Tag Archive | ask

For Those Who Love God

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

© Depositphotos/Abigail210986

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my children.

Now, if you asked them, they’d say there’s plenty I wouldn’t do for them. And they’d be correct.  This statement is only half the picture. The truth is there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my children as long as it was good for them. In the moment, it may not seem good to them, but as their parent who has lived through many more experiences, I may have a better idea of where things are leading and what is good for them.

There are times I offer help and there are times I wait for them to ask. There are times I take care of a situation completely and there are times I won’t touch it. It’s theirs to see through to the finish and then we can reassess if needed. Sometimes I (try to) teach a lesson and others when I let them learn on their own. In some circumstances, I make the decisions and in others I give them the reins. In all of this, I’m right here. Watching. Waiting. Ready.

And I always pray for them to know the Lord. I pray that Jesus would be at the center of and in all that encompasses their lives. It matters what they believe and who they go to for guidance, direction and understanding. It matters that they know their true value and that they believe the truth of who He says they are.

I pray this for myself as well. In this life, I will never arrive at the place of perfection as an individual or as a parent. I seek His wisdom and guidance in raising my children because without Him I would fall short of His best for me and for them. And even with Him I make mistakes, miss the mark, don’t quite understand and sometimes, admittingly, refuse to listen. I know that I’m an imperfect parent.

It’s one reason I’m so grateful that God knows, sees and understands all things. He can make something good come from my shortcomings. He can work things out according to His good purpose even when I misunderstand. In every situation and in all of my character traits and flaws, I can seek His will rather than my own and allow Him to change me according to His purpose.

As His child, there are times when He helps without a word from me and there times when I need to let go of my pride and ask for help. There are situations in my life where I have no control and I can trust that He is in complete control. Then there are times when He says, “You need to do what you can do first.” It’s how I know where I end and He begins. God teaches me lesson after lesson as I read His Word and experience His wisdom through others who know Him well. I love when He breaks into my day to give me a glimpse of who He is right in the middle of some mundane task that appears to have no purpose. Or when I can’t imagine a more excruciating pain from rejection or a deeper love for another and He says, “I know. I’ve been there. It’s a reflection of my love for you.”

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. But we also know this is only half the picture. God has a great purpose in the good that He works.

Something to Consider…

As you’ve come to love God, how has your perspective of what is considered “good” changed?

When you struggle to trust God’s good purpose, what can you do to remember that He knows and sees what you can’t yet understand?

How does knowing His heart for you help trust Him more?

A Wise Leader (Part 4)

This is the last in a 4-part series on leadership.

In Part 1, I addressed the difference between feedback and criticism, as well as the important role feedback has in effective leadership.

In Part 2, I acknowledged some things that I learned about myself through the process of asking for, receiving and accepting feedback and a few things I will be doing to help move myself forward in this area as a leader.

In Part 3, I recognized some truths about others that I learned through this process and have a game plan to help me be willing to hear what others have to say.

© Depositphotos.com/ ysbrand

© Depositphotos.com/
ysbrand

Now on to Part 4…

Love truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

According to this verse a good leader is one who is truthful, has integrity and is loving. The first two make sense, although I think our society too often lifts up those who are willing to bend the truth and break a few rules to get ahead. This verse contradicts that idea by throwing in love. And not just once, but twice. And not just here and there, but right from the start.

“If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)

Love is required for good leadership. Again, in society, we think of people as good leaders because they’ve accumulated wealth, status and a following of thousands, maybe millions. Obviously, they’ve got something worth having, hearing or imitating. But followers eventually get hurt or are left empty when a leader loves themselves and their own benefit more than those they lead.

When love for others drives the thoughts, decisions and actions of a leader, they will be someone worth following.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 (NLT)

In light of God’s love for me, what does that mean for me as a leader? What does it mean for me as a follower?

What I learned about God is that ultimately He wants me to see myself through His eyes, not my own or those of others, because His love for me is true and trustworthy.

God knows who He intended me to be when He created me. Sin has left its mark and tainted the beautiful creation He has made. Sin has stained my view when I look at myself through my own eyes. I am not unsusceptible to its effects. In fact, we all, every one of us, suffer its effects whether we realize it or not. But, when we do recognize it and are willing to let God change us, He begins to work with us as if we are already who He created us to be. I am not good enough on my own, but in Christ I am not a lost cause. God has given me strengths that sin has distorted. I also have weaknesses that sin accentuates. On the other hand, when I see myself through His eyes, there is only beauty. I see no flaws in any way that really matters. I am willing and able to address issues and apologize freely. My heart is open, honest, loving and caring. There is joy, energy and passion for what He is doing in me, through me and in the world around me. And I thank God for the people He has put in my life who are helping me see myself through His eyes because they see what He sees. What a blessing to experience life in His kingdom now knowing it’s only going to get better.

As I think about what this means for me, I also have to consider what it means for my relationship with Him.

  1. God is for me.

Everything God does in teaching, loving, correcting, disciplining and encouraging me is meant to draw me closer to Him and make me more Christ-like in my attitude, actions, thoughts and ways. God wants the best for me. It doesn’t mean I’ll always have the best according to the worlds definition. Status, position and power aren’t how we know God is for us. His blessings don’t always show themselves in worldly qualities and easily quantitative results. Sometimes His blessings show up in the dirty work of persevering. Sometimes His blessings show up in the painful experiences that help us trust Him more. But when I know and trust that God is for me, I will know that He can bring good from every situation, conversation and experience I go through.

  1. God is with me.

I am not alone. Ever. I spend so much time working alone: processing information, deciding next steps and wondering if I should think about things the way I do that I get quite lonely. I feel separated from others so when I’m around them I tend to think they feel just as separated from me. It’s hard to break back in. But when I know God is with me, I can talk to Him just as if another person was sitting with me. I can listen for His guidance, direction, thoughts, and input. And God is with every other person who knows Him as well so He is in fact drawing us all closer to each other as well. In Christ, we are unified, not divided nor separated, but coming together for His purpose so we never need to feel like we are against or opposed to each other, or on different paths. He is the way, He is the path. We walk it differently, but we walk it together. When we can find our common ground, our differences can actually be used to our advantage.

  1. God isn’t done with me.

There is a constant work in progress going on inside me simply because I’m still here. God doesn’t stop or give up even when I choose a wrong path, make a mistake or even fall back into old patterns and ways of thinking … not when I turn back to Him. He won’t force me to change, but He will lead me to change. His love makes the change worth it. A relationship with Him makes the challenges, difficulties and hardships worth it. When I’m willing to hear, receive and accept His feedback, I’ll be better able to hear, process and understand the feedback of others. His love leads to love. I hope to lead and love well.

Something to Consider…

God is for you. He made you and knows you intimately. He has your best intentions at heart. Will you turn to Him and let Him speak His truth and love into your life?

If you’ve accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in you. God is with you. If you haven’t already, say yes to Jesus and let God’s love lead you.

God isn’t done with you. Life is an ongoing process of learning ourselves and leading others into a deeper relationship with the One who loves you best. Continue to seek God’s guidance in your life and willingly walk alongside others who will help you be a leader for those who follow behind.

A Wise Leader (Part 1)

© Depositphotos.com/ robertprzybysz

© Depositphotos.com/
robertprzybysz

This is a multi-part blog based on my experience of learning to ask for, receive and accept feedback.

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

I’m involved in a two-year leadership program at my church. It’s been both challenging and rewarding as we learn about leadership characteristics, church history and movements, and ultimately, what it means to be a Christ follower leading with a servant’s heart. We also break into smaller discipleship groups and talk specifically about what God is doing in our lives, how He’s teaching, loving and caring for us, as well as using us to show His love and compassion to others. Each week we set ourselves aside and soak up what the speaker has to say, what God wants us to hear and how we can move more freely in what He wants us to do. It’s truly a great opportunity to come alongside others who want to be living fully in God’s presence specifically in an area of leadership, wherever that may be.

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)

A few weeks ago we heard a talk about feedback versus criticism (delivered by my wonderful husband, Craig, by the way). I admit this has been a very difficult place for me. I hear through the lens of criticism most of the time. I’ve realized over the last two years that I do not trust many people and even those I trust most, I am still hesitant with in certain situations and with certain topics. I don’t expect others to think the best of me. I also expect to be sacrificed for the sake of others.

God’s love, and the way we are to love each other, is a sacrificial love. It’s a love that gives, serves and even dies for another. But this sacrificial love requires a willingness on the part of the one sacrificing. It is a choice to put yourself in front of an issue and take a stand understanding the risk versus someone taking a step back or no step at all and putting you out in front to take the brunt of the problem.

What I’ve come to understand and am learning to accept is that God is my protection regardless if I’m “sacrificed” by my own choice or the decision of others. Regardless of what comes at me or what I’m thrown into, God has my back. He loves me unconditionally and I am safe, accepted, protected, and loved simply because I trust Him to do so. He is the One through whom all blessings flow, all good things come and He will never leave me to figure things out on my own. He’s in it with me. I just need to trust and obey.

So, back to the point of my message … feedback and criticism.

We were tasked with sending out a review to people who are over, under and next to us. In other words, those who we answer to in our work or volunteering, those we work or serve alongside and those who answer to us in some role or have experienced us as leaders. This can include at work, at church, in ministry, volunteering, family and even friends. (i.e., my husband and I are part of a small group and we’ve organized many functions together. They know how I operate in a group setting working together to accomplish a common goal.)

After I sent the survey, the first thing I did was make a list of every negative thing people could say so that nothing would surprise me. This way, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad to actually hear what a failure I’ve been. The next thing was to go through the list of rated questions and rate myself. I don’t know that I would actually recommend doing either of these things, but it’s just the truth of what I did at the time.

We received our responses this week. In my next blogs I’d like to share a few things I learned about myself and others through this process. For now, I wonder if you’d be willing to consider a few questions yourself.

Something to Consider…

  1. Do you understand the difference between feedback and criticism? Here is a simple definition of each:

Criticism – to find or point out fault

Feedback – to give evaluative or corrective information

Criticism tells you what you did wrong. Feedback helps you move forward. In The 360 Degree Leader, John Maxwell addresses this topic. I highly encourage you to check out this book if you are interested in growing as a leader.

  1. How well do you do at giving and receiving feedback? Do you dread hearing what others have to say about your quality of work or your ability to respond and interact with others? Or do you welcome counsel and advice about how to improve your skills both practically and relationally?
  2. How might God want to grow you in this area? How might God want to use you to help others grow in this area?

 

Homework…it’s not just for kids

IMG_2064Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

I came home one day from running errands to find my daughter sitting in the kitchen diligently working on her school work. I don’t remember the last time I had to ask her if she had homework or if it was complete. Even when she doesn’t enjoy the subject, she knows the homework is necessary. My older daughter was not quite so driven to do her homework, but has learned the importance of it and the reward of not waiting until the last-minute.

For those who know me, they would say I love homework. They would probably leave it there and assume it’s true as a whole, but they would be wrong. I really didn’t enjoy school work and still don’t enjoy doing research in general. I also don’t strive to learn so I can simply say I know and understand this thing or that. I haven’t always read the Bible and when I first started, I didn’t understand much of it. I admit, I often fell asleep.

But now I love reading God’s Word and “homework” that teaches me the ways of God so I can do the things of God. I have participated in many Bible studies over the past ten years and have even written and lead a few of them. I always encourage and provide ways to do homework, additional study so everyone can dig into God’s Word at any time. Homework gives us a way to be more intentional with our time and about our study.

How do you know if what you believe God is revealing to you is true? Do you know that the devil likes to reveal things to you as well? He’s very sly and smooth in his approach and he can take something completely outside of the ways of God, mix it with Scripture and make it look pleasing, make it feel good and right and make you think you deserve it. All the while he’s leading you away from God rather than closer to Him.

“Jesus answered,’It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Jesus knew God’s Word, not because He was God but because He learned it just like every other Jewish boy. When the devil came to tempt Him, He didn’t wonder what God would say or have Him do. He was able to respond immediately with the truth of God’s Word and defeat the devil even in midst of His physical, mental and emotional weakness. Because of the work He had already done, He was still spiritually strong.

We are so very fortunate to have the Bible, God’s Word, so we can know the truth of God ways. The truth is if you are going to be intentional about reading God’s Word, then you will be responsible for doing what it says because now you know the truth. It’s easy to claim ignorance or simply go by your feelings if you don’t pick up His Word. But once you do, there are no more excuses.

Jesus calls us to be like little children. Children are like sponges sopping up whatever they see and hear. They are constantly learning, sometimes intentionally, but often through what they experience.

What experience do you provide for yourself? As a child of God, as a maturing follower of Christ, do you take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him through His Word? Do you eagerly seek out His answers in the midst of the difficulties you face? Do you rejoice in the good and amazing things He has already done trusting that He is not finished yet?

Homework, when it comes to God’s work, is an intentional time of letting God’s Spirit work in us. We are sitting down and saying, “God, I know there are things in your Word that you specifically want me to know today, right now in this moment. Reveal them to me. As I seek you, you promise to be found. When I ask, you promise to answer. Lord, your Word is rich and I am poor. It is nourishment for this hungry soul. Feed me for I am needy in this world.”

Something to Consider…

Do you enjoy reading the Bible? Do you read the Bible regularly? What keeps you from it or makes it difficult for you? Ask God to help you understand and delight in His Word.

Are you uncertain you can trust what the Bible says? Does it seem to contradict what others say? All of God’s Word is true. God is knowable and completely trustworthy. Earnestly desire to know the truth about God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

The God of Second Chances

Cave and sunset in the desert mountains“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.” Exodus 33:7

God had made a covenant with Israel and before the last period was put in place, they had broken it. God’s desire was, and still is to dwell among His people, but because of their sin, their breaking of the covenant they had agreed to, they were separated from God.

Exodus 33:7-11 almost seems to imply that only Moses went to the tent of the meeting to inquire of God. The people would watch and worship as the pillar of cloud, God’s presence would stay at the entrance of the tent after Moses entered. But verse 7 says: “Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of the meeting…”

Did anyone else go? Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they take advantage of the opportunity to meet with God personally?

Moses had repented for Israel and it appears they liked it that way. It kept them at a distance from God, maybe what they saw as a safe distance, but a distance none-the-less.

In order to approach God now, we need to acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness personally. We have to face the truth of their own hearts. Was this an option at that time? Was anyone bold enough to ask?

Confessing with a true desire to change is hard enough. This along with asking for forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we do – ever! We have to take an honest look at ourselves, assess the situation and our actions, and admit what we did was wrong with no justification, excusing or blaming.

When we ask someone to forgive us there is always the possibility they won’t. We may want our relationship with them restored, but they may not and that’s a hard truth to accept. So rather than risk it, we keep a distance and our relationships are never quite what they could be.

But what you need to know is God is not like people. When we come to Him admitting our mistakes, weaknesses and outright rebellion, asking Him to have mercy and forgive, He does. When our hearts are right with Him and we are sincere in our desire to have a relationship with Him, He does not withhold His love.

He actually gave it before you even asked.

“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.” John 3:16-17

Through the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, you have the ability to come to God, fully forgiven, unconditionally loved and free to live His way. You don’t need to go to another person to speak to God on your behalf. You have Jesus: mediator, atoning sacrifice, the Righteous One, God Himself giving you full access to the throne room of God.

What concerns weigh on your heart this Christmas? What problems seem too big, too impossible to overcome? What desire do you long to see fulfilled in your lifetime? What guilt or shame to you simply not want to carry anymore?

You are not alone.

God is waiting.

He is available.

He loves you and wants to enter His presence through a relationship with Jesus. Will you take a chance and consider the possibility that not only is God holy, requiring a separation from sin, but that He is loving, faithful and compassionate in His provision of the one and only sacrifice for sin ever needed.

Jesus is the one and only way to God. It is by grace through faith that you can come to God and it’s because of His kindness that you can open your hear, lay your sin at His feet and trust Him to love you fully.

“Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting…”

Will you choose to take a chance and meet with God today, the God of second chances?

Something to Consider…

Has some distance grown between you and God? He is right where He has always been willing and waiting for you to return. What do you need to face, deal with or acknowledge so you can draw close to Him once again?

If you’ve never inquired of God, will you consider the possibility that God really does want to meet with you? He wants you to know the fullness of His love for you and that comes through a relationship with Him. Come to God, asking Him to help you with all of your questions, doubts and uncertainties. He will help you get your heart set right so your relationship with Him can be all it should be.

 

 

The Great Undo – It’s Done!

DSC06777“The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him.” Romans 3:22 (MSG)

This was my Facebook post the other day:

“I almost had a major freak out. Thankfully, I remembered the “undo” button before said freak out started. All is well in my world again.”

I am a database administrator for my church. One of my responsibilities includes running reports for our kids program. It all starts with one table in an Access database I created over the course of a couple of months. I download data from our main database, throw it in a table in Access and let queries and reports do their thing.

Whenever I run reports, I delete the old information from the table and replace it with the newest version of data. This time, I accidentally deleted the table, not just the data.

For anyone who isn’t a database junkie, you might not have any idea what I’m talking about and if you do, you may have no idea just how significant this was. A slip of the mouse on the wrong “X” and I could’ve been in for some major work.

Then I remembered the “undo” button. Would it work? Sometimes certain functions are not able to be undone. Would I get my entire table back and have my database running smoothly with a simple click of a button?

This time the answer was a major “YES”! Thank you, God that this program was forgiving of my mistake.

There are days when I would like, no LOVE a big undo button for my life:

“Oops, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“I wish I hadn’t done that.”
“Can I write my life in pencil so it’s easier to erase the mistakes?”

But life happens and it’s messy. There are scribbles, doodles, distractions and big time mistakes all over the pages of my life. And while I can’t undo what I’ve said or done, I can recognize the mistakes and apologize. I can choose to learn from it and desire for it to be different, be intentional about it being different next time. And the next time, and the next time, and the next time…

What I’ve learned is that we actually do have an “undo” button, but it’s not one where we simply say, “oops”, click a button and get on with whatever we were doing.

Jesus Christ has provided a way to make things right. On the cross, it was finished; it was done…or undone depending on how you look at it.

We’ve made a mess of our lives, of our relationship with God and each other. But in Jesus, we have a way to make it right again. He is sitting at the crossroads asking, “Do you want it to be made right?” We have a choice, an option to do it different.

That is the question we have to ask ourselves. Do we want our relationship with God and others made right? It is not always an easy answer because even though He makes it possible, it does require us to move forward in this new way. We cannot do what we’ve always done and expect it to be right. We have to be willing to go and do the things He says will make it right.

And while others may not believe or accept our apologies even when we know Jesus, we can be certain that through Jesus our relationship with God is completely restored. We can know that He is the Father, Brother, or Friend who will never leave us and the Authority who will never harm us. He is always available and always willing to comfort. He will always speak truth to our hearts even when it’s hard to hear. He makes everything wrong right again.

“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them – Jews and Gentiles) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24 (MSG)

Something to Consider…

Has your heart been hard toward God, toward Jesus? He wants good things for you. He has good things for you. These things require your participation. Ask Him to help you accept and receive the truth of His goodness. He will make things right.

While relationships between people require two hearts to be open to each other in order to be reconciled, what can you do to be open and make things right? Maybe you’ve done everything you can but still no results. Be patient and be ready with an open and willing heart. God’s timing is perfect.

Cleansed Once and For All

???????????????????????????????“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:2, 7 (NLT)

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take on a minor makeover. The bathroom our daughters shared was in need of some repair. Moisture had condensed in the ceiling fan vent and dripped through damaging the ceiling. We had it repaired, but the new paint caused the old paint to peel making it look like there were upside down meringue whips covering half of the ceiling. At one point, water had run over the edge of the tub causing the paint to peel near the baseboard. In addition, the bathroom décor was not as appropriate for my daughters who were now young ladies and no longer little girls. A good cleaning, repairing and decorating were in order.

We took a long weekend to thoroughly clean the room, remove any cracked and broken materials, repair damaged spots, paint the entire room ceiling to floor and finally bring in new décor. It looked like an entirely different room when we were finished!

Both of our daughters were out-of-town during this process. One came home and was thrilled at how nice it looked. She noticed just how clean it was compared to when she left and decided she didn’t want to let it to get dirty again. In her resolve, she now cleans regularly. She treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s funny how once something gets dirty it’s so easy to let it stay dirty. The work we put into cleaning it just won’t last so we don’t waste our time.

Thank God, Jesus sees us differently.

When Jesus comes to us, we are a mess. He sees not just the shallow, maybe deep layer of dirt that covers us, but He sees beneath the surface. He sees the cracked and broken places in our hearts, the damaged material we’ve become. Some of it’s out of neglect, some has been caused by others, but either way, He knows we need a makeover.

And He doesn’t just point out our need; He takes on the project Himself. He will do the work we so desperately need in our lives.

“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 (ESV)

I love that the very first thing He does is cleanse us from our sin – the filth and grime we sit in day after day. At times it’s so easy to believe we will never change, so we don’t. But Jesus changes us immediately when He thoroughly cleanses us of all unrighteousness.

Next, He gets to the nitty-gritty of the specific repairs of which we are in need. I wish it could all be taken care of in a long weekend, but it will be an ongoing process of repair and maintenance. Sometimes it will be painful as He strips and peels away the things that seem safe and feel comfortable, but are really hurting us as well as others.

The interesting thing about a Jesus makeover is that He is able to make complete what is not yet complete.

He doesn’t wait for all the work to be done before He gives us our new décor. We receive that as soon as we say, “Yes” to His invitation of a new life. We are a completely new person right off the bat even though the work continues.

So how do we keep ourselves “clean” while He is still repairing and working on our broken parts?

We choose to seek Him out daily asking Him to show us and clean us of anything not of Him. We refuse to go back to old habits, behaviors and attitudes with which He has already dealt. We allow Him to continue His work knowing all we need to do is be in agreement with Him.

In Him, we are free to respond in His righteousness to the world around us. We are cleansed and given a new identity, one many won’t recognize. Will you treat yourself with the care you deserve? Will you respond to His loving care for you?

Something to Consider…

Do you believe you are really a new creation with a new identity in Christ? Accept His forgiveness and be willing to see yourself through His eyes.

In what ways are you in need of a cleaning? Acknowledge them to Jesus. He is faithful to cleanse and repair you from top to bottom.

Do you have a difficult time maintaining the work He has already done? Remember, He doesn’t leave or give up; He is always there continuing His work in your life. Follow His lead knowing He and you are worth the effort.