I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl the thought of disappointing my dad was unbearable. My father is a disciplined man of strict German descent who values excellence in performance. While it is always good to strive for excellence, how many know that little girls and little boys are going to fall short now and then?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23 NKJV
Whenever I would disappoint my dad I was devastated and felt ashamed. As I grew older and there were times when I purposefully went against his will (who, me?!), it would be hard to look him in the eye. How do you look directly into the eyes of your father and admit what you did wrong – or worse, lie about what you did? If you have any conscience, you can’t! Just like Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned, human nature is to cover up and hide when we’ve done wrong. The last thing we humans want to do is to run toward the person we’ve disappointed. We fear punishment, distance, shame and more, so we tend to run away instead, even though we know they love us (like my dad does me). Once we do finally admit our failing, we usually feel better even if there is some punishment attached.
Fortunately, with our Heavenly Father we don’t have to hang our heads in shame at all. When we blow it we can boldly approach Him and ask for His mercy and grace.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. – Hebrews 4:16 AMP
He knows we are frail humans, earthly vessels. He knows that even if our hearts are right we will still stumble at times. But, believe me when I tell you, God is pleased with you! Jesus paid the price, once and for all, for all of our sins – past, present and future. When we approach the Lord after we’ve done something wrong, He is standing there with open arms and we can look Him straight in His glorious eyes! We are, after all, the apples of His eye and He is not condemning us!
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1 NLT
I will end this post with the hope-filled words from a minister I greatly admire, Jerry Savelle: You’re not alone. No matter what the devil may tell you, you are not alone. God intends to set you free – spirit, soul and body. So, wipe your tears, pull your shoulders back, hold your head up and let’s get on the road to your recovery.
Keep the faith!
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” Mark 11:22
As mature Christians we are told we aren’t to rely on feelings to know God is with us. If that is the case, I must not always be a very mature Christian because I sure do like the feel of God!
When surrounded by a world struggling in turmoil, sin and despair, it is sometimes not surprising when doubts start to sprout up. When He seems far removed and the walk seems so lonely, I find the doubting “why” questions sneaking into my brain. In times like these, I remember days of feeling His presence all the time, and I cry out, “Where are You, Lord?”
One glance up into the clear blue sky, or a stop at the beach to take in the crashing waves of the majestic Pacific, or one look into the faces of my kids erases all doubts that there is a God and He is with me! The sight of my two precious and comical little dachshunds not only tells me there is a God, but that He has a sense of humor, too!
What do we do in the times of drought of good feelings? The older I get the more I realize we do the same thing we do with just about everything in life: We choose to step out in faith, in spite of how we feel, knowing – in time – the feelings will come.
Most of us don’t relish getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. Yet, we force ourselves to in spite of our feelings. In a few minutes, we begin to feel differently; we are fully awake and ready to face the day ahead.
We don’t feel like putting on the tennies and going for a walk. But, in spite of how we feel, we do it anyway. Ten minutes into it, we start to feel better. When we are done, we are glad we did it.
You may not feel like going to the business function with your spouse. You override your feelings and choose to go anyway. Once you are there, you find you are actually enjoying the event.
Feelings are fickle! Feelings are subject to change – we often have to prod them along to change! It is in the doing that the feelings follow.
Choose to live in faith, believing and knowing He is with you today. It will change the way you feel!
Keep the faith!
A very important aspect to growth and change in life is the pursuit of self-improvement. To be successful in life – business dealings, relationships, spiritual matters and more – we must be determined to better ourselves, on purpose.
My husband and I first got involved in purposeful personal development many years ago when a mentor introduced us to a wonderful vision and goal setting program and the concept of dream boards. It was truly life changing and we have been made stronger, wiser and more confident as we’ve continued our walk of continual growth and improvement.
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
Proverb 15:22 (NLT)
We really took the experts seriously when they recommended becoming determined enough to invest in ourselves – with time and money. Over the years we have attended multitudes of workshops, seminars, conference calls and webinars. We’ve listened to the CDs and watched umpteen DVDs of the pros. We’ve participated in several mastermind groups – virtual and in person. We’ve bought and read so many spiritual and secular self-improvement books we seriously could open our own bookstore or lending library! All of this came at a price – literally thousands of dollars and mega-hours of time and a lot of travel.
While all of this is terrific and I wouldn’t change a thing, I have to warn you that you can reach a point of saturation – a state of “analysis paralysis”. It’s one thing to learn, explore and absorb all the “experts” ideas, plans, inspiration and motivation. It’s another thing to make your own plan and finally take action. It’s not enough to just hear it; you have to at some point do it.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 (NLT)
There comes a time when any more thinking and analyzing becomes counter-productive and you must just start to move forward. You can analyze so much that no decision is made.
A good friend of mine, also named Tina, and I have walked this self-improvement walk together. We actually met in a virtual mastermind group and became fast friends. She and I had an aha-moment of our own a few years ago. We hesitantly and self-consciously laughed when we came to the realization that we had to stop – stop buying the books, stop paying for the programs, stop purchasing the latest “how-to” manual. We had reached a point of information overload and it was time to stop learning, stop taking in more information. It was time to start acting – truly taking action – on the stuff we had already learned, gleaned and amassed. We literally challenged each other not to buy one more book or program!
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
Bruce Lee (1930-1973) Chinese American martial artist, actor, philosopher
If you are a seasoned Christian, you already know the basics. It’s time to take action! As I said, it is good to seek godly counsel, but the Holy Spirit is your best friend, your guide and your ultimate counselor.
But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true – it is not a lie.
1 John 2:27 (NLT)
Take time to review all you already know and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the next action step you need to take – now!
Keep the faith!
During church service last night, the presence of God was sweet. He gave me a word for His people, a word of encouragement. I didn’t get to speak it out last night, but I believe this word is for more in the body of Christ than only those in my church.
The Lord said, “Many of you are afraid to look Me in the eye. You have the same feelings of shame and guilt that you had as a child when you did something wrong. It was hard to look your parents in the eye, in fact, you wanted to hide. You are afraid to look Me in the eye. I am calling you to run to Me, not away from Me! I know what you’ve done. I also know that you are sorry and that you desire not do it anymore. You must realize that I am indeed faithful and just to forgive you and that I love you very much. Run to Me today! Crawl up onto My lap and let Me take away the shame and guilt.”
I remembered what His word says in Hebrews 4:16:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I like how The Message translation says it:
So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
God’s love is so simple. We complicate it, don’t we? We hide from Him instead of running to Him. It’s so silly because when we go to Him all the crud is washed away and it is replaced with joyous feelings of righteousness and peace!
Keep the faith!
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
The New Living Translation says: “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”
It is a curious thing how someone can learn something, live it and then fall away from it. I have been recently reminded by the Lord of a basic spiritual law that I once knew well, lived it and even taught it, but had somehow mostly fallen away from it. Our words have power; what we say is extremely important. What comes out of our mouths is an indicator of what is in our hearts.
Matthew 12:37 says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” How many of us are, knowingly or unknowingly, condemning ourselves by our words?
My faith took a nosedive after a traumatic experience that happened several years ago. It has been a long time in the reconstruction of my faith, with many times along the way bemoaning ever getting back to the place of strong faith in which I once resided. During this rebuilding, things that were absolutes and ‘givens’ were doubted and questioned, and sometimes abandoned. The importance of keeping a watch over my words was one of those things that went by the wayside. A fatalistic attitude of que sera sera, whatever happens happens, took over in my heart, even though I knew better. Yet, whenever I would hear a sermon about the importance of choosing life or the magnitude of our words, my spirit would leap. Hearing truth does that to your spirit!
Recently, God has been showing me – again – the basics of speaking His will, His desire and His words. I am not speaking about the new-age law of attraction or the secular power of positive thinking; I am speaking about the Word of God and how we are to choose the thoughts we are to entertain and the words that flow from our hearts and out our mouths. A few examples:
I am so tired lately. Instead say, “My youth is renewed like the eagles!” (Psalm 103:5)
My back is killing me. Instead say, “I am so glad God strengthens me!” (Psalm 89:21)
We can’t afford it. Instead say, “God is our provider and He meets all our needs!” (Philippians 4:19)
Nothing good ever happens to me. Say instead, “It may look bad, but my future is bright!” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Every time I try to do it I screw it up. Instead say, “I may have failed before but I can do all things through Christ.” (Proverbs 24:16 and Philippians 4:13)
I can’t remember a thing. Say instead, “My mind is sharp and clear because I have the mind of Christ!” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
It just about scared me to death. Instead say, “I was scared.” No need to add anything to it to get your point across! (Matthew 5:37)
Since what comes out of our hearts is what is stored in there, it is crucial that we fill our hearts with what He has to say, which comes by spending time with Him and His word. He tells us clearly:
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
I am grateful that the Spirit of the Lord quickens to us the word and reminds us of what is needed for life! (John 6:63) Thank You, Lord!
Keep the faith!
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you….” 1 Timothy 1:6
There is a popular saying in the world of business coaching that says, “Major on your strengths, minor on your weaknesses.” The theory behind it is to encourage a person to do what they do best and staff out or delegate the rest.
In a way, it has a spiritual foundation. God gives us all gifts and talents that are unique to us, and He desires that we “major” on those gifts and not squander them. We squander them when spend time trying to do things we aren’t good at instead of doing those we are gifted to do.
For example, in the natural I am really strong in leading others, accounting and writing, but I am very weak in mechanics, technical equipment stuff and programming. It would be a waste of my time – and an exercise in total frustration – to spend my time trying to be mechanical or technical; it would be far better for me to delegate out those types of things.
When my car breaks down I don’t try to fix it myself…same with a plumbing issue – I call a plumber! The car mechanic and the plumber are experts at what they do. It would be futile for me to even attempt what they do.
In other words, do what you do best and let others do what they do best!
Spiritually, one may be very gifted in teaching and speaking nuggets of truth into people’s lives but they can’t carry a tune and really get freaked out being around kids. That person would be better off to concentrate on the gifts of teaching and discernment the Lord has bestowed upon them, and leave the music and children’s ministries to those who have those gifts – amen.
Mind you, I am not saying that we never get out of our comfort zone and pitch in where needed. But, you get my point: if we spend all our time doing things that go against the gifts we’ve been given, it takes away from the purpose God put us here to carry out.
I encourage you to spend some time with God to find out where your spiritual gifts lie, and then walk in them!
Keep the faith!
“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22
The Hebrew meaning of the word “redeem” as used in this verse is ga’al and it means:
- to act as a kinsman or redeemer
- to redeem (by payment)
- God redeeming from death, from bondage, from exile
- to exact vengeance
Isn’t it great news that when we return to Him in repentance, God not only sweeps away our sins but He redeems us as well! He sets us free! Jesus paid the price for us – He is our kinsman-redeemer!
Often, instead of rejoicing over our redemption we hold onto our sins and live under guilt and condemnation. God has swept away our sins, why don’t we? Perhaps there is an old religious remnant in our thinking that says we must “do penance” and, by telling ourselves how unworthy we are and beating ourselves up, it fulfills that need for self-atonement. How long do we hold onto it – one day, three days, a week, a month, years? When will we feel absolved?
We are absolved the moment we said we were sorry and the Lord redeemed us! We don’t have to do penance. We do not have to hold onto the guilt any longer. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….” Romans 8:1(a)
There is, however, a caveat: Once we have been redeemed we must walk in it. Jesus said to the man He had healed, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you.” John 5:14; and, to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11
But, even if we blow it again (and again) which we are sometimes prone to do, we do know that He is the God of second, third, fourth and fifty-fourth chances. He doesn’t leave us hanging. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
So I encourage you today to thank the Lord for His redemption, walk with your head held high as a child of the King, and be bold in the power of His salvation!
Keep the faith!
One of the keys to being ready to change can be found in the parable of the prodigal son. If you remember the story, a very wealthy man had two sons. The younger son asked for his inheritance, took it, left home and squandered it all on lascivious living. He ended up working for a pig farmer and found himself living in a pigsty eating slop. Talk about being in need of a change, eh?
When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, at home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! Luke 15:17 (NLT)
Coming to your senses is a big key. Some people use the expressions “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” and “being at the end of my rope”. It means facing reality head-on and reaching a point where you won’t take it any longer. The pain of where you are is too great to continue in that place. The consequences of your choices are coming to bear and they are very painful.
The world will change for the better when people decide they are sick and tired of being sick and tired of they way the world is, and decide to change themselves. Sidney Madwed American author, speaker
Unless the pain of where you are is greater than the pain of change, you will never change. Bishop Mark Kariuki Kenyan minister
Can you come to your senses by your own effort or is it done by divine appointment? I believe it is either/or and it can be both. I believe you can get to the place of change out of your own frustration, or God can divinely meet you in your dire circumstances. However, God will not make the final choice for you.
For example, the Apostle Paul when he was still Saul was a persecutor and torturer of Christians. God met him in a very dramatic way. He threw Saul off his donkey and the sky went tremendously bright, so bright Saul was blinded! God asked him why he was persecuting Him. Saul asked God what He wanted him to do. Even though it was most definitely a divine appointment, Saul still had the choice to make the change to obey and to become Paul. Saul could have said no. You can read the entire story in Acts chapter nine.
You don’t have to hit rock bottom before you are motivated to change. Jesus didn’t have to sin to know to avoid it. You don’t have to wait until the doctor tells you that you have diabetes and high blood pressure before you choose to take decisive action with your health. You don’t have to go broke before you confront your fears, stop procrastinating and get your act together. You don’t have to let it get to the point of losing your home before you say “Whoa! I’ve got to make some strong choices here and do it now!” You don’t have to wait until you get a diagnosis of lung cancer to choose to quit smoking. You don’t have to wait until your estranged loved one is on his deathbed before you make the effort to reconcile.
However, some “come to your senses” awakenings – aka “aha moments” – don’t seem to kick in the catalyst needed make the decisive decision, once and for all, to change. I have long wondered about this. I’ve come to realize it fully depends on how fed up you become. How badly do you want it? It infuriates people to hear that, but it is because it means we have to own up, take responsibility and make the necessary change. As humans we naturally take the path of least resistance; we have to fight to go in a different direction.
My dad told me of a time he was at a hospital and saw men who had had laryngectomies, leaving a stoma in the throat region and the inability to talk without an instrument called a voice prosthesis. These men were so entrenched in their smoking habit they would smoke holding the cigarette up to the stoma! That is desperate and sad, and totally preventable. It was in their power not to smoke the day they lit the first cigarette. It was in their power not to smoke any longer the day they were diagnosed with cancer. It is in their power now to choose to stop smoking. The seeds they’ve sown by smoking have literally produced a harvest of death.
The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all. Origen (185-254) Christian scholar, philosopher
A woman I know is so painfully shy she physically shakes if she has to speak in public, even just to stand up and say her name. This becomes a problem because she is a very talented businesswoman and needs to network with other business owners to build her business. I took her under my wing and introduced her to several business networking groups, trying to get her to face her fear, and hoping she would gradually get used to standing up and saying “Hi, my name is Joan. I am the owner of XYZ Enterprises.” She never did get used to it, and, in the end, chose not to participate in any marketing that involved her having to speak in public. To say her business unnecessarily suffered is an understatement. She is receiving the harvest of fear of failure. Sadly, she is choosing it. She could choose to face her fear head-on and change.
You can run from your dreams in fear or run to your dreams in faith! Tina Downey author, founder of My Success Box® www.MySuccessBox.com
A Christian lady I know has diabetes and is very overweight. She prays daily for healing. Each morning she tells herself, “Today is the day God will heal me!” Yet, when we go out for lunch she has the humongous bacon burger and chili fries. She always has dessert and a regular sugar-laden cola drink. All the while she is expecting God to heal her. Somewhere there is a disconnect, don’t you think?
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV)
Are you in a place of Divine Discontent? Are you ready to make the needed changes in your life? I urge you to ask God to help you come to your senses today. It won’t hurt as much if you do it now – sooner is better than later!
Keep the faith!
When a friend calls you and asks you for advice, do you find it easy to rattle off some wonderful words of wisdom? Do you often find you have the answers for everyone’s problems? Do you ever lecture people about what they need to do to get out of their troubling situations?
My friend, Stephanie, always tells people who ask her for advice, “What would you tell a friend who asked you this question?” Boy, if that doesn’t make one stop and think about how they are handling their problems, nothing else will.
Why don’t we take our own insightful advice? Why don’t we practice what we preach? We have such lofty advice for others, why is it so hard to do it ourselves? So many Christians talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Their actions don’t line up with their words.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” He knew that if he preached one thing to others but lived a different thing in real life he would not be taken seriously.
Now, there is a difference in speaking God’s truth, even though one has not fully manifested that truth in one’s life as of yet. A preacher I know is famous for saying, “I preached prosperity, even though I had holes in the soles of my shoes, because it is the truth of God”. After preaching it for so long prosperity finally manifested in his life. There are people who coach others yet they are no where near the level of those they coach. For example, Tiger Woods has a coach. That coach is a good golfer, though not nearly as good as Tiger. However, that coach knows the basics and the techniques that bring success, even if he is not as successful as the one he coaches. That is not what I am speaking of here.
I am talking about people who rail against pornography yet secretly watch it every day online. I am talking about people who preach purity yet are engaging in impure acts. I am talking about people who spout honesty yet cheat on their taxes. I am talking about people who say they love God yet vote for those who stand for ungodly causes such as abortion and gay marriage. These are the ones who are disqualified. God’s Word is clear. He says He is not mocked, whatsoever a man reaps, that he shall sow. (Galatians 6:7)
The way to obtain the promises of God is to be a doer of the Word. When others see you walking the walk, they will be drawn to the light of God in you. They will ask you “What is it about you?” and you will be able to freely answer “It is God!”
When you live your life lined up with the Word, whether fully manifested or not, you are living righteously. He always honors those who honor Him.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. Joel 2:25
God recently gave me a lesson, once again, through my little dachshunds, Elsie and Hugo. It’s funny how He speaks to me using the goofy wiener dogs to get His message across!
I’ve been praying and standing in faith for many years that God will bring much needed restoration to me in some areas of my life.
While being entertained by the dogs, it hit me that they were a part of the restoration in my life. I had two dachshunds before; a black & tan boy named Oscar and a tan little girl named Queenie. They were my joy – I even had helped Queenie through her eighteen-hour labor to deliver their six little doxies. They meant the world to me.
Without going into detail, eleven years ago Oscar was brutally killed by someone I trusted; the person broke Oscar’s little neck in a fit of rage. In order to keep Queenie safe, I had to give her to a friend to keep. In one fell swoop, I lost both my dogs and the death knell rang on the relationship with the person who did the evil act.
I kept praying for God to bring me another black & tan male dog and a tan female dog, as my heart’s desire is always to have a pair. Several years went by before I found Elsie, a sweet dachshund my husband and I rescued from an abusive situation. She was a tan little girl! Two and a half years ago, Hugo came into our lives as a tiny black & tan puppy!
It dawned on me the other day that I was definitely walking in restoration in the area of my dogs. The story of Job was quickened to my spirit. Job 1:1-3 introduces Job to us:
There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless-a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.
Then, satan did his thing and Job lost everything – all his kids, all his herds and all his wealth.
But, in the last chapter of the book, we see that God restored to Job ten more kids and double what he had lost:
So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. Job 42:12-13 (NLT)
Sometimes I think our definition of a thing and God’s definition are not always conforming. When I hear the word “restore”, what comes to mind is what Webster’s Dictionary says:
- To put or bring back into existence
- To bring back or put back into a former or original state
- To put again in possession of something
Yet it doesn’t always show up that way. When someone or something dies, it is impossible for that specific person or thing to be replaced – they are gone. Job did get ten more kids and double the animals that he had before, but it surely does not mean he didn’t mourn the children who had died or didn’t miss the animals he had grown close to. Restitution was made; however, restoration to “original condition” was not.
Yes, I have two new wonderful, precocious and entertaining doxies, and I love them to pieces! I believe God heard my heart’s cry and fulfilled the desire of my heart (Psalm 37:4). However, it doesn’t mean I have stopped missing Oscar and his mate Queenie. The pain of the crime committed against them and me has subsided over time, but I join Job in realizing that the joy of restoration is most often tinged with the sting of the original loss.
I believe all of us often are actually experiencing restoration in our lives, but because it doesn’t look like what we expected it to, or because it isn’t identical to what we lost, we don’t recognize it as being restoration. I encourage you to take a look at your life and ask God to show you what He has restored back to you. And, as I am for the whacky dachshunds, I pray you are grateful for your restoration, however it comes to you.
Keep the faith!