My one word for 2019

Several years ago I stopped making New Year resolutions, because, let’s face it, they were broken the first month (sometimes the first week!)–like walking again or eating healthier! I heard about instead, creating a #oneword and a Scripture verse(s) to go along with it.

One word

When I began to do this, I no longer felt condemnation that I was breaking my New Year resolutions so quickly. I also discovered that as I earnestly prayed to God about this matter, the #oneword always turned out to be a prophetic theme for the entire year.

joy
Red cardinals joy decoration

For example, my #oneword in 2018 was JOY. At times, last year was anything but joyful! There were many hard times. I have cried a lot the last several years, more than I ever have in my entire life.

pensive woman
pensive woman

We all have stress and battle worries–relationship problems. Business or ministry challenges. Health issues. Financial struggles. But joy is a choice. You can be joyful even in adversity or a major crisis! Joy is not the same as happiness.

Smiling child

God wants us happy, just as we do our own children. But joy, like faith, isn’t based on circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) We must choose faith, and we must choose joy.

Compass pointing north
Compass pointing north
Image source: Google

Usually, the last week of December of each year, I pray about the coming new year, for God to protect and bless me and my family and friends, for His guidance and presence with us, and for a #oneword and Scripture(s) for the coming year.

I ask Him to be mine and my family’s compass, our “true north.” (This expression comes from the great chick flick movie, Message In A Bottle, with Kevin Costner!)

Message in a Bottle movie
Message in a Bottle movie

God speaks in a myriad of ways to His children:

  • primarily through His holy word, the Bible;
  • by His still, small voice to our hearts as we pray and listen to Him;
  • from other people, sharing His words of truth and encouragement;
  • in nature (“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”–Psalm 19:1, NIV);
  • through signs in the sky, such as the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. (Luke 21:25);
  • in other signs, such as red cardinal birds, mourning doves, eagles, the wind, a billboard, a car’s bumper sticker, something said on a podcast, radio or TV show, a voice in a crowd, etc. Obviously, we can’t base our lives on these “signs,” but God can speak to His children however He wants to get His message of truth across to us. Sometimes it’s like He needs a two by four to get the message through our thick heads and stubborn hearts!

Just prior to January 2019 beginning, I noticed the words “humble” and “humility” in a couple of different places. First, the words Stay HUMBLE were inscribed on chapstick that I’d received in a gift box.

Stay humble chapstick
Stay humble chapstick gift

That’s interesting, I thought. The words “humble” and “humility” started popping up like Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn on Facebook posts.

popcorn popping
popcorn popping;
Image source: Google

Then I started seeing the words a LOT! A recurrent theme.

Oh no, I thought in dread. Uh oh—wait a minute! That’s my one word for 2019, isn’t it, God?

I knew what that meant (God was going to smash my PRIDE), and heck no, I did NOT want that word! Which is probably exactly why He is giving it to me!

Why couldn’t I get a nicer, easier, funner word like adventures? Or dream bigger? Or overflow, especially in our bank account? Or laughter?

But no. My words are humble and humility! Yes, I know humility is a beautiful, Christ-like virtue and God is doing this for my own good.

You and I know there is just no use fighting God. In the end, He’s going to get His way. Because He’s God!

Jacob wrestling
Jacob wrestling with God
Image source: Google

We can wrestle with Him until daybreak like Jacob did (Genesis 32:22-32), but we’ll walk away with a painful limp. God is bigger and more powerful than you and me, so we might as well submit and obey!

So I started researching the definition of humility to begin preparing spiritually for 2019. (Here goes nothing!)

  • freedom from pride or arrogance;
  • a lack of ego;
  • lowness; an attitude of service;
  • the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance;
  • serving others for their good, as well as your own;
  • a realistic appreciation of your strengths, as well as your weaknesses.

Synonyms for humility include:

  • demureness;
  • down-to-earthness;
  • lowliness;
  • meekness;
  • modesty.

You know, traits that are so unlike me! People who know me well would NOT describe me as demure–reserved, bashful, shrinking. Instead, my sister Maria describes my approach in life more like “a bull in a china shop.” 

Antonyms (the opposite) of humility are even more revealing–and alarming!

  • arrogance;
  • assumption;
  • conceit;
  • haughtiness;
  • huffiness;
  • presumptuousness;
  • pretense;
  • pride;
  • imperiousness (domineering);
  • obtrusiveness;
  • superiority.

STOP! Is anyone else getting uncomfortable here?! Well, I sure am. But then it’s my #oneword, not yours–unless God says so!

Remember that pride, and then rebellion, was Satan’s sin. We don’t want to be like the devil, do we? I don’t!

Humility and gratitude
Humility and gratitude

Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, then nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

No doubt that I have some family members, or even friends, who will remind me throughout this year of my #oneword humility and how I am being so NOT humble!

Maybe humility isn’t your strong suit, either. I have good news, dear friend. When we stumble and fall, as we surely will, we can get back up.

That is why Jesus died for you and me; nobody is perfect but Him. He’s teaching us to be more like Him each moment.

You and I can breathe again, and be thankful that God’s mercies are new every beautiful morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

 

Humility book
Humility book

This week, I ordered a used copy of Andrew Murray’s book Humility from Amazon to start off the year right and plan to do other studies on this topic as well.

My Scripture verses for 2019, based on these words humble and humility are:

“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33, ESV)

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, NKJV. The NLT translation says, “And He gives grace generously.”)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

This last Scripture shows me that I need to be alert in Spirit this year. Satan wants to cause destruction in mine and my family’s life, to devour and kill us. I thank God that Jesus Christ is more powerful and the battle belongs to the Lord, who has the victory already!

The great news in all this? If we humble ourselves before God and cultivate a lifestyle of humility, depending on and trusting solely in Him, the Bible says God will give us HONOR and EXALT us! (Good surprises for us, for HIS glory!) Isn’t that exciting? 

Do you have a #oneword, Scripture verse(s), and/or theme for the new year 2019? Please share it below with me! And let’s pray for each other this year to walk it out with God’s grace and help!

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Not called to hate: Bankrupt without love

rusty gate
rusty gate Image source: Google

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”–1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message

What do you think of when you hear the word “love”?

You love Jesus.

You love your spouse, your kids, your sister, and your friends.

You love Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

You love your cat.

You love the This is Us TV series.

You don’t love bad hair days, gaining back the 15 pounds you lost last year walking and jogging, new wrinkles showing up in the mirror, catty women, and drama.

iced coffee
iced coffee

As I sit here writing at my laptop with an iced coffee, pondering the meaning of the word love, I realize that I so often fail to hit the mark, God’s way. In fact, much more often I’m like that creaking rusty gate in the above-mentioned passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Squeak, squeak. Rust corrodes and destroys. (Wince.)

Without God’s love in my heart, the Bible says that I’m getting nowhere. Bankrupt. Not a pretty thought.

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Sometimes I think that maybe I have a heart of ice. Ray has sometimes called me la belle dames sans merci–the beautiful woman without mercy. It is the name of an English ballad by poet John Keats, considered a classic with numerous interpretations.

In the poem, there’s a bleak wintry landscape and a broken knight. The beautiful lady is a femme fatale who attracts lovers only to destroy them with her supernatural powers. She destroys because it’s her nature to destroy. Not exactly a compliment from my husband, although I like when he calls me beautiful!

La belle dames sans merci by John William Waterhouse
La belle dames sans merci
by John William Waterhouse

No, I don’t want to be a femme fatale. I don’t want to hate anyone, either. God is love, and I am called by Him to love others, too. (1 John 4:8)

I want to be a woman of love, and yet even as I type this, I think, “Do I really? Am I willing to do what God requires of me to unconditionally love Him and others? Or am I too comfortable in my own skin of apathy, or even worse, of hate?

frustrated woman
frustrated woman

Hate is such an ugly word, isn’t it? Certainly not one with which a Christian–a Christ believer and follower–should be associated. And yet, I confess it out loud, now to the entire world.

I struggle with feeling hatred sometimes. I have for my entire life. I especially struggle with it at times in anger toward my husband Ray (and I can think of a few other people right now, too! And just so you know, Ray has struggled with feeling hatred toward me at times, too!)

Former first lady Barbara Bush recounted a time when Ruth Graham, wife of world-renown evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a writer if she had ever considered divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”

happy woman
happy woman

Maybe you can’t relate to me or Ruth Graham at all. I commend you for having a happy, free heart oozing over with God’s unconditional, reckless love and you having your life way more together than me.

You might even question if I am really a true Christian if I feel hate. Am I the only Christian who battles the sin of hatred?

No. Recently when Ray and I were in a marriage counseling session, the Christian therapist told me about a recent situation where she and a loved one were arguing loudly in her home, and she felt hatred for this family member. 

Did she stay stuck in the sinful stew of hatred in her heart? No. This gifted, anointed Christian therapist decided instead to leave the house, drive off [fast] in her car, and go get a large Diet Coke at Sonic to chill out for awhile. She came back home and they talked about it again more calmly now, reconciling. 

I admit that I felt secretly relieved when she told me this story! So, I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s a human dilemma.

The Bible addresses hatred in many verses. Some examples are:

  • 1 John 4:20
  • 1 John 3:15
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • 1 John 2:9
  • Ephesians 4:31
  • Galatians 5:20
  • Mark 7:21-22

What’s interesting is that the audience for most of these passages are Christian believers!

How do you overcome this evil weapon of hatred if you struggle with it, too?

  • Come to God. God is love. He is the One who can and will teach you how to love others.
  • Repent of the sin of hatred. Satan, who is God’s and our enemy, wants you to hate God, other people, and yourself. Ask God’s forgiveness for the hatred.
  • Ask God to fill you with His agape (unconditional) love and for victory in the situation.
  • Choose to forgive the person for how he or she hurt, angered, or offended you. If needed, ask forgiveness of the person you are struggling with hating if you have sinned against him or her.
  • Spend time daily reading and meditating on the Bible, praying, worshipping, and in fellowship with other Christian believers to help you in your walk. You are not alone.

I’m now writing a new non-fiction book: Metamorphosis: Transformed From Hate to Love, which will be available for sale soon at Amazon as an eBook. If you subscribe to my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, you’ll be first to hear about its release. This is the beautiful cover for the eBook:

eBook cover
eBook cover

Just sign up at the top of the page on the right-hand side with your name and email, and confirm your subscription. You’ll also get a free gift when you sign up!

You can find the other books I’ve written here at my Amazon Author Page

Have you struggled with hating anyone? Leave your comments below. 

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Only God can fix the wreckage of our lives

wreckage
wreckage

I saw this picture on Pinterest today, saved it, and posted it on Facebook saying, “Then I must have fodder for lots of stories!”

Wreckage. The word sounds dangerously close to “carnage.” Let’s look at the definition of both.

wrecked car
wrecked car

Wreckage:

The remains of something that has been badly damaged or destroyed.

Carnage:

The killing of a large number of people (slaughter, massacre, butchery, bloodbath).

Both mean ruination, obliteration, annihilation.

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Recently someone I love very much deeply hurt me and I felt very rejected in the situation. My heart felt broken into a million pieces. Shattered. I’ve cried each night going to sleep, and then often awake in the middle of the night with insomnia.

In looking at the situation, I’ve realized my life is in wreckage. And that I have often caused the lives of those I love to be wrecked.

And that the only One who can fix me is God.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3)

Debbie McDaniel writes in her article, Finding Beauty in Brokenness: Christ Came to Heal and Redeem:

“We have a Healer. One who repairs. Who can fit the broken pieces that no longer seem to fit right into a perfect design. He works, often behind the scenes, mending, fitting together, creating a better work of art, more than we ever dreamed possible. He makes all things beautiful. Especially in the broken. All from His grace. It is real life. Jagged edges and all. They have such meaning.”

hurting woman

God can take the brokenness of our lives and turn it into something beautiful. We’re all broken.

Image source: http://www.brewingcoffeewithcathy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/broken-coffee-mug-FINAL.jpg

Broken hearts. Broken lives. Broken marriages. Broken children. Broken families. Broken churches. We all desperately need Jesus.

Hurting people hurt others. We have to come to the foot of the Cross with our hurts and give them to Him.

Only God can heal us and make us whole. Only God can fix the wreckage of our lives. 

He is Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals. 

“Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”’ (Exodus 15:22-26, NIV)

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The Power of Names Copyright 2017
The Power of Names
Copyright 2017

I’m writing a new book now , which is the third and final book in The Cinderella Story series, called The Power of Names. It’s about the importance of your name and the many different names of God in the Bible, including Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.

You can find my other books at my Amazon Author Page by clicking here.

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