Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forgiveness
1)       Have you ever done anything wrong (anything at all) and needed forgiveness?  (If your answer is “No”, please keep a look out for an upcoming blog on HONESTY).
2)       Have you ever been wronged and needed to forgive someone else?
None of us are alone in the fact that we a) have at some point in our life needed forgiveness AND b) have at some point in our life needed to forgive others.
Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us.  Forgiveness is hard to give and it is hard to receive. 
If it is so hard….why do it?
There are many reasons but the main reason is BECAUSE GOD COMMANDS IT.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Is forgiveness easy?  No
Is forgiveness necessary? Yes
What can happen when we refuse to forgive?
·         Hardened heart
·         Broken relationships
·         Build walls between ourselves and others
·         Build walls between ourselves and God!
What blocks us from forgiveness?
·         Pride – keeps us from receiving it bc we don’t want to admit we are wrong.  Keeps us from giving it b/c we may like the power we think that gives us over the one who wronged us.
·         Frustration—especially if it is a repeated offence. Maybe you feel you have messed up too many times to be forgiven again.  Or, someone keeps doing the same wrong over and over and you can’t take it anymore.
·         Fear --We are afraid if we forgive then we are saying what they did is ok.
·         Add your own “block” here…..
The frustration from repeat offence is the one I really have to fight against.  Greg and I struggle with our schedules and carving out quality time together.  We have been married for 25 years and we STILL battle this same issue.  I have often felt that his work and activities are more important than me.  And I am sure he often feels the same way about me and my activities.  Over and over again we are having to forgive and work through this issue of time and prioritizing.  It is a battle of repeat offense that if we refused to forgive could kill our marriage!
Regardless of the blocks that keep us from forgiveness, what we have to realize is that when choose not to forgive we are hurting ourselves as much if not more than the person we are refusing to forgive.
Corrie Ten Boom who was a Nazi Concentration Camp survivor once said, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free and realize the prisoner was you.”
When we choose not to forgive, we imprison ourselves in a cell of bitterness, anger, loneliness, etc.
When we choose to forgive then God sets our hearts free from the burden and brings healing!
When we are obedient to God we are saying that we TRUST HIM.  We trust Him (not ourselves) to handle the situation, we trust him (not ourselves) to be the judge, and we trust Him (not ourselves) to bring justice.  We trust him to take our hurt and our pain and our anger.  We trust that we can lay the entire situation at His feet and be free of it! We trust His ability to heal us and/or the relationships involved.
I realize that many who are reading this are likely dealing with some big hurts.  You may be dealing with abuse, betrayal, adultery, abandonment, etc.  This is all the more reason to TRUST HIM.    
Where do we even begin to put this in to play?  How do we do it?  How do we forgive?
What we have to remember is that forgiveness is not based on merit. Forgiveness is based on GRACE.
G -- Give the situation to God
R -- Remember that you too have needed and been forgiven
A -- Accept Gods teaching and make the conscious choice to forgive
C -- Capture your thoughts when old negative thoughts come to mind
E -- Experience freedom and healing from the situation
In any situation God's way is always the best way.  It may not be the easiest way but it is always the best.  And scripture confirms it -- God's way points to forgiveness.
Who do you need to forgive?
A parent?  A friend?  A coworker? A spouse?  Yourself?
God is pointing you to forgiveness--and forgiveness is all about GRACE
Turn the situation over to God and allow yourself to forgive and be forgiven.  Experience the freedom and healing that forgiveness can bring. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

WORRY = WASTE

When I go off on the fact that worrying is just one HUGE waste of time and energy I can assure you I am preaching to myself more than anyone.   I would have to say that worrying is one of my biggest hurdles.  I know in my mind that I should not worry.  I know scripture tells me “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6).  But overcoming worry is a definite battle for me. 
What makes this more ridiculous is that I when I look back over my 48 years of life I cannot find one instance when my worrying brought about a positive outcome.  The situation usually worked out (I’m still surviving!) but my worrying had nothing, nada, zilch, ZERO to do with the resolution.  Again, worrying was always a total waste.
Assuming that I am not alone in this battle I decided to share some tips I have found to be helpful when worrying rears its ugly head.  I know WHY I should stop worrying; the hard part has been learning HOW to stop worrying.
First of all, let me list a few things that do NOT help me when I find myself in the grips of worry:
1.       My husband saying, “Stop worrying”. (I know he means well but....)
2.       Me trying to ignore the hairball that I feel growing in my stomach when I worry.
3.       “Over sharing” with everyone who asks me how I am doing.   It is obviously bad when I grow tired of hearing myself talk about it.
Now, some tips I have found helpful as I work to hurdle the worry pit:
1.       Prayer.  It really works.  I’m not talking about one prayer and it is over.  When I pray and give it to God, a feeling of peace often follows (Philippians 4:7).   But, as you might guess, worry soon creeps back in.  Then what do I do?  I pray AGAIN, I give it to God AGAIN.  Over and over and over, I give it to God until I finally feel released from the pit.  And then I give thanks, for the release is a blessing!
2.        Productivity.  What I WANT to do when I worry is sit in the big chair in my living room and escape to TV land but that escape only lasts until the next commercial break.  What works better for me is a bike ride, a walk with my Labrador Gracie or knocking out some chores.  Get up! Get moving!  It doesn’t have to be a two hour full on work out at the gym (though that might help…I wouldn’t know).  Just get out and do something productive.   I find that “a little bit of somethin beats a whole lotta nothin”.
3.       Scripture.  When worry fills my mind I have to consciously capture my thoughts and I replace the negative with scripture that battles my worry.  Here are some examples:
My worry:                                                                   My Battle Scripture:
I can’t do it                                                                   Philippians 4:13
Fear                                                                               Isaiah 41:10
Unexpected trials                                                          Proverbs  3:5-6
It’s a rare thing to be free of worry this side of heaven but with God, prayer, exercise and scripture I find hurdling the pit to be not only possible but positively probable!     

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I am definitely in need of some type of steps to simplify.  Life for me has been so complicated lately that it's taken 5 months to write a blog!  The seven steps I began to write about back in November still ring true today so I feel the need to march on.  

Step One -- Know God.  

Step Two-- Know Yourself.  
The more I understand myself and how God wired me, the more purposefully I can understand and live out the plans He has for my life.  

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 29:11

I have read this verse a thousand times, but not until I was writing Living In Your Zone did I notice that the word "plans" was plural!  There is not just ONE job or ONE role or ONE thing that He has planned.  There are a variety of jobs, roles and adventures that would fit into His plans.  

But how do we know if we are even on the right track?  I believe being close to God, having a personal relationship and learning about Him through scripture combined with understanding how He uniquely wired me, gives me a better perspective on His plans for my life.  

When we know him and know ourselves we have better perspective because we have HIS perspective.  

Take time to learn how God wired you.  What unique strengths and abilities did He place in you?  What "tools" did He place in your "toolbox" to use while you are on your life journey?  

Once you gain understanding of your unique gifts, then the key is to find ways to put them to use as much as you possibly can.  Doing this will put you on the right road.

As a mom, I rejoice when I see my children using their natural, God given strengths and abilities. There are moments when I can see that they are in their zone!  Their passion comes out, they dive into the project full force, they spend hours working and don't even notice that the time has passed.  I ask "How do you do that?” And they respond, "I don't know, I just do it!”

When you are in your zone you have that feeling deep in your gut that says "YES!”, “That was AWESOME!"  I believe that feeling comes from our Father in Heaven cheering with you saying, "Yes!  You are doing it!  You are using the gifts I placed in you!" 

Don’t hesitate. Take time out for yourself.  Learn and understand your unique gifts so that you can use them more purposefully.  It may not sound simple but it is.  And it is SO worth it.  When use your gifts--you glorify Him!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Step One: Know God Through Jesus Christ
Back in November I wrote a blog titled “Seven (not so simple) Steps to Simplify Life”. 
Over the next several blogs I will be covering each step in more detail starting today with “Know God through Jesus Christ”. 
With Christmas around the corner this is the perfect time to emphasize that God loves us and wants us to know him personally.  The Bible tells us that God is at work in everyone’s life and does this so that we would “seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27).
Because God is holy he cannot look upon sin therefore our sin separates us from God.   Scripture tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans3:23).  But the Good News is that God gave us a way to overcome the sin and still have a personal relationship with Him.
John 3:16-17 – For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Romans 5:8 – But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
We cannot overcome sin on our own.  But if we accept Jesus Christ as our savior He can bridge the gap that sin has created.
Romans 10:9-10 -- If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
You can begin your personal relationship with God by putting your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. This can be done through a simple (yet not so simple) prayer.  Something like:

“Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from You. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ to die in my place. I now trust Jesus to forgive my sins. I invite Him into my life as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for loving me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

When I was 10 years old I prayed a similar prayer and began my personal relationship with God.  I certainly have not been perfect nor has my life been perfect, but I can say with full confidence that having Christ in my life has made all the difference in the world.

When troubles come, I am not alone.  When I mess up, I know that He forgives me and guides me back to the right path.   He helps me make better decisions.  He gives me strength, courage and peace.  He helps me be a better wife, mother and friend.  Christ is the one constant in my life that I know I can always depend on.  I have peace knowing that I will have eternal life with Him.
You want to simplify your life?  Turn over the control to Christ and let him lead it.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Specific Thanks this Thanksgiving
I decided to step away from “Seven (not so simple) Steps to a Simple Life” this week to give thought to Thanksgiving.  With this special holiday being just one day away our minds tend to think of those things we are thankful for.  Of course I am thankful for my family, my home, our community, and our freedom.  But when I ponder the question,”What am I MOST thankful for?” my thoughts and my heart turn to God.  Yes, I am most thankful for God. 
This morning the question went to another level and I pondered, “What about God am I most thankful for?”   That can be a hard question to narrow down.  I could even see my answer changing based on the situation I am in.  God is omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful…how do you rank your thanks with an entity as big as God? 
Instead of ranking my thanks I just went through the exercise of getting specific.  What specifically am I most thankful for TODAY?”  (I am not numbering them because, remember, these are not ranked and they are subject to change based on my humanness and what life throws at me on any given day).
·         God’s son Jesus Christ.  I am so very thankful that God loves us (notice present tense and plural) so much that He sacrificed His only Son Jesus Christ so that we (again plural, ALL people) have the opportunity for everlasting life.  This one will probably remain at the top regardless of what life throws at me.  John 3:14-18; Romans 10:9;
·         God is personal.  He is not a distant God who is far away.  He knows me personally.  He knows the number of hairs on my head.  He has specific plans for my life.  He hears me when I pray.  He knows my heart. Psalm 23:4; 1 Peter 5:7; Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 138:3; Nahum 1:7; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 10:29-30
·         Grace and Forgiveness.  I am thankful that even though I mess up I know that I can ask for and will receive forgiveness.  God does not keep score or hold grudges.  Hebrews 4:16; Psalm 103:8; 1 John 1:9
·         Unfailing Love.  On my worst day and on my best day and as I bounce back and forth between worst and best, Gods love for me never fails. Romans 8:38-39; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 14:4-8
·         God’s consistency.  God is constant.  He is the one thing I can always depend on.  It is never too late or too early to call on him in prayer.  I don’t have to worry about God or take care of God or fear that He will ever leave me.  Hebrews 13:8; Joshua 1:9
·         Scripture.  I am grateful for the Bible that I can go to for instruction, guidance, wisdom and encouragement.  Scripture gives me the opportunity to really get to know God.  Scripture gives insight to who He is.  2 Timothy 3:16-17
What about you?  What aspects of God are you most thankful for?
The great thing about this question is that there is no wrong answer.  Your answers will likely be different than mine.  And if you have a relationship with Christ your answers will be unique and personal because each relationship with Him is unique and personal.  And for that, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seven (not so simple) Steps to Simplify Life
As I read online, look through bookstores, check out magazines and talk with clients, it seems that people from all walks of life are wanting to simplify their life.  The responses and advice that I see out there range from trite to tiring to humorous.  Here are just a few suggestions that I found:
1.       Get rid of stuff
2.       Drink water (gotta admit…water is pretty simple)
3.       Breathe (who doesn’t do this?)
4.       Teach your kids to enjoy solitude (that’s a politically correct way of getting rid of them)
5.       Hire a nanny (that’s another way to get rid of them)
6.       Hire someone to clean your house (if you can afford it)
7.       Be frugal (kinda goes against numbers 5 & 6)
Again, these are just a few. There are books that have 101 steps, 75 strategies, 50 ways, 10 ideas, etc. to simplify; just reading through them made me weary.  Some were good, some not so good, some might last, some will definitely fade. 
What I could not find was a list that applied to everyone.  What I didn’t see was a list that gave concrete answers that would last.  What I needed was a list that included God.
Here are Seven (not so simple) Steps to Simplify Life:
1.       Know God through Jesus Christ
2.       Know Yourself
3.       Know Your Priorities
4.       Know When to say No
5.       Spend time in scripture each day
6.       Spend time in prayer each day
7.       Allow yourself to rest
No matter your age, race, gender, economic status, education or personality, these seven steps can work for you.   They are not simple steps but they are effective steps that can simplify your life.
Jesus modeled these steps throughout his life. 
1.       He certainly knew God the Father
2.       He knew Himself
3.       He knew His priorities
4.       He knew when to say No
5.       He spoke the scriptures
6.       He spent time in prayer
7.       He allowed himself rest
By implementing these steps you will not only simplify your life but also gain renewed strength, stamina and stability that will last a lifetime. 
Follow my blog as I spend the next few weeks breaking down these steps and sharing how simple it can be to apply them to your everyday life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Have you read The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson? If not, I highly recommend it. The first paragraph of the Preface hooked me in. It reads:

Do you believe every person on earth was born with a dream for his or her life?
No matter where I travel in the world --- whether among hard-charging Manhattan urbanites or villagers in southern Africa -- I have yet to find a person who didn't have a dream. They may not be able to describe it. They may have forgotten it. They may no longer believe in it.
But it's there.

I do believe every person on earth was born with a dream. I believe this because I believe Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

What is your dream for your life? Can you describe it? Have you forgotten it? Do you no longer believe in it?
It's there.

Take time out of your busyness to think about it, describe it, remember it and believe in it. I promise it will be time well spent.