Tag Archive | blessed

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.

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Choose Life

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

I’ve debated this blog and gone back and forth about it for a week now. I speak from my heart and out of my love for Jesus and His for me. I believe that based on my experience, God is bringing good from it by asking me to speak to this issue. There is hope.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Moses is writing about the promises of God. God has given us a choice to trust and accept His promises or reject them. There is life in His promises. There is eternal life in heaven, but there is also a fullness of life in the kingdom of heaven on earth.

I heard Graham Cooke speak at a conference in April of 2013 and he said, “What is true in the natural is true in the supernatural and what is true in the supernatural is true in the natural.”

This is something I try to remember as I see and experience the battles I face and understand that there is nothing we go through in this world, the natural world that He hasn’t already dealt with in the supernatural, the spiritual world.

Here’s what Moses says about life and death:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

God has given us the free will to choose life or death. We can choose life in Him for all eternity or death separated from Him for all eternity. That is our choice to make; He has given it to us.

Now how we receive life in Him for all eternity is on His terms, not ours. He gives us the option to choose His terms or not. And His terms – it’s Jesus. Receive the gift of free grace by repentance and faith through Jesus. Do this and you choose life, not death.

Now, if choosing life in the spiritual world is a blessing, then choosing life in the natural world is also a blessing. What is true in the supernatural, the spiritual, is true in the natural.

Let me give you this example: Say I’m married to a wonderful man who has a great job. He provides all I need: a nice home, food on the table, heat, water, healthcare benefits, a 401(k), vacations, and clothing. He brings me gifts and gives me opportunities to take time for my own needs and well-being. There is one thing he does; He hits my daughter once in a while. It’s only once in a while, here and there. Compared to everything else he does and provides it’s really quite insignificant. And besides, my daughter is weak and believes this is really the best answer. She made some mistakes and she can’t really expect there to be a better outcome than this. She understands all the other good things he does for us so she just concentrates on those things while he hits her.

I hope and pray that if I really was in this situation and believed this, you would think I was nuts! You may even want to call the authorities on me and my husband for allowing this to happen. I hope you would tell me how wrong this is. I hope that you would encourage me to leave this man, at least until he received help and understood the evil that was present in his actions. I hope that you would not settle for this life for my daughter.

The truth is we settle for this type of action for our daughters every day. We live in a society that chooses death. It tells women, even young girls, that there is nothing wrong with death. God says death is a curse; society says death is our right and legal choice. They say death is healthcare.

I fully understand that there will always be people in this world who will choose the world’s system over that of God’s. They will believe the lies they are told, that they are weak and need to get rid of their mistakes, make up for their mistakes on their own terms.

But God says we can’t get rid of our mistakes, our sins, on our own terms. Our sin is only removed through the blood of Jesus and we can only receive the blood of Jesus by choosing life, not death.

So as I have opportunity to call people’s attention to the outrageous acceptance of organizations that provide abortions, that say it’s okay to choose death, I will.

Yes, they provide various healthcare options and services for women all across this country. Yes, they meet the needs of many women. But, on occasion, once in a while, they kill babies.

I mean, women are weak (that’s what one woman told me), they are weak and this is the only way they know to deal with their mistake, their accident. It’s completely reasonable that we would overlook this atrocity for all the other benefits these organizations provide. We can’t really be expected to choose life when it hurts, when our situation is difficult, when it’s inconvenient for our own life, can we?

I’m here to tell you this thinking is nuts! This is wrong! Why on earth would we support this thinking for our daughters? When do we stop looking out for our own benefits and comforts and realize the horrible position in which we have helped to put other women? Maybe ourselves?

I choose to stand here and tell you life is a blessing and when you choose life in the natural, you are choosing a blessing. Death is a curse. Death is the consequence of sin in our own lives and the evil actions of others. And while we can’t undo the curse of our own or others actions, Jesus can.

When we stop choosing death and choose life in Christ, He alone removes the curse and gives us abundant blessings; life that never ends.

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…” Deuteronomy 19b

Life is a blessing. Life is a blessing when it hurts, when it’s difficult and even when it’s inconvenient. Even what we think is an unplanned life is a blessing because God planned it.

“For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Something to Consider…

Through Jesus, God redeems completely. If you have experienced the pain of an unplanned pregnancy and have chosen an abortion, I want you to know that God loves you and understands your pain. He wants to bless you through your choosing life in Jesus. If you are sorry for having chosen an abortion, tell God. He will forgive you. It’s a promise. You can know the full and abundant love and life found in Christ.

If you believe life is a blessing and death through abortion is not okay, help stop the lie and share the truth of the life found in Christ. He alone can right the wrongs and bring blessings when all that is seen is a curse. Help others understand and know they can choose life!

The Tree of Life

Lone Maple Tree“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9

I’ve been thinking too much lately about what is missing from my life. I’ve been wondering what God has been doing, what He wants me doing and what results will come from any of it.

I have many great friends; better friends than I ever thought possible. They hear me say things like this and laugh…in a kind way. As we were driving and talking about all my concerns, we came across two signs. We couldn’t miss them. They were huge billboards, bright yellow with black lettering. “I love you anyway.” “Jesus.”

Regardless of the answers, regardless of my questions, regardless of me getting it all right, Jesus loves me anyway.

All too often, what is missing becomes the focus; not the abundance of what already is.

In the beginning, God placed two trees in the garden: 1) the tree of life and 2) the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Look what He has to say about these trees.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” Genesis 2:16-17

In the beginning, there was one rule, one command: you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He even gave the reason: for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

God allowed people to eat from the tree of life. He told them not to eat from the tree that would lead to death.  Sounds like a pretty good deal!

Even though God warned Adam and Eve, they rebelled. They did what they wanted focusing on what was missing; something they believed was being withheld. They allowed themselves to be wooed away from the truth, the warning and the blessing.

They lost the right to eat from the tree of life.

They had life! They chose death. And because of this choice, we receive death as well. If they had understood the full consequence of their actions, would they have rejected the fruit, accepted the truth and remained in the garden?

“(Jesus said) Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

But here is the good news. In Jesus Christ, we regain the right to eat from the tree of life! Jesus removes the barriers to the garden, to paradise, and to God.

God has made a way once again for us to have life! But once again, we are the ones who have to make the choice. We can choose our own way of doing things settling for death. Or we can accept God’s way, Jesus, and receive life everlasting!

We can focus on what seems to be missing and wonder about what we don’t know. Or we can remember what God has already done and know with certainty we already have life in Christ.

Something to Consider…

Where is your focus, on your abundance or on your lack?

In what ways do you reach out and grab for yourself what you believe is missing? Do you want to do it your own way not believing or understanding the truth of what you may lose when you do?

Do you trust God’s willingness to provide all that you need? Why or why not? If not, what would need to happen or what would you need to know in order for you to trust Him?

Jesus has come so you can have abundant life; life to the full! (John 10:10)

More than Girl Friends

SAC Camping 2010(Jesus said) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

“Any part of my life that I am not willing to let God have, take control of, correct, or change is a part of my life that will keep me at a distance from Him.”

This was my first thought as I sat down to reflect on the past five years.

Five years ago today, my husband had a meeting with someone who was, and thankfully still is, a very important and influential person in our lives. Unfortunately, at the time there was a division. I didn’t know how it would turn out, what all would take place in the process, but I remember at the time telling someone it would be okay. That was all I could say.

God has been so faithful since that day, just as He was every day before and will be every day going forward.

18 months after this event and after much turmoil, I received an email from a friend. She was someone I was just getting to know really. We knew of each other, but didn’t really know each other. She reached out to invite me into a group of women who were seeking God together.

It was in God’s perfect timing that this invite came. I was alone, abandoned in some ways, struggling for freedom in others.

What I found was a group of women so focused on God that over time, they would allow God into every part of their lives and encourage others to do the same. It sounds simple in some ways, but in so many ways it was no small task.

They are gentle, peaceful, loving women who simply want what God wants and not just for themselves but for every woman, every person. Their real and raw thoughts, feelings, emotions and struggles made it possible to see God’s hand in their lives which in turn, helped me see Him in my own joys and sorrows, struggles and needs.

About three years ago we did an action challenge.  We were to be intentional about being the hands and feet of Jesus whether it was through kind deeds, words or prayer. We traced our hands, some traced feet, and on them wrote out all of the things we did over the two weeks. I looked at my “hand” last night for the first time since the challenge.

I am humbly amazed at the prayers answered, the solid friendships that have grown and the huge family of sisters I belong to. I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus and I am grateful that He chose to love me through these women.

Prior to this group, I often wondered if I was too serious about my faith. Does everything have to be about God? I discovered with the help of these women the simple answer is “yes”.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

The truth of Jesus is real and it matters. Everything we do, think, or say has the opportunity to draw us closer to Him, show His love to another and bring Him glory.

These women have drawn close to God, showed His love to many and have brought Him glory in all things. They are not perfect, they have made mistakes, but their hearts are set on Him and He has worked all of this together for good according to His plan.

I am not perfect, but I am also not who I once was in part because of the time spent with this group. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their obedience and willingness to be vulnerable. I thank them for being more than friends, but family…Sisters in Christ

Something to Consider…

Are you wondering about God just wanting to know what is true about Him? Who is He? Does He really love you? And if so, what does that mean for you going forward? Seek Him by seeking out others who also really want to know Him. His love for you will be evident as you seek Him together.

God’s love for us is made complete through the obedience of people. You cannot be alone and fully understand or grasp the love of Jesus. Commit yourself to a local church and you will find more than a building of Christians, you will find a family and a home.

Be Honest with God

California Poppies and Gazanias“You have looked deep into my heart, Lord, and you know all about me.” Psalm 139:1 (CEV)

I didn’t grow up going to church, but when I became an adult I had a growing interest. If Jesus was really God, I wanted to know more. Although my fiancé had not been active in his church for a number of years, we decided to go to the same one in which he had been confirmed.

I spent years going to church, sometimes understanding the message, most of the time not. Even so, it felt good and right to be there so we continued. I had no idea how God was using this time to speak to me and my husband. We couldn’t comprehend how our lives were slowly changing, growing and yielding to Him.

This went on for approximately 16 years. Over time, God was working things out in His way, in His time. We had become more active in our church and knew He was active in our lives. I thought I had come to a place where His grace was received, forgiveness accepted and love embraced.

And then one day, as I was riding home from church, an incident from my past crossed my mind. I realized that as I thought about it this incident, I had turned my head down and away closing my eyes.

I was trying to hide from God. I didn’t want Him to know what I was thinking, what had happened, what I had done.

I felt ashamed and ugly, not worthy of God’s view. Not worthy of the grace, forgiveness and love I had been cherishing all these years.

But here’s the thing about God: He already knows where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what’s been done to me. When I try to hide the truth from God, I only distance myself from Him. I appear to have it all together on the outside while on the inside I’m continuing to live apart from Him.

God doesn’t just know my past, He knows your past as well. He also knows what you’re going through right now, as well as what you will experience in the future. He knows every thought and every desire. We have an entire life to live here before we reach heaven and He wants to be part of it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

When we are honest with God about our hurts, mistakes, and desires, He will help us let go, move on and move into all He has for us here in this place and at this time. When we are honest, we make our hearts available and open to a real relationship with Him. We are willing to hear His answer and receive His blessings.

Something to Consider…

Have you allowed God into the hurting places in your life? As you do, He will heal your wounds and mend your heart.

Have you confessed your mistakes to God, intentional or unintentional? He will forgive your sins and show you how to move forward in His right ways.

Have you shared with Him the deepest desires of your heart? He’s the one who has put them there. He will work them out in accordance with His best for you.

What’s on Your Mind?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

The first time I gave a brief testimony, I said, “I don’t talk a lot; but when I talk, I talk a lot.” I wish I could say this about what I think. Unfortunately, I tend to think a lot about a lot of things. My husband tells me I think too much. And in many ways, he’s correct. I can sit on something and give it room and power in my mind when it has no business being there. I worry over things I can’t change, re-live situations that are over and done with and ponder things that could be, might be and I hope aren’t.

There are also times when I feel like there is no time to think. I am overwhelmed, stressed out and in constant motion. I have no time to make sense of what needs to be done. My mind is going non-stop wearing me out and wearing me down.

We often seem to think that we can’t help what we think about. We’re just sitting there minding our own business when suddenly we remember a situation, a comment, something that was done to us and we consider it. We let it take up space, take up time and take up energy that could be better spent on something good.

We want to set the record straight. We want to see a right outcome. We want what is good but our thoughts about how to get there are full of bitterness, frustration, anger and our ultimate goal is to prove we are right.

So what thoughts constitute what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

Psalm 1:2 says the blessed man keeps his mind on God and His Word. His Word guides and directs our steps and actions. (Psalm 119:35,105)

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15

God’s way of handling any situation is worthy of praise. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is excellent!

When we choose to do what God says even if we don’t know how it will bring about a right outcome, we get ourselves back into alignment with His truth. As we choose to love God and others as He loves us, our mind goes to what is noble, right and lovely.

Something to Consider…

What thoughts are on your mind? Often, what we see is what we think about. Ask God to show you how to see your circumstance and relationships though the lens of His Word.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

At some point, we need to stop thinking so much and start doing. Laying down our life doesn’t necessarily mean we physically die for another, but rather we set aside our agenda for the benefit of someone else. Our actions in love can change not only our own thoughts, but our hearts and the thoughts and hearts of others as well.

The Lighter Side of LYF – What is Beauty?

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:1-2

I love music. It truly touches a place deep inside me. My husband says there is no bad music. Personally, I enjoy classical music, am highly irritated by jazz, and move to a funky R&B groove. But, I LOVE rock when there is a get-down, heavy electric guitar. My soul sings when I hear fingers fly! I also love “whalers”. A term coined by a friend of mine for those singers who open up their mouth wide and a smooth, full-force voice comes forth and resonates with very little effort on their part. They carry the notes with what seems like unending breath. Not everyone sings this way and not everyone should. Different voices with different styles singing in different octaves – all beautiful in their own way. But the one that FILLS the room is the one that will most likely catch my attention.

I saw an article recently commenting on people’s ability to stop in the middle of their busyness and notice beauty. It made me stop and think. What is beauty? What makes something beautiful? Is the same thing beautiful to all people? Should it be? Why do some stop and notice while others keep moving? If people don’t stop, does that mean that they don’t take notice, consider it beautiful or are not blessed by it in some way?

“When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth – his eyes not seeing sleep day or night, then I saw all that God had done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.” Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

Then I wondered, what isn’t beautiful?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Can two people do the exact same thing and get different results? I wonder if God blesses intentions. Does one who sets out to test man according to what he thinks is important and beautiful get the same results as the one who sets out to bless man with what God says is important and beautiful? Maybe, if what we do, anything we do, when done solely for the glory of the Lord will be beautiful and noticed by those who are meant to notice and be blessed by it.

I admit I have not always stopped for those things God has wanted me to stop for. I have been hurried at times, distracted, and my mind set on my own plans; but I do know that I don’t want to stop for what someone else assumes I should stop for. And I don’t want to assume I know a person’s story, thoughts, or heart solely by how they measure up to my expectations.

Maybe, when we consider beauty, our plans and our expectations of each other; the best we can do is stop when God says stop and move when God says move. That just might be beautiful.

Something to Consider…

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26a, 27

If we were to stop to notice every beautiful thing around us, would we get anything done? Regardless of your position, name, talent or trade, each person is beautiful because we are each made in the image of God.

When was the last time you really looked a stranger or a loved one in the eyes and saw the beauty of God within them? Can you even begin to comprehend the plans God has laid out before them or you?

Choose today to bless, not test, those God puts in your path.