Say My Name

In Your name I rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness I am exalted. For You are the glory of my strength, and in Your favor my horn is exalted.
–Psalm 89:16-17

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Here’s a parenting or mentoring assignment. For parents or mentors of young people of all ages–but particularly pre-teens, teens and college students, please give your young charges a late summer assignment.

Ways to Save Money Writing: Free Tools that Help Your Writing Without Hurting Your Wallet

 

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(This is a Guest Post by Nikolas Baron)

Writing can turn into one of those clunkers. You pay to publish your book, yet never see enough sales. You hire an agent, but it just doesn’t pan out. You pay for conferences, entry fees for contests, and pay application fees for writing awards or grants, yet never manage to win. However, there is hope for writers out there who have vowed they’ve spent their last penny on any writing-related activities. There are hundreds of free online writing tools to help you save money as a writer. Especially if you’re freelancing or starting out, these tools will help you stay organized, save on typical costs associated with writing, proofreading and organization.

1) Evernote: Ok, let’s get started. We’re going to write a book, cheaply.

GO DEEP, BE STRONG IN 2014

It’s that time. Once again.  (Wait, no, I’m not complaining. I’m really, really glad to be present, alive!)

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The last vestiges of 2013 have washed away.  Each new wave.  Each surge of the tide. Each twist, turn and bend in the road ahead may be somewhat of a mystery, but it is God’s gift to us … to see a fresh path and to receive where it leads us.

Last year was great. So many wonderful things happened. New projects were born. Yet, ahead is a brand new year, full of opportunities. Stretching out before us, like the winding yellow brick road of Oz, is the wonderful miracle of 2014.

This could be your year.  The year that is full of untold potential. The year when all access is cleared and any obstacles that have blocked your progress are moved out of the way.

I was surprised to learn that Sheryl Sandberg is “Leaning In” to the women of China and they are hearing her message.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of “Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” gave a speech last fall in Beijing. She was there to promote the Chinese translation of her book, which has been selling briskly in China and is particularly appealing to the still minute numbers of Chinese businesswomen.

If we are to heed the voices of those who have been world changers in the past, I feel it is critical to do these things in 2014:

1.  Transform lives. Make your ideas work for others.  Like Sheryl Sandberg, don’t be reticent about sharing what you have discovered.

2.  Disconnect from the grid of being ordinary and of repeating the same old thing. Go deep, be strong, do something different.

3.  Love what you do. In fact, love your life and what  you give way, way  more than you ever have in the past. Start from where you are and build upon what matters most to you—your school, your team, your business, your friends, your family, your church, your community.

4.  Be fearless. Approach this new year, rich with things you have never seen, sprinkled with places you have never visited, and filled with tasks you never dreamed you could accomplish.

No matter what promises this year holds, know that possibilities are a part of it.

Vision is just the shape your dreams take in those moments before your faith kicks in.  Vision is how you describe the future just before you’re ready to move ahead with real conviction. And it’s okay if you approach 2014 one vision at a time

You be the solution to a problem the world has. You be that one with the key.  You be the agent of change.  Inspire trust and hope in others, then help pass it on.  You be the visionary, the achiever.

#Betheinspiration.

 

It’s Harvest Time

“May we never tire of doing what is good and right before the Lord

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because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest

if we can just persist.”

—Galatians 6:9 The Voice

 

This is your season for doing great things for God. Harvest is a time for reaping the results of fertile growth. If we refuse to get weary or discouraged, we are recipients of the promise of a rich harvest. That yield grows up from seeds of persistence and motivation you’ve sown.

Paul wrote these words of encouragement for us today, not just in a letter to the church at Galatia nearly 2,000 years ago.  First, he had a warning. Watch out! Beware of the twin enemies of fatigue and exhaustion. Don’t get tired of doing good. Refuse to let low energy and lethargy to get in your way.

This morning, I woke up texting a loved one who was flying home from a business trip and a travel day that began at dawn. You know what that’s like. The alarm sounds at 4:00 a.m. and the journey to the airport takes place before the sun comes up. Long travel days require a buoyancy that normal workdays do not. We make those sacrifices in our personal or professional lives because we have a goal in mind—like launching a planned family vacation or attending a business conference.

Doing God’s work takes the same verve. I believe that the French call this kind of exuberance joie de vivre.

The “great harvest” God has for us is only visible according to His timetable. Whether that’s now or later doesn’t matter to me. God takes care of the “when.” It’s doing the work that counts.

This is your hour, your moment. God chose you for a special task. Your work is calling you! Someone is waiting for your touch, your action, your reach, your smile, your word. Your hand on their shoulder. Your cup of cold water on their lips.

All Things

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome has an important message about how life works.

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“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

—Romans 8:28

I’m not a good juggler. Are you? At the moment, I have so many possibilities in the air that some threaten to crash down, hitting me squarely on the head.  I’m juggling a maddening whirl of exciting opportunities. Work projects, looming writing deadlines, and a few self-imposed (should I say, self-inflicted?) prospects.

All the while, I’m comforted by Paul’s assertion about “all things.” Vision and reasoning point me to the opposite conclusion, but I see God’s Divine plan in my chaos.

Whenever I ask myself if it takes all this to get to success, I hear a sage voice which once said, no circumstances “are so great that they cannot be built into the very steps of the staircase by which souls mount up to heaven.” Sounds good. Lead me to the  staircase.

All things; that means everything is good. This heavenly math equation assures us that no evil has final power. God’s work in our lives results in only one possible outcome—what’s best for you. The only condition is your affection; as long as you love and trust, you come confidently to “all things.”

And so, if you are having one of those David vs. Goliath moments—facing giants and feeling over-matched by the sheer pressure of all you have to do, or if an unexpected circumstance has just caught you off-guard—remember this. He is moving you into your “all things” position and weaving every element together in your life.

Have you heard about autonomous drive? Nissan announced that, by 2020, they will pioneer the self-driven car. Working with global experts at top universities, the Nissan 360 program will introduce a car that steers, brakes and accelerates without any help from you.

God can do that right now. Get in the back seat; let Him drive. If you love Him, you’re in a splendid position.

What Do You Fear?

How many fears should you have? I believe the number should be zero.

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According to WebMD, 19 million people in America experience phobias. A phobia is an intense, prevailing, irrational fear that leaves you powerless over your reactions. These extreme, life-altering feelings of anxiety aren’t diminished by telling yourself your fears simply don’t make sense.  If all 19 million have two fears, the total number of fears is close to 40 million. That’s a long way from zero.

“I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.”—Psalm 3:6, NIV

One fear many experience is aerophobia, fear of flying. It can be triggered by real experiences, like severe turbulence, or imagined ones. Earlier this summer I needed to travel from Nashville to Memphis for a conference and hated the thought of a 3-hour drive. Then, I discovered SeaPort Airlines.

I’ve been on jumbo jets but never anything as small as their fleet. Yet, it was a wonderful hassle-free experience that made my journey fantastic. Small plane, yes. Could I have reached out and tapped the pilot on the shoulder, sure. Boarding at the private airport in Memphis, a German traveler got on with a 2-liter Dr. Pepper. That’s how different it was. If there was ever a smidgeon of fear of flying small aircraft, it’s gone now.

There is a natural purpose for fear when it protects us from danger. The problem today is that people exist in perpetual fear; that’s not how God intended us to live.

When we are fearful, where is our confidence in God? Trusting Him involves refusing to let fear impact how we respond to people or situations. God demands complete trust and dependence.

There are 336 references to the word “fear” in the New International Version of the Bible, including stories of Biblical heroes melting in fear in the face of their enemies. Not so with David as he fled from his son, Absalom.  David commences Psalm 3 counting his enemies, but he concludes, in verse 8, by affirming, “Real help comes from God.” (Message Bible)

Cancel Fear with Faith

I want you to know today—I am praying for your healing and health. I proclaim the power of God’s Word and promises over you, even if I don’t know you by name…God does.

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iStockphoto, Tom Fullum

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

—Proverbs 30:5 NIV

I don’t claim to understand why some are healed and some are not; what I know for sure is that God wants us to trust Him for healing. If I’m wrong about that, nothing else in the Word makes sense—but since I know I’m right, everything makes sense. As a believer completely healed of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, I know that God still does the hard stuff.

He wants us healed and understands our interest in our healing not taking forever.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.—Proverbs 13:12 NIV

The enemy’s words are always the opposite of what God says. And the enemy uses fear to block our healing and our blessings.  Be assured today that things are happening in the spiritual realm that we cannot see or measure. Consider, for example, what happened after Daniel prayed  (Daniel 6). In the lion’s den, lions acted like lambs. An angel of God gave them lockjaw—(look that up; it’s a real pathological ailment.)

I’m confident that everything God promised, everything He has ever said to me will be given to me.  I believe I will accomplish everything the Lord said about me. I believe I possess all that the Lord said that I have. This is the level of faith I claim for you.   Be confident;  your deliverance is on the way!

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…”—Exodus 14:13a, NIV

Reach up your right hand, at this very moment; allow God to take hold of you. This gesture is not about you holding God’s hand…for you might let Him go…but He will never let go of your hand.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.”—Isaiah 41:13 NIV

So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows, and sparrows, as small as they are, fear absolutely nothing. (Matthew 10:31 NIV)

The Help You Never See

When our enemies heard the work was complete and the surrounding nations saw our wall, their confidence crumbled. Only one possible conclusion could be drawn: it was not just our efforts that had done this thing.    God had been working alongside us.  —Nehemiah 6:16 (The Voice)

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 Here’s one thing we assume about God’s Word: people who have a whole book named after them are usually pretty remarkable. Indeed, the story of Nehemiah is an example of why miracles and labor go together. The Book of Nehemiah illustrates The Power of Purpose.

You were born on earth to fulfill your purpose. I will not presume to know what your assignment is, but I can tell you this: just like Nehemiah’s, your mission is restoration. Whether that mission is to sing a song, write a book, preach a sermon, or save a city, you are in the restoration business. Your task inevitably involves renewal, repair, building and rebuilding that benefits someone else. Bottom line: you are to help others live their best life, in fellowship with God.

The important thing is this: when you are achieving your destiny, when you are in the right position and when you are doing the work you have been assigned to do, the wok of the Holy Spirit is present. In fact, the Holy Spirit is right there, working beside you. Incredible, isn’t it? The third Person of the Godhead, Himself providing the help you cannot see.

You also may not see the enemies who oppose you. “Enemies?” you ask. “Why would I have any enemies?” Great question. You will have enemies; know that and move forward. Nehemiah clearly saw those opposing him and the work.  But when those enemies observed Nehemiah’s success, they lost their confidence.

How do you know God is partnering with you on your assignment? Here are some indicators. God is there when:

  1. You apply yourself, without reservation to the work He has given and refuse to stoop to distractions or nonsense. Use Nehemiah as an example; his response to critics was: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”
  2. You realize you must cling to God as your only support. Your close relationship with Him ensures a positive outcome.
  3. Great work is being done and results are the blessed and successful. When that happens, God’s support is undeniable.
  4. The plans of evil collaborators are clearly defeated in the end.
  5. You celebrate early—even before you see your work completed, because you know that the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

 

Tell Them Your Story

Then Joshua told the people…your children will ask you why these rocks are here. Tell them “The Lord our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across….”  He wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him.

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—Joshua 4:21-24, CEV

I knew a woman once who was not exceptionally talented; however, she was undoubtedly the best liar I have ever met. She could tell you something without flinching and absolutely none of it would be true. Consequently, I learned to discount anything I heard her say. And, I want you to know that I consider lying to be deceitful, dangerous and an unacceptable habit to develop. In fact, bogus stories can lead to great risk for everyone whose lives are touched by these fabrications. In the end, I came to realize that, if everything I discerned about this person was a hoax, I never really knew her at all.

Real stories, on the other hand, can be uplifting, healing and extremely helpful. Think of the best real stories that have been published in modern literature, like “The Perfect Storm.” Real stories can be a powerful form of communication that connects us to one another.

One of the reasons I am committed to writing a book about my healing from stage four cancer is that I want to document my journey for others. I am convinced that people don’t actually believe that God does the hard stuff anymore; I want them to know that He does. In fact I read an article recently that declared: stage four cancer cannot be cured, only treated. “Wait just a minute,” I said out loud (to no one). “Medical science has just declared me an impossibility.”

The power of sharing your true story is that it helps people understand that they are not alone. It becomes much easier for others to know for certain that, if the Lord provided an inexplicable miracle for me, He will do the same for you.

Scholar and author, Dr. Brené Brown teaches that the path to understanding involves being vulnerable about our imperfections.  As you tell your story, don’t be reluctant to show your warts. Don’t erase your experience “wrinkles” with emotional Botox; our faults and failures are what make us real.

Why not practice telling your personal story? Starting today, share the good news about how you are living out God’s purpose in the world. Someone needs to hear from you.

Wherever You Pitch Your Tent, Build an Altar

then he set up his tents and built an altar there to honor the God of Israel.

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—Genesis 33:20, Contemporary English Version

One of the memorable songs of the Motown era—made famous by the Temptations—was a seventies tune with lyrics written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”  It has been said that the extended instrumentation on the song is as famous as the vocals. The Temptations’ version is an enduring depiction of classic soul.  And soul music always tells a riveting story.

Remember the lyrics?

 Papa was a rollin’ stone

Wherever he laid his hat was his home

And when he died

All he left us was alone.”

 I have no idea who the writers had in mind as “Papa,” but on this we can agree:  there are better examples of family leadership. Personally, I have only lived in four different cities in my entire life. Three of those major, lifetime moves were guided by my late husband and life partner and were based upon God-given directions about ministry.

As a Biblical example, Jacob was a papa whose transitions were broad. Jacob was undisputedly one of the most unique individuals who ever lived. The Genesis account (chapters 31 to 33) describes one of the great transitions he engineered for himself and his family. Spiritually, he transitioned from being a trickster, swindler and cheat one day to becoming a Prince with God the next.

The King James Version and other translations say that Jacob named that altar in Shechem “El Elohe Israel” or “God, the Great God of Israel.”

I am creating my personal El Elohe Regina, celebrating God, the Great God of my own life. My personal altar is a place that will forever bring praise to God and allow me to celebrate the great work that He has done in my life and in the life of my family.

Whatever your ballad, whatever your story, be like Jacob and decide this:  wherever you pitch your tent, you just oughta build an altar.