Some of the following pieces of inspiration may be shortened to make it easy to to find the gem you need. To see the full text, click the Expand/Contract link at the end of each paragraph.
May you be blessed...
What Will You Do With Your Pain?
He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak (Isaiah 40:29, NCV).
Friend to Friend
I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.
With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie "Sea Biscuit." There I was; popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious essence and interminable power of truth.
"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little."
I was done.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the movie, those words linger still because it seemed they were written just for me.
The reality is that we are all "banged up a little." In "A Farewell to Arms" Ernest Hemingway writes, "The world breaks everyone and many are strong at the broken places."
We all have hidden scars, fresh wounds and broken places. The good news is that God is drawn to broken people. In fact, He accomplishes His greatest work through those who are most broken.
Isaiah 45:3 (NIV) "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
God has gone before us and in every trial and painful circumstance has buried a treasure or stored rich secrets that can only be found by going through that darkness. The most powerful truths are revealed in the darkest times. In fact, pain intensifies our need for God and can be counted as a blessing.
I struggle with clinical depression. The darkness has been an all too familiar companion for most of my life. Over the years, I tried just about everything to soothe the pain - things like success in ministry, the approval of others, perfectionism, doing good things, food and ... you get the idea.
In 1995 my carefully constructed world fell apart and I spent two long years at the bottom of a dark pit of depression. I had no idea how to handle the pain and hurt. I cried out to God. He heard my cry and led me to a passage of Scripture that continually heals me and helps me handle hurt.
Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
I don’t know what your particular pit is.
But I know what you are feeling.
You may be desperately clinging to the broken and mismatched remnants of your life, wondering how you can go on.
Whispers of the enemy creep into your heart, soul and mind, taunting you with the lie that you are just too dirty and broken for God to love or use.
It seems as if nothing and no one can change that reality, so you might as well give up, throwing your life away.
Nothing could be further from the truth, girlfriend. Hurt may be inevitable, but misery is optional. How we respond to pits and pain is our choice.
We can surrender to the darkness and create an identity that feels at home in a pit or we can embrace the pain and learn from it.
We can settle for a life defined by pain or we can harness the power of our pain and use it for good.
We can try to ignore the pain and hope it all goes away or we can face it and let God heal the broken places.
Those are not just words, girlfriend. They are choices that you and I can and must make every single day. God knows. God hears. God will breathe life into the right choices that we make. And today He is asking, “Daughter, what will you do with your pain?”
Father, my heart is broken and I don’t understand what You are doing in my life. The darkness is very real and filled with more questions than answers. And I don’t like it! But I love You, Lord, so I choose trust over fear and faith over doubt. Lord, please fill each broken place in my heart with Your peace and love. Today, I choose You.
In Jesus’ Name,
April 11, 2016
You’ve Been Pre-Approved!
Friend to Friend
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of junk mail from credit card companies that tell me I’ve been “pre-approved” for a line of credit. But here’s something I’ll never get tired of: God telling me that I’ve been pre-approved to be His child.
Just before Jesus began his earthly ministry, He traveled to the Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John. As soon as He came up out of the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and God spoke. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew).
Just think about that. Before Jesus even performed the first miracle, preached the first sermon, or called the first disciple, God made sure that His identity was clear. He was accepted, approved, and completely loved. And so are you.
So many Christians are trying to earn an acceptance and approval that Jesus has already earned for them. God’s acceptance of you is not based on your performance. That doesn’t mean that we stop trying to do our best to live a God-honoring life. But it does mean that we stop trying to earn acceptance we already have. You have nothing to prove because you have already been approved through the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His presence in you.
The devil will do anything and everything he can to keep you from believing that truth. Make no mistake about it, he knows that you are a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God who has been created to fulfill a great purpose that God has planned for you. He knows it, and he hates it. His goal is to keep you from believing it. And if he can keep you from believing the truth about your new identity, then he has won.
True confidence comes when the words God speaks about you become more real to you than the lies you’ve believed all your life.
We will always have a choice to believe the God who made us (fearfully and wonderfully, I might add) or believe the deceiver who wants to hold us hostage in the “less than” mentality. Change always begins with a choice.
The voice you believe will determine your destiny, whether you remain in the land of in-between (saved from Egypt but never quite making it to your Promised Land) or venture toward the land of milk and honey—the exciting, adventurous life in Christ that is fraught with miracles, wonders, and life to the full. Identity always comes before activity. Before you can effectively do what God has called you to do, you must take hold of who God has called you to be.
We need to learn how to overpower the lies of the enemy with the promises of God, and we’re going to start right here, right now, by believing the truth about your new born-again identity.
Many of us are driven by a scarcity mentality and see ourselves through the lens of our pre-Christ, spiritually dead existence rather than our born-again, spiritually alive and empowered identity. We are held hostage to the idea that we will never be good enough, when Jesus clearly tells us that through Him, we already are.
So here’s what I want you to do today: allow God to baptize you in the affirmation of your true identity.
You are His daughter.
Whom He loves.
With you He is well pleased.
Heavenly Father, I can never thank You enough for loving me. Help me to stop trying to earn what I already have. Help me to take hold of my new identity and walk in the confidence of a woman who is truly loved.
In Jesus’ Name,
May we each take the time to listen...
You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry(Psalm).
Friend to Friend
I did not want to get on that plane! I was tired – I mean bone-tired. My back was killing me. I was headed to my third speaking engagement that month, and what I really wanted to do was go home and spend time with my family. As I walked on the plane, I desperately prayed that I would sit by someone who did not want to talk – about anything. How is that for a godlyprayer? Just keeping it real!
I avoided making eye contact with anyone. After finding my seat, I slid my briefcase under the seat in front of me, grabbed a magazine from the seat pocket, and pretended to read. When the stewardess began her safety speech, I glanced at the young man seated beside me. He was reading a book. Yes! I hoped it was a very long and very interesting book.
And then it happened. The invisible “Dump Here” sign on my forehead began to flash. The young man looked at me and asked, “Where are you going?” I gave him a halfhearted smile and said, “To Houston” and went back to my magazine while he went back to his book. Whew! I know. I can be such a selfish spiritual brat.
Only moments passed before the young man asked what I was going to do in Houston. I groaned inside and hoped it would soon end, knowing it probably wouldn’t.
After sharing that I was headed to Houston to speak for a women’s conference, the young man said, “Well, I’ve been flying all day from Alaska trying to get to Oklahoma City.” At this point, I knew there was no point in trying to avoid the inevitable. "What is in Oklahoma City?" I asked. "My wife,” he responded. “We’ve been separated for three years, but I’m hoping we can get back together.” As tears filled his eyes, I heard the Father say, "I know you are tired, child, but I need you to minister to this broken lamb."
For an hour and a half, I listened as Chris poured out his heart, his struggles, and his hopes and fears. I shared God's love for him and God’s plan for marriage. It really was a God-thing.
When the plane landed, I grabbed my briefcase and stood up. As I glanced around, I saw dozens of passengers watching me. Evidently my sharing had escalated to more of a sermon, and they were waiting for the conclusion. Chris said, "Thank you so much. I just think that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay."
I could not help myself.
With fervor and passion, I blurted out, "No! Do not settle for anything less than God's best, Chris! Marriage is God's idea. He wants to restore your marriage. Do. Not. Settle. Okay?" He smiled and said, "Okay! Will you pray for us?" I hugged him and promised to pray for him, his wife, and their marriage.
As I walked off the plane and down the jet way, I thanked God that I had taken the time to listen.
In our culture of constant contact through technology, it is easy for our attention to be divided. We may be physically present but mentally absent. If we want to bless others and be used by God to change lives, we must learn to give the gift of listening.
Father, forgive me for the times I could have made a difference in the life of someone who was hurting, but didn’t because I was too busy or just didn’t care enough. Teach me to recognize the wounded hearts You send my way, and then help me take the time to listen. Lord, I want to serve You by serving others.
In Jesus’ Name,
"Not good enough?" Yes, you are!
October 17, 20l2
Friend to Friend
It seems the message of “I’m not good enough to earn my way to heaven on my own,” has been transformed into I’m not good enough… period. God created man and woman and said, “It is good.” We are so valuable to God that He gave His only Son to restore our brokenness.
To be honest, I could have been the poster child for the lie, “I’m not good enough.” If feeling inadequate was an Olympic event, I would have been on the Corn Flakes box. It was the undercurrent of my entire existence until I finally realized who I was in Christ. Bible teacher Beth Moore said, “In the dead of the night when insecurities crawl on us like fleas, all of us have terrifying bouts of insecurity and panics of insignificance. Our human natures pitifully fall to the temptation to pull out the tape measure and gauge ourselves against people who seem more gifted and anointed by God.” That was me.
Many women are living in silent defeat, comparing themselves to other women who are living in secret defeat. I’m not a good mother. I’m not a good wife. I’m not a good Christian. I’m not a good witness. I’m not a good housekeeper. I’m not a good decorator. I’m not a good cook. I’m not a good…. Women are caught in a cycle of the “I’m not good enoughs.” One by one the petals fall from the beautiful flower God created us to be. Like ticker tape, our fragmented pieces of confidence litter the streets like the Macy’s parade passing by.
Unfortunately, I wasted many precious years held captive by the enemy’s lies before I held up my chained hands to God and said, “I’m ready for you to set me free.”
And yet God used each one of them to impact His kingdom.
God doesn’t call us because we are particularly gifted or talented. He uses us because we are obedient and dependent on Him. He doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called.
The truth is, if you have experienced new birth in Christ, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. And friend, Jesus is good enough.
I was really inspired by this email devotional I received! I hope we will each learn to say, "What now?!"
Friend to Friend
If ever there was a group of people who lost their dream, it was Jesus’ disciples and the women who ministered to and with them. They had such high expectations that Jesus would be the next political leader of Israel (Luke 24:21). They had witnessed his power in feeding 5,000 men plus women and children with two loaves and five fishes; they felt the waves beneath their tiny boat subside at his command; they had watched him breathe life into a lifeless child, open the eyes of a man blind from birth, create new skin from rotting flesh on the limbs of lepers, and command a lame man to take up his pallet and walk. They had seen him walk on water, outwit the Pharisees, and win the lost.
In their narrow scope of hopes for a political leader to save the Jews, they missed the bigger picture of God’s plan for a Savior to free mankind from the bondage of sin. While Peter realized Jesus’ identity (“You are the Christ.”), he did not understand His destiny. Peter was shocked when Jesus explained that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and on the third day rise from the dead. He even took Jesus aside and said, “Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22). This was not part of Peter’s dream. Suffering did not fit into his plan.
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Call me stupid, but don’t call me Satan. Yet, that is how Jesus sees it when we try to block God’s plans. He sees us as an instrument of darkness, an offense, a hindrance and a snare. It is amazing that one minute Peter could be a building block and the next a stumbling block. But that’s the trap we all fall into when we have our minds set on the world instead of on the things of God.
Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever lose his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Even though Jesus forewarned the disciples of his death and resurrection, they fled when the soldiers came to arrest him, and they hid when he was hung on a cross to die. When Jesus was sealed in the tomb, their hopes and dreams were sealed in the darkness with him.
Every day I receive emails from women who have had their dreams shattered. A husband has an affair, becomes addicted to pornography, abuses the children, or deserts the family. A child gets caught with drugs, becomes pregnant, or dies in a car accident. Parents divorce, friends betray, careers come to an abrupt halt. The list is endless. So what do we do when our dreams are seemingly destroyed? The answer to that will shape the rest of our lives.
Does that mean we give up our dreams? I can promise you this, whatever dreams you have for your life, God’s dreams are greater. The power of the Holy Spirit the disciples received after Jesus’ resurrection, and the impact they made on the world thereafter, was beyond their wildest dreams. That’s what God does with a heart that is wholly yielded to Him. That’s what He does when we give our shattered dreams to Him. I have learned to stop saying, “Why me?” but instead start saying “What now?”
Is it really helpful to worry? Something to think about...
Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
- Corrie Ten Boom
If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured.
- Dalai Lama XIV
- Rick Warren
Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs my mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend... The simple act of reassurance from another human being [becomes] a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear -- because peace and fear are both contagious."
- John Ortberg Jr.
How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, "Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?" To which the man responded, "That's your worry."
- Max Lucado
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
- Mark Twain
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
...when someone says "please pray for me," they are not just saying "let's have lunch sometime." They are issuing an invitation into the depths of their lives and their humanity- and often with some urgency. And worry is not a substitute for prayer. Worry is a starting place, but not a staying place. Worry invites me into prayer. As a staying place, worry can be self-indulgent, paralyzing, draining, and controlling. When I take worry into prayer, it doesn't disappear, but it becomes smaller."
- Sybil MacBeth
Good Thoughts on Leadership...
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!
Example is not the main thing in influencing others ... it is the only thing.
The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower"Promises for Praying Mothers"
God will pour out His Spirit and blessings on your descendents. They will say "I belong to the Lord.” Isaiah 44:3-5
God will fight evil for us. “I will contend with those who contend with you and your children I will save.” Isaiah 49:25
God will watch over our children for good. He will build them up, plant them, and give them a heart to know Him. “They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:6, 7
God knows the plans He has for us--to give us a hope and a future. You can call upon Him, pray to Him, and He will listen. Jeremiah 29:11-14
Restrain from weeping, your work will be rewarded. There is hope in your future. Your children will return to their own land. Jeremiah 31:16, 17
"School Bus Ride"
The following is a devotional written by a friend of mine. Hope it will be a blessing to you as you see how God has given her new freedom in her life!
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2 NIV
It had been many years since my last school bus ride. The only two times I had ridden a school bus since childhood were anxiety and flashback filled! Both should have been happy times but they were terrifying. Today I was riding a school bus as a nurse with a medically fragile child.
Walking up the steps inside, I notice school buses have not changed much since those days of violence and terror long ago. The rubber matting attached to the floor, the rivets holding the metal together, the large mirror for the driver to see the occupants are the same as in my childhood. The backs of the seats are padded now–not the metal backs I starred at during the abuse, the pattern burned in my mind. The doors now open with an electric switch instead of the large handle and bars mechanism they had back then. However, the children still like to play with the doors–opening and shutting them. There is a lift for wheelchairs now, the bus driver always had to carry my brother on. Buses are so much smaller than when I was a child. Like everything else, they have shrunk.
Walking to my seat I know my Healer is with me. He is rejoicing today too. He has a smile on His face. He has healed my mind. He has made me able to do this job without fear!
For months I have hoped for the day I would be called on to do this. In my mind I am running through fields of flowers with arms raised, praising God for what He has done for me! I would love to run up and down the aisle of the bus with arms raised, singing praises to my Maker, but that might look a little odd. For now I sit silently with a smile on my face praising God in my mind for the miracle He worked in my life. I know He is excited too!
My Healer, I love you so much! I love the opportunities You give me to see Your healing fresh again. There are no words to thank You enough for all You have done!
Women Working for God
During the 1860s, the Seventh-day Adventist church was also coming into being. In the same time and culture, it was engaged in an attempt to save men and women who were dying spiritually. Ellen White lived during these years, and felt a great burden for the Three Angels’ messages to reach a world that was perishing for a want of the truth. >>Expand/Contract
|" Fragments" - Poem by Jan Gordon of New Haven >>Expand/Contract|
|The Nature of Relationship
The Bible is the Book of relationships. From Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks about the relationships with God and with one another. Therefore, as Christian leaders, it is very important for us to seek the biblical principles of relationships. >>Expand/Contract