeping my schedule in balance. The good news is God is faithful to help define my priorities for this season. Now I’m not ashamed of being busy in the right times with a focus on the right things.

Father, thank You for showing me that I’m wired to work in the exact way You planned. Help me guard that wiring and not take on more than I should. I want to be a woman who lives Your priorities for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Titus 2:4-5, “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Feel empowered instead of defeated as you learn to prioritize your best work. Next Tuesday, September 8, we begin our next P31 Online Bible Study featuring Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day. There’s still time to join! Click here for more information.

Join Glynnis on her blog for more insights on how to be busy in a healthy way from 2 Thessalonians chapter 3.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you feel too busy? Consider if you are involved in anything that is not your responsibility.

What are some of the dangers of being idle or a busybody?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Who’s Setting Your Priorities?

Glynnis Whitwer AUGUST 19, 2015

Who’s Setting Your Priorities?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

Could my cell phone affect my to-do list? Could this little bit of gadgetry redirect my day, causing me to miss God’s best for me? I think so, and here’s why.

Growing up, we had a house phone. Just one.There was no call-waiting beep or answering machine. And of course, no email or texting. So if you wanted to reach me, you had to keep calling until you got through. Or maybe head to my house and actually knock on my door. Quite frustrating when “someone” spent hours talking to a friend!

Basically, the burden to communicate was on the person with the message to share.

Today the responsibility to communicate has shifted. No longer is it your burden to reach me; all you do is type-type-type a message, hit send and all the responsibility floats through cyberspace and lands firmly on me.

Multiply this by every which way people can reach me, and before I even wake up, I’m behind.

This shift has silently affected all of us. A typical day starts with checking some sort of communication device to see who might have emailed, posted or texted. Then, before we begin to handle what’s most important to us, our day begins by responding to what’s most important to others.

Without a concerted effort to stop this pull, we are drawn into the day’s rushing current like a tiny raft on a whitewater river. And rather than being proactive, our days are spent in reactive mode.

Sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the too-long to-do list that comes with it. After we’ve given the best of our time and energy to others, there’s little left to address God’s priorities for us. Consequently we put-off, delay and procrastinate our priorities.

After years of shortchanging myself and my family, and often dishonoring God with disobedience, I realized I had things upside down! Things that mattered least replaced things that mattered most in my schedule. And work that would make the greatest impact on my life often fell to the bottom of my lists, then transferred to the next list until I either completed it with a fraction of my ability or abandoned it entirely.

Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to figure out our best work. It sounds so easy to say, “Identify your priorities, and do those first.” However, when we face multiple demands we can often feel helpless. And helplessness can lead us to escape, avoid or numb.

When those feelings start to overtake me and I don’t know what to do, rather than make a self-defeating choice, it’s time to press pause. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing … except seek direction and wisdom from the One who knows what our best is.

Given the chance, others will set our priorities for us. Yet God specifically has a calling for each of us that will only come from Him. To discern this, we need wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we make decisions on facts and feelings. And the fact that I have 100 emails to answer and feel overwhelmed does not mean it’s wise to do so now.

To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.

God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom. In fact, it’s a gift from God. Here is what James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

As my life becomes more interconnected with others, my priorities are harder to identify. There will always be new demands rising to the tops of my to-do list, giving me reasons to delay tackling my own priorities.

There is hope. When we take our tiny raft out of the raging river, and sit on the banks with our Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for what to do next. Sometimes it’s answering an email, but it might be something else He has planned for today.

Heavenly Father, You are the source of all wisdom, including my priorities and what my day should look like. Help me seek Your wisdom for my priorities rather than finding them in my inbox or social media accounts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (NIV)

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Are you ready to start responding to God’s priorities for your life and experience the peace that comes with it? Join us for the next Online Bible Study of Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day. Study begins Tuesday, September 8.

When you order Taming the To-Do List through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you’ll receive two Free Time Management Tools to help prioritize your best work over busy work! Your bonus includes printable planner sheets to organize your master to-do list and weekly assignments. To claim your freebies, please submit your receipt to TamingtheToDoList@proverbs31.org.

Join Glynnis on her blog today where she’ll share 5 questions to help identify your God-given priorities.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What priorities in your life do you wish you invested more of your time into?

What keeps you from living according to your priorities? What can you do differently this week to make a change?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

How to Finally Stop Procrastinating

Glynnis Whitwer JULY 24, 2015

How to Finally Stop Procrastinating
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4 (NRSV)

My husband and I used to laugh and say if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Then we’d stay up all night to finish a project due the next day, or make the whole family stressed because of our stress. It wasn’t funny.

I laughed it off at the time because I didn’t really think it was a problem. Everyone procrastinates on something, I reasoned. Plus, what more could I do? The problem certainly wasn’t with me.

On the surface, there were always reasons why I couldn’t get everything done. Good, solid reasons. Like I’d taken on too much work. Or my family needs were too demanding. And the technology which should have made my life easier, actually made it harder sometimes. Who couldn’t understand that? I reassured myself.

Then faced with a deadline, I snapped at everyone, stayed up late and rushed to finish what needed to be done. Consequently, everything suffered. My family was shortchanged, my work was sub-par and I became a person I didn’t like very much.

Those issues affecting me were all legitimate. But there was still another issue afoot. One that took some soul searching to identify. And that was an internal desire for ease rather than challenge.

This truth about myself hit hard when I read Proverbs 13:4, today’s key verse: “The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.”

At first, I didn’t think this verse applied to me. How could I be lazy when I’m always busy?

In fact, I didn’t know any woman around me who was lazy. So why did we all tend to complain about not being able to get important things done?

But then it hit me, faced with a choice between two tasks, my tendency is to choose whichever seems easier. I tend to put off what’s difficult until I “feel more like it.” But that day never comes because I never feel like organizing my tax information or tackling projects that highlight my weak areas.

So my days were filled, but filled with less challenging work.

And my to-do list got longer, overflowing with tasks and projects I’d much rather avoid. The crazy thing is I will even avoid good things if I think it will make me address an issue I’d rather not face … like clothes shopping and having to admit my size isn’t what it once was.

Eventually I got around to doing my work, but usually with a wrong heart, with a shadow of the quality I could produce or with so much frustration that it affected everything else. Some fabulous opportunities I just abandoned, because how could I follow a dream if I couldn’t even keep my kitchen counters clear?

I even realized I was disobedient to God in some areas. Of course, they were the hard things God asked me to do. I’d much rather obey God in the easy areas … but step out and take a risk? I’ll do that another day, thank you very much.

Sometimes an “aha” moment is exactly what we need to change. When I realized my tendency to avoid discomfort, to choose ease over challenge, I felt like I could finally address my procrastination.

Each time I caught myself thinking “I’ll do that later,” I tried to identify my resistance for each task and face it. It wasn”t always easy, because my reasons for procrastinating were often complicated and overlapping. Like when my perfectionist tendencies collided with my fear of failure.

But each time I addressed my resistance, and didn’t give in to it, I got stronger. It’s just like going to the gym and lifting weights. It might hurt, but the only way to strengthen anything is to face resistance.

God’s Word did reveal a lazy tendency in me. And honestly, it’s still there. But with His help, I’m not avoiding it any more. And with His strength in me, I can face it and get more of the right things done.

Procrastination is not a label of failure. Only a sign that God’s got more work to do in me. And that is great news!

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and seeing my potential in spite of my many weaknesses. My heart longs to follow You with abandon, but my flesh is weak. Help me trust You more as I step into areas that are uncomfortable. I need Your bravery and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, (releasing in August and available to pre-order today!) will help you get more of the right things done by facing your resistance to unpleasant tasks and overcoming them. This book will also be our next P31 Online Bible Study, kicking off in early September.

As a thank you for pre-ordering Taming the To-Do List, Glynnis has prepared a bonus PDF titled “5 Habits of Women Who Get Things Done.” Click here to pre-order your copy and the first 2,000 books ordered will receive an autographed copy.

Visit Glynnis’ blog for more encouragement to overcome procrastination.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What tasks do you tend to avoid most?

What resistance are you facing for these dreaded tasks? Identify it and decide you won’t let it stop you.

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org