enJOY this day

It’s the weekend and for some reason that changes the dynamics around the house. If you’re a mom or a dad, a kid, or even a (mostly) retired grandparent, Saturdays are different and Sundays are different still. Let’s try a weekend challenge. Not THAT kind of tough challenge, a 3-step challenge. It will be fun.

  1. Say Good morning, Lord! (you can do better than that. Our music minister, Scott Steiner would make us try it again.) Good morning, Lord!

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

  1. Think of something you are thankful for – and write it down, in ink, on any piece of paper you have available. Nothing fancy.

1 Thessalonians 3:9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

  1. Decide right now that nothing is going to get in your way of having a positive day. If you don’t feel like it, pray right now and ask the Lover of your Soul to change your thoughts so they are all about joy. Don’t let the enemy of your soul steal your joy.

Psalm 27:6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 21:6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

And if you feel some irritations coming on – after all, our dynamics are going crazy with all that weekend warriors stuff going on. Right?

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

enJOY this day! It’s a gift. Unwrap it and use it up. It’s non-renewable.

Nehemiah 8:10 “Go and enjoy food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

Why does it have to be so hard?

Today was going to be a non-post day – – – but then I realized it’s Friday. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t wake you up with a happygram for your Friday. Right? So . . .

OK! Everybody up! Rise and shine!

I’ve been thinking a lot about James. You know James. The one who said “consider it all joy” when we feel like we weren’t called to consider it all joy, we were instead dragged through it kicking and screaming.  But James insists, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” After I consider for a while, I think, Are you kidding me? Really? This isn’t really my first choice.

Have you been there? Are you there now? It can be hard to keep our faith alive while we get through the rough times.  But James assures us that there are benefits if we stay firm and not let our faith get weak.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because:heart-shaped-fluffy-cloud

a) the testing of your faith produces perseverance

b) perseverance produces maturity

c) maturity makes you complete and not lacking anything

Then as a bonus, James says –  if you lack wisdom, ask God and he will generously give it to you.

There’s a pattern here. Do you see it? In our humanness we wonder, why does it have to be so hard? If it were up to us, wouldn’t we choose easy – a lot easier? But God has a different plan. In Isaiah 55:9 He says, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God has the ultimate benefit package for perseverance and it covers more than what James  promised.  Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:5-7 “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 

That, my friends, is the whole package.  Drive a stake in the sand and say – I am going to build my faith right here on this spot and I’m believing God for rewarding my perseverance.  “the one who calls you is faithful and will do it” 1Thessalonians 5:24

Lord, it’s hard to thank you for the thorns, but I know they are there for my benefit, even if I don’t see it. Thank you for promising to grow me up to maturity in my faith and for adding goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, mutual affection with others, and love. I want all those things to be evident in my life. I need the wisdom you promised to give me if I ask. I’m asking. And God? Give me a heart like yours. Make me godly. If I have to be broken, empty me out and fill me up with all that pleases you. Help me to remember that you are the power source and you hold the keys to everything I could ever need. Help me see my moments through your eyes and be filled with joy knowing that each one is a gift.

Ready to practice perseverance? Our mission field waits …. Let’s get out there!

 

He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli

Plan A … B … or Plan H – Life is about how you handle the setbacks

I recently read this inscription on a card created by Blue Mountain Arts.  “Life is all about how you handle Plan B”  How many times in a week do we say “Well that didn’t work!” and have to move on to the next idea – Plan B or maybe Plan C or H.  I’m thinking the fact that there are so many versions of a plan is biblical.  Psalm 94:11 “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.” So what do you think?

How do we handle things that get in our way of ‘the plan’.  Remember Job?  He was a wealthy man.  He must have had a Plan A, then that didn’t work out so he moved on. Who knows how many letters he passed B, C, D.  Notice his voice in Job 17: 11-12. He was deep in his loss and still he says “My days have passed, my plans are shattered.  Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.” Do you think Job had a positive attitude?

If you read Psalms you will notice the many laments of David over choices he made – Plan A, Plan B, Plan C … but still he was called a man after God’s own heart.  1Chronicles 29:19-20 is a comforting passage about how David acknowledged God’s leading. ““All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”Breathe it all in Love It all out

How many plans did it take for David to realize the “Lord’s hand”? A lifetime. During a time of battle, David comes through with his prayer for his people in Psalm 20.  Psalm 20:1-5 “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress… May he give you the desire of your heart and allow you to fulfill your purpose. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.” Do you think David needed to be flexible and refuse to become defeated? In fact, David had to be the leader and the cheerleader.

There are days when attitude is everything.  It makes a difference in how we progress through our day.  Do you ever wonder why the Bible covers so many topics and do you ever wonder how we get so many practical snippets of wisdom from a few passages strung together? I’m going to take a wild guess that part of that answer is found in Romans 15:4-6 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What do you think?  Could today be your day to find that extra incentive, a slice of encouragement to move on? You might find that sliver of hope in Plan H?  Here’s a beautiful passage I came across this morning.  I comes from my heart, and wraps around yours. Romans 5:5 “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The verses prior to that talk about suffering and perseverance. Perseverance produces character and character produces hope.
Psalm 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win – book summary

This book, Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win seemed tailor made for me. I’m a question asker, note taker, contemplative listener, and a life-long learner. The authors Guy Parsons and Allan Milham wrote this book for leaders who need to engage with their teams and improve results through optimal interactions. From leadership styles to productive conversations, it’s all here in this one volume. These authors expertly portray with clarity the differences between Knowers and Learners. They basically focus on Leaders who are called Knower Leaders or Learner Leaders, but they also bring into the picture unique ways to be a leader of Knowers and Learners.Out_of_question_book cover

The authors also talk about the power of the pause. “Ask yourself how often, when things don’t go according to plan, you pause to reflect and learn before charging forward.” If you want to have a productive conversation turn off the reactionary noise, and pause.

“Asking questions is a way to take a trip through uncharted territory as opposed to be trapped on a prescribed route.” The idea of a journey rather than a trip is enticing. As long as the destination is known, the trip becomes more of an adventure when the specific course is undefined. This is, in essence, the advantage of always learning and being grounded in a learning mindset.

The key for the leader is to be a Learner Leader and cultivate a learning culture in their organization.  If you are a leader, being a Learner Leader will keep you on track to engage, inspire, innovate, and win.

To read more about this book, the full summary is posted at bizcatalyst360.comhttp://bizcatalyst360.com/out-of-the-question-how-curious-leaders-win/

All I want is a little peace.

Just when I knew all the answers, they changed all the questions. Do you ever feel like that? I have, or at least my much younger self has felt like that. At the end of 2014, I was choosing my word for the year. In previous years, my words to live by included integrity, discernment, and 2014 I chose peace. My question then was how can I live a life of peace? I even designed an acronym around it. P.E.A.C.E.  I was sure I had the right answer. Do all these things … and you’ll have inner peace. When you look at the photo, it looks like a good plan, doesn’t it? It was a good plan. I’m still using it (attempting to use it) in 2016. But I learned something about living a life of peace. It isn’t what I do. It doesn’t come from planning my work and working my plan. Peace is a gift from the source of peace, God.PEACE

Do you want to live a life of peace? Start here in Philippians 4:4-9

Be joyful – always

When I was 7 years old, I learned a song about Joy. Jesus then Others then You – that’s the way to spell JOY and that’s the way to have joy. Jesus first … you get the picture.

Be gentle

Gentle doesn’t mean shy and weak. Gentle means be kind with your words, think before you speak. Soften your tone, restrain the biting attitude, think ‘peace, calm’ before exercising your vocal cords. Put gentle into action. Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Right?

Stop worrying – stop it!

Just for a minute, put on your thinking cap. I remember back in the first grade when totally perplexed with a problem, I practically chewed my eraser down to the lead, my teacher would tell me to put on my thinking cap and somehow it helped. Now about that thinking cap – are you worrying about something? Is it helping? Worry compounds worry. It’s like getting a 4-wheel drive vehicle buried in mud up to the axles. You can stop worrying. Say it out loud, “God, please take this. You get to decide anyway, so I’m giving you this heavy burden now.”

Pray in every situation

Take that thing you are worrying about and verbally give it to God. Go ahead. Sometimes I write it on a piece of paper, get it all explained to the Lord so he gets it. Of course he ‘gets it’ but for real fears and things that are hard to let go of, I need to ‘get it’ too. I write a note to God, then tear it up and throw it away and tell God it’s His. I’m not taking it back because these 4-wheels are moving on. Then move!

Be thankful

There is no substitute for an attitude of gratitude. We live in a broken world and we are broken people. In Matthew 9:12 Jesus acknowledges that He came to be the physician to the sick. I don’t know all the ways God interprets sickness, but I think our attitudes which come from our hearts is one area wide open to healing.

Find something to be thankful for and practice being thankful. We have to look for it because the good, the positive, and the joyful will not find us.

Find peace in the dark places

Do you want peace for your day? Do you want to feel in your spirit the way you feel while under the covers before the break of day – calm and peaceful?

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.

This is not my promise to you. This is God’s promise to you. You become what you think. Today is all we’ve got. Tomorrow is the result of how we live it. Right?

Ready team?  Let’s get out there!

 

Every Body’s Guide to Every Day Pain by Ya-Ling J. Liou D.C. – Book Summary

These words used to be part of someone else’s conversation, but now they are part of mine. “It never used to hurt when I did that!” and that’s just what this book is all about. Every Body’s Guide to Every Day Pain book coverIt doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 65, there will be times when pain appears and all you want is an explanation, a remedy now and a way to prevent it from happening again. This is the book that helps with each of those elements of every day pain. I noticed, and you might be interested too, that this book is a primer on the aches and pains common to everyone. It doesn’t address chronic pain and specific illnesses. I hope those are covered in future books, but in this Volume One of a 3-Volume set. the author discusses what she calls ‘nuisance’ pain and what to do so those pains don’t escalate to five-alarm-fire pain.

I tend to be a logical thinker and a visual learner. This book practically catered to my learning style. First there are illustrations and photographs that are invaluable as supporting material. Second, the book is divided into three major segments that answer: Why does it hurt? How do I make it stop? How do I keep it from happening again? When we have unexplained pain, isn’t that what we want to know?

This is a practicable book. Read the full book summary here.  http://bizcatalyst360.com/every-bodys-guide-to-every-day-pain/

Authentic vs Artificial: Assessing the Real Deal

Would it surprise you to learn that one of the top enticing scents, when put to a vote, is ‘that new car smell’? I know. I’m skeptical too. Which segment of the population chose new car scent over cinnamon or pine, right?  I’m not sure why we would ever gravitate toward the new car scent. As described in Wikipedia, “Most of the interior of an automobile consists of plastic held together with a number of adhesives and sealers…these materials are left slightly unstable, and continue to release volatile organic compounds into the air afterward…fumes may also come from phthalates and other plastic-softening chemicals that evaporate over time. Yeah, that’s exactly the quality of air I want to breathe. Not!  In fact, scientists recommend keeping new cars well ventilated while driving due to the emitted chemicals.”  castle

We are immersed in cultures that combine the authentic with the artificial. When we can’t get the real thing, we find a substitute.  Don’t get me wrong. We need substitutes; many of them critical to sustaining life. I can think of several; pacemakers, insulin, heart valves, or a whole mechanical heart. But this is different.  There are times when artificial comes to us indistinguishable from what is real.  We question what to believe, what to support, what acts to perform, or what to do with the hours in our day.  We listen to the news or read a compelling article that has all the components of believability. Facts are cited, credible opinions given; it’s solid. Then it happens. In the next hour, the flipside is presented and suddenly what seemed solid crumbles and what we accepted as true becomes uncertain.  Which side is authentic and which is artificial? It’s not as easy as picking side one or side two, is it? Our minds become a sorting algorithm: searching what we know to be true, adding opinions we have formed, mixing in outside perspectives, then merging it with our values – mix well, pour into pans and bake till solid. In Luke 6:45 it says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about things artificial and things authentic lately. Not so much in the manufactured products that attempt to replace real with a suitable facsimile. That aspect is a matter of educated (or opinionated) choices. I know there are acceptable substitutes for the real deal, but some can never be replicated or pass for authentic. We know that sometimes, what appears to be authentic is, in fact, completely artificial and at times even harmful.  That’s why we need insight from an infallible source, from inerrant scripture to be the blueprint for life that is so ingrained in our minds it comes out in actions.  2 Timothy 2:15 says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who authentically handles the word of truth.”

In the King James Version, it says to study – study to be approved. The more time we spend with God the more we can discern the authentic from the artificial. Recently I ran across this verse while reading the Message translation. I wrote it down so I would remember it when so many opinions are at war in my head. John 7:24 “Don’t be nitpickers; use your head—and heart!—to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right.”

Did you catch that? Use your head and your heart to discern. That’s how to be authentic, to sort out what is good – the Real Deal.

Romans 12:12 describes the process of becoming authentic “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The world is all about substitutes. We know that. What this verse is telling us though, is don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.

If you’re looking for perfect, you won’t find it in me. But I hope day by day I become more and more authentic in my faith and prove it by my acts.

My prayer today is as Paul prays, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 That’s the real deal.