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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Most of you know me well enough now to realize that I love to encourage people. I don’t just see the glass half full…I see the glass at least 3/4ths full, maybe even more. I try to always find that silver lining. When I tutor my students, I combat low self-confidence all the time. I love motivating them – to see themselves as accepted, intelligent, capable, and productive.

I also enjoy motivational sayings. Facebook and Instagram are full of images of beautiful lakes, flowers, mountains, seascapes with a lovely motivational quotes about working hard, staying positive, “just do it”. I brought a couple to show you.

Fail_Stop_Trying_quote          Make_It_Happen_quote

 

What a great saying to get me up in the morning.

River_Rock_Persistence_quote

Aren’t these great? Don’t you feel motivated to tackle that task you’ve been avoiding?

And I made one just for this morning.

Quit_Before_Its_Too_Late

Wait – what?

Quit before it’s too late? How is that motivational? Let me tell you…

1 – Give up…Let it All Go

This is a perfect topic for Mother’s Day. Moms are not quitters…ever. We persevere through any trial, work hard every single day, strive to take care of our families, keep track of everyone’s schedules, make sure the dogs get fed, the kids do their homework, the church gets cleaned…we work, volunteer, run our kids to sports practices and games, dance lessons, 4-H club meetings, decorate for birthday parties, serve on church committees…and then we cook, clean, do laundry, mow the lawn…doing, doing, doing.

And we get it done. Somehow. But at what price?

We’re tired, grumpy, emotional, stressed, discouraged and certainly hardest on ourselves if we feel we failed at any one thing. We’ve set our expectations so high that we are often disappointed in ourselves for not “doing more” or “doing better.” Maybe we feel we’ve let others down when we just can’t do one more thing. Sometimes, when we don’t get everything done that we’ve put on our list, we mentally and sometimes, verbally, blame ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our bosses. We think we can do it all…or worse, expect perfection…from ourselves or others. Inside we’re discouraged, condemning, feeling like failures…when in reality there is only one thing we need.

We need to quit. We need to give up and let it all go.

2 – You were designed for more

Have you ever heard of the No Thumbs Challenge? It’s a little YouTube sensation where a couple of people very securely tape their thumbs down into their palms and then attempt to do a variety of normal activities…such as opening a bottle of water, writing their name, operating a can opener, peeling a banana. Some are easier than others, but overall, the tasks are made much more difficult without the use of thumbs.

This is an object lesson for what we do in life. God gives us brains, strengths, talents, gifts – and we can accomplish a lot without ever asking God to help us. We can be super-successful on our own. Many people in the world accomplish great things without once considering God. But they, and we, are going through life with our thumbs bound…yes, we can accomplish a lot…but think of how much more we could do – if we quit trying to do it on our own and ask God to help us.

We are designed to work best when we work WITH God’s guidance – when we work WITHIN His design for us (Psalm 139).

You’ve put up with a life “without thumbs” – learned to do everything we need to do with only 4 fingers – but it’s been a struggle, a hardship, sometimes a failure…let’s quit trying to do without God, when with Him, it is more than we could ever imagine.

Luke 18:27 – “But He said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’”

3 – Embrace the ASK

We need to admit we need help. That can be a real battle for some. We like that good ole American work ethic…that “git ‘er done” mentality. We’re proud of our accomplishments. But at what cost? Our health – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Even if we do consider asking God for help, we don’t (or won’t).

“God, you’re great and all, but probably pretty busy with important world issues, like famine and war and cancer…so I’ll just go ahead and do my little stuff on my own. I got this. No sense in bothering You with my little things.”

But asking God for help, no matter what we need, is like being set free to do more, to see Him working through you. God wants to free you from the bondage of pride and self-sufficiency – He wants to release you – set you free and empower you to do more and better, as He intended.

2 Corinthians 12:9“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul goes on to say – “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When we ask for God to help us, we become stronger than we are alone. When we admit we are weak without Him, then His power takes over. Instead of apologizing for bothering God, you should see how excited He is when we ask him to overcome our weaknesses with His strength.

So how do you go about asking God for help?

James 1:5“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to ALL liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” In Psalm 46:1 we hear that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.

He doesn’t just listen to me, and not to you. He delights in hearing your requests. He delights in YOU.

Once you’ve asked for God to free you from your own pride, and give you wisdom in your daily life, expect to see a difference. John 8:36 says “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” All four fingers and a great big thumb!

I challenge you to test God. Test His Word. Begin each day asking God to help you in every situation you encounter…both the planned and the unplanned. Ask Him to guide your steps, to give you wisdom when you don’t know what to do…to give you words to speak life and encouragement to your family and friends, even your enemies. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what to do when you’re confused or discouraged. He promises He will.

A number of years ago, the Chicago Bulls had a couple of pretty good basketball players…maybe you’ve heard of them. Michael Jordan and Stacey King. Of course, everyone knows Michael Jordan…but Stacey King was a decent player himself.  One night the two of them had a great game, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers. After the game, reporters interviewed King, quoting him in the next morning’s newspaper:

“I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.”

Wouldn’t that be a great game? Of course. But the part King left out…Michael Jordan scored 69 points and King scored only one.

But that’s how it is when we partner with God. God only asks that we are willing to score our one point, and He’ll take care of the rest. He’s a big God and He can and will help you to meet and exceed the challenges each of you face each day. Beyond your expectations.

Let’s pray.

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Do you have a favorite promise from God?

Maybe you are like me and have a new favorite every day.

Today, my go-to promise is:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

Tomorrow I may grab onto:

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5

I could go on and on…

God promises to keep us secure and safe (Job 11:18) with unfailing love (Psalm 52:8). He promises to protect us (Psalm 12:7) and provide for us (Psalm 65:9)…and not just food and water.

God tells us not to worry because He provides everything we need.
If the flowers in the field are small_purple_flowersclothed in beauty, how much more He will do for us, His children. God says we only need to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) God also provides us a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) and strength when we are weak (1 Peter 4:11).

However, we can believe all of this because of Jesus. According to 2 Corinthians 1:20, “…no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

Because God sent Jesus as the Promised Messiah, we can believe every single one of His promises.

Jesus is our refuge in times of trouble…God will pour His Spirit upon our children…The Lord will fight for you and save you from your enemies…God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.

Help – I can’t stop. There are soooo many!

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5

“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Take a moment and find a promise from God to hang onto for whatever you are going through today.

He will not fail you – He promised!

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It random-act-of-kindnesswas a saying my mom used to tell me when I complained in junior high about people being mean to me. Looking back, I cannot remember anyone’s actual actions or words toward me that I would consider mean…but I certainly do remember my mom’s advice, “Just be nice to them, Kris. Kill them with kindness.”

Most of the time, I think I’m a kind person, but I also realize that plenty of times I’ve chosen what felt good to me over what may have been kindness extended toward someone else. The times I could have allowed someone in front of me at the WalMart check out lane, held a door open during a walk instead of hurrying on myself, or getting Don a cup of coffee while I was up getting my own…I could go on. So could you.

Today I’m grateful for kindness. I’m also grateful for the POWER of kindness, because I believe if we, all of us, make the intentional choice to be kind to others, we’ll help inch our society in the opposite direction of where it is currently heading.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Here’s my intentional kindness action plan for this week:

Day 1 – Baby steps: smile at everyone I meet, even if they are grouchy or frowning. This includes while I’m driving (my biggest challenge) and when I answer the phone. I don’t know about you, but I can tell when the person on the other end of the phone says “hello” with a smile. I’m weird that way.

Day 2 – Everything from Day 1 PLUS…within the course of the day, choosing kindness in the little things. This could include holding doors, making coffee, running errands, doing a favor, extending grace, being generous, laughing at dumb jokes.

Day 3 – Day 1 + Day 2 + taking note of my body language and tone of voice so I exude kindness with more than just words. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk, as they say.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Day 4 – Everything from the past three days PLUS adding in kindness to those who don’t like me.

NOOOO!

This one is the hardest, of course. Who likes doing nice things, being nice, showing kindness to people who do not deserve it? Not me.

But…

That’s what God has asked us to do…and in fact, it is what He did (and keeps doing) for us. We don’t deserve God’s love…we never deserved Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but He did it anyway. Because He loves us more than we can imagine. And if we really want to show the world a better way…the BEST way…we must demonstrate God’s love through our actions. Kill them with kindness.

“Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” Romans 12:20-21 (The Message)

I once heard a message from a guest speaker about kindness. A person sitting near to me scoffed about it afterwards – “What a stupid topic for a sermon!” I guess they thought it wasn’t spiritual enough. But in actuality, showing kindness is one of the most spiritual disciplines you can aspire to reach. By showing kindness, you are showing an unbelieving world the unconditional love of our Father God. We are proving His love for them, and using us as instruments of that love. What is more spiritual than being a tool in the hands of the Master?

“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,[a] and by our sincere love.” 2 Corinthians 6:6

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Impossible.

My 30-day gratitude list asks: “What book are you grateful for?” Really? Singular? One book? Impossible.

You need to know this about me before I can continue. I love books. I have always loved books. I learned to read before I went to kindergarten and I’ve been reading ever since. I love all types of books…most genres (except horror, yuck)…many different authors and styles. Some of my greatest lessons have been learned while reading stories to my boys. One of my favorite series of children’s books are about a little raccoon named Adam.

adam_Raccoon - 2Adam Raccoon is the brain child (brain animal?) of Glen Keane, who both writes and illustrates all of the books. Formerly an animator for Disney, Mr. Keane wrote eight books about this little fun-loving fellow who lives in Master’s Wood along with his best friend, King Aren, and other friends (and enemies). In Adam’s many and varied adventures, he invariably learns a lesson or two, and always, always, King Aren pulls him out of whatever pickle Adam finds himself in.

My favorite Adam adventure involves a race he runs up Victory Mountain. Adam is very excited. He has new running shoes and is full of confidence that he will win the race, no question about it. King Aren, as always, is a wise and strong friend, who tries to dispense advice pre-race…but Adam thinks he knows it all and doesn’t listen well. (Sound familiar? Yeah, me too.)

One of my favorite lines is King Aren’s encouragement to Adam before the race begins.

“It’s easy to get off track. But when you do, get back on course and finish the race.”

Each of Adam’s books include a character meant to get him off alone and without King Aren’s protection. In the Race to Victory Mountain, the dark enticement comes from a bat who gives Adam a map of a “short cut.” Don’t we all want a short cut to the top? Don’t we all get tempted to cut corners and still reap the rewards? Yeah – it doesn’t work so well for Adam either.

The important thing to remember – for Adam and for us – “What counts is finishing the race. Everyone who stays on course and doesn’t quit will win.” More wisdom from King Aren.

As the race begins, Adam enjoys a comfortable lead. He is running great…until he hits Ruby’s Honey Stand. The temptation of fresh biscuits and honey get him off the course and a few pounds heavier before he realizes he needs to get moving. Then he encounters the old deserted fairgrounds. The various rides and attractions quickly become his latest distraction and time quickly gets away from him. He’s trying to make up some time when he remembers that short cut map.

At one point, Adam is standing at a crossroads. He sees King Aren’s course flag, and remembers the words, “Stay on course.” However, he’s worried he’ll never finish in time, so he heads off down the other path. As you can guess, this is not his best decision. He ends up hanging from a broken bridge slat over a raging river, “I quit.”

Nevertheless, to the rescue is King Aren, who encourages Adam to get back in the race. “You can still make it if you don’t delay!” So accompanied by his royal friend, Adam gets going, and as the last rays of sun fall over the mountain, Adam makes it to the finish line and receives a trophy, just like everyone else who finished the race.

Simple story. Yes. Timeless truth. Absolutely.

I go back to this story over and over because it so easily comforts and encourages me while I’m running my life race. I also have a king who is my best friend. King Jesus never leaves me, always provides the encouragement and advice I need, through His Word, to run my race with endurance. I can rely on His map (the Bible) and don’t need any short-cuts to a victory.

I’m grateful for this little book which showed my kids (and me) the way to live (race) victoriously – staying on course and never giving up.

“So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way. And we should remove the sin that so easily catches us. Let us look only to Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1b,2a

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God_provides

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

I am so grateful for the provision of God. He gives us life, and breath, and hope. He knew us before we were in the wombs of our mothers, and has a plan and purpose for each of us. He provides ways for us to work, talents for us to use, gifts for us to share. He cares about every detail of our lives. God does not live in some far off place, moving the affairs of men as chess pieces…He is a loving heavenly Father who weeps when we mourn, rejoices when we are happy, and gives us so many good gifts. Of course, His greatest gift was sending His only Son Jesus to die in our place, that we would not be punished for our sins, but will instead be welcomed into His Presence once we have accepted that gift, and proclaimed Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I cannot imagine my life without God’s provision. There are some in this world who deny His existence, and yet they breathe the air He devised, they walk the earth He formed, they exist in the body of man, who He created to walk with Him.

God’s promise to renew my mind gives me access to His deep thoughts. The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life gives me a Comforter, Teacher, Guide and Friend…Someone who will instruct me throughout this turbulent and sometimes, terrifying journey of life. God has given us armor to wage war against the enemy of our souls. He has given us His Word to wield as a living weapon more powerful than any man made missile. He has provided each of us with spiritual gifts to bless and build up the Body of Christ.

I cannot name one provision of God that I am more grateful for than another. I am dependent on Him for everything I am, everything I do, and everywhere I go. I pray He will always provide me with words to encourage and uplift, talents to build up, and strength to finish the race He has set before me. That is my prayer for you as well.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter  1:3

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Hello, long lost readers! I’m back. Once again, for the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to write a short (promise) blog for each day of Lent (minus Sundays – cuz Sunday is a day of rest and most Sundays, I’m pooped by the time I get home from church).

Today is Fat Tuesday. I’m not going to explain it because it’s easier to just use Google. Go ahead…I’ll wait. (tapping toes, humming tunes, taking a short stroll to get in my steps)

So by now, you also know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start to the Lenten season. Once again, I’m not going to explain Lent so check it out on the search engine of your choice.

Lent is a season of preparation. Many denominations have their followers “give up” something for this 40-day period of time. I did that two years ago – I gave up some bad attitudes, behaviors, mindsets…see year 2015 if you are curious. Last year I “added” some things – good mindsets, food, routines, attitudes.

So what to do this year?  I’ve decided to take the 40 days of Lent and be intentionally grateful. If no one but me gets anything out of it, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do…because truly, my blog is, first and foremost, for me. I need to be disciplined (at least once a year) and writing during Lent is my attempt.

bigstock-gratitude-37954498Intentionally Grateful – I’ve been greatly influenced in the last few years by author Ann Voskamp. Her book “1000 Gifts” caused me to write down my own list of 1000 beautiful gifts for which I’m grateful, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s time to revisit the discipline…because that’s what it is….I wish I was the type of person who was just naturally grateful, but I’m not. And you probably aren’t either. We take so much for granted. When I whine about my bad back (hallelujah – I’m healed!), I forget the years of great health I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy today. When I lament about being tired, I forget to rejoice that I have a job which pays me a pretty decent wage, tutoring students I enjoy, and a church family who loves and supports us.

In the last month I’ve read a book called “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I’ve tweeted about it, but Jennifer’s book (and subsequent Facebook book club), showed me that by increasing my level of gratitude, I naturally increase my level of happiness. She published a chart called “30 Days of Gratitude” which I’m going to use to direct my blog focus…starting tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be the best writing you’ve ever read. May even be pretty cheesy most of the time…but it’s my way of being intentionally grateful as I prepare throughout Lent for the greatest day on the Christian church calendar – the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Now, that’s something to be grateful for!

See you tomorrow.

Kris

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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Fear of the Lord is fountain

Not all fear is bad. Not all fear puts you under the table in a fetal position. Not all fear keeps you bound up and irrational. Not all fear is a trap from the devil. In fact, the Bible is full of encouragement (and even commands) to fear…to fear the Lord.

Most of us would define fear as a “distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” And that is one definition. But the dictionary includes another definition of fear – a reverential awe, especially toward God. And that’s the very best kind of fear…one we should embrace and encourage, not shrink from.

I want to be wise, don’t you? And I want to live a long life. Those are just a few promises for those who fear the Lord. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:12

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…”

So what does it mean to fear the Lord? I’m not a theologian but I guess, for me, it means wanting what God wants, loving Him with all my heart, seeing people as He sees them, doing what He has placed in front of me to do, and obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice. It means reading and studying God’s Word, serving the Body of Christ and telling (with my voice and my actions) others about this wonderful Savior who died for my sins, and yours. It means repenting when I’ve sinned, praising Him in good times and bad, trusting Him when I don’t see any possible way out of a crummy situation, and knowing He loves me, no matter what I’ve done.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (according Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10). It is pure, enduring forever (Psalm 19:9a)…a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and can lengthen your days (Proverbs 10:27a). The fear of the Lord leads to life (Proverbs 19:23) and of course, what self-respecting Christian woman hasn’t claimed Proverbs 31:30 a time or two:

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Our fear of things (part 1) and our fear of man (part 2) are snares the enemy wants to trap us in to keep us ineffective in life and most especially, in the kingdom of God. Fear is never from God. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 specifically says that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind. I think that was the first Scripture my kids memorized after John 3:16. Spirt_of_fearWe used (and still use) it to ward off nightmares when the darkness threatens to overwhelm and our hope seems gone. Another favorite “fighting fear” Scripture is 1 John 4:18a – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

God has given us these weapons to defeat the schemes of the enemy in our lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom you need to wage warfare against the wrong fear. Commit once again to fear the Lord – the very best kind of fear!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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