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HUMILITY: encouragement that might sting a little

HUmility

The danger of pride is nearer than we think.

"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12:7-10 NASB

As I focus on humility for 2015, in addition to studying several passages of Scripture on the first of each month, I have also been reading a variety of books on the topic. My most recent read is Humility by Andrew Murray in which he discusses the above verses scribed by the apostle Paul. He points out that in case Paul should exalt himself, by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations he had received from God, he was sent a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. Instead of simply enduring it, Paul most gladly gloried in it. Instead of asking for deliverance, the apostle took pleasure in it. He had learned that the place of humiliation is the place of blessing. Have I learned that yet? Have you? We don't normally associate the word humiliation with the word humility - one seems desirous while the other seems horrid. Frighteningly enough, I think the real reason we don't associate the two is that is we desire the idea of humility, considering it a noble destination, without counting the cost of what it takes to become humble. Murray claims that virtually every Christian passes through two stages in pursuit of humility: (STAGE 1) She fears and flees and seeks deliverance from all that can humble her. She earnestly prays against the very things that will keep her from being made humble. (STAGE 2) The presence of Jesus banishes every desire to seek anything in ourselves and will make us delight in every humiliation that prepares us for His fuller manifestation. It feels like there is a gap the size of Grand Canyon between those two stages, doesn't it? Can't there be a Stage One & A Half? I don't think so. I think what Andrew Murray was getting at is that there is no middle ground -- either you sincerely desire to be humble or you aren't ready for it yet. Sounds like Jesus doesn't it? Either you want to follow Me or you want to follow yourself. You can't follow both. Needless to say this begs a question...

Which stage are you currently in?

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I invite you to consider joining me in the following prayer: Holy, Mighty, and Majestic God, Teach me how to take pleasure in all that brings me low. That goes against every grain in my natural body. Help me learn to regard correction, confrontation, reproach, and difficulty as, above all, an opportunity of proving how Jesus is all to me. I have so far to go...but I do want to go there...with You. For Your glory, amen.  
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ATTENTION PARENTS OF JR. HIGH & HIGH SCHOOLERS: 5 Practical Pieces of Wisdom From a Mom Looking in the Rear View Mirror

IMG_0109 As the last one of our three kids is about to graduate and leave the nest, I wanted to pass along some wisdom from this mother looking in the rear view mirror of her parenting...some tips that might better prepare you or, at least, help you be more purposeful about the time with your teens that is going to fly by at mach speed. 1. Choose 3 Character Traits Ask yourself who you want your young adult to be. What qualities are most important for you to pass on? Or, for them to leave home with? Is it faith, courage, passion, hard-working, compassionate, generous, merciful, etc? Once you have chosen your top three, determine how you will go about transferring those characteristics. Some ideas my husband and I have used:
  • Make the trait a dinner discussion.
  • Employ formal teaching on the chosen quality.
  • Use teachable moments to emphasize these traits.
  • Reward the kids as you see them grow in this area. We even had a Badge of Courage that would be awarded for specific acts of bravery - the teen got to wear it or keep in their room for a week.
  • Pray for your kids to desire and choose these qualities.
  2. Know Your Kid & Their World Be a lifelong learner of each child. Don't allow yourself to assume their likes and dislikes or fears and dreams remain the same from year to year. Ask yourself how well you know...
  • their friends & social media
  • their music, TV shows, books, or movies
  • their stresses, frustrations, & disappointments
  • their hopes, dreams, & passions
Enter their world as much as possible, even it feels uncomfortable. Sit with them and watch one of their favorite shows. Play one of their favorite video games with them. Tag along as they go to their favorite hangout. (if they'll let you) Go outside and shoot baskets with them. Don't live in two separate worlds! 3. Help Navigate & Prepare I believe it's our job as parents to help each one of our kids to discover their strengths & grow in their weaknesses. When it comes to their strengths, I encourage you to have them take online spiritual gift testing, go through Strength Finders 2.0, or even have them ask their five closest people what they perceive their strengths to be.  Constantly strengthen and affirm their strengths. When it comes to their weaknesses, help them see those for themselves. Brainstorm with them about ways to overcome habits or change attitudes. Lead them through books or Bible studies that address their weaknesses. Equip them to deal with issues and grow. Please don't think that is the school's or church's or youth group's job to help your kids overcome their weaknesses. And don't hesitate to get counseling if the situation warrants it. Two critical spiritual components for foundational preparation are the Word of God and authentic community. Do your kids know what they believe and why? Can they study Scripture on their own? Do they know the Old Testament as well as the New Testament? How important do your teens believe it is to walk this life alongside of other believers? Are they involved in a small community that will pray for them, encourage them, confront them, and keep them accountable. We were not created to navigate life alone. If not, you and I have more work to do. 4. Ask Your Teens For Direct Input Once my second child hit the beginning of her junior year, I decided that I needed to ask her what else we needed to teach her before she left home. Where did she feel ill-equipped? What other things did she want to know? So she composed a list for us and it was fascinating to learn that we had missed teaching such basic life skills up to this point. Her list included things like: changing a flat tire, cooking meat to the right temperature, and ways to help her keep from procrastinating. Her list became our list of "To Do's" as parents. 5. Use Your Mightiest Weapon At All Times The greatest weapon we have at our disposal is the power of prayer and there is no such thing as praying too much. The truth is that, as I look back, I only wish I had prayed more. Pray very specifically for your kids - for their salvation, for their readiness & desire to be baptized, for their inner circle of friends, for their input in the classroom, for their temptations, for their disappointments in life, for their commitment to solve problems, for godly adults in their life throughout their teen years, for their faith to become their own, for them to see God's power on their behalf, and the list goes on. I would encourage you to gather with other moms to pray over your kids - maybe once a month or four times a year. Fast and pray for your kids at least once a year. Pray Scripture over each one. (I am currently praying my kids through Colossians) Fight for your young adults through prayer. A Few Loose Ends as Bonus I would highly recommend cell phone and driving contracts signed by both parent and child. Clearly state the agreement that will be upheld by both parties. Help them understand what a privilege it is to have a phone or a car and that responsibility comes with it. I would highly recommend FPU, Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsay. What a great way for young adults to begin their lives financially with sound wisdom. Celebrate the milestones - turning 13, 16, and 18 in special ways. At 13, our kids were given a ceremony fitting their personality that recognized our changing role as parents and their changing roles as young adults. They also received a "Book of Wisdom" that contained letters from various adults in their lives sharing about what it truly means to be a woman or to be a man. And at 16 they go out to a special dinner with their dad to talk about how to live a life with "no regrets.' Lastly at 18, the boys got to go on a special fishing trip with just their dad and I took my daughter on a trip for just the two of us - amazing memories were made to launch them into the college years. Don't just hear from me as a mom about to live in an empty nest! Let' s hear from all those who have gone before us...

What have you done as a parent to intentionally build relationship with your kids and prepare them to leave home well?

 
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YOU ARE GUILTY, GUILTY GUILTY! Just what you want to hear, right?

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  Imagine walking through the doors into a courthouse because you received a summons with today’s date, your name, and the huge reminder of your verdict of “Guilty” written across it. You slowly step up to the clerk to report in and she hands you the necessary paperwork to take before the Judge. She gives you directions to the courtroom you have been assigned to and you find it far too easily. You were hoping you could somehow draw this out longer--your sentencing. Even with the heaviness on your heart and the sickness in your stomach, you aren’t ready for the emotions that begin to swirl inside of you as you open the door and the ominous air greets you. There is no one else in the courtroom but you, so you take a hard, wooden seat and wait in the silence that about kills you. (Funny choice of words, since you already know what the sentence will be--death.) How could this day already be here? Life has gone so fast up till this point. The Accuser walks in first. He isn’t what you pictured him to be at all. He’s very good looking, dressed in an Armani suit and carrying a Louis Vuitton briefcase. He sets his briefcase down, efficiently opens it like he’s done it a million times before, pulls out a stack of papers and takes a seat. The Judge walks in next with His flowing robe, regal ways, and takes His respected chair of complete authority.
Without a moment’s hesitation, the Accuser stands and begins with the smoothest, lulling tone you’ve ever heard. If you weren’t paying close attention, you would think he was singing your praises. But, as you listen more closely and his tone begins to increase in volume and turn vile, he seems to relish reading off every offense you have ever committed or even thought about committing. Hearing your sins read out loud is the most humiliating thing you have ever experienced. It feels like you’ve brought the ugliest, filthiest things into the presence of the most pristine, respected, and righteous One. You just want to get this over with and hear your punishment of death.
Then, from the left, walks in the Innocent One. You hadn’t even known He was in the room up to this point. He boldly walks straight up to the Judge Himself, fully ignoring the Accuser’s rant, and whispers something in the Judge’s ear. The Judge loudly raps his gavel on the wood and the Accuser pauses. The Judge declares in a voice to be reckoned with, “Not Guilty! The Innocent One has taken her sentencing and paid it in full. Case dismissed.” “What? This can’t be happening! I don’t understand. I’m the one who did every one of those things on the Accuser’s list. He wasn’t lying. He was telling the truth. I am guilty.” Stunned into silence and disbelief, you slowly walk out of the room. As you exit in numbness and confusion, someone hands you new papers. Boldly written across them in crimson are the words...NOT GUILTY.
Trying to comprehend this new freedom from death and having your court records completely expunged, you are still in a daze. Without even realizing you are taking steps towards the exit of the courthouse, you are shaken back into consciousness when the file clerk yells at you to stop and come to the window. “You can’t leave until we have finished your paperwork Miss.” As you approach the window, you have no idea what to expect. She asks for all your old records and you hand them to her out of obedience. But you let out a scream when she begins to shred all of it. “Wait! You can’t do that! That’s my proof that I am not guilty!” She smiles and tells you to calm down because you obviously don’t understand. Before you can ask your next question, she hands you a new file with your name upon it and informs you that your name is permanently on file in the great Book of Life. It can never be altered.
As you make your way down the stairs of the building, you suddenly remember you are holding this new file in your hand and your curiosity kicks back into gear. As you open it, you stare in disbelief...you think to yourself “this can’t be--this doesn’t make sense.” Silence. Deep breathing and even deeper wonder. And then it dawns on you: it will never make sense. Recorded in your file and credited to you is the Innocent One’s life--His standing at the right hand of the Father.

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To understand that you are a justified sinner is to understand that there are two distinctive sides of the same coin--one side is our undeserved, thorough forgiveness and the other side is our attainment of Christ’s righteousness.

“On the cross, God treats Jesus as if He had lived your life so that He can treat you as if you had lived His life.”  John MacArthur, Pastor and Teacher

I am curious...Which is harder for you to believe?

That you are completely forgiven or that you have the righteousness of Christ?

And, why?

Based on a chapter out of Mirror of TruthBible study

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DOES ROYALTY BREED CONFIDENCE? It should.

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"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have named their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana," Kensington Palace has said. She was born on Saturday in the Lindo Wing of London's St Mary's Hospital weighing 8lbs 3oz (3.7kg). And she is absolutely beautiful! Isn't it amazing how we, those outside of Britain's Buckingham Palace, clamor for a glimpse of new royalty. Americans have a relentless obsession with royalty and I can't help but wonder if it doesn't reach out to the little-girl-desire inside of most women to want to feel like a real princess. What's more amazing is the truth that if you are a Christ-follower, you have been adopted into the King of King's royal family. This makes you a princess of the highest order.
Your identity as a daughter of the King of Kings should make you a confident woman. “But, I don’t feel confident just because I know that,” you might say. I agree. There is a huge difference between knowing something as a fact and choosing to believe in something. A dear friend of mine says, “You do what you do because you believe what you believe.” In other words, your core beliefs are the foundation that, in turn, directly impact how you behave. If you were to observe me for a week--watched my choices, noted my priorities, listened in on my conversations, possibly even heard some of my inner thoughts--you would be able to tell me what I really believed about myself because my behavior reflects my beliefs. Something to think about: If I observed your life the past two weeks, what would I conclude you believe about yourself? Let me illustrate this another way: Britain has a brand new princess. She is the fourth in line to the throne and will be known as Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Now, how long do you think it will take before she begins acting like a princess? Do you think running around Buckingham Palace and knowing it's her home might help remind her? What about the fact that people will bow to her? Or perhaps it might make a difference when everybody calls her, "Your Highness" or "Princess Charlotte." Or her memory could be jogged when she recalls that her great-grandmother is the Queen of England?
I honestly don’t think there will ever come a morning when she will wake up having forgotten her identity, and then suddenly recall later, “Oh my goodness, I forgot! That’s right...I’m a princess.” There might be many moments of being overwhelmed with the pressures associated with her title and other times of realizing the staggering potential she holds with her platform as a princess, but never a moment of royal doubt about her identity. She will know exactly who she is. She will believe it, and she will live it. Precious sisters, if you are a daughter of the King of Kings, you can pinch yourself every single day of the rest of your life, but you better be living like you KNOW and BELIEVE who you are! You cannot compare the smallness of being a princess of a single country for a short span, like Princess Charlotte, with being a princess of the King of the Universe for eternity, like you.
As my children grew up leaving for school in the morning, I had a phrase that I would always say as each one walked out the door of our home, “Never forget who you belong to!” To this day, I still will remind them as they drive away or head off to college, “Always remember who you belong to...God Himself.” Now, I am saying it to you sweet girl, “Always remember who you belong to--every day and every moment of your life.” Does your life confidently reveal Who you belong to...The Eternal King?   *Based on a chapter out of Mirror of Truth.
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GOD ON FACEBOOK?

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How well do you think you know your God? Let’s pretend that you are responsible for filling out God’s profile for His new Facebook page. Think through how you would fill out each of these blanks.... NAME:     HOMETOWN:     BIRTHDAY:       RELIGIOUS VIEWS:                    POLITICAL VIEWS:       LIKES:     DISLIKES:      INTERESTS: If you are anything like me, then you realize that you have a long way to go when it comes to knowing our infinite God. The relationship that matters most to me is my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Even more than my relationship with my amazing husband, Mark, my love for God comes first. Once you know this about me, it explains one of my life’s chief goals--to know God. He is the One I want to know the most, and so I will pursue Him until the day He takes me home. I will make every effort to understand Him and all the amazing facets of His character. In any relationship, it’s far easier to grow apart than it is to grow closer. As a television co-host, I spent seven years interviewing relationship experts, researching and reading countless books on relationships, and worked alongside a man who was Canada’s Relationship Coach. It became critically clear how purposeful we must be within our relationships. It’s far easier to enjoy honeymoon phases, when you can’t wait to put effort towards each other, than it is to endure the dry and distant times. Don’t buy into the lie that relationships just come naturally or without effort. As a woman in her early 50s, I am extremely intentional about the relationships that matter in my life. I can honestly say that I pursue, I evaluate, I set goals for, I make changes to, and I am deeply blessed by each rich, real relationship. These relationships are not perfect and do not always go smoothly. (Remember I have real relationships.) But, I keep re-engaging in each of these important relationships...trying to get to know the one I love better and constantly understanding myself more. We build a relationship with God in the same way we build a relationship with anybody else. We spend time talking and listening to each other, asking questions until we understand one another. We hang out together, plan to do things together, and watch each other in all different sorts of life situations. Coincidentally, the Bible teaches the same things about how we can grow in our understanding of and connection with our Father.
  • Talking to God  (Matt. 6:9-13)
  • Listening to God  (Jn. 10:27)
  • Hanging Out Together in His Word  (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • Spending Time with His Family  (Heb. 10:25)
 Hold on tightly to the truth that love takes effort. Therefore, make every effort to know your God. I know that sin gets in the way and makes us feel a million miles away from God. That’s what sin does--it separates. And I know that we can slowly drift away with one compromise after another. And I know that there are times when we have no feelings for God, like we’re just going through the motions. I have experienced each and every one of those situations. However, I am here to stand and shout as loud as I can that you don’t have to give into those times! In the same way that my husband and I have fought our way back to each other when we’ve been distant or there is hurt between us; we always need to keep fighting our way back to God. He begs us to “draw near and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). I can honestly say that each time my husband and I have fought for our relationship; we have gone to deeper and richer places. It all becomes part of our shared history. Don’t you want that to be said of you and your Father God? So what needs to change in your life today to draw closer to your God? To experience more shared history? Perhaps these steps might encourage you: 1. Confess your sin.  Commit to not allowing anything to come between you and your Lord. 2. Re-engage with God in dialogue. Talk all day long about the big stuff and the little stuff. Take time to listen and allow Him to speak to your spirit. 3. Ask God for the hunger to know Him, & then be purposeful about reading & digging into the Word of God. Make it a priority to hang out with Him & no matter where you read, keep asking yourself "What can I learn about God & His heart in this passage?" 4. Build relationships with Christ-followers.You get to know someone better when you spend time with their family. You need this encouragement & accountability. 5. Choose to live by faith and not by emotions; emotions can never be trusted and God can never forsake you. Ask God for a deep desire to want Him above all others. How are you getting to know your God better these days?
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ARE YOU A “HAS-BEEN” OR A “WILL-BE”?

I_AM Lauren Bacall was the woman who made famous the line, "I am not a has-been. I am a will-be." Don't you just love her attitude and outlook? She saw the future as hers for the taking. How do you see the future? For the first two decades of my life, I spent my days looking back...back on my failures, back on how others had failed me, back on the hurts and disappointments, back on the "what ifs"...but also back on great summers spent with my family, back on good times spent with high school friends, back on moments of hilarious laughter, and back on some embarrassing situations that I can't believe I got myself into. Not until it was pointed out to me did I realize that life isn't too healthy if it's always looking in the rearview mirror. So I decided it was time for a change...time to start looking in a new direction.

It was time to look forward -- my future depended upon it.

It is time for you to look forward -- your future depends upon it.

First, the Bad News: If you have never taken the time to imagine how you want to be treated within relationships, or set goals for what you want to do with your dreams, or chosen the main character qualities you desire to be known for, then I am sorry to tell you that the odds are you will never achieve those things. You will join the masses of mankind who allow life to shape them. And you will look back through disappointed eyes with regret wondering why life has felt less than it should.
Now, the Good News: You can start at this very moment to change the future. You are a "will-be" and the future is yours for the taking! According to an African proverb, “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” So are you excited to think about who you really want to be? What kind of friend or spouse you desire to be? How you want others to describe you? How you want to impact this world for Jesus? What character traits you want to be known for?
Wisdom tells us to diligently sow strategies for our future. Paul, the apostle challenged us to keep our focus on our goals and not get sidetracked or dragged down by our past. Luke, New Testament author, admonished us that there is an order to accomplishing things that always begins with first determining the answers to questions ahead of time. So, hello Mr., Mrs., or Miss “Will Be,” here’s your chance--start thinking about what kind of a person you want to be for God. Listed are some suggested questions to get your mind into future gears. Choose the ones you desire to set goals for and to make plans to change:
  • What are your physical health goals? How would you get there? (sleep, food, exercise, water)
  • What kind of a friend do you want to be for others? List top 3 character traits.
  • How would you like to serve your church? What kind of a servant do you want to be?
  • Do you want to stop pleasing people? Do you desire relational boundaries?
  • How would you want your spouse to describe you? What kind of a husband/wife do you want to be?
  • What goals do you have as a citizen/servant that will impact your community or this world?
  • Do you long to be closer to God? Know His word better? Look forward to prayer more?
  • How well do you settle disagreements? Would you like to resolve conflict more respectfully?
  • Are you spending/saving your money according to what you value?
  Some Tips with Goal Setting:
  1. Make sure you know the "why" of your goal. What value do you receive in accomplishing it? Write this down.
  2. Make each goal specific, attainable, measurable, and bound by time.
  3. Set up any plan needed to accomplish each goal.
  4. Give yourself small rewards along the way that motivate you. We need to celebrate success and growth more!
  5. Share your goal with someone who will check in on you because they want to see you accomplish it.
  With God ALL things are possible. Not some things, not several things, not many things, not a few things...ALL things (Job 42:1-2). You are a new creation with the potential for anything imaginable (2 Corinthians 5:17), and every day God’s mercy is new just for you (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Determine who you want to be and how you desire to behave. Think about it. Set goals and make plans.  We have to be intentional with our futures. So, who will you be?
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SUCCESS STARTS HERE with your core values

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People who face their life with a confident purpose are

people who know their core values.

  But what are core values exactly? In high school, one of my closest friends Tay tried to find just one word to describe me and my behavior -- she chose the word "intense." Throughout college I was described as someone who gave 110% to everything I chose to be a part of. If my husband was asked, "What drew you to Christie?" One of his first responses would be "her passion." She is passionate about everything she does and every person she she loves. If you guessed that one of my core values is Passion, then the bell would start dinging because you are exactly right. Passion drives me. I am aslo driven by Truth -- another one of my core values. This can be seen in every arena of my life. If I am listening to a story that has incorrect details, I feel an overwhelming need to correct. If anything causes question or decision-making, than I go straight to the Word of God. His truth has full authority in my life. Declaring truth is my favorite source of serving joy. I believe freedom can only come as a result of truth being embraced. Core values are your own personal philosophy or code to live by. They clarify your understanding of who you are, guide you in making decisions or choices, and direct all your relationships. People don't wear them like the latest fashion or post them in their Facebook status. Your core values aren't displayed, but instead determined deep within you. Like a rudder on a giant ocean vessel, although usually unseen, core values completely navigate your life. People who understand the true meaning of success have analyzed their personal core values, are able to articulate them, and are living their lives according to what they believe. Would you like an exercise that would help you discover your core truths? I offer it for free on my website http://www.christieleerayburn.com/media-2/freebies/  Ladder Quote

Make sure your ladder is against the right wall --

the wall of your core values.

An interesting side note is that many times when you find yourself sick to your stomach, at a place of unrest within your soul, or attempting to justify your choices, you have just sold out your core values! That's why it cuts so deeply and won't settle within you.

Integrity is consistently staying true to your core values.

My top six core values are:

Overcoming faith     Truth     Passion     Personal growth    Creativity     Encouraging love

So, did you do the exercise? What are two of your core values?

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WHY IS YOUR STORY UNFOLDING THE WAY THAT IT IS?

Steps__Halton_Castle__Runcorn__Cheshire_1984 Don’t buy into the lie that “my past is my past and has nothing to do with who I am today.” Understanding the past, your history, is to appreciate how your story began and gain insight as to why your story is unfolding the way it is. You did not choose where you were born or the family you were born into or how others treated you in the past. You had no control over circumstances or responsibility for other people’s choices, but you have complete control over your ability to reflect on your history in order to gain insight and understand yourself better, therefore allowing you to change your present and future.
In fact, Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says that “Denying the past’s impact on the present is one of the top ten symptoms of unhealthy spirituality.” As for me, there are many things I wish I could delete from my past, but I choose not to buy into the lie that “it’s just easier to forget your past.” Instead, I want to learn more about myself by processing my past and the family that raised me. My questions have become, “How can I learn from my past?” and “How can I use that knowledge to make me emotionally healthier and more spiritually mature?” So, what does this actually look like? How do we go about understanding ourselves better so that we can make changes for a healthier future? Allow me to go first and give an example from my life, hoping that steers you in the right direction. REFELCT ON MY HISTORY "After my parents divorced in the early 1970’s, my mother had to go back to work full- time, and it wasn’t long before I needed to become quite independent. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was making breakfast, getting my brother and I off to school in the morning, and taking care of the both of us after school until our mom got home from work."
GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER "This independence grew over time until I believed that it was my responsibility to carry everybody else’s responsibilities upon my shoulders. In other words, I thought it was my job to fix or solve all the problems within our family. This eventually led to a young lady who didn’t know how to get out from under the immense weight of enabling others." CHANGE MY PRESENT & FUTURE "I don’t have to be responsible for others for the rest of my life. I have come to realize at this point in my life that I am only responsible for myself (you’ll hear this a million times from me). It is ludicrous to think that I actually have power over another person or that I can make their choices for them. Others make their choices and are responsible for each choice they make, and I make my choices in life and I am responsible for each one. When my son throws a fit because we don’t have what he needs for his science project the night before it is due, I remind him that 'It’s not my responsibility to get homework information;' when my friend uses guilt to motivate me to do what she wants, I can now say, 'No thanks or I'm sorry but that’s not my responsibility.' Knowing this truth, I now take the weight of other’s bad choices and allow it to be their responsibility. I do use it as a reminder, however, to carry them through prayer to His throne and lay them at His feet for His will to be accomplished in their lives." Now it's your turn... REFLECT ON YOUR HISTORY
  • Make a list of any traits/characteristics that you don't like about yourself.
  • Can you connect any of these traits to people from your upbringing that modeled those traits for you?
  • Can you connect any of those characteristics to past events or patterns?
GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF BETTER
  • When and how did you first begin to repeat this negative behavior?
  • Why do you think your negative choices have become "just part of who you are?"
  • How has this unwanted trait grown in your life?
  CHANGE YOUR PRESENT & FUTURE
  • What can you learn about this negative choice?  Find Scripture that specifically addresses it and discover what God desires. Read blogs, articles, or books that will give you an accurate perspective. Talk with someone you highly respect that doesn't struggle with the same issue.
  • What would you need to change/add/stop in your life to rid yourself of this behavior?
  • Create 2 baby steps for change.
  • Who could keep you accountable for growth in this area?
  My heart strongly  desires for others to continually be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God. May this be true for your life as you look back in order to be healthier and more mature today and tomorrow.
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DON’T LET THE 2 BIG TATTLETALES GET YOU INTO TROUBLE!

SONY DSC Do you say what you mean? It’s hard to imagine anyone answering "no" to that question, isn’t it? Surely the vast majority of people believe that their words are a fair representation of their thoughts and feelings. The bigger question is, “Do you do what you say?” While people do most likely mean what they say, despite that, they often do something else. It happens a lot, doesn't it? There are many cases where people’s words and actions don’t match. I recall a time when my husband Mark called me out on this...and as much as I wish I could say that he was mistaken...he was right on the money. Throughout the first year of our marriage I was adapting to living in a new city and state where I knew no one, so my husband became accustomed to me being at home and anxiously awaiting his arrival home from work. It didn't take long for this Type A personality to build her own network of friends, co-workers, and those with which to co-minister. Along with that network came a whole lot of time commitments. I remember Mark sarcastically asking me if he could "schedule" a time slot with me. My defensive comeback led to a heated discussion wherein I tried to validate that our marriage relationship still came first in my life. You see, I had a whole lot of heartfelt words expressing the value I placed on my marriage, but my actions were telling a different story. I couldn't argue with what we all know -- actions speak louder than words. 100H I had been tattled on by one of the two biggest tattletales in life...the CALENDAR. What's the other big tattletale you ask? It is the CHECKBOOK.

Where you send your TIME and where you spend your MONEY

will always reveal who or what you truly value.

What I say I value is not what I value. I shout with my choices what I value.

So, let's take a moment and look in the mirror and have a little talk with ourselves.

  • What or who do I value most in this life? Make a list of the top 4-7.
  • Is this where or with whom I spend the most of my time?
  • Is this where or with whom I spend the most of my money?
  We cannot honestly SAY that list we just created is what and who we value most in this life if we aren't ACTING on it with the investment of our time and our money. I continue to use this as a tool for evaluation in my life. For instance, I was very challenged by this when I realized that if I valued God so highly, I would be willing to spend money on any resource or retreat that would draw me closer to Him, but I wasn't. I wanted to justify it with the money we tithed or gave in support of various missionaries and ministries, but it fell flat in my spirit. I knew that if I valued God as much as I said I did, then I wouldn't become a cheap bargain-basement follower when it came to drawing closer to Him. What challenges you when you hold up what you "say you value" to how you "actively spend your time and money?"
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HAVE YOU BECOME “HOLIER-THAN-THOU” WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT?

file000266947757What is self-righteousness? Self-righteousness is a form of religious pride, and all pride is an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments. Wikpedia says that it's a feeling of smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. (Note all the "inflated" words: smug, superior, greater)
What's frightening is that self-righteousness is so easy to slip into, most often without even realizing it! Let's ask some probing questions that have the potential to reveal whether you have blindly become self-righteous. I will lead the way in answering them and allow you a glimpse into how prideful I am.
Do I ask questions with built-in assumptions? Yes, and sad to say, that I do this most often with my husband. I am not curious or exploring with an open mind or even trying to understand. Truthfully, I am trying to make a point and cleverly disguise it as a question.
Do I tend to remove myself from people who do not agree with me? Yes, I have. You will most likely find me doing this when I am tired or lacking the energy to listen to another. How sad! No matter the reason, the bottom line is that I miss out on hearing another point of view or gaining understanding as to why someone believes what they do. If I really am concerned about other's hearts, then I will have missed out on an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation.
Do I find myself critical of others? This one I like to justify because my critical thoughts are left unspoken for the most part. However, the answer is yes - just because I critique another inside my head does not mean I have not critiqued them!
Do I tend be highly concerned about my image in public? Yes and the height of my concern corresponds with the how much the audience personally matters to me.
Do I tend to serve others expecting some sort of recognition? I wish I could say it doesn't matter to me but my reactions say otherwise. If my contribution is ignored or wrongfully given as credit to another, my feelings are hurt. Here are a few more revealing questions, but this time I'll let you lead the way...
blue_green_peacock_eyes Do I have a hard time admitting my weaknesses?
 Do I find it easy to build a case against someone that makes me seem right and him/her wrong? Do I believe God loves some more than others?
Am I overly concerned about who is to blame?                   Do I wear my ‘godly character’ like it’s a badge? The only solution to self-righteous living that our Lord makes perfectly clear in His Word is to kill our pride and embrace humility. I find this far easier to do when I remember all that I am NOT in my natural state -- good, pure, able to save myself, meek, unselfish, self-sacrificing. When these truths aren't far from my mind, how could I possibly use inflated words about myself? We are all completely lost. No one could be more lost than you and you can't be more lost than another. Lost is lost. And all the lost need a Savior. God makes it clear throughout Scripture that He hates pride (Ps. 10:4, Prov. 16:5,18) and searches out those who are humble for they are most like His son, Jesus (2 Chron.7:14,Philip. 2:3-11).

Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” Mother Teresa

Have you embraced humility?

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