Servant: 10 Practical Ways to Serve Others.

Servant: 10 Practical Ways to Serve Others.

Confession time: I'm still listening to Christmas music. My decorations went down on New Years Day, but I just can't put the Christmas music away yet.

I've been constantly listening to two favorite artists this season. Interestingly, both of them have highlighted how Jesus, the almighty Son of God, gave up his throne to become a little boy. That little boy was destined to die in the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.

But Jesus didn't just give up his life in death.

He also gave up his living life in service.

Have you ever noticed that we tend to glorify those who give up their lives by dying but not the ones who give up their living lives by serving and sacrifice?

We glorify the knight in shining armor who would die to protect his lady fair. But how often do we see scenes depicting ordinary men who quietly give up their living lives to crucify their personal desires and give themselves to serving their families?

We glorify the martyr, but think little of those who give up their living life on a day to day basis, quietly sacrificing innermost wishes for the good of others.

It reminds me of the adage, "I would die for you!"

Whether we say that in context of our spouse, our faith, or our country, it is a noble sentiment. But it is only noble if we can also say, "I would live for you."

Galatians 5 says, "...by love serve one another."

Jesus spent his years of life humbly serving others before he finally gave up his life to save mankind. He was the ultimate example of a living servant.

On our own strength, we can never be like Jesus. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he can teach us and work through us to also become a servant. Sometimes it helps to have some practical tips.

Most of us serve in some capacity every day, so these are tips that go above and beyond the average call of duty and really give us an opportunity to sacrifice self for the good of others.

  1. Open your home in hospitality. Not only is this a biblical command, but it a chance for you and your family (if applicable) to take that extra mile in thinking of others. Hospitality often requires extra time devoted to grocery shopping, preparing food, and considering how to make guests feel welcome. The heart of hospitality is making others feel at home, comfortable, and loved. This invites a splendid chance to truly think of and serve them.
  2. Take a meal to a hurting friend, a new parent, a lonely neighbor. It doesn't have to be fancy or even home-cooked to be very meaningful. 
  3. Consider volunteering at your local soup kitchen or rescue mission. Not only will you be serving those who desperately need it, but you will come away with new gratitude for how the Lord has blessed you.
  4. Volunteer in your church. Everyone has something they can do to serve. Whether it's nursery, the decorating committee, leading worship, counseling, chaperoning teen events, or scrubbing down bathrooms, there IS a job for you.
  5. Serve your family in some extra way. Perhaps it's handling a job your spouse normally takes care of when he or she is extra busy. Maybe it's putting extra thought and effort into a special meal. 
  6. Have elderly neighbors? Take your children over to wash their car, rake their leaves, mow their lawn. You could even bake them cookies!
  7. Give back to your community. Are there events to pick up litter or clean the community? 
  8. Invest in the future by getting involved in after-school activities at schools. Whether it's a Bible Club or just an opportunity to hang out and mentor some kids, it's a great chance to serve children.
  9. Offer to get groceries for a busy parent. Take their list and provide your own Instacart for them. Consider either quietly leaving the groceries at the door if they really don't want visitors or offering to come in and put all the groceries away. You could even clean the fridge.
  10. Ultimately, constantly look for the little, glamorous ways to be a servant. It might mean just being the person in the background who is quietly picking up the trash, straightening the house, etc. 

I hope these ideas are helpful to you!

Please share YOUR ideas in the comments! 

January 11, 2020
WHO AM I?

WHO AM I?

It's the new year.

We're all swamped with new plans, new school schedules, new agendas. And it can be very easy to get so wrapped up in all those things that we forget who we really are.

If you are a planner like me, it can be really easy to focus your worth on how much you accomplish, how much you work out, how well you eat, how much you get done in a day. You may even measure your Christianity by how much you do "for" Christ, how much you read your Bible.

At the end of the day, we all need to be reminded by who we are.

We aren't all the things we do.

We aren't all we accomplish in the day.

We aren't the untrue things we tell ourself, the doubts we throw on our self-worth. We aren't the hurtful things that have been said to us, the pains in our past, or the mistakes we have made.

The Bible has much to say about who we are in Him. If you get the chance, I recommend you listen to Who You Say I Am by Hillsong.

And here are 10 truths taken from Ephesians 4 about who you are in Christ. If you can, read the whole chapter!

  1. You are chosen before the foundation of the world
  2. You are accepted in the beloved.
  3. You are partaker of God's promises.
  4. You are loved.
  5. You are the Church.
  6. You are redeemed.
  7. You are a saint of God.
  8. You are His workmanship.
  9. You are predestined unto adoption.
  10. You are blessed with all spiritual blessings.

Write these truths down. Memorize them. Never forget that you are who Christ says you are. 

January 04, 2020
Christ in 2020: Prioritizing Your Walk With Him

Christ in 2020: Prioritizing Your Walk With Him

I think we are all a little intimidated by 2020. 

A new year, a fresh start, a clean slate. A blank planner, an empty calendar, a whole year full of possibility.

There are so many opportunities to start afresh, to plan out our year just as we want it. However, with that comes a responsibility...and a privilege. 

And that is?

Our walk with Christ.

It is SO easy to excitedly fill our new planner with ideas and plans of our own making, leaving little time or thought as to what our walk with Christ will look like. Of course, He is faithful when we are unfaithful. But making 2020 a year more dedicated to our relationship with the Father who loves us is a truly worthy resolution. 

So many aspects of life are habit. Pure habit.

Making Christ a priority is a good habit.

Not in the spirit of legalism, offering him our begrudging obedience to some list of must-do's. Not checking off our daily meeting with him in big black Sharpie and hurrying on to the next thing.

No, making Christ a priority is a good habit that we can make by humble asking him to instill in us a heart that truly longs to seek his will and make our relationship with him through the Word and prayer a joy.

We need him.

Here are a few ideas to help you make Christ a priority.

  • Pray over your planner! Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you fill your days.
  • Ask the Lord if an activity is his best for you. 
  • Pray for God to remove any begrudging spirit and cause you to truly long for your daily meetings with him. 
  • Schedule times to serve others in your planner.
  • Also leave time to reflect and simply breathe in your planner. God does not want us slaves to busyness. Make sure you have time to just be and delight in the person he has called you to be. 
  • Find a good Bible reading plan. Don't set unrealistic goals that will cause you to feel guilt or dread your time with God. A verse or two with a joyful, willing heart is far better than rushed, begrudged chapters.
  • Make a prayer wall for 2020. Later, you can look back and see what God has done!

Do you have any ideas? Please share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

December 28, 2019
Loved Forever - Romans 8:38-39

Loved Forever - Romans 8:38-39

Emotions are a tricky thing.

Oh, they are a beautiful thing, too. I love that God created so many emotions. The ways in which we feel love, joy, peace, indignation, happiness, and even anger are a wonderful thing. But, sometimes, emotions can trick us in sneaky little ways.

Like on the days we don’t feel loved.

September 15, 2019

Safely Nestled

by Alicia Jones - June 29, 2019

The last few days have been weary ones. Have they been for you, too? We all go through seasons of life, sometimes seasons of the weeks. One minute we’re rested, happy, feeling well, the house is in order, all the things are done. The next, we’re running on two hours of sleep, baby is sick, the house is a disaster, and we are weary down to our very soul. Maybe the weariness comes from more than physical exhaustion.

Maybe it also comes from a very real place of darkness as you struggle with a loss, a trial, a burden. We’ve all been there. Don’t be fooled by perfect social media photos. We all have our weary days, our sad and troubled thoughts, our moments of frustration. It’s now more than ever that we need to consciously remind ourselves of our identity in Christ and Who is in charge of the big picture. As Charles Spurgeon said: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” In the pull of weariness against our very sanity, sometimes it feels like we don’t have the energy to even take a moment to remind ourselves of truth. We want to nobly embrace the hardship and march to Jesus on our own, but we’re tired. We’re just so tired. But that is when we’re already there. We’re already snuggled in the safety of that Rock of Ages. Maybe we didn’t realize that we had been swept there, but there we are. And Jesus is just waiting for us to acknowledge that we need the comfort He is already trying to give. He’s up above and around us, sheltering us. When the storm clouds lighten a little—just enough for us to see through the blur—, we’ll open our tired eyes and see that our Rock is there. We didn’t have to run to Him on our own strength at all. He had already sheltered us, even though we didn’t see or feel Him.

“you are my hope and stay”- Psalm 71:5

And He has been quietly waiting to listen to our outpoured tears and discouragement. Part of our identity in Christ is that we are His children. He is our Father. You know how a child sometimes has a bad dream that she cannot awaken from? Or considers himself lost in a store? There is panic, fear, tears—even though we are right there. It takes a moment to awaken from the bad dream and realize mama is already there to comfort and protect. It takes a moment to realize he wasn’t really alone in the store. Mama was right there, watching. They run to us, ready to receive help and comfort. It’s the same way with our heavenly Father. He’s already there. Psalm 71:5 says, “you are my hope and stay.” This literally means that God is our support. Our Father. Our hope. Our stay. Our Rock of Ages is so many things for us. And one thing is for sure: no matter how weary we are, He is not. His support is never ceasing, His love never failing.

Are you weary today?

Write Down 5 Ways God is Your Hope and Stay


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

June 29, 2019

For Freedom

by Alicia Jones - June 25, 2019

I love the 4th of July. Independence Day is such a special day in my city. Long before the 4th ever comes, neighbors are shooting off fireworks in anticipation for the big day. Public firework shows are everywhere—at the park, at the ball games. I personally attend a firework show at my favorite downtown park.

We always come early, spread out our blanket, and eat some homemade goodness—like the pretzel dogs and Victorian sponge I made last year. The city’s orchestra plays patriotic music, veterans tell stories and play their own music, street trucks serve up hot dishes, and our locally famous ice cream vendor is busy churning out yummy goodness. The mayor normally makes a speech and fireworks explode just as the orchestra finishes playing “The 1812 Overture.” It’s all rather like a Hallmark movie. I love the 4 th of July. It’s really good to reflect on what it is all about. Independence. Freedom. While we celebrate our country’s freedom on the 4th, it’s good to remember that we are free in another way, too!

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…”- Galatians 5:1

Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…” The context is, stand free in your liberty in Christ and do not let people put the chains of working for God’s favor around your neck. Christ already freed us. In Him, we are righteous before God. There is no need to work for God’s favor or salvation—we are free! We are free to serve, love, and obey him without fearing the crushing weight of eternal damnation or losing his love. Freedom is a beautiful word. It’s actually one of my favorite words. It’s a concept and a truth completely designed by God. In a world under the bondage of sin and death, he gives us the freedom of righteousness and life. As you celebrate our independence as Americans, let’s also take a moment to thank God for the freedom we have in him—and let’s also share that freedom with someone else!

How Do You Celebrate the 4th of July?


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

June 25, 2019

Love…The Greatest of These

by Alicia Jones - June 18, 2019

Love. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? It’s the cry of our hungry hearts. All of us—everyone—wants and needs love, even if they don’t admit it. However, I was reminded recently while watching a pretty cheesy chick-flick that love isn’t what the filmmaking industry always makes it out to be. Much as we love romance, a sweet guy with perfect hair who always says the right thing, and endless boxes of chocolate, those things aren’t the essence of lasting love.

Ultimately, our hearts are crying out for the love of our Abba Father. He alone can satisfy the longing of our soul and fill us with abiding love. After all, that is why He created us—for a love relationship with himself. Once we know that special love, our hearts are able to share it with others! 1 Corinthians 13 is full of special instructions on what real life, practical love looks like. I challenge you to read it sometime.

"But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.." - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Ask God to help you not skim over the familiar words and really ponder what it is written there. And, on that note, here are a few practical ways you can show God’s love to someone!

  • Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. It’s not as intimidating as most people think! Serve with a smile—and you will find it is you who is blessed!
  • Spend just 5 minutes praying for someone and write a card letting them know you care! Cards not your thing? A social media message or email work too!
  • Spent a little time putting an unexpected gift together for someone. A mug with a little package of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate works! Or maybe a gift card and a simple note. Gifts speak volume about our love, because they mean that we have spent time, money, and thought in investing in someone.
  • Bless a busy mom or elderly friend by volunteering to pick up groceries, clean a room in their house, or watch a baby.
  • Host a tea. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Just give some moms, teachers, little girls, or anyone you want the gift of peace, laughter, and relaxation. Remember, serving and hospitality are all apart of love!
  • Pray for someone you really don’t like or have a conflict with. You may not be able to fix all the problems in that relationship. You may even have to put up boundaries and not really see them. But you can still pray for God to work and even to bless them. Consider setting one morning a week aside to do these things. Sometimes, practical love has to be scheduled in until it becomes a habit! And, remember, love is the greatest of all the spiritual gifts!

How Do You Show Practical Love?


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

June 18, 2019

More Than Sparrows

by Alicia Jones - June 2, 2019

I absolutely adore bird watching. I have a seed feeder, suet feeder, and hummingbird feeder on my back porch. Every day, I watch my pretty red male cardinal, my blushing brown female cardinal, sweet mourning doves, a noisy little mockingbird, robins, a funny little hummingbird who zooms into my windows, and sparrows.There is something very soothing about hearing birds twittering and chirping, whether it’s on my couch with my cup of coffee or camping in the great wilderness.

While I know some people just really can’t abide birds, I’m not one of them. The sprightly little hop of the robin, the majestic soaring of hawks, the busy motherliness of our local Canadian geese with their goslings—can you tell that I just love observing birds and all their unique characteristics? Birds seem innocent. Little and delicate, yet free. I’ve rescued sparrows before. Once, from an old school bus, where one was trapped inside. And several times, my family and I rescued baby birds from snakes trying to devour them in their nests. Birds, while free to soar, have many predators and dangers. And, every time one falls to the ground, the Father sees it. Can you imagine? God the Father created something so little, so seemingly unimportant, yet He knows and cares every time one falls to the ground.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:29-31

In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus says that we are worth more than the sparrows. He reminds us that the death of a little sparrow does not escape Him. So, how much more worth are we who are created in His image? Jesus specifically tells us in those verses to fear not. Amidst all the struggles and trials of life, He is watching over us. Nothing happens without His seeing it. Most importantly, He cares. Psalm 23 says that, even when we walk through the darkest valley, God is there with us. We need have no fear of evil days because He will comfort, strengthen, and guide us. Today, when life may seem rough and hard times overwhelm you, remember that you are worth so very much to the Father of love.

In what ways does creation point you toward our Father’s love?


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

June 02, 2019

Raising Arrows

by Alicia Jones - May 29, 2019

Raising Arrows is a popular phrase these days. You see it on mugs, shirts, nursery décor—you name it. I’ve always liked the phrase myself. I even own one of the Raising Arrows shirts from this boutique! Raising Arrows has a ring of courage to it, which I think we all like. It reminds us of the battle we are preparing our children for. It reminds us that, if our children are to make a difference in the uphill skirmish of God’s truths against this world, they need to be straight, sharp, and ready.

We envision little warriors, fighting for truth, justice, and mercy. That little phrase—that little peal of courage—is like a battle cry for us weary mothers. We are raising arrows. And it takes valor. It takes strength. It takes courage. Behind every sharp arrow, there is a tired mom who is begging and praying that she gets it right. Forming arrows is not a task for the faint of heart. But it is for the pure of heart—those who know they are weak and tired, but also know that their hearts have been washed clean by a Captain who will never leave their side or fail to guide them. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that daily life—the simple, mundane tasks—is making a difference for eternity. The laundry, the cooking, the dishes, the never-ending chauffeuring to events and medical offices—it’s all so downright tedious. Unglamorous. Until you realize that it all has eternal value, because it is all for those little arrows who fight even now in the battle. They are making a difference in Christ’s kingdom. Sometimes, the work of a child is the most important work. They have a special ability to bless others with their baby smiles, childish concern, and innocence. Every child has a little ministry, a little ability to serve in the Kingdom now. And we have a part in that ministry because of the care and love we give them—a care and love they pass on to others.

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth." - Psalm 127:4

Raising our arrows for the big battles still to come is tough. It takes sleepless nights, self-sacrifice, tears, sweat, diligence, and the constant need to go back to our Captain and beg for his help. There are always questions and self-doubt. But it is all so worth it. Don’t lose hope, weary mamas, grandmas, or anyone raising arrows. Galatians 6:9 says, “and let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” God knows we get weary. But His Word is so full of promises to cheer and help us on our way. If we keep our eyes on the goal and return time and time again to Him, it will be easier to shoulder our work and remember that our little arrows are already making a difference. Take courage, mamas, and face each day with your battle cry. We’re raising arrows.

Do you see your children as arrows for the Kingdom?


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

May 29, 2019

Let Freedom Ring

by Alicia Jones - May 22, 2019

Memorial Day is a wonderful holiday dedicated to remembering all those who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. While most know it as a long weekend dedicated to family fun and picnics, it means so much more. It’s a time to honor and remember a great sacrifice. My father, grandfather, and great grandfather are all army veterans. Although none of them died in service and so we do not remember them on Memorial Day, I have great respect for those who gave their lives in military service for others and made the ultimate sacrifice to eventually lay that life down.

Freedom has never been free. We thank our armed forces for all they do every day to protect us and our freedoms. In the same way, our ultimate freedom was also paid for by a life. Jesus came to earth for one great purpose: to give his life as a ransom for many. He made the ultimate sacrifice in a great battle of perfect holiness against total depravity to rescue sinners. By giving his life, he not only won that battle and gave life to all those who receive him, but he also gave us freedom. I used to think that Jesus died just to save us from hell. In reality, he died to give us so much more. He gives freedom to everyone that asks him. And I don’t just mean freedom from eternal punishment. By giving us a love relationship with himself, he gave us freedom from the power of sin and made us victorious. Victory. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. Those are the exact same things we remember and honor during Memorial Day. Those are the exact same thing we can remember and honor and celebrate every single day of our lives as beloved children of God. In my own life, Jesus has given and is still giving me freedom from so many things. I have found freedom from the chains that used to bind me in self-condemnation. I may still struggle, but I am no longer bound.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36

In Christ, I am claiming and finding freedom from fear, from the need to prove myself and my worthiness to God, from self-imposed chains of legalism. Jesus wants us to live in the perfect law of liberty. If you are bound by the chains of fear, anger, hate, envy, laziness, legality, addiction, or anything else that is binding, he can and will strike away those chains. He can not only save you from eternal death but give you eternal life here and now by granting you a love relationship with himself. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, …and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. John 8:36 says, So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. He is there, waiting to give you freedom. This weekend, as we remember those who have given their lives for freedom, let us all remember how Jesus gave his life for our liberty.

What is it you have found freedom from?


Alicia A. Willis is a Christian Historical Fiction author, mother of two sweet babies (one in heaven and one on earth), ministry wife, and coffee connoisseur. When not doing research for her novels or teaching piano, she enjoys water colors, playing with her dogs, singing, and adventures with her hubby. Join her on social media or check out her website to learn more about her books and the ministry the Lord has called them to. http://www.aliciaannewillis.com/

May 25, 2019