Category Archives: Hope

Pause

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Hit the pause button and sit down with me for a few minutes. This is important.

Too busy, you say? Too bad, I reply. You need to see something.

First, answer this question: When was the last time you experienced God – I mean really felt that God was present with you, hearing you, and showing you how much He loves you? Be honest.

I could venture a guess and say that for most, it’s been a long time. Maybe it’s been weeks or months or years. Maybe never. And that is so incredibly sad, because the Father is all about His sons and daughters experiencing Him. He longs for an intimate relationship with His children.

I’m not going to give you a methodology to cultivate a closer walk with Jesus, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m also not going to spout doctrine or theology. I’m simply going to tell you that Jesus loves you, really loves you, with a love that cannot be described, explained, dissected, or analyzed. Because He IS love. As a matter of fact, He invented love.

And He is right there loving you whether you like it or not.

Before you start protesting, you need to know that you are good enough. You’re important to Him. He is not disappointed in you. The Father’s love for you is infinite. Jesus is your righteousness and you are complete in Him. Complete! You can’t get any more complete than complete, right? There is no separation between you and the Father. Jesus made that possible. He is in you and you are in Him. As one.

Perhaps you believe that you don’t understand enough about God or the Bible to really experience Him. Perhaps someone convinced you that you weren’t spiritually mature. Let me assure you that even though you may not fully grasp the concept of the love, grace, or goodness of your Father doesn’t mean you can’t experience it.

Just pause.

Close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and think about the Father’s love for you. He made you in His likeness – how awesome! – and that’s who He sees when He looks at you. He just loves you. And you can’t do anything to earn it or diminish it. Ever.

That is truly pause-worthy.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)

 

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Shifting Gears

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I have to repent.

For years, I have stubbornly refused to use this blog as a forum to document my personal journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. Oh, I’ve posted smatterings, but I wanted to be careful to keep it generic enough to stay out of trouble, so to speak. I didn’t want the controversy or the potential criticism.

I don’t care anymore.

So, I repent. I am so sorry that I caved to the social correctness of the days we live in, despite the gentle coaxing of my Father to write what He wanted me to write. I tried to reason with Him, because He’s all over being reasoned with, right? Uh – no. I used the excuse that I had nothing of life-changing relevance to share. After all, who would listen to me anyway? Yeah, that didn’t go over so well with God either.

I’m shifting gears.

I’ve told the Lord that I want to write the words He’s given me, sharing the insights He’s revealed.

That’s scary.

Scary, because it means I am exposing myself in ways that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But then whoever said being a Christian was supposed to be comfortable?

Here’s the thing: life is short. Especially when you’re on the back end of middle age. I don’t have time to piddle around and make lame excuses anymore. I’m going to write what my Father tells me to write, in the way He wants it written. And I think He is smiling and heaving a great sigh of relief because I will finally use the gifts He has given me for the purpose He meant them to be used in the first place.

But this is hard. So hard. My brain is shouting at me, saying I’m crazy to even consider this. Well, Brain, get with the program.

We’re shifting gears.

Stay tuned.

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The Numbers Business

Have you ever noticed how occupied with numbers we are?

For example: This is my 554th blog post. As of this moment, there are 302 followers. And  probably another time as many on Facebook and Twitter. Today, January 9th, is my birthday. I am 59 years old. I have 1 husband, 4 + 2 children, and 8 grandchildren.  The computer in my car told me this morning that I can drive another 603 kilometers before the gas tank is empty. My cell phone battery is at 69%. In 4 hours, choir rehearsal begins. I have written 4,762 words since Monday.

Get the picture?

We base much of our day to day living on numbers. Time. Distance. Measurements. And what does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. Ask, that is.

God is in the numbers business. He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7). He makes promises based on numbers (Matthew 13:3-23). He talks about numbers in church growth (Acts 16:5). And numbers are everywhere through the book of Revelation. Throughout the entire Bible, in fact.

So what?

This tells me that our God is concerned with order. He is interested in doing things properly and precisely.

I once had a manager whose favourite saying was, “if  you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. He drove me nuts every time he said it . . . until I understood what he meant. I had to pay attention to details. I had to plan ahead. I had to set goals and establish actions to reach them. I had to enlist the help of those working with me in order to accomplish what needed to be done. I had to mark the milestones along the way so that I could see the progress, define the improvement, and celebrate the success.

It’s no different in our faith walk.

1. Pay attention to the details. Watch for signs. God is speaking to us all the time. We need to learn to listen and to recognize His voice when He is telling us something.

2. Plan ahead. Where do you want to be next week, next month, next year? Pray and ask God to help you set goals based on where He wants to take you. Then write them down. And identify the changes you need to make or actions you need to take in order to make those goals reality.

3. People. Who are the people around you who can help you to achieve your goals? Don’t misunderstand; I’m not talking about using people for your own gain. I’m taking about looking for mentors, the wise ones, those who have talents and abilities you don’t. Encouragers, motivators, cheerleaders. Get what I mean? And you need the support of family or friends or your pastor or somebody who believes in you. And if you don’t have someone like that in your life, as the Lord to bring that person across your path.

4. Take action. As my sister-in-law said recently: “Taking the next step of faith: we may not see that much ground before us but there is a long road of God’s faithfulness behind us . . . He calls us to remember”. Be brave. Be daring. Measure your progress. Take note of the numbers.

5. Celebrate! And then move on to the next goal.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

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Filed under Bible, Birthday, Blogging, Christian, Dreams, Faith, God, Hope, Prayer, Writing

Done With Average

You’ve seen this curve before, right? That’s because the world around you is based on averages – education, industry, science, economy, everything. You name it, there are averages. This obsession with average has created a society that says it’s cool to go along with the crowd. To be just good enough to get by. To blend in. After all, if you’re average, you’re okay.

What a lie.

Being average was never God’s plan for us.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 (NKJV)

Does that sound like average to you? I don’t think so. Jesus did some pretty awesome things during His time on earth, yet this scripture says that if we believe in Him, we will do the same things He did – and even greater.

I thought about this and decided to be done with average. No more mediocre, second-rate, or uninspired. Average does not reflect the person God created me to be.

When you read through the Bible, you see how much God has promised to those who serve Him – joy, peace, strength, power, blessings, abundance, forgiveness, confidence, wisdom, success. That’s a supernatural life. And definitely not average!

So, there’s a choice to make.

Will you continue along, frustrated and dissatisfied with where you’re at? Will you write your dreams off because you’re too afraid to pursue them? Or will you take a bold step of faith and leave average behind?

Get into the Word and read all of God’s promises you can find. Take them personally. Act on them. Ask God to reveal those things you need to do in order to walk away from average and become what He’s wanted you to be all along. Stay in really, really close touch with the Father. Talk to Him often. Listen to what He has to say.

You’re on your way to being done with average.

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Yours is the Kingdom

Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever is Yours
Heaven and earth bow down in the wonder of Your Name
Heaven is open, death is broken
And the glory forever is Yours
Nothing can overcome the power of Your Name

King above kings, all the universe will sing
Everlasting God, You are wonderful
You are wonderful

And the shout of the earth will be Your praise
God forever, and the light unto all
Will be Your wonderful Name
For the glory Lord is Yours
God forever, all the glory Lord is Yours

– Joel Houston

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Dealing With A Difficult Person

There is a person I’ve known quite well for a long time and she can be difficult to deal with. Really difficult. I have to admit that occasionally I’d rather run in the other direction than have to be with her. Come on, be honest. All of you know people like that.

This woman and I are at about the same stage in our lives and we have a lot in common. We’ve both been married a long time, we have grandchildren, and we’ve done many of the same kinds of things along the way. You’d think this would be a recipe for a great friendship. You’d think. But the clashes between us are frequent and often have lasting effects. Of the negative kind. And that’s not good. Not for either of us.

She likes to have her own way. This irks me because guess what? So do I. And since we work together a lot, this causes friction. She’s also quite bossy. Wait, let me correct that. She’s very bossy. I’ve been known to exhibit the same tendencies, so you can use your imagination here.

I thought about making a list of this woman’s shortcomings, but it would be long and unflattering, so I won’t.

Because this woman is me.

Dealing with me is a work in progress.

I talk to God about this on a daily basis. He knows all about the difficult person I can tend to be and I am always gratefully amazed at how much He loves me anyway. He’s way more patient with me than I would be, that’s for sure. He is always ready to teach me to be a better person, especially when I am willing to let Him have the floor instead of trying to do it my own way. When I give Him the reins, I find it so much easier to get along with me.

And I’m so glad that His love never fails, it never runs out, and He never gives up on me.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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Serious Business

I was a people manager for many years and had the opportunity to work with all kinds of unusual and interesting individuals. For the most part, I loved my job. Never a dull moment and different every day.

At one point during my corporate career, I managed a group of six or seven supervisors and administration staff. They, in turn, were responsible for approximately 150 employees between them. I would meet with the supervisors once a week to plan strategies, resolve issues, and to discuss management techniques. I began to notice a common denominator with these people. While each one of them took their work very seriously and did their jobs well, almost none gave any thought to the direction of their lives outside the workplace.

So, over the course of several months, I introduced another element to our weekly meetings. I would briefly present a life principle and then ask questions pertaining to that principle, encouraging each person to think about how this could be applied in their own lives. At first, it didn’t go over well at all. The supervisors, unaccustomed to having to actually consider the serious questions of life, simply refused to answer. Some told me quite bluntly that it was a stupid idea. But I obtained agreement from the entire group to continue. I won’t say that all participated with enthusiasm and embraced new ways of viewing their lives, but some certainly did and I have seen the fruit of their efforts over the years since then. Some of the senior managers in the company heard about what we were doing and asked to be included via regular emails that eventually earned the label, “Sermon of the Day”.

The result was a team that really worked as a team, because they knew each other’s hearts. Productivity and morale increased because those supervisors encouraged the employees to do the same – to work together instead of individually. Our department took the number one spot in the country for overall productivity, and stayed their for over five years.

This wasn’t about me. It was about a God idea to help people take their lives seriously. And to take the lives of others seriously. To think about their words and their actions.

Life is a gift. And it’s serious business.

Don’t waste it.

 

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, God, Hope, Imagination, Life, Writing

How Do You See the World?

Everybody sees the world from a different perspective. But we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

If you are a happy and positive person, the world is a joyful place.  If you are a sad and negative person, the world is a place of despair. You can probably think of people in your life that fit both descriptions.

I read a story recently.

Two men, a paralytic and a man with a terrible lung disease, were confined to a hospital room.  Each day, the medical staff would help the man with the lung disease sit up for an hour so he could gaze out the window. He would describe what he saw to his paralyzed roommate whose bed was on the side of the room.

He’d talk about the children running and playing, a father walking with his child, a bluebird in a tree across the way. He saw how the wind moved the clouds, how the rain washed the sidewalks and roads clean, and two little boys playing catch.  His descriptions gave the paralyzed man a sense of hope and a will to live.

One day, the man with the lung disease died.  The paralyzed man asked to be moved close to the window so he could see what his roommate had seen. The nurses helped him to sit up, but the only view from the window was a wall.

Shocked, the paralyzed man told the nurses about the wonderful things his former roommate had described and about how those descriptions had given him hope.  The nurses were startled by this and told the paralyzed man something he didn’t know about his roommate.

“He was blind,” they said.

The point is, the world is largely in your mind.  It’s how you think, how you dream, that determines how you see and perceive things.  Life is not about waiting for storms to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

How do you see the world?

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Dreams, Hope, Life, Writing

The Secret of Breakthrough

It’s been an interesting week. I hardly left the house (except for Husband’s birthday dinner), didn’t talk much (except to family at said birthday dinner), and I don’t think I even cooked a real meal (thank you, Swiss Chalet, for said birthday dinner). As a matter of fact, the first two days of the week were spent in undeniable frustration as I stared at the cursor flashing on my blank computer screen, waiting for a breakthrough.

The definition of breakthrough is this: the act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction.

I realized something. Before there is a breakthrough, there has to be a block. In other words, get rid of the block. Smash it. Crush it. And plow through.

In my case, it wasn’t so easy. I’m pretty sure the block was a reinforced concrete wall several feet thick. My efforts to poke a hole through that were like trying to put out a fire with a thimbleful of water. Useless. Futile. And completely disheartening.

In the midst of my frustration, I noticed my Bible under a pile of other books and papers on my desk. This was on Wednesday, and I’m ashamed to say that I had not opened it since the previous Sunday. Flooded with a sense of remorse, I pulled it out and opened to the book of Hebrews. On purpose. I remembered reading a quote that went something like this: Our most important mental talent is the ability to imagine what has never existed. The quote came from a secular source, but the underlying truth matches up with Hebrews 11:1, which says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The quote cites mental talent. The Bible cites faith.

The light came on. I had been going about seeking breakthrough the wrong way.

I was relying on my so-called mental talent instead of using my faith in the Creator of heaven and earth. I sat back in my chair and chewed on that for a while. I spent the next hour or two reading through the whole book of Hebrews, praying, thinking, taking stock of my situation, and praying some more. Then, in a flood – honestly, a flash flood – the concrete wall fell and the breakthrough was right there.

I wrote over 5,000 words that day and another 4,000 the next. Yesterday, I worked on backstory and visuals. I am so pleased with how it’s coming!

But here’s the secret. Before I even open my docx files, I open my Bible. I read. I pray. Often. Without ceasing. And when I am ready to write, the words flow as if the story is writing itself.

It’s not my talent. It’s my faith.

The secret of breakthrough.

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Once Again

This week I see evidence everywhere of Christmas approaching. The commercial side. The spiritual side. And the I-don’t-want-to-offend-anyone-so-I’ll-just-say-happy-holidays side. It’s all out there.

Today, however, I think about the Cross.

The miraculous birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is cause for celebration. Absolutely. But the real party begins when a lost soul finds his or her way to the Cross where that Savior died for them – to the empty tomb where He rose from the dead and made it possible for them to have forgiveness and an eternity in Glory. To live their years on earth walking in close relationship with Him.

The greatest price was paid. For you. For me. For all of mankind. And Jesus offers this gift free of charge.

Matt Redman’s song, Once Again, has words to ponder this Christmas season.

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, Poured out to death
Many times, I’ve wondered at your gift of life
I’m in that place once again
I’m in that place once again

Once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank You,
Once again I pour out my life

Now You are exhalted to the highest place
King of the Heavens, where one day I’ll bow
But for now, I’ll marvel at Your saving grace
I’m full of praise once again
Oh I’m full of praise once again

Thank you for the cross, my Friend.

That, folks, is the reason to celebrate.

 

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