#12 Resolution

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The new year is only days old – how are your resolutions holding up?

You might be persisting, but chances are you’ve let your goals slip a little already. You ate that extra treat you were denying yourself, you decided to skip running yesterday, you missed a quiet time. And the chances are even greater that by month’s end, all of your resolutions will be wholly out the window.

When we do according to our own power based on decisions out of our own wisdom, the end result is often failure. Think about what a resolution is – it is you saying, “I resolve to” do something. Those are bold words, ones that are difficult to live up to.

But what if we flip the narrative this year. Instead of willfully resolving to do something of our own power, we just let go. Instead of employing inner strength, we humbly submit; instead of forcefully applying, we step aside; and instead of moving forward, we bend downward, asking for a greater power to move in our lives for his glory, instead of promising that we’ll do something for our own good.

If you approach in this way, out of selflessness and humility, you might find that a year from now something has changed in 2016 – and that “something” is you.

Explore [for non-Christians/new believers]

God tells us that he’ll continue the good work that he began in us (Philippians 1:6) and that our lives can and will be transformed (Romans 12:1-2). But it all begins with submission to God. The realization that we are sinners who cannot save ourselves, but have already been redeemed by Christ, should humble us – and from that humility, we might begin to see change as we cling to God.

This January, consider reading through the book of John. It’s relatively short, but still, it’s best to read through slowly, taking a chapter or passage a day. Find a Christian friend/Tumblr buddy to ask questions to as make your way through.

Apply [for Christians]

Make a list of the things you’d like to change about yourself in 2016. You may already have that list, crafted on New Year’s Eve. Go item by item, asking yourself are you doing this for you or for God? Submit the godly items to the LORD in prayer, asking for him to transform you more into Christ’s image this new year, with a godly hope that he can and will work in you for his glory. As for the rest of your resolutions? Let them go, or ask God how (and if) these resolutions can be made to glorify Him rather than you.

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#10 The Long Road

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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

– Romans 12:2 (NASB)

Like a book, film, or play, journeys have a beginning and end, but often neither is as important as the middle – the road itself. This in-between, the meat of the tale, could be long and arduous.

Upon introspection, we might find ourselves lacking as we travel the road, perceiving our many faults, and we may feel discouraged.

But remember that we all are in the midst of our travels; we’re in the middle of our story. There is a long ways to go, and step by step, we move forward and grow. Setbacks will come, but by keeping our eyes on the truth, we’ll become more and more like that which we hope to be – partially through this long road, and fully, one day, at its end.

Pray | Ask that you’ll be encouraged to grow even when the road seems long

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 John 1:7-9 / 1 Cor 13:11-12 / Psalms 51:10 / Romans 12:1-2 / Ephesians 4:20-24

Act | Purposely and prayerfully put aside a way you once acted and put on the new way of Christ

#8 Solo Journey Together

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Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Have you ever undertaken an arduous trek? Perhaps it was a difficult hike, a challenging run, or long walk in the city. Did you go it alone?

Oftentimes, our journeys are made solo – but that doesn’t mean we take them alone. We carry items with us that can make these mini-adventures more bearable – fun, even. Our mobile devices, comfortable shoes, a utility tool – these are the weapons of our trade that help us make it through.

A life in the spirit is very much the same. What (or rather who) we take with us on our way can help mightily – a church body for support; strong leadership for accountability; loving friends for encouragement. A life in the spirit may be our own – but it was never meant to be lived alone.

Pray | Ask about your friendships and ask for spiritual accountability

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Heb 10:24-25 / 1 Cor 12:21-26 / Gal 6:1-5 / Heb 13:17 / 1 Thess 5:9-11

Act | Build further accountability in your walk with Christ for yourself and/or others (ex. consider finding an accountability partner)

#7 Gust of Freedom

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Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

– Matthew 11:29-30

It seems counter-intuitive to think that a windy day may be the best kind for a runner. Though fighting against strong gusts slows the runner down, making her push harder for less result, it’s not disappointment that she feels. Instead, the runner is exhilarated, cooled by breezy blasts that make the punishment of running into a task that’s enjoyable.

A life lived according to scripture sometimes feel the same. Weighed down by laws, demands, rules, and morals, the “word of God” could seem stifling, like the words of a tyrant that are outdated, out of touch, and unwelcome.

When lived out legalistically, scripture can indeed be all that, like a hot blast in an already burning heat. But when one comprehends the meaning of grace, running that life becomes the opposite experience, like that of a runner basking in a cool breeze blowing in her face. This, she notes in breathless wonder, is freedom. And that unfettered, brisk, refreshing existence lies in wait for us, too.

Pray | Ask to understand with your heart, if not also with your head, the freedom that grace can bring

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: James 2:8-11 / Romans 6:11-14 / Hebrews 10:1-4 / Galatians 2:15-16 / James 2:12-13

Act | Think of the moral rules you live and/or judge others by and contemplating how grace meets us when we’re unable to live by those same rules

#5 Break Up

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But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8

Break-ups can be devastating. They take time and support to get through, and in all honesty, there are some relationships we never get over.

And as with grieving, we might pass through emotional stages after a split, including guilt.  Why did she dump me?  What did I do?  What’s wrong with me?

Those feelings speak to something dreadfully honest within us – that we feel something is wrong.  Our exes, who knew us as well as anyone, saw into our very hearts, and they ran away.

There’s someone else, too, that sees our hearts – that knows them better than any boyfriend, better than we even know our own hearts.  He sees all of our faults, insecurities, and selfishness, and still speaks this to us: “I’m never leaving you.”

This the one to whom we can always turn – who will never leave or “break up” with us. There’s no better lover.

Pray | Ask God to reveal his forgiving and loving character to you

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Jeremiah 17:9 / Romans 5:6-8 / Jeremiah 7:21-26 / Romans 5:20-21 / Ephesians 2:8-9

Act | Purposely reach out to someone who may have hurt you, understanding that you, too, own many faults

#1 Imperfect Love

 

love 1a

love 1b

we are bits and pieces of imperfect love

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:38-39

A happy nervousness.  An electric energy.  Non-stop smiling.  All relationships start the same way, with a forever kind of hopefulness.  But ultimately, they almost all devolve into something unrecognizable, transformed by hurt, pain, anger, or disinterest.

How have you acted in your relationships with others?  When things go awry, do you blame them?  Or do you share some of the fault?

Because we’re human, because we’re imperfect, our relationships are all destined to contain some brokenness.  We disappoint those we’re closest to, again and again and again.  But there is one model of perfect love, of an epic kind of love that never fails, for this lover will never stop reaching out to us and will always be there to put together the bits and pieces of our imperfect selves.  And his love is everything we need.

Pray | Tell God about the kind of love you seek – from a bf/gf, parents, or friends – and then honestly talk to him about how well you’ve loved him
Read | Read and meditates on these verses this week: Romans 8:38-39 / I Corinthians 13:4-8 / I Peter 4:8 / I John 4:16-18 / Deuteronomy 10:12
Act | Work on forgiving others for the hurt they’ve caused you, knowing that we also pain others – God most of all

Welcome + Love

The moon, the stars, the mountains and seas – the world is full of beauty and wonder.  Humanity, the crowning jewel of this allure, with intellect and the ability to do wondrous deeds, is also capable of violence, hatred, and apathy.  Within our own souls, we see the possibility of doing endless good, but war with our selfish desires and with painful pasts (and presents) that lead us in becoming something less than we should be.

All You Shining Stars was created by turtlequeen and twwk as our humble attempt to say, yes, there is a way to become more than we are.  Each post, subsequent to this one, will feature an original manga-style illustration, followed by words of encouragement and, we believe, wisdom, to encourage you on a journey away from the things that pull us down and toward an infinite love that cannot be earned – only received.

This blog will be thematic, as we present posts over a period of weeks or months, or perhaps through an entire season, based on many facets of a single idea, emotion, action, or truth.  The first of these will be that enigmatic but most real of concepts – love.

We hope that as you begin 2015, you’ll consider joining us as part of your journey.