Category Archives: Jesus Christ

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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Giving Thanks

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and we will be celebrating with our family later today. Turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, desserts – yes, we will be “feasting”, as our nine-year-old grandson Caleb likes to say.

While we zero in on giving thanks for this one weekend every year, it’s something I have been striving to do on a regular basis.

Thankfulness is an attitude.

A mindset.

A way of life.

Even when I don’t feel grateful because of some sort of crisis (often of my own making), I have much to say thank you for. There are the usual things like family, friends, health, and home, none of which I take for granted. But then there are these:

The laughter of my grandchildren.

Technology that allows me to Skype with my mom and my kids.

The beautiful women in our Wednesday morning bible study group.

The cashier at our local grocery store who always smiles and chats and brightens my day.

Tim Hortons extra large decaf double-double (Canadians will know what I’m talking about).

My husband who knows me so well and loves me anyway.

Books.

A brain that thinks and reasons and imagines and creates.

And I am always and forever thankful for my Father who loves me, for His Son who saved me, and for His Spirit who guides me.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. – Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

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Err On the Side Of Caution?

We just spent the past three days at our church’s annual family camp. Along with the usual lake-side, rustic-setting outdoor activities, we had some awesome Holy Ghost breakthrough meetings with our pastor and the guest speakers he invited to share with us. Wow! We will never be the same.

I’ve had a few holes poked in my nice comfortable theological box. Much needed, I might add.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “err on the side of caution”, which means to act in the least risky manner in a situation where one is uncertain about the consequences. This is human nature. As a matter of fact, we’re even encouraged to take this approach to a give situation. It’s safe.

But what if God is asking you to take a risk? To ditch the easy way and try something new? To take a leap of faith, not knowing what the outcome will be?

I can see the expression on your face. You’re wincing.

What if God is asking you to err on the side of believing too much and acting on it rather than not having enough faith and questioning everything? Don’t you think He would far rather have you take that step and make a mistake than never take a step at all?

These are the questions I am asking myself.

And maybe you need to ask them, too.

I sat in those meetings at camp, knowing that the Holy Spirit was nudging and challenging me to take some of those risky steps. I could almost hear Him asking me what in the world would make me think He wouldn’t ask me to do something so completely out of my comfort zone that I would have to trust Him. Did I really expect the Lord to let me just relax in my easy chair for the rest of my life? Um – no. I guess not.

So, it’s time to find out what my next steps are.

I’m sure there will be opposition, because people will always try to stop you from doing what they don’t understand.

I’m sure there will be difficult days. That’s a given.

I’m sure there will be some stumbling along the way.

But I have no more excuses. I’m being pursued by Jesus Christ, who loves me and knows me like no one else does. He has work for me to do, and saying “no” isn’t an option.

 And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV)

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It Matters Whom You Marry

As the mother of two single daughters, I pray daily for the godly men who will one day be their husbands. Both of these women deal with frequent remarks from well-meaning friends and family who seem to think they are being too picky. This puzzles me. If you’re going to be picky about anything, shouldn’t it be about whom you choose to spend the rest of your life with?

Then I read this blog post.

It Matters Whom You Marry

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.

Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.

1. It will impact you spiritually. If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children.

If the guy is a believer, is he a strong one? Will he lead you in prayer, Bible reading, family devotions, and public worship? Or will you be on your own? Is he going to make spiritual growth a priority or do other things come first? Is he going to ask you how it’s going with your soul so he can help you grow in holiness and love for Christ, or will he leave that to your pastor? Is he going to lead the children in this, or will you have to spearhead that? In church, is he going to help the kids sit well, pray, find the hymn, or will you be the one pointing out what is happening next and helping the family keep up? Many women have married spiritually immature men, thinking that it wasn’t a big issue, or that the man would change, and they were wrong. They bear the scars.

The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

2. It will impact you emotionally. Is the guy you’re thinking of going to encourage you, love you, be kind to you, and seek to understand you, or will he want to go out with the guys when you’re having a hard night? Will he listen when you are struggling with something or will he be preoccupied with a video game? Is he going to be annoyed when you cry or will he get you Kleenex and give you a hug? Is he going to going to understand that you are probably more tender than he is, more sensitive to issues and comments, or is he regularly going to run rough shod over your feelings? One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs. Any guy who is uncaring about your feelings and self esteem is selfish and should be left alone.

Be careful – a husband can cripple or foster emotional health.

3. It will impact you physically. Is the guy you’re with going to provide for your basic needs? Will he be able to shelter, clothe and feed you? At one point in our marriage, I was worried that there was no employment opportunity. My husband assured me that he would work at McDonalds, dig ditches, clean up roadkill – whatever it took to provide for the family, regardless of his gifts and training. That’s the kind of attitude you want. A man who doesn’t provide for his household is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). You might have to help ease the financial burden, but unless your husband is disabled or there is another unusual circumstance, you shouldn’t have to carry it yourself.

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

Will the man you are with care for you sexually? Is he going to honour the marriage bed in physical and mental faithfulness to you or will he flirt, feed his porn addiction, or even leave you for another woman? You can’t always predict these issues, but if the seeds or practices are already there, watch out. I recently saw a newly married couple and the husband was flirting openly with another woman. Unless something drastic happens, that marriage is headed for disaster.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Watch out. Your body needs care and protection.

4. It will impact you mentally. Is the man that you’re thinking of going to be a source of worry or will he help you deal with your worries? Is he going to encourage your intellectual development, or will he neglect it? Is he going to value your opinions and listen to what you are thinking, or will he disregard your thoughts? Is he going to help you manage stress so that your mind is not burdened that way, or is he going to let you struggle through issues alone? Is he going to care for you and be thoughtful of you if you are experiencing mental strain, or will he ignore it? I know of a woman who could handle pregnancy and child birth very well physically but postpartum depression took a huge toll on her mind. The husband overlooked it, continuing to have more children, until his wife ended up in a mental institution.

You might think that the intellectual or mental side of a marriage is small. It’s bigger than you think. Consider it seriously.

5. It will impact you relationally. How’s your relationship with your mother? Your dad? Do you love them? Does your boyfriend? Fast forward ten years: you tell your husband that your mother is coming for the weekend. Is he excited? Disappointed? Angry? Making snide jokes with his friends? Of course, a husband should come first in your priority of relationships, as you both leave father and mother and cleave to one another. But parents are still a big part of the picture. Whatever negative feelings he has about your parents now will probably be amplified after marriage. Your marriage will either strengthen or damage – even destroy – your relationship with your parents. The people who know you best and love you most right now could be cut out of the picture by a husband who hates them.

It’s the same with sisters and friends. Will they be welcomed, at reasonable times, in your home? Will the guy who you’re with encourage healthy relationships with other women, or will he be jealous of normal, biblical friendships? Will he help you mentor younger women and be thankful when older women mentor you, or will he belittle that?

Don’t sacrifice many good relationships for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.

So how will your boyfriend do after the vows? Because this is just a sampling of the ways that a husband can bless or curse his wife. The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare. I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

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Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box. We’ve all heard the phrase many times. This usually means to think in broad terms, not constrained by the typical answers.

Thinking outside the box is supposed to result in new and creative ways of solving problems.

I’ve been pondering for a while, having once been an overly exuberant advocate of this methodology. If you can even call it a methodology. I stood in countless boardrooms over the years to deliver this “new-fangled” concept to hundreds of people who actually paid to learn how to think outside the box. It’s so hokey. And to think I bought into it, hook, line and sinker.

The key to creativity isn’t thinking outside the box.

It’s getting rid of the box altogether.

Because if you hang onto the box, even from the outside, you are still dragging all your garbage with you. And everything will be filtered through that box. Your old ways of thinking. Your nasty habits. The parts of you that need to be pruned off and discarded once and for all.

Leave the box.

This puts you in a vulnerable position, no doubt about it. There’s nothing to hide behind. Nowhere to climb in and pull the flaps closed. You’re exposed. Open to the elements.

And you’re in exactly the right place for God to do something with you.

I’ve been asking the Lord to show me new ways to do things – new concepts to study and develop, new ideas on how to do what He wants me to do. Much of what He’s pouring into my brain will require great leaps of faith. He’s not interested in my little cardboard box. He’s kicked aside and I can’t even reach it anymore.

So, I am standing out there. Nothing to lean on but the Father. He’s got some pretty awesome things up His sleeve for me, for my family, and for the people in my circle of influence. I’m a little nervous and a lot excited.

Being without the box is true liberty. There is no flimsy false barrier between me and Jesus. The ultimate Creator is working in me and believe me, there is no greater Source of creativity.

Life is so fun!

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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The Spoken Word

I once had a boss who absolutely detested emails, memos, letters – any form of communication other than the spoken word. I will forever remember him for his repeated, “If you have something to say, pick up the phone or come to my office in person”. Although this frustrated me to no end, especially when I needed his confirmation in writing, I learned something valuable.

Nothing can replace the spoken word.

The accelerated growth of the electronic era has almost eliminated the need for verbal interaction. We text. We email. We post a status update on Facebook. And we never have to say a thing.

I catch myself falling into the trap of voicelessness. I even text with my own husband and kids, which is ridiculous because we all have cell phones that rarely leave our hands. Did you know that those little devices actually have an app that can make real calls? Imagine that.

We’ve allowed this closemouthed habit – and it is a habit – to invade our spiritual lives. We have access to the Word of God on every electronic toy we own. We subscribe to the podcasts of our favorite Bible teachers and preachers so we can have sermons-on-the-go. We join online study groups and prayer chains. But when it comes to speaking the Word, praying out loud, and telling the people around us about Jesus – well – we email them the link to a really good website instead.

This is not what God intended. He made us to be talkative people. The Bible is full of examples that clearly show the results of speaking the Word, right from the Genesis to Revelation.

The words we speak create the atmosphere around us. Positive or negative.

If I am not happy with what’s happening and I feel like everything is going wrong or everyone is against me, I have to think about the way I have been speaking. I can usually see where my negative words and attitude have brought about the corresponding circumstances. On the flip side, positive words of faith, encouragement, and love result in those very same things showing up in my life.

The Bible is pretty clear when it says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” – Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Jesus said in John 6:63, “The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (The Message)

The moral of the story?

1. Watch your words. Make every single one count in a positive way.

2. Put your electronics down and have a real conversation. Face to face.

3. Pray out loud. Read the Word out loud. Tell someone about Jesus. Out loud.

Gotta go. I just got a text.

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The Trail Mix

Trail Mix

I like to have something to munch on when I write, so I got ambitious and made my own trail mix. I thought it would be cheaper than buying the ready-made stuff at Trader Joe’s, but it isn’t, so I might as well save myself the effort from now on. Lesson learned.

But this bag of trail mix got me thinking. It’s kind of like the church. Really. Take a look at the individual ingredients.

Peanuts: the average, regular ones who always come out, get involved in everything, work hard, and mind their own business.

Cashews: a little bit uppity, selective in where they appear, sometimes hard to locate.

Chocolate chips: the life of the party, you always know when they’re around, but they can be prone to meltdowns when things get hot.

Sunflower seeds: usually good for you, but can be so irritating when they’re stuck in the wrong place.

Raisins: so sweet and encouraging – they build you up.

Almonds: they like to be toasted and coaxed along, made to feel like they’re really wanted.

White chocolate chips: these are the ones who say one thing and do something else – they act like chocolate, but they’re not.

Craisins: they sometimes pretend to be raisins, but their sour nature comes through eventually.

Peanut butter chips: the comfortable ones who sincerely just want to be your friend.

When you put all of these ingredients into a bag and shake them up, the result is a very tasty treat. The flavors and textures compliment each other.

Just like the church.

We’re individuals. We all have different characteristics and talents and gifts. But when we come together as one church body, the power of God through Jesus Christ shakes us together and creates a family that can do mighty things for His kingdom.

Delicious!

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