Out With the Old; In With the New!

Greetings, fellow ZIPers!  Today I feel led to talk about Bible studies because I am currently doing 3 of them, and I’ve been learning so much that I’m bursting at the seams to share with anyone who might read this post!

Have you ever felt led by God to join a couple (or three LOL) Bible studies, and it almost seems as if all of them are kinda linked together and telling you the same thing??  Welcome to my world this week.

Granted, there are two Bible studies I’m working through right now that deal with 1st & 2nd Peter.  If you visit this post from the Love God Greatly website, there are many references to setting aside what is old and taking up what is new.  And if you scroll down to the Weekly Challenge on this site, you can take a quick look at Colossians 3:1-17 and see what we are required to put to death in our own fleshly existence and what we should be clothing ourselves with instead.

The other study is a book study/Bible study through Proverbs 31, and it’s a study of Lysa Terkeurst’s book “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith”.  What I have found SO very interesting while reading this book is that it also talks about “leaving” behind what is old and taking up what is new!!  In other words, you can’t keep living the same life that you are living, pleasing yourself and living life by your set of rules and desires, and expect to move forward with God!  You have to kill your selfish desires.

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And here are the NEW things God will replace those old things with:

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Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Let me ask you some questions.

Are you happy with how things are going in your life?

Do you feel that there’s got to be more than this?

Do you wish there was more time in a day to accomplish more?

Do you wish you weren’t so tired at the end of the day after dealing with work and kids and life in general?

Would you like to stop worrying about the future?

Don’t get me wrong.  God is not a genie in a bottle.  BUT He can give you more joy and peace than you’ve ever known on your own, and with that he takes away your worries.  He makes you realize what is precious, literally renews your strength, and builds your endurance.

Do you have hopes and dreams?  I bet what you have dreamed up is absolutely amazing.  But if you do it on your own, will you really truly be happy, or will you just dream up and hope for the next thing that comes to your mind?

It’s how we’re designed!  We’re always saying:

“If only I could get into this college, I would be happy.”

“If only I could move away from my parents, I would be happy.”

“If only I could get that job, I would be happy.”

“If only I could get a new car, I would be happy.”

“If only I could get my dream home EXACTLY the way I want it, I would be happy.”

“If only I could find someone to share the rest of my life with, I would be happy.”

“If only I could get pregnant, I would be happy.”

The list of “if only’s” goes on and on, and it really never ends.  And sometimes we change it to “If only God would give me…!!!!” Because once you get what you want, sure you’re happy for awhile, but doesn’t the glow wear off? Or maybe you discover it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?  Or maybe even not really truly what you wanted?  So, it’s on to the next latest and greatest, right?  The cycle won’t end that way. 

But if you let God dream for you, oh boy, you are in for things you never even imagined.  You see, God knows us better than we know ourselves. So, if God knows US better than WE know US, it makes sense that He can enrich our lives in ways we didn’t even realize would make us so unbelievably joyous.  And we don’t need material things to give us joy.  We can’t take them with us when we die.  And we stand to lose a lot if we place too much value on them.

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If you haven’t done so already, please find the courage to kick your old, rotting, selfish ways to the curb and come to Jesus.  It may not always be easy, but you honor God when you step out of your comfort zone and hand Him the reins to your life.  He’ll take better care of you than you ever did.  As Gungor pretty much hints at in this song, God makes beautiful things–Let him make you new.

That’s it for today, fellow ZIPers!  Love and blessings to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

I would love to read your comments and experiences, so please leave one if you would like!
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Faith-Based Friday Delights {Edition One}

Happy Friday, ZIPers, and welcome to the very first edition of Faith-Based Friday Delights.  Every week, God willing, I hope to share a few things that are of extreme delight to me that particular week.  Even in tough times/weeks, this can serve as a reminder that even the simplest of things can be amazing and uplifting to the soul if you keep your eyes open!

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#1:  Journals

I saw these eye-catching, stitched beauties at Staples this morning while shopping for something to use for Bible studies.  My hope is to take part in about five different Bible studies between now and the summer time, and although there are only three depicted above, I plan to use one journal to log two different Bible studies.  I often like to use the front of journals or notebooks for one thing and then start something different at the back of the same journal or notebook.  Eventually, everything converges, but I like the setup, and it cuts back on space.  Does anyone else do that?

image3#2: Chocolate!!

Because who doesn’t love chocolate?  Well, some people don’t, and I have to admit I’m kinda picky about the chocolate I do eat.  I found this Blood Orange Caramel Bar at Whole Foods this morning, among many other different chocolate bars to choose from.  For some reason, this one just really stood out to me, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

#3: My Joy Wall

Anybody remember that insurance commercial with the older lady that has pictures up on an actual wall in her room, and then she “unfriends” her friend who is in the same room with her?  LOL  Well, I kind of have a wall like that, except it’s pictures on my refrigerator.  I love seeing not only my family and friends every day, but also my extended family in other countries.  It’s a great daily reminder and call to pray.

image4#4: Spring

Flowers never cease to amaze me.  I am not a photographer, but I could literally take thousands of pictures of flowers all the time just to remember every detail.  God’s handiwork is visible to all every single day of our lives, and He is the universe’s best artist.  No human could ever dream up all the different designs in all the different species on this planet.  It brings to mind a verse in the Psalms: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.  You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  (Psalm 8:3-9, NIV).

#5: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

I was listening to a sermon the other day by Scott Sauls of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville where he was talking about Josh McDowell.  As a side note, while I am a Lutheran, I tend to enjoy sermons from a wide variety of denominations.  The purpose of going to church is to learn about God, glorify God, give thanks, pray, worship, help those who are less fortunate, and be part of a community of believers to fellowship with.  So, regardless of denomination, we are all one body in Christ.

Continuing my first thought…Josh McDowell is an apologist, among other things.  You can read his bio on www.josh.org.  He is an avid defender of the resurrection of Christ.  I am a firm believer in the resurrection for many reasons and by faith, but McDowell makes note of something I had never thought of before.  The 11 disciples that followed Christ who claimed to have seen him post-crucifixion literally died because they did not renounce the fact that they had seen him post-crucifixion.  So, basically, if they were lying, they all equally, freely chose to die over a lie.  I find it hard to believe that one person would die over a lie, let alone 11 disciples plus several other people who claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ.  I had never thought of it that way, but it really does make sense!

There’s always going to be naysayers who refuse to believe the truth or who will work tirelessly to debunk everything that a Christian believes in, but it all boils down to this:

"If I'm wrong about God then I wasted my life. But if you're wrong about God then you have wasted your eternity" -Lecrae

#6: My pets

Especially this little girlie.

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#7: Clams

Why clams?  Well, I’m going to attempt cooking them for the first time ever!  LOL  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Manila clams or New Zealand cockles (guessing that’s an Iowa thing), so I’m settling for littleneck clams, which obviously are not the best substitute, but what’s a coastless girl to do?

So, those littleneck clams are going to be used in Linguine alle Vongole with Spring Onions for my dinner tonight, along with a little bit of wine.  Later, I’m looking forward to watching last week’s episode of A.D.

Have a wonderful weekend, ZIPers!

Struggling to Do the Right Thing(s)

Happy Thursday, fellow ZIPers!  Today I am reading a blog post by Courtney Joseph at Women Living Well/Good Morning Girls.  One of the discussion questions in that blog post really got me thinking about how we, as Christians, sometimes balk at doing things outside of our comfort zones.  It’s definitely not easy!

Let’s take a look at that question:

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For me personally, there are quite a few things that I struggle with, but I will only go over a couple here.

#1:  Television

Let’s face it.  Television is generally my go-to when I’m done with work, homework, and anything else that needs doing, and instead of using that extra free time to study the Bible, talk to Jesus, and become more spiritually mature, I allow my mind to become saturated with images and ideals reflecting off of a television screen.  I am not saying that watching television is wrong–I’m simply saying that maybe as a culture, we use it too much as a crutch, and so it has become like a god to us.  It’s kind of like a mindless habit–our hands reach for the remote without evening thinking about it, and BOOM the magical picture box is on.  And in all of this I can’t help but wonder if maybe we should be training our minds to seek Jesus in the quiet times so that THAT becomes a habit to us instead of reaching for more visual and audio noise.

This says it perfectly:  “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.” (Romans 12:2, NIV).

Again, I’m not saying we need to go back to the days of the Salem trials, declare all televisions to be witchcraft, and burn them all, but I am saying that perhaps we need to step back and really analyze what we are watching and how often we are watching it and how it affects our lives, spiritual maturity, and relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the words of Lecrae, we need to “fall back”.

#2:  Sharing Christ With Others

In the past, I have had difficulties with sharing Christ in times when it makes me feel uncomfortable.  But it is so extremely important to be obedient to the Holy Spirit residing in you and to speak when He compels you to speak, and I cannot continue to ignore that.  I’ve been afraid of losing family, friends, jobs, you name it.  Scripture literally states, however, that you have to be willing to give up all to follow Christ, otherwise you cannot be His disciple (follower) (Luke 14:26-27).  So, we all have two choices:  We can be willing to deal with the possibility of losing everything in this WORLD and gain Christ, or we can be willing to lose salvation after this fleeting life passes if we choose to do things our own way.  Hmm, that should be a a no-brainer, but let me tell you I feel this all the time:  “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, NIV).

I love my family and friends, but I cannot please my family and friends and also please God at the same time.  I also need jobs to make money to pay bills and survive, etc.  BUT the main point is that if it is in God’s will to drastically change things in my life, I need to learn how to roll with it and accept it, trusting God the whole way and letting Him decide how my life will proceed.

I would love to read your comments!

If you have had issues with the overuse of television or sharing your faith with others in the past but have overcome those struggles, please share how you did it!

Also, please feel free to share anything God is convicting you to do that you are having a hard time with.

ZIPing with God,

Mary

Hello world!

Welcome to Zealot In Progress! This blog will feature posts regarding my quest towards obtaining a holy and courageous zeal and love for Jesus Christ.  Posts will consist of a wide variety of topics which are meant to glorify God in all things. So let’s zip, zip, zip away towards becoming fellow Zealots In Progress (ZIPers) together!