And One More Thing Before You Vote

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Women,

I appeal to you to discover who you really are in Christ. Read the word of God and find out what He says about you. It is critical to your overrall health as a human being. And it is critical to the health of this nation. Yes. That’s right.

Your knowledge of your God ordained identity is the key to a healthy nation.

Did you know that Satan hates women? He literally detests us. So much so that he came to us FIRST in the garden of Eden. He wanted to use Eve to manipulate the man that God gave her. This was the first instance of deception in the Scriptures. The devil is still using his lying ways to rule women today. And those of us who don’t know who we are in Christ are allowing him to do it. (Read Genesis 3.)


The primary thing we Christian women should stand for is truth. Not experiential truth (which is temporal). Not circumstantial truth (which is ever-changing). The truth of who God is and what He says about our role in the earth. Let’s take a look at this truth that stands the test of time.

Acts 10:34- Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

Women and men are equal in God’s eyes. There is nothing, eternally speaking, that can elevate the status of a man over a woman (and vice-versa). Believing that in order for a woman to succeed she has to climb over a man to get there is a lie. Believing that God favors men over women because she has been used and abused by a man is a lie. God loves women. And He doesn’t try to convince us of this love through a skewed perspective based upon limited pleasure or pain that this world has inevitably forced upon us.

He convinces us of His unconditional, unbiased love through His words of truth which speak for themselves. In no way ever, does God put women down or speak less of the feminine sex. He also never says that women should use their femininity to wield power around like a magic wand. Both men and women are equally and inherently valuable.

When we know that there is nothing that we can do to make God love us more than a man and there is nothing that we can do to make God love us less than a man, we are untouchable by the enemy of our souls. Ultimately, that’s the point of this whole living on earth thing, right? To submit to God, resist the devil, and then watch him flee? (James 4:7) Shouldn’t our focus be more on submitting and resisting and less on competing and cheating? With other women? With other men? With ourselves?

What if we turned this nation upside down by grabbing hold of who we really are and never letting go of that truth- not even to the highest or most charming bidder? Chaos follows lies. Peace follows truth.

I implore you, before you go to the polls and choose our great country’s next leader, to vote for the person who values truth more than popularity and peace more than likability. Don’t vote based on gender because you feel like it’s high time a woman’s voice is heard. (By the way, women are speaking up in many places and many ways- influence has nothing to do with the size of your platform in the Kingdom of God.) Don’t vote based on your own hurts that have yet to heal in regards to what someone of the opposite sex may have done to you. Open up the good Book and ask God to reveal His healing, comforting love to you so that you can live a life of freedom. The truth sets you free!


Your ability as a woman of God to walk confidently in who He made you hinges on one thing alone: Jesus died for you. He also died for men, too. Let’s see eachother through the lens of Jesus’ sacrifice and let go of offense that is dividing the church (and this country) in two. America is at a crossroads and the only way to choose rightly is to choose truth.

Hebrews 4:12- “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Photo Credit: Ben White
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Finding Hope in the Mundane

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace. “

Helen Howarth Lemmel

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I love this hymn. It’s probably my favorite one. It addresses the questions and uncertainties of this life with an answer of hope.

The Answer is Hope.

This Wednesday, this mid-week slump of a day, has me all caught up in the mundane. I need some renewed hope. How about you? So, here’s my rendition of this timeless hymn. I pray it brings you newness of spirit, soul, and body.


I slightly see you Jesus. But I choose to turn, to redirect the position of my body so that I am facing in a different direction, to change my course if it is not in line with Your perfect will.

I really see you Jesus. I desire to look, to use my sight or vision in seeking, searching, examining, watching, to gaze upon Your beauty more than I stare at my ugly circumstances. 

I only see you Jesus. The darkness of this temporary place can’t overwhelm my soul. It has to fade away, disappear, vanish without a trace of existence in your presence.

I live to see you Jesus. Your love shines on every part of my life causing me to run wild and free because of your beaming favor that welcomes me into fields of grace.


Whatever you’re facing today, just look to the Jesus. the source of all HOPE, the answer to every problem. He will meet you where you are. And always guide you home.

Read to Live

 

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I’ve always been a reader. As a result, I am a big believer in the lasting effects of reading on a person’s life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge I’ve gained through books.

So many people claim they are not the reading kind and I just sort of chuckle and then change the subject. Because I don’t believe that being a reader is optional. If you want to grow, lead, succeed, and dream, then reading has to become a part of your life.

Take growth, for instance. I’m not the same timid, unaware, insecure girl I was even ten years ago. And I have countless books to thank for that. The Bible tops the list, though, as being the most influential in my maturity as a confident woman. I now know who I am because of what the Word of God says about me. He calls me His beloved one, His chosen daughter, and His beautiful masterpiece.

What about leadership skills? Surely the proof is seen in the fact that so many great leaders of our time are self-proclaimed hearty learners. John Maxwell is one of my favorite authors on leadership and this is what he has to say about being a lifelong student:

“Live to learn and you will really learn to live.”

Without reading, we limit ourselves to what other people have to say. If you really want to learn, discover it for yourself by picking up a book.

Success is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in accordance with the much sought after American Dream. Whether we are looking for external success through dollar bills or internal success through peace in our souls, we have to take into account the important words of those who have gone before us. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States and human rights activist, said,

“One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people.”

We cannot succeed without gaining wisdom from the voices of influential men and women of yesterday. Our future depends on our remembrance of those that have paved the way. Read a biography about someone you admire. You just might learn that you share some of their passions and therefore be inspired to go after a greater purpose than you could have ever imagined on your own.

Dreaming is a lost art these days. Many times we get used to going and doing that we forget to stop and dream for a minute. But if we aren’t dreaming then we are living a pretty dull existence. So many books have brought the dreamer out in me. From fairy tales to poetry, reading has a way of opening our hearts and minds to a world beyond what our eyes can see. I loved getting lost in the Nancy Drew books as a young girl. I would pretend I was brave like she was and imagine going on mysterious adventures to rescue the wounded neighborhood cat or spy on the mischievous shop owner. Don’t knock the value that comes from lying down in the grass and letting your imagination take you beyond the printed page. I am now finishing up my degree in criminal justice all these years later. It looks like those Nancy Drew books paid off after all…

One of my highest goals in life is to add something of value to this world. I want to make a deposit of outlandish proportions into the futures of generations to come. This may seem like a daunting task to some, but to me, it’s why I’m alive. Where does reading fit into this picture? Well, let’s just put it this way: If I don’t stay presently aware of the needs in my society by picking up a newspaper or clicking on that online article, then I sure as heck won’t know what to do to make the world a better place for the children of tomorrow.

Reading is not only about personal growth and development but also about staying educated so that we can raise up future leaders that wisely take responsibility for their own growth, success, and dreams.

Read to live. One day you will look back at how far you’ve come and be so glad you picked up that book.

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The Ingredients for a Balanced Life

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Honesty is very important to me. It’s probably at the top of my list of “Things that Will Keep Me in Your Life.” Without it, there is no point in engaging in relationship with someone. It’s pretty easy to point out the people in the public arena who are dishonest on purpose. A dishonest public life will earn you a bad reputation. (How many celebrities can you think of that have done this?)

More often than not, though, I am seeing something I like to call Personal Dishonesty (PD). It’s the initial spark that ignites the fiery chain reaction of widespread deceit. In essence, PD is telling ourselves a lie and then believing it to the point of acting on it.


PD trends that seem to plague our world:

I am ugly because my body is not like the model on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. I will starve myself until I look like her.

I am unimportant because my family doesn’t take the time to listen to me when I speak. I will stop speaking up and hide my feelings from everyone.

I am weak because I cry about everything, including Hallmark commercials. I must suffer from depression and need to take medication for the rest of my life.

I am a failure because I can’t find a good job. I will stop looking and just eat doughnuts and watch Netflix on the couch forever.

I am tainted goods because of what happened to me in my past. I will never get married so why even try to take care of my body and dress nicely?


Did you notice that each of these PD moments start with a thought that inevitably ends with a supporting course of action? It’s not hard to see then how our world has become wrought with external deception.Our scale of honesty is off balance due to false perceptions of ourselves.

We can’t even begin to be honest with those around us if we aren’t first honest with the one looking back at us in the mirror. The devil is called the father of lies for a reason, people. If he can get us to believe one little seemingly insignificant lie about ourselves, he can manipulate us into believing that a life of deception is acceptable. After all, it is the norm these days, right? (Again, take a look at Hollywood.)

Allow me to counter the list of common PD trends with some God-breathed truths. First, a necessary disclaimer: *These truths only turn into actions when we BELIEVE them.*


Counter-cultural truths to apply to our swindled souls:

I am beautiful because God says I am a masterpiece, made by His own hands, breathed into existence by His very breath. He saw His creation (you and me!) and He said, “It is good.” (Ephesians 2:10, Genesis 1)

I am valuable because God says His thoughts toward me are precious and too many to count! He has put His own words in my mouth so that I can speak life and love everywhere I go without fear of what someone else might think. (Psalm 139:17-18, Isaiah 51:16)

I am strong because God created me in His image and He is all powerful and mighty to save. This means I have power and might. In fact, the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of me! (Psalm 147:5, Romans 8:11)

I am victorious because God has given me the ability to endure through hardship and not give up. He says that I am more than a conqueror through the unyielding love of Jesus. (Colossians 1:11, Romans 8:37)

I am made new through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The old days have been redeemed because of God’s amazing grace. He makes my face shine and never looks on me with shame. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Psalm 34:5)


Let’s start a revolution of honest living! Read the verses referenced above. Pray them out loud until your mind, will, and emotions accept the truth for what it really is–

The ONLY thing that can set you free.

Silence the liesby speaking the TRUTH.

The Morning Light

Freedom is calling your name. Step into the light and never look back.

It’s a new day. Go ahead and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that His mercies are new every morning. 

Last night, in the dark, you may have said or done some things that you regret today. But my friend, the light of the morning sun has risen in the sky. The things done in the dark are forgotten in the light.

The light literally can’t contain the blackness of yesterday’s night. It has to shine. Bright and beaming, the glow of today overshadows yesterday’s dimness. All that’s left is what we remember.

Can you let the streaming rays call out to this hidden truth inside of you? Can you forgive yourself for what only you can still see? Let the early gleam of dawn refresh you with its brilliance, its illuminating possibilities.

The darkness limits us, confines us, traps us. The light sets us free to walk in a spacious place. Bask in the warmth of knowing you never have to be a prisoner to the dark ever again. Freedom is calling your name. Step into the light and never look back.

 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

Expose Yourself

Value yourself enough to only expose yourself to the good stuff.

Expose means to uncover, to reveal.

What are you exposing yourself to on a regular basis? Are they things that feed your soul and nourish your mind? Or do they deplete you and cast a negative spin on life?

Here are three things that I try to expose myself to as often as I can:

Positive People (godly friends, mentors, workout buddies, accountability partners)

Empowering Reading Material (the Bible, articles from women who are living their best life, leadership books)

Uplifting and Fun Music (K-Love, Bethel Worship, 90’s boy bands-yeah, I said it.)

What do these things uncover or reveal to me?

That I value myself enough to make my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health a priority. 

If I choose to expose myself to negative people, discouraging resources, and hopeless, draining music, I’m setting myself up for a bad day (or life.)

What about you? Are you paying attention to what you’re being exposed to? What are some things you should probably dismiss from your life because of the unhealthy effects they have on you?

I challenge you to take a good, hard look at the people you allow to speak into your life. Are they lifting you up or stepping on you to get ahead? Go through your bookshelf and toss out the stuff that is only making you wish for a different (fill in the blank). Now there is room to add some encouraging reads to your list. Evaluate your musical tastes. Sad love songs and angry anthems are fine every once in a while but if they are taking up most of the space on your iPod, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

Remember, what goes in always comes out. Value yourself enough to only expose yourself to the good stuff.

Cause, baby, YOU’RE WORTH IT.  

Sunday Rest #11

 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”

– 1 John 4:17-18 (MSG)

 

 

The Best Things in Life are Free?

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The best things in life are free

We’ve all heard it. Most of us accept this phrase as truth. I was one of those people.

But not anymore.

Free means that it doesn’t cost anything. And the best thing in my life is my salvation. Which cost my Savior everything.

People generally use this saying in reference to money. Like the popular thought that says, Can’t buy me love. 

Again, yes you can. In fact, God did buy our love when He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us.

“Christ bought us with His blood and made us free…” – Galatians 3:13

When we are tempted to forget just how high a price Jesus paid on our behalf, we lose sight of what love really means.

It’s not conditional. It isn’t always pretty. In fact, it’s usually messy.

Love costs EVERYTHING.

 

photo credit: last light of my mind via photopin (license)

The Carefree Life

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What are you carrying around today? What burden is weighing you down? This morning as I was praying, God reminded me of this familiar verse:

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 

He.Cares.For.You.

You can trust Him with your stuff. So comforting, isn’t it? God’s not up in heaven with His arms crossed thinking, “Hmph…I guess I’ll take that load off of your shoulders…if I REALLY have to.” 

No! His arms are wide open and He is saying, “Give that worry to me. I want to help you. Won’t you let me? ” 

I love how the Message Translation words 1 Peter 5:7-

“Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.”

 This is not an “if you do this first, then God will do this next” kinda situation. It’s exactly the opposite. We GET to live carefree because God LOVES taking care of us.

Webster’s dictionary defines “carefree” as having no worries or problems : free from care. We literally have the opportunity to turn our problems into prayers and our worries into worship. We are free from stress. We are free from anxiety. We are free from pressure.

God’s hands are big enough to hold the whole wide world as well as your small little piece of it. So go ahead. He’s on the edge of His seat just waiting for you to ask for His help.

Let Him show you just how much He cares for you. You see, it’s not just that He can handle it for you, it’s that He wants to!

photo credit: Benjamin Franklin Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight via photopin (license)

How to Lead Well

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My March book choice from my 2016 Book Challenge was “Live Love Lead” by Brian Houston. This book was an interesting look at Pastor Brian’s life story from childhood to adulthood. If you do not know, he is the pastor to Australia’s largest church, Hillsong Church. I am a huge fan of their worship music!

Anyways, here are the main points I took from this gem of a read:

  1. God has called us to live a BIG life. He wants you to “follow your heart, stay true to the gift that is on your life, go forth in the strength that you have, be comfortable in your grace zone, be confident in your call- and watch as God exceeds your every expectation and leads you into a wide-open and spacious life.” (p. 41)
  2. We are meant to carry a pioneering spirit. Houston says, “Pioneering takes courage, ingenuity, and a sense of adventure. With a pioneer spirit must come willingness to fail and falter, but with an unwavering belief in the long-term future vision.” (p. 58)
  3. Stay committed to the process even when it’s painful. Jesus never said our life on earth would be easy. Dark days do come and we have to be steadfast in pursuing the God-given vision for our life despite opposition and trials. I love this quote: “Each of us must cling to our own revelation of Jesus whenever bleak days try to obscure our faithful path.” (p. 78)

I encourage you to soak this book up if you are in a leadership role of any type. It will motivate you to keep going, to expand your vision and to love relentlessly!