6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

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.

Personal Declarations and Self-Encouragement

alarm-clock-pixabayDoes your morning routine include encouraging yourself? We each have a morning routine and today I will share with you a glimpse into mine. Before my feet hit the floor, I recite this personal declaration and prayer:

 

Lord, I love you.

Lord, I trust you.

Lord, I trust your plan.

Lord, I trust your provision.

Lord, I trust your unfailing Sovereign timing.

Amen.

 

When my heart is  heavy with discouragement I encourage myself by reciting these truths aloud:

Lord, you are a good, good Father.

Lord, I am loved by you.

You are faithful and able to complete to good work you started in me.

You have chosen me and will not reject me.

You call me by name.

You are jealous for me.

I am yours Lord, now do as you promised.

Amen.

God does not have grandchildren. Some things you need to learn for yourself. Click To Tweet

Going Deeper

My personal declarations and self-encouragement truths are directly from Scripture. I encourage you today to dig a little deeper and read these passages:

Proverbs 3:5-6Do as you Promised Verse

Psalm 143:8

Genesis 22 (emphasis on verses 13-14)

Jeremiah 29:11

Lamentations 3:25-26

Philippians 1:6

Isaiah 41:9-10

Isaiah 43:1

Exodus 34:14

1 Chronicles 17:23

Years ago, I was thrilled to watch my favorite woman of God, Priscilla Shirer speak at Thomas Road Baptist Church. From the third row, I clearly recall her saying, “God does not have grandchildren, only children. Some things you need to learn for yourself.”

TRUST with bench 2016I challenge you seek God’s Word for yourself and create your own personal declarations. We all have bad days which is why it’s crucial to encourage one another daily. But, sometimes we need to encourage our self in the Lord.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

8 Steps Toward Healthy Christian Living

Medicine and Pharmacy

As a pharmacist, I dispense medication, education, and recommendations. As a Christian and writer, my mission is to encourage others by dispensing spiritual medicine for a healthy soul.

Today I am sharing with you my sermon notes from Pastor Karl Hofheinz’s message delivered September 25, 2016. (I will link the message once uploaded).  “Open wide your mouth” (Psalm 81:10) here comes a dose of spiritual medication for a healthy soul.

Healthy Christian living reaches for the Word of God daily. Click To Tweet

Healthy Christian living reaches for the Word of God daily. Spending time in God’s Word improves our vertical relationships with God and our horizontal relationships with others. Paul’s book of Colossians opens with eight timeless steps for healthy Christian living. These crucial steps are:

  1. Knowledge of God’s Will. Colossians 1:9

Six Areas to Possess the Will of God:

  • Abiding in God’s Word (Bible). (John 15, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:11, Psalm 105)
  • Obedience to God’s written voice (Bible). God doesn’t reveal the finished plan at once, He asks for the next small step of obedience.
  • Being one with God. (John 17) Know the heart and mind of God so that His glory radiates off us.
  • Have no unconfessed sin in your life. (Psalm 51). When we want to hear God’s voice, get rid of sin.
  • Healthy Christian LivingBe careful of who is speaking. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Who’s idea was it anyway, mine or God’s? Did I pray about this decision or am I moving forward with my own agenda asking God to bless my idea? Is this assignment God’s will for my life? I need to be careful of the right heart motive. Am I secretly trying to impress others?
  • Possess a “Not I, but Christ” attitude. (Galatians 2:20) Just as I punch the snooze button each day, I also need to punch the “220 button” resetting my attitude toward Christ’s desires.
  1. Walk Worthy of Jesus. Colossians 1:10. We are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). As his personal representatives here on earth, we need to represent Christ well.
  1. Fully Please God. Colossians 1:10. Our desired target is to please God in our actions, love for others, and relationship with Him.
  1. Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work. Colossians 1:10. John chapter fifteen is the fruit chapter. A healthy Christian Life possess fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, which comes only by abiding, dwelling, saturating, ourselves with God in prayer and reading His Word.
  1. Increase in the Knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10. Be in the Word of God daily. Reading devotionals and listening to podcasts are great supplements, but we need to read it for ourselves and not be spoon fed from someone else. God wants us to “Taste and see the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) for ourselves. “Put on your new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge.” (Colossians 3:10). “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Five Ways to Increase in the Knowledge of God:Healthy Christian Living

  • Study the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Memorize on the Word (Psalm 119:11)
  • Mediate on the Word(Joshua 1:8)
  • Hear the Word (Romans 10:17)
  • Read the Word (Revelation 1:3)
  1. Be Strengthened by All Power According to His Glorious Might. Colossians 1:11. The weapons of our warfare are mighty (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). We have the weapons of God’s Word, Prayer, and Fasting.
  1. Possess Patience and Long-Suffering with Joy. Colossians 1:11. If we think right, we will do right, and act right. “The peace of God which transcends all understandings will guard our hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7-8).
  1. Be Thankful. Colossians 1:12. God the Father, through Jesus Christ, has qualified believers to share in the eternal inheritance of Heaven.

Taste and see the Lord is godDavid wrote, “Taste and see the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Use these sermon notes as a study guide, but more importantly, seek God and read His Word for yourself.

Imagine you and your friend are standing outside a pavilion offering free ice cream. Your friend returns, slurping up the ice cream dripping from a waffle cone. Salivary glands erupt, as you see the sugary goodness. Having never tasted ice cream before you watch and listen as your friend describes the flavor and texture of the ice cream. You too can taste ice cream for yourself. It is free and available to anyone. Christ’s love is free and available to anyone anyone willing to believe.

Will you make movement toward God?

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.

*Images courtesy of Pixabay.

Marred Sword, Yet I Stand Firm

“It is by faith you stand firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:24)

My shield has dents, my sword is marred, but my armor is on. Some days the greatest battle I face is the moment-by-moment battle to stand firm.

Here is a collection of my favorite verses to mediate while standing firm:

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm. ” (Ephesians 6:13-14)

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13)

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” (2 Chronicles 2:17)

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)

The greatest battle I often face is the battle to stand firm in faith. Click To Tweet

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

{My graphics are free goodies for you to share. Please retain the Red Chair Moments web address.}

Confessions of a Zebra

Confessions of a Zebra“Mom, since you’re a zebra” Rachel says tossing a zebra printed tank top in my direction. “You can wear this shirt to your doctor’s appointment today.”

“When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.” Dr. Theodore Woodward

In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. He taught his University of Maryland medical students common conditions are commonly seen and not to expect to see a zebra. While exotic illnesses exist, these are highly unlikely and the simplest explanation is usually the best. However, rare conditions, like exotic zebras do exhibit. I am a zebra.

In February 2016, my neurologist diagnosed me with Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, a rare neuromuscular “zebra” condition that causes episodes of paralysis or severe muscle weakness. These attacks occur suddenly with little warning and may last for hours or days.[1] Periodic Paralysis has a prevalence of 1 case per 100,000 population. [2]   By the grace of God, multiple medications, physical therapy, and avoidance of triggers (which is not always possible) my attacks have lessened in duration and severity.Confessions of zebra, biochemistry

Dusting off the cobwebs in biochemistry, I’ve studied the Krebs cycle, action potentials, skeletal muscle movement, and dabbled in genetics. Taking a break from genetic mutations, I veered into zoology and began to study zebras.

Zebra fact: A zebra possess a unique stripe pattern similar to the unique fingerprint pattern in humans.

Zebra fact: Immediately after birth, the mother zebra will separate the foal from the herd for two or three days. During this time, the baby zebra studies the mother’s scent, the sound of her call, and memorizes the mother’s stripe pattern.[3]

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

Confession of a zebraSeparated from the herd, my Heavenly Father set me apart for this season, to memorize His patterns, to examine His character traits, to recognize His voice over the chatter of the world, and to study His chronic presence in my periodic paralysis.

Staring down on at the zebra printed tank top; a familiar verse rises to the surface of my mind: “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).

Staring at the stripes Christ bore for me on the cross, I am thankful my medical zebra status, is only temporary.  “By His stripes we are healed” for all eternity, and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV and NKJV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

References:

[1] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/hypokalemic-periodic-paralysis

[2] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview

[3] http://animals.mom.me/zebra-foals-born-striped-9564.html

Pin It on Pinterest