Tag Archives: perspective

Noticing. And Remembering.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.
Psalm 40:5, NLT*

We recognize the truth in verses like these. And yet we forget.

We forget who God is – how strong, how full of love and mercy, how trustworthy.

We see the troubles and stresses in our lives and in the world around us, the looming danger and darkness, and we lose sight of the truth that God is bigger.

Remembering what God has done helps us keep perspective. Look at what He’s done in the Bible and in the lives of Christians around the world. Think back on how He’s moved in your life, the lives of friends, in your church.

For every big thing God does, how many small ones might we overlook? A parking spot when it’s needed most, a lost item found, a phone call at just the right time?

To know and rely on His love (1 John 4:16, NIV**) we need to notice and remember the evidence.

O Lord our God, Your power and goodness are beyond human understanding, and truly we could never list all that You have done. Teach us to remember, and open our eyes to see what You’re still doing. No matter what the day brings, help us to be secure in trusting You.

This week’s song is “The Goodness of the Lord,” by Travis Ryan.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

** New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


To Hear and Obey

…and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord.
Haggai 1:12b, NLT*

What was the Lord’s message that the people obeyed?

A remnant of Israel had returned to Jerusalem, but in the busyness of rebuilding the city and their homes, they’d neglected to finish rebuilding the Temple.

God asked, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4, NLT*) He said that was why the people were working so hard for meagre results. They weren’t honouring Him.

Prophetic messages were often rejected, but not this time. These people listened. They chose to obey.

We can be like them, getting off-track or drifting away from what the Lord would have us do. He may let us wander for a while and miss the best He wants to give us, but isn’t it wonderful that He will call us back?

Let’s be quick to listen and to respond.

Good and merciful God, You know we’re prone to distraction. Please guard and direct us, and make us responsive to Your correction. Give us ears, hearts, and spirits attuned to You, for Your glory and our own wellbeing.

A good song to pray regularly is “Search Me, Know Me,” by Kathryn Scott.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

It’s All About Him

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
Romans 11:36, NLT*

If our lives were fiction, we’d each think we were the main character.

Some of us are passive, some active, but we’re each affected by the circumstances and individuals around us. Our minds process, evaluate, react, and scheme, as we try to make the best lives we can for ourselves and for those in our care.

That doesn’t mean we’re selfish, although sometimes we are. Each of us is the point of view character in our own story, and it’s easy to slide from there into thinking that it’s all about us.

Paul reminds us of the truth. It’s all about God.

We – and the rest of creation – matter. What He made is “good” and “very good.” (Genesis 1)

But He didn’t make us for us. We were made for relationship with Him, designed to only be complete in Him.

He intends us for His glory.

What does that mean?

Just like “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1, NIV**),  our lives, lived in loving submission to God and in reliance on His power, demonstrate that there is a Good Shepherd. There is hope, forgiveness, healing. There is an ultimate authority who defines good and bad, who can rescue and rebuke… and who would rather restore than condemn.

God our Creator and Sustainer, You alone are worthy of all honour and glory. Forgive us for those times when our perspective revolves around ourselves. Help us remember we’re to live for Your glory. Shine through us to bring glory to Your name.

Let Matt Redman’s song, “The Heart of Worship,” remind us of our focus today.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

**New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

by Steph Beth Nickel

Oo, shiny!

That’s how I often feel when I hear of a new opportunity. You too?

I have what I refer to as the Butterfly Syndrome. I love to flit from one thing to the next to the next and then back to the first thing. While I don’t think it will ever be my approach, I do admire people who are able to stick with a single task until it is completed before moving on to the next. There are definite advantages to this approach.

But since I have several interests (and am easily distracted), potential opportunities come at me from all sides. I am learning s-l-o-w-l-y that I can’t pursue them all—as much as I’d like to.

Add to my natural tendencies the fact that I’m a Christian and don’t want to miss an opportunity God brings my way and I’m off and running … figuratively speaking. I’m not like my amazing friend Janet, who participates in 5K events and our mutual friend Kimberley, who participates in Mudmoiselle. (Kudos, my friends! I am truly impressed.)

But even as Christians, we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity, every request. (For more on this, I highly recommend Lysa TerKuerst’s book The Best Yes. She guides readers through the whys and wherefores of identifying when they should say no so they’ll be ready to give their best yes.)


Now, I believe there should be a progression in every Christian’s life. Many of us, when presented with a new opportunity, think—or even say, “Oh, I could never do that.” (At least this is the case if we’re not busy flitting about, trying our hand at everything that comes along.)


As we mature, we come to the realization that just maybe we could do whatever it is. I’ve found myself thinking, “I could do that? Cool!” Often this has nothing to do with self-confidence or arrogance. Hopefully, there comes a time when we realize God has equipped us to do things we never imagined possible. This is an exhilarating mindset. And it’s very in-keeping with my “oo, shiny” attitude. If you’re wondering, it feels a little like an ongoing caffeine/sugar high.

can-t can should


Not that long ago, the Lord brought me to a new realization. It may seem self-evident. And I wouldn’t blame you if you said, “Well, d’uh!” although I know you’re much too polite to do so. The final step in this three-step progression is this: when someone asks us to do something or we become aware of an interesting opportunity, we should … wait for it … we should ask, “Lord, is this something You want me to do? And if so, what should I set aside in order to do it to the best of my ability?”

I’m still learning Step 3. But it really is even more exciting than the second step. After all, knowing God will give me wisdom and direction and will guide me step-by-step … now that blows my mind.

Will I always flit from one thing to the next? Most likely. But with God’s help, I will try to stay in the same corner of the garden—at least for a little while. Care to join me? [Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel (Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Opportunity and Adventure

As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Acts 8:26, NLT*

The Book of Acts reads like a series of adventures. Here, Philip had been preaching in Samaria (Acts 8:5-25). Many people had come to know the Lord, so Peter and John came from Jerusalem to see what was happening. Their involvement continued God’s work, and that seems to be the end of Philip’s role there, although looking on, we could assume there was plenty more for him to do.

Instead, the angel gave him a new assignment. Philip obeyed, and found a new opportunity prepared by God.

It’s not easy to be redirected when we’re in the middle of something, especially in ministry or service. Our focus is engaged. We want to finish the task, whatever it is.

Personally, I also want a bit of down time before taking on the next thing. A chance to relax, to feel “off duty”. And the next thing doesn’t feel like an adventure – more like the next round of responsibility. (Except for beginning to write a new novel. That energizes me.)

What if we could be open to see each new thing from God as an adventure? An opportunity to watch Him work in and through us? What might He do with enthusiastic workers instead of weary ones?

God our Shepherd and our Leader, You are always at work, and Your plans are always good. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to grow weary in Your service and for losing the wonder of the privilege of serving You. Please give us open eyes, eager hearts, and a willingness to work for Your Kingdom.

A song that refreshes my perspective is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Great Adventure.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Whose Kingdom?

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
Acts 1:6, NLT*

The resurrected Jesus had been appearing to the disciples, proving He was alive, and continuing to speak of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

The disciples were still looking for the restoration of their kingdom: for the nation of Israel to be powerful again as it had been in the past.

God had much bigger – and longer-term – plans.

What are we asking Him for that’s too small, even if it seems huge to us? What are we asking for that’s a return to what was, instead of an expansion to what He promises?

As we pray and listen to God, as He reveals glimpses of His purposes, let’s resist the tendency to fit them into our own understanding and experience. Into the framework of the past.

Holy and omnipotent God, Your ways and plans are much bigger than we can grasp. We praise You for what You will do, and for how You will reveal Your glory. In this as in the rest of our lives, help us to trust You wholeheartedly and not to cling to our own understanding. Lead, guide and direct us, and make us useful for Your Kingdom.

Our song this week is Matt Maher’s “A Future Not My Own

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Guest Post: Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

by R.A. Giggie

Whenever I go through hard times, even if it seems it can’t get any worse, I try to look at the good things I have. Nine times out of ten, it helps and lifts my spirits up. For example, if I see rain instead of the sun, I thank God for the food I eat, the cozy home that keeps me warm and dry, the clothes on my back, and the comfy bed I sleep in. This said, it doesn’t mean I don’t have trials and tribulations.

I’m blessed beyond belief to have good health, even with osteoarthritis which isn’t as severe as that of others. My pain is minimal compared to some who take pain killers on a daily basis in order to function properly. Many people live with different pains and burdens, like emotional, mental, and spiritual.

I don’t know who said, “There’s always somebody worse off than you are,” but I believe it. If we look at the positive things in our lives, we’ll see the hope, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Years ago, our six-year-old son was viciously attacked by a jealous dog who wanted undivided attention from her master. As a result, Terrence now bears a huge scar in the shape of an upside down L on his cheek. He nearly lost his eye. The way the dog shook him like a rag doll, he could easily have been killed. Yes, it could have been worse. One day, in his late teens, he came home upset because people made fun of his scar. It broke my heart all over again that others would point the finger or give him “the look.” I reminded him that the owner had told us his dog was very possessive. His wife was pregnant when the attack took place, and the dog was put down. To this day, I believe had it not attacked Terrence, more than likely it would have attacked, and killed, their newborn infant.Emma's Prayer, by R.A. Giggie

There are so many other hurts in the world. That’s why when I write, I ask God to give me words of hope to reach people who are suffering, and those who are lost. I want to help them see things could be worse.

Stella’s Plea is about the disappearance of a three-year-old deaf child from the local playground and her mom’s struggle to find her. While her husband’s serving in the military overseas, Stella faces this all alone. Will she turn to God in her time of need?

Emma’s Prayer deals with a teen mom who put her son up for adoption but soon regrets it. Has he been placed with adoptive parents yet? Is it too late for her to get him back?

My novels are fiction, but the events they depict CAN happen in real life.

Have you been down lately? Can you see the light at the end of this road called LIFE? Look around you and remind yourself. It could be worse.

R.A. GiggieRenee-Ann Giggie’s desire to write came to her at a very young age. Her vivid imagination won her first place in her schools’ second grade composition contest. Later, the poetry she wrote as a teen found its way among the articles and columns of Le Progrès, the local newspaper where her mother worked as a reporter. The desire to write, however, remained nothing more than a hobby until just a few years ago when she wrote her first novel, Stella’s Plea, (2012) and her second, Emma’s Prayer, (2016). She is now working on her third, Charlie’s Plight.

She was also published in OakTara’s anthology, Falling in Love With You (October 2012), a compilation of true love stories.

She’s a member of, and very active in, several writing groups, and no stranger to Christian writers’ conferences where she thrives on learning everything she can about the craft, puts her newfound knowledge into practice, and then looks forward to the next conference.

She and her husband live in New Brunswick, Canada.

Connect with Renee-Ann online:

Facebook: facebook.com/ragiggie

Twitter: twitter.com/ragiggie

Website: reneeanngiggie.com

Our Desires, Or God’s?

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
1 Peter 4:2, NLT*

Peter’s talking to new Christians, who have made a radical lifestyle change and “no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things” with their former friends (1 Peter 4:4).

They’ve left the old life behind and are learning to live for – and with – God, and they’re suffering for it.

That’s the context, but those of us who’ve been Christians longer, or who didn’t come out of such dramatically sinful backgrounds, can still take something from today’s verse.

We’re still growing in Him, and He’s still revealing areas in our lives where we need to let go of sin and hurt.

Are we still chasing our own desires? Self is still with us, and it finds new ways to rear up. Our own desires may even be good, at least on the surface. That’s not the issue. Our reality check is this: are we chasing what we want, or what God wants? (click to tweet)

It comes back to surrender, again and again. Putting God first, listening for His will today. He may want to redeploy us, while we’re fine-tuning the routine we’ve created for what He led us to do yesterday. Or He may want us in the same role, but we need to see that we’ve started owning it – when it’s His. Or maybe we’ve become ruled by our lists, and He wants to remind us to be quiet with Him first and enjoy His presence.

However He has us serving today, and with every person we meet, let’s cultivate a heart that’s eager to hear His will for each moment.

God, You are our Shepherd and our Leader. Sometimes we still get distracted chasing our own desires, like a dog with its tail, and we forget about being eager to do Your will. Slow us down, re-focus us on You. Quiet our hearts, open our eyes and ears to Your leading. Help us to put You first.

When I’m on the mental hamster-wheel, here’s a song that helps: “A Future Not My Own,” by Matt Maher.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Perspective from the Other Side of the Hill

Guest post by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of you may not think of 53 as “the other side of the hill,” and I’m not saying that I’m ready to throw a blanket over my legs, take up knitting, and sit in my rocking chair until the Lord calls me home. Far from it!

However, I’m not 20 anymore . . . or 30 or 40. And that’s okay.

And while I do believe we can make the most of the second half of life by eating well, getting adequate physical activity, and refusing to sit back and leave “the real work” to the next generation . . . there comes a time when we must honestly evaluate our priorities.

I would say that mine all have to do with relationship—with God, family and friends, and others who cross my path. But my perspective is changing; my focus is narrowing even further.

As a Christian, I’ve heard it said, “It’s all about Jesus.” I have never agreed more than I do right now.

Just why do I do what I do?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (ESV)

Yes, I must earn an income.

No, there is nothing wrong with kicking back with my family and watching TV in the evening—depending, of course, on what we choose to watch.

And what about household chores, grocery shopping, and gardening? They all have their place. (Though I did write a blog for a while titled “Confessions of a Horrible Housekeeper,” and I still leave the gardening to my hubby.)

Lately, as I’ve been going about my day-to-day tasks, I’ve realized just how futile the vast majority of our pursuits really are—at least in the light of eternity. I can understand why Solomon said, “Meaningless! Meaningless . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:1 NIV).

If I stop there, I may be tempted to head for that rocking chair. And forget the knitting . . . for that might bless someone.

Remember Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (NIV)

I admit if I focus on the apparent futility of the everyday, I will slip into a funk. In fact, I have been dealing with negativity for a while now.

But if I focus on the passages from 1 Corinthians 10 and Ecclesiastes 3, I am reminded that I must do what I do for God’s glory—even the everyday tasks.

How can we do everyday tasks for the Lord’s glory?

Thank God for another new day even before we get out of bed and think of five things to be thankful for before our feet hit the floor.

Commit each task, no matter how trivial, to the Lord.

Ask for strength to do what we do for His glory and the good of others.

If we’re tempted to let go of those responsibilities that obviously further God’s kingdom, we should prayerfully consider what other obligations and pursuits we can set aside. God’s wisdom is available to help us make the right decisions. (See James 1:5)

And let’s remember . . . it is not wrong to take care of ourselves—by spending quiet time with God each day, eating well, exercising regularly, or decompressing with some alone time or by grabbing a coffee with a friend. After all, we must replenish our resources in order to have something to give.

Six ways to help us do everyday tasks for the Lord's glory.This is my current perspective. Still, I am learning and growing—and trust I will be until the Lord calls me home.

Condemnation vs. Conviction

I want to encourage you with a realization I came to years ago. If we feel condemned, it is not God’s doing. Now, conviction, which is of God, can feel the same at first, but with conviction, He provides a way out.

[Questions or comments for Stephanie? Leave them below!]

Photo of Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Picture by Sarah Grace Photography)

Stephanie is a freelance writer and editor. She writes under the pen name Steph Beth Nickel. She co-authored Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Among other places, it is available from Castle Quay Books and Amazon. Steph has been blogging since 2010 and is a regular guest on Kimberley Payne’s site (fitness tips) and Christian Editing Services (writing tips). She will also be writing and recording regularly for the newly-formed Hope Stream Radio. Stephanie is an active member of The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

Steph invites you to pop by for a visit on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephbethnickel or https://www.facebook.com/stephbnickel?ref=hl

You can also look her up on Twitter @StephBethNickel; her blog: http://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com; or her website (still a work in progress): http://stephbethnickel.com

Lord, I Want to See

If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
Proverbs 29:18, MSG*

One thing I brought home from Write Canada this year was the challenge to see. As I shared recently (Bubbles in Bratislava), that message needed reinforcing within a few short weeks.

We see so much with our natural eyes, and we “see” our perspectives and interpretations, and all of this gets in the way of our discerning what God is doing—and what God sees.

In ourselves: “Search me, oh God, and know my heart…” (Ps. 139:23a, NIV) is a key prayer. God already knows us. Do we know ourselves? I love it that we can ask Him this in trust. He won’t overwhelm us by showing us everything He wants to fix, but He’ll let us see what He wants to work on now. And it’s never to diminish us, but always as an invitation to let Him work.

In others: It’s so easy to justify why we do the things we do, yet to make assumptions about the motivations of others—especially when they irritate us. Unless we take time to know them, we have no idea what’s happening under the surface of their lives.

In the world: We hear bits and pieces, often slanted by the media or by individual opinion. Again, even if we get the unbiased truth it’s still surface information. God knows the details, and He knows His plans.

Seeing what God is doing helps us to pray. It also helps us live confidently in Him despite the circumstances. It’s true: when we attend to what He reveals—when we see, hear, pay attention and adjust our actions accordingly—we are most blessed. Because then we’re closest to His heart.

In the words of a blind man who met Jesus, “Lord, I want to see.” (Luke 18:41, MSG) And when we can’t see, God help us to trust Him in the dark.

God our great Shepherd, our King and Sustainer, open our eyes to the many ways You touch our lives. Forgive us when we get discouraged by what we see in the natural, and help us see what You see and what You’re doing. Forgive us also for not looking past the surface of the people we meet and the events we watch. Your Spirit is always in us. Give us Your vision, so we can better serve and reflect You in our lives.

Our song this week is Brandon Heath’s “Give Me Your Eyes.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson