Weekly Challenge: Memorize the order of the books of the Bible.
As a new Christian (and still today), opening my Bible at church or in small group brings on a pink flush to my cheeks and a nervous panic. This is because I don't know where I'm going. Thank God for the abbreviated name tabs on the side, otherwise I would never find my destination. After a few years of reading the Bible, I have a general idea...sometimes. Whenever the pastor says, "Turn to..." I quickly scan the tabs and sneak a look at those around me to see where they're at and (hopefully) find the right verse. I know people in church aren't judging me for not knowing, but I feel embarrassed all the same. It's time to get memorizing!
Weekly Challenge: Begin prayer in thanksgiving.
This week I encountered an acronym for the word "pray" that gave me further insight into praying in a way that pleases the Lord. What struck me the most was the first word in the acronym. "P" stands for praise. The author of this, Jeanne Zornes, describes praise in this way: "We're to enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). Sit quietly and thank God for who He is and what He has done." Ah-ha! I should begin my prayers in thanksgiving. If something profound has happened in my life or a prayer request has been answered, my prayers begin in a shower of thanks, but if it's just another day, then my prayers open with requests. IF I remember to thank Him, that comes at the end. For the last three days, I have practiced adding thanks to the beginning of my prayers. It's been quite challenging for me to remember this step, but it's made a huge difference for me. When I thank God for His blessings first, it's easier to trust His will with my prayer requests. If you don't already start your prayers in thanksgiving, give it a try this week. Psalm 100:4 tells us to do just that.
Weekly Challenge: Engage in material that is pleasing to God.
Whether it's what we read or what media we set before our eyes, as Americans, our choices are seemingly unlimited. Some of the words and images that are allowed to be published and aired in our country are rather alarming. For the last year or so I've felt convicted to stop watching some of the shows I've followed for years and to stop viewing most R rated movies because of the sex, crude jokes, and language. However, I haven't.
On Dr. Dobson's radio program, he talked about a man who put Psalm 101:3 above his television to help him in this quest: "I will set before my eyes no vile thing..." That's bold! And commendable. It's become so easy to watch the "vile" in our society. It's on almost every channel, in some form or the other. I've battled with this for purely worldly reasons and I don't think it affects everyone the say way, but after I'm done watching one of my primetime shows (that are far from Godly) I feel icky and dare I say, corrupted. The material projected is not what I want to infiltrate my life, but I'm "addicted" to the characters and the plot and desire to keep watching in order to find out what happens next.
On New Year's Eve, Tim and I went to the movies to see The Wolf of Wall Street. I was so excited, since it's been awhile that I've been to the theater. Note to self: watch the trailer first! I'd never seen the preview, and with the actors I was under the impression that it was a comedy. Boy, was I ever wrong! The movie depicts a man who indulges in drugs, sex, and money to advance his career on Wall Street. For three hours we watched the characters smoke crack, have intercourse with prostitutes, dehumanize their peers, and abuse their wives. That was it. For THREE hours! Pure trash. I'm not saying the actors didn't do a wonderful job portraying this lifestyle, but the content was extremely vile. We both left the movie feeling disgusting, wishing we'd left during the film, and promising each other a better New Year's Eve in 2014. However, I'm glad we saw it (in a way) because it's the final push I needed to stop watching some of this garbage on T.V. that I follow. Here's to hoping I can stay strong and avoid my favorite trashy reprieves during the week. I welcome any suggestions for new "healthy" shows I can get hooked on to help me conquer the temptation of going back to my old programs!
Weekly Challenge: Remove profane language from your vocabulary.
Before Christmas, one of the pastors at Cielo Vista said something I will never forget: "Profanity is a strong way to express a weak mind." It was one of those slap-you-in-the-face moments for me. Not that I curse frequently, but a couple swear words pop out of my mouth here and there. God knows, I do not want to be described as having a weak mind! Quite the opposite! Now, every time I'm about to use a curse word, I remember those profound words and (hopefully) refrain. I feel pretty confident in my ability not to vocalize swear words, but I have to confess, my mind would qualify to compete at the International Sailor's Mouth Contest. I'm ashamed to say that when anger arises, my mind unleashes a waterfall of profanity. Thankfully, I've finally reached the point where I confess my sin and ask for forgiveness as soon as those thoughts enter my mind. But I still need major practice being obedient in this area; God has made his point very clear:
"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." --Ephesians 5:4
"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth." --Colossians 3:8
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." --Ephesians 4:29
"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” --Matthew 12: 36-37
I'm Ashley Ashcraft,
a military wife and
stay-at-home mama, earnestly seeking the Christ-like life. I invite you to walk alongside me in my quest to raise our children and join the antics of our unpredictable military lifestyle. I pray your heart feels rejuvenated and inspired each time you visit OFH!