New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Eight)


Day Eighta-new-year-thrive

How To Make 2018 Great

The calendar has flipped from 2017 to 2018, which means many people are three days into their New Year’s resolution. (Many people have also lost their desire to keep going!)

Is change important? Is commitment essential? Of course! But the reality is that few individuals have made immediate and significant life changes because of a New Year’s resolution.

Biblical Christianity, which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at the center, simply doesn’t rest its hope in big moments of change. The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process.

Change typically takes place in ten thousand little moments, not one life-altering event.

The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they are the little moments. We live most of our existence in these mundane, everyday moments. For every huge life-changing moment, we experience ten thousand insignificant moments.

The beautiful thing about the gospel is that Jesus Christ offers grace for each of these little moments. The Bible doesn’t say, “His mercies are new once a year.” No, “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Jesus is named Emmanuel, not just because he came to earth once, but because he makes you the place where he dwells every day. This means he is present and active in all the mundane moments of your daily life.

In these small moments, he is delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these unremarkable moments, he is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness.

By sovereign grace, your Lord will place you in ten thousand little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom, and grace so that you’ll seek the help and hope that can only be found in him.

In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again – exactly what each one of us needs!

Yes, you and I need to be committed to change in 2018, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation. Instead, find joy in, and be faithful to, a day-by-day and step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith.

May 2018 be a great year, by grace alone and in Christ alone!

God bless,

Paul Tripp

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there anything you want to change about your life in 2018?
  2. Are your desires for change driven more by biblical priorities or personal gain? How can you align your 2018 priorities with Scripture?
  3. How can you take advantage of the new morning mercies offered to you in the New Year? (Think about spiritual disciplines and the blessings found in the body of Christ.)


Originally Posted Here:

Copyright © 2018 Paul Tripp Ministries, Inc., All rights reserved. 


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Seven)


a-new-year-thriveDay Seven

I have traveled many miles in my lifetime. Jesus truly led me all the way. Having come from a very loving Christ centered home, I was brought up in the faith.

Sometimes we know God is leading, sometimes we do not. However, looking back I can see that through all times, good and not good, He was at my side; protecting, blessing, forgiving, rescuing, providing, and much more.

Every year brings forth unexpected joys and disappointments. Has He left or forgotten us? No. The blessings He pours out are beyond our greatest expectations. What He asks is simple: obey, believe and be faithful.

I love His Word. I love reading it. I love teaching it. He gives us wisdom, knowledge and understanding to apply it. It never fails.

One of my favorite chapters is Romans 12.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

(Romans 12:1-2) NKJV

Keep focused on Him. His grace is always sufficient. Use your spiritual gifts. Through those gifts God does His work and shows His power.

Kathleen Holland


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Six)


a-new-year-thriveDay Six

Marion Schefter, she told me once how she changed a dissolving storyline in her life into a good story.

She stood in the door of our little country chapel, one arm crooked through the handles of her purse, and she told me: “Well, I just purposed. Like Daniel. You know, you’ve read it — that Daniel purposed in his heart… so I figured that any dare to change my heart — starts with a purposing in the heart.”

I looked over at Marion and I could see it clear in her eyes: Purposing to change happens where prayer meets perseverance.

So I came home and I grabbed a pen and decided… I didn’t need New Year’s Resolutions this year… I want SOULutions … for a new me. I need to purpose in my heart & let prayer and perseverance meet, let there be a plan to purposely aim for, because if there’s nothing to aim for, you’ll get it every time.

My penmanship isn’t all Spencerian swirls like Marion’s but I scratched it down:

This is The Year
I purpose to —

* Embrace Imperfect: This is The Year to be held by the arms of grace, not to any standard of perfection.

* Engage Silence — not screens: This is The Year to engage silences regularly & retreat to the “back side of the wilderness.” Because when you do not need to be seen or heard — you can see and hear in desperately needed ways.

You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls — and not the glare of screens.

* Be still: Be small. Be Loved. Beloved.

Let yourself be loved anyway He wants to love you. God is always, always good & you are always, always, always. loved.

Be still …. & know.

* Believe in Him for impossABLE things.

Believe in Him who makes the ridiculously impossible into the miraculously possible, the unbelievable into the you-better-believe-it, the never into the now. Be the brave people who pray it bold in the space between the end of one year & the beginning of a New Year: BUT GOD.

“Ours is the God who whispers: “With Me nothing, Nothing, NOTHING is impossible.

Believe in Him for impossABLE things — because as long Emmanuel, God is with us & we are with God: nothing is impossible. Believe in Him for improbable, implausible, impractical, impossABLE things.

* Break idols — or they will break you. Break free, break out of ruts, break idols — or they will break you.

* Daily 3 for 10: These 3 for 10 everyday: Word In. Work Out. Work Plan. It’s not what you do every now and then, but what you do everyday, that changes everything.

Word in: Get into God’s Word for 10 minutes and let it get into you.

Work out: Work out. Even 10 minutes of moving is better than nothing.

Work plan: Write out the Work Plan — even just 3 things. And then just start: 10 minutes working the plan. 

* Do Less. Pray More: More than your doing hands, God wants your bended knees.

* Let Go of the Outcome: Come completely committed to the process — and completely let go of the outcome. In the middle of things seemingly not working out for us —- God is working out something in us.

* Learn Endurance: Do Hard & Holy Things. Break the idols of ease — or they will break you.

* Live Given.

Because LoveGives.
Because God so loved He gave.
Because Living is Giving.

* Give It Forward Today — 3 times a day. Give It Forward Today & be the GIFT — give an act of grace forward, 3 times a day. Be a GIFTivst. It’s the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity. GIFTivst

* Grow Brave. Grow in Grace: Which is basically the same thing.

I scratched the whole thing down — then slipped the SOULutions into a frame. Figuring that unless you can daily see your Life SOULutions…. the year will end up to be more of a dissolution of your life. Maybe that’s one of the keys I’d never turned: Framable SOULutions — to frame up a new year, a new you.

Snow’s melting on the farm here, on the last days of the year, the pines and the eaves out at the end of the barn dripping one sliver drop at a time, old things melting away.

I never told Marion Schefter what she handed me that day in the country chapel’s door.

But I was told that the tulips are coming up here on the cusp of a new hoping year — and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, possibility like that.

Ann Voskamp

Wife, Mom, Author, and Speaker


Original Blog Found Here:

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Five)


Day Five

A Future and A Hopea-new-year-thrive

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 KNJV

As a divorcee struggling to rebuild my life, I yearned for a new partner and for the spiritual relationship with Jesus I had experienced as a youth, but had somehow lost as my marriage crumbled. It wasn’t long before I began to see Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse.  Ignoring most of the scripture, I focused on the fact that God had plans for me to have “a future and a hope.” Wasn’t that what I was seeking after all – hope of a new man in my life as well as a renewed walk with my Savior? As a result, Jeremiah 29:11 would become my “go-to-verse” whenever loneliness and darkness would consume me.

As God pieced together my brokenness, He led me to some great Christian pastors, teachers, and mentors who walked along side me teaching me how to study God’s word paying attention to context, meditating on God’s message, and the application of the scriptures. It was only then that I would come to understand the true and deeper meaning of Jeremiah 29:11.

This verse is given to the children of Israel while they were in exile and bondage in Babylon. Not only were they in bondage but God instructed them to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 27:6-7 goes on to say that He will destroy them if they are disobedient. Three times God told them of this potential destruction in Jeremiah 27.

As if that was not enough, God tells them in Jeremiah 29:7 to, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Really?? God wanted them to pray for the place where they were held captive?? Can you imagine how difficult that would be to hear?? God’s not going to just rescue them?? Instead, they are to serve the King and pray for the place where they are being held captive.

To make matters worse, in Jeremiah 29:10 God tells them,For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”  What? Wait 70 years?!  Many of them will have died by that time!!!

Yet, in Jeremiah 29:11 God reassures them,“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God had a purpose in asking the Israelites to serve King Nebuchadnezzar, to pray for Babylon. He had a purpose in asking them to wait 70 years for Him to rescue them. He also has a purpose in our suffering; we are to remain obedient by serving, by praying, and by waiting. We are called to remain assured that in His perfect time, His purpose and His plan will be revealed in our life.

This verse is still my life verse, but I am no longer just focusing on God giving me “a future and a hope.” Instead, I try to focus on serving, praying, and remaining faithful-being confident that in His perfect timing He will fulfill His future and hope in my life. Amen!  

Marilyn Hoeth


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Four)


a-new-year-thriveDay Four

Tonight I had to tell a friend, again, that “I’ll just pray.”

A friend who is hurting deeply. A friend I want so much to HELP. A friend who doesn’t deserve the pain she’s going through.

And for a moment, those 3 words felt cheap. Like praying is the last option and I’ll have to settle for it. “I’ll just pray.” It felt like praying isn’t enough. I need to DO SOMETHING. Don’t I?? Wouldn’t a good friend do something? Something great? Something SUPER helpful? Something that would alleviate her pain at least a LITTLE bit?!?!

A good friend would fix this.

Circumstances right now are keeping me from doing something. And I feel like a jerk. So I’ve been wrestling with that all day.

And that still, small, faithful voice started whispering to me. It sounded just like this:

“Shea, I’m here with her.”

I know God, but I’m not. And a good friend would be with her. She just would. A good friend would’ve been with her two weeks ago. A good friend would’ve done more. She would have perfect plans and plenty of people in place to help with the pain. That’s what good friends do.

You know what, God? In our culture “I’ll just pray” sounds like a cop out.

This is the part where God should whack me in the face and give me a Sunday School lesson on prayer and trusting Him and about how He is sufficient and all that. He totally should.

But instead He whispers:

“Shea, prayer is powerful.  She needs you to pray. Prayer is enough.”

I don’t know how He does it. I guess He’s God so I don’t need to try to figure it out but in that moment I just wanted to weep. In that moment I realized how small my view of prayer is and how BIG my view of ME is.

Me. The fixer. The one who wants to DO SOMETHING. So that I’ll be seen as the “good friend.” Good friends don’t “just pray.” Good friends fix things. They get to work. I realized how pervasive that perspective is. And how full of arrogance and error.

So my prayers for my friend’s pain tonight started with prayers for my perspective to shift so that I would trust that God is with her. And that prayer is powerful. Because why pray if I don’t think it’s powerful? I needed Him to shift my perspective. So that I would know and believe and walk in truth.

And stop thinking I need to rush around saving the world when He already has.

I can rest in that.

And pray to the One who holds all things together. He is acquainted with sorrows, suffering, and grief. And I feel like I say this every day but HE is the ONE who is SO NEAR TO THE BROKEN-HEARTED. I probably say that every day because there are so many broken-hearted people. People who need prayer. Prayer before a Facebook page, a Go Fund Me account, a T-shirt, a campaign or hashtag or slogan or event.

Because prayer changes things.

It accomplishes things I could never do with my two hands and two feet and one mind… even when I’m thinking clearly.

Prayer changes things.

It shifts my perspectives and reminds me who is really, truly, radically at work in all of these situations. When I remember that God, the Creator of all things, is at work… I can rest.

And find peace.

Prayer draws me into the work He is doing through the right door. The door He opens when I pray. In the past, I just barged into situations with my agenda and then wondered when He was going to show up and join me. Prayer allows me to cease striving and know He is God and that He will show me where to join Him at the perfect time.

All other “work” is futile.

So I’m convicted tonight – but hopeful. Which I’m learning is the way of Jesus. Convicted that I thought I was the answer to my friend’s pain instead of praying to the One who is. But hopeful because His kindness toward me in my haughty heart drew me near to Him in repentance. I found that throne of grace to be so beautiful tonight. It’s what I needed… and what my friend needs… and where I will sit until He shows me where to join Him.

My prayer is that He is pouring out peace and strength and that I would trust that He holds all of us in His hands.

In His hands, I can be an instrument of grace. Of love. Of hope. Of peace. Working in His power. And for His glory.


Catherine Shae Politte

Wife, Mom, & Blogger


Original Blog Found Here (Used with Permission):

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Three)


a-new-year-thriveDay Three

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD 

establishes his steps.

(Proverbs 16:9)

I have always been a planner. If things don’t go according to my plan, I change my plan so that I can eventually meet up with my first plan. Well, as I’m sure you know, that doesn’t always work out. We had planned to have our kids 3 years apart, no more and no less. But God had other plans for us. With our first child, Sophie, things were easy.  But with our second, Olivia, we had to work. Hard.

Fertility treatments, monthly visits to the doctor, all kinds of testing. We even got down to exploratory surgery. Then I gave up. I was done. I realized everything we were doing was MY plan. Not Jason’s. Not God’s. We stopped all treatment. It came time to schedule the surgery and I had to take a test, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want the heartbreak that came with every single test. But this time it was different. It was positive.

I called the doctor, scheduled blood work and cancelled the surgery. Everything was great until we got a call from the doctor’s office saying something was wrong with my levels. We were showing to be more than 8 weeks pregnant, not just 5. We went in to the appointment not knowing what we would find, and were shocked with what they did find…2 babies.

I was distraught. Jason was shocked. We couldn’t believe it. After all the work we put in, God was giving us 2 babies. How would we manage financially? How could I work, with probable bed rest? We didn’t know what to do.

The doctor advised us not to say anything to family or friends because there was a difference in size, so we didn’t. At the next visit we were down to only one baby. Now I was devastated. I had seen both babies in my dreams since we found out. But Jason and I had to acknowledge that God giveth, and He taketh away.

God’s plan led us to be parents of a wonderful little girl that we wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s hard to see what God has planned for us when we put our own wants ahead of his. I am so thankful for His timing and His plans. They are much better suited for me than my own.

Michelle Martinez


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Two)



Day Two

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

God’s activity is not confined to the spectacular and jaw-dropping. He does a plethora of things that never make headlines or invite peals of applause. Some of His work—dare I say, some of His best work—is performed on the most ordinary days, in the most ordinary places and ways, with ordinary people. Like us.

The tendency of humanity is to put God into our self-established theological box into which we hope He will comfortably fit, a box that doesn’t allow for the supernatural and amazing . . . because that is too big. But sometimes the box we’ve chosen doesn’t make room for Him to work in the routine and ordinary. That is too small.

Yet a God-box is still a God-box, no matter where you position it in your faith. Limiting our view of Him to the stupendous is not really any different from limiting our view of Him to the monotonous. He doesn’t exist only in the stratosphere of extravagant need. His ability comes all the way down to the ground, to the places we live on regular weekdays while working, playing, eating, and engaging in ordinary realities.

By no means does this understanding minimize Him to a trivial fraction of who He is. It actually magnifies the detailed and caring nature of His character. The same God who divided the Red Sea is the same God who knows about the loss of a solitary, fallen sparrow and takes the time to number the hairs on our heads (Matt. 10:29–30). He knows when His children are in grave agony, just as He knows and cares when it has simply been one of those really long mornings. Nothing escapes His attention. Nothing is too small to avoid His notice. He cares about it all.

In highlighting His attention to routine detail, the Scripture counteracts a lie we find so easy to believe—that God may have been loving enough to send His Son to die for us, taking care of our biggest thing, but He’s not much interested in taking care of our little things, our daily things, our too-small-to-mention things. Yet “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

There’s a comprehensiveness to God’s ability that covers all that concerns us. “He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:3 csb). He invites “all who are weary and heavy-laden” to come experience His rest (Matt. 11:28). He says His lovingkindness “will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6), and that if we seek His kingdom above every other desire, “all these things” will be given (Matt. 6:33)—full provision, food and clothing, love and shelter, every need.

He who is saving you from hell is also willing and able to save what’s left of your nerves and your workweek. Because even in the fine print of Scripture, we can trace the detailed care and concern of our God for everything we face.

Even that thing.

The mundane thing.

The ordinary thing.

The small thing.

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting. (Psalm 138:8)

What are some things you don’t often vocalize to God in prayer because you think they’re too insignificant to bring up? Trust Him specifically with even those things today.

Excerpt taken from Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks.

Priscilla Shirer

Author, Speaker, and Mom


Originally posted here:

A New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day One)


a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in all the new beginnings of a new year.  Get ready to belly laugh, shed a few tears (grab a tissue), and prepare your heart for God to speak through, “A New Year: Thrive.”

Sara Burt, Director of TVBC Thrive Women’s Ministry

Day One

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

(Psalm 139:7)

I am always amazed when God’s Word speaks directly into my heart and circumstances. I wish I had written down the many times His Word has spoken into my life. The times I do remember are precious to me.

One of those times happened many years ago while we were living in Senegal, West Africa. After my second miscarriage, I could not shake the thought that if I were in America, this would not be happening to me. I am not sure I could have articulated all that I was feeling, but underneath it all was a questioning of the goodness of God. After all, He had called us to be missionaries in West Africa where the medical services were not as advanced as those in Europe or America.

I would not have voiced those thoughts. But God was listening to my heart. One morning, as I was praying and reading the Word, He used this passage to expose what was in my heart and give me a new perspective.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)

The phrase: ”If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast!” struck me like a physical blow. God was still God on both sides of the Atlantic. He brought me to that place and He would guide and hold me. I eventually had four miscarriages, but I never forgot the lesson He taught me during that time.

Alice Statler


Advent Book Box – Top Christmas Book Picks

The kids asked where our Christmas books were located as soon as we began decorating for Christmas last week! Reading is an integral part of our family life and fosters creativity, unity, and imagination. What you read together matters and I hope you enjoy this list of classic books for the season.

Sara Burt

Our Advent Book Box

A tradition began years ago as my oldest daughter (then 3) and I hung our Advent Calendar. We filled each pocket with a piece of candy, as was the custom I grew up with, but also added little slips of paper. Each slip of paper had the name of a Christmas book we would read, and all books were nestled under in a Christmas box under our tree. Those first few years, I simply used Christmas books I had from my childhood or books given to my daughter. However, it was time to beef up our Christmas Book Box! I found several lists already floating around, but quickly realized many were specific to one particular faith or another. So I have created a list (in no particular order) for our family, focusing on the Savior’s birth and Christmas traditions. You will notice there are only 22 titles, and that…

View original post 1,434 more words

The Screwtape Letters


Are you still on the fence concerning joining our online discussion of “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis? Here’s my Top Five for Why I Should Read “The Screwtape Letters”: 

  1. The letters when first published one by one in a newspaper called The Guardian (1941), are hellish correspondence between a senior devil and his green devil nephew. I mean seriously. Aren’t you curious?
  2. Although the “patients,” humans in which the devils are trying to keep from the “Enemy’s” (God’s) team, are fictional characters, most biographers of C.S. Lewis agree the mother is based off a woman he lived with and tended to. And it isn’t a pretty picture. Bottom line – you will picture no only yourself in these characters, but also those around you.
  3. I am not sure about you, but I have experienced my share of criticism…some well-founded. Sanctification is sometimes unpleasant. Through this fictional piece, God provides a safe landing place to satirically see ourselves and how silly we sometimes appear….while dealing with the heart of the issue…sin.
  4. The book is dedicated to the author of “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien thought the book disturbing. Combined with the knowledge his dear friend Lewis did not enjoy writing the book, Tolkien did not appreciate the shout out. Mild friendly squabble over book dedications…no big deal among geniuses I am sure!
  5. Lewis frequently wrote an entire letter in one sitting. Many years later, this book is still considered a classic. It’s worth the read!

I hope you will join as we encounter one of the greats, a member of The Inklings, and great theologian. Once you click on the link below, you can choose to create an account with your email account or through a Facebook link:

To access the forum for The Screwtape Letters, click on the Forum Tab. You should see this as the next landing page:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.54.42 PM

As you can see, each letter contains an average of three questions. Each are short in length, but thought and soul provoking. Feel free to either read all three letters and answer questions at the end of each week, or answer each set of questions as you finish each letter. There is no right or wrong system.

For those local ladies, we may plan a few Lewis Nights at my house for discussion! If you have any questions, just let me know!