Monthly Archives: December 2014

Unpack your life with a recipe for growth

last year retrospectby Erica Pearson, ericalovesbooks@gmail.com 

It’s that time of year again. When we hold up the past year with a reflective mirror and look back on all the decisions we have made, contemplating the ones we could have made better. We look into the New Year with expectant binoculars and strain to see what the future could possibly hold for us. We grieve failed resolutions and we celebrate successful resolutions.

This New Year, I am contemplating the journey of the Christian life. As a young child I accepted innocently the foundation my parents laid for me. Being a Christian was exciting and new! It was unhindered and uncomplicated by doctrine and religion. It was…in a word…SIMPLE. As a teenager, the Christian life was a passionate struggle. I believe Romans 7: 14-25 was written specifically with a 16-year-old in mind. That passage is underlined, highlighted and circled in my student Bible. While striving to live out my beliefs in an unaccepting world, I turned to mentors to teach and guide me. I will call the college years, the “debatable” years. Thrown into a world with multiple belief systems, I learned how to defend my faith.

Now, in my 30s, I will dare to be honest with you. I’m afraid I find this to be the complacent years and that truth terrifies me! This has proven to be a confusing year, as I observe those who shaped my life. You know that disappointment. When a television evangelist you have admired falls flat on their face, or perhaps more painful, when someone you know personally makes a fatal choice that sends a domino effect that flattens everyone around them. The startling truth becomes reality. We are human. We are fragile. We make mistakes. These truths have startled me and awakened me out of my complacency and left me to ask some very hard questions:

              > How do I finish this journey strong!?
              > How do I not disappoint the young person who is watching me right now live                     out my faith?
              > How do I continue to grow so that my children have someone to look up to?
              > How do I keep from being the one that falls flat on MY face?

Then a beautiful reality emerges from the truth of scripture:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the journey that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

While I ponder these things on earth, there are those surrounding me who have already walked this path and asked the same questions. They are cheering me on to the finish line. As I run this journey I should FIX my eyes not on my mentors, but on JESUS. He is the Author and perfecter of my faith.

When those around you disappoint you, remember that they are simply on their journey too and God is working out the fine details as He writes their story just as He is writing yours. He will use those disappointments to strengthen you as you learn to rely on Him.

As I look to the New Year and pray that I will not grow weary and lose heart, I find myself leaning on 2 Peter 1, longing to unpack it and let each truth settle deep in my heart. I believe God has given me this scripture as a “Recipe for Growth”. In verse 4 it says the world will not ruin you because of these truths. I pray that you will also find it worthy of unpacking in your life and that you will stay strong in 2015!

Be Blessed,
Erica

“Recipe for Growth”
To your faith ADD goodness
To your goodness ADD knowledge
To your knowledge ADD self-control
To your self-control ADD patience
To your patience ADD service for God
To your kindness ADD LOVE
To your service for God ADD kindness to your brothers and sisters in Christ
To fight complacency and grow 
Do your best to add these things to your life
IF all these things are in you and are growing they will help you to be USEFUL and PRODUCTIVE
2 Peter 1, New Century Version

Christmas morning reflections: a mixed bag

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

house lightsAs I was driving solo this day, Christmas morning, I drove past houses on my way to take a friend’s three dogs out and found myself sporting a goofy grin (which is not unusual when I’m alone, as I amuse myself often). I could see lights inside and the outlines of sparkly Christmas trees through windows. I noticed cars lined up in driveways and in yards – families who had come together from both near and far. Families everywhere are celebrating Christmas! I imagined the kids in the homes ripping through the paper to see what loot they scored.

Christmas sadAs I drove on, my tone turned a bit more somber, my smile somewhat faded. The realization set in that while so many families were celebrating the birth of Jesus, opening presents, and guzzling eggnog by the gallon, there is another side of Christmas for others – a bleak, grim side. Some families are broken, some individuals have deep hurt, some struggle with depression, addictions, health issues, loneliness or heartache, loved ones serving overseas, and even financial hardships. As you read this, you might even fall into one of those examples.

Although the birth of Jesus is a time of jubilant celebration, there are those who are hurting and those who don’t know the love of Christ. These thoughts continued to come to me as I drove down the streets to reach my destination.  I was noticing how some homes were lit up like Clark Griswold’s house, while others were dark and void of holiday cheer and festivities.

As I returned home, I sat in my car in the driveway behind the house, radio off, only to look over at a horse staring me down from the farm next door, waiting for me to come over. “Too bad horse, I got to sit here and process,” I thought. My mind then went to my two daughters. I wonder if they understand why we, as a family, don’t go “overboard” on Christmas? In fact, we have what I call a “modest Christmas” each year.  I wonder, at the ages of 13 and 9, if they fully understand the Christian meaning of Christmas rather than the commercialization of a holiday that sells happiness? You see, the world is not always a happy place. It’s broken and full of sin. The beauty of it?  A Savior was born unto us!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
– Luke 2:11

Out of the ugly comes the beautiful!
Out of the fallen comes the risen!
Out of desperation comes hope…

These are things I want to pass to my daughters. I want them to know the good and the bad so they know the difference. So they can choose. So they can be in a place to help others. I want this for you as well.

It’s my hope that what ever your current situation, celebratory, bah-humbug, or in-between, know there is life-changing healing ahead (if you want it). Know there is a brighter tomorrow and a light of hope. This light is celebrated today. And it’s not the light of the Christmas tree. It’s the light of Jesus Christ.

So friends, as we celebrate today, let us not forget those who are hurting, are without their families, or have no family. If you are fortunate enough to be celebrating, seek out those who need someone in their life to pick them up and point them toward the true light. Each Christmas we live to see can be a mixed bag. There’s no guarantee what the next one will hold for us in our lives. Make it count! Not just today, but every time opportunity presents itself.

Merry Christmas everyone!
From my family to yours – Be blessed this upcoming year. I love you all.
Campbell Family Christmas 2014

 

Need to detox?

by Erica Pearson, ericalovesbooks@gmail.com

green drinkEvery morning while I am pouring a delicious cup of hot coffee, I watch my husband mix up a cold, green, sludgy concoction he calls “healthy” and “good”. I warily watch him drink it up. I don’t envy him in the least bit, but I am proud of him. It takes discipline to start your day with a cup of green stuff. He is making an effort to add good things back to his neglected body in hopes to detox and flush out the bad.

The definition of detoxing is the “process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.” I use to associate the word “detox” with nothing more than ridding the body of illegal substances. In the present day, detox is now the new buzz word. I wonder how many people are right now trying to “detox” from all the seemingly harmful substances they consumed in their Thanksgiving meal?

There’s a plethora of detoxing and cleansing items out there on the market. People are more aware than ever what they are putting into their bodies. With a warning label and an itemized nutrition level on everything we consume, we are literally without excuse. We count calories and pay close attention to what we put in our bodies in an effort to keep our vital organs healthy.

Yet, there is one organ that is screaming for attention and it desperately needs detoxing. Ironically, there are very few warning labels for what this particular organ is assaulted with daily. There is no way to count the “calories” it is forced to consume.

Brain clutter imageWhen is the last time you gave notice to how much information your BRAIN is consuming? If detoxing is the important “process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances,” then shouldn’t we as Christians provide our precious minds with a period of time which we abstain from what I would like to call “Brain Clutter?”

God thinks so.

See Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal (detoxifying?) of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How will we ever discern what the will of God is for our lives if we never, ever

give our Mind a single second…..

..…… to just ………

..…………..well………………

…..THINK?

One of my absolute favorite movie lines comes from Usual Suspects. The main character nails it when he says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

I would like to add to that…  I personally believe “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was keeping Christian’s minds so cluttered they could no longer hear from their Creator”.

I am ready to detox. Thank goodness my detox does not require me to ingest a nasty, green drink. I’m ready to cleanse my mind from the senseless clutter that is hindering me from real communion with my God.

For me, it will start with the discipline of putting my phone down. I’m also going to make an effort to find 10 quiet minutes every day. For a mom of three this will not be easy, but if my husband can down a nasty, green drink every morning, then I can turn my radio or my TV off and teach my children the importance of silence.

What steps will you take to detox?