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Archive for August, 2011

I’ve recently fallen in love with the word ethos.  Ethos is the character or set of guiding beliefs of a person, group or institution.  It’s Greek origin means custom and character.

For good or bad, every person and group has an ethos.  Whether you understand it or not, your ethos is directly linked to how you live. What you let guide you will determine your inner being and influence your outward circumstances as well.   Ethos is the spirit behind every action we take.

That spirit sets the tone for our lives.  For example, what is the difference between a home where the family works together for the good of one another, or one that has a culture of each for themselves?   Or a marriage, when one depends and expects the other to meet their need or make them happy, instead of looking for what they can do to bless their spouse?

What happens in a situation where injustice happens and one person has an ethos of an eye for an eye and another has the foundation of love, forgiveness, truth, etc.?

God has set the ethos for the world.  His character is reflected in scripture, the life of Jesus, and His creation.  When we as individuals or groups, emulate His ethos hope, faith, and love will be the guiding force in all we do. The result is a profound peace that passes any understanding of our current situation.

Psalm 119:15 says: “I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect for your ways (the paths of life marked out by Your law).”  If you want a strong ethos, that is the place to start.

He has a precept for every situation you face.  He has a marked path for our life based on these principles.

The question is do we know them?  Do we respect them?  How important are they to us?

Psalm 115:20 says: “My heart is breaking with the longing that it has for Your ordinances and judgments at all times.”

I have to ask myself, as I ask you.  What are my guiding principles or ethos? Is my heart longing for God’s character and precepts for my life?  Am I apathetic and just taking life as it comes?  Am I set on doing things my way because I don’t trust the result of doing it His way?

Your ethos (how you act based on what you believe) will influence every relationship you have.  It will determine how you respond to difficult situations.  It will guide you in every decision you make.

When you embrace God’s ethos, you will understand a life well lived.

 

 

 

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Woke up this morning with the Abba song, Take A Chance On Me in my head for some strange reason.  Then again, maybe it’s not so strange. We are leaving for Vegas tomorrow for a business convention and I guess it seems fitting.

I love how God takes the thoughts I’m thinking and turns them into something about Him.  I could just feel my faith rising as I thought about taking a chance on God. 

The scripture tells us that His words are yes and amen, his promises are true, and God is not a man that He would lie.

So what would it hurt to take a chance on what God says about His power and plans for us and our lives.

What if we took a chance that He could heal our hurts and meet our inner desires ?

What if we took a chance that He could provide financially?

What if we took a chance that He could change us and our spouse, and bless our marriage?

What if we took a chance that He could turn things around in our jobs, homes, relationships?

What if we took a chance to love like He loves?

So many things we can take a chance on!   I’m betting that if we bet it all by surrendering everything in our life to Christ and turning it over to Him, we will win!   We will be rewarded with our innermost desires and conformed to the character of Christ.

What could you do to take a chance on God today?

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We’ve all watched our kids get upset about something.  There are times when they’ve been so disturbed they were inconsolable.

Child or adult, part of the weakness of the human condition is that we let things upset us.  Sometimes they are little things and other times they are big.

Yet we all long for true inner peace.

The good news is that we have already been given that gift.  Jesus tells us in John 14:22, “Peace I leave with you; My own peace I give and bequeath to you.”

The opposite of inner peace is a troubled heart.  There are a lot of reasons one’s heart might be troubled.  Whatever the reason, it’s no fun to feel upset and it does no good to allow the circumstances to control you.

If someone gives you a gift, it’s yours unless you refuse it.  It’s useless as long as it remains unopened. God has given us peace.  It’s not for someday.  It’s ours now. If we want it, we have to open the gift.

So how do we do that.  It’s not easy but it is simple.  The rest of verse 27 holds the key.  “Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.  Stop allowing yourself to be agitated and disturbed; Do not permit yourself to be fearful or intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”

If you find yourself with an unopened gift of inner peace, maybe you could ask yourself:  What is causing my heart to be troubled or afraid?  Where or how did I get to a place of allowing myself to be agitated and disturbed?  Why am I living from fear, without courage, and unsettled? Am I focusing on my situation or the gift of peace that God has given me?

Inner peace is a decision away.  It’s not based on circumstance or what someone does or doesn’t do.  It’s based on what we allow or permit to agitate or disturb us.

What if we followed God’s advice and just stopped allowing ourselves to be upset or disturbed?

What could that mean for our marriages, our homes, our parenting, our finances, our church, our community, or the world for that matter?

You don’t have to live without inner peace.  When you do, you have left God’s gift to you and your inheritance unopened.

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Yesterday we lost our 14 year old companion, our dog, Daisy.  Everywhere I go today I think about her and the impact she had on our lives.  I hear the jingle of her collar as she walked through the house.  I see the engraved image of her laying next to my feet just to be near me while I worked in the office.  I see her sitting patiently near the table, begging for one morsel from my dinner plate.  And I remember the unconditional love and companionship she offered to us and our son through those years.

When you think about it, Daisy left a legacy.  Our home was a better place for having her part of our life.  We will never forget her.  She had a spirit that fought to the end and brought such joy to everyone who entered our home.

If dogs leave that kind of legacy behind, what are the possibilities for us as human beings.  I can’t help but think about what we are capable of leaving behind because of our choices.  Will it be a good legacy or a bad one?

So this is a clarion call.   Will we choose wisely so our kids will see people of character in action?  Will we love unconditionally, regardless of what we get out of the relationship?   Will we live with hearts abandoned to a loving heavenly father, so that we can in turn serve the world around us?   Will we be women, men, teens, children of God in deed as well as in word?

It breaks my heart each time I see someone who says no to those questions.  I want to be a catalyst in this world to help people say yes.

What kind of legacy are your choices building?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave?  How can I help or pray for you in your legacy building desires?

 

 

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I think a basic need of a woman is to feel secure.  We want to know that everything is going to turn out ok.  We are nurturers and fixers by nature.  At least I am.  Yet, I remember a time when I struggled with feeling secure.  I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t think my husband was doing a very good job handling our things in our home, and most of all I wasn’t sure God was hearing my prayers.

When we don’t feel safe and secure, we do one of two things.  We run from our problem or we fight against it and everyone else in its path.  For me it was a mixture of both but usually I ended fighting with the everyone else, including God.

Peace and security come from the inside.  God recognizes our need for peace and goes far beyond just peace in the moment.  He promises perfect and constant peace.

How is that possible?  Perfect and constant peace–when my world might be falling apart?  There is only one way and I’ve proven it true.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us it”s where our mind is set that determines the level of our peace.    I love the Amplified version which explains that both our desire and our character must be focused on God to live in that state of perfect peace.

If you find yourself outside the circle of inner peace today, ask yourself:

What do I desire more than anything else?  Is my character lining up with God’s or is there something I need to change?

When the answer in your life is:  I desire and am committed to follow God no matter what my circumstances, you will have true peace.  That step will lead to you developing and setting your heart on character that follows God’s instruction.

The peace the world gives is one that is based on a feel good now mentality.  God’s peace is never based on circumstances but on where your mind and heart is set.  His peace is perfect and constant.

Which peace do you want?

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Don’t know of anyone who isn’t wanting good things for their life, do you?

When it comes to seeking God, I know I usually am asking for something.  Isaiah 45:19 tells us God didn’t call us to serve him for nothing.   He wanted us to bring forth fruit and promised us a just reward.

I don’t know about you but sometimes the idea of “just reward” scares me.   You see, I was raised with a lot of hell fire and brimstone preaching and sometimes I replay the old story and am truly afraid of God and my ability to measure up.  But really, when I break this whole idea down, I come up with a whole new perspective.

There’s a credit card commercial that touts their card as being the one that brings the best rewards.  We have a sure way of gaining a good reward as well. Where are heart is will determine our actions and our actions are what brings forth good fruit.

If our heart is focused on truth as defined in Isaiah(Amplified)–trustworthy, straight forward correspondence between deeds and words) we will bear good fruit that stands the test of time.  In other words, we set our hearts towards the truth and principles of God and speak honestly and clearly with ourselves, determining to have our actions match our words.

A fruitful life is one of character.  When we do the opposite of what we say we are, we are not standing in truth.   When we violate God’s principles willfully, we are living a lie.  It’s all about choice and will and the first step is to set your heart toward Him, surrendering to His principles for life and godliness.

It’s not always easy because sometimes we don’t want to die to our own willfullness.  If we will make that choice, a fruitful, just reward will follow.   If we don’t, an empty life,  but “just reward” will follow.

Which do you choose?   What step can you take to make your deeds match your words and God’s principles today?

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Summer Sip: Hold On Tight

I find myself humming an old song I use to love when I first umderstood that we all have dreams and hopes. “Hold on tight to your dream……”

It’s easy to get discouraged when our dreams and hopes are delayed.  Sometimes it seems like even though we are taking care to walk the right way, and do the right things life is too hard and difficult. It’s hard to wait and keep going when that season is on us. It’s easy to give up and stop believing.

God understands that.  He has left us with words through Paul to encourage in those times.  Galatians 6:9 says:  “Don’t lose heart and get tired and faint of acting nobly and doing what is right.   In the right time and appointed season you will reap if you do not loose and relax your courage and faint.” (my paraphrase)

When we don’t see the changes happening quickly enough in our marriage, our children, our finances, and so on, it’s easy to just give up.  When we lose hope, we make bad choices.  God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby, but when Sarah didn’t see it happen soon enough she took matters into her own hands.  The result was not pretty and has had a profound affect in history–Isaac and Ishmael…look it up, read the story.

Stories like that are repeated in the Bible.  There is a lesson to be learned.   When God has promised something or laid out a principle, if we follow it and keep doing the right thing He will come through just in time.

Don’t quit!  If you do, you might never know the blessing of an answered prayer, a dream fulfilled, or an impact on history.

Hold on tight to your dream and keep doing the right thing!

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Change is part of life and we make decisions all the time that affect outcome.  Change is difficult and requires some thought in order to determine the right direction for any situation we face.

One of the biggest obstacles in change is our resistance to it.  We don’t like unfamiliar places, uncertain results, or for that matter, the work it requires to change things like character and habit.

So how do we bring ourselves to a place of non-resistance?  When the negative results of staying the way we are outweighs the difficulty of making a change, we will move.

Here’s what God asked Paul (formerly Saul):  “It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the good.”

When we think through change, weighing the outcome is important.  Asking ourselves what the result of making  a change will bring us can move us in the right direction.

There is one other important type of resistance that we must deal with.   Saul, now known as Paul, was resisting the good of the gospel of Christ.  He believed something that was not true and was fighting against the real truth because of it.

God had a plan for Paul…..one of influence in the kingdom of heaven.   He graciously warned Saul, giving him an option to turn to the truth instead of resisting it. Saul had a choice.  Change, turn around, stop resisting God’s truth or experience things turning out badly.

That is the same choice we have.  Sometimes we don’t have a correct belief and we resist change because of it.  We might have been taught something religiously that isn’t true, so we resist the truth of God’s word.   Maybe we believe we can’t be happy in our marriage because our spouse hasn’t met our needs, so we resist changing ourselves or decide to leave our marriage unjustifiably.  We might believe we are weak, so we resist doing the things that use our strengths.

The bottom line is when we resist the good, we can’t expect good things to happen to us.  

What can you choose to change today, bringing good to you and everyone around you?

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I have fond memories of canning peaches with my mom.  There was one way to know if the effort was successful.  We listened for the pop of the seal or felt for the indent in the lid.  If the fruit wasn’t tightly sealed it would have to be refrigerated and eaten more quickly.

This morning as I read John 15:16, one phrase popped out at me.  “I have planted you that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, that your fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting .”

God’s purpose of choosing and appointing us is that we would bear fruit that stands.  That kind of fruit lasts through good and bad, through seasons of joy and adversity.  Here’s a few tips for doing that:

1.  Conform your life and character to God’s. Any fruit that is not based on God’s character will not last.

2. Stay watered(prayer, meditation, study) in your relationship with God.

3.  Live in your purpose.  A tomato seed will not and should not grow an orange.  Be who you are and spread it around.  The world needs your flavor.

Which one is most important?  #1!  Walking in God’s character means we are living like God.  Just think about it.

If you are in a rotten marriage, loving like God loves will always bring good fruit.  If you have difficult finances, having a spirit of generosity will increase your supply.  If you have suffered injustice, forgiveness will bring God’s justice to the situation.  You won’t live in victim mentality and will be vindicated by your victory.

In my life, this has been proven over and over again.  The more I conform to God, the more lasting fruit my life shows.

What can you do today to bear lasting fruit?

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Isn’t summer both refreshing and busy?   Sorry I’ve missed you this week.  I’ll be back in force on Thursday.    My husband and I have another business and we are busy traveling across Montana.

Here’s a thought for the day.  Life is an amazing gift.  Even in the most difficult circumstances, there is a treasure chest of God’s blessings.  He truly works all together for good for those who are committed to His purposes and ways.

If we are open and surrendered to letting God guide and direct us, and determined to do what is right even when the wrong thing would be easier, we eventually will see this promise.

Choice is the gift He has given us.  It is at the foundation of every moment of history.  Every choice we make affects someone and something in some way.

The essence of life’s journey is based on the question What will I choose?  Forgiveness or bitterness?  Love or hate?  Generosity or greed?  Obedience or rebellion?  and the list goes on.

What can you do today to ensure you make a good choice?

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