5 Scriptures for Making Decisions

5 Scriptures for Making Decisions_pin

So Many Decisions to Make

How many decisions have you already made today?

Some experts say we make 35,000 decisions every day.

For most of them, we breeze through without even thinking.

But occasionally one choice will paralyze us. We want to pick the God-honoring decision. If we only knew what that was. 

We’re stuck. What to do next?

5 Ways to Improve Your Decisions

Here are five truths from scripture to help us make better choices.

1. Tune out distractions to tune in to God

But [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Luke 5:16

The world shouts at us all day. The internet, texts, Facebook, music, podcasts—they can all drown out God’s voice.

So first, turn down the volume. Get quiet.

Then revamp your hearing by listening to God for spiritual principles that apply to your dilemma (Romans 12:2). Use reference tools to study Bible verses in full context. Look for God’s character in the stories you read and see how you can best mirror his character through your choices.

2. Seek godly advice from others

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Proverbs 19:20

After listening to the Word for yourself, listen to godly people around you. Who has God placed in your life you can consult? Have any of your spiritual friends already walked this path? Is there a mature believer in your family who can advise you?

Seek help also from experts you’ve yet to meet—maybe in person, maybe in print—who can give you additional information.

Look for similar threads in the advice they give. You may have initially overlooked something that they can point out. Be open.

3. Narrow down your choices

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
James 4:1

Do certain choices appeal more to you than to God? Cross out options that are least compatible with your goals. Then circle the options that could bring God the most glory.

Hone in on who you want to be after the decision is made. Use that image of “future you” to help purify your motives in the present.

If certain choices are time-contingent, and the pace seems wrong and out of God’s timing—either too rushed or too prolonged—discard those options as well. While waiting on the Lord may be difficult (Psalm 27:14), he can build up your strength during the wait (Isaiah 40:31). God’s outcomes are worth waiting for.

4. Do something

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

On the other hand, if you’re only waiting because you’re too scared to act, step out in faith and do something (Joshua 1:9).

After seeking God through prayer, Bible study, godly counsel, and appropriate pacing, quit delaying your decision. Just make it! Trust that God is true to his word—if you ask in faith for wisdom, he generously supplies it (James 1:5-6).

God is even more invested than you are in accomplishing his works through you (Philippians 1:6).

5. Give thanks for the results God will bring

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

Instead of second-guessing the decision you’ve now made, give thanks for it. Look forward to how God will bless it.

Believe that God will work good out of your choice (Romans 8:28). Even if you mess up, he can redeem it. His grace is big enough. Trade in the pressure for peace; he sends rest for your heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-7).

As you enhance your spiritual sensitivity to God’s guidance, let it grow your confidence in what the Lord does, not just what you do.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

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What helps you stop wavering and just make the decision? Please share in the comments.

Read more for making better decisions:

revised from the archives
originally posted at Do Not Depart

sharing with Patsy, Mary, Jen, Kelly,
Anchored Truth, April, Anita, Debbie,
Denyse, Inspire Me Monday


4 Things You Can Give Away Outside the Church Walls

What if you gave away something every day, to someone outside your church walls? Would you become poorer? Or richer than ever?

4 Things You Can Give Away_fb

Breann lives at a homeless shelter these days. Her possessions are few. Her friends are numbered. Her demeanor is almost hopeless.

As we talked over the Thanksgiving meal, I felt helpless.

What did I have to give Breann that could make a significant difference in her life? Turkey and stuffing—even with a beautiful cupcake for dessert—was totally inadequate.

How can we also bless others with God’s love outside our church walls?

Read the rest here . . . 4 Things You Can Give Away

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I’m writing today at Do Not Depart for our month-long series on intentional spiritual growth.

Will you join me there to see the four things you can give away?

sharing with Lyli, Maree, Jen


Should You Stop Moving On? Linger a Bit

Linger a bit_pin

Is Faster Better?

The last decade has been one of speed. Faster internet. Faster sprinters. In general, faster living.

But is faster always better?

Do we always need to move along quickly? Quicker? Quickest?

I’ve known for awhile that I personally value efficiency highly. I like maximum proficiency with minimal waste.

But perhaps too highly? Does our culture foster an idolatry of efficiency?

Here are two ways to slow down this decade, instead of speeding up.

Instead of feeding the idol, we can purposefully starve it.

1 – Redefine Waste

I don’t like waste. Of any kind.

I’ll squeeze a toothpaste tube dry. I balance my checkbook to the penny. I maximize a 22-minute workout routine from home (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s trainer affirmed it for me this week).

And time? Of all things I hate to waste, it’s my time. I want to account for my hours and invest them wisely. My to-do list is tightly tied to my calendar so there’s a proper slot to finish each thing.

I want to live efficiently by properly stewarding my resources. It was drilled into me by my father, and hard-wired into me by God.

But can it be wasteful to use something all the way up?

Yes. It can be wasteful when we try to be too productive. We damage our health, our work, our relationships.

It can be more valuable to leave some left over for later.

  • Leave space for growth.
  • Leave margin to breathe.
  • Leave downtime for renewal.

Live life less efficiently and more extravagantly.

2 – Do Fewer Things

No one likes to be rushed. Ask any 2-year-old when you’re pushing them to get dressed.

“Hurry up! Hurry up!” (It makes me anxious even typing it.)

But as much as I dislike hurrying, I also hate being late. I’d rather start preparing too soon, leave too early, and plan too far ahead than feel time clamping down on me at the last minute.

We feel the speed of 2020 pushing us to hurry more and more.

Intentionally counter the need for speed by consciously choosing slowness instead. Do fewer things and take longer doing them. 

And when we accomplish less by eliminating things and moving slower? We can still feel more accomplished.

Living at a human pace instead of automatically rushing is more satisfying. 

My Antidote to Waste and Hurry

Of all words NOT for me in 2020, “linger” would be my anti-word. Linger feels costly, too slow, even . . . wasteful.

Until I came across this:

“‘Lingering is the opposite of rushing,’ [KJ Dell-Antonia] says. It feels more grownup and luxurious than dawdling and dillydallying. It doesn’t imply that you have nothing to do or that you are avoiding the important stuff.

[Lingering] implies that you have important things to do and you are giving them the time they deserve.”
– Laura Vanderkam, Off the Clock

This made me pause. It made me set the book down. It made me pray.

One Word 2020: Linger

Linger is now my word for 2020. Whether I like it or not. God gave it to me.

And I don’t want to waste it. I don’t want to hurry through it.

  • I need Linger to fight my idolism of efficiency.
  • I need Linger to calm my pace.
  • I need Linger to stop moving on before it is time.

If I linger more this year, does that mean I’ll be inefficient? Will I have to live hurriedly to catch up on things left undone?

I hope not. God, I’m trusting you. Guide me through moments of when to linger and when to pass on through. Reset my priorities to fit the container of time you hand me. 

“We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want.”
Isaiah 26:8 (Message)

How I’ll Linger

I have a stack of books that I’ll be lingering through all year, reading slowly, stretching them out. They include, but aren’t limited to, these:

I’ll also use six concrete themes to rotate through and linger on through the year, including:

  • Lingering in Conversation
  • Lingering in Body
  • Lingering in Silence
  • Lingering in Experience
  • Lingering in Sharing Details
  • Lingering in Now

I’ll share specific examples later of how it’s happening and what I’m learning.

I’m not sure where God wants to take me through Linger.

But I won’t know if I don’t linger with him a bit to find out.

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Does life feel too fast to you? How do you slow down? Please share thoughts (and your One Word) in the comments.

sharing with Anne


See the Movie, But Also Read the Book – Just Mercy

Are You a Movie or a Book Person?

Do you enjoy seeing a favorite book come to life on the big screen?

Sometimes I don’t. It’s hard to squeeze hours of plot and imagination from a reader’s mind into a 2-hour scripted window.

But sometimes I do like to see a book’s story envisioned to a wider audience. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is one of those stories.

See Just Mercy

I’ve seen several trailers for the movie, listened to interviews with the actors, and trust the book’s author Bryan Stevenson to have made a wise decision in allowing the film to be made.

See This Movie

The nationwide release of Just Mercy is January 10, 2020. It stars Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan.

Watch the movie trailer here.

Just Mercy Official Trailer

It tells the story of Walter McMillian, a young black man in Alabama who was sentenced to die for killing a young white woman.

The problem? He didn’t do it. Yet he sat on death row year after year.

But Also Read the Book

If you haven’t already read the book, go see the movie. And then come back to read the book (there are a lot more stories in the book). You won’t be disappointed.

And if you don’t already know about Bryan Stevenson, the author of Just Mercy, be prepared to to be wowed. He is a public interest lawyer and the executive director and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).

Watch this 60-second clip about Bryan Stevenson here.

Real life hero of Just Mercy

EJI, a nonprofit law office, began in 1989 in Montgomery, Alabama, to right the wrongs of judicial unfairness. Stevenson’s work with EJI has been phenomenal in defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned.

So when Stevenson talks, we need to listen. 

Closely.

“This book is about getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America. It is about how easily we condemn people in this country and the injustice we create when we allow fear, anger, and distance to shape the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.”

And when we get closer, we discover another truth that Bryan shares so eloquently:

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Because how we treat others, ultimately reveals the kind of people we are.

“The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.”

Stevenson says we have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which includes acknowledging our brokenness and invoking our compassion. Or we can deny our brokenness, and thus deny our own humanity.

“The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering. It has the power to heal the psychic harm and injuries that lead to aggression and violence, abuse of power, mass incarceration.”

Stevenson hasn’t given up the work of healing the injustices in our nation.

May we not give up either.

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Watch Bryan Stevenson’s 2012 TED talk here

Bryan Stevenson TED Talk

• Read about another convicted death row inmate and Stevenson’s work in The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. It was one of my top 10 books of 2018. It is another VERY powerful story. I first wrote about Hinton and Just Mercy here.

• If you’re ever near Montgomery, Alabama, visit The Legacy Museum. You will be moved, I guarantee.

• Other social justice books I’d like to see made into movies are on my Instagram post.

Would you rather see a movie or read a book? Have you seen or read Just MercyPlease share your thoughts in the comments.


Do You Judge the Victim? How Much Is She Worth?

What is a girl worth_pin

We hear the story. And we start wondering:

  • Was she wearing provocative clothes?
  • Was it after midnight?
  • Had she been drinking alcohol?
  • How hard did she fight back?

Maybe it’s because we think: If I avoid those things, I’ll avoid sexual assault, too.

But Rachael Denhollander was just a kid going to a doctor for a gymnastics injury.

And on her first visit, in street clothes in the middle of the day, sober, she was assaulted by Dr. Larry Nasser, a renowned doctor for the USA Gymnastics national team and a physician at Michigan State University.

Don’t blame the survivor for not fighting back. They wish so much more than you that they could have.”

So next we ask ourselves:

  • Why didn’t she say something right then?
  • Why did she go back to him?
  • Why didn’t she immediately press charges?
  • Why did she wait so longer before she told anybody?

Because, again, we think WE would do differently.

“And why did I not tell my mom? I didn’t know how to reconcile who he was supposed to be with what he had done. And I didn’t want to give it words. Words make it real.”

But in reality, we don’t know what we would do unless we are there ourselves. And Rachael explains what happened to her without us having to go there ourselves, fortunately for many of us.

“How do you explain to someone who has never been that vulnerable that even though I wasn’t ‘held down,’ I was still trapped? Even though I wasn’t ‘physically overpowered,’ I was completely powerless?

“There weren’t just two responses to danger —fight or flight —as everyone casually said. There were three. Fight, flight, or freeze. I know what freezing in fear is now. It’s when you’re so confused and ashamed and horrified and scared that you just . . . shut down, because reality is incomprehensible.

“Why didn’t you cry out? Why? Because I trusted. I was a child. He was a doctor. He knows best. He had cared for me. He knew me. There had to be a reason. I must be reading too much into it.”

Rachael also reminds us that we need to drop the narrative that if you’re abused, you did something to deserve it. No. If you’re abused, the blame falls on the abuser, not the abused.

“You are not crazy. I wanted the survivors to know. This. Is. Not. Your. Fault.

Rachael was among the first women to come forward about being sexually abused by Larry Nassar. She recounts her story and her journey to trial in her gripping book, What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to. It’s a difficult book to read, but it’s an important one.

Rachael is wise, articulate, and authentic. She is an attorney, advocate, educator, wife, and mom. She stays on track with the storyline and she shares her strong Christian faith along the way.

“I want you to understand why I made this choice, knowing full well what it was going to cost to get here and with very little hope of ever succeeding. I did it because it —was —right. No matter the cost, it was right. “

She moves us to think. To feel. To act.

And to stop blaming the victim.

Because, as she asks the judge at Nassar’s trial before his sentence is determined, how much is a little girl worth? Everything.

“Good and right do exist. Truth does exist.”

* * *

Thanks to those who recommended this book to me. You were right about it.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers
and Net Galley for the review copy of this book


5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – January 2020

Every month I share my list of favorite 5’s.

5 Things I Love Jan 2020_pin

  • 5 interesting things online
  • 5 articles about words, books, or podcasts
  • 5 pictures of things I love
  • 5 things on the blog

What are you enjoying this month?

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

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5 Things Around the Web

The Original Article on Mister Rogers

Have you seen the movie “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers? Please do! It’s so good. This is the original Esquire magazine article that the movie is based on.

White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard To Talk to White People About Racism

Thought-provoking. “Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.”

Something This Protestant Learned from a Jew About Reading the Bible: A Story

We do well to listen to Jewish readers talk about the Bible. “I wonder how much else I think I know about the Bible might be less what I actually read in the Bible and more what I bring to it?”

6 Steps to a Safer Digital Life: Your 2020 Checklist

I’ve been working on #1 already. Cleaning up my digital clutter is harder than cleaning up my physical clutter.

Gregory Boyle’s Inspirational Speech about Gang Members

There is no us and them, just us. I love the work and the person of Gregory Boyle. His book, Tattoos on the Heart, hooked me a few years ago.

Gregory Boyle video

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5 Things with Words and Books

LSSU’s 45 Annual List of Banished Words

Did you notice any words overused, misused, or generally useless this past year? The list includes quid pro quo, living my best life, I mean, ….

How to Read More Books: Life Kit Podcast

Life Kit is a newish podcast to me that I love. This episode on how to read more books is a winner with all 3 tips.

5 Things to Help You Read More

And another “how to read more” list…this one has 5 things (#1 is the hardest for me, but I’m learning to do it).

How to Make Time to Read

Laura Vanderkam gets real. We have time to read, but are we reading what we want to? Some of it is our choice to make.

My Personal Favorite Books of 2019

It was hard narrowing down the list. But here are the favorite books I read in 2019: 10 nonfiction, 10 fiction, and 5 memoirs.

Top Books of 2019

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5 Pictures of Things I Love

Christmas Poses

Last month we took a lot of traditional family photos. I do not like getting my own picture made, but I love having photos of our family together.

Christmas poses

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Family Traditions

There are traditions I love doing either yearly (attending Christmas candlelight services together with Jenna and her in-laws) or at least every few years (The Nutcracker ballet).

Christmas Traditions

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Babies in Bassinet

Another Burgess family tradition is getting each newborn’s picture made in the family bassinet. My newest granddaughter and her cousin weren’t too excited about being put in there together, even for a few seconds.

babies in bassinet

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Play-Doh Play

Nobody loves Play-Doh more than our oldest granddaughter. I’ve learned that I love it now, too. I’m finally learning to create more than just snakes and balls.

Play-Doh

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I’m the Mom

This meme makes me laugh, because it’s true.

I'm the mom

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5 Things on the Blog

3 Steps to Choose “One Word” 

Have you picked one word for 2020? Here are 3 steps to help you choose a word right for you.

Should You Take This Personally? 

I hear her screaming at me. “I know you’re not sorry!” Should I take this personally?

Find Hope in the Darkest Day of the Year, Or, Why I Love Winter Solstice

Winter is my least favorite season. But after the darkest day of the year comes a brighter one.

9 Reasons to Keep Hope Alive No Matter What 

Hope works. Even when it doesn’t come naturally, we can choose hope. Here are 9 reasons to keep hoping, regardless of your circumstances.

How I Read and 2020 Reading Challenges

This is how I read. I hope to read as much in 2020 as I did in 2019, which is mainly in snatches of time here and there. Here is a list of 2020 Reading Challenges I am participating in. It’s not too late to join, if any interest you.

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What was a highlight from your December? What are you looking forward to in January and 2020? Please share in the comments.

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