Archive | July 2012

Resisting Mediocrity

We were not designed for mediocrity; something deep within us cries out for excellence. When we are not performing at our best we tend to make justifications for our behavior, but the feeling that we know we can do better will haunt us. One of the ways it manifests itself is unrest.

Last week I wrote about learning to rest in God. This is very difficult if we are living in mediocrity. It is very difficult to be at rest when we know we haven’t done our job to the best of our ability, or when we know we’ve done just enough to get by. When God gave me the goal to write and publish my book in 90 days, I was sick to my stomach. The thought of failing to live up to such a large goal really scared me. After accepting the challenge and sharing it publicly there was no turning back. During the time I was writing I had energy like never before, it was as if an invisible force was propelling me forward. Nothing could sway me from completing this goal and making it a reality.

My goal was reached in 77 days. It was a miracle how God opened the doors around me to enable me to reach what seemed like an impossible goal. Looking back there are things that could’ve been done differently, but that’s the point. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you just have to do your best with what you have at the present moment. In Colossians 3:22-25, Paul talks about doing the best that we can in everything we do. God wants us to go for the gusto! Dream big and put all our energy and heart into what is laid out before us. Charles R.  Swindoll has said “We are all faced with great opportunity brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

The trick is to strive for excellence and not perfection. We will not achieve perfection here on this earth, but when we remain teachable and continue to move forward no matter what the circumstances, we will achieve excellence. Hard work beats out talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. We can’t see the end of our journey, we just need to keep taking one more step no matter how hard it seems and continue to walk in faith. Many people we look up to that have accomplished great things have had a string of failures that are rarely looked at. We don’t remember the failures, but remember the successes. So we need to let go of the fear that we will not succeed the first time and continue to move forward.

Recently my family and I had the opportunity to watch the movie “Soul Surfer”. What an inspiration! This young woman had such a passion for surfing that she simply would not dwell on her failures, but learned from them and continued to move forward to her ultimate goal of becoming a professional surfer. She did this despite the loss of her arm. What a lesson for us all!

In what areas of your life are you accepting mediocrity?

Recovery For Me? – From I Do Believe….

After a few months, one of my friends from our church small group asked us to come support her when she shared her testimony at Celebrate Recovery. I remember thinking, “Wow, what a nice program for ‘other’ people who need healing, but this isn’t for me.”

God began transforming my life and the life of my family radically over the next year. By the end of 2010 my husband had given his life to Christ and finally had gotten a full-time job, I was led to Celebrate Recovery and Asia was led to go to YWAM (Discipleship Training School).

Next thing I knew, God was leading me to go to the Friday night meetings at Celebrate Recovery. I attended, never really feeling connected, but I couldn’t keep myself from going. Even Rick told me I should go, and said that he noticed I always felt better when I went.

I came to Celebrate Recovery crippled by fear and worry. I wanted so desperately to believe that God had my best interests at heart. I was angry and felt defeated most of the time. My marriage was still struggling and I was afraid it might fall apart. I kept asking God to show me the answers, and felt like He wasn’t even listening.

In January of 2011, Rick was able to find a full-time job and God told me He wanted me to join the Step Study at Celebrate Recovery. God and I struggled over this. I had several excuses for why I shouldn’t be a part of the Step Study. It wasn’t my kind of thing. God had already healed me from so much pain, and the rest of the work was up to me, etc. God finally asked me if I was willing to do what I needed to do to make lasting change in my life. This convinced me to step out in faith and obey God’s leading.

When I first came into the class, I couldn’t understand why God had called me to be part of this study. I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with any of these women. As the weeks went by, I started to become connected with the other women in the group. I couldn’t wait each week for class. One of the requirements was that we had to make three connections with our sisters in our group each week. I didn’t like this, but I wanted to follow the rules. I started to feel connected and safe with these women. I was still not ready to completely lower my mask, but I couldn’t stay away from the weekly meetings.

My husband and I continued to struggle with our finances. The year and a half that my husband had been unemployed had taken a tremendous toll on our financial situation. I was so angry. I felt like God was not keeping His promise to provide for all our needs. It seemed the harder we worked the farther behind we would get.

Living Above Our Circumstances

The past few months I have been spending a lot of time petsitting away from home. Being blessed with an abundance of work has been rewarding, but not without its challenges. It has been a struggle to keep up with writing my blog, resumes and writing my second book and keeping my husband feeling loved while being away from home. It was all starting to feel a little overwhelming and I found myself saying “I can’t wait until this week is over.” What that means is I’m waiting for my life to start again. Time is so fragile and we are never promised tomorrow. You only have to watch the news or hop on facebook to realize that. Why would we choose to wish it away?

It’s so easy to look at our circumstances and think “some day things will be better”. We miss so much when we live this way. How many times have you wished your life away? We spend so much time looking at the negative aspects of our circumstances instead of enjoying the moment and the blessings we have right now. Do you find yourself saying, “I’ll be happy when…”? How many times have you gotten to the place you thought you wanted to be; only to find yourself wishing things could be the way they used to be? Many have spent a lot of time and energy wishing their life could’ve been different. Many have spent all their energy investing in the future. We miss out on all the blessings around us whenever we are not savoring the present moment.

The truth is that our circumstances have nothing to do with our happiness. We get to choose to be happy or not. We can choose to be happy no matter what is going on around us. In this world, very few people seem to believe that. We live in a world where very few people choose to take responsibility for their own choices. We blame everything and everyone else for why we are the way we are. We blame our childhood, the economy, our family, our boss and the list goes on and on. It’s time to look at ourselves and realize that we only have control of our actions, thoughts and words. We can’t change anyone else; it must start with us. When we choose to live this way, we give others permission to do the same.Then we can have a positive impact on the world around us.

What blessing are you missing today?

Reaching Others With Love

We as Christians are many times so busy trying to keep the law that we tend to alienate those that we were called to reach. Many times people are treated better and welcomed more by non-Christians than Christians. We somehow forget the way our role model, Jesus, taught us to walk. If we study His life here on earth, we see a man full of love and compassion and very rarely driven to anger. In fact, one of the times He was driven to anger was when the religious leaders were oppressing the people with the law. He was angry and told them that they were more concerned with the outward appearance than with the heart.

Jesus made it very clear that He was more concerned with our heart than merely following the law. That is not to say that God’s Law is not important, it was given to us to protect us. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus tells us that love is the greatest commandment 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? 37 And He said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Many times I’ve heard Joyce Meyer say, “Jesus didn’t die so we can have a religion!” Everytime it reminds me to walk in love and to meet people where they are. Who are we to think we have all the answers as to how everyone else should live their lives when many of us have trouble managing our own. Matthew 7:4-6 “4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

About a year ago our church was asking if people would be willing to have the name of our church and the service times written on our back windshield. It took me a couple of months to agree to this, because I wanted to make sure I was a suitable representative for our church. How many times have you seen someone with a Jesus bumper sticker driving like a maniac? We must remember that when we speak out about our faith people are watching and waiting to see if we will prove them right. So many times we alienate people because they don’t see us living what we say we believe. Our actions speak louder than words!

Who can you reach out and love today?

Am I Good Enough? from I Do Believe; Help Me With My Unbelief!

At the age of twelve my parents enrolled me in a private Christian School. I learned a lot about the judgment of God and how unworthy I was to receive His love. I don’t recall hearing anything about how God loved us while we were still sinners. I got the message that He died for my sins, so I had to spend my entire life paying Him back. I thought God expected us to suffer through this life until Jesus came back to take us to heaven. The more I learned the more condemned I felt.  I thought that there was nothing I could do to make God happy with me.

They had bonfires to burn rock music albums.  I remember my one of my friends telling me that they told her she needed to burn her Airsupply records. Music was the one thing I had in common with my mother.  Music made the time I spent alone bearable. I loved the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Simon and Garfunkel and many others.  Now they were telling me that it was a sin to enjoy listening to this music. They taught us that all secular music was the devil’s music.  I couldn’t understand how they could consider one of the special things that I enjoyed doing with my mother as a sin.  It always made me worry that she was going to go to hell because she enjoyed that “devil music”. I began to believe that God was someone who wanted to take away anything that I considered fun in my life. I believed that He just was waiting for me to mess up so He could punish me. I believed I would never be good enough to be loved by God or anyone else.

They showed us the movie “The Thief in the Night”. I started to fear that Jesus was going to return and my mother was going to be left here on earth to suffer. It also planted a doubt in my mind about whether I was really saved or not. I remember waking up from a nap one afternoon, and my parents were gone.  I went outside and the neighbors were gone.  At that moment, I thought the rapture had taken place and I wasn’t good enough to go to heaven.  Later my parents came home and told me they hadn’t wanted to wake me from my nap.  I carried a lingering doubt after that about whether I was really bound for heaven.   I was not able to overcome that fear for many years.

Busyness

Do you feel guilty when you are resting?

We wear our busyness like a merit badge. When you ask someone how they are, the number one answer is busy. This seems to be the socially acceptable answer. I’m not pointing fingers here; I am just guilty as the next person; the word busy slips out of my mouth many times. Many are busy, because they find their worth in working. Some are busy because they can’t say no.

Lately, everywhere I turn the message has been about rest. God keeps speaking about rest. Our world seems to despise rest and those that take advantage of it. We seem to think if someone is resting that means they are lazy. The fact is that while work is important, so is rest. If we do nothing but work we will become very bitter and resentful not to mention unproductive. God rested on the 7th day after creating the world. (Gen. 2:2-3) He didn’t need rest, but I believe He wanted to give us the example to follow. He is such an awesome God and He wanted to show us how important it is to rest.

So what does it mean to rest? I used to think rest was cleaning the house when no one was home. I thought that I had to be doing something productive in my rest. How silly that seems now. Rest is not about being productive; it’s about taking a break from production.

Most of us know that God commanded His people to rest? It was serious business back in the Old Testament. God commanded not just the people to rest but their animals, guests and servants to rest as well. Exodus 20:8-10 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”

This message was continued in the New Testament. Matthew 11:28-29 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When we rest we can be refreshed and can experience breakthroughs that we never thought possible. I recently heard the story of how post-it notes were created. Almost everyone has used post-it notes. They were created by a company called 3m. This company had a policy of giving their employees blue sky breaks. These were breaks in which the employees would do nothing but look at the blue sky. They were at rest. It was during one of these breaks that the idea for post-it notes was created. Pretty valuable idea, huh?

What can you cut out of your life, so you have time to rest?

This entry was posted on July 18, 2012. 1 Comment

Living in Fear

How many times do we hear someone say “I’m afraid …”? Fear seems to be prevalent in this world. We fear we will not have enough money to pay our bills or put food on the table. We fear our kids will not make good choices for their lives. We fear that we will lose our jobs or not be able to find a job when we need one. There are so many things we can choose to fear. What would happen if we started expressing how excited we are about our future? What if we started actually looking for good to happen to us rather than fear the worst?

Most of my life has been spent in fear. My outlook on life was rarely one of looking for good things to happen. This started as a child. My parents would talk about their lack of money almost every day. Unfortunately, when I became an adult I continued this tradition with my daughter.

Recently, we were in a very scary place for me. We were told that our landlord was going to evict us from our home. It was in this place of despair that I found the peace that had eluded me for most of my life. When I finally reached the end of what I could do; God was finally able to take control and show me what He can and will do if we simply get out of His way.

The Bible tells us not to worry time and time again. Most of us have heard Matthew 6:25-34. In this scripture, Jesus says not to worry about our needs. He goes on to say that “if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things will be added unto you.” I used to read this passage and think that I must be doing something wrong. This lie held me in bondage for years.

For years I thought that there was some secret formula to receiving from God. If I could only do the right thing then He would bless me. When I finally humbled myself and came to the end of me, God began to show me truth. He showed me that He was not punishing me by withholding my needs because I wasn’t “holy enough”. God began to reveal scriptures to me that showed his true nature. In Jeremiah 29:11, He told me that He had a good plan for my life and plans to prosper me. In Joel 2:25, He says He will repay the years the locusts have eaten. In Genesis, I read about both Abraham and Isaac being blessed and protected after they told their wives to lie for them. Then we see David, the man after God’s own heart. He committed adultery and murdered among many other sins.

Clearly seeking first the Kingdom of God was not about being perfect and God did not punish us for making mistakes. He soon began to reveal that my fear that He was not going to supply for me was the real issue. Most of the things I had feared would happen throughout my life had happened. Slowly He has begun to renew my mind and I have begun to expect good things for my life. My circumstances have not changed overnight, but there have been remarkable changes that can clearly only be God moving on my behalf.

What good things are you expecting to happen to you?