Choosing Peace

As I write this blog, I have a busy few days coming. Well, really a busy few weeks. I promise this is not a humble brag or me trying to flex a busy schedule on you, but in the next 3 weeks, I have my son’s 10th birthday, my mom flying into town, homeschool, gymnastics, blogging, podcasting, extracurriculars, my last weeks of marathon training and then running that marathon.

I don’t like busy. I don’t like a full calendar. I like lighting candles and sipping coffee. I like adult coloring and crossword puzzles. I like sitting in a blanket on my couch watching Bluey with my kids or without them. Bluey is a really great show!

I don’t like being busy because I feel like I have to choose between what I have to do and what I want to do. I have to choose what gets done and what doesn’t.

One thing that I am choosing every day is peace. I used to get really worked up when I had a busy season. I’d make lists of lists to make lists and cross out things on lists and tear up lists to make newer prettier ones. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a list! But it no longer stresses me out.

Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
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Every morning, I focus my mind on Christ and receive the peace of God. What does this look like for me? It’s pretty basic. Instead of worrying about the laundry that I have done, I played restaurant with my kids. Instead of trying to run a billion errands for my son’s sleepover, I asked my husband to help out. Instead of rushing through my kid’s school lesson, we went to the library and got done what we could.

I know some situations in life are thrown at us without us asking for them, but even in those instances, we can choose peace. We can make the decision before hand that we will not be overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, but be overwhelmed by the peace of God.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You can find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

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Who’s In Your Boat? Part 2 of 2

LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST @ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000528345473

Last week, I talked about what happens when the wrong people are in your boat or your life, using the story of Jonah. Jonah never belonged on the boat to Tarshish and his very presence put others’ lives in danger.

If you have a specific destination or goal for your life, it’s imperative that you only take along the right people. The wrong people will only cause you unnecessary problems, setbacks, and cause your route to be filled with disorder, devastation, and delays. 

“You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go those who keep weighing you down.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

This week, we’ll discuss what kind of people you should not allow in your boat and also, what kind of people make good sailing companions. If you know me, you know I love some good alliteration, so for your reading and podcast listening pleasure, they all start with “C” (You are welcome). And they’re Biblical, too! 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ON YOUR BOAT:

COMPLAINING PEOPLE

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Numbers 11:1)

It is easier to complain than to do something. It’s true. Complaining about something only takes your opinion. Changing something takes action. There is a time to speak up when something needs to be corrected, but I’m talking about complaining just for the sake of it. 

I live in Wisconsin where we really have just two seasons. We have about 3 months of people complaining how hot it is and 9 months of people complaining how cold it is. We have entire websites and apps dedicated as places to complain. Have you ever noticed how many 1 star reviews places get? People often spread bad news faster than good news. 

When the Israelites were in the desert after leaving Egypt, they were set to take over the promised land but the Bible tells us that a group of complainers spread a bad report through the camp that caused the people to become fearful. As a result, they wandered the desert for 40 years.

Complaining is contagious. Why? Because misery loves company. Instead of figuring out a solution to a problem, complainers only talk about why something is the way it is. These type of people will not add value to your goals, they will only place unnecessary obstacles in your path.

COMPLACENT PEOPLE

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)

Let me start by saying I am not talking about contentment. Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. It’s being grateful for what you have. I recently watched a documentary featuring a man living independently with Down Syndrome. When asked if he wished his life was different, he responded, “I’m happy with my life right now until something better happens.” That is my definition of contentment.

But complacency is something entirely different. “A complacent person is very pleased with themselves or feels that they do not need to do anything about a situation, even though the situation may be uncertain or dangerous” (collinsdictionary.com). 

The Israelites were reminiscing about the food they had in Egypt but they forgot one thing. THEY WERE SLAVES THERE!! They were longing for the complacency they had in Egypt. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but they were longing for meat with a side of bondage. 

We’ve been promised an abundant life (John 10:10) but many believers have become complacent with a life far below the abundance we can receive. Complacent people often won’t challenge you to do and be better, just good enough.

CARELESS PEOPLE

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” (Proverbs 4:26)

I am a planner. I like to have an idea of what to expect for the day, week, month and year. As an aspiring writer, podcaster, ministry leader, business owner, and homeschooling parent, planning helps me to see my endeavors grow. 

One of my favorite quotes says that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Careless people will definitely keep your boat from arriving at your destination. Careless people very rarely have a vision or plan for their life. 

I was talking to someone who has a dream that to some looks insurmountable. It is a big, bold, “only God can do it” dream, and they’ve encountered some push back from people they’d hoped would encourage them. I shared this with them: People who don’t have a goal or vision for their own life often won’t add much value to yours.

CONTROVERSIAL PEOPLE

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

“What do you think about Christians drinking?” This is a trick question. When someone asks you this, they don’t really care what you think. They want to open the door to lay out their seven point presentation about the Troubles of Tonics. 

Some Christians love arguing about the Bible. Not defending it to unbelievers or debating it with an atheist; arguing with other Christians who despite their different beliefs on baptism will still be with them in heaven.

I steer clear of people who are intent on being argumentative because I know that it doesn’t get us anywhere. Controversial people often look for faults in others rather than seeing them through the loving eyes of God. They see the world as us and them. People who think like they do and everyone else is stupid or wrong.

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD BE ON YOUR BOAT:

CONSECRATED

“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 20:7)

Holiness is not a bad word. I say this a lot because it is true. I am holy. And if you are saved, you are too. My kids don’t have to do anything to prove they are my kids. They are my kids because they lived in my womb for nine months and share my DNA. But because they are my kids, I do have expectations of them. 

And yes, God has expectations for his children. The Bible calls us a peculiar people. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to be weirdos who freak people out as we chase them down with a track entitled, “Be Right or GET LEFT!!!”. But there should be something distinguishable about our lives. 

I have friends from all walks of life, but have to be very mindful of who I trust with my vision and goals. Like-minded, consecrated people will give you the encouragement you need and you can trust it because you know they’ve been with God.

CONSISTENT

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Consistency is key to reaching your goals. You need faithful, hard working people around you that will help encourage you and keep you accountable. 

COMPETENT

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

God wants his people to be well equipped and prepared to serve. I think some people never reach their full potential not because they can’t but because they don’t prepare. 

My kids are still young but I’m teaching them how to prepare for a productive life. I want them to know how to organize their life and their thoughts. I want to show them how to build their relationship with God and the importance of serving him well. 

COMPASSIONATE

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

In my opinion, compassion is one of the characteristics of Christ I’d love to see implemented more in the church. Jesus was a compassionate leader. He looked at the people around him that were hurting and he didn’t blame them or shame them; he had compassion for them. 

I’ve been very fortunate to know many kind, compassionate followers of Christ that have given me grace when I needed it. You need people in your life that will pick you up when you fall. 

My pastor used to say, “We’re a fellowship. All fellows in the same ship.” When we take inventory of who is in our boat, we can see why we’re making headway towards our destination or experiencing delay.

Keep Going

Sometimes you can’t see changes as they’re happening. I started taking a picture of this tree after every run starting in March. Good runs, bad runs: Same picture. The first picture is from March; the second from today. I didn’t notice much change in this once barren tree from day to day, but 4 months later it is full and providing shade and comfort.

I don’t always feel like I’m moving forward with my goals but one thing I know is that consistency will get me closer to them. I’m learning that I don’t have to sprint to the finish line. I can continue to move towards it at a sustainable pace.

We are becoming better each day. Each day is not perfect and it never will be. And that’s ok. But as long as we keep going, keep doing, keep loving, keep growing, we will see results!

Happy Monday!!

BOOT CAMP: Wk 2 Bible Study

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Bible-Study-evkn6i

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In November 2019, my family visited Newport State Park in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I have ever had. The park is located on the very tip of the Wisconsin Peninsula.

Because this park is designated as a dark sky location, artificial light is heavily discouraged. They ask that if you must use a flashlight, be sure it’s pointed to the ground. There aren’t even any lights on the bathrooms or in the bathrooms, which made it pretty difficult taking my 6 year old to use the unlit bathroom in 28° weather!

Because the weather was so cold at night, we would go back to the car for a few minutes to warm up, but encountered a major problem. Every time we’d turn on the car, my dim lights would still remain on. We knew there had to be a way to turn these off, but we just didn’t know how.

I’ve always been paranoid about keeping the owner’s manual in the car and with the help of it (and google) we found the way to keep the lights off when we started the car.

The owner’s manual for your car helps you to figure out the details of your car that you don’t know. Most of us know how to put the car in drive and we can figure out how to turn the windshield wipers, but there are some areas of our car that we have no knowledge of.

The same is true in life. For many people, there are areas where they are simply not knowledgeable. Maybe you grew up in a home where finances were never discussed so as an adult you struggled trying to make ends meet, get out of debt, or save money. 

Maybe you grew up eating fast food every meal, and now that you’re in your 30s or 40s, you’re finding out that type of diet is not sustainable. Whatever the case may be, we are privy to a wealth of information. Looking up how to solve almost any problem it’s just a few fingertips away. But there are some problems that go deeper than just a Google search. 

For me, there is no other book that can help me understand my money, help me to flourish in my relationships, help me to raise my kids, help me to change my diet, and a host of other problems that plague many of us. That book is the Bible; the word of God. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

That means every word of the Bible was inspired by God. There is a point to every book, chapter and verse, even the long, boring ones that seem to go on forever! (I’m sorry if you’re offended I called some of the Bible boring, but if you disagree, you’re lying. Come on, Leviticus!?) But they are there for a reason. 

We’ve been given the word of God as a tool to hear the voice of God and familiarize ourselves with his promises and yes, even his consequences. While we have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3), there are still consequences to disobeying the word of God, just as there are benefits to obeying it.  

Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

We see nature changing all of the time in front of our eyes. We also see culture, trends and opinions change just as frequently. While everything around us is unstable and subject to change, the Bible is the one constant we can rest our faith on.

I challenge you to make reading your Bible everyday a priority this week. Decide beforehand how long you will read, where you will do your reading and what book you will read. Don’t leave your spiritual development up to chance. Be intentional about pursuing God’s word and see the difference it will make in your day.

Let’s chat: What are some obstacles you face when trying to be consistent in your Bible reading?

BOOT CAMP: Week 1 Fellowship

Check out this week’s podcast on Fellowship! https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Fellowship-eujl2r

You need to go to church. Period. No nice introduction or anecdote, no statistics or kind encouragement. If you are physically able, you need to take your body to church.

As I’m writing this post, I am aware that many churches have been closed for a period of time due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, many believers have had to worship around their TVs, computers and phones.

Technology really came through! Many churches were forced to rethink their approach to reaching the masses and as a result, many were able to reach more people than ever before.

My husband and I love watching other services online. We like to see what other churches are doing, what their stages look like, what they’re teaching, the songs they’re singing. 

But as much as I enjoy watching different services online, there is nothing like being in the physical house of the Lord. While I’m grateful that we were still able to worship virtually during the time it was necessary, we were never meant to walk this Christian journey alone. 

Paul had Silas. Mary had Martha. Peter had James and John. And we need connection. It is so important to be surrounded by people who can help encourage you and strengthen you when you need it. 

Jackie Hill-Perry said it best. “God himself has never been alone. He has Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are never less like God than when we isolate ourselves.”

The Bible is full of examples of believers gathering for worship and encourages us to stay connected. Hebrews 10:25 ESV says, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

When I first became a believer, I lived at the church! Youth chaperon needed? Sign me up! Sunday night classes? I was there. I wanted to learn everything I could about faith and how to live this new life. I needed to find people who had experience. I needed to find people to grow with who were new to faith like I was. The bottom line, I needed to find connection.

I also needed accountability and encouragement. I was amazed that after a bad day, I could turn to a sister in Christ rather than a substance. I learned very quickly why the believers in the New Testament were always together and breaking bread.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42 ESV

When the Holy Spirit first came to the new Christians, the Bible says they were together and on one accord. While they were not necessarily meeting in what we would define as a church building, they were together; they were the church. 

My faith was strengthened every time I heard an encouraging message Sunday morning; it was strengthened everytime I went to a Sunday night Bible study; it was strengthened every Wednesday night when I heard testimonies of God’s provision and protection. 

Physically going to church and developing relationships with people in all levels of faith helped me to continue to grow and develop my own.

I often hear people give countless excuses as to why they couldn’t make it to church. My volleyball coach used to say, “Excuses are like belly buttons. Everyone has them and they’re all full of lint.” I’ve been told there is a harsher analogy for this, but this blog is rated PG! But he was right. 

We can tell ourselves and others countless reasons as to why it is so difficult to get to the church, but most times the hard truth is this: If you didn’t make it to church, it’s because you didn’t want to go.

I know. It sounds tough. Where is the grace? I’ll lighten up a bit.Thankfully, we are not made righteous by what we do or by what we don’t do, otherwise, we’d be saved by works and not faith. Our righteousness (right standing) is received by the simple act of salvation, our relationship as children of God.

I think about my own children. Neither are old enough for a cell phone so I’ll ask my son if he will text me when he gets one. He said, “Oh, you know it! I’ll blow you up!” He recently got his own ipad and has proven he was not lying. I wake up to about 10 texts on average every morning!

My daughter, on the other hand, is not much of a chatter. When I ask her the same question, my heart sinks a bit. “Maybe,” she’ll say casually without even a smirk to let me know she’s joking. I really hope she is!

But this is how many Christians approach corporate fellowship with God. Maybe they will go to church this week. Maybe they will give. Maybe they will join the Bible study. Despite the relationship with him as his children, many people have put off making a commitment to church attendance and involvement, leaving it up to how they feel when they wake up Sunday morning. Read this passage from Psalm 92:

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing. -Psalm 92:12-15

So what is the opposite of being fresh and flourishing? Spoiled and withering. What a contrast. Am I saying your life is going to completely crumble and fall apart if you don’t go to church? No. I know non-Christians and Christians alike who don’t regularly attend church and they seem to be doing okay.

But as a believer, God did not call us to just do okay. He called us to a better life. John 10:10 tells us he came to give us a life that is more and better than we ever dreamed of. 

While personal discipleship is important for growth in faith, corporate discipleship helps to expound on that growth. When I became a believer, I made a decision that I would be at church every Sunday. Period. My Sunday morning attendance was not based on what external factors may have happened the night before or morning of. I was going to be at church. I was going to meet with my father.

Just as we commit to our jobs, appointments and even sports teams, God’s children must commit and prioritize their decision to follow him. Not out of obligation or requirement, but out of love and honor. 

Do you face challenges when it comes to prioritizing weekly church attendance? Let’s chat in the comments!