Trust: A Measure of Contentment

Trust as a Measure of Contentment

I’ve recently discovered a wonderful app for my iPhone called “Abide.” It is designed to help people experience the peace of Christ through Biblical meditation and guided prayer.

As I reflected upon the concept of contentment, I was reminded about one of the meditations in the app. The verse for the day was Psalm 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s a familiar verse, but I was floored when the host flipped it and asked a question for reflection and confession: Is there something for which you are not delighting in the Lord?

Whoa.

I had never thought of it like that. There were actually quite a few things breeding discontent at that moment, and I was convicted.

Upon reflection, I’ve come to believe that delight and content are related: We are only able to take delight in the Lord when we are content.

So, what is contentment? What are the similarities and differences between people who are content and those who are not? Do they have anything in common? Is there a pattern?

Some would assume the line between content and discontent would fall upon economic lines or age differentials or any number of sociological variables. But it doesn’t.

The fact is, you’re just as likely to find a content minority woman living in poverty as you are a discontent rich, white man living in Beverly Hills.

Right?

We all know it’s true, and yet somehow, we still mistakenly assume contentedness is a byproduct of achievement, economic success, and maybe even luck. For example, we are shocked to learn that someone who was well-off financially, fabulously famous, and adored by fans all over the world was so discontent with his life that he did the unthinkable. Yet, we are inspired to learn that someone who had absolutely no financial means, who was known only to her family and friends was so content in her life that she impacted many for good.

So, how does one gain contentment? What are the five steps to contentment that I should take so I can get on with living my content little life?

What if I told you contentment is nothing that can be achieved. Instead, it is the product of mature faith and deep trust. The only way to truly find contentment is to work on your ability to trust the Lord with EVERYTHING.

Got that? One does achieve contentment.

Contentment grows in proportion to trust. The more you trust God, the more content you become. The less you trust Him, the more discontent you are.

Put another way, your level of discontent betrays your mistrust of the Lord.

Let that sink in for a moment.

What this means is that our discontent is a sign not to blame or shame, but to take a fresh look at our relationship with the Lord. Do we trust Him or not?

Contentedness is directly connected to your confidence that God is who He says He is and that He can and will do what He says He will do. Period. Full stop.

For example, the discontent person will compare her situation with another’s focusing on differences always striving to measure up. The content person will notice the same differences and celebrate them wholeheartedly.

The discontent person will covet another’s possessions always striving for more things; whereas, the content person cherishes what she has because she knows from whom it came.

The discontent person will focus on what other people think always striving to please people with a resentful “yes” or frustrated “no,” but the content person communicates healthy boundaries with complete freedom to say yes and no because her contentment comes from being who God created her to be.

Are the differences really that clear cut? I say yes. Yes, they are. Which is great for us, because all we have to do is slow down and pay attention to our thoughts.

If we are focused on what we don’t have or didn’t receive, what we can’t have or can’t acquire, we are discontent.

Discontentment robs us of God’s most precious gift: peace.

Ironically, discontentment alerts us that there’s a problem while pointing us towards the solution. When we recognize the seed of discontent beginning to sprout (or maybe it’s taken root), all we have to do is turn our heart heavenward.

When we remind ourselves that God is in control and that He knows what we need better than we do and when we confess our discontent to Him, He is faithful to forgive and bring peace and contentment as only He can.

When we cry out to God to meet our deepest needs and sincerely place our trust in His plan/timing/purpose, He will fill us with His peace. We will be content. You can count on it.

Originally posted on “Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

A Pleasant Aroma

A Pleasant Aroma

Isn’t it interesting how we associate certain aromas with specific times of the year? Pumpkin spice signals a season of thankfulness; cinnamon, pine, and peppermint usher in the season of giving.

Some smells are so lovely and inviting we automatically inhale deeply as soon as we detect them. Others are, shall we say…disgusting! Within nanoseconds of detection, windows go up, recycled air is blasted, hands cover nose, and we scream, “Skunk!”

Smells are powerful triggers, aren’t they? They can cause a visceral reaction instantaneously which makes it extremely important that we are aware of our own aromatic contribution to our surroundings.

Therefore, it is with much compassion as your sister in the Lord that I must tell you—and I mean this in the nicest of ways—You smell!

It’s true. 

You have a distinct spiritual scent that follows you wherever you go. 

Don’t believe me? It’s true. The apostle Paul explained this concept to the church in Corinth:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. Who is equal to such a task?"
2 Corinthians 2:14-16a

In other words, to God, his children smell pretty amazing. To those being saved, we are an aroma that brings life. To those who are perishing, we reek of death. 

It’s a profound truth and responsibility that I never considered before.

Some will love our “scent” while others will hate it.

Most importantly, their reaction to my scent has little to do with me, and everything to do with Christ in me.

Photo of young Asian girl smelling daisies

A Legit Sixth Sense

When you carefully consider this concept, it makes sense. Haven’t there been times when you just met someone or passed a person in the store and you somehow knew they shared your faith?

What about the time you engaged the Starbucks barista in conversation, and you instinctively knew they were a Christ follower? Or the time you explained your engine noises to the mechanic while simultaneously realizing she was a fellow Believer?

I’ve always assumed it was “something in my spirit” that recognized the connection, but I never considered what the “something” was. Now, I know: My spirit has a sense of smell—a legit sixth sense!

I’m not going off the deep end here—I promise. I’m not seeing dead people. 

I’m simply using Paul’s analogy to help us think in spiritual terms about something we’ve all experienced: S.O.

You can think of spirit odor (S.O.) like body odor (B.O.)—it’s not as obvious to us as it is to those around us. And the aroma of our spirit depends a lot on where we’ve spent our time. 

Let that sink in for a moment: We carry the smell of our environment with us wherever we go—physically and spiritually.

Photo of lit cigarette balanced on a clear glass ashtray with a red lighter next to it. Cigarette is lit with a trail of smoke rising.

As a little girl, when I spent time with my chain-smoking Nana and Papa, you would know it as soon as I walked into the room, because I smelled like I’d been with them. 🚬

Recently, our teenage son was tending our friends’ chickens while they were out of town. After spending quality time in the coop to refill their food and water, surrounded by the little cluckers, he smelled just like them…all the way home! 🐔

Similarly, when we spend time in the presence of the Lord, we begin to “smell” like Him, too. It’s not a physical smell, but a spiritual aroma. We smell different than we did before, and it’s pretty distinct. ❤️

I guess you could say that we smell out of this world! Detectable only in the spiritual realm, our aroma identifies us as having been with Christ.

As Alvin L. Reid says in his book, Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}:

“As we live daily, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in front of others, we become the aroma of Christ to those we encounter.”

Now, here’s what’s interesting: According to Paul, the exact same aroma that smells like LIFE to some will reek of DEATH to others.

This could be challenging and uncomfortable—especially when it involves family.

Have you ever experienced stress or conflict with someone for no apparent reason? Like every time you’re together something comes up and boom! Stress. 

What if, every time you’re around, they are reacting NOT to you, but to your spiritual aroma? Consider this:

  • Maybe their reaction to you has nothing to do with you personally.
  • Maybe their reaction has everything to do with your relationship with the Lord.
  • Maybe, to them, you stink—not in the physical realm, but spiritually, your smell is more than they can handle at the moment.
Close-up of Black woman lifting blossoms to her nose and inhaling the aroma

In other words: What if, every time you’re around, they are reacting NOT to you, but to your spiritual aroma?

And…

What would happen if, rather than take it personally, you recognize it for what it is; choose not to be offended; and instead, ask God to give you grace and empathy in the situation.

During these unsettled times, it’s critical that we remember two equally important truths:

  1. We cannot control whether or not others like our scent.
  2. We can control what—and who—we smell like.

When you walk closely with the Lord, you will be the aroma of Christ. ❤️

Photo Credits:

“Worthy of the Calling” by Koontz

Worthy of the Calling Free OBS Sarah Koontz

“Worthy of the Calling” is the first Online Bible Study (OBS) that I’ve gotten a glimpse of from behind the scenes. When Sarah Koontz posted in our Christian Women Bloggers group that she was prayerfully pulling together a launch team for her new OBS, I was intrigued and threw my name into the hat.

I am so excited to walk through the doors God keeps opening for me to participate in book launches! It’s really neat to get to know the authors on a personal level and learn the story behind the book, movie, or the OBS. Launching a new product is a lot of work, and I consider myself blessed to have been a teeny part of helping to raise awareness of this study and, more importantly IMHO, the author. 

Who Is Sarah Koontz?

Sarah Koontz
Sarah Koontz ~ Christian Writer

Sarah Koontz is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. She writes to inspire women of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design at SarahKoontz.com.

Sarah got her start in the blogosphere when she and her best friend launched a blog about family, healthy choices, chickens, and life on the farm. Since her ultimate goal was to become a speaker and  published author in the Christian Living genre, however, it wasn’t long until Sarah learned that her current writing platform would actually hinder, not help, her chances of being published. She recalls:

I had the privilege of speaking with the acquisitions editor from a respected Christian publishing house. When I pitched my first book idea, she asked me why I was blogging about health when it was obvious my passion was to equip Christian women to embrace God’s design for their lives.” Sarah

After much prayer, conversation, and consideration, Sarah took a major step of faith and walked away from her successful health blog into which she had invested blood, sweat, and tears and toward a brand new blog where she would write freely about her faith. The ultimate and overarching goal was to become a published author.

Writing on God’s Schedule

It was around this time that Sarah felt the Lord leading her to write an Online Bible Study on Psalm 119. Which she did, and the feedback she received on it was incredible! When it was finished, she assumed she would go back to working on her non-fiction book. 

Sarah Koontz Freebies from the Worthy of the Calling OBS
You will love these freebies!

But, the Lord had something else in mind for her (and her audience): EPHESIANS. Sarah was prompted to write this amazing study—but I honestly believe that she had no idea how big this would become! It’s YUGE!!! ? ?

God led Sarah not only to write this amazing Bible study, but also invite others into the process: creative partners and a launch team (of which I am a part).

“Worthy of the Calling” —BEFORE IT EVER CAME OUT— inspired a variety of artists who created items reflecting Paul’s main message to the members of the church in Ephesus. From bookmarks to coloring pages and original artwork to clothing and accessories—even a new song!—all of this was created for you to enhance your Bible study. Most have been made available to participants as free downloads and giveaways.

So Much Beauty. Such Wow.

Sarah had no idea that her study would impact so many lives before it even came out. But God did. He’d only just begun.

Worthy of the Calling Free Online Bible Study“Worthy of the Calling” is an original, exegetical, and inspirational Bible Study that arrives daily into your e-mail inbox for one month. Investing only 10-15 minutes per day, you will be able to complete a verse-by-verse through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

You’ll read a few verses every day, five days per week, and use the weekend as time to reflect on what you’ve learned and how to apply it to your life. The study is complemented with free downloads to help you in your time of reflection.

I needed this study in my life. Sure, I have enjoyed being part of the launch team, but more than that, I’ve enjoyed having someone else walk me through Ephesians with a completely fresh perspective on the message contained therein.

You Are Worthy 

Sarah clearly shows that the theme running throughout this letter is the Christian life—what that means from a practical standpoint. 

Sarah Koontz - Ephesians - Online Bible Study

These aren’t just esoteric or abstract concepts that are hard to grasp. They are simple. Profound. True.

Following Paul’s lead, Sarah lays a firm foundation explaining who we are in Christ: chosen, heirs, spiritually alive, reconciled to God with direct access to Him. Day 12 provided one of my favorite lessons: “You Are Rooted in Love.”

Drawing from her experience on the farm, Sarah was able to shed light on the importance of deep roots. She states that a “robust root system” is essential for us to withstand life’s storms, and then she explains exactly how a Christ follower could strengthen his or her root system. #sogood

As the study moves toward one of the most famous sections in scripture, the spiritual armor of God, Sarah walks us through each verse with care and consideration looking under every rock for some nugget of truth to help us live an abundant life worthy of the calling.

Worthy of the Calling Free OBS Sarah KoontzNear the end of the study, we walk through the armor of God. This is not a redo of Priscilla Shirer’s recent study which was in-depth and took weeks to go through a few verses. Instead, Sarah’s study of this section is more of an overview with excellent, memorable summations and practical application to our lives.

Working my way through “Worthy of the Calling” reminded me not only whose I am, but who I am in Christ. It reminded me of my calling—not “into ministry” or anything like that—but my calling to be myself, and to trust that being me is the best thing I can do.

The Big Takeaway

When I asked Sarah what she was praying would be the biggest takeaway for the folks working through her study, she replied,

You are God’s daughter. Created for His glory, and chosen by Him before the foundation of the world. You are holy and blameless in His sight and He has blessed you with EVERY spiritual blessing. You are worthy of the calling you have received, and God has provided all that you need to walk in worthiness.”

They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. If you’re interested in cultivating a habit of Bible reading, reflection, and application in your busy life, then let me recommend to you Sarah E. Koontz – Christian Writer‘s brand new, FREE, e-mail based Bible study on Ephesians. It’s called “Worthy of the Calling,” and it’s worthy of your time.

Click here to participate in this free study: Worthy of the Calling by Sarah E. Koontz


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Forgiveness Is Freedom

FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM

Have you ever noticed that the words GIVE and GIVEN are in the middle of forgiveness? I guess I never really thought about it. Until today. And now, that which has been seen cannot be unseen. 

ForGIVEness is a noun, and as such, it is a thing. It is something you can give, and it is something that can be given to you—whether you choose to receive it or not. Isn’t that interesting?

Psychologists have long contended that the offer of forGIVEness benefits the person giving it regardless of the recipient’s reaction. Why? Rarely do the people we need to forgive have a clue how much harm they have inflicted or the extent of the pain they have caused. Can I get a witness?!

ForGIVEness is not about fighting for justice or holding the offender accountable—that’s completely different. ForGIVEness is an attitude of the heart. It’s about us and our willingness to trust God’s sovereignty: Do we trust God enough to forGIVE someone for hurting us? Our family? Our friends? Our pastor? Our animals? Our possessions? Our bank accounts?

Click here to continue reading my devotional at “Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

Life Is Like a Box of Puzzle Pieces

Life is like a box of puzzle pieces

Are you someone who enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles? If so, do you top out at 500 pieces, or are you a glutton for punishment preferring 1000+? I’m not a jigsaw fanatic, but I enjoy working on a good puzzle every now and then. My favorite moment in the puzzling process occurs when I finally locate a piece that has been eluding me, setting off a string of easy matches.

Image result for thomas moran grand canyon with rainbow
Pretty sure this is the one we bought.

My mother-in-law loves “puzzling,” and has framed a couple of the more beautiful puzzles she’s completed over the years. When we were at the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we purchased a stunning 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for her as a souvenir. The image was an artist’s rendering of a view from the South Rim overlooking the Canyon at sunset. It was gorgeous! If you close your eyes, you can probably imagine what it looked like; however, I seriously doubt that you would attempt this puzzle without the box right in front of you. Most puzzlers refer to the picture on the box repeatedly to make sure they are headed in the right direction.

So, what if I were to tell you that life is more like a box of puzzle pieces than a box of chocolates? It is. Not only do you “never know what you’re gonna get,” but neither will one bite help you figure it out! You just have to live it. One funky-cut piece at a time. 

Click here to continue reading this
devotional reflection on GOD’S PROVISION at
Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

The Parables of Jesus Coloring/Devotional

Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional

The Parables of Jesus a Coloring Book Devotional by Laura James and Katara Washington Patton is like two books in one! Not only do you get a coloring book filled with beautifully-drawn illustrations of imagined scenes in Jesus’ parables, but you also get thought-provoking devotionals based on the corresponding Scripture passage.

Both the author and illustrator are African American women who love Jesus and have expressed their personal journeys of faith on these pages. The illustrations were created with people of color in mind across all ethnicities, which is helpful, since so many coloring books reflect the Anglo-Saxon or European culture. The characters in each parable were purposefully depicted in such a way that anyone, regardless of nationality, could color them and reflect their own (or the Jewish) cultural heritage.

I love this coloring book devotional!

The layout is set-up so that you read the devotional first, and then as you color the detailed pictures, you reflect on the scripture passage that you read and the author’s insights. You can also use this time to practice a little introspection and self-examination in response to the parable.

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional
Click to enlarge this illustration from the first devotional in the book (colored by yours truly)

For example, the book opens with a devotional entitled “Out with the Old, in with the New” based on Mark 2:21 which says,

Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.” (NLT)*

The author insightfully explains the parable, and concludes the devotion with a few thought-provoking questions about how to apply the lesson in our own lives.

Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional
Click to enlarge

The next page contains a full-page illustration of a woman sewing a patch onto a beautiful robe.While I was coloring the picture, I reflected on the devotional, and the questions. It gave me the perfect opportunity to turn my focus to the Lord and relax while meditating on the Word.

Did I mention I love this book? I do. ❤️

 

The book itself is 192 pages and includes forty-six devotionals. Some of the other parables included in this devotional coloring book include:

  • Aged wine skins with new wine
  • Light of the world on a lampstand
  • Where is your treasure stored
  • The virgins and the trimmed lamps
  • The woman and the lost coin
  • Be ready for the return of the master
  • The wise man builds his house upon the rock;
    the foolish man builds his house upon the sand.
  • The parable of the sower
  • One lost sheep
  • The good Samaritan
  • The prodigal son
  • The rich man and Lazarus
  • The Pharisee who prayed loudly vs.
    the tax collector who prayed for mercy
  • and many, many more!

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional
Click to enlarge

Each page containing a devotional reflection is laid out the same with the exact same leafy frame, so you would have to get creative if you don’t want each one of those to look the same; however, those really aren’t the pages you’re going to want to color.

There is ample room for journaling on each devotional page as well as the back of the illustrations should you need extra room to write. (I personally prefer to keep my journaling in a separate composition book.)

Specifications and a Surprise!

Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional
Click to enlarge

The thick pages measure roughly 10″ x 10″ and are printed on only one side, which is great because you don’t have to worry about ink or watercolors bleeding through to the next page. (In the off-chance the colors do soak through, they will transfer onto the following devotional page which features the exact same layout and design pattern as all the other devotional pages, NOT one of the illustration pages). In other words, it’s a no-worry coloring book that will minister to your soul!

As part of my evaluation of the book, I used a variety of media including chalk, colored pencils, and glitter gel pens. I had zero bleed through! What really surprised me, though, was how the book held up when I accidentally spilled a drink on the picture I was coloring. ? (It wasn’t a full cup, but it was enough to get all over the page.) I quickly blotted it dry, and much to my surprise, you cannot tell that I ever I spelled anything on it!

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book DevotionalFinally, and this is just a bonus: The authors use a VARIETY of translations for the devotions. This is so refreshing!

One day, you’ll read from the Living Bible Translation; another day, you will read from the Amplified Version; and on another day, you will read from The Message; and so on.

I’m very impressed with The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves to color. It would make a great gift, too!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”