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Archive for March, 2011

Ready, Set, Go!

If the first difference between those who do “great” things and those who waste the life they’ve been given is starting, how do we begin?

Imagine the change you want or the dream you have being like conceiving and birthing a baby.  How does that happen?

Step 1 is to get intimate.

It takes two!   A man, a woman,  an egg, a sperm, connection at the right moment.  It takes a pair!  A relationship.  The whole picture of the church in the Bible is that of a bride and groom.

So the first step to giving birth is to open ourselves up to the our creator, lover, groom.  We do that by talking and listening and then by taking those conversations to heart.  We do what it takes to get to know and understand God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

As we maintain an intimate relationship with God, transformation (change) is imminent,  and we find ourselves pregnant with His plans.

Step 2 is to identify the bullseye.  Think darts here.  There are lots of rings on the dart board to hit but there is only one bullseye and that’s what you want to aim for.  A person who does great things, doesn’t reach them by accident.  They know what they want and they set a plan to get there.  Whatever change, small or great must be identified before it can be reached.

Then, in life,  just as in  the game of darts a bullseye means nothing unless the dart we throw hits it and sticks, we have to pick up the tools we have and use them.

Whatever we want in life our bullseye should always be excellence.

Step number 3 is to know your power source.  Galatians 3:1-5 speaks clearly. ” Are you so foolish and senseless and silly?  Having begun your new life spiritually with the Holy Spirit are you now reaching perfection by dependence on the flesh– (my interpretation–yourself)? ”

A life of “greater” things does not depend on perfectly following a set of rules.  It depends on believing, adhering, trusting in and relying on the message that God has plans for each of us and that with Him, nothing is impossible.

A lamp can’t give off light if it’s not plugged in and turned on.  The Holy Spirit is our power source for beginning and completing the life of our dreams.

What could you do today to reconnect with God?

What is your bullseye for life today? What is the tool you will use to get there?

What are you trusting and relying on to make that happen?

Ready?  Set?  GO!

 

 

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Don’t Give Up!

Have you ever had a dream you gave up?   Have you ever wanted to do something bold and courageous but couldn’t find the strength to begin?  Or maybe you began, but somewhere along the road you quit.

More importantly, have you ever had an idea or solution for solving a problem or changing something in your life but didn’t try it or stopped when it got difficult?

Last night Erv and I read another chapter in The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. As I pondered what the angel Gabriel said to traveler David Ponder (mmmm), I revisited a truth,  I had learned years ago.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who cries when watching a reality show or movie where someone does something amazing for someone else.  It’s easy to see how some big act like an extreme makeover or a secret millionaire can profoundly make a difference.

Sometimes it’s not so easy if the things we want seem miniscule in comparison.  But regardless, the little things do make a difference.

Regardless of  how big or small our dream, or our desire to change something in our life, it all hinges on what we choose to do with it.  And what we do with it, has the potential to affect generations to come.

Think about it.  What is the difference between people who do great things and those who waste the gift of life?  Why can two children in a family grow up in the exact same environment and one reaches a level of accomplishment and the other withers away, stuck in the circumstances of the past?  How come those who appear to have it all can become the most ungiving, self absorbed people we know while those who had nothing can rise from the ashes of their life and go on to succeed and make a difference?

Here’s how I see it.

1.  They start.  They make a decision to move forward with their plan.   At some point they stop questioning, doubting, and living in fear and take action.

2.  They adjust.  When you are trying to get to a destination, you might have to adjust your travel,  but you never take your eye of the end of the journey.  We may have to be flexible when we are facing obstacles along the way but we never have to take our eye off the result we are going for.

3.  They never quit.  Nothing sabotages someone’s life like quitting. Quitting not only has the potential to keep you from your destiny it can affect the destiny of others.

The rest of the week we’ll talk about those three things, but today I want to leave you with this.

Whatever you do, don’t give up!

There is a solution to your problems and a sure road to the fulfillment of your dreams.

Galatians 6:9: “Let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and in the appointed season we will reap, if we don’t loosen and relax our course and faint. ”

Keep the end result in mind.  When you are tempted to quit on your dreams or the action that will bring change, ask yourself, “What could happen if I persisted?

 

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Eating and Drinking Jesus

Last week I committed to what I am calling my healthy living program.  I’m choosing to move away from the dastardly “D” word (diet) and instead working on focusing on things that will bring me health and life.

In John 6, Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life.  In verse 51 he says: “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and also the Bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. ”

The Jews questioned what that meant and Jesus said them, “I most solemnly assure you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood (unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood.)”

No doubt, Jesus was foretelling what was about to happen to Him.  It seems to me He was also letting them know that no matter how strictly they adhered to the Hebrew law, they could have no life apart from that sacrifice.

Still, I found myself looking at John 6 in a new way.  I asked my self, What does Jesus mean by eating His flesh and drinking His blood?

I’d always thought of this in reference to acknowledging Christ’s sacrifice and in the taking of Communion or Eucharist.  That is absolutely true, but is there more?

Eating and drinking is imperative for life.  We have no energy, no health, and eventually we will die without nourishment to our bodies.

In addition to our need for food, we also have emotional and spiritual needs.  The world is like a banquet table where we must choose the source of our nourishment which will in the end determine how strong we are.

We’ve all heard the quote, “You are what you eat.”   Truth!  Is that part of what Jesus was telling us?

Could it be that He is also saying,  ‘If you don’t just want to exist on this earth and truly want to live look at where you find your nourishment?’

Verse 57 seems to confirm that truth.

What does it mean to eat and drink His flesh and blood?  I am struck by the Amplified versions phrase in verse 53 above.  “(unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood.)

When God sent Jesus, He set a banquet table all of His own.  It is full of the best for life and for our nourishment, all bought and paid for by Jesus’ broken body and spilled blood.

That banquet does us no good unless we choose to eat and drink from it.  We can stand in church, read our Bibles, follow rules and religion but unless we actually put it into practice it is of no worth to us.

True life, eternal life is about consuming Jesus.  It’s about making who He was and all He taught our focus.  It’s about hearing God’s heart as taught and lived by Jesus.  It’s  about obeying Holy Spirit whispers as He tells us what God is calling us toward now.

Jesus promises life when we eat and drink Him.  If our lives reflect something different than the abundant life He promises,  there is a question we should ask.

What does Jesus’ sacrifice mean for my situation?  How can I appropriate (put into practice) what His body and blood purchased for me?

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Barren No More

There was a five year span between my first child and my second one.  I remember wanting a baby so badly.  Nothing we seemed to do was working and I was giving up hope.  I cried out and waited.  I even had a friend who accidently got pregnant and was complaining because she really didn’t want another child.  It was difficult but God assured me I would be a joyful mother of children as it says in Psalms.

Whether it’s because of a desire for children or not, barreness is part of life at times.  Life can seem dry and boring.  There are seasons when it seems our work or tasks have no useful purpose.  At other moments, it feels like no matter what we do we’re not getting the results we want.   We can also suffer with an empty heart or soul because of wounds of the past, leaving us stuck in pain, unable to dream or move forward until we let them go.

If you find yourself in a place of barren living today, there is something you can do that comes with the promise of God for a fruitful place.    (Isaiah 54:1,2 and 5). Step out of that empty place into a place of hope.

SING: When you are empty or barren, cry aloud and break out in song.  How can I sing, you ask?  You can sing because of God’s promise that to not leave you desolate.

Here’s another reason to sing, when we come out on the other side of the barren place, we will be more fruitful!

ENLARGE YOUR PLACE: To move from barreness to fruitfulness think bigger.  Increase your relationships, your vision, your knowledge, and change your perspective.

God promises us that the shame (mistakes, wounds, and the things that cause us to hang our heads) of our youth (past) will be removed.

And here is the truth to hang on to!   “For your Maker is your Husband-the Lord of hosts is His name-and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;  the God of the whole earth He is called.”  (Verse 5)

There could never be a better lover, a better spouse.  We are married, as the bride of Christ, to a creative God who is always producing good things and wastes nothing.  There is no barreness or emptiness in Him.

He will move us from futility to fruitfulness as we stay connected to Him.

 

 

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Proud Momma–Unstoppable

Thought I’d share my middle son, Clint’s blog from his church site with you.

UNSTOPPABLE Devotion Day 5 

Clint Struble/Worship Pastor

Unstoppable Praise Devotion 

“So you had a bad day?”  You may recognize that phrase from American Idol in the past when people were voted off, they played a song by that title.  The truth is we all have bad days and have went through times where we felt discouraged by an outcome we didn’t want.   We have felt attacked by people, sometimes even those we are closest with.

David was under attack many times and had his share of bad days, but I am struck by how he lived a life of UNSTOPPABLE Praise!  Psalms 59:9-10 was His hope, “I will wait for You, O You, my Strength; For God is my Defense.  My God of mercy shall come to meet me.”  David knew that was true and rather than focus on disappointments and constant attacks he chose to let God consume him through praise rather than problems consume him through pity.

If we focus on our circumstances that is all we see, but when UNSTOPPABLE Praise is on our lips and in our hearts than Jesus comes to the forefront and all other things are overshadowed.  Despite the attacks not subsiding David in Psalm 59:16 declared “But I will sing of your power yes, I will sing aloud of your mercy in the morning.  For you have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.”

I encourage you to live a life of UNSTOPPABLE praise and watch God take up your battle for you because he is undefeated.  Some things may not still turn out the way you had hoped, but your eyes will be on Him and He will use it all for your good.  Turn your bad days into days of Praise and watch your world be transformed by it.

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Looking at the Montana blue sky and sunshine this morning warms my heart as well as my body.  Seems like it’s been a long winter even though it’s only March.  During the snowy months I whine a lot.  The dreary days seem long and tiring and I forget that there is a law in nature that we will always have the four seasons and this will pass!

Life is like that.  Sometimes the problems and difficulties seem like they will go on forever.  In fact sometimes we choose to live in the difficult season longer than we should.   Some of us (and I am talking to me as well) have let our past (anything previous to this moment) hold us back for years.

If I would look toward spring, recognizing the winter season as a time to plan, retreat, and nurture the ground for the planting season I would not get so weary.  And it’s equally true that if we would change our focus  away from our problems  we could move forward.  But how do we do that?

Psalm 119:45 says, “And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired and desperately required Your precepts.”

A precept is an instruction that guides our action.  In the kingdom of heaven a precept has all the authority of our God behind it.  It’s like a legal document.  Not in the sense of a harsh judge who is waiting to punish us but instead it’s backed up with an absolute assurance that if we follow the precept we will gain the promise behind it.

We may trip temporarily over a circumstance, problem, or experience in life but we are not meant to stay down.  We can’t trust completely in ourselves or others to lift us out of the problem.  But we can trust in what God has promised.

The promise behind the precept will always come to pass even if it doesn’t necessarily look the way we think it should. As we act according to His instruction, it’s the promise we hang on to and look towards that keeps us free and at ease.

What problem are you facing today?  What is holding you back from a life of liberty and peace?  What precept has God given for this situation?

Whatever you are facing there is a precept that covers it.  Find it, act on it, and you can be sure you will find freedom and ease in your life’s journey.

 

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There’s an old Andre Crouch song called My Tribute.  It starts with the question, “How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me?”

It’s the time of year that we begin to reflect on Jesus and His death and resurrection.  Believers often say how grateful we are for what He did.  My question to myself and others is “What now?.”

If we are Christ followers shouldn’t our lives reflect what Christ did?

The purpose of today’s blog is not to bring guilt for what hasn’t been done but to inspire us to move toward a more intentional life of bringing God glory.

Life is like a mirror.  Everything we do or are is a reflection of something.  Since I believe all of life is meant to be a sacred reflection of God to the world, it’s imperative that I ask myself, “What is my life reflecting?”

Jesus says in John 17:4: “I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave me to do.”  In this chapter, we find Jesus praying for us.  As he does, he speaks in verse 10.  “All things that are Mine are Yours and all things that are Yours belong to Me; and I am glorified through them.  They have done me honor.  in them My glory is achieved.”

Jesus showed God glory by completing the work He had been given.  He lived with His eye on the finish line of accomplishment of His God given assignment.

We do not bring glory to God by simply words.  True worship and honor comes from moving toward the completion of the work He has given us.

That work is not always some grand idea or earth changing plan.  It is our sacred duty to bring glory to Him in our relationships (marriage,parenting, etc.),  in our finances, in our body, soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit and in our service to others.

If life is a sacred gift to reflect the beauty of God’s love, than every action is sacred.  To live a sacred (set apart) life, our focus in all we do has to be about bringing God glory.

We could never pay God back for what He did for us through the gift of His son, but we do owe Him glory and honor.  He doesn’t demand it from us.  We must freely give it.

I hope you’ll join me in asking these questions.  What is my life reflecting?  What do I need to change to bring a clearer reflection of who God is to the world?  What is God’s work for me on this day, and what can I do to complete it?

If you’ve been to a sporting event, you are probably familiar with the wave. Today it’s time.  Today is the day for all His children to start a glory wave.  I can see it.  Can you?

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I’m Done!

It’s always amazing to me how God shows up in my life.  This weekend was no exception.  I’m always on the journey of personal and spiritual development because my desire is to show others how much God loves them and has a message to bring the world through them.

I guess I hadn’t realized how much I was still listening to that nagging voice in my head.  And I was unaware of what it took to silence it.

You see, I’m bold.  I’m courageous.  My whole heart’s desire is to make a difference for the kingdom of heaven by loving God, loving others, and serving with excellence.

Like anyone else, I blow it from time to time.  I may not communicate well.  I may be tired or a bit cranky.  I may be confused. It can complicate my relationships.

When I blow it, I go through an agonizing self evaluation.  It usually prolongs whatever consequence there might be as a result of my mistake or causes me to want to quit or withdraw from my mission.

Sometimes, I get it right.  That can complicate my relationships too.  Someone else might not approve.  Someone else might not see what I see.  Someone else might not want what I have to offer.

The cycle for me is the same.  I go through the agonizing self evaluation again.  Surely there must be something wrong with me.  I must not have heard what I thought God wanted me to do.  I must need to change.

You see, approval of others is important to me.  I like being validated.  I like being told someone notices and values the good in me.  I like having the freedom to mess up and still know that I’m loved and accepted.  Who doesn’t?

It suddenly became clear as I was reading The Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews.  As my husband and I traveled this weekend, I was reading out loud.  The tears came unexpectedly as I read this passage, “Sooner or later, every man of character will have that character questioned.  Every man of honor and courage will be faced with unjust criticism, but never forget that unjust criticism has no impact whatsoever upon the truth.   And the only sure way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and be nothing!”

I don’t know about you but I grew up with criticism.  I thought I had worked through it until recently.  The trigger was pulled, and I found myself impacted again.  Feeling victimized and hurt, I pulled back from my true heart, trying to reinvent who I was, hoping to hear words of acknowledgment, validation, and encouragement  for what God had placed in my heart. The people I wanted it from were important to me, I cared about them, but the words never came.

Until I read that passage through my sobs, I didn’t realize how profoundly I was hurt.  How much I had held myself back by listening to the criticism, and waiting for the approval I’d desired.

But today, I say I’m done!  I acknowledge that though the approval of man is nice and desired, it is unnecessary.  I am done letting the giving or witholding of that approval define who I am!   I am done seeking that approval from anyone but God himself.  I am done trying to hold on to relationships that aren’t approving while at the same time, forgiving them.

I forgive them for their words, their unawareness, and their lack of vision of who God has called me to be.   And I choose to forgive my worst critic, myself.

I am done being a slave to the opinions of others, including myself.  The truth is God made me to reflect the heart of God to others.   And I choose to accept that calling, even when it hurts!  From this day forward I choose to live free from the voices that say God and me are not enough. I will live who I am in Christ and through His strength in me!

Are you done?

 

 

 

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Success

Getting ready for a weekend away so for today just posting this thought.

What is success?  Success for me is “knowing” that I am always working toward exhibiting Christ’s character in my own life in every area. It is “knowing” that I have on “this day” entered into my own intimate relationship with Christ. And as a result, it is “knowing” that on “this day” I have been a vessel that pours out God’s love as I invest in every relationship He has brought my way! In other words, Knowing who God is so I can be all I am, touching one heart at a time.

How do you define success?

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The Power of Intention

If there’s one thing I realize when I look back at the past it’s that intention is a powerful tool in life.

I intended to do and be a lot of things in life but I never understood what intention really is.  Intention, intentional are words we hear more often than we used to and there is a difference between the two.

Intentional is the movement or action based on our convictions, desires, or beliefs.  Intention is the desire, wish, or belief itself.  Intentional is conscious, intention can be unconscious.

When we desire something, we can set plans and goals to achieve a result. But without intentional action we won’t find success.  Intentional is a setting of our hearts and minds on the desired outcome, and keeping our eye on it. It’s pushing through the obstacles that keep us from it.

Too many times as a woman, wife, and mother I focused more on what others expected, or the image I was trying to maintain, or the problems I was facing.  I focused more on how my kids were behaving then the who they were and building their strengths.  I was more intent on what I was getting from my marriage or trying to behave perfectly instead of on building myself and my relationship with God.

When I was intentional about the outcome God wanted, I had greater success as woman, wife, and mom and everyone around me benefited as well.  When I didn’t, it usually turned into disappointment, discouragement, and sometimes even chaos.

Here’s the truth.  Your intentional is only as good as your intention. You know your intention by your affections.  In other words, if you want a different outcome you have to change your intention.

Examining what we are doing and the what we believe is important for anyone.

As Christ followers, we have a the key to intention.  We find it in Colossians 3:2.  “And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”   That’s the mirror we get to look at our intention through. It’s also the place where we find the power to change our intention or live intentionally.

Is it any wonder why we can say God gives us the desires of our heart?  He’s the heart mender, the heart changer, and the power source all in one package!  And the outcome is overcoming in this life and making a difference for the kingdom of heaven.

Take some time to think about your intentions as a mom, wife, and woman.  Do your desires in those areas match God’s?  What can you do today that will move you towards that outcome?

 

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