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God Says, “Love Waits”

April 15, 2014 4:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

NazarethShepardThe clamor of the noon rush hour swirls around me.  I sit quietly and wonder…will he show?  Will he come?  Has he forgotten?  Did he even mean to come in the first place?

I break out of my daydream as I see his face beaming above the crowd.  He comes across the dining room as I whisper, “thank you Lord”.

OK, I can breathe again.

After so many years waiting when he didn’t come, it is hard to learn to trust again.  It’s a new being able to except that what he says, he will do.

On this day, my son’s sobriety is as new for him as it is for me.  We are both just learning to walk it out.  He is learning to trust God fully for his – one day at a time – sobriety.  I am learning to trust that God really has brought my prodigal home.

Oh how I missed him when he was gone – lost deep in addiction. My heart yearned for his return.  I think it must be like Jesus when he talks about how he loves the 99 sheep that are safe in his care, yet he must go to save the one who is still lost.

I’m the mother of 3 beautiful children.  My 2 girls never took this walk of rebellion. But then there was the one.  Like Jesus, I wanted them all safe.

And so it was.

All those years of waiting.

Knowing that free will reigns.

His life, his choices, his consequences.

Still I loved.

And oh how I prayed…sure that my knees would forever remain raw from the pleading.

Hmmm…do you think the heart of the prodigal parent resembles the heart of our Lord toward each of his children who are lost?

He intercedes, He prays, He hopes, He pleads on our behalf.

The purpose of lunch with my son?  To get his permission to share parts of “our” story as I begin teaching a new class at our church: “Setting Boundaries with Adult Children”.

You see it is almost impossible to tell my story without telling his.  They are just too intertwined. So, today I want to check in with him and make sure I don’t steal his story, step on his privacy or tell parts he is not ready to share.

Nick arrives at the table and gives me one of his amazing bear hugs – the ones that for so many years I missed. It is so good to have him back!  We order a way too big Italian lunch and begin chatting a mile a minute.  Getting caught up with his schooling, my work and all that is going on in our lives.  Then I begin to tell him about the class and how I want to honor his boundaries with my stories.

Abruptly he looks across the table and says, “Stop Mom!  I’m really anxious to hear all about your class but I want you to know one thing right now…”

“If any of my story can save even one person – don’t hesitate to share it!”

Softly, the tears roll down my cheeks.

In that moment, I can hardly take it all in.

In that moment, I know that everything has changed.

Hmmm…do you think the heart of God resembles the heart of the prodigal parent whose child has yet to come home – and whose story is meant to do great good in this world?

 

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son,

that whoever would believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Thank you God for the gift of your Son.

Thank you God for the gift of my son…and how you are allowing us to use “our” story (raw, unvarnished and real) to do much good in the lives of others.

Happy Easter.

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God Says, “I Always Answer”

April 1, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Prayer I love my church.  And this weekend our pastor shared something that I knew I wanted to pass on to you.

His sermon gave example after example of Jesus teaching us to be “shamelessly persistent” in prayer.  Teaching us to ASK, SEEK and KNOCK – relentlessly!  Not because there is some magic formula for getting your prayers answered, but because He delights in you pursuing that kind of personal intimacy with Him.  (Luke 11 and Luke 18)

But wait a minute.

Do you ever feel like you pray and no one is listening?

Do you ever feel like God isn’t answering your prayers?

The truth is, God ALWAYS answers and He does it in one of four ways.

Here are the four ways God answers prayer:

  • God can say, NO.  Not usually what you want to hear.  Yet, it is important that you begin to believe if he says NO, it is for your good.  It often means He has something better – or perhaps he is protecting you.  How many times have you looked back, after the fact, and realized that if you had gotten what you wanted you would have missed something greater?
  • God can say, SLOW. This is one I have heard a lot over the years, and I have learned that this form of “not yet” is God telling me He is working on things.  I need to “cool my jets” while He is orchestrating events, people and circumstances that need to be in place before He can let me move forward. It’s hard to slow down in this fast paced – results now – culture.  But I know it is fool-hearty to run ahead of God’s perfect timing!
  • God can say, GROW.  This is God telling you that you’re not ready – you’ve got some growing to do.  That might be an “ouch”, but what He is really telling you is if he gave you what you’re asking for, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.  You see, when it comes to “kingdom building”, God is looking for people who will not only answer his call – but also persevere.  If He hands you too much success and responsibility before you are ready – He knows you will flame out like a shooting star.  Trust God in this.  Only He knows the level of spiritual maturity required to handle what He wants to give you!
  • God can say, GO.  Now this is what we usually want to hear. No waiting or preparation –  an immediate green light and you’re good to go!  Not only that, once you get the “go” signal – have you ever noticed that your prayers were too small?  That you underestimated all that God had in store?  Have you ever seen God give you an Ephesians 3:20 kind of answer?  Immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine!  No wonder he has to give us the other three answers at times.  He knows we need to be properly prepared for the level of blessing He’s going to pour out on us!

Now here is the bottom line about prayer:

  • It is about pursuing  – and deepening – your relationship with God.
  • It is about growing in spiritual maturity.
  • It is about learning to listen for all four kinds of answers.
  • It is about trusting that God knows best.
  • It is about believing His answers are always perfect.
  • It is about knowing that God loves you!

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God Says, “Watch your Language”

March 18, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

business team working

No doubt you are familiar with the old adage, “actions speak louder than words”.

But what do you think?  Is that really true?

Based on both personal and professional experience, I would have to say YES!

                                                                                         The “Language of Behavior” Often Speaks Louder than Words!

There are many forms of communication that go beyond the written or spoken word. They include, body language, tonality, pitch, hand and body gestures, facial expressions and voice inflection or emphasis.

Here’s a great example: 

In a recent 60-second TV commercial the scene flashes from one guy to the next and all they ever say is the word “Dude”.   Depending on the way they say it…move their heads…roll their eyes…or emphasize that one word…you know exactly what they were saying.  You immediately know whether they are asking a question…trying to be funny…hurling an insult…or offering a compliment.  In just 1 minute, that word “Dude” becomes s language all its own!

And so it is in life!

How many times have you said something, only to have the other person react by saying, “I can’t believe you just said that!”

Taken back, your response is ” What????  What do you mean?  What did I say?”

Back and forth it goes.

Finally, you realize it is not what you said – but how you said it – that turned out to be the problem.

So here’s the question:

What language are you speaking? Is there a way to know? Is there a means of learning to understand the language of others and adapt in ways that will allow you to improve communication and understanding?

Absolutely YES!!!

In fact, through the language of “DISC”, you can master the art of effective communication quickly and easily.  And it will make a huge positive impact in all your key relationships -  at work, at home…everywhere!

Tom, a Certified Behavioral Consultant with 35 years of experience using and coaching DISC, will be leading a 4-week DISC Training Intensive beginning April 14.  If you would like to learn more, I invite you to click on the link below for all the details.

Click HERE for info on the DISC class.

As stated in the book of James (2:14),

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”

Yes, God is clear.  Actions speak louder than words.

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God says…I’m Looking at Your Feet

March 11, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Female standing barefoot on green grass and white flowersTRUE Christianity is seen not heard!
It is what we do with our feet – not our tongues – that count.

Many know the “language” of Christianity.
But here’s the question:
What are you doing with what you know?

If others were to follow your footsteps…especially Monday through Friday…would your actions match your words?

With alarming frequency Tom and I hear,

“I’m just too busy! When this is done…or that phase of life is behind me… then I’ll have time to step into the purpose God has for my life”.

Could this be just another way of saying “NO” to God?

Equally concerning are those who say,

“I’m afraid…I’m not worthy…I bring nothing to the table”.

And here’s the one that really surprised us,

“I’m too comfortable!”

Perhaps people didn’t use those exact words… but in one way or another they tell us they have decided they’re not willing to interrupt their comfortable lives.

DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?

Yet…down deep…do you know The Lord – through the power of the Holy Spirit- is relentlessly pursuing you?

DO YOU REALIZE…

  • There is only one YOU?
  • His timing is perfect?
  • It is the scars, mistakes and areas of profound weakness that make you perfect for the “job”?

Nonetheless…it can be far too easy to turn and walk away.

The Holy Spirit is a gentleman.
Relentless, yes!
But still, you have a choice.

Now here is what I want you to do…

  • Look down. Think about your “feet”.
    • Where have they carried you this week?
    •  What kind of footprints are they leaving as you walk through this life?
    •  Are they following your wants, desires and plans – or are they walking the path of purpose that God has for your life?
  • Look again. This time more slowly and thoughtfully.
    • What are your “feet” saying – not only to a watching world – but to God himself?

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God Says, “You Missed It”

March 4, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Bible Series Jonah sepiaReading Scripture is a never-ending journey.

“Alive and active…sharper than any two-edged sword.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

No matter how many times I return to the same verse, God has a way of bringing a brand new message – often remarkably suited to my exact circumstances.

I used to wonder how that was possible?

Now I simply relax and take it in.

Always amazed but no longer surprised.

One morning a few weeks ago, I was reading through the book of Jonah.

I was familiar with that story, but this time I knew there was something more.

Whenever I think of Jonah, I think of these 3 R’s:

  • Rebellion
  • Running
  • Repentance

But this time, as I moved beyond the familiar saga of Jonah and the whale, I saw something new.  The beauty of a God who chased after Jonah and was willing to use him (and us) – even when his obedience was delayed.

I now have a new “R” to add to my list:

  • Rewrite

We serve a God who never loses site of the part of His story we are called to play.  No matter how we try to run, He is willing to pursue us.

Thankfully, we have a patient, loving God who is willing to rewrite our story -  even when we take lots of “left turns” and are slow to respond.

Still, I knew there was even more in this Scripture, and I knew it was in the last chapter.  I read Chapter 4 over and over asking God what He wanted to say?

Then I saw it.

God in his loving mercy had saved Jonah – and not only that – had used him to save an entire nation!

So what did Jonah do?

He got mad at God.

He grumbled and complained.

He sulked over the salvation of people he had no use for.

And worst of all…he missed the blessing of the gargantuan miracle God had allowed him to be part of?!?

Selah.

Stop and take that in for a moment.

Following the call of God can be hard.

It can take you places you never bargained for.

And when you get there, it may not look anything like you had in mind!

But the blessing that awaits…”immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine”.  (Ephesians  3:20)

So now when I think of Jonah…I now have one more “R”…reward!

And in God’s economy that means blessing.

THE MESSAGE: Don’t miss your blessing!

Don’t get so wrapped up in your own agenda, ideas and dreams that you miss what God wants to do through you!

Even if you have delayed your obedience…go for it – NOW!

  • Rebellion
  • Running
  • Repentance
  • Rewrite
  • Reward

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God says, “Funny Where Happiness Hides”

February 25, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Key to HappinessI grabbed the morning paper and read the headline, “The Secret to Happiness”.

Smiling I thought, boy – this would be the source of a good debate in Sunday School class?!

But today I was ready for a bit of a respite from all the theological banter amongst believers on joy vs. happiness.  Right now, I was hoping for something a bit more frivolous and easy to digest.

However, editorial pages are not generally known for “frivolous and easy”.

Today was no exception.

Arthur C. Brooks, President of the Washington DC based public policy think tank “The American Enterprise Institute”, shares these findings:

There are Four Basic Values that universally have the biggest influence on our happiness:

  • faith
  • family
  • community/friends
  • work

The first three Brooks says are no surprise.

Studies consistently show that people with faith – any kind of faith – are consistently happier.

Ditto for family – warts and all.

And those with a solid sense of engagement with their community and a trusted circle of friends…ditto there too.

But  work?

At first blush, it might even seem likelier to reduce happiness than promote it???

But here is what he means by work:

#1 - it is not about the money.  Yes we all want to be paid well..but the purpose is not money alone.

#2 - and this is the key – “it is about the profound personal rewards that only earned success can bring.  In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success.  It is deeply satisfying to apply our skills and create value in our lives and the lives of others.”

OK…so much for a frivolous morning.

What I got instead was a HUGE AHA:

My entire work-life has been built on pursuing entrepreneurial dreams.  About doing work that matters…and making a difference in the lives of others.

No wonder I have found a lot of genuine happiness in my work?!?

But where did it all start?

Two amazing parents who were very successful business people and modeled a strong work ethic.  They blessed me with their entrepreneurial spirit and the belief that work was good.  They lifted me up and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

The other place where it began was simply timing. Being raised at a time in our nation when free enterprise…business creation…and opportunity to do better through our own efforts was embraced, supported and encouraged.

If this resonates with you at all – will you join me and begin doing what you can (as Arthur Brooks says) “to revive our moral appreciation for the cultural elements of success”  (which I also believe are Biblical):

  • individual liberty
  • equal opportunity
  • entrepreneurship
  • self-reliance

 Can I get a big Amen to that???

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God says, “Be the Difference.”

February 19, 2014 10:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Giraffe in the Serengeti“The mission is too big to be left to the missionaries.”
Christine Caine

Tanzania.
One of 54 countries in Africa.
38% Muslim
35% Roman Catholic
20% Voodoo and witchcraft cults
17% Evangelical Christians
1 courageously anointed pastor in a nation that is 5th from the bottom of all nations ranked in poverty.
Yet, Bishop Barnabas Mtokambali is answering the call God has placed on his life and leading powerful revival in his nation.

How is he doing it?
He is not only preaching and teaching about Jesus.
He is building leadership development centers.
He is training and equipping pastors.
He is teaching his people to grow churches and plant new ones.
He is constructing and staffing schools and orphanages.
He is advocating business development and entrepreneurial ventures.

When Jesus said, “Go”.
Bishop Mtokambali took Him seriously.
And, he says to “Go” means to take action!

What drives him?
He loves Jesus.
He knows he is called.
He doesn’t just “believe in” God…he “believes” God.
And his heart breaks for the “people who are dying every day without knowing Jesus.”

Now…here is the key.
He knows that his churches are only a small part of making the difference that is needed.
He knows that he must get into the marketplace and be on mission for God.
And “GO” means – go into the world – go into our places of business – go into every area of influence in our culture…and be the light.

Many who need to meet Jesus will never grace the doors of a church.
That is why Jesus is still saying “GO”.

The time is now.
Allow God to use you.
If you want to make a difference, you have to BE THE DIFFERENCE – right where God has planted you!

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God says, “Dare to be Great”

February 11, 2014 10:54 am Published by Leave your thoughts

man with question on white. Isolated 3D image“What if I get it wrong?”

“What if I step out and do something that’s isn’t what God has planned for me?”

“What if I’m not hearing God correctly?”

As Christian “success coaches”, we hear those question ALL the time.

And according to Barna polls, other Christian researchers and our own internal survey of over 10,000 people on our list of followers – the number 1 question on the hearts of Christians is:

“What is God’s will for my life?”

People everywhere want to know God’s plan for their lives. Obviously we get that.  It’s why we are devoting ourselves to the work of life purpose discovery through Identity and Destiny.   But here’s the problem.  Many of those same people – who are so concerned about doing God’s will – do nothing at all.

They are so insistent on getting it “right”, they won’t move, they won’t take action and they don’t dare take a chance.

They overlook their strengths, gifts and abilities.

They diminish their passions, desires and dreams.

They see little or no value in the experiences of their past.

And worst of all they hang back thinking God is going to lay it all out – step by step.  It is as if they are waiting for God to email them a 10 point life-plan or post the details among the clouds with sky writing.

So, until they get the clear instructions.  Until they know with absolute certainty what he wants them to do…they wait.

Now…the proper reverence for waiting on God is not what I’m talking about here.  It is the fearful, afraid, I can’t make a mistake kind of waiting I’m talking about.

So here is what I’m challenging you to think about today:

You worship a God who loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  He is the same God who “works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  (Phil 2:13) 

Did you get that?

Through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit – through the power of persistent prayer – through the mighty Word of scripture – God is molding your heart with His desires.

Stop being immobilized by fear.

Know that – if you are seeking God earnestly for guidance – there is a very good chance the desires of your heart are not contrary to His. 

As John Garfield says in his book, Releasing Kings“Of course, you may have a few fleshly, carnal thoughts and ideas, But if your heart is to genuinely please God, then He is molding your desires to match His.  If you are walking with Him, then the vast majority of your desires are already the same as His”. 

Today is the day.  Act on what you know.

  • Dare to step out into all that God has for you.
  • Dare to play your unique – one of a kind – role in the Kingdom of God.
  • Dare to be great for God!

PS…

If you don’t get it right – if you get off track – remember, we serve a God who can get you back on track and weaves it all together for good for those who love Him!

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God says, “I can work with that!”

February 4, 2014 10:56 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Bright Hope of LifeWhen Tom and I were first saved, we quickly knew that things in our hearts and lives were changing.   But not knowing what it “looked like” to be a Christian…we found ourselves searching.  Wondering what God had in mind for our lives from this point forward.

We read books, took the spiritual gifts tests, sought insight from our pastor and talked with friends who had been doing this thing called “being a believer” a lot longer than we had.   We got lots of thoughts and input.  But for the most part, it just wasn’t resonating.  Yes, we would support local ministries.  Yes, we would tell others about Christ.  Yes, we would serve at our church.  But still…we knew there was more.

But what, Lord?

As we sought the Lord, here is what we both began to hear:  “Bloom where you are planted!”  And over time, we knew that meant we were to work diligently with what we had been given – to embrace the way God had uniquely created us – and use all our experience, connections and spheres of influence…but in a whole new way.

At first, we (somehow???) thought if we didn’t go off to the mission field – consider going to seminary – resign our jobs or sell our businesses – we weren’t being “Godly” with our lives.

Still – in our hearts we knew WE ARE ENTREPRENEURS!

But…how could that ever jive with our responsibility to be part of the Great Commission???

Then – God began to make it clear.  It’s as if we could hear him saying, “I can work with that!”  In fact – he began to show us he had saved us – and called us – not for missions in a foreign country – but the mission field that was right there in our own back yard.  In our neighborhood – on the golf course – in our home with our children – and YES – even in the places where we did business!

God was not going to use us in spite of our success in business – but because of it.  We would have circles of influence – opportunities to be friends with – and the chance to speak into the lives of people that others (without this background) could never hope to come in contact with.  They would not be the ones God would anoint to carry the light of Christ into the marketplace.

God calls some people to serve inside the Church, and this is a precious call.  Yet, others are anointed to ministry in the marketplace.  Both are valid.  Both are answering a divine calling.  But – if you look at the reality of our culture, MUCH (maybe even most) of ministry does not happen inside the four walls of a church.  It happens in your everyday life – right where God has planted you!

And God says, “the harvest is plentiful – the workers are few.”

Isn’t it time we all got busy being ambassadors for Christ in everyday lives?    

How about you?

Where has God planted you?

Where has he given you influence?

With urgency, we say…

Step into your anointing and do not undervalue YOUR ministry in the marketplace!

With a smile, and maybe even a sigh of relief, we think you will hear God say, “I can work with that!”

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God says, “Better than an Academy Award”

January 28, 2014 10:00 am Published by 2 Comments

iStock_000015869647SmallI got a text from a dear friend on the way home from church yesterday…

“Do you have a few minutes to talk with Michaela (her 13 year old daughter)? She wants to interview you for a school project.”

When on the phone, the conversation began with a simple, “How can I help you?”

“I have an assignment for my Bible Study class.  I had to think of the most Godly person I know and ask them a few questions.”

After I regained my composure and took a deep breath…I wondered, did I hear that right?

“Why me???” I asked.

I wasn’t sure how she would answer?

Perhaps it is that I am an author of the book she has seen laying around her house.  Or, maybe she has heard her Mom talk about the work I do with Identity and Destiny?

But that wasn’t it at all.

She simply said,

“When I am around you and hear you talk about Jesus you are always so happy.  It makes other people want to know Jesus so they can be happy too.”

Oh my goodness.

Blow me away why don’t you?

I mean really…even when we have no idea it is happening – the light of Jesus is shining in and through us.

 Broken jars of clay – with the light of Jesus glowing out from in between all the dings, dents and wounded parts of our lives.

In this season of all those coveted Hollywood awards…the Academy, the Grammy, and the Tony…these words from a young girl are worth more than any accolade the world could ever give.

And  - as I write this blog – I realize this was also a powerful answer to the prayer that has frequently been on my lips:

“…if only I may finish the race and complete the task The Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  (Acts 20:24)

 Never doubt that others are seeing the light of Christ in you.
Never doubt that he can use you – no matter where you have been – or how much “clean up” he has had to do.
 Rest in the grace, mercy and love of Jesus…and know that just by being YOU…He is using you in ways that you may never know.

But then…on a day like yesterday – he might just give you a glimpse of the impact he is able to make through you.  Just remain a willing believer – in love with Jesus – and He will do the rest!

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