Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Joy and a Thankful Heart – Part 2 of 3

Joy is not a feeling that just comes and goes like natural happiness. Natural happiness is gained by the ups in life and not the downs. Joy, however, is supernatural. You can have joy even in the midst of great trials. God gives us the grace to live joy through it all.

If that is the case, then how can we maintain our joy? Joy is maintained by nurturing a thankful heart.

It’s easy to be thankful when everything is going right, but what about when adversity strikes? How do we react then? The ultimate test is to see if we can be thankful while experiencing difficulties. It takes courage to trust God no matter what, and it takes even more courage to thank Him in the thick of things. Thankfulness is a Kingdom principle that protects a person from getting knocked off course.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Joy and a Thankful Heart – Part 1 of 3

We have an enemy called the devil, who goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour (1Peter 5:8). We ought not to underestimate his craftiness because when our guard is down he’ll try to blindside us. Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we are engaged in a war twenty-four hours a day.

Every team wants to know its opponent’s strategy so that it can win the game. That is why I may mention the devil’s strategies now and again – not to give the enemy glory, but to expose his game plan.

When God gave Adam and Eve authority over creation, life was good. However, when they disobeyed God they lost that authority. They didn’t just eat “an apple.” They took hold of something much bigger than just a piece of forbidden fruit. They took hold of the knowledge of good and evil, which had far-reaching consequences. In fact, everything was affected negatively in that we died spiritually, as God had warned. We no longer lived with God as our source, but tried to live apart from Him. We all failed at this miserably, but God had a plan to rescue us.

Jesus came to put things right. Through His authority, we have the advantage and the victory over sin and its consequences. The devil doesn’t want us to walk in that authority so he cons us into thinking that we don’t have it. He tricks us into thinking that we are losers and failures.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Poem - Be Faithful in the Little Things

Be faithful in the little things
And God will give you more.
Be faithful in the little things
And He’ll open the door.

Did He give you a job?
Then do it well.
Were you honest?
Only time can tell.

As God has blessed you,
Have you blessed others?
Have you loved your neighbor
And Christian sisters and brothers?

There is no such thing
As a spiritual lottery
And there are no short-cuts
To godly maturity.

So be faithful in the little things
And God will give you more.
Be faithful in the little things
And He’ll open the door.

by Christina Morley

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Discovering Your Potential - Part 5 of 5

Most people will not champion you beyond their idea of what is possible. Therefore, you have to be willing to go where others refuse to follow. Many people are trapped in boxes of their own making. They feel either threatened by or jealous of anyone who ventures beyond their limited understanding. They take comfort in surrounding themselves with others who are doing the same.

Christians are not exempt from this kind of thinking. We are all tempted to hold on to what is familiar and to build our walls around that. When we ask the Holy Spirit into our lives, we aren’t immediately set free from the temptation to think like this. We still need to renew our minds by studying the Word of God, and we must develop our spiritual eyes, which are eyes of faith.

Sadly, sometimes it’s the Christians that will fight the hardest to prevent us from being who God intended us to be. However, our fight is not with people, but with evil forces (Eph. 6:12). We must look past our hurts and forgive those who try to stand in the way.
The right path to take is sometimes less visible and less traveled, but the trials we face along the way can only make us stronger. At the right time, God will open doors for each of us as we remain on course and in step with Him.

That doesn’t mean that life is always going to be exciting. The task, whether great or small, should be done with excellence. When we have the right attitude even toward the mundane we’ll experience more release in our lives. If we are faithful in the smallest things, God will bless us with bigger things (Luke 19:17).

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Discovering Your Potential - Part 4 of 5

The God who worked supernaturally through the prophets and the apostles is the same God who is still working through His servants today. God wants us to use the gifts of the Spirit, but not for our own gain. They are available to us in order to bless the body of Christ and to reveal God to unbelievers. Either we can be Jesus “wanna-bes” (all talk and no power) or we can be the real thing. God desires to transform us from being average Christians to being Spirit-filled (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33).

Be open to the Spirit and willing to make yourself available through His leading. Also ask the Lord for opportunities as He can use you in any context. You don’t even have to leave your own home to be effective. For example, you can do something as easy as praying for someone over the phone. By tuning in to the Spirit’s promptings, you’ll find that you can pray for that person in a way that goes beyond your own understanding.

Start with little steps. The more you practice using the gifts, the better you’ll get at it. Begin to discover the different callings that God specifically designed you for. Whatever you can imagine that is, God said that He can do even more. God is not limited by human standards so we must look further than our own understanding.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Discovering Your Potential - Part 3 of 5

When I was a teenager, I asked God to give me the ability to play the piano by ear. I was taking piano lessons at the time and found trying to read music slow going. Around that time I also asked God to give me the ability to write poetry. Well, I never developed into a pianist, but I did begin writing poetry. My first request may not have been granted, but my second one was. Because I was willing to try something new, I became richer for it.

The good news is that we don’t have to stay where we’re at. There’s much more up ahead for us if we’re willing to seek it with all our hearts. In 1Corinthians 12 and 14, the Apostle Paul taught that we can ask God for supernatural gifts of the Spirit, as I mentioned above. It could be a word of knowledge, which is information supernaturally gained about someone or something. Or it could be that someone you pray for is healed. These gifts are there for all believers to equip us for supernatural service.

Maybe you’re not sure what you should be seeking. God says that as you delight yourself in Him, He promises to give you the desires of your heart. As you stay sensitive to His Spirit, He will reveal to you bit by bit what His desires are for you.

I believe that we can operate in any one of these gifts when it’s needed, but we are all given at least one gift that we can operate in on a regular basis. I say this because there will be some who have a healing ministry, but that doesn’t exempt the rest of us from praying for people’s healing. We must be available and obedient. God will do the rest.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Discovering Your Potential - Part 2 of 5

Too many women wish they had different hair, or eyes of a different color, or different gifts and talents. Wishing we were something or someone else only cripples our potential and our joy. Some even think that they’re not a bit talented or gifted. Actually, we’re all talented and gifted, but in different ways and to different degrees. We bring God glory when we embrace the unique way that He made each of us.

We are like life coaches, but we can’t coach our kids about discovering their identities if we don’t know our own. Therefore, we need to be thankful and honest about ourselves and not pretend to be someone we’re not. By modeling this we will help our children confidently get to know who they are. Peer pressure doesn’t have to get the better of them if we create an atmosphere that strengthens their self-esteem.

The best part is that whatever we’re born with doesn’t just end there. There’s more for us because there’s much more in Christ. It’s good to note our weaknesses, but if we spend time trying only to improve our weaknesses then we may forget about our strengths. This can have a bad effect on our self-esteem, to the point where we finally just give up on ourselves. We need to keep our focus on God and His potential not on our own abilities or seeming lack thereof. Even our strengths can be our greatest weaknesses when they are not properly harnessed. We just need to stay available and teachable, and God will do the rest.

I recommend that you read my post about my son and youngest daughter in "Eye Color Conversation."

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Discovering Your Potential – Part 1 of 5

The devil doesn’t like it when Christians are in a healthy relationship with God. He knows that if he can keep us from really connecting with our Maker, then he can keep us from reaching our full potential. That potential is wrapped up in a God-given calling. Part of knowing our calling is knowing who we are as individuals.

God made each of us differently for His good pleasure. He has given us both natural and supernatural potential. The natural potential God puts in us and we discover it. He does this like a computer programmer. He wires each of us a certain way and He carefully writes out our DNA. Only God can do that. However, we were not born fully grown. We had to develop into who we are now. The supernatural potential we discover in Christ.

When we become believers, we are able to become more like Him. The more He becomes a part of our lives, the more His Spirit will operate through us. In those areas of our lives where we feel inadequate, Jesus by His Spirit makes us adequate as we call on Him. This includes enabling us to operate in the fruit of the Spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22, such as in faithfulness and kindness. Furthermore, we can ask for supernatural gifts of the Spirit, which include knowledge and healing.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finding Balance – Part 3 of 3

Perhaps you’ve chosen to be a full-time homemaker. That fact doesn’t mean the other members of the family don’t need to help. They’ll learn to appreciate what you’re doing when they have to do a few things themselves. They will also take ownership of the values that you hold concerning home life.

In my home, my husband jokes that he’s the butler and I’m the maid. It’s the reality of our home life. We shoulder the load together and endeavor to teach our kids the same. We’re a good team, but it has taken us lots of open communication to get us where we are today.

Having a balanced life and the right perspective toward ourselves and our work are blessings that come with being in the center of God’s will. It requires us to be faithful in the smallest things, but that doesn’t mean doing everything for everyone. It means being a good steward of what God requires of us and learning how to say “no” or “wait” regarding the rest. It’s then that we become more accurately aware of our roles as wives and mothers, or in any other spheres of influence that we have.

It’s time we stopped going through the motions of life and never really living it. When we’re in His will, we’ll find peace and fulfillment. There is truth in the saying that the more peace we have within us, the more peace we’ll have around us.

Samantha and Amanda 2012

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding Balance - Part 2 of 3

When God designed us, He had a vision and purpose for our lives beyond that of caregiver. God made us unique individuals for a reason. He didn’t label us “Childbearing Females,” throw us all into one great big category marked “Homemaker” and leave us there. Yet, we easily get stuck and lost in the complexities of raising a family.

It’s easy to get sucked up into the whirlwind of working and raising kids only to get spat out at the other end as living zombies. We can go through the motions so that people think we’re still alive, but nothing is left of us inside. No one will ask us to stop slaving either. The fact is that most husbands and children don’t naturally want to help around the house. They like their comfort zones, and we too easily take up the slack, wanting to please everyone.

Actually, this cheats our families of having well-rounded mothers who teach their children how to live in the real world. If we do everything for them, they will not be empowered to live a healthy life. They will also miss the opportunity of getting to know their moms, not for what they do, but for who they are.

(I took this photo in 2010 of my daughter, Jessica, helping in the kitchen.)

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finding Balance - Part 1 of 3

God desires that we live out of a relationship with Him so that there will be a healthy balance of priorities to our day. When there’s an imbalance in our lives it’s important to find out what’s causing it, why it is there, and how we can change things to improve the quality of our lives. Imbalances can be harmful to our peace and joy and, of course, our health. Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing to get enough sleep, but at other times it’s more complicated than that.

If you can’t see the way out of a bad situation, ask God to give you wisdom and the right strategy for improving your circumstances. If we do not seek God’s help, the outcome could deteriorate rather than improve. Some people find a sense of comfort in pretending their problem isn’t there. The consequences of choosing to take no action, however, could make the problem worse.

One very common area of imbalance for mothers is in their roles as homemakers. Many good moms will often try to do everything for the other members of the family. I’d like to call it the “Supermom syndrome.” The reasons why moms feel they need to do-it-all may differ. Perhaps they’re too tired and don’t feel they have the energy to persuade others to participate. Or maybe they fear failure and so they overachieve. Whatever the reasons may be, the fact still remains that they place unrealistic expectations on themselves.

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."
by Reinhold Niebuhr

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Moms - Part 2

If you feel guilty about spending time on yourself, then remind yourself that God’s love for you is greater than the greatest love you could ever have for your children. Of course, He loves your children with that same powerful love. Therefore, He doesn’t want you to neglect yourself. Sometimes you have to deny yourself for your family’s sake, but if you do it all the time then your family loses something very valuable, and that is you! Your family needs the real you with your personality, not a robot! Remember, God loves you for who you are and not for what you do.

Perhaps we need to start loving ourselves again by taking timeout to reflect and recharge. When we’re away from the hustle and bustle of the day, we can begin to process our thoughts and emotions and get God’s perspective on it all. Unburdening ourselves helps us to let go of stress and to live healthier lives.

One way to stay connected with the deep things of your heart is by journaling. Maybe you’re doing that already. If not, it might be a good time to start. Don’t worry about how well you can write or if you miss a few days. It’s not about that. Simply jot down what God is doing in your life. Journaling allows you to look back and see how you’ve grown. It also helps you uncover those hidden treasures that have been buried during the busy times of life. In your journal, you can add any spiritual experiences that you might have had, like a vivid dream, a vision, a scripture, or a word that God has given you. You can also include prayer points and later record when and how God answered them.

Taking timeout to reflect is great, but there are other ways to recharge, such as doing things that you enjoy. It could be as simple as listening to music, taking a hot bath, or going for a walk. Or it could be a little more elaborate like getting involved in a hobby. Sometimes dabbling with a hobby can develop into a vibrant career. Whatever you do in life, never underestimate the creativity that is inside of you.

Developing the unique way God made you will protect you later against the empty nest syndrome (that period of time when your kids become adults and leave home). If you don’t lose your identity now then you won’t have to find it later after the kids have gone.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Moms - Part 1

The previous blogs were about developing a healthy relationship with God. These next few blogs are about developing a healthy relationship with ourselves. Cultivating a healthy relationship with ourselves is not a new concept. However, it’s not about becoming self-absorbed. It’s about rediscovering what makes us unique and what our purpose is. It’s also about creating balance and boundaries.

Each of us has the ability to positively influence thousands through the people that cross our paths every day. Satan knows this will hurt his cause, so he undermines our self-worth and keeps us so busy with other things that we become ineffective. Insecurities and busyness also cause us to miss out on God’s best for our lives. That’s why we need to take timeout so that we can protect what God has entrusted to us by staying focused and centered.

One thing I’ve come to realize about us moms is that we are quick to take care of our kids and slow to take care of ourselves. It’s also possible to neglect our husbands when we’re so concerned about our children. We may think that if we sacrifice our own needs all the time that we’ll build a perfect home where everyone is blissfully happy. The truth is that until we get our priorities in the right order, we’ll all suffer for it.

I was a stay-at-home mom for about four years. It was hard being restricted to the house for most of the day. Raising demanding and crying tots almost full-time drove me crazy. I was stressed out of my mind and very unhappy.

I would recommend all moms to have at least one job or hobby outside of the home. If you’re feeling stuck, then you’re not in a happy frame of mind. Once I was able to get out of the home and focus on something other than the kids, I became much happier. The best part was that as my needs were being met, I was better able to meet my family’s needs.

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