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Dear Lord, Even If You Don’t……

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song “Even If” by Mercy Me?

I know You’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand, But even if you don’t, My hope is you alone…..

Have you ever felt like these words?  Ever felt like giving up thinking to yourself, what’s the use?  What good is it to do what I’m doing?  Or It’s hopeless, my situation will never change!

Maybe you’ve prayed the same prayer a thousand times and never seen any results.  Or maybe you’ve been on the crazy cycle doing the same thing over and over, not getting anywhere.

In the midst of it all we are never hopeless, we are never powerless when we have the one who is able with us.

Sometimes the road of devastation we walk can seem like an endless road to nowhere but I can promise you these roads of brokenness are always paved with his glory.

Even If you Don’t…….

“On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.   The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout!”  For the LORD has given you the city!”  (Joshua 6:15-16).

What if God told you I will give you everything you could have ever imagine (and then some)?  How would you respond?  What if He told you, The Promised Land I’ve promised you is right at your fingertips.  But first you must………

Ahhh, there’s always a catch right!?!?  Yes and No.  Last week’s post Letting Go and Letting God addressed Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and wandering the desert for 40 years.  At this point The Israelites had already crossed over the Jordan River and were thinking, ‘Yes! We’ve made it!’  Well not really first they had to face some giants a whole army of them.

So God gives Joshua the instructions to march seven times around the ginormous walls of Jericho for six days.  And then the seventh day march 7 times around!  For six days the Israelites marched in silence until the seventh day.

Can you imagine after marching for 7 days straight in a row their surprise when those walls of Jericho came tumbling down?Click To Tweet

I think I would have been feeling quite tired and weary of marching around a huge city for 7 days straight to see nothing happening.  Not being able to speak and just march in silence day in and day out.  It makes me think how heavy their feet felt, each step they took.  How heavy their hearts felt each day that passed, thinking why must we keep doing this?!?!?

Haven’t we’ve been through enough Lord?!?!?!?

I can’t imagine the thoughts that must have ruminated in their minds as they marched.  What if God doesn’t do what he said he would?  What if God isn’t going to come through?  What if this is all for nothing?

How glorious it must have been to see those walls fall, after enduring everything they had been through year after year and to have the faith to keep on marching!Click To Tweet

Maybe you are running out of fuel and have nothing left.  Maybe you can relate to The Israelites, the trials they endured in the waiting, in the wandering, in the when will this end?!?!  Even in their despair, in the unknowing they kept placing one foot in front of the other and kept on marching.  When they did, they saw God’s amazing plan unfold, the indestructible city of Jericho’s walls fall down.

Have you ever felt like giving up?

Have you ever felt like what you go through is all for nothing?

Every road of brokenness is paved with his glory, we just have to stay on it.  Don’t give up. Whatever road you are on towards healing, restoration, redemption, reconciliation stay on it, it’s so worth it.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know you are good.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know your are faithful and keep your promises.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are still my Maker, My Creator, My God in whom I love and am Thankful for.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are MY God in whom I trust and know your ways are greater and better.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, 

I know you’re able and I know you could just wave my pain away right now and that hurts.  I know that you can see me And have been watching me year after year go through what I’m going through.  I know you have heard every prayer I’ve cried.  Even if you don’t answer my prayer, even if you my sorrow doesn’t subside, I know you are faithful and good. My hope is in you alone, Lord.  Despite what I’m going through I want to believe there’s a better way, a better outcome, you’re glory refined.  I know you don’t need me, but you chose me. I know your way is better, your plans are amazing.  I pray for your unsurpassed peace to supersede in the midst of the chaos, in midst of the pain. When my hope is in you, your glory will arise and make the most beautiful masterpiece ever out of my situation.

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Letting Go and Letting God

I will never forget when my family and I went on this one camping trip.  We had a golden retriever named Ginger.  My dad handed my eight-year-old sister the dog leash and gave her the instructions, ‘don’t let go.’  I was standing next to her and a squirrel ran across the parking lot up a tree.  You can only imagine what happened next.  The dog chased the squirrel, the only problem was my sister was holding on to the leash.

My sister was then drug across the gravel parking lot holding onto the leash.  I yelled, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”  I couldn’t believe it.  If a dog who weighed as much as me ran across a gravel parking lot, I would have let go of the leash.  But for some reason my sister held on and endured scrapes and injuries from the gravel as a result of holding on.

This picture of my sister holding onto the leash shows me this is what a lot of us do in life when we are going through hard times.  We think we have to hold on so tightly to what God is allowing in our lives, and just take the injuries along the way.  In reality we have a choice to let go of what we’re holding onto so tightly and allow God to handle it or keep holding onto it and endure more suffering.

Recently,  I was in a group discussion about what it means to “Let God and Let God.”  This phrase is used all the time but what does it really mean to be able to accomplish the task of letting go and letting God?

According to Psychology Today, Letting go means, being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self. Holding on means trying to push life into the place of your making or be damned

In our group discussion we determined letting go meant, trusting in God that things will get better, to accept the things we cannot change and having the courage the courage to change the things we can.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep holding on and hoping for the best.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep walking around your problems hoping God does his part.

Letting go doesn’t mean sit back and wait for God to do all the work.

Which part do you struggle with, the letting go or the letting God part?Click To Tweet

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28 NIV

Letting go might feel like you are walking away and don’t care, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.  Letting go allows God to do his job of what he was intended to do in the first place.  When we hold on, we just get in the way.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Letting go might mean to let go of expectations or resentment.  Letting go may even mean one needs to forgive to be able to let go of un-forgiveness.  We may even have to let go of the outcome.

One group of people who learned the epitome of letting go, were the Israelites.  They had expectations God was going to deliver them from Egypt into The Promised Land.  God is a God who ALWAYS keeps His promises we just might not agree with His timing.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but not immediately into The Promised Land.

“Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink” (Numbers 20:11).

At this point the Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for 38 years.  Over the years God had provided food, protection, etc. for them time and time again.  This time they were groaning for water complaining they were surely going to die if they didn’t receive it.

Moses and Aaron went before God with their request.  God instructed Moses to take the staff and TELL the rock to yield water.

As you can see in the above verse, this is not what happened.  Instead Moses took the staff and struck the rock twice.  Although there is only a slight difference in what God told Moses to do and what he actually did, this caused a BIG difference in the outcome.

I can relate to Moses.

Maybe he was frustrated the wandering was taking so long.  Maybe he couldn’t handle the Israelites complaining anymore.  Or maybe he held onto pride, let it get in the way and wanted to deliver the water the way he wanted instead of how God intended.

Whatever the reason, we can see God honors our obedience. God says to them, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”  (Numbers 20:12).  Ouch.  That consequence had to hurt.

Because Moses wasn’t able to let go of frustration, resentment, pride and/or expectations, he acted out because of it and received a heavy consequence.  When we hold on to what God is asking us to let go of we aren’t trusting He is able.

Letting go may be one of the hardest things we do, but allowing God to have whatever we're holding onto is trusting He is able to accomplish anything.Click To Tweet

Letting go will never pull us into a direction that will intentionally hurt us.  Letting go will allow room for God’s original plan in our lives to fill us with His joy, peace and freedom.

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

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10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage

10 Courageous Bible Verses

 

Have you ever been stuck in a rut or the same pattern that keeps repeating over and over?  You wonder how do I get off this treadmill that leads to the land of nowhere?

Sometimes I tend to blame my situation or circumstances of why I can’t move forward or get off that treadmill when I realize I AM the stumbling block.  I’m the one trying to do things my own way, with my own strength, forgetting to rely on God for HIS Courage to get me through.

When you feel yourself getting into a rut or running on the treadmill keep these verses near and hide them in your hearts, so we don’t keep trusting in our own strength but in God’s strength.  When we refer to the ONE who is the PROVIDER of COURAGE we will always have an endless supply.

Here are 10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage:

What is Courage?  The Bible defines courage as as the ability to do something brave out of a motivation of the heart.  Courage wouldn’t be courage if we weren’t taking risks towards growth that scared us.  In reality, courage helps build our character for what God has in store for us, helps strengthen us and helps us learn how to draw closer and depend on
God.

When we need to depend on God.

  1.   “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

This Bible verse is hanging in my bedroom above my bed.  I love how I can physically see this verse and be reminded of it’s power.  We don’t have to fear or be afraid when God is holding our hands.

2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

In my experience, displaced trust causes more fear.  When we put the trust in ourselves we will always fall short and fail.  We don’t have to be afraid when our trust is placed in God our PROTECTOR who is able to keep us safe.

3. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

I love how before Jesus left this earth, he gives encouragement we don’t have to be afraid.  We can receive a peace that’s not of this world when we focus our hearts on HIM and not our circumstances.

When God’s courage strengthens us.

4.  “Wait for the LORD;  be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  Psalm 27:14

God uses EVERYTHING we go through for HIS GLORY and HIS PLANS.  He uses our circumstances, our trials, burdens, our struggles to strengthen us and build our COURAGE so he can use us for what He has in store for us, if WE LET HIM.  When we patiently WAIT for what he has for us we will see HIS glorious plans unfold within our lives.

5.  “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”  Psalm 31:24

God never says what we go through isn’t going to be hard.  He left instructions in how to strengthen the courage he gives us.  Courage needs strength in order for it to be courage.  When we depend and seek God for our strength we will have all the courage we need.  We can trust his courage is enough and all we will ever need.

6.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Ephesians 6:10

We can rest in God’s mighty power for our strength and courage.  We don’t have to use our own strength to go through what we’re going through.  Nothing in this world can compare or even come close to be being more powerful that God’s power and strength.

When God’s Courage motivates us to accomplish His will for us.

7.  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

We don’t have to be discouraged.  Whatever work we we do, when we do it for the Lord, it will never be in vain.  We can stand firm even when don’t like our circumstances and trust he will use them for something greater.  The assignments God has for us can’t be messed up by the circumstances of our past (@OhSheNoble).  God made us with flaws and all.  He made us all with a specific purpose.

Our flaws don't disqualify us from HIS plans our disobedience does. Click To Tweet

8.  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Don’t miss out on the journey God has for you, because of fear-filled thoughts and discouraging doubts.  God didn’t create us to live in a world of defeat but be victorious in His strength and courage.  Embrace who you are in how God made you, flaws and all and allow HIM to use them as a platform for HIS strength.

We can trust in His plans.

9.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

We can trust God’s plans are the best plans.

10.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Whatever you're going through, DON'T GIVE UP! God's Courage is Strong Enough to Get you Through! #dontgiveup #choose #courage #brave #choosegrittyClick To Tweet

When you feel the tug of defeat weighing on your heart, refer to these verses.  And Remember…………

How God use situations of adversity like David when he defeated Goliath.  A young boy was an unlikely choice to defeat a giant, but God used David’s skill and God’s courage to defeat a giant 4 times his size.

Remember how God used a storm to show Peter, when we step out of the boat in obedience to God’s calling we see miracles happen (walking on water).

Resting in God’s endless supply of Courage will his greatest accomplishments to arise in US!  God’s strength is ENOUGH!

Do you need more courage?

What makes your courage stronger?

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Need ways to make your courage stronger?  Here are 3 ways that may help!  Click Here.  


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Here Are My Top 5 Favorite Bible Studies and Teachers

I will never forget the first Bible study I ever attended, 8 years ago, was Daniel by Beth Moore.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s a pretty intense study for someone who had never done a Bible study before.  You’re right.  I don’t recommend jumping into the end of times or a book of prophecy for newbies.  However, looking back the book of Daniel ignited something deeper in me–a yearning and desire to learn more, because of everything I lacked.

Before starting the study I had heard of the Bible teacher Beth Moore, but didn’t know much about her.  After completing the study she had such a fervent spirit of teaching the Bible I knew I had to learn from her again and my journey had just began.

If you are thinking about joining a Bible study, DO IT!  Don’t let your excuses outweigh the reward of joining a study {of course only if it’s the right season for you.}.  Also don’t sit in those chairs too long, eventually God will be stirring in your heart to lead a study–follow his guidance an prompting, you will never regret it!

Here are My Top 5 Favorite Bible Studies and Teachers:

1. Beth Moore-  It’s so hard to pick which are my favorite studies, because she’s done so many of them.  My most favorite are James and Children of the Day (1 & 2 Thessalonias).  I’ve also completed her Esther study and Entrusted (2 Timothy).  If you are looking for in-depth material that’s rich with biblical knowledge and personal application, Beth is a good place to start.  She can be very intense {but so can I} so I relate to her.  Her videos can be long, but her studies are great to do with a group.

2.  Priscilla Shirer-  If you never had a chance to do one of Priscilla’s Bible studies order one now!  I love her passionate teaching style how she relates real life to the biblical and has so many rich #truthbombs that resonate with my life and what I’m going through.  It’s like she’s speaking right to you and meeting you right where you are at any given time.  I just finished Gideon and have completed Fervent, Jonah and the Armor of God.

I started Discerning the Voice of God but have not finished it yet.  And I would love to complete her Awaken devotional and The One in a Million Study one day.  My son has started reading her Prince Warrior series as well You will not be disappointed when completing her study.  Your passion for more will be ignited.

3.  Lysa Teurkerst-  I also like Lysa’s teaching style, which is a down to earth, gentle hearted style.  Lysa doesn’t have per say books of the Bible studies but Life studies that she uses biblical application.  This can be less overwhelming for someone starting out trying a Bible study for the first time, because it’s not as intimidating as completing an entire chapter of the Bible.  My favorite studies I have completed by Lysa are Finding I AM and My Best Yes.

I LOVE Bible studies that cover a topic of the Bible like the 7 I AM statements Lysa covered in the book of John.  I loved how she made short videos with rich biblical content in Israel!  The Best Yes was also so good for me, because the majority of my whole life I was a people-pleaser and said yes before really thinking things through.  This book gave me the confidence to say NO and stick to it.

4.  Kelly Minter-  Kelly’s style is also down to earth and very intimate like you’re sitting on her couch (hence the name Living Room Series she completes).  Every time I complete a Bible study, it’s like God placed that exact Bible study in my hands and the exact right timing.  It’s like God knows what you need (LOL).  Why am I surprised every time?

I love how Kelly personalizes her studies with her own style of including recipes (which cooking is her passion), her music (because she’s a songwriter), and her journeys she takes to the Amazon.  My favorite studies I’ve completed by Kelly are What Love Is and Nehemiah and I’ve read her book Where the River Runs and started the Hannah (tween) Bible study with my daughter.

5.  Moody Publishers Authors Erica Wiggenhorn and Kim Erickson-  Up until this point I’ve recommended Lifeway authors only.  There are soooo many great Bible study teachers out there from other publishers and moody publishers does a great job publishing great women studies as well.  I’m a little biased, about these two authors because they are my friends.  I first met Erica and Kim 8 years ago in AZ when I lived there.

Ever since then we have prayed for one another and cheered each other on in our ventures.  It’s so exciting to see their work published and for women to be learning about Jesus through them!  Both of their studies following along a book of the Bible and has lots of biblical and life application.  Please check out their work on the their websites at Erica Wiggenhorn and Kim Erickson.

Bottom line we reap what we sow, we grow when we allow God to use our time and weakness for His greater plans.  Each study we complete he will use to equip us for what He has store for us in our lives.  Check your local church for their Bible studies, join one on-line or host one in your home!

What is your favorite Bible study and/or teacher?

What are you studying?

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MENDED: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

Mended: A Book Review and Giveaway!

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your mother.

 

Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag of emotions for many.  Many celebrate Mother’s Day without their mother, or who have a strained relationship with their mom, and some can’t talk to their mothers at all because they’ve passed away.  Whatever the circumstance, Mother’s Day can bring joy and/or pain.

Today I have the opportunity to share with you the new book Mended:  Restoring the hearts of Mothers and Daughters by Blythe Daniels and Helen McIntosh.

A moment of honesty–I was a little afraid to read this book, in fear it would conjure up unwanted emotions and pains of the past.  

As a child I grew up in a divorced home and had the blessing of having two mothers.  My step-mom from the start treated my twin sister and I as her very own.  Of course there are ups and downs in any relationship but the love we had for each other grew over the years into something greater–a mother/daughter relationship.

My relationship with my (biological) mother was different.  I didn’t understand much about mental illness as a child and didn’t understand why my mother acted certain ways.  As I grew into adulthood I had to learn how to separate the person from the mental illness.  When I was hurt by something she did I had to learn how to forgive and love her for for how God made her.

As the years past, I learned how to stay away from silly arguments that only led to quarrels.  I had to learn how to make healthy boundaries.  I learned how to NOT find happiness in met expectations, but in the reality of God’s plans.  We don’t get to choose who our parents are, nor do they get to choose who their children are.  I admit, there were times in my childhood into adulthood my relationship with my mother was strained at best.

Once I learned to embrace her mental illness was a gift from God in how he made her, I was able to be set free in having the loving relationship with her God intended for me.  She wasn’t responsible or in control of my emotions or feelings in how I responded, I was.  I didn’t have to constantly be afraid of being hurt over and over because I focused on God’s kingdom purpose for her–to be loved for who she was not in what she did.  

Mended will help any mother/daughter relationship gain the clarity it needs to take steps towards healing.  Blythe and Helen do a wonderful job in asking the right questions and equipping readers to gain a new perspective.  It’s not about the argument.  It’s not about being right.  And it’s certainly not about meeting YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  

When reality doesn't meet your expectations

Disappointment in our relationships happens when we have high expectations and the reality is no where near them.  Everything in between just becomes disappointment.

No relationship is beyond repair. Our relationships with our mothers are more valuable and important than our own agendas.Click To Tweet

I had to ask myself was my disappointment always going to be the focus and highest priority?  When God’s agenda becomes our agenda we are able to embrace his ways and plans in how to love one another in the most loving way possible and let go of our disappointments.

Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7Click To Tweet

Have you put an expectation on someone they can’t meet?

Maybe instead of expecting them to change, sit with God and ask How can I love this person today in the most loving way possible?  The pursuit of relationships sometimes don’t always turn out the way we want them nor should they cost us our sanity.

Giving God your struggles, trusting Him in guiding your relationships is the best way to start in mending each others hearts.  God will tell you when it’s time to set boundaries.  He will tell you when to speak and not speak.  And He’ll most definitely show you how to love.

God is never going to ask you to fill roles you were never intended to fill.  Your role is not to be the Savior.  It’s not to change the other person.  And it’s definitely not to enable.  Our roles in strained relationships are to let go of what we can’t control by surrendering it to God and trusting in what God is able to do with it.

God didn’t say the pursuit of healing and restoration would be without heartache.  But He does promise to hold our hands to get us through.

Are you willing to pursue mended relationships?

Learning how to love my mother in the way God made her was one of the hardest things I had to do, but the reward of the mended relationship was so worth anything I had to go through to get to the other side.  

God is with you my friend, he might ask us to step out of the boat like Peter to take his hand in the storm.  He might ask us to jump into the fiery furnace like Shadrack, Meschach and Abendago.  He might even ask us to spend the night with a bunch of hungry lions at the bottom of a dark pit.

Giving up on relationships is the easy way out and we miss out on God’s miracles.  When we stand firm in God’s promises, trusting to hold our hands to get us through we will never miss out on his miracles of what He is able to do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers!  May your day be filled with God’s abundant blessings!

   Blythe Daniel & Helen McIntosh 

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She is a speaker at writer’s conferences and is interviewed for podcasts and webinars. She has written for Christian Retailing and Focus on the Family publications, and she links hundreds of bloggers with millions of readers through BlogAbout. Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. www.theblythedanielagency.com

Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug®. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren. Learn more at our mended hearts. 

Mended is available now for purchase in all retail book stores.  Get your copy today just in time for Mother’s Day!  Click here to buy your copy today or enter a chance to win a free copy below.

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray we all pursue mended relationships that can only be healed and restored in Jesus.  ​In Him,

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The One I Admire Most (Leaders Worth Following)

President’s Day has passed and I’m reflecting on a very important question that our country’s foundation is based upon, many of us may think of but may take a passive approach in answering.

What leader do you admire most?

Who is a leader you esteem worth following?

I finished reading the book “How to Lead When Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority,” by Clay Scoggins.  This book has changed my way of thinking of what it means to be the authority verses being a person of influence.  He identifies what separates a good leader from a great one.

Great leaders love people well.

Great leaders live and lead in a way that’s worth emulating.

Great leaders are lifetime learners.

Great leaders make others feel valued and appreciated.

Great leaders forgive well.

Great leaders lead by action.

Great leaders sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

Great leaders admit their failures.

What do think makes a great leader?

Clay Scoggins challenges us to write down leaders we admire and dissect why do we admire them?

Just to name a few of my favorite leaders Abraham Lincoln, Francis Chan, Corrie Ten Boom, Irena Sendler, and of course Jesus.  I admire all of these leaders for different reasons.

I admire Abraham Lincoln because he was a leader who led by action, admitted his failures and was a lifetime learner.  He defended the defenseless, stood up for social injustice by not following the way the world wanted him to but lead in the direction that was for the greater good of others.

I admire Francis Chan as a leader because he loves others well, lives and leads in a way worth emulating.  Francis Chan’s mission in life is to lead like Jesus.  He doesn’t chase fame or power but the influence of Jesus.

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler are women after my own heart.  I aspire to be like them.  Corrie and her family hid hundreds of Jews in a secret hiding place in their home to save them from going to concentration camps. Irena saved over two thousand Jewish babies from Nazi death camps.  Both women sacrificed themselves for the good of others, putting others before themselves, which in the end saved the lives of many (Gen. 50:20).

Although all these leaders are great, the one I admire most is Jesus.

Jesus is the ultimate leader.  A leader we all strive to be like.  He changed the trajectory of how leaders should lead not by the words he said, not by throwing around His titles, but by what He did.  Titles such as Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father made Him the highest authority of all.   However, Jesus didn’t use His titles of authority to transform the hearts of people, He used the influence of His mercy and grace.  His role as Humble Servant, Shepherd and Teacher won more hearts than His authority ever did.  He didn’t leverage how much He knew, he leveraged how much we can learn.

'Being a great leader isn't dependent upon having more authority. Great leadership depends upon influence. The more influence cultivated today the more you'll have tomorrow' quote Clay Scoggins.Click To Tweet

Great leaders don’t throw around their clout, beat their chests and say, “I’m in charge!”  They use their influence in a way that inspires others to say, “I want to live and lead like them!”

We don’t have to wait until we’re in a position of authority to make a difference, our time to make a difference is today.  We were all created to be a leader in one or another.  Whatever your role is as a teacher, a parent, a coach, a musician, a caretaker, an administrator or a janitor we all have our roles in God’s greater kingdom.  How we lead here on earth prepares us for our day in heaven.

In order for us to have a chance at being a loving culture, to make a difference where we are, we must emulate the best leader of all.  It starts right here, right now, with US.  I pray and hope we all can live and lead like Jesus.  Be encouraged God isn’t done with us and desires us to live in the best design of ourselves.  You are loved!

Who do you admire most and why?

What leaders do you think are worth following?

How do you leverage your influence when you’re not in charge?

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The Top 3 Most Powerful Influences In Our Life

 

Influence (Noun)-  the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:

We are all under the influence of something.  Cops use this phrase all the time, he was driving under the influence.  Now there are breathalyzers and blood tests to measure someone’s blood alcohol level.  When a person comes into the ER they tell us “I only had 2 drinks,” but the results of their blood tests, tells the real story.

In 2016 over 10,000 people in Colorado were arrested for DUI’s.  Being under the influence of alcohol clouds judgement and allows not good choices to impact the future.  Being under the influence, influences them in ways they would normally not be influenced.

'Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit.' Ephesians 5:18Click To Tweet

I don’t know if you’ve come across this verse before.  But I always found it odd how the Holy Spirit is compared to wine.  Looking closer I see why.  Being intoxicated on wine ruins our judgement controlling our minds.  Paul is trying to express to the Ephesians be filled with the Holy Spirit instead which leads to self-control.  Sounds boring right?  In reality we receive so much more in our self-control.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one time filling but a regular pattern of life.

What Really Influences Us?

FRIENDS.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been influenced by my friends when I was growing up.  Somewhere along the way I valued what my friends thought more than what God thought.  I fell to peer pressure over and over again, reaping the consequences every time.  We are who we hang out with.  If we hang out with others who curse chances are we’ll start cursing.  If we hang out with others who (fill in the blank)  ______________________ chances are we will start doing what they are doing.  We are influenced by those in our inner circle.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs  13:20

THE WORLD.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2
There have been so many times I’ve been intoxicated on worldly treasures.  I made them more than God.  I pursued worldly treasures instead of what God desired for me.
How often are we lured away by everything the world has to offer?  We form little g, gods we bow down to allowing them to rule us.  We chase dangling carrots, empty promises of being rich, false images that fall apart don’t last–all for what?  This year I want to ask myself, what influences me?  Following the world or Jesus?
POSITIVITY.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1.  I admit I have gotten into bad patterns of negativity at times.  I’ve allowed negativity to encroach my thoughts and spill out into my actions.  How much more are you impacted when someone responds in love?  When a person could have chosen to get angry and yell, but instead chose to speak love.
JESUS.  His influence changed the hearts and lives of the world while he was on this earth and still impacts us even after he’s gone.  The legacy of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, joy and patience is insurmountable.
I’d like to say church influences us.  But really many of us, me included, for years have shown up to church sat there, listened to the message, let’s be real here, zoned out and thought of the hundred other things I’ve needed to do.  I’ve sat there taking up space, but my heart wasn’t focused, wasn’t present.  After leaving church, life just went on as if I never went.  The message didn’t seep through.
The message didn’t influence me.  Why?  To be under the influence one has to receive.  One has to partake.  One has to be engaged.  We can’t just expect to be under the influence of something by merely taking up space or by osmosis.  Just like a car can’t run without it’s gas tank being filled with gas over and over, our spiritual lives can’t be influenced without being drunk on the Holy Spirit.  Sounds weird right?

Being influenced requires a regular pattern of life.  A regular filling.  A regular receiving.

We may get mad at God and ask why has nothing changed in my life?  The answer may be what influences us?  Who do we hang out with?  What do we spend most of our time doing?  What music do we listen to?  What words come our of our mouths?  What are we really putting into our hearts, minds, mouths and minds?
There may not be a blood tests that measures what is the level of our spiritual influence.  But there is an indicator in our lives that lets us know what influences us–what fruit is growing in our lives?  An apple tree is recognized by its apples just as a lemon tree is recognized by its lemons.  The fruit of kindness, gentleness, joy, peace and self-control is evident when it is growing in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)?

What kind of fruit is growing in your life?

If you would like to know what is preventing growth in your life, revisit the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  Read what sets a person up for success and eternal growth.  There is no one else who influences us more than Jesus.  His influence has transformed our hearts and lives forever that makes an eternal difference.

What Influences Your Life?

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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-book “The Jericho Prayer” and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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5 Ways God Equips Us to Go From Victim to Victor

Most Everyone has seen the movie Hunger Games.  The Most highlighted sentence on Kindle in the Hunger Game series of books is, “How can we expect to go in this world prepared if we are not equipped with what we need?”

Exactly.

It all comes down to, Preparedness;  being equipped with the right tools to be in a position of readiness.  Having the right tools will make us go from not just being a Survivor or a Victim but becoming a Victor.  Nothing Tells the story of Preparedness better than David and Goliath.

In the story of David and Goliath, a war had come upon Israel.  For 4o days a giant named Goliath came out in full armor, to fight the Israelites.  No one would fight him because they were afraid.  One day David came from the fields where he was tending sheep to bring his brothers’ lunch.  David wondered why was no one fighting?  David was just a teenager at the time, the youngest of all his brothers.  He told King Saul he would fight the giant.

Can you imagine what everyone was thinking, how can a boy defeat a giant?

David then went out wearing no armor just his tunic, carrying only his rock sling and a bag of 5 small smooth rocks.  Doesn’t sound like he was very prepared does it?  David swung his sling around with one rock in it and flung it exactly to the only exposed area on Goliath’s forehead.  Goliath fell to the ground and the rest is history.

David didn’t become another Victim he became a Victor.  

Not everyone can slay a giant and become a hero like David did.  The reason David was a Victor and not a Victim, because God Equipped and Prepared him.  He made him ready for battle.  He gave David everything he needed to win.

David had

  • A Willing obedient heart from God

  • God’s strength

  • People encouraging him

  • The Plan God gave him

  • Courageous Faith

David didn’t have any military training, he didn’t have a sword, armor or any other battle equipment to defeat Goliath, he just had what God intended him to use;  His sling and His Faith.   The rock sling seemed to be an unlikely choice to slay a giant, but sometimes God’s plans don’t always make sense.

 5 Ways God Equips Us to go From Victim to Victor:
1.  KnowledgeProverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Knowledge is Power.  The More we learn the more we grow.  Seek the Experts for Advice.  There is no one better expert than God.  He has provided us with the most powerful resource in the world;  The Bible.  Staying in the Word, reading our Bible daily, equips and provides for all of our needs.  Ask God, ‘please equip me with the knowledge to have a heart of understanding and wisdom to make good choices for 2018.’

2.  Strength–  2 Corinthians 12:9 “My strength is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Our weakness is God’s opportunity to display his strength.  We grow in our weaknesses.  When we step out in faith, even in our weakness, God will use it to transform it into His strength.  God will use our trials and struggles, to develop more perseverance and endurance.  Ask God, ‘help me to trust in you and step out in faith even in my weakness.’  He will use our struggles for something better, I promise.

3.  Encouragers–  Thessalonians 5:11 “Encourage one another and build each other up.”  Everyone needs someone to motivate them, push them to their upper limits.  No pain no gain.  Ask God to be surrounded with encouragers who can help motivate and help reach your goals.  God is your biggest fan you can always turn to him.

4.  A Plan–  Every adequately prepared person has a plan. Good thing God is in the plan making business.  When we live in the plan God has for our life, we are living in the best plan ever.  How to Make a Successful Plan for 2018

5.  Prayer Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”  Pray for God for help to equip you with the knowledge you need, for strength, encouraging people and to live in the plan God desires for you.

We may feel like we are facing a giant.  For 40 days no one stood up to fight Goliath because they were fearful.  They were fearful of his size, fearful of losing and fearful they may die.  The difference between the Israelites and David is he had Faith.

God will Slay our Giants if we Let Him. He will equip and prepare us for what we needClick To Tweet 

So How does one go from Victim to Victor?

When we allow God to equip us with the right tools so we will be prepared for the plan he has for us.  I promise, when we allow for God’s plans we will always be victorious.  Our goals will never be achieved if we are not prepared.  We wouldn’t jump off a boat in the middle of the ocean without a preserver just like we wouldn’t take a test without studying.

God has designed us to be VICTORIOUS!  For us to be a Victor and not a Victim!

How are you Preparing Yourself for the New Year?

Will you continue to allow your Giants to bully you?

 Or Will You Allow God’s Plan to be your Plan for Your New Year?

We don’t always have to understand God’s plan, we just need faith like David, so God can carry out his plan through us.  You are loved!

“For those who Hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Did you like this blog post?  Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages? Subscribe to my blog and an encouraging message will be sent right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!!

May your New Year be Filled Abundantly more with God’s Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom! I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.


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