Friday, December 16, 2011

A Quote For Today

"Make room for the new you. You may not have totally determined who the new you is going to be, but you probably have decided that there are some things about the current you, that you want to change. Well while you are working on what the new you will be, start 'cleaning out a room' for the new you to live in. Get rid of the junk in your life both physical and mental that doesn't fit you anymore. Take things out of your schedule that are taking your time away from finding out what you want to do. By making room for the new you, you will create a vacuum that the new you will rush in to fill and you will be on your way to the top." -- Edward W. Smith, Sixty Seconds To Success

2 The LORD gave me this answer: "Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance.
3 Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. (Habakkuk 2:2-3 Good News Bible)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

This was written by a dear friend. I have her permission to post it, but I didn't think to ask if I should reveal her name. Oh well, for now she will remain anonymous until I contact her again.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Passage Jeremiah 29:10-13:

10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

We find here what may seem like a peculiar situation for the children of Israel. The chosen of the Almighty have found themselves captives in a heathen nation. Not only have the people been taken captive, but the leaders of their religious system of worship have been taken captive. (Jeremiah 29:1). The elders, the priests and the prophets. Those who stood as the very voice of God to the people found themselves imprisoned with the people.

Now we know that Babylon is representative of confusion (Genesis 11:1-9) – and confused Israel must have been. In many times past they had rebelled against God, repented and God had acted swiftly on their behalf. Rescue always seemed to come from the heavens for this people. This time, however, everything is on lock. The doors of the church are no longer open, and the Word comes to say don’t even believe your prophets (Jeremiah 29:8). For your prophets will come to you with a word of comfort that has not come from MY mouth, but from theirs! Verse 10 plainly declares, that it would be seventy years, a lifetime in our modern day estimation, before the captors bands would be broken. Through the lips of the prophet Jeremiah God says to Israel, “Get comfortable. You are going to be in this land called confusion for awhile.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

To the natural eye this seems counterproductive. It makes little sense for God to withhold His power to deliver, and allow His children to languish in confusion and chaos, and even instruct them to pray for the land that holds them prisoner. You see Israel had been caught up in the whirlwind of repercussions associated with their continuously rebellious behavior. They remind me of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. For those of you who have not seen the movie, allow me to share with you how this temperamental teenager finds herself worlds away from home.

Dorothy has decided that no one at home truly appreciates her or her dog Toto, and she runs away. It is while she is running that she encounters a wise old man who sends her back home. He tells her how good her family is and how lucky she is to have them. We have all had that experience – that moment right before we mess up, take that drink, go to that club, etc – when the phone rings and it is Momma, Granma or First Lady calling just to talk about the goodness of Jesus. Dorothy immediately starts home. You see, she has transitioned from doing what was wrong to doing what is right. However, her transition does not prohibit the storm that is on the way. See there was a yellow bricked road that God had for Dorothy to travel, and no amount of wise counsel could stop what God had already put in motion. But faith in the goodness and mercy of God comforts us, as we know that His ultimate plan is always to prosper us. Regardless of how the facts and figures add up to all negatives right now, His plan is your prosperity.

Now we may struggle to understand why He would send a storm Dorothy’s way. After all, she had repented, and turned and was on her way back home – much like the prodigal son had done. (Luke 15:11-31). But Dorothy’s transformation was in the journey; she had to take the yellow brick road. So, as that house began to twirl and things in her life grew out of control; as she found herself in a city that confused her – shattered her very perception of all that was right – God had her exactly where He wanted her! See it would take those 70 years in Babylon for there to be a Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6:10-23) and a Shadrach, Meshach and Abendago in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-30). In the midst of the city called confusion God was making His glory known. God was pulling out of these heroes of faith what He had placed in them from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6) for such a time as this. He was changing a king’s heart, and preparing the way (through the display of His power) to deliver His chosen people.

But before the book of Daniel, there was the prophecy of Jeremiah. The prophet said to Israel, settle down in this city called confusion. I know it looks backwards. I know that scarecrows don’t talk where you come from and lions don’t cry, and there is definitely no use for a rusty old tin man. But just take the journey with me Dorothy. I know that they told you to follow this road to a city called Oz and find a man they call a Wizard. I realize that you are looking to his greatness to get you back home. But I am going to show you – along this yellow brick road – that the Power and the Greatness is already on you, and once you believe it and receive it, it will get in you. And when that POWER gets in you… then you can have the desires of your heart. You will witness those things being manifested before your face, and it will be undeniably the POWER of God working through the Power of His chosen vessel.

The Wizard of Oz wasn’t at the end of that yellow brick road – revelation was at the end of that yellow brick road. And I used the storm, the confusion, the longing, the hurt, the despair, the captivity to reveal to you the ME that I have placed in you. I know that you have been tossed and probably injured in the fall, but rise up, dust yourself off, click your heels together and let your Father know that you realize that your captivity has ended and home is wherever He sends you… Amen!

November 27, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We're Working Towards Our 10,000 Hours

The following is a blog post by Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To the Work You Love. You can read the post below or read it from his website by clicking here.
Put in 10,000 hours – then we’ll talk

I frequently encounter employees who want a guaranteed salary before they show up the first day, musicians who want to be signed before they’ve proven their talent, house cleaners who want to be paid even if not needed, celebrities who expect a meaningful marriage after a 3-day romance, and authors who want my endorsement for their book but don’t want to “give” me a copy to read.

Have we forgotten that to reap a harvest of corn you have to first plant seeds, and to receive warmth from a stove you must first put wood in?

Charles Dickens wrote for the Evening Chronicle for nearly three years with no payment. Much to his surprise and delight, he was then approached by a young publisher who wanted to collect his writings into a volume along with ten prints from an illustrator. That success led to The Pickwick Papers and made him the most popular author in the world at that time (1836). Over the next twenty years, more than 1.6 million copies of Pickwick were sold.

Joanne and I taught a free weekly seminar called CareerLink for over eight
years, simply encouraging people and giving them our own copies of information that would help them, before the overnight success of 48 Days to the Work You Love.

In Outliers Malcolm Gladwell says that people who attain extraordinary success put in 10,000 hours before reaching their “success.” Today too many people are expecting a short-cut to fame and fortune.

What are you doing to put in your 10,000 hours toward the dream you know is coming?

Friday, September 16, 2011

"When God Hurts Your Feelings" by Lysa TerKeurst

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV 1984)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I'll be honest, sometimes I'll read those verses from Philippians listed above and think to myself, "This is a tough pill to swallow."

Content in any and every situation?


Several years ago my daughter was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful, and captivating to watch.

One night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she'd ever compete in, she fell. It was a move she'd done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake ended her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor only to be told she'd never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.

I'll be honest, this was heart wrenching. Watching a 14 year old girl wrestle with the fact her dreams were stripped from her doesn't exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to wallow in the "why" questions and tell God He'd hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn't You stop this God?

Why weren't my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn't process why God would allow this to happen? Or maybe even a small annoyance like losing your keys or having a flat tire on a morning you really needed to be somewhere.

It's so tempting to wallow in the why.

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn't unspiritual. However, if asking why pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking why doesn't offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: "Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?"

Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

I like to call this verse "directions on where to park my mind."

And that's exactly what Ashley has had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I've had to help her say:

This is my reality, now what am I going to do with it?

What can I learn from this?

What part of this is for my protection?

What other opportunities could God be providing?

What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what question paves the road to parking our mind in a much better place.

Is it always easy? Nope.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don't understand and we absolutely don't like? Yes.

I pray this helps you today. You can also download a free resource on how to change your why questions into what questions. Just go to my blog, and click on the button "When God Hurts Your Feelings."

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it's just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Mentally walk yourself through parking your mind in a better place by remembering an event that happened this week and looking for God's protection, provision and process of maturing you.

Am I afraid to have honest conversations with God about how I really feel about some of my circumstances?

How might it be helpful to really talk to God about things that hurt me?

Why is it helpful to ask what now, instead of wallowing in the why questions?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" (NIV 1984)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Losing Your Way and Regaining Your Momentum: Where Did It Fall?

So, this short entry and its title is inspired by a series of messages preached by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. The series focused on Christians regaining their momentum for Christ. I'd like to take that thought and relate it to life. Looking at my recent posts it's obvious I haven't been attending to this blog, and the reason was simple. I had lost my way during this time of change. Basically, I gave up. Change--especially long periods of change--is not easy. There's a lot of struggle, sacrifice, and questioning with some of the questions being, "Am I really doing the right thing?", "Am I trying too hard to get where I want to be in life?", "Am I trying too hard to become something that I'm not," & "How do I keep dealing with these failures?" But all of these supposed hindrances are just life's stepping stones to take us towards the change we're searching after. I encourage you to continue on this journey of shedding old thoughts, ideas, and/or perceptions, because they can't be a part of where you're going. If they could have been, you would've reached your destination by now.

" give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." (Isa 61:3 KJV)

"You can't expect beauty if you continue to hold onto your ashes." - Joyce Meyer [paraphrased]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Past Is Calling. Should You Answer?

This entry was inspired by a message preached at my church yesterday. I wasn't there for the service, however the gist of the message was that your ex is calling you but you should leave your past behind. Your ex in this case would be past experiences in your life. So I'm reframing the message to ask should you answer when your past is calling you?

What do I mean by your past? Well, I'm thinking of the reminders of your faults and mistakes. The things that you should or shouldn't have done and the things that you should or shouldn't have said. And oh yeah, what about when you let go of your standard(s)? Your past is calling to make you reflect on the times that you've failed--be it others, yourself, or God. Are you going to take the time to stop and answer the call by wasting time thinking on your past?

I said it's a waste of time to think on your past because, as the old saying goes, there is nothing that can be done about it. Granted you can try to correct some of your mistakes, but the actions that took place cannot be changed. It's helpful to learn from your mistakes and failures. When you do that, you know what roads not to take when it comes to making decisions or choices in your life. However, dwelling on your past failures only keeps you bogged down in the present. Your desire may be to move forward, but how can you when you're so busy looking at the past?

I'll talk about me and may be that will help. I've made mistakes that I've dwelt on over and over and over again. In other words, my past was calling and I took the time to answer. I thought about, "Well, if I hadn't done that, maybe this would have been different," or, "Why did you let that happen? You knew better." Yet, the one thought that has tripped me up the most is, "Now I can't look down on others." Yep, I said it. In my recent past, the idea that as long as you stay focused you won't make certain mistakes has not been my reality. But when I stop to look at it, how sad is that? How sad is it to have a standard not so much to help others but to be able to look down on others and judge in your head and your heart internally (although you may never judge them verbally)?

Okay, this post may not be for everybody, and I may respin it to make it more general another day. But to those who can relate, let me say this. Stop answering the call of your past. You and I have made mistakes, and guess what we've learned? We're human. That's what humans do. However, do we use our humanity to continue to make intentional mistakes? No, we do not. Nor do we continue to try and live a life that allows us to look down on those who aren't living up to our standard. We take the mistakes, learn from them, leave them in the past, and move on with life. The lessons learned from them have the ability to make us stronger because now we have a better understanding of our weaknesses. We no longer depend upon our integrity because we realize we're just as human as the next person. Perfection doesn't stop here, and we should no longer expect it to.

So when your past comes calling, don't answer. It's not worth your time.

John 8:1-11 KJV

v. 1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
v. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
v. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
v. 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
v. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
v. 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
v. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
v. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
v. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
v. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
v. 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When We Fall...

This was yesterday's Encouragement For Today devotional. It was written by Renee Swope.
Getting Up Again

"...though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again..." Proverbs 24:16a, (NIV)

I've always admired people who aren't afraid to fail. You know the ones who don't even consider defeat when they blow it; people who see a personal setback as just another goal to conquer.

I'm not always so courageous. In fact, I can be really hard on myself when I fail, and it doesn't even have to be a biggie. You see, I have what I call a "meanie in me" who replays my mistakes over and over, reminding me of how badly I've disappointed someone, or how impatient I was with my husband, or how harsh I was with my kids, or all sorts of ways that I fell short that day.

But the greatest defeat comes when I allow a mistake, a bad decision, sin, or a broken relationship to convince me that I might as well give up. Perhaps you have also allowed failure to knock you down, tie you up with the ropes of regret and hold you hostage like I have.

When I surveyed over 1200 women for my upcoming book, A Confident Heart, I discovered that our past failures, and our fear of failing again, are two of the biggest triggers that make us doubt ourselves.

Today's key verse, Proverbs 24:16, has helped me release the regret, guilt, fear and shame that have weighed me down and held me back. Take a minute to read it now and notice how it says the righteous will fall. That is right. Even those of us who have received the gift of Christ's righteousness and redemption will fall down. But we were never intended to stay down.

Instead of giving up Jesus empowers us to get up again.

In getting up, we can apologize and ask for forgiveness. In getting up, we can choose to try again with our kids, in our jobs, in our ministries, in our marriages, and in all of our mistakes. Because we trust that although we fall, God will help us up. Listen to His promise in Psalm 37:23-24 and as you read it insert your name in the blanks: "The steps of ____________ are established by the Lord, and He delights in ____________ way. When ____________ falls, __________ will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds ________ hand." (NASB)

When we get up again failure can actually help us become the confident women God created us to be because it makes us stronger and better — when we go to God for help. Failure can stretch us to do more than we think we can and push us to try other methods of doing things when one way doesn't work.

Yes, failure can be hurtful but it can also be beneficial. Failure produces wisdom when we ask for it and maturity when we learn from it.

The truth is, following Jesus is not about avoiding failures and being perfect. It's about accepting our weaknesses and becoming more dependent on God's perfect love and power at work in us. So the next time you fail to be the woman He calls you to be, or the woman you expect yourself to be, ask God to remind you of this truth.

We will sometimes fail to be who we want to be but we will get closer to who we are meant to be every time we fall and then choose to take God's hand so we can get up again!

Lord, I'm so thankful for Your grace that reminds me there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because my steps are established by You, Lord, I will believe that You delight in me even when I fail or fall. Today, I want to take Your hand and trust Your heart as You pull me back up again and use my failures to help me become the confident woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Application Steps:
List one or two areas of your life where you have felt like you were failing and wanted to give up — mainly on yourself. Then ask God to show you how you can get back up with His help.

Have I ever wanted to give up? What got me to that hard place and how can I receive God's grace and rely on His strength instead of my own?

Power Verses:
Psalm 37:23-24, "The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand." (NASB)

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coming Attractions by Marybeth Whalen

This was today's devotional for Encouragement Today on
Coming Attractions
by Marybeth Whalen

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow." James 4:13-14a (NIV)

I live life on fast forward, racing around with my to-do list in hand, eyes on the next thing that needs doing. I love setting goals and achieving them. Very little makes me as happy as crossing off something on my to-do list with a satisfying line of ink.

One day this summer I spent a lazy afternoon watching tv with my niece. She had a feature on her entertainment system that let you watch movie trailers to preview the movies first. We had started out the afternoon intending to select a movie but ended up spending quite a bit of time just watching the trailers. "Sometimes I spend all my time just watching what's coming and never getting to the main feature," she giggled.

Her words hit me as I realized that — too often — that's how I live my life. I focus on what's ahead and don't allow myself the simple pleasure of truly enjoying the main feature: this day, this moment, I've been given.

In my new novel, She Makes It Look Easy, the main character is someone who lives on fast forward too. She has set her sights on the kind of house she wants to live in, the kind of life she wants to have, the perfection she hopes to obtain. She seeks the advice of an influential neighbor in hopes of getting herself to that perfection all the faster. She doesn't stop to think that perhaps in her zeal to do more and better and faster she is losing the gifts and blessings that are in her midst right now.

Sad to say, this novel was born largely from my own experience. My life has been a continual learning process of reveling in today and suppressing the urge to try to lay hold of that elusive tomorrow.

A few months ago I got the very first speeding ticket of my life. As the officer who issued the ticket went back to his car I sat in stunned silence, unable to process what had just happened. My perfect record was tarnished by my inability to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Ever racing to the next thing, my habits had caught up to me. Instead of enjoying the scenery I had reduced it to a dull blur flying past my window. After the shock wore off, I realized the lesson: slowing down, pressing pause, will not only add to the life I live, it can also keep me from harm.

I have endeavored recently to be more deliberate about choosing to pause and see God at work, to catch the little winks He sends my way if I will only look up. I keep a list of these gifts He gives. I write in my journal about what I am learning. I seek Him through His Word and ask Him each morning to bring these truths to mind throughout my day. Sometimes in the roar of my life I stand perfectly still and just listen and smile and say Thank You, Lord. I am learning to focus on the main feature and quit speeding towards the coming attractions.

Dear Lord, today is a blessing from You. Help me to seek out what You have for me in it. I know that You hold my tomorrows in Your hand and in the meantime I can rest in the moment I've been given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Instead of focusing on a to-do list today, create a "to enjoy" list and check those things off instead.

What am I missing today because I'm focused on tomorrow? What gifts has God given me that are rushing past me as I race ahead?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." (NIV)

Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (NIV)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

When Life is Sour

This post is by blogger Lysa TerKeurst.
Mine, Mine, Mine!

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

I am a magnet for strange.


Recently I was outside with my three dogs soaking up the sunshine. After being in snowy Pennsylvania the weekend before, I needed the warmth of the Carolinas to soak deeply into my bones. Southern girls don't do snow in the spring.

Anyhow, back to the sunshine and dogs. We got a new puppy named "Willow" for Christmas. Well, our other dogs Champ and Chelsea aren't sure what to think of precious, little three-pound, Willow.

She annoys them. In every way.

I thought it would be a good investment for the dog relations in our home if I spent time with them outside to help them all feel the love. So, I sat on the ground and loved on each dog.

They enveloped me in a flurry of wet kisses, fur, and stinky dog breath. I was having a ball. And they were all getting along. Bliss.

Until...Willow came and sat on my lap. Claiming the prized location of closeness with me, I don't think she realized the signal she was sending. Champ suddenly backed up and growled. His tail stopped wagging. And he was not happy.

"Oh Champ," I reassured him, "Willow is a baby. Be nice."

More growling.

"No sir! Champ, be nice. Come here. I can love on you while Willow sits in my lap," I reassured him once again, while rubbing behind his ears.

He seemed to be happy again, and licked my cheek.

More bliss.

But then, out of the blue, he walked beside me, looked straight at Willow, lifted his leg, and drenched me in tee-tee!

What in the world!? I couldn't believe what was happening.

After recovering from my shock and changing my clothes, I Googled it.

Some say Champ was marking his territory. "That's MY mama!"

His strong expression of "MINE" was a stark reminder to me of just how disgusting a heart bent on self can be. Champ couldn't enjoy all he was experiencing in the moment, because he was so laser focused on the one way he felt slighted.


Several years ago, God challenged me to recognize and refute selfishness by seeing — really seeing all that I've been given. And never looking at a blessing I was given as something just for me. I always make myself think two things...

1. Thank You God for entrusting this blessing to me. I know it is a gift from You.

2. How can I use this as an opportunity to bless someone else? The blessing will be more rewarding if it's not all about me.

Do these things come naturally? Not at first. Not in a 'me first,' Mine! Mine! Tee-tee on others kind of world.

But we aren't called to live according to the norm, doing what comes naturally.

We are called to rise above. Be set apart. Be different. Be pure in every way. "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).

What blessing do you have that might need to be shared today? What blessing do I have that might need to be shared today?

Right in the midst of what we're doing today, how can we graciously and purely represent Christ as we RE-present Him everywhere we go?

Good stuff to ponder as I washed my smelly outfit that day.

Dear Lord, thank You for every good and perfect gift You have given me. Help me to put others before me and to have a heart to see them as You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
What opportunity has been given to you recently that you can in turn pass on to others? Will you take the initiative to do that today?

The journey will be more rewarding if it's not all about me. Do I agree with this statement? Have I done this before? How will I plan to implement this going forward?

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (NIV)

Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (NIV)

Psalm 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (NIV)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The No and the Nod of God" by Laura Caldwell

The following is from Laura Caldwell's blog Faith Fuel
The No and the Nod of God

I haven't been posting as much, lately--I know. But I've been having a sort of mini revival--all thanks to recently discovering anew that God's No is not the same as God's frown. I suddenly feel so loved and protected, in spite of all the No's I've had.

God's No is not such a bad thing, I've been discovering. But No is not a word we normally enjoy or appreciate.

Think of it: when you were a child and you reached out for something and heard a severe "No!" it was probably not an enjoyable experience. There might have been a No to dessert, a No to getting a toy, a No to going to a party. We remember the No's. And yes, of course, your parents (hopefully) said No to protect you: No to touching hot stoves, No to walking alone at Night, No to staying past curfew, etc etc. But still, a No is not a word we heartily embrace.

The word "No" has gotten a bad rep. And lately I've been discovering that when God says No, He might just be saying "I love you too much to let you go through that least right now." Sometimes No is "Not yet" and sometimes God's No is a resounding Alarm not too unlike the clanging fire alarm that goes off because a call comes into the local fire station that some bo-bo has set their kitchen on fire because they had their dish towel too close to the stove (I have never done that, but I have set my hair on fire when I leaned too close to the candle, once. But no fire truck was needed, thank you).

When God says No it could often mean an indirect Yes to something else--something you don't YET have in mind, but God does. God always has your Best in mind when He answers you. Because He knows the plans He has for you (Jer. 29:11).

Lately I've had a renewed enthusiasm in coming to God in prayer and discovering that I really don't care whether he says No or nods Yes--I just care that He cares, that He bends down to listen to me...and that His Answer is always perfect, always in my best interest. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out His answer.

But one thing I know for sure: I'm begining to appreciate and love the No and the Nod of God...because I know that He loves me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Little Decisions Make a Big Difference" by Glynnis Whitwer

I know that this has been true in my life...
Little Decisions Make a Big Difference
by Glynnis Whitwer

"Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise ..." Ephesians 5:15 (NIV)

Do you ever get tired of making decisions? I do. Every day, decisions line up for my attention. I decide what I'm going to do, how I'll spend my money, and what I'm going to say. Conversely, I make decisions about what I am NOT going to do, spend or say.

One of the biggest challenges I face right now has to do with what I eat. You see, I'm on Weight Watchers. For the past 19 years, I've battled to be at a healthy weight. Coincidentally, my oldest child is 19. I'm certainly not blaming him... but, I'm just saying...

The first week on the program I recorded a respectable loss of 1.5 pounds. The second week on the program, I lost nothing. I was shocked. It seemed I had exercised and sacrificed more that week than ever. But the scale told the truth.

The kind lady at the reception desk tried to help me think it through. "Maybe you aren't eating enough," she said. No, that wasn't the problem. "Are you drinking enough water?" she asked. Yes. That wasn't the problem either.

Then it hit me. The problem wasn't what I was eating when I sat down for a meal, it was all the bites that led up to that meal. It was the French fry before dinner, and the bite of casserole as I put away the leftovers after dinner. It was the nibble of my son's double cheeseburger, and the extra scoop of dip with my carrots.

It wasn't the big decisions that kept me from seeing progress; it was all the little decisions.

Unfortunately, I had minimized in my mind the potential damage of all those little bites. Yet they added up to derail me from my goal of losing weight that week. The next week I took control of those BLTs (bites, licks, tastes and sips) and had a nice loss.

As I've pondered this reality, I've applied it to other areas of my life. I easily minimize the damage of daily unwise decisions. They aren't sin issues, so I can dismiss them as unimportant. However, when added up, they have a big impact on achieving some of my personal goals.

For example, when I make a decision to not read my Bible for one day, there's no noticeable impact. But when I neglect this important part of my spiritual growth repeatedly, I find myself lacking in godly wisdom and discernment.

If you find yourself on a plateau in a certain area of your life, perhaps this truth can apply to you as well. You may be making all the right big decisions, but the little ones are having a cumulative negative impact on you.

Not only that, but I believe God desires to do amazing things through us, and is continually testing us to see if we can handle bigger responsibilities. The truth is those little decisions that seem minor, and inconsequential, really do matter. They matter to me as I pursue personal goals, and they matter to God.

You see, it's in the arena of little responsibilities that our true dependability is revealed.

My challenge today is to make every decision count. I ask myself, "Is this decision going to get me closer to my goal, or further from it? Is this decision going to show God I can be trusted with the little things?"

Sometimes I ask these questions every hour. Which is why I ate steamed vegetables for dinner, and my family had overstuffed burritos. (Not that it's Monday night and I'm weighing in Tuesday morning or anything.)

Dear Lord, thank You for caring about every detail of my life. I know You have placed goals and dreams in my heart that will take diligence to carry out. Help me to look to You when faced with a decision, and I pray for Your wisdom as I make the right choice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Identify one big goal you have for your life. Name one helpful "little" decision you can make that will help you achieve that goal.

What are some examples of little decisions I make every day that can impact me positively over time?

Have I ever made a series of innocent choices that led me down the wrong path? What did I learn from that experience?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 5:8-10, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." (NIV)

Colossians 1:10-11, "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..." (NIV)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Humility In the Muck and Mire of Change

I read the following insert in the book 48 Days by Dan Miller:

The "Humus" in My Life

If you are a backyard gardener, you appreciate the value of humus--the decayed leaves and vegetable matter that feeds the roots of your plants. It's interesting to note that the same root word for humus gives rise to the word humility, explaining that the "humiliating" events of my life, the events that leave "mud in my face," may be the fertilizer in which something new and great can grow.

Fifteen years ago I crashed and burned in my business. Handshake relationships with the bank changed and my notes were called. I was forced into selling a health and fitness center at auction, resulting in owing more than $100,000 in personal debt. That "humiliating" experience refined my thinking and understanding of business. Today, I am free of bank debt and have a nontraditional business, and incredible sense of meaning and purpose in my work, and far more income than I did back in those days.

Remember, it's usually in the midst of muck and mess that the conditions for rebirth are being created.

"That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten." (Joel 1:4 KJV)

"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." (Joel 2:25 KJV)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Joy of Lack

An oxymoron, isn't it? "What joy comes from lack, and where did you get that title?" are questions you may be asking. Well, the title came from the thought of wasting time. I was on Facebook for two hours playing diffferent Zynga games, and I began to wonder why do I spend so much time with games. The simplest answers are:

1. They're fun
2. They provide easy entertainment
3. Sometimes they're mindless actions, and mindless actions can be restful/peaceful.
4. The results of your actions are immediate.

So that's the joy. Not having to think too much and experiencing immediate results from your actions. In the case of the Zynga games, if I keep doing actions to collect coins I can build things. Watching my creations grow can be rewarding.

But then, that is where the lack comes in. Yes, watching more buildings erect or planted crops grow is cool when it comes to the virtual world, but what about the real world? The abundance that I'm creating for myself virtually by collecting coins, building houses, and picking crops is equating to lack in my reality. The only thing I'm getting done during this time is resting; however, as Newton's First Law of Motion implies a body at rest remains at rest.

So, while my virtual world continues to grow and as I continue to take joy from its growth, my real world goes lacking. To restate, the joy found in those few hours equates to even greater hours of lack happening in my reality.

During this time of change, let's find a way to wean ourselves of those things that create temporary joys but create longer lasting results of lack.

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
(Proverbs 6:6 KJV)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creating Time for Change Is Possible

I read the following devotional from Encouragement For Today
and thought, "How appropriate." For those who don't believe in God, the gist of it's message still holds true. For those who believe in God and are having a hard time making time for prayer and Bible reading, let's change our habits. A hard reality of life is that we make time for those things we want to make time for. I confess that the Lord knows that I need to make more time for Him.
Time and Again
by Rachel Olsen
January 13, 2011

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

We are creatures of habit, aren't we? Whether those habits are beneficial to us - or even if we regret them time and again - we tend to repeat the same behaviors day after day:

· We light another cigarette, even though we just said yesterday we want to quit.
· We eat the brownies in our pantry, even though we're aiming to lose weight in the New Year.
· We camp in front of the TV for hours most evenings, even though we want to be the kind of person that goes for walks and reads novels instead.
· We leave things laying where we last used them, even though we long for uncluttered surroundings.
· We buy a new Bible, figuring that will propel us to get in the Word more. Two weeks later it sits on the shelf.

We want to be the person God calls us to be, so we use January to make New Year's resolutions about how we're going to change this year. We give voice to that longing in our hearts to be different - to be somehow better. And we decide to give a heart-felt go at changing.

And there's nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, it's a move in the right direction. However, the Bible advises us to check our plans against the Lord's, and then ground our commitments in His truth and power in order to succeed.

Remember this, for the Holy Spirit to facilitate God's work and purposes in us, He must first (re)define our definition of reality, and our priorities.

For example, say that you wish to spend time in God's Word in 2011. Great - that's God's will for you as well. For that to happen, your habits must change. And for that to happen, your perception of reality must be redefined.

I'm guessing you currently believe, and your current actions demonstrate, that you don't have time to really pursue God like you want to. You're convinced you're too busy to join a Bible study, or have a regular quiet time of prayer and Bible reading, without quitting your job or neglecting your family in the process. But is that true?

"God has given everyone enough time to seek Him. It is there," says Francis Frangipane. He continues, "Those who would find God, find time." "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV).

When a favorite TV show comes on, we find time to watch. When a favorite store announces a big sale, we find time to go. When a friend wants to meet for coffee, we make time to meet her. We find or "make" time all the time! So rest assured that if you live a healthy, God-honoring life, there is plenty of time there to grow in your knowledge of, and connection with your Creator.

It is true that in our busy lives we cannot do everything. But we can choose which things absolutely will get done. We can choose what to do first. And that's precisely what the Bible tells us to do. Jesus calls His followers to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, and then He promises we will have all we need (Matthew 6:33).

It is also true that our willpower is limited. Our dedication wanes. Our intentions are good but our follow-through is shaky. We don't have what it takes to revolutionize our entire lives. But God does — and He lives in us. "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3, NLT).

You absolutely have time to spend 10 or 20 minutes a day getting to know God and His promises for you in His Word. You also have the extra eight seconds it typically takes to put an item back in its place. Watch one less TV show a night and you'll have created time to read three or more books every month, and take a brisk walk after dinner. Seek God first - time after time - and you'll even have the power you need to put down the brownies or cigarettes.

We are creatures of habit - let's make it our habit in 2011 to seek God first each day and commit our plans to Him. I think we will marvel at the results, time and again.

Dear Lord, today I seek Your face, wisdom and Your will. I give my plans to You and I ask that I may operate in Your power. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Spend the next 10 minutes alone with God and your open Bible.


For the Holy Spirit to facilitate God's work and purposes in me, He must first (re)define my definition of reality, and my priorities.

Power Verses:

Psalm 37:5, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (ESV)

Ephesians 5:15-16, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." (NLT)

Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV)

© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So, What About Those New Year's Resolutions?

I read the following devotional today, and I thought, "Hmmm..." I have been at fault for some of the things implied here. So as I set my goals for this year, how will I handle them? What about you? I wish you the best success in fulfilling your goals for 2011. Happy New Year!

Encouragement for Today - Jan. 5, 2011

Keeping My New Year's Resolutions to Myself
by Glynnis Whitwer

"The king of Israel answered, ‘Tell him: "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off."'" - 1 Kings 20:11 (NIV)

I'm done with announcing my New Year's Resolutions. I know some people thrive on accountability from announcing goals. I'm not one of them. Once, I announced on my blog I was losing weight, and I gained five pounds. There was something seriously wrong with that situation.

Recently, I heard successful entrepreneur Derek Sivers explain why some people shouldn't announce their goals. According to several scientific studies, it seems some of us get mental gratification just by talking about our goals without actually doing the work. While this opposes common understanding of accountability, I can see the truth in it.

There have been times when I've taken pride in myself for identifying a worthwhile goal. It's like there's this striving little part of me that puffs up ever so slightly when declaring what I'm going to accomplish. It's definitely a cousin of boasting, only so much more refined. Do I imagine your admiration just in the speaking of my goals? Does it make me seem smarter or bolder than I am?

You'd never know from the surface these thoughts dance around my subconscious. It doesn't even happen to me all the time. But for some reason, New Year's Resolutions are the worst. It's so much easier to declare a grand resolution than do the steadfast daily marching needed to cross the finish line.

Whether it's neglected resolutions, sales pitches that don't pan out, or political promises, we live in a society of sometimes lofty declarations. Yet I've learned the hard way that words are empty without the steadfast commitment to live them out. Time and truth go hand-in-hand.

The Bible is quite clear that actions speak louder than words. There's an interesting statement made in 1 Kings 20:11 that rings true. It's spoken by Ahab, king of Israel, when he faced attack by Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. Ben-Hadad sent threatening messages, trying to intimidate Ahab. Kind of like an athlete boasting assuredly that he will win tonight's game.

In the face of the final threat, Ahab said to Beh-Hadad's messenger, "Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'" In other words, save the talking for after you've accomplished the goal.

Now those are words worth memorizing. And they speak vividly to me today in the face of yet another year of potential and promise. The biblical principal behind them is: Do not boast - and if you boast, boast in Christ. In our age of status updates and tweets, it can be tempting to make ourselves seem more interesting, important, ambitious or productive than we really are, yet.

I'm not saying it's wrong. It's just not right for me. So instead of making a public declaration of any New Year's Resolutions, I'm choosing to invest in my standing orders from God, while listening for His future assignments.

And I'm not telling anyone about it. Except you.

Dear Lord, thank You for the truth found throughout Your Word. Help me to grasp hold of this truth and apply it to my life. I long to be a faithful, diligent servant - one You can trust to do what she's asked. Help me be that woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Resolutions aren't bad, but the idea is to back them up with diligent work. Identify one goal you have and the next practical step you can take toward completion....

What are your thoughts about announcing goals? Have you ever announced something, only to quit before completion?

Should a Christian have a different approach to setting New Year's Resolutions? If so, how should we be different?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV)

Proverbs 16:2-3, "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.