Be Inspired, Not Tired

By Linda Tancs

How energized are you? Do you feel like the tortoise—or the hare? If your answer is the tortoise, know that you’re in good company. Recent studies show that, among other factors, stress and social media are taking a toll on energy levels. It’s disheartening, especially considering that Scripture exhorts us to begin each day with zeal and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11).

So how do you put some zest back into life? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to get inspired. As the literary figure Goethe allegedly said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” What are you dreaming about? What did you dream about as a kid? What do other people think you’re good at? Do you have a hobby? Another tactic for zeal is gratitude, something encouraged in the Bible (Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2-3). Jesus likewise encourages you to give your tired mind, body or soul to Him for refreshment (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t be tired; get inspired.

 

Who, Me?

By Linda Tancs

“I’m not up to the task.” How often have you felt unworthy or unfit for a task? At least once, no doubt. We often shrink with fear when faced with an assignment that we perceive will test our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. During those times it’s good to remember how ordinary folks in the Bible were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Consider the prophet Jeremiah, called by God at a young age to minister to a nation; he thought he was way too young and inexperienced to be effective (Jeremiah 1:4-8). Mary pondered how she, a virgin, could become mother to our Savior (Luke 1:34). Moses felt inadequate to the task of demanding Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:11). Jonah was so intimated by God’s call for him to witness at Nineveh that he fled on a ship (Jonah 1:2-3). Gideon thought himself too lowly of a man to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-16).

You get the picture. Yet in each case, God didn’t expect his draft picks to act alone. He promised to be with them. And so it is with us. He’s present in every task, duty, charge, assignment or obligation (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20). Because of that, you can accomplish anything with the strength that He gives you (Philippians 4:13).

It’s Okay to Wobble

By Linda Tancs

If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably remember the Weebles toy—“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Think of that toy as a metaphor for life. Each of us needs to bounce back in the face of setbacks. Maybe you’ve fallen short in some area of your life—marriage, career, parenting. Just don’t settle for lack; get back on the horse, as the saying goes.

Discouragement scourges and oppresses progress. Consider the Israelites, whose grumbling and complaining kept them out of the Promised Land, ultimately for 40 years even though the journey was roughly only 11 days (Numbers 14:2-4; Deuteronomy 1:2). And then there’s Abraham’s father, Terah, who set out with his family in tow for Canaan but then settled for Haran (Genesis 11:31). In each case, the parties outright surrendered to discouragement and thwarted the progress God intended for them.

Wobble if you must, but don’t surrender (see Proverbs 24:16). Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Pray for the strength to hold on and not give up (Luke 18:1). You can’t reap a harvest without tending to the field (Galatians 6:9).

 

 

Guard Your Heart

By Linda Tancs

What’s in your heart right now? Is it love? Compassion? Fear? Hatred? Envy? Anxiety?  If you’re not sure, then listen to what comes out of your mouth. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that the power of life and death is in the tongue, and out of an abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). If your heart is filled with love and compassion, then your tongue is likely to speak life-affirming words to others—words of encouragement, affection, appreciation and so on. Conversely, if your heart is full of joy-robbing emotions like hatred, anger, resentment, fear or anxiety, then you’re likely to convey negativity to others, especially those closest to you. However, unlike the old Mills Brothers song, you don’t always have to hurt the one you love. Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

 

 

Go Forward in Faith

By Linda Tancs

What does it mean to go forward in faith? Faith is described in Hebrews as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We hang our hats, so to speak, on faith. It gives us the courage to move forward, in God’s will, with plans for a hopeful future.

Hebrews 11 is a treasure trove of examples of faith-filled living. We’re reminded of Noah, who built an ark in anticipation of a flood that no one could see coming. Abraham moved house at God’s command without knowing how it would work out in his new location. A barren Sarah became pregnant in the face of physiological impossibility. A stammering Moses became spokesperson for a nation. Daniel survived the lions’ den.

Trailblazers. All of them. They relied on God’s promise and prevailed. Imagine what you could do by releasing your faith in God and resolving to take the necessary steps to accomplish your goals. Whatever you feed grows; feed your faith.

Are You Afraid to be Happy?

By Linda Tancs

Does happiness seem elusive to you? Do you go about daily life “waiting for the other shoe to drop”? Like Job, do you fear that something will come upon you (Job 3:25)? You’re not alone. According to a study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, people across 14 different cultures identified with statements like “having lots of joy and fun causes bad things to happen.” Clearly, there’s a universal need to control bad thoughts. Such thoughts lead to bad words and bad, unhealthy actions. Jesus came so that we might have and enjoy life, not fear it (John 10:10).

So what are some steps you can take to control your thoughts? Second Corinthians lends imagery of taking thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Imagine taking bad thoughts and banishing them to a prison cell. Envision locking the cell door. Now replace each bad or negative thought with a biblical thought. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God’s plans, or thoughts, are for our welfare. That doesn’t mean we never have a reason to be unhappy; rather, we should look to God to turn our trials into triumphs in due season. What can you focus on that’s pure, lovely, praiseworthy, commendable, honorable or excellent (Philippians 4:8)? Accentuate the positive, as the old song goes. Maintaining a positive focus will renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and bring God’s peace (Romans 8:6). You can’t be both peaceful and unhappy.

Back to the Future

By Linda Tancs

Are you surrounded by other people who specialize in prophesying your future (Ecclesiastes 8:7)? That idea will never take off. It’s all been done before. That book will never sell. You can’t go back to school now. You’re too old to adopt. The list goes on and on, and it’s often less than life affirming. Do you let the opinions of others control your goals and dreams?

It’s easy to get discouraged over someone else’s opinion of you, however uninformed if might be. And it’s especially difficult to deal with in this season because a new year often brings new reflections on the future. The power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Don’t let someone else’s tongue bring death to your dreams. Keep calm and carry on is a popular expression these days. The Bible expresses the same sentiment (Ecclesiastes 9:10; 10:4). Give yourself to what you’re dreaming to accomplish, staying calm and composed in the face of opposition. Let God be the one to guide you toward what is appropriate and to discern what needs letting go.

Cast Your Anchor

By Linda Tancs

“Can there be a more fitting pursuit in youth or a more valuable possession in old age than a knowledge of Holy Scripture? In the midst of storms it will preserve you from the dangers of shipwreck and guide you to the shore of an enchanting paradise and the ever-lasting bliss of the angels.”— St. Boniface

A vessel is secured in place by casting anchor. How anchored are you? Are you like a tree firmly planted (Psalm 1:3) notwithstanding conditions around you or do you define yourself as “a victim of circumstance”?

The Bible uses an anchor metaphor to describe the confident assurance we gain as Christians. As Hebrews 6:19 puts it, hope anchors the soul. Many people claim to be hopeful, but only an unfailing hope will guard and protect your soul during turbulent times.

What’s the best way to acquire this kind of hope? According to Zechariah 9:12, it’s by becoming a prisoner of hope, a hope so compelling that you can’t escape it. That kind of hope is filled with a confident expectation that God is always working in your best interest and that you’ll see the result in due time.

Don’t run aground over worldly concerns and the storms of life. Be grounded in hope and you’ll rise above your circumstances rather than be dictated by them.

New Year, New You

By Linda Tancs

The advent of a new year brings a deluge of resolutions—to lose weight, exercise more, go back to school, get a new job, find a mate and so on. But the problem with new resolutions is that unless they’re accompanied by new thinking, they’re not likely to bear fruit. In other words, old thoughts trigger old behaviors.

Are you bringing old thinking into a new year? What kinds of thoughts are triggering the need to make a resolution in the first place? Those thoughts usually involve words like can’t, should, could, would, but, if only, always or never.

We all use those words. How do you use them? Do they relate to your resolutions? Keep a journal and track how often you think or speak those words.

You just might need a thought makeover—a renewal of your mind, as the Bible calls it. We’re called to a new thing, a new way, a new life, a new self (Isaiah 43:18-19; Philippians 2:5; Colossians 3:10). We’re encouraged to learn to think as He thinks (2 Corinthians 5:17). As new creatures in Christ, we’re called to resolve to do what He would do. And that’s the best resolution of all.

Happy New Year!

 

Hope Springs Internal

By Linda Tancs

What is hope? Dictionaries define hope as a belief that something is attainable. Biblically, we can define it as trusting, leaning on and relying on God to deliver us in every situation (Psalm 25:2). Hope begins on the inside with an expectation that God will provide whatever we need, both externally and internally.

So what happens when we lose hope? Proverbs 13:12 says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Unlike deferred compensation in the business realm (which will get to you eventually), deferred hope is a loss of expectation, a state of despair. Despair provokes the attitude that it’s useless to hope for a better tomorrow.

Innumerable situations are ripe for producing despair, like the loss of property from a natural disaster, long-term unemployment, domestic abuse and chronic health conditions. How do you rekindle hope when you’re hurting? Romans 15:13 reminds us that God is our source of hope. When you place your faith and trust in Him, then the Holy Spirit works in you to restore hope.

Let go and let God. That’s what Job did. A man of exemplary faith, he never lost hope in God despite traumatic loss of his family, wealth and health. His persevering faith was rewarded in the end with a restoration of his fortunes. And, in the end, (like Job) the fulfillment of your hope will be a tree of life as promised in Proverbs, mending your heart, mind, body and spirit.