Unstructured Free Time

 

shallow shot of white daisies

 

Most children love for adults to play with them. This gives them the feeling that we are interested in them, care about them, and value them as part of our life. They blossom in our undivided attention, and benefit from our nurturing interest and direction.

 

Children feel cherished by our attention, and that impression will bond our relationship with them, even into their adult years. While engaging in free-play with their peers, they learn to cooperate, to solve problems together, to resolve conflicts, and to share rather than to dominate.

 

Play teaches us to access the creative side of our brain, regardless of how old we are. This serves as a healthy channel for us to express our true emotions, to thrive in our activities, and to enjoy our relationships and circumstances.

 

We handle stressful situations through problem solving and enthusiastic inspiration. This improves our productivity, attitude and focus on the job at hand. Many companies incorporate a game room, library, gym, basketball court, etc. for break times during the day.

 

As parents we often replace creative, unstructured playtime with organized activities that reduce fun and produce stress in our child’s life. Schools even reduce recess time in favor of more time for academic achievement, but this is not productive.

 

Children and adults lose our right to choose our activities as we are forced into molds that do not fit our nature or personality. This causes us to feel restricted, to lose our ability to make wise choices, and to foster our unique creativity. We end up deprived and resentful, and we experience a loss of interest in life in general.

 

During unstructured free time, we see anxiety fade, inter-office relationships improve, and unhealthy competition is reduced.  Through playtime we experience improvements in our physical, emotional, social and mental health. We feel less secluded and lonesome, and we enjoy better self-esteem in a family atmosphere.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You are constantly creative in all of Your ways. Teach us, as Your children, to come to You for inspiration on how to foster our creative side. Show us what we need to do in order to bloom where You plant us, and to enjoy the life that You provide for us.

 

Remind us that we can also improve our relationship with You by giving our self unstructured segments throughout the day to pray and praise You for who You are and all that You do for us. We want to walk in Your Spirit and to fulfill Your will for our life; the center of Your will is our happiest place on earth.

 

Thought for the Day:

Playtime fosters creativity in both children and adults, reduces stress, restores our joy in living, and helps us to improve our interpersonal relationships; therefore, it is healthy for us to schedule relaxing and joyful pursuits into each day.

 

 

 

A Good Marriage – Intimacy and Connection

brown sparrow perched near red fruits

 

Marriage is a fluid lifestyle with both individuals changing through the stages of life. We may grow apart, or become more like one another. The happy medium between these two is to accept each other as we are, to embrace our differences, and to make each other our priority in life.

 

Over the years we let down our guard, remove the masks we used to wear, and get more comfortable with one another. This puts us in the position to accept each other’s vulnerabilities and to rely on the other’s strengths.

 

We learn to be more comfortable with our fears and insecurities and to share them with each other. This enables us to have more compassion for our mate, and to help protect them and to support them as life’s trials assault us.

 

We grow more comfortable with our self, and we have more confidence to request changes in our relationship that will bring us more comfort and assurance. We learn to reconcile our differences and to resolve conflicts through compromise.

 

All humans are both gifted and imperfect. As we embrace these characteristics in each other, they stop irritating us. We give one another the space to find our own balance, to enjoy independence, and to pursue our own interests.

 

This increases our intimacy during our increasingly frequent times of togetherness. We learn from one another, rejoice when our mate rejoices, and show genuine concern when our partner experiences difficulties or loss. Our love and care grow.

 

Praying together about our concerns helps us to embrace the opportunity to walk together through our trials. We grow individually and as a couple in our spirit and soul. Our unity with God increases and we plan our days under the guidance of His Holy Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, even when our life appears to be falling apart, You still cause the sun to rise, the stars to shine, the earth to maintain its precise orbit to sustain life, the grass to flourish before it withers and dies, and a miracle to come from every trial. We want to start each new chapter in our life under Your guidance and care.

 

Thank You for using our trials to make us stronger, to increase our faith and to draw us closer to each other and to You. Shine Your light through our relationship, so that other people will glorify You. When they see us trust in You with a positive attitude and Godly behavior in spite of our unbearable circumstances, they will gain the courage to trust You in their issues too (Matthew 5:16).

 

Thought for the Day:

God’s Agape love takes our focus off our self-centered perspective, and enables us to see a need in others, and to lay our life down for them as Christ did for us (Galatians 5:14); as we serve even those whom we feel no natural affection toward, our love for them grows and our intimacy increases.

 

Fulfilling God’s Destiny for Us

selective focus photography of butterfly on purple petaled flower

 

Almost every commercial on TV is centered on maintaining our youth, improving our gusto, or getting ahead in this life. They offer us impossible results if we will simply buy their product. Our emphasis and pursuits in life often mimic these ideologies.

 

We want what the world has to offer us, because we believe its lies about what is most important for our life. We often purchase their products to give them a try, and we spend thousands of dollars to achieve our carnal goals.

 

Yet, God offers us incorruptible beauty (1 Peter 3:3-6). He points out that a better goal for us is to speak wise words, and to allow kindness to be the rule for everything we say (Proverbs 31:26). He calls us to a life of holiness, not worldliness.

 

Louisa May Alcott is one of my favorite authors. I love the “old world” charm of her characters, as well as the Victorian styles and picturesque settings of her stories. Her heroes are either heart-stopping cavaliers or stalwart gentry.

 

Generally, both of these types of gentlemen are more attracted to the allurement of the kind, generous and sweet spirit of her heroines than to the flashy women with outer beauty. Many men appreciate this same quality in a woman.

 

God’s Word exhorts us not to be overly concerned about outward beauty. He counsels us not to use exquisite jewelry, expensive clothes, or elaborate hair arrangements to attract attention (1 Peter 3:3).

 

Instead, He advised us to concentrate on exhibiting beautiful character in our hearts. He recommends that lasting charm radiates more from a sweet character than from a matching outfit, worldly success or precious gems.

 

Similar to Louisa May Alcott’s characters, this deep inner beauty is also evident in many of the saintly women of the Bible. They trusted God and fit in with their husbands’ plans, which is a foreign concept in today’s society (1 Peter 3:1).

 

However, true fulfillment for a woman does not necessarily come from a successful career, or from amassing worldly goods, or from traveling the earth, or even from going to the moon in a spacecraft, but from fulfilling God’s destiny for our life (Ephesians 2:20).

 

PRAYER

Father God, help us to value Your divine character is us as more treasured than silver and gold. Put a guard on our tongue so that we do not ever speak from frustration or anger, but always with humility and kindness. Keep us ever faithful to Your precepts and walking in Your eternal beauty.

 

Help us to let go of our own agenda for our life and to find our fulfillment by following Your Spirit moment by moment throughout the day. True joy comes from serving You with all of our heart, mind, spirit and strength. We want to walk in Your ways and to fulfill Your destiny for our life.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

The incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is very precious in the sight of God; the key to contentment and accomplishment is to have a soul filled with Godly character, and to follow His Spirit’s leading in our lives, so that we fulfill His plans for us.

– 1 Peter 3:4; Ephesians 2:10

 

 

 

The Hand of God

rock cliff near shore

 

When we see the hand of God in our life, blessing us in ways we may otherwise overlook, the foundation of our faith skyrockets in magnitude. Our life erupts into one of praise and gratitude for who God is and what He does for us.

 

His faithfulness encourages us to pursue moral excellence, Biblical knowledge, self-control, godliness, and love for God’s family, as well as patient endurance (2 Peter 1:5-8). These attributes increase our usefulness and productivity for the Lord and His Kingdom.

 

His divine power, in us and surrounding us, provides us with everything we need for a holy life (2 Peter 1:3). Impatiently, we want to skip the elementary teachings of God’s Word and to feast instead on the deeper Biblical truths and principles (Hebrews 5:12).

 

However, to truly grow in the grace and wisdom of God, we first need a good, solid, spiritual foundation based on the basic doctrines of our faith (Colossians 1:9). We secure our salvation by repenting of the dead works of sin and by putting all of our trust in Christ.

 

Through baptism, we follow our repentance by making a public profession of what happened in our heart. Then, we start the discipline of daily Bible reading and prayer. We find a church in which to learn and to grow, as we fellowship with other Believers.

 

Then we start telling others about what Christ did for us. We also learn how much God loves us and that He has a perfect plan for our life. These simple bed-rock truths keep us balanced as we grow in our intimacy with Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to listen to Your Holy Spirit’s promptings on a daily basis. Teach us to discern which thoughts You inspire in our mind, and which come from Satan or our human reasoning. Lead us into a ministry in which we can serve You – even if it is as a nursery caregiver, in church building maintenance, mentoring younger men and women, serving in various ministries, prayer and praise for You, and/or encouraging people in all walks of life.

Help us to continue to grow in Your grace and to never fail to show love to those You bring our way. We praise You because Your loving devotion to us reaches to the deepest hell, Your steadfast faithfulness reaches up to the distant clouds, Your righteousness is like mighty mountains, and Your wisdom is like the fathoms of the sea (Psalm 36:5-6).

 

Thought for the Day:

God’s salvation is just the beginning of our wondrous journey with Him; we can excitedly anticipate and look forward to growing in our intimacy with Him and His Saints, both now and throughout eternity.

 

Deliverance in Christ

green grass field near sea under white clouds at daytime

 

Memories of my younger school days are not thoughts that I cherish. With a melancholy personality and a quiet, almost withdrawn manner, I grew up lonely, unintelligent, unpopular, unattractive and a social misfit.

 

I tried to fit in, but I was tall for my age, skinny and awkward, and I had long, stringy hair. However, in high school, I decided to make friends with people who shared my principles about life, and my life turned around.

 

I had more dates than I could accept, wrote for the school newspaper and worked on the yearbook staff, went to the Senior Prom at two different schools, and I accepted a marriage proposal from my twelfth grade sweetheart.

 

He went into the Green Beret and served in Viet Nam, and I went to our local junior college. At the Baptist Student Union on the college campus, I met the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. My fiancé and I grew apart and eventually broke up.

 

Then, I met a young man at the BSU; and a year later, we married, started a family, and initiated a twenty-year union in service to the Lord. Yet, I harbored disappointment and resulting resentment in my heart, because my soul was still full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23: 27).

 

Paul struggled with getting free from the flesh too. What he wanted to do, he could not seem to do. What he did not want to do, he did; and he despaired of being delivered (Romans 7:14-23). Then he had a revelation from God. “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

 

Paul teaches us that we do not receive the Spirit by keeping the law, but by believing in Christ. Therefore, we do not deserve God’s love because we obey Him, read the Bible more, pray harder, fast longer, serve in a multitude of church ministries, and witness to more people (Galatians 3:1-5).

 

God loves it when His people come to the realization that we cannot earn our way to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10). When we cast our life on Jesus, He graciously receives us with all of the love and mercy that He demonstrated for us by suffering His horrifying death on the cross.

 

Prayer:

Father God, even though our salvation is secure in Christ, with the down payment of Your Holy Spirit within us, we still suffer in this life (Romans 7:24; Ephesians 1:14). Jesus guarantees that we will agonize at times, but He encourages us to remember that He abides within us, and He already overcame the world (John 16:33).

 

Help us to realize that without You, we can do nothing (John 5:30); but with You, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Set us free from bondage to the flesh and remind us that sin is not our master. We no longer live under the requirements of the law, but we enjoy the freedom of Your grace to walk in righteousness and to pursue holiness. Remind us that we live out our faith by walking in the guidance of Your Spirit.

 

Thought for the Day:

In Christ, “we live and move and have our being,” because Jesus accomplished everything we need for justification, sanctification and glorification when He sacrificed His life for us all; God gave us the free gift of justification and He gets all of the glory.

– Acts 17:28; John 19:30; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:19-21

 

Lasting Pleasures

lavender flower field blooms at daytime

 

Some people careen through life, fulfilling their every desire and refusing themselves no pleasure. They love their vocation and find temporary fulfillment in it. Amassing worldly possessions becomes a habit.

 

Having a string of different romantic encounters adds a spark to their need for conquest. Yet, at the end of their life, they survey the product of their hard work and realize that after chasing the wind, they gained nothing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

 

They regret most of their decisions and have a list of things they wish they had done differently. Feeling like their life was actually meaningless, fleeting and futile, they take many regrets to the grave (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

 

Glaring missing pieces of their goals still bother them, because worldly pursuits were never easily accomplished or very satisfying. Most of them were vain and empty. Can you relate to any of these feelings?

 

Only our pursuit of God supplies us with lasting pleasures. Solomon, who traveled the world, discovered what the Psalmist realized on the hillside watching sheep. God’s plans for us and presence in us engulf our soul with His love, joy and peace (Psalm 16:11).

 

Seeking God first with our life provides us with fulfillment in every area. He opens doors for us that no one can close, supplies all of our needs with His glorious riches, and never ever leaves or forsakes us.

 

His first order of business for us in His Kingdom is that we allow Him to make us complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). Then His Spirit teaches us His Word so that we are grounded in His truth. Unity with Him allows His Spirit to fill us, to lead us and to instruct us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, our life is like a breath on a cold winter’s day; it is like a fleeting shadow (Psalm 144:4). There is nothing and no one who fulfills us like You do. Teach us to value eternal treasures and to seek Your will for our lives each and every day. Help us to make You the focus of our life, and to enhance all of our relationships through your wisdom and love.

 

Even as a single person, we are not “half” a person when we have You abiding within us. In order to find fulfillment, we do not need anything or anyone but You. Remind us that You provide all of our needs from Your glorious riches when we call on You to supply them. We are truly complete in You (Colossians 2:10).

 

Thought for the Day:

Serving God together as His body is the most fulfilling aspect of any relationship; it bonds us in His love and provides us with opportunities to shine with the light of Christ within us.

 

Leaving our Gift at the Altar

snow capped mountains near body of water at daytime

 

Jesus came to fulfill the law, and He exhorts us to love our neighbor, but to also love and to pray for those who persecute us to come to God for salvation (Matthew 5:43-45). This often requires forgiveness and faith on our part.

 

He offers us a reward for the perfection that comes from doing more than just loving our family and friends, but by loving our adversaries as well (Matthew 5:46-48). They are people too, they make mistakes and they have their own pain from their past haunting them too.

 

When there is an offense between us and another person, God requires that we lay our gift at the altar (Matthew 5:24), and go to this person in an effort to clarify the issues and to make reparation for any offense on our part.

 

If someone sins against us, Jesus advises us to go in private and to discuss the fault, reminding us that if they listen to us, we mend our relationship (Matthew 18:15). He points out that God has requirements in this area as well.

 

God knows that we humans do not communicate clearly and some of us are harder to connect with than others. We misinterpret a look or the meaning of a word, and then we adopt a negative attitude toward one another.

 

We inadvertently leave out important information in what we say, which gives the wrong impression. We exchange unkind words and actions that wound one another, and we cannot take back or erase the effects of these hurtful confrontations and behaviors.

 

If they are truly His children, God will bring circumstances to bear in their life to humble our offenders, and to cause them to be more conciliatory toward us. Once we attempt to reconcile, however, we can then go back to the altar, regardless of how the other person responds to our efforts.

 

When we comprehend life from an eternal perspective, it is easier to adopt a humble attitude. We offer friendship in place of their anger or despiteful use of us (Matthew 5:44). They may or may not accept our offer.

 

When we really understand the glory we will one day see in heaven, and how soon all else will fade away when we do, we become much less concerned about how things appear in the eyes of other people.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us not to allow our daily endeavors and distresses to affect our walk with You. Our strained relationships, lack of financial assets, and our poor physical health may cause us uncertainty, giving rise to fear and insecurity. Sometimes these issues may require that we spend inordinate amounts of time, which we do not have to spare, in order to restore equanimity to our life.

 

However, it is what You call us to do. We offer to You our every breath, every action, every thought and every word as an expression of our gratitude for what Jesus did for us on Calvary’s cross, and for what You continue to do in our daily lives. Help us to reconcile with our fellow humans, and to enjoy the freedom to worship You with clean hands and a pure heart until You come again.

 

Thought for the Day:

We come to understand that God alone is our judge and that eternity will tell the truth about the matter between us and others; therefore, we trust God to provide for all of our needs, to lead us on the path of life, and to fill us with the joy of His continual presence.

– Acts 2:28