Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”- Romans 12:2
Diets. Don’t. Work.
There, I said it.
Diets don’t work because they cause you have to give up immediately the foods you are in a habit of eating all the time. Eating is not only a physical activity, but also a mental one. When you eat a food high in sugar, chemicals that cause a pleasurable response are released in the brain, causing your brain to send signals to want to eat that food again. If you refuse it, a tension between your brain’s pleasure and your nutrition to be at odds with each other. Your brain likes it, but due to the high sugar content, your body stores it as fat because it can’t convert a high amount of sugar into energy (unless you are exercising to burn it off.)
Just like in the Christian life, you must renew your mind slowly in order to change your eating habits. If you want to make life long changes, train your brain to require less and less of the chemical causing food so you won’t crave it as much. Dieters do best when they wean themselves off of sweets and high fatty foods, only allowing them a treat once in a while, rather than quitting cold turkey.
Kate understands how hard dieting is and how much of a mental battle it is. When she puts herself first and tries to lose weight, eve though Toby has fallen off the dieting wagon, she still stumbles into temptation. After catching Toby binging on snacks in private, she goes to the gas station and binges on mini powdered donuts in the car. Downing one after another, she hates herself for giving into temptation. But really part of the blame was on Toby for not supporting her on her weight loss journey. Additionally, Kate blames herself for her father’s death, an unnecessary guilt that is contributing to her love/hate relationship with food.
By changing her thought patterns and renewing her mind regarding her view of herself, she can hold the true key to her success. The real first step on her weight loss journey is forgiving herself for what she believes is a role in her dad’s death.
What do you have to renew your mind about in your life? You looks? Your failures? Your mistakes? What can you do to change your outlook on these things today?
**warning: contains spoilers**
In classic This is us fashion, viewers were thrown a curve ball when in a flashback featuring Jack and his dad, Jack is waiting for his father to return from the bar so they can go on a fishing trip. We believe Jack is alone, praying to himself that his father will come back, when up pops Jack's brother, Nicky! Jack makes a promise that he will always be there to protect him. The next scene shows him looking a pictures from Vietnam where they both served, but what happened to Nicky remains a mystery. We may find that Nicky died in Vietnam and Jack feel responsible. (This may also explain Jack giving dog tags to Kevin, demonstrating his strength as his knee is messed up, ruining his dreams of professional football.)
Some viewers are disappointed in the turn Kevin;s character has taken, but it doesn't bother me. Whether it is realistic that Kevin can be addicted to Vicodin with a simple meniscus tear or not, I don't know, but it is obvious there is a much deeper need for numbing emotional pain (like father, like son.) As demonstrated in the flashback, Kevin doesn't like to feel anything and he certainly doesn't like to talk about it. Instead he drinks it away, leaving us to believe this will drive Sophie away once again (when will he learn?)
What are your thoughts regarding Jack's brother? do you think he is alive or did he die in Vietnam? if he is alive, where is he? What impact do you think having a brother will have on the overall plot development, or on Jack's character arc?
These may seem like random names, but to fans of the TV show This Is Us, they are the names of characters that are redefining what quality drama looks like on television. As the show just premiered its second season, we are just as enthralled with these ordinary people this season as we were last season.
When I tuned into the first episode, I never expected to watch such well-written storylines and captivating characters. As I waited with anticipation week after week as the season unfolded, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary show, but rather a phenomenon. Although not written from a Christian perspective, it became apparent there were some common themes that parallel the commands stated to us in the bible. As I listed all of the themes I found in the show, I found there was enough to write about each week for several months.
If you are a big of a fan as I am, please feel free to let me know if there have been any new revelations you have gleaned as a result of this blog series.
Have you ever wondered if what you do ever means anything, if it ever makes a difference? I feel this way at times when I write, especially when i post on this blog. If you have ever been a blogger or written for an audience, you may have felt this way, too. When blog traffic doesn't rise despite attempts to post consistently, i feel like quitting. I mean, who really reads it anyway? Imagine my surprise when i opened my Facebook Messenger and found that someone had nominated this blog for a Liebster award! The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. ‘Liebster’ in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
I was so touched. It means my words really are having an impact on others. Thank you so much to Allison Wixted, the woman who nominated me. Below is her response to why she started blogging:
"I started blogging because I have a chaotic life that prevents me from working outside the home right now. I longed for a creative outlet that would also connect me to other Christian women and I wanted to share my blossoming faith as a “thank you” to Christ."
Because of her nomination, I can now give my blog as a thank you to Christ too! Her blog can be found at https://alisonwixted.com
Why did you start blogging? I started blogging as a way to give discipleship tips to Christians who wanted to make disciples but didn't know how to get started.
What does the name of your blog mean? My blog is on my website, the tagline of which reads "Where regeneration and transformation intersect." To regenerate is to repair something that has been lost or injured. To transform is to change from one thing to another. That's what I feel my writing does: speak to Christians who want to go deeper in their spiritual life and for those who want to change or "transform" into a new person.
What is your biggest struggle about blogging? Being consistent. Because I write in other areas such as books and articles, I often don't have time to keep my blog up to date as well as I should.
What is your go to snack? My daughter makes our family popcorn most nights so I look forward to that. Although I have food allergies, I could pick any dessert/snack, pudding would be it.
What or who makes you laugh the most? My husband always makes me laugh. But two of my favorite comedians are Kevin James and Sinbad. I find myself laughing until my mouth and stomach hurts when I listen to either of them!
What is your favorite quote to live by? "Preach always, and if necessary, use words." I don't know who said it, but I think it is the essence of the Christian life.
What is your favorite book and why? Besides the Bible, anything by Holley Gerth is good.
What is saving your life lately? Jesus, as always. I'm always in awe that we can speak to the creator of the world like He is my best friend.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Cheesecake and 90's music.
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you should do the following:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. You can download images for the award here.
3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
4. Answer your questions and provide 10 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 200 followers and ask them your own questions.
6. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here or from this site).
7. Don’t forget to inform the people/blogs you nominated about it!
As part of the rules of this award, I now nominate five blogs that I would like readers to get to know. My nominees are listed below:
Crystal Stine- Be encouraged in the Holy Hustle
Susan Nowell- Inspire. Encourage. Challenge. Interior Design for the Soul
Kristi- the flawed treasure
Check them out!
Here is a blog post from my friend Janet Thompson about the importance of mentoring. She has written a new book called Mentoring for All Seasons. You can purchase it from amazon or from her website www.womantowomanmentoring.com.
I grew up in Southern California where, with few seasonal exceptions, the weather was consistent year round—sunny and beautiful. Sunny and hot with morning fog near the beach in summer. Sunny and warm with occasional Santana winds in the fall. Sunny with a few storms, rain, and overcast days in the winter, when the temperatures might dip into the 60’s. Sunny and colorful in the spring. Those were our seasons.
Then we moved to Idaho where we have four extremely distinct and different seasons, each one lasting about three months, except last winter’s snow went from November until a few snow days in April! The biggest difference I’ve noticed about the four climate “seasons,” is that the year seems to fly by in Idaho!
During that heavy snow winter, everyone could hardly wait until it was summer. Then when summer brought high temperatures and smoke from forest fires, everyone could hardly wait for fall. Now that fall has finally arrived, in just a few months we’ll be right back into winter snow again.
We’re continually coming out of one season and going into the next completely different season—a great metaphor for our life seasons. Many of you have experienced the blessing of having a mentor in the changing seasons of your life, or long for a mentor to help you through a new life season. That’s when those with experience in a life season can reach out and offer counsel, support, prayer, and God’s wisdom to a woman in a season we've experienced. Mentoring is that easy.
When we moved to Idaho from Southern California, we had never lived in the rural mountains year round. We had a lot to learn and there was always someone willing to mentor us; all we had to do was ask and be receptive to what they had learned from living here. Now that we’re a bit “seasoned,” we can help others moving here too.
One woman emailed that she and a group of friends call themselves “Seasoned Veterans of the Word,” and they’re anxious to learn more about mentoring from my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Author and speaker Pam Farrel has several stories in this book where she tells of forming a group of “Seasoned Sisters” to prepare for menopause and midlife together, a season I’ve definitely included in Mentoring for All Seasons.
So that’s my challenge to all of us, let’s look for those women and young girls God puts in our path and share what we’ve learned from our life experiences and how God and His Word helped us and will help them too in whatever life season they’re going through now. And if you’re going through a difficult life season or are new in your faith, ask God to help you find a mentor. Mentoring for All Seasons encourages women to intentionally share their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. I’m not just talking about women; we need to mentor our tweens and teens too!
You may encounter a woman in a season you haven’t experienced. Mentees come from all walks and seasons of life, ages, and spiritual maturity. Even if a mentor doesn’t share the exact life experience of her mentee, the mentor can provide spiritual guidance, do research, and pray about how to address the specific issues her mentee is encountering. Some mentees might even be seekers or brand new believers who need to know how to live as Christian women today.
In Mentoring for All Seasons, sixty-five women share their mentor or mentee testimonies, along with my own personal experiences, helpful tips, and suggestions will guide women in how to connect and nurture each other through mentoring relationships, as a mentor or a mentee from tweens to twilight years. There are Scriptures for each season to help guide the discussion to God’s Word. Mentors don’t have all the answers, but God does!
Mentoring for all Seasons is a reference, application, and coaching tool for a mentor or mentee as they traverse life’s journey together. I pray for Holy Spirit inspiration for some women to become mentors. I pray for courage for others to take a step of faith and seek out a mentor. I pray for all to enjoy the blessings of trusting God and watching how he honors your obedience to becoming Titus 2:3-5 women.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Throughout our lifetime, we vacillate between being a mentor and needing a mentor, depending on the season of life. I pray whatever season you’re in today, there’s someone walking beside you, and you’re walking beside someone who needs you in her season of life.
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of nineteen books including her latest, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.
She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Janet and her husband Dave relocated their empty nest from Orange County, California to the rural mountains of Idaho, where Janet writes and they love watching the deer frolic in their yard.
Sign up for Janet’s Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
You can also visit Janet at:
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."- Matthew 18:20
The other night, my daughter and I enjoyed the warm night air as we walked around the track at our local football field. As we walked, my daughter kept stopping, complaining of boredom and a sudden onset of stomach cramps. Frustrated, I walked ahead of her, determined to get in a much needed cardio workout. Suddenly, I felt the Lord whisper in my ear “Isn’t the point of this walk to enjoy some quality time with your daughter?” I stopped abruptly, turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction, and caught up to my daughter. For one night, it didn’t matter how many calories I burned or how much exercise I needed. That moment. I dropped my agenda and enjoyed walking and talking with my daughter.
If I’m honest it is like this in every area of my life, including my spiritual life. I often approach my prayer time with my agenda of prayer requests, ready to check it off my mental to do list and eager to get on with my day. But God wants more from us than just a laundry list of wishes to grant like he’s some genie in a bottle. He wants me. Not just part of me, but all of me. He doesn’t just want me to walk in isolation in my spiritual journey, He wants me to partner with other. Sometimes He wants me to catch up to those struggling in their walks, willing to trade my agenda for His. Other times He wants me to sprint to catch up to those further on in the distance to catch up with those who will push me to grow in my walk. We were never meant to walk this journey alone. Life is so much better when I do it with others.
Lord, help is partner with others and walk along our spiritual journey together.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
As I put on my workout clothes and began stretching my body, I stared out the window and sighed. It rained non- stop over the past few weeks. It would be easy to make excuses as to why I couldn’t go out and run.
The ground is too wet.
I’m too tired.
I can do it tomorrow.
I had been working hard all week; I can make it up next week.
No one would have known if I had forsaken my commitment to train for a 5k. But I’d know and sometimes I’m the hardest person to disappoint.
It’s the same in my life as a disciple. The busyness of life sometimes keeps me from regular devotion time. One week turns into two weeks, two weeks into a month, and then soon I can’t remember how long it’s been since I had spent time alone with God. In the same way, I want to make excuses rather than run each day to train for a 5 k. It’s always easier to make excuses instead of doing the hard work of discipleship. But if I do the work each day of studying the word of God, practicing disciplines like silence and fasting, my faith stretches and grows. Just like each half hour I dedicate to running, my lung capacity grows, too.
It’s hard, much like life. But when I’m huffing and puffing my way to the finish line when my training is over, the still small voice tells me to keep going, because although the tough times may seem long, they soon give way to perseverance and hope.
And that’s what makes it all worth it.
Lord, give us the endurance to stretch our spiritual growth so we may reach the finish line. Amen.
God calls us to a much larger mission than to come together on a Sunday service as individuals just to get a spiritual filling. As His people, we glorify Him when we use our gifts in a tangible way to serve the people in our churches and then as a collective body meet the needs of our communities. We connect when we serve each other.
The ways that we connect others to a community not only to meet their need for intimacy but also empower them to connect to others are the ripple effect we create. One person investing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually into others in the hopes they will then pay it forward. That’s how Jesus ministered to His disciples and that’s how fruit is produced. Not just any fruit, but good fruit, the fruit that lasts.
Christians need to ask themselves, “What’s my story?” What experiences, circumstances or situations has God put me through that I can learn from and in turn edify the people God puts in my path? Your stories are not just random coincidences; they are opportunities to glorify God and bring the good news to a dying world.
To participate in other people’s stories is to embrace God’s greater mission, the one he writes for each of His children as they seek to know him and transform into his image. As church members embrace and understand the bigger mission of their role in the church body, they can help lead and guide everyone into a healthy discipleship relationship, each giving of themselves to achieve the desired result: spiritual growth.
Discipleship Requires Intention
Being a pastor’s wife for many years, I know how extensive and tedious the role of discipleship can be. I also know that even Jesus knew he could not impact the world alone. He poured his life into twelve other men who then in turn poured their lives into their community. I must invest in just a few disciples at a time, like Jesus did, and prepare them to disciple others.
But what is discipleship without an ultimate goal? The link between success and failure involves the ability to carry out the purpose with intention. I have a purpose in mind when making disciples, but if I don’t intend to follow through with the plan to achieve the purpose, what good is it?
Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart talks about three keys to spiritual formation. He calls it the VIM diagram: Vision, Intention and Action. We have a vision for a goal to be transformed, we make an intention, or as Willard says: we decide to do it, and then we do it. We can have all of the visions for our life. We can even make a decision to do it. But, if there is no intention to it, we never follow through with the steps necessary to make that vision a reality. Willard explains, “Now, an intention is brought to completion only by a decision to fulfill or carry through with the intention… If the genuine intention is there, the deed reliably follows. But if it is not there, the deed will most likely not be there either.”1 We may have the good intentions to make disciples, but without a clear vision (which we will discuss in depth in chapter eleven), and then creating a plan after deciding to follow through with it, it will never happen.
This is where small groups come in. The accountability small groups provide help us to follow through with our calling to make disciples. Small groups provide accountability, help and support when discipleship becomes too difficult to do on our own.
Are you involved in a small group? How has being a part of a community helped you develop as a Christian? Share your stories below!
1 Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart. (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2002).
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