Failing To Win

Life

(FreeImages.com/BobSmith)

I have been reading the book, Go For No.  What an incredibly powerful book and so very eye-opening!

I, personally, have a side-business with sales.  I never thought I would see the day that I would be in sales.  In fact, in the past,  I turned down numerous opportunities to sell for several reasons: never thought it was “me,” never wanted to be seen as superficial (which a lot of sales’ people seem to be), and never wanted my business to get in between relationships with people.

All that changed when I joined a company that had products to help my son.  Desperate mommies do desperate things so I joined just for him to get some healthy products.  Over time, the business sort of found me.  People heard about how these products were helping my son, and before long, I had a small team.

Recognizing my team needed a strong leader, I dove into growing as a leader so I could be what my team needed.  Before long, I discovered I loved leading my team!  I loved supporting my team and helping them to realize and develop their strengths.

Then, I realized that my teaching skills could be put to use in teaching people about amazing products that do help people and that they need.  It became more than “selling” to people.  It became about helping people, and I was able to step out of my comfort zone and personal prejudices against selling.

As I grow within my business, I am learning some very important lessons about failing and success.  I am learning that failing is very much linked to our success.  In fact, in order to succeed, we have to first be willing to fail.

This is so powerful that I am going to restate it:

In order to succeed, we have to first be willing to fail.

The key to success is the tenacity to never give up, to understand that you have to fail and fail many times before you succeed. This is true for us with all of our humanness.

We are going to fail, but the difference between the winners and the losers is the winners never quit.

The failings don’t define the winners. On the other hand, the “losers” allow the failings to define them.  As a result, they live the life of failure instead of living the life of victory, as God intended.

Winners though understand that failings are opportunities to learn and grow, and failings are often necessary to win.

These truths are so powerful in a business, but what about in life?  How many times do we give up on people, on prayer, on God’s callings for our lives because we allow the “failings” of life to define life for us — rather than allowing the life God has given to us to define the failings? 

I know this can get complicated, but grace is the opportunity God gives to us to have a fresh start every day and throughout our day.  It is God’s opportunity for us to get up and to quit allowing our failings to define us.

Grace is the power of God to claim the victorious life that Grace already won for us on the cross!

Don’t let your failings define you; let grace — God’s grace — define you.  Grace means triumph.  It means triumph over sin, our brokenness, our weakness, our failings, and our fears.

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This Is My Worth!

shadow

(FreeImages.com/HansWidmer)

The book lay open in my hands.  I had been given the privilege of reading for a few uninterrupted minutes, and the book I chose to read told the story of Jesus’ life, ministry on earth, and His death.  It was a story that I had read many times.  Yet, reading it again was like hearing it for the first time.  I read again about someone who lived so purely, so sacrificially, and so lovingly.  His humility was such a stark contrast to the showiness of the religious leaders and to those who sought Him for His works but not for Himself.  Yet, He gave and healed so freely, and what was given and done for Him?  A few rugged and uneducated men followed him, often bickering and then finally abandoning Him when it became dangerous and unpopular to follow Him.

Then, my mind’s eye could picture Him in all the gore of His beatings, the pain of the betrayals, but even more the weight of all the shame He bore.  Do you know how horrible it is when we needlessly carry the shame of our mistakes?  Yet, Jesus carried all of those horrendous sins — from Adolf Hitler to ISIS to the Ted Bundy’s of this world.  He carried every abuse, every lie, every lust, and there was no one to shoulder the burden for Him.  We don’t have to carry the weight of our sins, but He did.  He carried the crushing weight of EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THOSE. SINS.  Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE!

And God, His perfect and incredibly loving Abba Father had to turn His back on His Son.  Jesus had never experienced that — ever.  We don’t understand that because God pursues each of us and loves us.  Yet, Jesus didHe experienced what it felt like to have to carry every last sin and carry it all upon Himself.  He carried all of that for me.  …for you.

Then, it struck me.  It struck me how incredibly I am loved!  Such a price was paid for me… for you!  It was a price of infinite worth!  The price paid was God Himself.  He gave His all.  He gave Himself.

Then, I realized this:

We don’t understand our worth because we don’t understand the depth and magnitude of the sacrifice He made for us.

I don’t deserve it.  I am absolutely humbled and incredibly grateful that God Himself gave His all to redeem me and to give me an inheritance with Him!

To be honest, I can’t wrap my mind completely around that thought.  It’s overwhelming!

As the truth of this sinks in, I raise my face, slick with tears, to look up, knowing He sees and hears me.  Into the holiness of the realization of Who He is, I whisper these simple words, “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you!”

This is what it means to be His daughters and sons: it means to have infinite worth because an Infinite God loved me that much!

He gave His everything for me… for you!

Thank you, Jesus.

“Won’t You Open The Door?”

Knock Knock

(FreeImages.com/ricardo Santeugini)

I awoke early this morning, dreaming this:

There was a home-owner whose house was a mess. Dirty dishes were piling up. Laundry was in heaps. Floors and bathrooms were a mess…

A House-keeper came to his door because He knew the homeowner needed help. The House-keeper knocked. The home-owner called out from the peep-hole, “What do you want?”

The house-keeper told him, “I came to help get your house cleaned up. Can I come in?”

The home-owner said, “Well, I don’t know you. Besides, I saw a house that you own, and it was a mess. I am not sure I can trust you to get my house in order.”

The House-Keeper: “Really?” Which house?”

The home-owner: “The one the vandals broke into.”

The House-keeper: “Oh, that one. Well, the people living in that house decided that they didn’t want my help so they ‘kicked’ me off the deed. I am really sorry the vandals messed up their house, but that doesn’t reflect me.”

The home-owner: “Well, if you can’t take better care of a house you used to own, how can I believe you’ll take care of mine?”

The House-Keeper: “I take care of all the houses where the owners invite me to come in. I can fix your broken and run-down house, but you have to first let me in the door. I can’t promise that right now, you won’t have more dirty dishes or appliances breaking down. But, once you let me in, I will clean it up. I will show you how to keep your house in good repair. Oh, and someday, I have a very special mansion prepared for you, where thieves and vandals can never enter. It also never breaks down, never dirties, never gets disorderly. For now though, I want you to experience what it means to have me to help you. I want to teach you how to get your own house in order as you learn from me. On days, when life is too much, I will do it for you. But, you first have to open your door. Will you?”

Your Ministry Is Where Your Heart Is…

beach love

(FreeImages.com/sunshizzle)

This past Sunday was one of those “light-bulb” moments.

I was sitting in a gathering with many people, listening to a powerful testimony and under the truth-piercing Word of God.  My heart was being convicted — not in a shameful way but in a way that caused me to repent in order to receive from God.  I was being convicted of selfishness, pride, and self-seeking within my heart.

God had placed within my heart a calling to reach out to people and to share with them how God changes hearts and what it means to have an authentic and personal relationship with God.  The problem is that my calling had turned into self-seeking.  I was looking for a ministry out there, when the ministry was in front of my face.

On Sunday, it was a powerful moment when I recognized my pride, selfishness, and lack of faith.  Because of these soul issues, I was often unwilling to do the “scary” thing, to step out of my comfort zone, and reach out to others.

As soon as I repented of this, the “light-bulb”moment appeared.  I, all of a sudden, realized that God had placed His love in my heart for several strangers surrounding me, and those were my ministry.  I suddenly realized, that when I follow the love, my ministry will be found.  I know this may sound “cheesy,” but it’s the profound truth.

So often, we follow after a ministry, but instead, God wants us to follow after Him and to be so filled with His love for others that “ministry” is the natural by-product.

Ministry is where the love is.

Loving God through others is the ministry

God doesn’t call us to be in full-time ministry.  God calls us to love Him and to love Him by loving His people.

When you follow the heart of God, you will find the “ministry” He has in store for you.

This past Sunday that happened in a huge way for me, I began to reach out to strangers with whom I had fallen in love.  God led me to pray over a couple, their sick child, a young woman in a wheelchair, and other hurting people.  Why did I do this?  Because He gave me His heart for them.

So often, we get it so wrong!  We want the glory or this sense of purpose by doing things when God just calls us to give His heart to others.  Suddenly, the self-glory and the fear that holds us captive are no longer snares, and we are able to step out in joyful abandon, following Him.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Luke 4:18

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

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“Do You Trust Me With Your Dreams?”

dreaming of

(FreeImages.com/EvgeniaPronina)

I was struggling…  Life was pulling me in many directions, but my real struggle was with something greater — the root of my struggle.  I was trying, pushing myself, and oh so stressed!  I was trying to force something.  That something is my dreams.

Then, God and I had a talk.  Well, it was more like He spoke conviction into my heart, and I knew it was truth.  It was this penetrating question, “Do you trust me with your dreams?”

I knew then that was the struggle.  I was trying to force my dreams in my strength, my time, and my way.

God was asking me if I trusted Him enough with my dreams.  I then realized that was the issue.

That question helped me to recognize again that all of life comes down to one penetrating question, “Do you trust God?”  And the answer is almost always a definitive “no” if you don’t really know He loves you.

God then flooded my heart with so many reminders of His love, but the greatest one was the cross.  This is what He spoke to my heart, when I asked myself, “Do I trust Him/believe He loves me enough?”:

He spoke this to my heart: “Because I was willing to give my life for you.”  If He was willing to sacrifice everything, including His relationship with His perfect Abba Father and suffer the ultimate of all suffering for me, then I know.  I know He loves me enough.  He loves me enough for anything life might send my way.

The point is, dear ones, the problem is not with our faith — our faith in His power.  The problem is with our awareness of His love.  The truth is we often don’t really believe or comprehend His love for us.  We are still measuring it by the tragedies of our life, by the false earthly representations, and by the twisted thinking of those who claim to represent God.

What God spoke to my heart this morning was this:

As the parable of the father in the Prodigal Son, so He will always pursue me — no matter what I’ve done, always desiring to bring me back to Himself.  And with that, I whisper, “God, don’t ever stop pursuing me and bringing me back within the security and fullness of your Love.”

Wrote this to friends this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGUKWiw7Wk — And then I finally found Love — Love so perfect, so infinite, and I am reduced to an unashamed curtain of tears … to this overflowing, overwhelming awareness that I am “found,” “seen,” “heard,” and complete within Love. We all yearn for perfect, infinite Love… we want someone or something to truly know us and to truly love us within that vulnerability and transparency, allowing us to blossom within the security of unfathomable, immeasurable Love! Within the embrace of lavish love, my heart unfurls, and the fragrance, vibrancy, and life blooms!

My heart is coming unfurled.

I may be accused of being more emotional, but the truth is my heart is learning that it can be more vulnerable.  My heart is being allowed to feel more because I have found a “Safe Haven.”  I can “risk” my heart when I know there is truly no risk with God. 

How about you?

Do you trust God with your dreams? 

Do you trust Him with your heart?

Divine Guidance

Path to the light

(FreeImages.com/Dhany Syamsuddin)

I hear so many Christians either erring on the side of ignoring the reality of Divine guidance in the everyday details of life or erring on the side of placing “Revelation,” as it is sometimes called, above the written Word of God.

The former group of people tend to be those who are so scared of false teachers that they ignore the reality of the Spirit of God and His divine inspiration and guidance within our daily lives.

This group of people tend to imply that God’s Word alone is our source of inspiration and guidance.  They believe that God speaks only through His Word, with few exceptions.

I believe this is mainly in reaction to so many false leaders that have led people astray from supposedly hearing directly from God.

We are wise to “test the Spirits.”  There are many false teachers, and it is especially wise to be prudent when someone claims to hear something from God.  Every word needs to be “checked” against the truth of the Word of God.

Yet, to imply that God speaks only through His Word alone is to imply that we live most of our lives outside of the realm of Divine guidance.

For example, when it came time to moving, job changes, academic choices for our kids, business decisions, relationships, etc…, I asked the Lord for wisdom and relied on His Holy Spirit to lead/direct.

The Bible does not address specific life events.  It does give overall life principles that do help to govern our daily choices, but it does not tell you if you should buy a specific house or relocate to a specific area.  So, if God does not speak in any other way than through His Word, are we living most of our lives outside of Divine guidance?  

I remember when I heard a friend say that she looks for the open door.  If the “door” is “open,” she assumes it’s a go.  If it closes, she assumes that means a “no.”  I believe there is a lot of danger in this.  There are many open doors, but they are not all for us to enter.  That seems more like relying on chance than actual Divine guidance.

What if instead, God does desire to direct our lives in every area of life?

Makes sense, right?!!!  If every decision in our lives does impact our lives, then would it not make sense that God would want to give us wisdom to make the best decision — rather than the most convenient?

There are many ways God speaks, and His Word is replete with verses that talk about His thoughts towards us and His speaking to His people.

God has used music, creation, dreams (on occasion), godly advice from friends, books, and many other ways to speak to my heart.  Sometimes, I get this definite impression from God that is very different from any other type of thought. I have known, in those times, that the impression was from God.  I usually ask Him to confirm with His Word that what I thought I “heard” was from Him.

There are dangers in putting too much emphasis on human “revelation” rather than God’s Word.  Within the groups of people that fall into this category are those who seem to even disregard the written Word of God over their own “divine inspiration/revelation.”  That immediately sends off a “red flag” to me.

God’s Spirit will never contradict His Spirit-inspired written Word.  The Word of God was inspired by the Spirit of God.  God does not contradict Himself. 

A truly Spirit-led person will love the Word of God, the people of God, and God Himself.

I believe there are two groups of people often seen within the present-day Church:

  1. There are those who from fear act like the Word of God replaces the Spirit of God.  These churches are known for their emphasis on truth but spurn many allusions to the Spirit’s leading and seem to have difficulty understanding grace, outside of the theory of it.
  2. There are those who put such emphasis on the “Spirit” that it becomes questionable whose spirit is directing them.  Their “revelations” contradict the Word of God, or there is a lack of love for the Spirit-inspired Word of God.  In other words, they seem to ignore the fact that God’s Word is Spiritual.  Their concept of grace is another man-made theory that is as effective as slapping a smiley face sticker on a person who just lost a loved one and telling them that if they smile it will be all better.

I love the following verse which expresses the balance so beautifully:

John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It is the Spirit of God that directs the Word of God to penetrate into our hearts with unfailing precision.

We can, indeed, live every moment of our lives within the protection of Divine guidance.

A Summer Trip

My husband and I recently had the privilege of taking a trip sans kids for five days to a gorgeous place!!!

We enjoyed some new experiences, like tasting Bubble Tea and enjoying a sauna.

We visited a castle, danced in its ballroom to Big Band music (just the two of us), toured its “Secret Garden”, and ate a fabulous breakfast there.

We climbed a high mountain and never tired of unending view of breathtaking glory!

We enjoyed a sunset and sunrise at beaches, visited little shops along the beach, and ate to our heart’s content.

The best part is we also spent time with family (won’t include pictures of them for privacy).

We really had a marvelous time as a couple!  Enjoy the pictures!  Here are a few more…

How Trusting In God Plays Into Forgiveness

trust me

(FreeImages.com/LorenaMolinari)

This happened not too long ago…

God was bringing to my mind a person that I needed to forgive.  As I was dialoguing with God about this situation, acknowledging that I needed to forgive and asking Him to help me choose to forgive, He asked me the question, “Do you trust me?”

“Do you trust me?”

It struck me then!

Forgiveness is trusting God with the offender/offense.

Forgiveness is giving the offender/offense to God and no longer trying to be judge and jury over them.

Do It Broken

YMCA Horse Mosaic 1

(FreeImages.com/MichelleRau)

As I was sitting in bed this morning with my journal, Bible, and a devotional, the words began to pour out, and the tears began to fall.  Before long, I was scrambling for my pen to jot down the thoughts God was giving me — thoughts about brokenness and grace…

I was reflecting back on how so many times I have wondered why God would entrust me with five precious children to raise when I am far from perfect.  I am not the most patient person.  Loud noises and lots of activity stress me.  Chaos and messes annoy me.  I get easily stressed over crazy busyness and never-ending activities.  The humor in this is all the above often describes my life.

I seem like the most unlikely choice to being a mom of five kids.  Was it all one big cosmic mistake, or ignorance on my part?  Does that mean my kids and I are relegated to just “muck through” the rest of life until they are out of the home, and I can be back in my comfy place again?

In answer to those questions, I will share thoughts God has been teaching me and what I want to share with you today…

Religion often teaches us that God waits until we get it all right before He uses us.

Grace is about God using us — not even in spite of our imperfections — but sometimes because of them.  Why?  Because when we are broken, we are pliable — more apt to be yielded and teachable.

Grace is God taking our brokenness and making something beautiful with the pieces.  He puts the pieces of our lives together, and it forms a beautiful piece of art.  It tells a whole new story.

I wrote the following words to the leaders on my business team.  Within our business, we are often required to stretch beyond our feelings, and the following words were to encourage them: (I think they just might encourage a few of you.)

I wanted to share some words of encouragement to you this Tuesday morning. We all go through times when we doubt ourselves and when we don’t feel completely “on top of our game.” The tendency is to then “hang back” and wait for that future time when we feel more successful or like we have it together before attempting to pursue our dreams. In other words, we want our dream before we pursue it. The truth is we have to pursue our dream before we find it.

I am going to blog about this shortly, but I wanted to post this note I wrote to an ambassador for all of you. I am hoping there might be a word of encouragement in it for you…

“I want to tell you, it’s okay to do life ‘broken.’ You don’t have to wait to live life or pursue your dreams until you ‘feel’ them. The best advice I can give you is to ‘do it scared’ and do it broken.

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

The power of the cross is the fact that God sees you not as you are but as Christ is!!!

Grace is the cross!

Grace is God’s ability to take our anguish, our brokenness, and our failings and to use us still. It is God’s ability to use imperfection and make it perfect because of the User.

The key is our surrender. We surrender to Him and quit trying to be all perfect before He can use us.

He uses us not in spite of our brokenness, but He uses even through and because of our brokenness itself to accomplish His purposes.”

And I want to cry right there…!

I am going to repeat this powerful statement once again:

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

So often, we get this idea that grace is slapping a “happy face” sticker over the world’s ills and telling everyone, “You’re great where you are.  Just be happy.”

The reality is Grace sees the depths of our anguish and brokenness and then says, “Give it to me, and I will take your brokenness and give you My Wholeness.  Your brokenness will become My wholeness because I will take those broken pieces, and I will bring healing to them and make them whole.”

Today, as you return to your chaotic world and the reminders of your own brokenness, I want to encourage you to stop looking at the brokenness and start looking at the cross.

The cross is a picture of brokenness and wholeness that melded into One Perfect Being so that you and I have a future, a calling, a tangible peace, an inexplicable joy, and an eternal hope that is a reality!!!

Give God your brokenness because He wants to weld His wholeness to it.

When All Creation Cries…

Rain

(FreeImages.com/SimonSmith)

I awake this morning to more news of suffering and tragedy. The air is heavy with humidity, and I wonder if it isn’t the tears of this world, groaning because of the depths of such suffering and such evil. Hearts are heavy, and as much as we couldn’t exist without God’s grace and long-suffering, we hold our breath in collective question and ask, “How long, Oh Lord?”

Tears pour down, and I grieve for the mommies who want to hold their precious babes one more time. …for husbands and wives who wish they could love one more time… for children who wish they had a parent to kiss their tears away… There are no simple words for anguish so deep.

Within this heavy, collective breath, I see Him, like it was yesterday, hanging there on the cross, and saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was perfectly sinless; they were perfectly evil. Why does He say, “They know not what they do?”

Perhaps, the answer is this: if we all really saw and understood the heart of God and His purpose and plans for our life… if we saw what He desires for us and tasted of His goodness and His life… if we really and truly understood… if eyes weren’t blinded by lies, evil, and suffering… if people didn’t turn away from their true Source of comfort, peace, and love and turn inward, trying to cover the searing pain and questions…

Then, we would know that the answer to this world’s agony is not enacting more laws. It’s turning to the One who doesn’t just turn a deaf ear to our suffering, but He took on our suffering and became one of us. He not only suffered along with us, but He suffered for us. He carried agony that we will never experience.

That is why the cross is a picture of “Unfathomable evil intersected with unfathomable grace at the cross.”