Disciplined Contentment

Home ownership is  a dream of mine. For the last three years, after spending nine renting, I’m really looking forward to increased privacy, the ability to make changes and do maintenance without consulting a landlord, and better parking, just to name a few.

Sarah Clews Discipline (1)This desire has frequently led to me feeling discontent with my current living situation. However, I realized that if I don’t practice gratitude and contentment now, I won’t  be thankful or content when my dream is realized. I need to  it part of my routine. Choosing contentment must become a discipline.

I want to be like Paul and have Phillipians 4:11-13 pouring out of my life,“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Taking commitment seriously means  practicing stewardship. Instead of dwelling on bunching carpet, peeling paint, and disintegrating caulk, I’ve been routinely keeping these things in the best condition I can, and thanking God that our apartment is warm, and can be kept clean with a little routine elbow grease (and bleach!). When I feel frustrated that the yard maintenance guys blow bark dust into the window tracks and under the doors every Monday, I’ve been replacing my whining with cleaning the window tracks, and remembering to be grateful that I have windows.

I keep this quote from C.S. Lewis close at hand, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature.” How much I would rather be heavenly than hellish, but my decisions don’t always proclaim that.

So, I’m making a choice. A choice that my routine is going to include being grateful. I have to practice being filled with gratitude every day. On Sunday, the sermon (taught by Brian Condello) referenced the story of the healed lepers in Luke 17:11-19. They cry out to Jesus for mercy and healing, and He does just that. But only one returns to thank Him.

“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Discipline Sarah ClewsBrian Condello concluded the sermon with, “Gratitude allows us to see what Jesus is preparing for us.”

I need a routine of giving thanks, of finding something to grateful for. It’s only when I’m coming from a place of gratitude, of knowing I’m abundantly loved and cared for by my Creator, that I have anything to share with others.

 


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

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5 Reasons Why I Read Scripture Daily

The most transformative discipline affecting my spiritual health has been, without a doubt, spending time in God’s word. I say discipline, because spending daily time in the Bible is not always easy. Roadblocks try to separate me from reaching for God’s truth: time, commitments, even reading other text written from fellow believers. Why do I practice this spiritual discipline?

image1 (3)Here are 5 reasons why I spend time in the Bible daily:

  1. We are in a battle folks, a battle against good and evil. A battle that is waging a war for our souls. Ephesians 6:14-18 shares, Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” We wouldn’t go into battle without first gathering all of our equipment, and going into battle against the devil should be no different. God’s word equips us with truth that will not lead us astray, even when lies and deceit are swirling around us.
  2. Our hearts and flesh fail. Take heart though, friend. God is our strength. Many verses point us to this truth. Psalm 73:26 says, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Filling up on verses that point us to God’s strength are needed in times of trial. We can’t do this on our own, but God can. 
  3. The Bible is chalk full of sage advice on topics such as wisdom. Proverbs 3:13 shares, Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Scripture will always point us back to God, no matter the topic. When we need the best advice, we can go to God’s word for the clearest answers. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
  4. Scripture equips us for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Spending time in God’s word prepares us to serve and love His people.
  5. God’s word is counter cultural, and teaches us to seek peace. We are living in world that constantly bombards and persuades us to reciprocate wrongdoing with more hatred or evil. An eye for an eye. Scripture, however, shows us that as Christ followers, we are to be different. We are to seek peace. 1 Peter 3:10 asserts, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” The peace of God inwardly transcends our hearts, and outwardly alters the way we live our lives.

image2 (1)I spend daily time in the Bible because life has a natural ebb and flow of mountains of rejoicing and valleys of mourning. Life has variables, but Scripture is constant. I want to submerge myself in truth, letting it marinate my heart. Soaking in God’s word eventually overflows into all aspects of my life. This spiritual act of discipline enables me to know and love God, and ultimately, love His people more.

 


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.