"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man" Luke 2:52
Here's a shocker – Jesus grew up! Yes…think about that. Jesus was divine, that goes without actually saying. But Jesus also, as Philippians 2 says, "emptied himself" to take on our humanity. In other words, Jesus grew up just as we do. Now, what does that mean? It means Jesus didn't come into our world as a "complete package." He had to learn things…he needed to grow in knowledge…his body had to mature. Picture this, Jesus had to make decisions that enabled his growth. Consider this – wouldn't it simply make sense that you and I would have to do the same?
2013 has dawned in our lives. You and I will be making decisions and living our lives in one of two dynamics – either we put before ourselves challenges that help us grow OR we stay with habits that keep us stuck. I don't know about you, but I would like to grow as a person and as a follower of Jesus. So, here several practical suggestions on how you might stretch yourself and grow in 2013. You don't have to DO them all…ask for God's grace, leadership and inspiration as you make decisions through the year. Allow the Lord to guide you into growing!
1. Do something really nice that NO ONE knows about. Find ways to humbly and anonymously serve others. Don't always look for the limelight and recognition. Sacrificial service is a key spiritual discipline.
2. Spend more money on OTHER PEOPLE then you do on yourself. This is one way to "love your neighbor as yourself" as well as becoming more and more like Jesus. God so loved that He gave…do you?
3. Laugh often – choose joy! Have any of you heard of GRUMPY CAT? Check out that website and ask yourself, "is that me?" Christ followers have every reason in the world to be joyous! Smile a bit!
4. Learn a new life skill OR teach someone else a life skill that YOU know how to do.
5. Love a few people well. Don't be a relationship addict…just because you have a lot of friends doesn't mean that you are loving well. You can have tons of friends and still be lonely. Invest in relationships – or as the bible says, "give and it will be given to you."
6. Write a letter to someone to say "thanks" or "forgive me." Writing is a lost art. Personal cards and letters make a HUGE impact.
7. Track down a critic or someone you disagree with and take them to lunch. Love and acceptance are just concepts until you put them into practice. It's easy to love those who love you…stretch yourself with those you know might not see life as you do and practice acceptance.
8. Compliment someone you have a hard time complimenting. Put down the grudge.
9. Choose life – do something regularly to build life into life. Remember, you and I incarnate the presence of the resurrected Jesus in and through your life. As you encounter "dead" areas of life, see if there is some LIFE that can be proclaimed and encouraged in that arena.
10. Pause before every potential crisis that you know will "wind you up" and ask, "will this matter in 5 years?" Remember, we have a tendency to blow things up…we focus on issues and they get bigger and bigger. Think about things before you get all upset and obsessed.
11. Go outside occasionally and look up into the sky and say "WOW." One of my favorite new books is Anne Lamott's book, "Help, Thanks, Wow-Three essential prayers." Life is magnificent and as you look around, you will see the glory of God!
12. Lastly, believe in miracles. God is the God of impossibilities. Also, live in a manner that you may necessitate one. In other words, you might be the means that God uses to bring a miracle of His love and presence into another person's life! Lastly, remember, we experience God's miraculous love in numerous ways through the daily routines in our lives – when you read the bible, a miracle of the Spirit's presence is alive in you. When we worship as a community, we experience the miracle of God's presence and mercy through communion. When we gather with other followers of Jesus, Jesus is present…that's a miracle!
Kirsten Carlson and her family (Mike, Emma and AJ) are part of our faith community @ Peace. Kirsten is not only a mom, author, Little Dove's "Little Ones" teacher/leader, and exceedingly well trained former Air Force Pilot but a passionate follower of Jesus. In her blog she posts suggestions on how to LIVE OUT an "out" value within our lives (click on that line to go to her blog). I read it and decided as soon as ingested it that THIS IS WHAT WE ALL NEED TO DO! Here's where I am on this…part of our faith community's values is our prayer and lifestyle to live "OUT" in the world with the presence of God's Kingdom. I could go on and on about this but I'm simply going to allow Kirsten's words to speak for themselves. THIS is what joining God's mission is all about. I'm going to be posting EVERY week's challenge for everyone of the 52 weeks here on our devotional page!