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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

It’s not popular today to speak in terms of  “good and evil”.  Having grown up in a religious setting that tended to breed condemnation rather than confidence in the work of Christ in our hearts, I can understand it.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore either word.  There is obviously both good and evil in the world.  Everywhere we look there is are hard things.  Poverty, sexual slavery, broken families, crime, bigotry, injustice, wars, and so on.   On the other hand, we see good in those work to make a difference or rise above their own negative circumstances or a raw hand that was dealt them.

What determines whether someone is good or evil?  Luke 6:43-45 makes it clear that it is the kind of fruit one bears.  It makes it clear the fruit we see comes from the condition of one’s heart.

Christ’s sacrificed life made it possible to live in goodness.  Salvation is for body, soul, and spirit.  Reunited or back in agreement with God, it is now up to us to plant and tend to the vineyard of our hearts, that we might produce GOOD FRUIT.

Andy Andrews, in his book The Traveler’s Gift, talks about one of the seven principles of success–I have a decided heart.  If we choose to follow Christ, then we must also decide to become like Him.

Luke 6:40 says “everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” A decided heart is one that refuses to let things unlike Christ remain in their heart.

One can’t have bitterness and say they are following Christ.  Nor can we dwell in unforgiveness, a vengeful spirit, self-centeredness, pride, apathy, rebellion, greed, etc.    Those attitudes will choke out the good fruit and fill our hearts with unhealthy habits and desires.

We also can’t live in the land of unbelief, a place that denies what God says about us or the priniciples and promises of God.   It is impossible to please God without faith!  Not just faith in his redemption, but walking it out by being who He has called us to be and producing good fruit.

Luke 6:45 says”For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Faith is a matter of confession and profession.  What you say matched by what you do  indicates the faith you have.    It is not enough to say “Lord, Lord”.   We must have faith that is rooted deep in our hearts vineyard.

That kind of faith, fills our heart with the qualities of God.  Love, forgiveness, peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness, temperance.  It is other focused.  It is about blessing, not cursing.  It is about us rising up to our position in Christ’s kingdom and living from a decided heart!

It is work because faith without works is dead.  It’s not about performance for the sake of performance but it is about truly accepting the work of Christ and letting Him transform our hearts into a vineyard…the planting of the Lord.  It takes self-examination under the light of the Holy Spirit.  It takes a decision followed by committment, that we will continue to add the character of God to our lives, letting go of the things that hold us back or produce rotten fruit.

I am challenged today to inspect my fruit and pull out by God’s grace the things that produce bad fruit.  I am determined to put into my heart the seed that will create a bountiful harvest.

How about you?  What do you need to pull out or put into your heart to produce greater fruit?

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Ever had a dream deep inside of you that you believe God has put there?  Ever done your best to follow His instructions and come to a point where you just didn’t see how the dream was going to actually be birthed?

I’ve been there several times.  In fact, was just there again last night.  It’s difficult to keep your mind and heart focused when you are discouraged by the outward appearances of what’s happening.

The voices that resonate in our head during times like that are so easy to listen to.   Things like:  Who do you think you are to even believe you could do this? It’s just like everything else you’ve tried, it’s a silly pipedream!  You are just an ordinary person, you weren’t meant to do great things.  You aren’t smart enough, don’t know the right people, etc. etc. etc.  God isn’t really in it.

These are just a few voices that cause so many of us give up on the thing God has put in our heart.  The first sign of struggle or the first objection can throw us into a pit of despair and discouragement.  And sometimes we labor, pray, travail and give up just before the birth happens.

What it really boils down to is faith versus fear.  We are afraid to let God really shine through us….to dare to believe we can do big things through Him.   We are afraid that God might not love us enough, might not have chosen us, might not think we are significant to His kingdom.

While we are believing the lies of the enemy, here is what God says in Isaiah 66:9.  “Shall I bring to the moment of birth and not cause to bring forth?, says the Lord.  Shall I who causes to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God.”

What kind of God would we serve if He didn’t care about the deep desires He put in us?  What kind of cruel God would He be if He brought us right to the moment of delivery and then ran away or stopped the birthing process?  God isn’t like that.  As long as we stay open and ready to birth what He has spoken by His strength He will bring it forth.  As long as we are willing to follow the plan He has given us, He will bring it forth.

We were meant to birth the things of God in our marriage, our children, our businesses, our relationships, and our lives!  God will bring it forth.  The question is:  What can we do to cooperate with Him?

Go forth and multiply!  Birth the baby God has for your life!

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Repost

This repost of a 2010 blog seems appropriate today.  Sometimes I think we forget that we reap what we sow and that it is our choice to sow good seed.  What do you think?

Choose Your Seed

If you want tomatoes you don’t plant lemons.  If you want roses, you plant roses.

So what do you want in your life?

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.   If your life is not producing the fruit you want, you have to start with examination of the seed you are planting.

If you are planting discord, you can’t expect peace and harmony.  If you are planting debt and poor financial stewardship, you can’t expect financial blessing and abundance.  If you are dishonoring or disrespectful in a relationship, you can’t expect honor and respect from others.

On the flip side, if you follow God’s precepts, planting seed that is reflective of His character, you can expect a good harvest.  That kind of planting is mentioned in Galatians 6:8.  It is sowing to the Spirit instead of to the flesh.   That kind of harvest is not only good, but lasts forever.   It produces eternal results.

Take a minute and reflect on the kind of result you want in some situation in your life.  Maybe it’s a situation with your children, spouse, or friend.  Maybe it’s something you desire emotionally, physically, or  spiritually.

What kind of seed(ie.habit, attitude, action,belief) have you been planting?  What could you change in order to reap a good harvest? What step can you take today to begin that process?

If you want a different result, you have to choose good seed.  God has provided what you need and promised to bless it.  It’s up to you to plant it, nurture it, and gather in the harvest.

What seed are you choosing today?

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As I read Hebrews 3, I find a lot to think about.  After the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, it’s hard to believe that the children of Israel caused themselves to wander in the wilderness for 40 years!  Why?  Because they couldn’t or wouldn’t see God’s character and believe that He truly cared for them.

Sound familiar?  I have to ask myself, How many times have I not believed that God really loved me and would take care of me?  How many times have I resisted His love?

The Israelites weren’t exactly compliant people.  They wanted God to take care of them and then constantly ignored His direction for their lives. They thought their way was better and convinced themselves that they were right.

Sometimes that’s what we do in the wilderness too. When we are tested or delayed, we often make a bad choice to keep us in the wilderness.  Then, we blame God or someone else for our wilderness experience.  Even when God shows His hand of provision which includes direction for the way out, we ignore it and harden our hearts.  We treat God like He is a fairy godmother who will just wave a magic wand and fix everything for us.  Then when because of our choices we are stuck, we get mad at God and others.

The more we do that, the more we become acquainted with a hard heart and fail to acknowledge the ways of God according to verse 10.  We create our own vicious circle of wandering, rebellion, and bad outcomes.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do or how to do it in these moments, it’s that we’ve set our will ahead of God’s ways.

God was grieved by the Israelite’s  behavior.  He is grieved by ours as well.  He gives us the right to choose above all other things and won’t  prevent the consequences of our actions.

If you find yourself in a journey that leads you to wander in the wilderness season, you may want to ask yourself if you need to adjust your will.  Are you listening to God’s direction?  Do you believe He loves you and will care for you even if you are asked to do something you don’t want to do?  Where has your heart become hardened to God’s desires and ways?

The answer to those questions and taking the action to correct them, just might lead you into the promised land.

 

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I just reached an impossible goal in our home-business.  It was amazing to watch what happened after I became convicted that it could and committed to working until it did. There were so many times when it looked like it would not happen, but in the end, it came to be.

Life is like that.  Sometimes we have lofty and good goals but what is happening or what we are seeing makes us think it is impossible.

I love II Corinthians 5:7-9.  Here’s my paraphrase:  We move in life by faith.  Our lives and our behavior is regulated by our conviction and belief  about God’s relationship with us and the divine things He’s promised.  We accept those with trust and holy burning desire and therefore we don’t walk by what we see or what appears.  We have confident courage no matter where we are at.  We are constantly ambitious as we work earnestly at pleasing Him. 

One of the reasons I do this blog is because I want every person to really understand and experience a PERSONAL relationship with God.  I know the more personal that becomes the more we understand God’s love for us.  The more we understand how much God loves  the more we will do what pleases Him.

Here’s a few keys to that relationship and a life of blessing.

A. If you need a behavior change, it starts with your belief about your relationship with God.  How seriously do you take what God says?  How strongly do you believe His principles and trust that He will do what He promises?

B.  A life of faith requires burning desire.   What is more important to you–your own desires or what pleases God?  When we have a burning desire to pursue the principles  of His kingdom rather than our own way, we will experience a life of faith and blessing.

C. A life of faith requires ambition.  When I reached for my business goal, I gave it all I had.  I left every ounce of energy on the table and at the end, I was spent.  That is what ambition looks like.  What could change for you if you determined that you were going to pursue God and strive to please Him more than anything else in your life?

I dare say, we would have better marriages, parent better, experience better finances, be more satisfied in our work and play, have better relationships and a greater circle of influence if we would live a life of conviction and belief about God and His relationship with us.  We would take it seriously.  We would understand that life is sacred and we would work with everything that is in us to establish and grow His kingdom on earth and strive with all we have to please Him. 

 

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Christians talk alot about hearing God and God hearing us.  My heart was stirred this morning as I read Isaiah 10:17-18.  These verses reveal God’s heart and what His ear is tuned in to.

When I am talking to God, often it is about me trying to gain something for me.  Maybe it’s direction, answers, healing, etc.  All good things to pray about.  Sometimes I hear clearly and other times not.

What could happen if I began to ask to hear as God hears rather than for God to hear me?

I can only imagine.  Not only would I know what I should do, but I’d be able to make a bigger difference.

I would be tuned into those who are oppressed and minister to those who are fatherless or burdened down with life.

The enemy of our souls wants nothing more then to destroy us by bringing hopelessness, fear, and despair.  There are so many people who are longing for just one word or one action that will begin to bring them out of that pit.  True justice is reversing the sentence on someone who has experienced injustice.

Many have lived through something that was not because of their choice and would have chosen a much different path had they been able to.  When you really think about it, all of us have experienced things that are unjust.

I am freshly challenged to desire God’s ear and be a minister of His love and justice.

Teach me to hear with your ear, O God.

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Ever felt like your heart(mind, will, and emotions) were a tangled mess?  That inner battle is a difficult one but I want to encourage you that untangling them is possible.

There are so many things that can cause uncertainty, insecurity, and confusion in our lives.  For me some of them were:  the idea of fairytale love, my childhood hurts and experiences, my misconceptions of God, and some of the things I had been taught incorrectly. Because of all those other things, I also was not able to see or move toward my purpose and I gradually moved toward a season of hopelessness and despair.

And then there is the women problem of hormones! At least once a month I could count on that tangled mess of emotions and believe me it did wreak chaos.  No matter how much I should have recognized it, I would forget that was why I was feeling bad.

I was not happy for sure and it began to effect everything–my marriage, my relationships with people, my finances, my ability to reach my goals, my children, and my faith.  Not to mention I had very little influence on others or the world around me because I had gone to that inner place where everything was about me.

But praise God, He untangled the mess.  He will do that for you too.

If you are without hope, hope in this.  Nothing you have done is unforgivable and nothing you are facing is unfixable.  First, Isaiah 44:22 tells us He has blotted out our sins and trangressions like a thick cloud!  He goes on to say “Return to me, I have redeemed you.”

The first step to untangling, is returning.  And why wouldn’t we return to someone who loved us enough to forgive us by sending Jesus!  Just like you can’t untangle your hair without picking up a comb and a brush,  you can’t find make sense of your tangled mess without accepting the truth of redemption and forgiveness.

The second truth is in Isaiah 45:2.  Understand that God never expects us to untangle the mess alone!  Here’s what He promises.  “I will go before you and level the mountains (to make the crooked places straight).  I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron.”  Whatever the mountain or door that is keeping you from your destiny and calling, if you come to God, He will destroy the obstacles in your path.

And I LOVE VERSE 3!!!!  “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I the Lord, who calls your name.”

Wow!  Do you get that?  If we return to Him, He will take the dark places and give us the treasures in them!  And we will find our true identity because we will know He calls our name!

I’m doing cartwheels inside right now.  I pray that you get this truth!   Don’t live in a tangled web of confusion any longer.  God is right there to untangle You if you come to Him.

 

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Remember the line from A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise asks Jack Nicholsen to tell the truth on the stand.  Jack, vehemently looks at Tom and says, “Truth?  You can’t handle the truth?”

Throughout the years, truth has been debated.  It’s no different today but as an “older” person, it seems to have changed into a time when all “truth” is what we say it is.

As a Christ follower, what God’s word says is important.  Scripture is not something to be used to beat someone up with but it is the roadmap for a life well lived.

James 1 paints two very different portraits of the way people handle the Word (the truth of God).  There are two camps of people.  The DOERS and the LISTENERS.

In James 1:21-24, a listener is compared to a man who looks in the mirror, sees himself and then goes away and forgets what he looks like.  Mmmmmm, I wonder if doing has anything to do with knowing who we are.  What do you think?

The problem with listeners, is that they are not living authentically. Instead of obeying the truth, they make excuses and try to reason with it.  Verse 22 says they betray themselves and fall into deception.   It’s kind of like a teen-ager.  Ever known one who told you where you were all wrong, while making excuses for their own behavior?

Think about the TRUTH, (God’s way).  If we say we are Christ followers, then we have to follow Christ!  We must ask ourselves:  Am I walking in His way in my marriage?  Am I parenting my kids like He says?  Am I following His principles in my job or business?  Am I handling my money, my health, my relationships the way He directs me too?

I think the biggest question of all is, “Am I trying to reason with God and His principles and commands to justify my choices?

We can’t truly say we are followers of Christ and ignore a life of true worship.  True worship is expressed in the outward actions of our inner lives.  A blessed and authentic life is one that handles God’s truth by acting on it!

 

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I love the power of testimony.  If you don’t understand that, it’s the power of being inspired and learning from someone’s story or experience.  The scripture is full of story and they have some very profound lessons for life.

Nehemiah 9:15 is a great example.  Talking about the experience of the children of Israel and Moses in the wilderness it tells us:  “You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst: and you told them to go in and possess the land You had sworn to given them.”

When I read a scripture, I always ask, How does that apply to my life now?   

Here’s what I see in this verse.

1.  God is a provider.   He understood that the Israelites needed food and water if they were going to complete the journey.  He knew their needs.

2.  When He provides, He goes above and beyond.   He will bring what we need straight from heaven or out of a rock if need be.  He is not limited by the natural.  He has the power to create and release the right provision at the right time for our need at that moment.

3.  He has a reason for provision.  God is not a genie in a bottle that operates to grant us our ever wish or desire.  When He provides He has a purpose in it.  It is so we can go and possess the land He has given us.

Love that last one for a couple reasons.  First, it’s a promise!  God has given each of His children a land to possess.  This promised land is a land of wholeness.   It represents our access to all that God has for us and sharing that access with others.  It’s a land of being and serving the purposes of heaven.

God gives us all we need but then tells us to go possess it.

Maybe your marriage needs to enter the land of wholeness.   Maybe you need better parenting skills or have a child who has a need.  Maybe your job or business is lacking in provision or fulfillment.   Maybe you are hurting from the past or  need healing in body or soul.

Whatever your need, God has provided.  God doesn’t want us to live in broken lives.  Reach out and take His provision and then go possess the promised place of wholeness.

What has God provided to you so you can move toward wholeness in your life?

What step can you take today to use that provision and possess the thing you want to see changed?

 

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Repost:  Daddy’s Hand

Not every one can say they had a good relationship with their daddy.  Mine was a sweet one.

Oh he was a strong willed Croatian disciplinarian who expected his children to behave but he also loved his kids very much.

As a family, we struggled financially.   He worked as a blacksmith for the Anaconda company and just when things were getting stable they would go on strike again and set us back all over again.

What we didn’t have in money, daddy would make up for with gifts he’d make. He once made me steel knitting needles because we couldn’t afford to buy them and I wanted to learn to knit.  He made us the backyard swing set. It was on that swing set where I learned the art of worship.  Pumping my legs to the heavens, I would swing for hours as a little girl singing Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs.   My favorite gift was a ring he fashioned out of a nut.  He smoothed it into a round cylinder perfect for my finger and engraved a heart into it.  I still hear him singing an old tune….”Heart of my heart,” as he handed it to me.

Unfortunately I didn’t have dad in my life for long.  When I was 11 years old we found out daddy had a brain tumor.  As we came home from Halloween festivities, the ambulance was in front of our house and daddy went to the hospital for the final time.  Gradually slipping into a coma, we were allowed to go see him one last time.

I’ll never forget standing at his bedside watching him breath.  I believe it was my cousin’s wife Colleen who was a nurse in the room with us.  She told us to go ahead and talked to him.  I must have said something he heard because suddenly my dad squeezed my hand. It meant everything to me.

After he died, as I laid in the living room hide a-bed with my younger brother so we could be close to mom’s room, I called to her.  She came to the bedside and I said, “Do you know the last thing my daddy ever gave to me?”  She answered, “No what?”  My reply with tears streaming done my face was “His hand.”

I’ve thought about that many times through the years when I think about my dad.  The other morning I woke up thinking about that in relationship to God.

Life is rarely easy.  Every day brings new challenges.  There are times of unspeakable pain and joyous triumph.  Touch is important during those times. A hand is such a special gift.

A hand can hold you, make you feel safe, snatch you from danger, lead you to someplace unknown to you.   The touch of a hand can get your attention, even awaken you from sleep.   It can lift your chin up, massage your stress away, or slap your back in celebration of a job well done. These are all the things a daddy should do.  And this is exactly what the hand of God looks like.

He does all that any good earthly daddy would do plus more.   The Hand of God can do even the impossible!

We may not be able to feel his physical hand but it is always there.   As we sit in stillness meditating on Him it’s there.  As we cry out it’s there.  As we walk through the crowds in day to day life hoping that someone will touch us or that we can touch someone, it’s there.

There is no doubt.  The hand of a dad is important.  God’s hand even more important.  You may not have had a good father.  It may be difficult for you to imagine God as a father because of that.  Maybe you can put yourself in my story and imagine what it must have been like as a little girl to have been given that gift of her daddy’s hand.

That is what God is offering you.  Wherever you are in this moment, I pray you’ll reach out and put your hand in your heavenly father’s hand.  Let Him be your daddy.  And as you hold on tight to Him, would you reach out and be His hand to someone else?

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