Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles: Guest Post by Amy Ahrens

I am honored to introduce you to my friend, Amy. When she shared this principle with me, I asked her to share it for Red Chair Moments. Enjoy! ~April

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

by Amy Ahrens

Recently, I pulled on a sleeveless dress to wear. Observing myself in the mirror, I realized I needed to start working on toning my arms. At the gym, I asked the physical trainer about toning my upper arms. Once I was taught the exercises, I began to implement them into my routine. If I put on that same dress today, would I miraculously have toned arms? No, it will take several weeks of exercise before I start seeing results of this discipline.

Later that week, I facilitated the Experiencing God, Bible study by Henry Blackaby. The class discussion for the week focused on the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. One of the women raised a great question, “Now, that I’m aware that I’ve been more self-centered, how do I change to be more God-centered?”

I responded, “Just as my upper arms were not toned overnight, in a similar way, becoming more God-centered is not going to happen overnight. Once you become initially aware, ask God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice in your day-to-day life. Ask for the courage to listen and obey.  As you begin to “exercise” this muscle of listening and obeying, the more strengthened and toned this muscle becomes.”

However, the more we ignore and disobey God’s Spirit, the harder our hearts become to hear His voice.  It’s like each time we put another cotton ball in our ears, until there are so many we can’t hear anymore.  The hardest times to listen and obey are in the tense situations, such as an argument where you sense the Spirit cautioning you not to speak hurtful words,  but you are so angry that you find yourself doing it anyway.

Take baby steps. Start exercising your spiritual muscles by obeying in the non-tense situations. This could be when you feel the Spirit nudging you to reach out to someone who is hurting or by praying if God wants you to fast.   Fasting is a spiritual discipline like communion, prayer, and reading your Bible.  It is the act of denying yourself of particular foods, drinks, or a meal, or activity (such as TV or social media).  When you deny yourself, and feel that craving for whatever you are sacrificing, reach out in prayer. Cry out to God in a hunger for Him.  It makes you more aware of what He is doing in your life.  By fasting, your prayers will be more fervent, and it exercises that spiritual muscle of becoming more God-centered.

This year for Lent, my daughter felt led to fast from ice cream and soda. It was difficult for my husband and two teenage boys to remember. However, it was a great learning experience for her. Shed had to stand firm when people around her were eating or drinking those items, and not bring attention to herself. Ultimately, it deepened her relationship with God. Each time she cried out to God during those difficult times of craving ice cream and soda, was reevaluating why she was fasting to begin with.

Sometimes God calls us to fast when He knows we are about to encounter a trial. It strengthens us as we shut out the noises of the world and connect to the Vine (John 15:5) When we remain in Him, we produce His fruit (Gal 5:22-23) in every area of our lives.   Trials would be those “tense” times, and after strengthening those muscles, then we are more likely to be “toned” and to act in God-centered ways in the midst of the hard times.

The more we obey and experience God at work, the more we trust Him.   We see in the Bible how God works in unexpected ways, and as we see Him working in our lives. We also see that He answers in unexpected ways. Trusting in God’s promises when we can’t see His hand will tone our spiritual muscles.

Amy is married to Peter and together they have 3 teens.  She works from home as an administrative professional in addition to owning her own Mary Kay business.  She serves in her church as a middle school small group leader and coaches and mentors moms of young children through a ministry called Moms & More.

Rest and Praise: Underutilized Weapons of Faith

trace-gods-hand-trust-gods-heart-quote-spurgeon-pixabayRestlessness is an Enemy tactic. Restlessness loots our heart of peace and leaves a destruction of doubt in its wake. If left unattended, a restless heart will corrode. The faith-filled heart, once anchored to trust, will begin to rust as our hearts silently question our Lord’s ability and Sovereignty.

The shift from faith to doubt is subtle. I recently caught myself following the breadcrumb path that lead to restlessness. Unbeknownst to me I’d shifted postures from waiting on God to the I’ll do it myself posture.  This shift towards self-sufficiency was slow and subtle.

We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart. Spurgeon. @RedChairMoments Click To Tweet

Recognizing the subtle shift away from God’s Sovereignty toward my self-sufficiency, I prayed and asked for forgiveness. I realized restlessness as an Enemy tactic to keep my mind anxious and stressed instead of filled with peace and rest.

While praying, I compiled a list of weapons of warfare: Prayer, Love, Meditation, Praise, and Rest. By understanding the areas I am most vulnerable, this enables me to understand which of these weapons I need to utilize in times of unrest.Weapons of Faith

Weapons of Praise and Rest Verses:

“Cease striving, and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31, NIV)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

When circumstances appear grim, remember to grab a weapon of faith and praise and rest in God’s Sovereignty.

What area of your life do you need to “cease striving” and rest with God?

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay *Scripture is via Bible Gateway.com

P.S. This post was originally posted on Inspire a Fire.com, an inspirational website that features my writing the second Monday each month. Please check it out for additional encouragement.

Victory Perspective

What if you approached your battle from the stance of victory? Click To Tweet

Photo courtesy of 88.5 Lite FMThe biggest battle I face is not wondering about direction in my current season. The biggest battle I face is trusting God has already won the battle on my behalf.

I love to highlight passages of scripture where God uses past tense grammar to describe a current or future victory. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Joshua and Jericho

“See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” (Joshua 6:2, NIV)

Joshua stands before a small city fortified with tall walls. Assessing the giant walls, God said, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” I wish I could see the look on Joshua’s face at that moment. Queue the climatic music. Staring up at the walls, did he have a look of skepticism or determination? Before God offers an unusual battle plan, He assured Joshua, “I have delivered” this city into your hands.boots PIxabay

Joshua entered into battle from the stance of victory.

Moses’ Commission

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV)

Moses led a million march–a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. Before the split, God assured Moses, “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to a place I have prepared.”

With Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army closing in behind, Moses walked in a stance of victory on dry ground as he crossed the Red Sea.

Gideon’s Call

“Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” (Judges 7:15, NIV)

A chapter before, the Lord finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Now God has called him to fight. Before God issues an unusual battle plan (by the way, most of God’s battle strategies are unusual) He assures Gideon, “The Lord has given” the enemy into your hands.

Gideon enters into battle from a stance of victory.

The victory is yours. Go get it! Click To Tweet

sword-790815_1920 pixabayWe can learn from Joshua, Moses, and Gideon. These men faced insurmountable circumstances, yet they entered into battle from a stance of victory.

Before God issues an unusual battle plan, for our lives we can rest assure He has already prepared our future and delivered the victory.

What battle are you facing?  The victory is already yours. Go get it.

If you need musical motivation, I recommend listening to Go Get It by Mary Mary.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay and 88.5 Lite FM

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Celebrate Goals: Making Progress

Celebrate Goals of Making ProgressJune 2, 2016: Hey, I’m making progress! This thought occurred to me while pushing the grocery cart to my car, alone. This was a minor shopping trip consisting of Gala apples, bread, and juice. To most, this was a minor trip; however, this was my monumental day.

June 13, 2016: Facebook entry: “I cooked today. One person’s chore is another’s progress.”

Since this neuromuscular disease hijacked by body eight months ago, activities previously dreaded have now become a sign of progress. I no longer take health and ability for granted.  I consider it joy to have the strength to purchase apples and push a cart alone.

One person’s chore is another’s progress Click To Tweet

My body easily deceives me into thinking I can do more without suffering consequences.  Unfortunately, my strength is short lived. In both instances, light grocery shopping and cooking dinner,  my energy (or spoons*) was quicklCelebrate Goals Making Progress Snail quote Charles Spurgeony depleted. I am thankful for my children who hauled in the groceries and cleaned up the kitchen.

The above mention of spoons refers to the Spoon Theory, a highly popular article written by Christine Miserandino (www.butyoudon’tlooksick.com) who succinctly shares life with a chronic illness.

Each of us face a chronic battle. Maybe you’re trying to be more thankful, take more steps, or drink more water. Perhaps you’re battling a chronic illness, anxiety, fear, depression, or addiction.

Whatever goals you have set, celebrate each time you catch yourself #MAKING PROGRESS 

Are you racing snails? What recent goals are you celebrating? Please share!

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. Charles Spurgeon. Click To Tweet

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Celebrate

JanuaryJan 21 cropped 21st is a regular day for most people, but for me, today is a day to celebrate!

Red Chair Moments turns 4 today! 

Today, I will eat cake. Today I can point back to the history of God’s faithfulness over the past four years.

What day do you celebrate? Perhaps it is the day you heard “Cancer Free” or the day you said “I do.” Maybe its the anniversary of being drug free? Or the day you chose to make your marriage work? Everyone has a day to celebrate the faithfulness of God. What’s your day?

The History of Red Chair Moments

My first article, “Just Ask” debuted on January 21, 2012.

Red Chair Moments began as a humble response to share stories of God’s grace more frequently than my annual Christmas letter.  What I didn’t know then, is that God would use Red Chair Moments to speak to thousands of hearts overseas and in my own backyard.

Who me?

I am not qualified to write. I possess degrees in Biology and Pharmacy not English. As a pharmacist I am more comfortable discussing the colons inside our bodies than the grammatical use of a colon.  My calling to write thus proves three things:

  1. God has a sense of humor.
  2. God will equip those who he calls.
  3. Kissing Ireland’s Blarney Stone in 2001 has lasting effects. (Legend states, if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab.)

In 2013, I sensed God stirring for something different with Red Chair Moments. For over a year, I prayed God’s will to be revealed. I wanted to use Red Chair Moments to raise money for Serving His Children, a non-profit organization that provides nourishment to children in Jinga, Uganda, but I didn’t know how.

In 2014, I met Brenda Gay Shumaker, a local writer, founder of Designs for Living and owner of Shepherd’s Gate Retreat. Little did I know meeting Brenda was part of God’s divine plan.  Brenda offered to mentor me in my writing journey.

SHC logoIn 2015, Brenda invited friend and editor, Vie Herlocker of Cornerstone –Ink, to teach a weekend writing retreat at Shepherd’s Gate.  In March, I allowed advertising on the website; however I never had peace about this decision. Two weeks later, I revoked the advertisements and prayed, “Lord, if you want to raise extra money for Serving His Children, you’ll have to find another way.” I took my meager $0.65 profit and wrote the smallest check to Serving His Children. Prior to handing over the check, I prayed “Lord, five loaves and two fish.”

Walk by Faith Not by Sight

converse- red shoes 932667_1920 pixabayWith Brenda and Vie’s prompting, I leapt by faith to the five-day Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, NC. There I was invited to submit articles for consideration to magazine, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr In November of 2015, Clubhouse purchased a craft article! Six months after I prayed for God to find another way to raise money, I presented Serving His Children with a check for $75.00!

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” (Luke 16:10, ESV)

Little is much when God is in it!

Over the years, my kids have taught me ‘new math’, but nothing compares to God’s math!  In God’s math class, he doesn’t subtract or add, HE MULTIPLIES!  My $0.65 faith check in March multiplied over 1000 times to a $75.00 faith check 6 months later. I am excited to announce Clubhouse purchased another article for the 2016 magazine. Like the little boy who shared his lunch, I too have little to offer.  Also like the boy, I have firsthand knowledge of God’s enormous respbirthday-cake 1008396_1280 pixabayonse to simple offerings.

What’s your day? 

Everyone has a day to celebrate the faithfulness of God. What’s your day?

To God be the glory, great things He hath done!

Let’s eat cake!

~April

Multiplication Lesson

mathematics equation-989129_1920“When God enters the equation, His output always exceeds your input.”

-Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

Over the years, my kids have taught me ‘new math,’ but nothing compares to God’s math!  In God’s math class, he doesn’t subtract or add, HE MULTIPLIES!

My favorite illustration of God’s math was when Jesus fed five thousand people (not including women and children) with a little boy’s lunch.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9, NIV)

Like the little boy who shared his lunch, I too have little to offer.  Also like the boy, I have firsthand knowledge of God’s enormous response to simple offerings.

I prayed, “Lord, five loaves and two fish.”

SHC logo

“Breaking the cycle of malnutrition, ONE LIFE at a time.”

In March of 2015, I allowed advertising on the Red Chair Moments website.  My mission was to use the site to raise money for Serving His Children, a non-profit organization that provides nourishment to children in Jinga, Uganda. However I never had peace about this decision to sell ads.

Two weeks later I revoked the advertisements. I prayed, “Lord, if you want to raise extra money for Serving His Children, you’ll have to find another way.” I took my meager $0.65 profit and wrote the smallest check to Serving His Children. Prior to handing over the check, I prayed “Lord, five loaves and two fish.”

Walk by Faith Not by Sight

With promptingconverse- red shoes 932667_1920 pixabay from my writing mentors, I took a faith leap and attended the five-day Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, NC. There, I was invited to submit articles for consideration to Focus on the Family’s Children’s magazine, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.  In November of 2015, Clubhouse purchased a craft article! Six months after I prayed for God to find another way to raise money, I presented Serving His Children with a check for $75.00!

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” (Luke 16:10, ESV)

God’s Mathmath-611503_1280 pixabay

My $0.65 faith check in March multiplied over 1000 times to a $75.00 faith check six months later.

Little is much when God is in it!

I am excited to announce Clubhouse purchased another article for the 2016 magazine. Like the little boy who shared his lunch, I too have little to offer.  Also like the boy, I have firsthand knowledge of God’s enormous response to simple offerings.

 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9, NIV)

Do you have a story of a time God multiplied your faith and obedience? Please share below!

To God be the glory!

~April 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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