Abraham was Fierce!

The patriarch, Abraham, leads the way in creating a lasting relationship with God. In my mind, Abraham was a rock star! I say that, not simply because he is chronicled among the icons of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. I declare it because I am in awe of the audacity of his friendship with God. His lifetime of greatness was wrapped up in God’s promises.

God promised to make Abraham a blessing and to grant him boundless gifts in many areas. God promised to bless him personally, bless his name, bless his descendants, and to bless all the earth through him. God did all that…and more.

The portrait painted in Genesis of Abraham is strikingly candid. No airbrushing, no puffing him up. He was, by no means, a flawless man. He had fears. Failures. Missteps. Nevertheless, when God said, “Leave your kingdom, your kindred, and your dwelling and journey to a land I have not even told you about yet”—Abraham’s response was: “Okay.” Abraham believed God and that unflinching trust was credited to his spiritual account.

Some of the most wonderfully written and deeply moving stories in the Word are told about Abraham—the birth of his son, Isaac, and then complete surrender in the test to sacrifice Isaac.

When God called Abraham to go, he went. In my personal life, my husband and I left our very own Ur of the Chaldees (in our case, it was Marion, Ohio) and set out on a journey of faith. God has, indeed, proved faithful.

In sharing the story of Abraham, students, seekers, scholars and teachers will all find value in the pamphlet available from Rose Publishing entitled, Abraham: A Journey of Faith. There are maps and a timeline of his life, a description of God’s covenant, and examples of Abraham’s strengths and weaknesses. I can see myself in Sarah. When God’s plan tarries, I have said to God—“That’s okay, Lord. You’re really going to like my plan better anyway.”

This foldout pamphlet is perfect for any teaching moment or for any Bible student to grow in knowledge and understanding. The pamphlet’s price is small enough to share multiple copies with classes or friends. You can check it out and order copies on Amazon here: http://bit.ly/amazon-abraham. Or on the Rose Publishing website here: http://bit.ly/Rose-Abraham.
Free weekly e-charts are available at http://www.rose-publishing.com/eCharts.

Faith Opens the Door to the Impossible

Are you ready to open the door of faith and unleash unlimited power in your life for 2015?

iStockPhoto by xImagination
iStockPhoto by xImagination

I will not pretend to know what’s in store for you—or even for me—in this sparkling third day of a brand new year. But one thing I know for certain. God has a great purpose for your life and for your accomplishments in the days ahead.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about the unknown. Will we have to cope with illness? Unemployment? A housing crisis? A financial crisis? Some unseen peril? Will there be life’s normal obstacles and barriers or a new set of them? Of course the answer to that question is: yes, there will be both. But what if we won’t know when to expect them? Will there be unfamiliar situations? Unknown enemies? Continue reading “Faith Opens the Door to the Impossible”

Fathers Paint Beautiful Pictures

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…”

Proverbs 13:22

Fathers create beauty when they invest time, energy, love and patience into children. The investment of about two decades can result in a lifetime of blessings for several generations.

The most memorable photo I have of my father is of him at the end of the day. Dad was leaving the foundry with soot on his face. I love that picture because It captures the authenticity of who he was and the impact of Dad’s work ethic.  A traditional blue-collar guy with a strong back and grit under his nails, Dad’s legacy gave us the gift of perseverance.

Fathers with a strong work ethic cultivate in their children the seeds of persistence, a pattern of not giving up. We need people in our lives who pass along important lessons, by word or example. Fatherhood comes with rich opportunities to share inspirational lessons that last a lifetime.

Here are seven authentic lessons fathers can teach children:

1. Feed those thoughts and dreams. Thoughts and dreams need nourishment. Feed them with good information, great books, and positive people. Nourished dreams have a way of coming true.

2. Words have power; watch them. Be careful of the words you speak. Breathe life and light into children with words of motivation and encouragement.

3. Affirm their divine destiny. Every day, point children toward their best future.

4. Nurture the power of faith. Faith lets us accomplish what others label impossible. Faith fills the darkest moments with light.

5. Be grateful. More than saying “thank you,” help children cultivate an attitude of appreciation—valuing what you have and appreciating what others do for you.

6. Be Forgiving. When you let go of hurts, you remove a burden from your own heart. Forgiveness isn’t so much about freeing the one who hurt you as it is about freeing yourself. Counting wounds detracts from the powerful things you can do.

7. Love unconditionally. This last lesson is the most important. A heart of love touches and heals like nothing else in the universe.

On Father’s Day, 2013, may all of the children, mothers, and wives be especially appreciative of fathers who are willing to teach authentic lessons. The celebration of Father’s Day is always an occasion to remember what having a father really means.  And, for me, it is about appreciating a husband who was present; one who knew instinctively how to be a fantastic father.

To all of the fathers who take time to paint masterpieces, Happy Father’s Day!

Who’s Afraid of the Dark?

I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places.

Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel,  

have called you by name

—Isaiah 45:3, Contemporary English Version

 I, for one,

am not particular about being in the dark.  Actually, I prefer bright sunshine and well-lit rooms.

My favorite feature of the night is the brightness of the stars. These starry treasures point out that, even God wanted to punctuate the dark mantle of the night with a sprinkle of glimmer. I like that.

Life offers many contrasts. There are opposites and divergences.  Out of darkness comes light. Out of agony comes joy.

Someone has said that the richest blessings are often those that come to us in the night seasons of our lives, when we believe that we are surrounded by an unfamiliar haziness. In that hour, God sends a surprise package—some unbelievable delight.

There are countless stories of people who lost their homes during a flood. I have heard many people say that, after the loss, when those residences were rebuilt, they had an even better home.

The story is told of a man whose home and all of his belongings were washed away. On the darkest day, he stood to survey his losses as the waters subsided. Despondent, he saw an object shining in the mud. It looked like gold. And it actually was gold. The floodwaters, which brought ruin to his door, also made him very wealthy.

God will reveal to us hidden treasures in dark, secret places! This promise, this divine truth, comes today to brighten the night of your trouble, whatever it looks like. Look a little closer. You will see evidence of God’s hand, moving.

The darkness is not always the herald of shadowy things; sometimes it is about unanticipated blessings. Perhaps the night will usher in your next season of favor.

Getting to “Whatever”

“Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ.  This is what God wants you to do.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Contemporary English Version)

             There are times in life when the atmosphere simply shifts. The earth moves. The stars swing into motion and reappear in a completely different part of the galaxy. It is at those times, that Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica speaks volumes. In those surprising “whatever” moments, that’s when life happens. When you face the unexpected. When some part of the mere process of living on planet earth simply jumps out of the darkness and shouts, “surprise!”

I know about “whatever” moments. And I know because the Lord designed a paradigm shift in my life. In a new, untried place, I learned a deeper lesson of what it means to completely rely on His design.  I live in a new place. I have a new, unanticipated marital status—widow. But, in your case it may be joblessness, finding a home, entering a relationship, having a child, facing an illness, finding financial balance. Any new phase can lead to those “whatever” moments. Mine is clearly a new walk, yet I trust that God’s guidance and sufficiency are not behind me—not in my past—they are ahead of me, in the future He is leading me towards.

When I spoke with a friend’s daughter who unexpectedly became a very young widow, I shared the importance of thankfulness at her new “whatever” point.

The advice of Paul is clear. When you come face-to-face with “whatever,” your response must be to immediately start thanking. Then, keep thanking.  Thankfulness is the posture God wants for you.

Even when we are blessed, secure, healthy and comfortable, we must constantly be aware of the fact that thankfulness, in every situation, is essential. Today, more than ever, I recognize small mercies. Never wait for the big miracles; be thankful for breathing, thinking, walking, talking, working, eating, loving someone and having folks who love you. Life sparkles when we give thanks in all things.

You get to that thankful place of “whatever” by growing up in your faith. And by trusting God for all of your tomorrows, even the unplanned ones. Do not hinder the work that God will accomplish in you by anything—especially by seeds of doubt about whether or not you can see all that is in your future. Because you cannot.

Still, know this. His abundance is enough. In that grace, embrace every one of life’s “whatever” moments.

(Image:  iStock Photo by Aldo Murillo)

When You Open Your Eyes, What Do You See?

“…I will guide You with My eye.”  Psalm 32:8 NKJV

Got healthy eyes?  If so, that is a reason to be thankful. Scientists tell us that nearly 4.2 million Americans are blind or visually impaired. Experimental therapies and modern technologies are opening up incredible doors for solving our vision problems. New treatments involve gene therapy, stem cell therapy and even modified versions of Vitamin A.

Not long ago, I panicked when I saw a small pool of shadowy spots drift across one eye. When I had my eyes examined by a young doctor—who, by the way, looked young enough to be a recent high school graduate—she assured me that “floaters” are not at all uncommon. The solution she proposed:  “Come back if they get worse.” Later, in the drug store, I was surprised to find an entire section of vitamins just for eye health. I bought some.

Each morning, when I open my eyes, one thing I am thankful for is vision. If I could not see, what would I miss? How would I work?

The eye has an infinite ability to express many emotions—what we feel, how we love, how we instruct, what we think. The eye speaks many languages. Just ask the mother of a young child how she uses an expressive look to speak a loud but voiceless, “No!” The strange and lovely words written by the psalmist remind us of God’s compassion, His gentleness. How remarkable to think that God has His eye on you.

What do you see when you look at God? What does God see when He looks at you? The greatest level of communication might well be those moments when we have eye-to-eye contact with God. If faith is our inner eye, in that contact, two become one. You and God.

In heaven, we have been promised to see Him face-to-face. Yet, for today, clear your vision and focus your gaze on God. Don’t miss His guidance. Prayer clears the vision. Meditating on Him adds light and focus. More prayer means that more light streams in and the brightness illuminates your day.

0.3 seconds. That is the time it takes for one blink. We lubricate our eyes with every blink. Each day, those 0.3 second blinks total thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of your waking time with eyes closed; you see nothing. In the spiritual context, fix your vision on God; try not to blink! Keep your eyes open.

Meeting God, eye-to-eye, opens the way for you to receive the message He has for you today. God is looking at you, individually. He focuses on your eyes in a sea of other faces. The mind of God shines through His gaze, caring for you. Look back. You’ll like what you see.

Dear Jesus, Do You Still Heal Like You Used To?

At times we need a reminder that the Lord’s promises to heal and to help us are just as relevant today as they have always been. Whenever we are facing a health challenge, this question may come to mind–does Jesus still do that?  Indeed, I want you to know for certain that there is definitely a spiritual side of healing. And it is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

For far too many people, there is skepticism about the healing power of God. We know that it used to happen, but can we still believe in it–trust in it–expect to receive it?

The assurances that you have are found abundantly in the Word, including these:

“Beloved, I pray that you  may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”  3 John 2

“And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.”  Luke 6:19

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

” ‘For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 30;17a

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up…” James 5:15a

If you know someone who is struggling with a health challenge, please remind them that Jesus Christ still does the hard stuff. And that includes healing, no matter what the diagnosis.  Because the Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want for anything (Psalm 23:1)…and that includes your health and healing.

A comprehensive list of the Lord’s promises for healing will be published in my new book…coming soon…of healing scriptures and stories.

 

Yes, You Can–Take Your Spirituality to Work!

On one thing we can agree:  for the average individual, the workplace has its challenges.  What is critical is how you confront those challenges. People bring their emotions to work.  They can be unhappy.  Insecure. Jealous.  Angry.  Depressed.  Or just plain unpleasant.

I wonder what would happen if you infused the workplace with your faith? What if you decided to bring your most loving, compassionate, calming, forgiving, self-assured ego to work?  How would you go about doing that? What impact would it have on the lives you touch?

As a consultant, I have been up close and personal with a variety of organizations over the past two plus decades and observed a range of workplace behaviors. In many ways, as adults, we haven’t made much progress since kindergarten.  In a down economy and with unemployment high, people feel pressured to keep their jobs and to look good to their superiors—even at someone else’s expense.  According to a CBS News special report, workplace sabotage has increased.  This ranges from pranks to malicious attacks.  Someone steals your work and takes credit for it. A colleague covers up their mistake by blaming you.

Here are three steps you can take to become the person you are meant to be at work—a human being with the nature of Christ in you.

Step One:  Every day, as you enter the work environment, see yourself as nothing less than your “best spiritual self.”  God wants to be present in everything we do. See yourself as God’s trophy in your workplace.  If your light is hidden, uncover it. Cultivate it. Be prayerful.  Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once spoke of looking at the backs of people’s heads and praying for them, silently.

Step Two:  Do the right thing.  Whatever others say or do, make your response positive. If you’re provoked, don’t be quick to retaliate. Sometimes retaliation backfires and you end up looking as culpable as the other person.  Even if the situation is challenging, bring out your best smile. Years ago, someone gave me this advice: “Smile; hold your head up, even if you’re dying hard.”

Step Three:  Be solid and stable.  My son, Randy, is a firefighter and emergency medical technician who faces crises every day.  The people he attends encounter life-threatening situations and, sometimes, he puts himself at risk to aid them.  Every day brings an unexpected surprise. The one consistency is his compassionate spirit. I’m convinced Randy was born for this work. You may not fight fires or use the Jaws of Life to rescue a victim from a wrecked automobile, but you can still experience what it is like to bring spiritual values to work.

As of this day, make this your mantra:  Faith is not just my Sunday pursuit!

4 Secrets for Defeating Satan–Use Everything You’ve Got

This is a battle, and you’ve got to be in it to win it.  You are an overcomer.  In Christ, you are destined to crush Satan under your feet. Just use everything that you’ve got.  So…what are you doing with all that power?  Here are four tactics to apply right now.

  1. Use Your Mind. Think Satan’s defeat.  Your first weapon involves your mind. By thinking positively (Philippians 4:8) and expecting your faith to triumph, you gain the victory.  You win!
  2. Use your Eyes.  You need clear vision. Focus, focus, focus:  keep your eyes on Jesus.  (Hebrews 12:2) Then, stop searching for the faults in others; instead, look for their good.
  3. Use Your Ears.  Listen for the right sounds. What you hear is the source of your faith; faith comes by hearing. (Romans 10:17) Be perceptive; fill your ears with good teachings and positive reinforcement. Shut out the destructive noise of the world. The one thing Satan does not want you to do is to listen for God’s voice.
  4. Use your Mouth. Speak joy, your best verbal tool. Resentful, hurtful and critical speech is destructive.  Pronounce words of joy, healing, love and understanding. Accomplishing Everyday Joy is the strategy of overcomers.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.~1 John 5:4 (English Standard Version)

Living Everyday Joy

Three Things you can do today:

1)        Leap forward in faith. Then stretch. Be bold enough to dream a ridiculous, almost-unachievable, very-nearly unattainable, you-never-thought-you-could-reach-this dream.

2)      Getting to everyday joy has a great deal to do with the words you speak.  Answer strong; never waiver in speaking your highest goals.

3)      Envision it. See yourself coming into your destiny. Promotion, increase, Divine favor—they are all yours.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.~Psalm 37:4 NIV