Thursday, November 29, 2012
If there is anything certain in life, it is change. If we could design our own lives, they would be filled with all that we want and nothing that we don’t want. Life, however, doesn’t work that way. Life is about growth and progression. Flowers bloom and fade; seeds sprout and grow; butterflies undergo four distinct life cycles; and the list goes on.
The bible is full of examples on transformation. A notable record is found in II Corinthians 5: 17—"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; Behold, all things are become new." Note here that the scripture signifies that a process takes place. To grow, we must undergo change both physically and mentally.
But why do we resist change? As Christians, many of us find it difficult to accept change in our lives, even though we religiously quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Let’s be honest with ourselves about one thing—change is NOT easy. And one of the reasons we have a difficult time dealing with change is because of the emotional factors associated with it. These emotions include fear, discouragement, anxiety, insecurity, caution, anger, confusion, anticipation, inhibited disappointment, concern, unsettled depression, avoidance, uncomfortable dread, and excitement.
Many of us are resistant to change because it takes us out of our comfort zones, exposing some degree of our vulnerability. When change occurs, we most often first feel that there is a loss of some sort. If we lose our job, emotion interprets it as a loss of identity or financial stability. If we develop illness or disease, emotion interprets it as loss of good health. If our personal relationship comes to an end or experiences a major shift, emotion interprets the event as a setback. And since emotions tend to unmask us and make us seemingly vulnerable, we resist those things that unveil our nakedness.
On both spiritual and natural plateaus, change serves as a catalytic agent, and personal and spiritual growth are its by-products. I now know this all too well. I would venture to say that I’ve been in a season of change over the course of the past two years. From a change in my health status that resulted in sudden hospitalizations in the intensive care unit, to career issues, and relocation, I have been undergoing continuous transition. And while I believed that I was handling the changes with grace and honor, I reached my breaking point one day.
One of the effects of Graves’ disease is significant hair loss. My beautician had been trying to “save” my hair but determined that a haircut was inevitable. In less than fifteen minutes, my glory was on the salon floor. My initial feeling was that of loss—hair loss. While I knew that my hair would grow back, that wasn’t my dilemma. My dilemma was being forced out of my comfort zone. I cried and lamented over the issue. But my feelings, although legitimate in argument, was actually useless in terms of my benefit. I had to accept change. This experience shaped my outlook, molded my character, and caused me to activate faith in my healing process.
When change happens, we have a few options. We can live with it, adapt to it, or grow from it. Some things we will have to let go of, say good-bye to, or even release ourselves from.
We must remember that no matter how devastating the form of change, a golden opportunity awaits.
As the scripture declares, change ushers in newness—a new attitude, a new direction, a new relationship, a mended relationship, a closer relationship with God, a new career, a new home, a new church, a new medical report, etcetera. For change is opportunity-driven; it is a special invitation to personal and spiritual empowerment and advancement.
Embrace change and live abundantly!
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; Behold, all things are become new." - II Corinthians 5:17
Monday, November 26, 2012
Growing up, my parents knew this couple. They had been friends for a long time. This couple really loved my parents, but they didn't attend Lakewood. They lived on the other side of town and thought it was too far. It was about a 30-minute drive, which is really no big deal nowadays. But for years they told my father, "If you ever bring Lakewood to our side of town, we will be there every time the doors open. In fact, there are so many people, thousands on this side of town, that would love to attend Lakewood."
My father heard him say that so much that he was convinced that there was this mass of people on the other side of town waiting for Lakewood. So he rented an auditorium less than five minutes from the house of this couple, spent thousands of dollars on the building, the sound system and the advertising; and for one month, every Thursday night he brought Lakewood to that side of town. The truth is, God didn't call him to do it; these people called him to do it. They talked him into it. It was a good idea, but it wasn't a God idea. There is a difference. There can be a lot of things that look fine on the surface, but you've got to search your heart and say, "God, is this for me? Is this a part of my destiny? Is this a God idea or is this just a distraction? Is this just people trying to squeeze me into their mold?"
My father went to great lengths to have this service across town and spent thousands of dollars—and do you know that practically nobody showed up, less than 200 people. The amazing thing is that the couple who talked him into it did not even attend a single service. The first week, they had Little League. The second week, they had guests in from out of town. The third week, their goldfish was sick. The fourth week, their cat was depressed. They had the craziest excuses. My father left there kicking himself all the way back across town. He learned his lesson. If people call you, people will have to take care of you; but when God calls you, God will take care of you.
I've heard it said, "What God orders, He will pay for." Just because something is good, if it's not God's plan for your life, there won't be an anointing on it. You have to stay sensitive to the peace of God on the inside. Don't go against that Still, Small Voice. You're not anointed to be everywhere; you're anointed to be where God has called you to be.
(Isaiah 30:21, NKJV)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
People live by their feelings more than anything else much of the time. If you listen, you’ll hear people talk about how they feel more than just about anything else. I wonder sometimes if we’re serving the god of our feelings more than the God of the Bible.
For example, someone says, “I don’t feel God loves me.” Well, He does. Or “I don’t feel I have a future.” Well, you can. The Bible clearly says God loves us and that He has good plans for us. But when we believe the lies the enemy puts in our mind over the Word of God, we will feel like the lies are true and then live like it.
The Danger of Emotional Living
Emotional people make big mistakes when they base decisions on how they feel rather than obeying God and what they know is the right thing to do. We have to learn how to live beyond our feelings and do what’s right even when we wrong.
I’m frequently asked how I feel about things. “Joyce, how do you feel about traveling?” I’ve learned not to live by my feelings, so I tell them, “I don’t really ask myself how I feel about it.” You see, if I let my feelings “vote,” I just might decide not to do what I know I need to do. I don’t always like traveling, especially on long trips that give me jet lag. And I don’t always like staying in a hotel.
But I’ve decided to follow God’s will for my life and not let my feelings dictate what I do. I’ve learned to let what the Bible says dictate my decisions. I’ve set my mind to be a blessing to others and make right choices that honor God.
What Determines How You Live?
“ We have to learn how to live beyond our feelings and do what's right even when we feel wrong. ”
How often do you say, “I feel like…” or “I don’t feel like…” and then do what you feel? Do your feelings dictate how you treat people? Or what you say? Do feelings run your life?
You may be thinking, I agree. I can’t help how I feel at times and I’m not going to pretend I don’t feel anything. Emotions won’t go away – we must learn how to manage them and not let them manage us.
There are times when I have felt insecure about speaking at a conference. But I decided to trust God and have confidence that He would help me. When I stepped out to teach, the feelings of insecurity went away. There are times when I’ve been angry with Dave and felt like giving him the cold shoulder, but when I decided to pray and ask God for the grace to forgive him or ask for his forgiveness, I’ve had the ability to treat him the way God wants me to.
The key here is refusing to be passive and making a conscious decision to do what’s right. Being passive means you wait for an outside force to move you or to feel like doing something. Use your will to choose what’s right. And pray for God’s grace to give you the ability to do it.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
By: F. Kong
Ann Wells writes a story for the Los Angeles time and her story has touched so many wives all over the world through the facility of the Internet. Let me share it with you:
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. “This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion.
Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion.
Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.” I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends’. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing-I’ll never know. It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited.
Angry because I put off seeing good Friends whom I was going to get in touch with-someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days.
Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is...a gift from God.
Good things are not meant to be kept. They are meant to be used and enjoyed. They are meant to benefit others. Make an honest survey today. Are you still keeping that particular something for a special occasion?
Are you still dwelling on the street named “someday I’ll…….” “someday I’ll tell her I love her, someday I’ll show him I care…….”
Every day is a gift of God. Every good things come from God above. Don’t lose the good thing that is meant for the here and now. Because good things are not meant to be kept.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
By: L. Adams
Do you recall the first time you looked through a microscope? You may have been looking at a piece of a plant or a microorganism, but the purpose of using the microscope was to make something that was tiny appear large. Looking through a microscope at something that I could not otherwise see always brings a sense of awe and wonderment to me.
Do you also remember the first time you peered at the heavens through a telescope? Suddenly, something that was enormous seemed to be close, personal and small, didn’t it?
Do you realize that every day you look at life through both a telescope and a microscope, depending on the circumstance? How do I know this? Let me show you from the Scriptures.
In Luke 6: 41-42 (NLT) we hear Jesus teaching his disciples with these words, “And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, 'Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.”
We can be very quick to use a microscope to magnify the faults and foibles of other people, while pulling out the telescope to cause our own faults to seem minimal in comparison. Ouch!!
Jesus spoke harshly to his disciples and called anyone who does this a ‘hypocrite’. While we all know what a hypocrite is, I find it intriguing to see that the Greek word used for hypocrite attributes even more meaning than our English word. Hupokrites means one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite.
When we use a microscope to examine the life of another, while using a telescope to examine our own life, Jesus says that we are a pretender and an actor. Actors make their living being someone who they are not and when we use a different standard by which to judge our lives in comparison to someone else’s life, we are not really who we pretend to be. I would suggest that when we use a microscope to examine the life of another, we are attempting to make another person seem less…a lesser Christian, a lesser husband, a lesser wife, a lesser employee….less than. At the same time, by using a telescope to cause our own faults to seem smaller, we are attempting to magnify ourselves and our supposed importance. We must see reality as it truly is and not as we would like it to be.
In Micah 6: 8, we are reminded that the Lord requires us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” If we take this seriously we will cease using a microscope to examine the lives of others and instead extend grace and love to them by viewing them through a telescope. This telescopic view of others is just and merciful and humble and pleases the socks off of our Lord. Viewing others through a telescope will also fulfill 1 Corinthians 13 which tells us that love covers the faults of another, rather than exposing and magnifying them.
We are never more like Jesus than when we love others and show them mercy. So, what will your instrument of choice be as you interact with others….a microscope or a telescope?
Sunday, November 11, 2012
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)
Christians are commanded to lose their lives. This means they ought to deliberately release their lives to God and His kingdom. One of the greatest hindrances to you being on mission with God will be your view of what constitutes your “legitimate rights”; that is, those things that you feel you have a right to experience and enjoy. It’s not difficult to turn over to Christ those things that are not a sacrifice or that you would prefer to do without anyway. Rather, it is the things that are good and that are dear to you that may stand between you and God’s will.
It’s good to be near your grown children and grandchildren, for example, but God may want you to go to another city or continent on mission with Him. It’s good to get adequate rest, but you may receive a call of distress in the middle of the night. You may assume that you have a right to certain material things, yet God may ask you to release all of your possessions to Him and His purposes (Matt. 19:21).
Saturday, November 10, 2012
By: Z. Ziglar
The late Mary Crowley frequently commented that one person with a conviction would do more than a hundred who only had an interest. Commitment is the key to staying the course and completing the project. Conviction always precedes commitment.
When we’re convinced as a salesperson that we are selling a marvelous product, our demeanor, body language, voice inflection, facial expressions – everything – communicate to the prospect that we fervently believe we’re offering something of value. Many times the prospect will buy not because of their belief in the product, goods or service, but because of the belief of the salesperson.
Our feelings are transferable. Courage can be and frequently is transferred to the other person. Convictions are the same. The teacher who fervently believes in the message he or she delivers will persuade the student by the very depth of that conviction. One of my favorite Mary Kay Ash quotes is, “Many people have gone a lot farther than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” In short, their confidence, born of someone else’s conviction, had enabled them to “make it.” Conviction comes from knowledge and a “feeling” that what we’re teaching, doing, selling, etc., is absolutely right. When we transfer that conviction to those in our sphere of influence, they and society benefit.
Show me a person with deep convictions and I’ll show you a person who’s made a commitment to deliver those convictions to others. Show me a great leader and I’ll show you a person of deep convictions who is able to attract followers because of those convictions. I’ll also show you a person who is happy in what they’re doing and far more successful than those who do not have those convictions. Buy that idea; develop those convictions; make that commitment!
Thursday, November 8, 2012
By: S. Voysey
On January 12, 2010, Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that leveled an estimated 250,000 homes and 30,000 buildings, killing nearly 300,000 people. A cholera outbreak a few months later claimed thousands more lives.
Philosophers have a name for this kind of devastation. They call it natural evil. With its earthquakes, famines, diseases, and afflictions, the world can be a hostile place.
I visited Haiti once, before the quake. There I met many teenage Restaveks—domestic servants—who were treated as slaves. They were overworked by their owners and often beaten when they couldn’t complete their chores because of extreme fatigue. That’s moral evil— evil arising from the human heart. We know all too well how much moral evil infects the world. A Haitian pastor told me about the effects of Vodou (Voo-doo) on its worshipers. Once “possessed by ancestral spirits,” Vodou participants often change personalities, cut themselves, and do other self-destructive acts. We might call this demonic evil—evil from the dark spiritual realm.
Here’s the good news: Jesus came to defeat all three forms of evil! Mark’s gospel opens with Jesus exorcising an evil spirit from a possessed man (Mark 1: 21-28). He did the same for others (Mark 5: 1-20, 9: 14-27). Jesus combated moral evil by teaching love as the highest virtue (Mark 12: 28-34), promoting the values of faithfulness and servanthood (Mark 10: 42-45), and transforming thieves like Zacchaeus into generous benefactors (Luke 19: 1-10).
And when natural evil broke out, Jesus had the power to quell it. He calmed a raging storm (Mark 4: 37-39), miraculously provided food for the hungry (Mark 6: 30-44), and healed the diseased and broken (Mark 1: 40-45, 2: 1-12).
Evil met its match in Jesus—and was defeated. One day Jesus will return and eradicate evil entirely. Come, Lord Jesus!