Are You Making The #1 Mistake That Keeps You From Being Healthy

I am resharing this post which originally appeared in May of 2017. I can’t think of a better time to review and reflect on it than the beginning of a new year.

Did you set a goal or resolve to get healthy this year? Do you want to lose some weight or exercise more? Let me ask you this, how’s that working for you?

mistake

If your anything like me then you replied, “not so good.” It’s not that we didn’t try, but it seems like we are just spinning our wheels.

Three Steps Forward And Two Steps Back

Last year I made a commitment to begin the journey back to optimum health. Sadly, I have to report that I have not made any progress. Zip, zilch, nada! And I’m mad.

Mostly mad at myself. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t know what I need to do. I’ve started and sputtered multiple times.

When I fully understood how God sees my body and why I should take care of it, I enthusiastically set out once again to live a healthy lifestyle. Yet, here I am in my same unhealthy rut.

So, what am I doing wrong? I’ve been racking my brain to try and understand what mistake I am making that is keeping me from living the healthy lifestyle I so desire.

I know that I am eating too many carbs. I’m definitely not exercising enough. And getting enough sleep, not even close. While that is a significant factor, would you be surprised if I told you none of these things is the number one mistake?

The #1 Mistake Might Shock You

As Christ followers, the number one mistake we make is confusing our goals and our results. Say what? You heard me right. Our goals and our results should not be synonymous.

Don’t get me wrong, losing weight, getting stronger, having more energy, these kind of results are fantastic. When they happen, we can praise God for enabling us and we can also enjoy the blessings and benefits.

However, we shouldn’t work on being healthy because of the benefits; we should work on it
because of the benefactor, our Heavenly Father.

“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB)

It’s a matter of motivation. When our motive is to look good in a bathing suit or improve our blood pressure our motives are tainted.

But, when we shift our primary motive to “wanting to honor God” with our heart and our body things will change.

Make Jesus The Cornerstone

Okay, so how do we do that? How do we shift our motives to honoring God with our body? I mean it sounds good but how does it happen?

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the voices of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20 (Voice)

The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a foundation. Every other stone is placed in reference to it. If the cornerstone isn’t perfect the whole building will lack structural integrity.

Ephesians 2:20 tells us that Jesus is the cornerstone. He is the cornerstone of the church and our faith. But He also needs to be the cornerstone or our goals, motives, intentions, decisions, and ambitions.

The problem with focusing on the wrong things like results in order to obtain a healthy lifestyle is demotivation. When we don’t see the results we want, or we think we should have we lose our motivation and quit.

Starting Over Again

Goals for a healthy lifestyle are not wrong. They give us quantifiable data to measure our progress and make needed adjustments. But don’t let them become the purpose of your health journey, don’t let them replace Jesus as your cornerstone.

With Jesus as the cornerstone, our healthy lifestyle is built on a strong foundation. The only one that won’t crumble when it faces the challenges of living in an imperfect world.

The more time you spend with Him in prayer and in His Word the closer, you will become to Him. And the more He will be your focus in every area of life. Here is the extra cool part, the more satisfied we are in Him, the freer we become. Free to be who He created us to be, including the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

I have asked Him to forgive me for making healthy living, or anything else for that matter, my cornerstone. And I have asked Him to gently remind when anything besides Him becomes my focus as I start over again today.

Question: What’s holding you back, are you ready to make Him the cornerstone of every part of your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

7 Precepts To Empower You To Win The Marathon Of Life

Do You Believe that life is a marathon? And if it is what do we have to do to win?

marathon

On November 5 51,307 runners lined up for the running of the 47th New York City Marathon. They represented 139 countries, as well as, all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

Life Is A Marathon

Did you watch the NYC Marathon? What a sea of humanity as those 51,307 runners started the race. Even more impressive is that 50,766 runners finished the race. That’s an impressive 98.9% of runners who completed the 26.2 miles that wound through five boroughs.

Like the runners who competed in the NYC marathon, you and I are running a marathon too. It’s called life.

Run To Win

Paul has this to say about it in I Corinthians 9:29-27 (MSG), “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

If we aren’t careful, we can think about the life we’re in right now as the prize. You know, work hard to make our lives better; nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, good friends a job that fulfills a passion.

We Are Getting It All Wrong

This life isn’t our destination it’s our race. And our prize is our heavenly reward for faithful service.

Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with having nice things, good friends and a job you love. It’s just not where our focus should be. They are add-ons when we run the right race in the right way.

“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.” – C. S. Lewis

Running Our Race With Endurance

I was inspired by Paul’s vivid description in I Corinthians 9:24-27 to dig into what enables a marathon runner to complete a 26.2 mile race.

In researching what makes them tick I discovered seven precepts that apply equally well to our spiritual race.

Let’s unpack them.

Precept #1 – Don’t Skimp On Training Time

There is no question that marathoners are obsessed with training. Running experts recommend three to four months of training for a marathon.

You need to run at least three to four times a week and most run daily. Without this type of dedicated training, there is no way a runner will have the endurance to win a race as demanding as a marathon.

The same is true for us. We don’t wake up one morning to discover we are super Christians, winners of the Life Marathon.

Not hardly, we need to train, or we will stumble. If we don’t practice running in faith consistently, we will not have the endurance we need to finish our race.

Our training consists of reading the Bible, praising and worshiping God and asking Him to attune our hearts to His.

Precept #2 – Schedule Rest And Recovery

Training for a marathon is both mental and physical.

That means in addition to exercise you need to eat right. But you not only have to feed your physical body you need to feed your spiritual body as well.

That will give us endurance for the road ahead.

But don’t forget to rest. God designed us that way. Remember after he created the world He rested (Genesis 2:2) and He told us to work six days and rest on the seventh.

Self-care is not selfish. Without it, we will never be able to finish our race or serve others.

Precept #3 – Visualize The Whole Race

If you don’t know where you are going its difficult to train or stay motivated to finish.  marathon

We need a vision for every area of our lives. Visualizing what life is all about and where we are headed. Even what we are likely to encounter along the way.

“Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.” – Proverbs 29:18 (Voice)

Having a clear picture of where you are headed will help you keep going when things get tough.

Precept #4 – Get The Right Equipment

From the shoes, clothes and various training tools, I’m sure you agree that the equipment needed to run a marathon is essential and highly specialized.

Well, it’s no different in our spiritual marathon. You will want to get a  Bible that is easy for you to understand. You can check out some of the many different versions here. For a list of my favorite translations email me at k@klgreenwalt.com.

Spending daily time in God’s Word is the most essential part of your training.

You might also want to get a devotional and a journal to record your prayers and experiences.

Precept #5 – Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Remember, I mentioned earlier that the prize we are running for is our heavenly reward for faithful service.

We must never lose sight of that. Our eternity is secure once we accept Jesus as the forgiver of our sins and the leader of our life, but our rewards will be based on how we run the race.

Our focus should be on Jesus at all times (Hebrews 12:2). The more we focus on Him, the more we will become like Him. And the more we become like Him, the more we will develop a servants heart.

Precept #6 – Be Ready For Challenges

Make no mistake about it there will be many challenges along the way.

A runner faces all kinds of challenges while running a race. Things from inclement weather and rugged terrain to injuries. But the number one quality of marathon winners is, they refuse to give up.

As you run your race, you will face challenges too. Let’s face it you have an Enemy, and He does not want you to finish.

That’s why in addition to spending quality time in the Word you need to surround yourself with brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Make sure you are involved in a good church community so you can encourage each other on to victory.

“So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone on before, an enormous cloud of witnesses let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. {We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.}” Hebrews 12:1(Voice)

Precept #7 – Savor Your Milestones

Just as you will have challenges as you run your race, you will also experience victories along the way. Be sure to commemorate them and celebrate.

One way to that is journaling. Be sure to record not only the challenges but the victories.

Review your journal often to stay encouraged and as a reminder of things to celebrate with God in praise and worship.

Run Your Race

marathon

I believe with all my heart that each of us is created to run our race and finish in victory.

But as I have written about many times we are each created uniquely. So the race I run and the race you run will not look the same.

However, if we put these seven precepts into practice, we all will finish the race and win the prize.

Renew your vision and run to win!

Question: Are there any areas in your life where you have given up because you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture or lost your vision for the whole race? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

It’s Time to Stop Homesteading And Begin The Journey

We all have a choice how we will live. We can choose to homestead or pursue the journey that lies before us.

journey

I can hear you now. You are saying something like, “What on earth do you mean when you say homesteading? And what journey are you talking about?”

Confessions Of A Long Time Homesteader

A homestead is that place where you put down roots. It is safe, comfortable, and marked by self-sufficiency.

A homesteader’s motto is, risk is something to be avoided at all cost. Just play it safe.

I should know. I’ve been homesteading for most of my life.

I like things controlled and predictable. I like to know what is coming next and I want to know the outcome before I commit.

Well, at least I used to.

God has been working in this area of my life for several years. And I have made strides. You might call me a cautious risk taker. Is that an oxymoron?

Slowly but surely He has been teaching me to let go of the illusion of control and completely trust Him.

The Transition To Total Surrender

Recently, I wrote about a book I read that rocked my world ( you can read that post here). The book is part allegory and part teaching.

In the allegory the protagonist, Mia is searching for her father (you really do need to read this book). When she happens upon his long-abandoned pickup hidden in the overgrown brush along the forest path she is traveling.

Immediately my mind flashed back to my childhood and my father.

My dad loved pickups. In fact, I can’t remember a time he didn’t have one.

I remember them all, but my favorite without a doubt is the beat-up ‘49 Chevy. For as old as it was it was still in pretty good shape, except for a little rust on the rear fenders.

The wood bed was oil soaked, and the inside of the cab had that old used smell. But I loved that truck.

It was red when he bought it, but one summer day he pulled it into the backyard and took out a gallon of black Rustoleum paint and a brush, looked at me and said, “Will you paint this for me?” He didn’t have to ask twice.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was somewhere around twelve. By the end of the day, I had completed the task.

journey

Photo Credit: Bgmini1 Flickr via Compfight cc

And, if I do say so myself, the now black truck didn’t look half bad.

Living On the Edge Of Yikes

The other thing I remember about that truck is how much I loved riding in it with my father. It didn’t matter where he was going I just loved going with him.

That brings me back to The Story of With.  I reflected on author, Allen Arnold relating how God asks us to ride with Him on an epic journey.

I picture myself standing in front of my homestead. Here comes the black ‘49 Chevy rolling down the street. When it gets next to me, it stops, and the window rolls down.

I look in, and it’s not my earthly dad driving. No, this time, it’s my Abba Father.

The conversation goes like this:

Abba: Do you want a ride?
Me (as I open the door and jump in): Sure
Abba: But you don’t even know where I’m going.
Me: It doesn’t matter where we go as long as I’m with you.

Those are some of the most freeing and at the same time terrifying words I have ever uttered.

Freeing because I have given up control and put my entire trust in Abba.

Terrifying, because I don’t know what is coming next, but I know for sure it won’t be a beautiful straight road without problems.

On the contrary, the road will have many curves and potholes. There will be mountains and valleys. But then I remember who I’m with, and the terror goes away because riding with Abba does come with a guarantee.

The guarantee He gives is the only one that matters. The guarantee is that whatever we experience we’ll experience it together.

“ I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christs sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” Philippians 4:13 AMP

Conversely, living on the homestead has no guarantees. The safety and security it seems to represent is in fact just an illusion.

Allen Arnold says it like this. “Which will you choose – the highly probable or the seemingly impossible? Ask God and see which he’s inviting you into. Though never predictable, he often ushers us into dreams so big that we can only achieve them with him. In fact., if you can achieve your dreams without God, they are way too small.”

We always have a choice. We can play it safe, living a self-reliant life on our homestead and live a small story. Or we can choose to ride with Abba and live the epic, unpredictable story He created us to live. Just remember, safe and best are rarely found on the same road.

Question: Which will you choose homesteading or riding with Abba on an epic journey? When will you start? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Are You Experiencing God’s One Of A Kind Communication

What does communication with God look like to you? Is it the same for everyone or is it unique to each of us?

communication

I used to think that it was the same for all of us. You know, follow a set formula when you talk to God and hope He answers. That was until I read a story Laurie Beth Jones tells in her book, Jesus Life Coach.

In the book, she tells how at the age of 14 she asked Jesus to join her in a personal ritual and send her a ladybug when He was thinking about her. She goes on to share all the creative ways God has sent ladybugs to her over the years, and she knows that every time a ladybug appears Jesus is saying,” I see you, I’m with you, I love you.”

In addition, she relates stories of friends who have made similar requests. One asked for a white butterfly, and another asked to see a penny. In every instance, God answered in unbelievable ways.

The Experiment

That got me thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if Jesus and I had a personal ritual. But I wasn’t sure about asking God for a “sign.”

So I prayed, telling Him that I knew He loved me with or without any physical sign but if He was OK  with my request, would He send me a hawk as our personal communication.

Why a hawk?  Well, I love birds. Over the years I’ve had many pet birds and am still an avid bird watcher. I especially love birds of prey.

I told God that every time I see a hawk, it would be a confirmation that He is thinking of me and saying,” I see you, I’m with you, and I love you.”

The next morning on my drive to work I passed three crosses someone had erected atop a small hill, next to the road.  Although I passed them every day on my morning commute this day was different.

As I looked over at them, sitting on top of the center cross was a magnificent hawk looking back at me. To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

I looked toward heaven and said, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

The Personal Communication Continues

That was over 12 years ago, and I cannot tell you how many hawks he has sent to me since that day.

I have seen them everywhere. On the ground and in trees. On telephone poles and street lamps in the middle of big cities. Soaring over highways. Strafing my car. I hear them calling from trees in the woods. You name it I have probably seen a hawk there.

There hasn’t been one week since that first day that I haven’t seen at least one hawk. And Countless times I see multiple hawks in different places on the same day.

During the best times of my life and during the worst times in my life I see them.

On more than one occasion while driving, I’ll shoot Jesus a quick prayer. I tell Him, “You know, I’ve never seen one here before.” And incredibly within a day or two, a hawk will greet me from that very spot.

It never gets old!

And it never ceases to amaze me how God can love me so much that He would share this special, one of a kind communication with me.

What If It’s Just A Coincidence

Maybe you think this is a great story, but it’s just a coincidence that I see so many hawks.

Although I don’t believe in coincidences I have to admit that I did wonder if was just my RAS kicking in.

The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a cluster of nerve cells in the brainstem that regulate alertness and attention.

We are bombarded by thousands of stimuli every second; different sights, sounds, and sensations. The job of the RAS is to regulate which stimuli you pay attention to and which you ignore.

It’s a gatekeeper or screening device. Think of it as mental radar. The RAS determines what you notice and what goes unnoticed.

Say, for instance, you purchase a new red car. The minute you drive off the car lot all you see are red cars. You notice them everywhere. That’s because the RAS has created a new cognitive category for red cars.

Is that what was happening to me, was my RAS just making me more aware of hawks that had been there all along?

The Exclamation Point

In my heart of hearts, I knew it was God and not my RAS but still…

Mark Batterson says, ” Sometimes God shows up and sometimes He shows off.”

Well, He showed up and showed off one summer day while I was mowing.

communic

As I opened the gate to mow on the other side of the fence, there it was. I could not believe my eyes.  Lying on the ground, directly in front of me was the tail feather of a hawk.

Really?  I don’t live in the country so what would this be doing here? I knew what it was before I picked it up. But just to be sure I consulted my field guides to confirm and yes, that is what it was.

Wow!

It was as if He was saying, “Not sure that the hawks are direct gifts from me? Afraid it’s just your RAS? Well, how about this? Your RAS wasn’t tuned into a feather, was it? Oh, and just for the record, I designed your RAS and how it works.”

What Does This Mean To You

You may wonder why I am telling you this story. That’s easy. I want you to know and understand just how crazy God is about you.

Am I saying that you should ask God for a personal ritual to remind you of this?  Not necessarily, that is up to you.

Your story and walk with God will be different than mine, but we have one thing in common. We are loved.

Even on our worst day, He loves us more than we can even imagine!

When life is good or when we face difficult challenges, just remember He sees you, He is with you, and He loves you!

When you truly understand how much He loves you it will change your life. You will be free to become who He created you to be.

 

How has God shown up in unusual ways in your life? Do you believe He loves you and is crazy about you? Leave a comment below.

 

Are You Stuck In A Story Of Without

The morning started out like most any other day. I had mapped out what I thought I needed to accomplish and was preparing to dive in. But what happened next turned the story of my day upside down and me inside out.

story

 

I decided that for the remainder of the year I was going to read a minimum of three books per month. One on Christian growth, one about being a better writer and the third would be a novel.

I have an extensive library and stacks of unread books abound. I picked out three books that fit the criteria. But that’s when it happened.

A Day Upended

When I picked up the third book it uncovered another book in the waiting pile.

When I saw the title, I thought, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot about this one.” I wanted to read it before I worked on widening my writing beyond just blogging.

I decided that it would be next on the list once I finished the three books I had picked out. But as I turned to walk away I felt drawn to pick up my almost forgotten friend just to give it a quick glance.

The minute I did I knew my plans for the day were going out the window. I felt the “whisper” that told me this was the book I needed to read before reading anything else.

A Transformational Journey

The book I’m talking about is “The Story of With” by Allen Arnold.

Once I started reading, I could not put it down. I can’t tell you the last time I read a book in one sitting, but I did this one.

It is a blend of storytelling and teaching, and it rocked my world. It was a truly transformative experience that led me deep into the adventure of discovering my own truest self. I didn’t want it to end.

I think that Author James L. Rubart describes the book best, “Your invitation into a deeper identity, intimacy, and imagination with God. Like finding the place you’ve always longed to be.”

As I read, I saw myself in the pages, and I think you will see yourself as well. It is like water for the soul.

We talk a lot about story here on this blog, and perhaps that is why it resonated so strongly with me. But it was more than that for me. It truly was a transcendent moment, a journey to what is known as “thin places.”

I could go on and on talking about it, but the bottom line is that you need to read this book for yourself. It will not disappoint.

The Story of With will weave seamlessly into your story. Taking you on a journey, helping you understand who God made you to be.

This is a book worthy of many readings. A book that matters. Not merely a book to be read but one to be applied. And if you do I guarantee that you will be forever changed and walking in more intimacy with God.

I know this sounds like a lot of hype but I don’t do hype. This is just how profound of an impact this book has had on my life.

Pull Up A Chair And Feast

I often recommend books or even highly recommend books. But this book is a MUST READ!

In fact, I believe in the positive impact this book will have on your life so much that I am offering you a guarantee.

If you read this book prayerfully and with an open heart and it doesn’t impact you in a transformational way, I will personally refund the purchase price to you.

Yes, you heard me right. Buy the book, read the book and if it doesn’t change the way you see your story email me at k@klgreenwalt.com. Attach a copy of your purchase receipt, and I will send you a check.

story

Go here to order The Story Of With. Then as Mary Weber says, “If I could offer anything to prepare you it would simply be to stop, breathe, and be you for a moment. Be in this moment-separate from the ocean of busy and voices that need everything from you.”

Get your copy today then “Stay Expectant. Awaken Your Heart. Know Your Identity. Do It Together.” – Allen Arnold

Question: Please share your experience of reading this book with our community by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

The #1 Mistake That Keeps You From Getting Healthy

Did you make a resolution or set a goal to get healthy this year? Do you want to lose some weight or exercise more? Let me ask you this, how’s that working for you?

mistake

If your anything like me then you replied, “not so good.” It’s not that we didn’t try, but it seems like we are just spinning our wheels.

Three Steps Forward And Two Steps Back

Last October I wrote about looking at our health from God’s perspective. I also shared my commitment to begin the journey back to optimum health. Sadly, I have to report that I have not made any progress. Zip, zilch, nada! And I’m mad.

Mostly mad at myself. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t know what I need to do. I’ve started and sputtered multiple times.

When I fully understood how God sees my body and why I should take care of it, I enthusiastically set out once again to live a healthy lifestyle. Yet, here I am in my same unhealthy rut.

So, what am I doing wrong? I’ve been racking my brain to try and understand what mistake I am making that is keeping me from living the healthy lifestyle I so desire.

I know that I am eating too many carbs. I’m definitely not exercising enough. And getting enough sleep, not even close. While that is a significant factor, would you be surprised if I told you none of these things is the number one mistake?

The #1 Mistake Might Shock You

As Christ followers, the number one mistake we make is confusing our goals and our results. Say what? You heard me right. Our goals and our results should not be synonymous.

Don’t get me wrong, losing weight, getting stronger, having more energy, these kind of results are fantastic. When they happen, we can praise God for enabling us andwe can also enjoy the blessings and benefits.

However, we shouldn’t work on being healthy because of the benefits; we should work on it
because of the benefactor, our Heavenly Father.

“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB)

It’s a matter of motivation. When our motive is to look good in a bathing suit or improve our blood pressure our motives are tainted.

But, when we shift our primary motive to “wanting to honor God” with our heart and our body things will change.

Make Jesus The Cornerstone

Okay, so how do we do that? How do we shift our motives to honoring God with our body? I mean it sounds good but how does it happen?

“Together we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” Ephesians 2:20(NLT)

The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a foundation. Every other stone is set in reference to it. If the cornerstone isn’t perfect the whole building will lack structural integrity.

Ephesians 2:20 tells us that Jesus is the cornerstone. He is the cornerstone of the church and our faith. But He also needs to be the cornerstone or our goals, motives, intentions, decisions, and ambitions.

The problem with focusing on the wrong things like results in order to obtain a healthy lifestyle is demotivation. When we don’t see the results we want, or we think we should have we lose our motivation and quit.

Starting Over Again

Goals for a healthy lifestyle are not wrong. They give us quantifiable data to measure our progress and make needed adjustments. But don’t let them become the purpose of your health journey, don’t let them replace Jesus as your cornerstone.

With Jesus as the cornerstone, our healthy lifestyle will be built on a strong foundation. The only one that won’t crumble when it faces  the challenges of living in an imperfect world.

The more time you spend with Him in prayer and in His Word the closer you will become to Him. And the more He will be your focus in every area of life. Here is the extra cool part, the more satisfied we are in Him, the freer we become. Free to be who He created us to be including the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

I have asked Him to forgive me for making healthy living, or anything else for that matter, my cornerstone. And I have asked Him to gently remind when anything besides Him becomes my focus as I start over again today.

Question: What’s holding you back, are you ready to make Him the cornerstone of every part of your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Help! I Need Somebody But Not Just Anybody

I know you are busy, but I need your help! I have a favor to ask. I want to take this blog to the next level. But to do that I need your input.

help

It’s hard to believe, but it has been six months since the launch of klgreenwalt.com. I want to thank you for taking the time to read each week. And for sharing your thoughts and encouraging comments.

Will you please fill out this brief survey?

Now, wait. Before you tune me out, I promise this will take five minutes or less of your time, but the results will be invaluable. I guarantee that this survey is 100% anonymous. All I receive are the answers to the questions and the number of people who respond.

My prayer is that klgreenwalt.com will be a community where we can learn to embrace our stories and become the unique individuals He created us to be. Your help in completing this survey will help me move toward that goal.

I’d like to thank you in advance for helping.

Take The Survey Now

What You Need To Know About Pruning and Growth

Spring is in the air. That means it’s time to clean up the yard, including doing some pruning. I love gardening. I always have, but I haven’t always understood the necessity to prune plants for healthy growth.

pruning

As a child, I  remember watching my father pruning our shrubs and trees. I would have a hissy fit because he was cutting off some of the branches and cutting others way back. The way I saw it, he was ruining them. I gave him nothing but grief when he tried to prune anything. It was so bad that he finally waited until I wasn’t home to prune, so he didn’t have to listen to me.

The Necessity Of Pruning

Now many years later I realize that pruning is a natural and necessary part of gardening if you want healthy growing plants. It may be pruning away that which is dead and sapping life from the plant. Or pruning back that which is growing to produce more and stronger growth. If my dad were living I could hear him saying, “See, I tried to tell you.”

Ironically, my first attempt at pruning was, well let’s just say it was a disaster. About the age of 11, I tried to surprise my dad by trimming one of the shrubs. I guess I wanted him to see that I finally understood the necessity of pruning.

I thought I knew how to prune because I had watched my father do it before. So I cut and snipped the shrub.   It didn’t look too good, so I pruned some more. But the more I pruned, the worse it looked. I stood looking in horror at the once beautiful shrub. All that remained was a stump. What had I done?

Optimum Growth Requires Pruning

I called my father outside to show him what had happened. I didn’t want to, but I knew I needed to fess up. I expected to be in a lot of trouble. To my surprise, he didn’t yell at me or tell me how stupid I was for ruining a perfectly good plant. Instead, he took me to another shrub and proceeded to show me the correct way to trim.

I failed at my first attempt at pruning because I tried to do it on my own instead of going to my father for help.

As I reflect on my pruning adventures with my earthly father, I realize they illustrate for me what Jesus is talking about in John 15.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:1-2, 4-5, 8 NLT

We can not become the fruit-bearing followers He created us to be if we don’t remain in Him. He makes it clear we can’t do it without Him. But what does it mean to remain in Jesus? It means we daily invest our minds and our hearts into maintaining our relationship with Him.

Let The Gardner Do His Job

How do we do that? We grow and maintain our relationship with Him by prayer and spending time in the Word. Other ways we maintain the relationship are through worship, giving, and serving others. But if we want to produce the best fruit and not just good fruit that will require pruning.

Pruning is often painful and sometimes hard to understand. I can understand that He wants to prune things out of my life that do not belong there. But does he want to cut out good things too? Yes, sometimes the good must be snipped off or pinched back so the best can grow.

One thing we must understand, when God takes His pruning shears to our lives, it is always because He loves us. He wants the best not just the good. He is doing it to help us become who He created us to be.

It is imperative to understand that Father God is the Gardner and it is His job to prune not ours. We must not take the pruning shears into our hands. If we do the results, though well intentioned, will be the same as my bungling attempt to prune the shrub. We cut too much or in the wrong place or even destroy.

As we remain in Jesus, we begin to accept the need for pruning for our spiritual growth and development. It is at that point we can invite the Father to prune what most needs to go. When we allow Him to do this our lives will become increasingly productive. We will be brimming with the best fruit. Fruit that will bring Him glory.

Question: Have you felt our Heavenly Father pruning any areas of your life?   You can leave a comment by clicking here.

One Way To Have Fun And Relieve Stress At The Same Time

Did you ever ride a tandem bike – a bicycle built for two? The summer after I graduated from High School I purchased a tandem bike. It was one of those arbitrary decisions…

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I saw it sitting in the store, and it just looked cool. I stood there imagining how much fun it would be to ride, so on a whim, I bought it. Little did I know that God would use this impulse buy to teach me one of the most important spiritual lessons of my life.

Who You Ride With Matters

I quickly learned that riding it by myself was no fun but riding it with friends was a blast. I rode it with various friends through the streets of our small community. Since it was the only tandem bike in town at the time, we drew a lot of attention.

When I rode with one friend, in particular, we always had problems with the bike. In fact, riding with this friend was downright stressful.

Every time we went around a curve or turned a corner the brakes would lock, and we would nearly tip over. Well, at least that’s what I thought was happening. I finally figured out that my friend was applying the brakes from the back while I tried to pedal from the front. A recipe for disaster, no doubt.

While riding the bike with my Dad one day, I realized why my friend was breaking when she should have been pedaling. You see, when I rode with friends, I always rode on the front, and they always rode on the back. But the ride with Dad was different. On this day Dad rode on the front, and I rode on the back.

I had never ridden from the rear seat before so I didn’t realize how different the perspective was. If you have ever ridden a tandem bike, you know what I am talking about.

Riding a tandem bike requires both riders to be in-sync, but they have two very different roles. The person in the front steers, brakes and determines the direction of the bike. And the job of the individual on the back is to provide pedal power. When you are on the back of the bike, you have to have total trust in the person on the front because all you can see is their back.

A Matter Of Trust

Then it dawned on me why my friend was breaking when she should have been pedaling. It’s a scary thing to go blindly into a curve without seeing what lies ahead. Let’s face it; it’s downright stressful. When we rode together in the future as we neared a curve, I would encourage her to” just pedal.” She began to trust me and enjoy the ride instead of stressing out that we wouldn’t make it.

It was about this time that I realized that life with Jesus is rather like a tandem bike ride. I had asked Him to ride with me, but I was on the front, and He was on the back helping me pedal. Even though I was riding with Jesus my life was still full of stress. It was at this time that Jesus suggested that we change seats. At first, I didn’t want to. It was too scary not to be in control, to not know where I was going or what was coming next.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do no rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB)

You see as a champion perfectionist and control freak I thought I knew the best way and wanted to make sure that it turned out the way I wanted it. But since I was a stressed out mess I decided to switch seats with Him. I took the back seat and life has never been the same.

Sitting In The Right Seat

When I let Jesus lead the ride became exciting and unpredictable, and yes a little scary but then I noticed it, less stress. It was like a light bulb went on; He is God, and I am not. Wow, what a weight that lifts off of your shoulders.

By trying to control things and make sure they happen the way I think they should I create my own stress. When I ride from the back, I have learned that I can totally trust Him and He will take care of anything that comes our way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Forget the boring, stress filled, predictable life. I am on a delightful and adventurous wild ride up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. I am learning to pedal in the strangest places, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

My tandem bike is long gone but the wonderful memories of time spent with friends remain. And the lesson of how He used that bike to teach me how to live an adventurous, less stressful life will never fade.

There are still times when I get a little anxious and ask “Where are you taking me?”. But He has a plan. He chuckles, reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11, and says “Just pedal.”

Leave a comment below: What area of your life causes you the most stress? Are you riding with Jesus? Is He on the front or the back of your bike?

Conecting To God In A Relational Way

“Do you know God well enough to enjoy His company, the same way you enjoy being with a family member or close friend? Do you want to know God better and enjoy Him more than you know and enjoy anyone else? Do you connect with God in such a way that enables you to hear His voice and to know He’s right there with you?” – Larry Crabb, The Papa Prayer.

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In a previous post, I mentioned the two essential ways we get to know God are through spending time in His Word and prayer. I wrote about getting into the Word in this post. Today I want to talk about prayer.

What is prayer? Sometimes we try to make it complicated, but it’s not. Prayer is simply having a conversation with God.

Conversation vs. Monolog

Notice I said conversation. That means talking and listening. Personally, if I’m not careful, my prayers are more like monologs, I babble on and on. Usually telling Him how He should handle situations. Praying like the purpose of prayer was to get the things I want. Can you relate?

Think about that for a minute. When you are trying to have a conversation with someone, and they do all the talking how do you feel? So, how do you think it makes God feel when His precious child comes to meet with Him, but He can’t get a word in edgewise?

It’s important to remember; praying isn’t about the perfect combination of words. It’s about sharing your heart with God and God sharing His heart with you. Without conversation, there can’t be a relationship.

Teach Us To Pray

There are many good ways to pray, and countless books have been written about them. I recommend you read as many as you can. But I’d like to recommend three of my favorites, “Your Powerful Prayers” by Susie Larson, “The Circle Maker” by Bark Batterson, and “Too Busy Not to Pray” by Bill Hybels.

However, we are focusing on relational prayer in this post. Relational prayer allows us to get to know the heart of God and that will transform our life. I believe it has to be the starting point of all our prayers.

Hands down, the best book to read for an understanding of this type of prayer is, “The Papa Prayer” by Larry Crabb. I wish I had read this book before I read any other book about prayer.

Relational Prayer Is Life Transforming

Relational Prayer will revolutionize your life and your relationship with God.

“When I say that prayer is now my lifeline, I’m not talking about prayer as I used to understand it. Before, I thought prayer was all about trying to coax God into giving me something and then thanking Him on those rare occasions when I was successful. Now I see that prayer has more to do with God’s speaking to me and my learning to be the listener. It’s a dance where He leads.” – Larry Crabb

Make prayer about relationship first before you start asking for things from God. When we pray relationally, it allows us to hear God’s voice.

Not sure where to start, look for scripture that you can turn into prayers. Share your heart with Him. Ask Him questions, then just sit still and let God whisper His promises to you.

When you pray relationally, you are praying to know God and to be known by Him. I guarantee you won’t find prayer boring when you pray this way. Praying relationally will empower you to embrace your story in ways you never imagined.

Question: Do you practice relational prayer? What have you been sensing God saying to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.