Month: January, 2012

Shift Your Focus – Shift Your Life

by mandyade

God desires to give us “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3

Stress, anxiety and worry work against you with one mission – to steal your joy and peace. How often have you been happy and expectant for your day when a worrying thought enters your mind through the news, a phone call or a memory? Suddenly your joy is zapped and you come under a spirit of heaviness.

Every day there will be potential joy stealers in our lives. We have to make a willful decision to focus on the good God is doing in our lives or we will naturally default to the easiest place (the negative, fearful aspects of life). Jesus told us that our stressing does not have the power to add to our lives, it can only rob us.

God doesn’t want you to live in heaviness, Jesus paid the price to remove that spirit of heaviness off your life and replace it with a garment of praise. You can have this holy exchange by agreeing with God’s purposes for your life; make the decision to shift your focus off the problems and onto all that God has already done in your life and the promises still to come.

As an artist I know the importance of focus; a painting can only have one focal point because the viewer can only focus on one place at a time. Try this exercise – focus both of your eyes on the letter A on your keyboard, now try to focus on the letter S at the same time. It’s impossible! In life we can only focus on one thing, we choose where we will focus our attention and this focus will direct our life.

When you feel your focus shift onto worry, fear, pain and other troubles, do what God’s Word tells you to do. Make the holy exchange by:

1. Release your heaviness to God by taking your focus off the problem – this requires discipline.

2. Now deliberately shift your thinking to focus on God’s truth: who God is and how much He values you. Remember the good in your life that God has already done for you.

3. Posture yourself to receive His garment of praise by thanking and praising God. Your joy and peace will return.

Repeat this every time a harassing thought tries to enter your mind and you will break off the old habits of heaviness and allow the new garment of The Lord to clothe your life!

S  h  i  f t   your  focus.

S  h  i  f  t   your  life.


I’m Only Human

by Mike McKinniss

People say, often in some of their worst moments, that they’re “only human.”  It’s meant to be an excuse of sorts.  Perhaps I’ve completely forgotten to do something that someone desperately needed me to do.  I, of course, was too busy thinking of myself and completely dropped the ball.  “I’m sorry,” I say without a hint of remorse.  “I’m only human.”

It’s time, however, that we upgrade our expectations of what humans were meant to be.

In Scripture, one may legitimately read Jesus as the quintessential human.  He was what people were always meant to be.  As Scottish scholar and missionary Bishop Stephen Neill put it,

When Jesus died, something happened that had never happened before in the whole history of the world.  A man had lived the whole of his life in perfect and complete obedience to God. … The universe had never seen, and so it had lived on through all the centuries in frustration.  Now we know what the machine was made for.  At last we have seen a man. [1] (37)

In other words, in explanation for any one of his wondrous signs, Jesus could have replied, “I’m only human.”

This is at the core of Paul’s contrasts between Christ and the first human Adam.  In Romans 5, for example, Paul contrasts Adam, whose disobedience to his Creator delivered sin, frustration, and death to all humanity, with Jesus Christ, whose obedience brought the eternal life.  Similarly, in his magnificent discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul calls Jesus the “last Adam” (v. 45), highlighting where Christ fulfilled humanity’s purpose.

This fulfillment, writes Paul, results in the supply of the life-giving Spirit.  And it is this Spirit – the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ himself – that allows humanity, even here and now, to experience the very life that Jesus lived.  Put briefly, it is the Spirit of the living Christ that makes possible a new kind of human life for every person.  It is the opportunity to live the same kind of truly human life that Jesus lived.

Sometimes I wonder whether God is watching us from heaven and waiting for the day when “I’m only human” becomes the explanation for bringing life and peace into the world.

A Child-Like Faith

by Julie

My occupation is toddlers. Lots of them. Everywhere. As scary as that sounds, it can also be fairly enjoyable. I get to laugh and sing all day long if I want to. Cuddling precious babies is part of my job description, and something I was made to do.

One of my favorite things about spending time with this age group, whether it be in my work setting, with friends and their children, or in the nursery at church, is when they teach me. I was recently reflecting on this as I sat on the floor while the babies napped. Worn out from the busy morning, there was such a peace and calmness about them. The love that I have for all of them and the joy that they bring me was so precious in that moment. This was giving me another picture of God and how much He loves His children.

As they continued napping, I began looking at my life and realized how tired I was and how much I desired to rest; rest from running to one meeting and another or reaching the next deadline. A life over-booked and filled up with lots of stuff, (even good stuff), wears us out without allowing time for rest.

Children are so trusting. It’s like they know they are safe. They love to sit in someone’s lap and be bounced around. Their life is an adventure. They are so courageous and seemingly fearless. They love and love to be loved. Having a child-like faith became so tangible to me that day.

This is how God sees us! This is the kind of relationship He wants with His children! He sees us as courageous and calls us out of fear. He desires our trust, the pure trust of a child who knows that everything is good because we are in God’s hands. As strange as it may seem sometimes to imagine yourself sitting in God’s lap or letting Him hug you, it’s such an exciting thought. We are His children and He is longing for this relationship. He is not too busy to love on us! He wants us to rest in Him, in His holy presence.

Think about it. How often do we just need to slow down and say yes to Jesus. How much more do we need to just spend some time just being with Him? What would our lives be like if we find that courage and place of adventure? I want to find out, are you in?

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17

Small Beginnings

by Dawn Aldrich

“Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings?” Zechariah 4:8

Creation’s story begins all black ̶ void of light, color or form. Then God imagines more. The Word speaks light into the darkness ̶ a small, yet significant start to something greater. And it is good.

God imagines more and the Word speaks more, filling voids with sky, water, earth, plants, birds, fish, animals, man and woman ̶ us. All begins small.

In small beginnings lie hope, vision, and promise for more God glory. Small lends itself to training, growth, maturity, and greater kingdom purposes. For with the smallest of seeds God’s hand cultivates an abundant harvest.

When pregnant with God-sized dreams we can’t see all it holds inside, who will benefit or how God will equip. Our finite imaginations may not know God’s infinite plan, but Paul encourages us to “[be] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6 NIV.

Therefore, God simply asks that we follow his lead, step out in faith toward our God-given, God-sized dreams. Do not disdain the small beginnings He places before us. Rather, embrace every opportunity for growth with gratitude knowing that even the smallest beginning carries God-sized potential.

And so, this blog is born. We are ordinary people with God-thoughts who twirl pencils, click cursors, fill blank spaces, paint pictures with strewn letters, and gather here each week to encourage you, the body of Christ, through words. {Re}Fresh is a small beginning with God-sized potential. We pray our words, penned through prayer and meditation, may refresh your soul with heaven’s rain and cause you to seek God’s face.

Won’t you take a moment and share one of God’s small beginnings from your life?

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