Your Soul’s Diet

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

Cake pops. They were my undoing. Who can resist a ball of soft, thick cake covered in a thin layer of beautiful icing with drizzle? I gave in. Twice.  First caramel, then strawberry. My hometown bakery is run by a Christian family who knows how to decorate cakes and cookies with personality and pizazz.

I could live on cake pops, but that would kill my diet. I need balance. How about cake pops and salads? After fifteen years of avoiding salads, I eat them almost every day now. I’ve learned how to balance my diet so that my body doesn’t react harshly to a splurge on sugar. Or fried chicken.

Our souls need balance as well. We need time with people and time alone, a to-do list that keeps us fruitful and rest that keeps us sane, an intake of encouragement and an outpouring of what God has taught us. Our souls also need a balanced diet—what we take in to our minds and hearts—and God’s word is what we need to take in to be healthy and satisfied.

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:2 NKJV).

Abundance. Sometimes ministry makes us feel lean. Spent. We pour ours souls into our writing and speaking, and we need replenishment.

As a ministry leader, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed with the urgent and with what people need. Deadlines loom overhead, emails need to be answered, and I create my own stress. Instead of escaping the work altogether, I discovered that I can replenish my soul by going to God for nourishment. Time with God—fellowship with Him, meditating on His word, and talking with Him about anything and everything—is vital to a thriving heart and a thriving ministry. God calls for us to listen to Him, to take in what is good, and to delight in the abundance of who He is and what He provides.

For years, I have worked on books and blog posts in my quiet time. I found that the mornings give me the most inspiration and uninterrupted time to write. Then I discovered something. I was getting focused on the to-do list more than on time with God. I still wanted to seek His investment in my writing, because without it, what would I have to say? But now, if I work on a devotion or Bible study in my quiet time, I also take time to simply meditate on a passage of Scripture, just me and God. I try to listen to what He wants to tell me that day, and I pray that Scripture back to Him.

How often do we all focus on ministry even in our quiet times? It’s natural. Ministry becomes a part of who we are. It’s our life, as close to us as breathing. If we tend to focus on what we can give out to the exclusion of what we need to take in, we grow lean.

Instead, let’s slow down and focus on taking in the nourishment God wants to give us. Time with Him—just us and God—is an essential part of our soul’s balanced diet. Then we will remember why we’re ministering and have the energy and wisdom to serve God and His kingdom on this earth.

Nourish your soul with time with God, and flourish in the abundance that He provides. Eat what is good for your soul.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.  John 6:35 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Your Soul’s Diet – thoughts on the lean times & balance from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves to compile books like Heart Renovation. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her new release, Feed Your Soul with the Word of God is a banquet of thirty short Bible studies. Is your soul hungry today? Taking time to be in God’s Word is like pulling a chair up to a banquet table. God is the Master Chef, and the food on His table is ready and waiting for us. It’s full to brimming of what our souls crave–hope, peace, courage, direction, answers, solutions, wisdom, encouragement, and more.

Join the conversation: How has God’s Word filled your soul lately?

 

God’s Eraser

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I get a thrill just walking past the windows of Pottery Barn. The wood finishes, the colorful dishes, the silk flowers—they call to me. On one of my expeditions into the store, I found a white eraser about the size of my palm, and a word was printed on it—DELETE. I bought the eraser and set it on my desk. Even though I hardly use it, it reminds me that God can erase the pain of hurtful actions. Some are recent, some may have stained our hearts for years.

Each child’s heart is like a journal. The adults, teachers, and peers in a child’s life write on it. Kind words, playful words, or hurtful ones. Their actions jot down notes about the child’s worth and identity. Which of these messages was written on your heart as you were growing up?

  • You’re valuable or you won’t amount to anything.
  • You’re needed or I don’t want you around.
  • You can do great things with God’s help or you’re a failure before you start.

If we have negative words and actions written on the journals of our hearts, we may think that there’s no reversing it. No eraser can eliminate the stain. But God can.

When life has written worthless, forgotten, or shameful on our hearts, God replaces it with loved and cherished. When we allow Him to write words of truth on our souls and we accept that truth for ourselves, He calls us free.

Free. Four little letters that hold a world of hope and restoration. Free from muck, pain, and regret. Free from the tyranny of people’s opinions and society’s demands. In Christ, we are free to be loved and to love, to make a difference, and to show someone else they are valuable, too.

This is what God writes on our hearts:

“You are Mine” (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV).

“I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22 NJKV).

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you” (John 15:9 NKJV).

“In Me you may have peace” (John 16:33 NKJV).

God lessens the pain of hurtful memories by building new memories with us—time spent studying His Word and praying, time spent with loved ones, helping others who are in need, and so on. God’s pen holds ink that can never be erased, not by time or people or trials. His promises are certain, and He keeps each one.

You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.   Isaiah 62:2b NIV

TWEETABLE
God’s Eraser, Finding Help in a World of Hurt – @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage, a 2018 Selah Awards finalist, and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, a 2019 Selah finalist. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her latest book, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character explores the questions: How does God make our character more like Christ’s? What is His part, and what is ours? This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage us. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle real-life issues.  

Join the conversation: What Scripture verse do you want written on your soul? What words bring you hope and peace? Please share!

A Sunrise of Strength

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

One morning I couldn’t shake the gloomies. Although I was half-awake, I started focusing on the wrong thing, and I needed God’s help to refocus my attention and strengthen my heart. Even though I wanted more sleep, I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on the verse I needed.

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! Isaiah 52:1 NKJV

The “awake, awake!” part got my attention. But more importantly, this verse called on God’s people to put on strength. This passage in Isaiah talks about God restoring His people after they had been in captivity. My own heart had been held in captivity to impatience and restlessness a few years before, and I was still feeling the effects of its bondage even in my freedom.

Is your heart help captive by something? Or are you still feeling the effects of a struggle that exhausted your strength and determination to win? Even when we’re involved in ministry, our hearts can become captive to sorrow, fear, worry, anger, or sin. We can become lulled into despair or apathy. We may think, Things will always be this way, or I just don’t care anymore.

God calls us to “awake!” and depart from our captivity. To depart from the after effects of our struggles and heartaches. He wants us to leave behind the burdens of guilt and despair (Hebrews 10:22), and to embrace His ways instead, His ways that are good for us and build us up in godliness (Colossians 3:12-14, 3:8-10). He wants us to put on strength and to share life’s journey with Him in the fullness of His joy and power (Nehemiah 8:8-10, 1 John 1:7). When we draw close to God, remember who He is and all He has given us, and step forward into the light of His goodness, the darkness of weakness and helplessness shatters into a sunrise of strength.

After realizing that I had the choice of moving past sadness and adjusting my focus to be on God, my strength returned, and I was able to tackle the day. If a struggle has lulled you into a not-wanting-to-deal-with-it stupor, awake into God’s bright sunshine of joy and strength. He has not left you to handle life on your own. He is always with you. Find strength in His presence with you and in the hope and guidance that’s found in His Word. Put on your strength!

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

TWEETABLE
A sunrise of strength – thoughts on dealing with discouragement from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage, a 2018 Selah Awards finalist. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her latest book, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, is a 2019 Selah finalist. How does God make our character more like Christ’s? What is His part, and what is ours? This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage it. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle such real-life issues as unwanted change, grief, loneliness, financial debt, and difficult people.

Join the conversation: What still holds you captive, sapping your strength?

Following God’s “Eye”

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

God has said, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8 NKJV). How does that guidance work?

I loved playing point guard on defense. In the years I played basketball, my job was to stop the forward momentum of the other team’s leader. I could anticipate which direction she would pass the ball by which way her face pointed—where her eyes were looking.

It’s the same with God. Although we can’t physically see Him, we can anticipate which way His face is pointed by what His Word says.

“For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12 NKJV

God loves righteousness—the right way of thinking, feeling, and acting. Jesus is our best example of what righteous living looks like. He faced every temptation and won (Hebrews 4:15). He faithfully carried out the Father’s will (Philippians 2:6-8). We can look to His example and teaching to know how God wants us to live, and how He wants us to walk in this life—what paths and pitfalls to avoid, and the paths He wants us to take.

To have God’s guidance in specific situations, we have to stay close to Him. We won’t know which way our Father is looking if we are off doing our own thing. Too many times when I have found a new project to tackle, I want to rush into it without asking God for guidance. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8), and as we purify our minds and hearts, we will be able to receive His direction better. We will know what He has for our lives and our ministries.

To follow God’s eye, we have to know what He loves and what He hates. He hates pride, lies, and taking innocent life (Proverbs 6:16-17). He hates disobedience, unforgiveness, and brutality (2 Timothy 3:2-3). He loves mercy, kindness, and humility (Colossians 3:12). He cherishes love, light, and wisdom (Ephesians 5:2, 8, 15).

Where is God’s eye pointing you this week? Remember that He cares about what you’re going through and how you are serving Him. He has a plan for victory, strengthening, and effectiveness. Let’s celebrate that our great God who is perfect in wisdom, love, and power is willing to direct us. Then let’s follow Him. I’m ready. Are you?

The eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18 NASB

TWEETABLE
Following God’s “Eye” – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her latest book, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character explores the questions: How does God make our character more like Christ’s? What is His part, and what is ours? This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage us. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle real-life issues.  

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the relief or peace that comes with being certain of God’s will? How did you receive His direction and guidance?

Staying Focused on True North

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I kept losing North. It was twenty-seven degrees outside, and although I was wearing five layers, I started to lose feeling in my fingertips. Cars kept crossing our intersection, and I was struggling to keep up with where North was. A few years ago, I worked with my dad, an engineer who tested light levels in a downtown area. I was in charge of the grid map and responsible to show him and his team which spot to test next.

The red building, I thought. That’s it.

There in the middle of a cluster of buildings, I found a mini sky scraper glowing with red lights to serve as my compass, marking true north. Whenever I lost my sense of direction, I looked for my red marker. It remained a steady and immovable indicator of direction as we tested twenty-four spots in the intersection.

As we travel through life, our road doesn’t keep to a straight line. Sometimes we have to meander on an curving descent into a valley or hustle up a steep, rugged ascent to a mountaintop. It can be easy to lose our sense of direction, and we wonder which way to go. Which way is North?

There’s a red marker that brings us hope. When life’s circumstances threaten to steal our sense of direction, we can look to the cross that always shines with hope, comfort, and reassurance, and to the One who gave His life’s blood for us. Jesus bore the weight of the world’s sin on the cross. The cross for Him was torture and anguish. The cross for us is peace and life.

When we are uncertain how to proceed in life, we can look to Jesus and reorient our heart’s focus. The Lord who conquered sin and death can handle any storm, every obstacle and bump in the road. His perfect love, power, and wisdom guide us on our journey. Because He gave His life for us, we can have the life God wants for us—a life filled with victory, courage, and faith.

In our ministries, we share about this “red marker” and the Savior who promises to be with us and guide us through life. We may meet people who don’t see the value of the cross or the benefit of following Someone they can’t see. But we will also be led to those who accept the cross’ message and choose to follow God and depend on His wisdom to guide. After all, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV).

As you seek to share about the cross and life with God in your ministry, don’t forget that you never share or walk alone. We never have to serve God in our own strength or in our own wisdom. We don’t have to search for something or someone to be our “true North.” He’s with us all along the way.

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:20 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Staying focused on true north – @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Join the conversation: How has Jesus served as your true north?

 

Humility’s Shining Joy

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

“Humility.” The word was seared on my brain.

At the Florida Christian Writers Conference two years ago, I was dazzled by beautiful Lake Yale. Every morning the lake greeted us with its serenity and offered the perfect retreat for writers. Anne of Green Gables would have called it “the lake of shining waters.”

The sun shining on the lake, however, was blinding. One morning I was hypnotized by the glistening ripples, and I studied them too long. The image of the sun on the water was seared across my vision, and I said a fervent prayer that I wouldn’t lose my sight.

I concentrated on the image with my eyes shut, and I saw a word forming. I blinked once for the word to become sharper and shut my eyes again. The image most resembled the word “humility,” and it was appropriate.

Humility keeps us locked into God and His purposes. When we have success in ministry, it’s easy to get focused on ourselves and our accomplishments. I had a temptation to do that at different points in my writing career, like when I actually won something in a contest at my second writers’ conference. Success can shine like beautiful waters, but it can also blind us to from Whom it came.

What has kept me on my knees in prayer throughout my ministry is knowing the Source of the blessings, and sharing ministry adventures with Him. That brings joy. God faithfully helps us in our ministries, and when we stay dependent on and connected to Him, it’s His love, grace, and truth that impact people’s hearts. Humility is recognizing His work in our lives, and turns into a grateful joy over what He has done.

If anyone could have had pride over success in ministry, it would have been Jesus. But the mindset He chose for Himself was humility. He chose to be born to a humble couple in a humble setting, greeted by humble shepherds. Yet, there was joy present. Angels heralded His birth and the people heard about God’s great gift to us.

His birth displayed humility, and so did His death. Jesus chose to humble Himself “and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV). Yet joy wasn’t missing from His heart even in such a mission. “For the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). He knew what God would accomplish through His death, and He said yes.

When God calls us to serve Him, humility keeps our hearts tethered to Him and to joy. He is the One who provides wonderful opportunities to help people, and our part is to faithfully follow Him and work hard, and He helps us even with that. Joy comes from sharing the adventure with Him and with the people He has given us to work with.

So when good things happen as a result of hard work, we can rejoice in the One who made them possible. He is the One guiding us on the journey, and the joy of life with Him shines ever so brightly.

He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.  Deuteronomy 10:21 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Concentrating on Humility’s Shining Joy – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Join the conversation: How has humility been important in your life?

Free to Bloom

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I bought them on faith. In mid-spring two years ago, beautiful tulips called to me as I approached the self-checkout at Kroger. Whenever I see flowers at grocery stores, I have to smell them and pet them. (Yes, pet them. I used to have a cat.) If I can smell a sweet scent, I have to restrain myself not to buy them. I had to see if these tulips smelled good. They did.

I noticed that some had already bloomed, and they were a gorgeous hot pink with white edges. Other bunches had partly opened blooms, so I went for one of those sets. Although the “sell by” date on the sticker told me that maybe I shouldn’t spend three dollars to take them home, I hoped that they would bloom eventually and live longer than the other flowers. I believed in what these flowers could become.

When I got home, my faith waned. Will they really open? I thought. Maybe the sell-by sticker was right, and I should have bought the other set. I trimmed the stems and put them in water. I set the vase next to a window and let twilight beckon them to open. A few minutes later, all five flowers had opened, some smiling more brightly than others. They smelled the sweetest of any flowers I had found for years.

I smiled and thanked God. He doesn’t give up on us, His “flowers.” Too many times I’ve gone through a struggle and wondered if this was it. Was I going to become unusable to God? Would He still give me opportunities to serve Him even though I had messed up again? Would I ever bloom into a lovely display of grace, strength, or wholeness like I needed to be and be able to sustain that victory?

There are some days when we may look like we’re not going to bloom and we’re past our prime—past the best chance of growth or usefulness. Maybe we’ve struggled too long with a particular burden, or worry has chased away our joy and along with it, our sweet “scent.” Our “sticker” may tell others to pass us by and not hope that something good will come from us.

But God knows how to make us flourish. A little sunlight, some fresh water, and some warmth. His love and power can flow into our souls and revive us. Then we start to bloom—and smell good. Love is key to having a sweet scent.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2 NKJV).

God tends the gardens of our hearts, helping us to bloom. He patiently and faithfully teaches us to walk in His love. As we love others, we reflect His beauty for the world to see and draw them closer to His heart. In God’s garden, we’re free to bloom, we’re able to flourish, and we have Someone who cares for us and knows what we can become.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                        Philippians 1:6 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Free to bloom in God’s perfect timing – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character

Join the conversation: What is the Great Gardner cultivating in your life right now?