Three ways to improve your prayer life.

“Pray about everything...” Philippians 4

Want to jumpstart your prayer life? Get back into an easy groove with the Lord? Strengthen the foundation of your life? Prayer is the way. Here are 3 basic ways to improve your prayer life...

Devote yourself to the Lord -- fully. Jesus was successful in all that He did. I believe His secret was complete devotion and consecration to the will of His Father. Jesus had one ambition: to do God’s will, not His own. When we devote ourselves to the Lord in this same way something powerful happens within us as we lay aside selfish ambitions, wrong motives and the pursuit of temporal results. God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure and this brings God -- and us -- pleasure! Listen to Jesus’ words:

“I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.” John 5:30, AMP

Ask the Lord for wisdom -- and expect Him to give it to you. God has promised to give us the wisdom we need for all areas of life and He has loaded His Word with that wisdom. He dispenses His wisdom to us by His spirit and  inherent in God’s wisdom is the power to transform us. In other words, when God gives us His wisdom it comes with the power to get results! The great thing is the Apostle Paul gave us numerous prayers we can and should pray concerning wisdom:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” Colossians 1:9-10, NLT

Pray in the Spirit -- about the things you don’t know and can’t control. After we have prayed and asked God for everything we can think of, we may still feel unsettled in our spirit -- that’s because there are things we don’t know! That’s where praying in the Spirit comes in! I can’t overemphasize the importance of praying in the Spirit (while also praying in our understanding -- 1 Corinthians 14:14-15). Thankfully the Holy Spirit knows everything and He helps us to pray with our spiritual prayer language to ask, petition, intercede and cover the things we don’t know how to pray about! He does all of this so that we can rest in knowing all things are working together for our good! Isn’t that amazing? 

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:26-28

You can pray like this, today! Always remember, prayer is your foundation for a God-touched life. You can love your life. You can make it count. Follow these prayer tips and you’ll have a good start!

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There are many voices.

“There are many voices and none of them is without significance...”1 Corinthians 14

There are many voices in the world. The Bible told us that long ago. With the advent of social media, it’s truer than ever. These days everyone is a coach, expert or prophet. Be careful of the voices you allow into your ears and heart.

There ARE many voices all vying for our attention. Modern marketers go so far as to say that “attention is the new currency.” 

In a world of many voices, how do we know whose voice to listen to? How do we discern voices that are nothing more than a distraction? Can we tell the difference between “voices” and “noises?”

Any voice that is in alignment with God’s voice -- the Bible -- is a voice worth tuning in to.

Any voice that is contrary to God’s Word -- the Bible -- is a voice to turn off.

Any voice that causes you to become critical toward others is a voice to mute.

Any voice that brings fear, panic, anxiety, confusion or intimidation is not from God -- change the channel.

Any voice that lifts up, honors and exalts Jesus and His Name is a voice worth paying attention to.  

Any voice that denies Jesus as Lord is “antichrist” and should not be given any attention.

Any voice that focuses mostly on self -- its beauty, success or failures -- is preoccupied with the wrong thing -- don’t give it too much attention.

Any voice with a spirit that uplifts, encourages, comforts or exhorts you toward God and loving others is worth your attention.

Any voice that carries pride with a spirit that divides, judges or is self-righteous is a voice to avoid.

Any voice that seduces you into impure, immoral, unethical or illegal behavior is a voice to run from.

Any voice that inspires you to be generous, kind, loving, faithful, joyful or full of faith is a voice to listen to.

So, what voices do you need to mute and what voices do you need to turn up?

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How to get more faith.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17, NKJV

Everything God has is available to us through faith! Wow...that means, getting and having faith is supreme! The good news is that God has made obtaining faith easy. However, faith doesn’t come by wishing for it. Begging for it. Or even praying for it...

God’s way of obtaining faith is the same for everyone. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word -- over and over and over! The more of God’s Word you hear, read, study, meditate upon, the more faith will come and fill your heart. The more faith-filled preachers you hear -- those who share revelation knowledge of God’s Word -- the more your faith will be strengthened. 

Listening to your pastor and other Bible teachers and preachers will strengthen your faith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of so-called experts “teaching and preaching the Word” on social media these days, so I urge you to be cautious about who you allow to speak into your life.

When God calls and anoints someone to teach and preach His Word, the Holy Spirit will give you an inner witness to know they are speaking the truth. If, when listening to God’s Word through a particular teacher or preacher, you ever find yourself tilting towards being critical, judgmental, self-righteous or proud -- you might want to turn if off, delete and run!

When God calls and anoints someone to teach and preach His Word it will look like this... He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ...” (Ephesians 4:11-15, NKJV)

As a Bible teacher for the past 30 years, the Lord put it in my heart to stay steady in teaching the Bible basics.  One of the ways we do that is through our podcast. You may not even know we have one, but we do and The Basics With Beth podcast is loaded with short teachings to help strengthen your faith! We offer 3 different types of podcasts:

A Basic Interview: I have had the chance to interview some really great people!

A Basic Thought: I share something God has put on my heart -- usually while driving in my car.

A Basic Teaching: I share some of the messages I have taught at Valley Family Church and other places.

As you are out and about today, why not find our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or on our website and listen to our podcast today. I believe you’ll be refreshed and encouraged!

One other podcast I want you to know about is the Bible Reading podcast where my husband and I simply read the New Testament to you one chapter at a time! Feel free to listen and let us read the Bible to you.

Faith comes by hearing God's Word, so be sure to feed your faith every day!

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How to plan a mystery trip.

It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them. Proverbs 25:2

Mystery trips are fun!

My mom and step-dad started this tradition in our family years ago and we’ve continued it. 

What’s a mystery trip? It’s any random, little road trip that has mystery to it -- for you or for your passengers!

The first time I planned a mystery trip, I took my roommate out for a fun day. I packed up her favorite treats (iced tea, wheat thins and granny smith apples) and planned fun, little, out-of-the way pitstops where we could enjoy our snacks and talk. Sure, we could have hung out in our apartment and talked all afternoon, but the mystery trip made it a fun and memorable day.

I planned a crazy mystery trip for another friend of mine after we had graduated from college and were in a “boring season” of life. I decided to nominate her to run for President -- yes, President of the United States! After I stapled several “Honk if you’ll vote for Michelle for President” posters on the nearby telephone poles, I set up a card table and her official “campaign headquarters” in a boulevard across the street from the Michigan State University campus. She sat at the table and waved as cars drove by and honked. I laughed and took a few photos. It was fun and it beat being bored!

My husband and I often planned mystery trips for our family when our kids were younger and for ourselves now that the kids are grown. Some days, we’ll hop in my husband’s truck and drive to a greasy, out-of-the-way diner for breakfast or to an antique store to walk down memory lane.

We’ve taken our staff on mystery trips that have included a coffee stop, a dune buggy ride and flying kites on the beaches of Lake Michigan.

The list goes on...mystery trips to an apple orchard, a blueberry patch, a flea market, a beach, a thrift store, a playground, a rural farm or a big city -- a trip to have breakfast, lunch or dinner -- everything is on the table! Just invite some friends, load up the car with a full tank of gas and a basket of snacks and take a mystery trip!

Here’s some help to plan your mystery trip:
Who’s going?
What snacks and gear are you bringing?
What pitstops are you going to make?
When will you start and when will you return?

There you go! Have fun planning your mystery trip!

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What Pigpen teaches us about joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4, NLT

Remember Pigpen from the Charlie Brown comics? It seemed like everywhere he went, he was surrounded by a depressing cloud of dirt and dust. 



Ever felt like Pigpen? 

The truth is, we create an atmosphere around us by virtue of the people we associate with, the music we listen to, the places we go, the things we read, the videos we watch, the conversations we participate in, the thoughts we entertain and the words we say. When we live in the “dirty atmosphere” stirred up by negativity, it’s no fun and we’re no fun. 

We can change the atmosphere around us by choosing godly, joyful and faith-filled things. 

One simple place to start is with your music! Think about the power of a song. What songs instantly lift you up, put a pep in your step or fire you up for a workout? What songs help you sense the Lord’s presence, love and goodness? On the other hand, what songs incite anger, self-pity and depression? What songs tempt you to live in a way that doesn’t please the Lord? What could happen this year if you decided you’d only listen to uplifting, faith-filled songs? I guarantee you’d sense God’s presence more regularly and you’d have a continual cloud of joy surrounding you every day. 

God knows that when we choose to live in an atmosphere of joy it’s good for us and those around us. Why not create an atmosphere of joy that surrounds and follows you?

Here’s how: make a playlist of 10 songs that instantly make you happy, help you feel upbeat and bring you joy. Then, listen to them every day! I know it sounds too simple -- I know it’s basic! :) But, trust me -- it will work for you. Do this for the next 30 days and if you don’t experience a greater degree of joy in your life, let me know! (As a jumpstart, I created a playlist for our church family last year -- the top 40+ songs that help me draw near to the Lord, stir up my faith and love for the lost and keep me full of joy -- feel free to check out my playlist on Spotify. FYI -- it’s full of “old school” songs from an eclectic mix of genres and I still love ‘em all! You can find it by searching “Soundtrack of the Heart” playlist.) 

Have fun stirring up joy by putting the focus on your music for a while.

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Reinventing your space.

A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. Proverbs 23:3-4

There is something about having a space to call your own. A tranquil place. A functional space. Cinderella even told us so when she said, “In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be!” 

I’ll never forget the feeling of independence, creativity and inspiration I felt when I set up a small desk with a lamp in the back of my dad’s barber shop after I graduated from college and was trying to start up a little seminar business. I could tune out the world and focus on the work at hand in that little space. I loved it.

Recently, my husband and I had our closet professionally redesigned and now it’s my favorite room in the house! It’s amazing what a little decluttering and order can do for your disposition! Jesus talked about our prayer closet, do you have one? The movie War Room brought home the power of a private place to pray -- whether it’s your closet, automobile or bathtub. Do you have a space where you pray and connect with the Lord? 

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6, NLT

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of unique spaces to do work, read, pray and find inspiration. Every now and then you have to repaint the walls, rearrange furniture, remix the knick knacks and reinvent your spaces. Have you? Maybe your bedroom needs a makeover. Does your kitchen need help? Pantry need to be re-organized? Powder room need perking up? How is your work space? Time to designate a prayer closet? 

Why not pick one room or space and take a moment to answer the questions below. Think about these things to reinvent...

YOUR SPACE

1. What type of space do you need? (check all that apply)

____Space to Rest
____ Space to Create
____ Space to Pray
____ Space to Write
____ Space to Create
____ Space to Read
____ Space to Run My Business
____ Other: __________________________________________

2. Where could you create or set up the space you need? Does it need to be permanent or could it be portable? (check all that apply)

____In My Closet
____In My Garage
____In My Basement
____In An Extra Room
____At My Business
____At A Friend’s Business
____In My Car
____At A Local Coffee Shop
____ Other: __________________________________________

YOUR HAPPY PLACE

Designing our own space has a way of calming, motivating, inspiring and/or energizing us. What do you want to feel when you are in your space? 

____I want to feel calm and tranquil
____I want to feel energized and motivated
____I want to feel inspired and creative
____I want to feel focused
____I want to feel happy
____ Other:_______________________________________________

COLOR & TEXTURE PALETTE IN MY SPACE

What colors make you feel the way you desire? Think about a palette of colors and textures that can be used for simple things like: wall color, pillows, fabric, lighting, furniture, rugs and more. You can search the Internet or magazines or design-TV shows to learn more about color combinations, but for now, write down the things that come to your mind and heart easily.

Colors I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Mixed Neutrals (whites, beige, blacks, browns)
Light Neutrals (whites, beiges)
Dark Neutrals (blacks, browns)
Pastels
Earth Tones
Metallics
Reds
Oranges
Blues
Greens
Yellows
Purples
Other:

Woods I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Dark Woods
Blonde Woods
Reclaimed Woods
Red Woods
Honey Woods
Multi-Colored
Grey Woods
Whitewashed
Painted
Mixed Woods
Other:

Metals I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Gold
Silver
Copper
Bronze
Nickel
Vintage
Chrome
Shiny
Polished
Other:

Fabric Patterns I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Solids
Patterns
Stripes
Plaids
Tweeds
Geometric
Floral
Other:

Fabric Textures I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Natural Fibers
Polyester/Nylon
Cotton
Silk
Jersey
Corduroy
Denim
Wool
Linen
Leather
Rayon
Hemp/Jute
Muslin
Burlap
Chiffon/Organza
Velvet
Taffeta
Satin
Fur
Spandex/Lycra
Other:

Lighting I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Natural Light
Ambient
Task
Accent
Lamps
Pendants
Candlelight
String Lights
Other:

Furniture I Like: (circle the ones you like)

Clean and Simple
Plush and Comfy
Modern and Minimal
Eclectic Mix
Classic
Contemporary

Transitional
Traditional
Cottage
Rustic
Mid Century
Tuscan
Eclectic
Country
Industrial
Other:

Decorating Styles I Like:

Art Deco
Arts and Crafts
Asian
Bohemian
Coastal
Contemporary
Cottage
Country
Eclectic
English Country
Farmhouse
French
Industrial
Nautical
Mediterranean
Mid Century
Modern
Moroccan
Scandinavian
Shabby Chic
Traditional
Transitional
Tropical
Urban Modern
Western
Other:

MUSIC IN YOUR SPACE

Genres I Like:

Devices I Use:

 

SCENTS IN YOUR SPACE

Floral
Woody
Oriental
Fresh
Musk Scents
Food Scents
Fruit Scents
Clean Scents

Devices I Like:
Candles
Potpourri
Incense
Diffusers

TASTE IN MY SPACE

Food Preferences:

Drink Preferences:

 

You can have a lot of fun reinventing your spaces big and small. Remember what Dr. Seuss said, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” 

Reinvent your space, give it a try!

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