Slow Down to Go Fast

What in the world?

The phrase “go slow to go fast”or any variation of that idea  is something I’ve been hearing in the business world for a few years now. At first I sloughed it off as not important – I am a full speed ahead type of person, and honestly, the faster I can get to a destination, the better.

And then I found out that business and life sometimes don’t work that way.

So tell me, does that phrase even make sense to you? If you’ve never in your life heard this concept, stay with me here – I hope to give you a lightbulb moment or two…

A quick google search of the words “slow down to go fast” comes up with a LOT of resources. I mean, everyone from Forbes to TedX to Huffington Post and the Harvard Business Review has articles or videos on this very idea. Even Porsche. (Which begs the question, is it even possible to slow down in a Porsche driving machine?…)

Two weeks ago today I had elective foot surgery to correct a decades-old injury. Even though the injury in itself had slowed me down, I had become accustomed to that pace and thought I could live with it. And then my preschool age grandson challenged me to a race. He pretty much wants to race every time he’s here. I obliged, but soon I was limping my way around the driveway. Could it be that hanging on to that old injury was too great a price to pay? I was asking my husband to pop my metatarsal back into place every few days or so – a process that was painful and unpleasant, but it was my new normal because my damaged tendon could not hold those bones into place. I was unable to hike with my friends in Yosemite each spring, I couldn’t walk more than a couple of miles, I was in pain at the end of a day of skiing and worst of all, I couldn’t even race my grandson around the yard. This had become my new normal. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it. It was’t the best for me, but I endured it. I started thinking about how I’d become comfortable in my new normal, but it wasn’t an optimal place to live.

It took me years of enduring this to finally decide this was no way to live. So when I found out it was fixable, and I had surgery to repair it. And then the REAL slowdown happened.

Here’s what slowing down to go fast looks like for me right now…

Crutches. Scooter. Sit with your leg elevated as much as possible. Wear this boot. And NO DRIVING for several weeks.

Yes, I am on the slooooooooowwwwwww boat right now.

But you know what? I’ve decided it’s ok. By slowing down to fix this torn tendon in my foot I now can look forward to a future of even more mobility. I am slowing down now to go fast later. I am fixing my eyes on a time when I will be able to walk or hike several miles, ski all day without pain, and I’ll be able to race my grandson again – and maybe win for once? (Doubtful, but I will certainly give it my best shot…)

So what happens during the slow times?

Healing. That’s what happens.

A foundation is built for a strong tendon and bone structure to hold up my body for the rest of my life. In order to walk (literally) in my purpose and calling to be a fun and active grandma, I need to slow down and let this foot heal properly. I need to let my cells knit themselves together to form a new bond that is strong and able to perform the work of holding those bones in place. This takes time.

It wasn’t until this past weekend when God was walking me through an exercise of also slowing down my spirit for some inner healing that I saw the full circle message of this.

Life is busy. I know that. We get comfortable in our normal of stuffing our wounds full of temporary fixes. We eat or drink too much to numb the pain. We shop even more to avoid facing the debt. We stay busy to avoid having to listen to that still small voice telling us what needs to change to be healed. But do you know what happens when we slow down and let God fix our torn and broken parts?

Healing. That’s what happens.

Feeling anxious? Slow down and let God heal you.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

Are you exhausted and weary in your spirit, even down to your very bones?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Slow down and let God do the healing work. Just as I know the good work of healing started when my surgeon repaired that torn tendon, I also know that pushing through it too fast and forcing too much activity on that tender foot would undo everything the surgeon has done for me. Likewise, if I don’t sit with God in the work of healing in my soul and let him knit together the foundation for what’s ahead, I could undo everything the Great Physician has started in me.

…Be still and know that I am God…

Psalm 46:10

Have the lights come on yet? I hope so.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Let God finish the healing process he started in you so you can soar into your purpose and the calling he placed on your life the very day you were born. It’s never too late to slow down to go fast.

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Lessons in Understanding

Written by Gladys Johnson

The voice of the questioner seemed to come from over my shoulder as I was kneeling in prayer asking for the will of the Lord at a troubling time in our pastoral ministry. In fact, I was kneeling behind the pulpit. 

I answered the voice, “My vision.” 

The voice said in a sticky, sweet way, “Give it up, and you can go free.”

I stood to my feet. “Of course,” I said, “that’s all I have to do.”

I was a lady minister, called to the ministry at the age of 14 years. Looking back, I don’t think anyone, including my parents, pastors, or youth leaders, took my calling too seriously.

My husband, Lloyd, and I began to date at 17 years of age. Awfully young, but these were pre-war depression days. He was a young man who had to work because of family problems, and his mother had died when he was 9 years of age, leaving him and his sister to be cared for by the father who was not equal to the task.

I came from a large, loving family, but poor. I knew I had a call from God on my life, but had no idea how to fulfill that calling. Lloyd and I were in love. But God was not through dealing with me. One Sunday morning, as we sat together in our church in Portland, Oregon, the pastor began a Missionary sermon, and told the story of a young lady who had given her life to ministry in China. Before he told the entire story, my heart told me the lady’s name would be Gladys (Gladys Aylyard). I began to cry. Lloyd and I left the service early, got into his car, and drove a few blocks away. Lloyd stopped the car and asked me why I was so upset. I told him about my calling to the ministry.

“I know all about that,” he said, “and I will never stand in the way of you fulfilling your calling.”

On the strength of that statement, we married when we were both 19. We were happy. But God did exact that promise from Lloyd in years ahead. 

When I stood to my feet after hearing the suggestion that I give up my vision, I felt a certain finality. When I began preaching, I felt no opposition to a woman in ministry, for this was the way I grew up. My pastor and his wife both preached. This was now the late 70’s. We were in the strong Jesus movement, which allowed for no women in the pulpit. I felt that opposition many times. It seemed to me now that all I had to do was give up my vision, and I could be free. It sounded so good to me, even though I knew that voice came from Satan himself. For a full week, I wrestled with the suggestion. Then, one day in my home, I began to repent for entertaining a suggestion from Satan. I thought about Jesus in the wilderness, and how He met Satan’s suggestion with the power of scripture. As I prayed, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “And how did Jesus come out of the wilderness?”

“Full of the Holy Spirit,” I replied. And received a fresh overflow of His Spirit and determination to go on.

I had heard the voice of Satan before. Again, I was kneeling behind the pulpit in prayer, a favorite spot of mine. A voice said to me, “I’m going to empty this church just like I did the Baptists.”

We had purchased the church from a Baptist group a few years before, and they had sold because the body of the church had gotten down to 9 members, due to unfortunate circumstances. They had dealt very fairly and kindly with us.

My first thought was, “Oh, those poor people. They never knew what hit them.” And I said out loud, “You’re a liar, Satan…get out.”

We had experienced a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit in the church, with many healings; body, soul, and spirit, and the Lord had knit together a body of believers who loved each other greatly.

Satan was over-confident, and bragged too much. He openly displayed his tactics. I stood on Luke 10:19

“Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

(At the end of this writing from my Grandma she wrote this,

“In this book I would like to share with you some of the lessons the Lord taught me in our pastoral ministry.”

She wanted to write a book, but never finished. Now I am living out her legacy by writing a book myself with some of her stories and some of my own.)

(Baby Nikki with Sweet Grandma)

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Letters From Gladys

I’ve dreamed many dreams that never came true …

I’ve seen them vanish at dawn.

But enough of my dreams have come true,

thank God,

to make me want to dream on.

I’ve prayed many prayers when no answer came …

Though I waited patiently and long.

But answers have come to enough of  my prayers,

thank God,

to make me want to pray on.

I’ve trusted many a friend who failed me,

And left me to weep all alone,

But enough of my friends have been true blue,

thank God,

to make me want to trust on.

I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way for the birds of the air to feed on.

But I’ve held enough golden sheaves in my hands,

thank God,

to make me want to sow on.

I’ve drunk the cup of disappointment and pain.

I’ve gone many days without song.

But I’ve sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,

thank God,

to make me want to live on.

(Author Unknown)

old letters in the vintage arrangement

In my mind, retirement always belonged to “those older people” who had passed their most useful days of ministry. We lovingly watched as others entered this stage of their lives, never really anticipating that one day, we too would belong to that group. This past fall, however, my husband and I retired from our pastorate, having completed 46 years of ministry in the Body of Christ, and the Foursquare Church in particular.

As retirees, the amount of concessions afforded us is amazing! Restaurants, parks and hotels give us discounts; magazines are published specifically for us, and the health field directs its attention to us in a constant barrage of new medical plans to supplement Medicare. We are forced to make new decisions concerning our lives and future. Change seems to be a constant for us, and it fills many of the prayers we pray.

Recently, in the apartment building where we live, the need to remain open to change even in the small details of life, was illustrated for me. It was a Monday morning and I had filled the washing machines in our community laundry, when a retired lady came in, looked at me with anger and said, “I have lived in this apartment building for twenty years, and I have always washed first thing on Monday mornings. You have ruined my day!” I returned to my apartment praying, “Oh Lord, keep me flexible. Don’t let me become rigid and unable to flow with life’s changes, small or large.”

In relating to the Church, we are happy to submit to the leadership of the younger generation, for this is right. But at the same time, we are still Salt and Light; Jesus made us that, and that we will be until He calls us “Home.” We thrill when a soul is born again. We rejoice in the victories of the Church, and we encourage the younger pastors who have taken our place to preach the Word, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We also request your understanding. In your ministry to us, please don’t expect us to totally change, for there are some things that we do cherish. We are still moved by some of the old songs that have sustained us down through the years. We love to hear a preacher proclaim those proven truths of God’s Word and stir our hearts with eloquence and anointing. Most of all, we need your care and support as we face what might be the most challenging time of our lives.

The poem which I have included above must have been written by someone who has walked along the pathway of life some distance and learned from that walk the things that are truly important. I know they express my sentiments at this time in my life.

A Retired Shepherd,

           Gladys

(This article first appeared in the “Letters From Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance Magazine, 1989, and again on the LifewordsToday blog in February, 2016 – we are reposting it today because the message is timeless. We are happy to report she was vibrant in other forms of ministry for another 20 years until God called her Home in 2009.)

 

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Make Room for Abundance

When you’ve lived in the same house as long as I have, it’s so easy to be overrun with STUFF. Add to that my penchant for being super sentimental, and we have a recipe for getting bogged down with STUFF MAINTENANCE.

Do you do this? When I see something that truly no longer serves a purpose, I rationalize keeping it by saying

This thing meant something to me at one time.

I might be able to fit into this skirt/top/pants again someday.

I can wear these shoes (that are SO CUTE but kill my feet) to a wedding someday.

I’ll save and give this thing to _______________ because she loves the color ________________.

I’m quite sure I’m not the only one.

Lately, God has been sending me the message to simplify from the craziest places!

Purge.

LET IT GO.

In fact, as I’m typing this, my mailman left this magazine in my mailbox today:

Yep. God even enlisted the help of Oprah herself to get His point across. I always chuckle at His timing and creativity. Daily I get a message from somewhere or someone that confirms this area where I need to focus.

I’m telling you, if you ask God for confirmation on something you are struggling with or mulling over, HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.

He’ll even use Oprah to do it.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered the purging process, Lord knows it will be a lifelong endeavor… but I am recently invested in seeing things with new eyes. I’m still sentimental and there are many things that once belonged to my mom that will stay with me – but do I really need that set of vintage dishes I bought on eBay ten years ago?

No.

No. I don’t – and hanging on to it makes me unable to take on fun, new items I might get more joy from using.

But it’s not just physical stuff that needs purging – our minds are overrun by input that holds us back from our purpose of living in God’s abundance.

What are you filling your mind with?

What are you reading, watching, talking about?

Who are you spending time with?

The Bible is LOADED with verses that tell us to renew our minds.

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

 

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:13

A quick Google search came up with pages and pages on this topic – you can see one list by clicking here.

What am I doing to renew my mind to make room for God’s abundance and blessings? More importantly, what am I doing to prepare my mind for action and what He has planned for my future?

I’m learning to focus on the joy. I’m reading about the physics of the brain and how God created in us an amazing capacity for change. I’m learning to meditate on His word and His promises and I’m taking a good look at how to take action to change those thought patterns that only serve to agitate me. I’m going deep, and bumping into God all along the way.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Philippians 4:8 is my new motto, because I know that what we think about and focus on grows. Do you want resentment, negativity, hurt feelings and pain to grow, or do you  want truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, excellence and worth to be magnified?

I’m finding that simplifying life physically and spiritually comes slowly – but it’s something that holds great rewards if you consistently keep at it.

Here’s my pondering on Facebook from the other night – let me know in the comments if you can relate…

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Grateful For the Hard Times

Have you learned how to have a heart of gratitude? According to researchers, there are specific things you can do daily to cultivate a grateful heart. Some are obvious. Some not so obvious. But all are oh, so important.

Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.

Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.

A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.

We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.

Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.

I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found lifeless in his bed?

Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:

* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.

* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him. I’m grateful to be spared from that.

* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.

* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens in Los Angeles county. I’m grateful.

There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.

Since then, I’ve entering into times of beautiful blessing as well as hardship. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.

So very grateful.

Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.

I hope you’ll see.

There is so much to be grateful for.

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What Legacy Will You Leave?

LEGACY.

I’ve honestly not given that word much thought, nor have I had any use for it. Deep down I knew my own mother left us a legacy. She will be remembered for her love of people, her fun-loving nature, her laugh, and of course her sermons, which God has used to change the lives of thousands, even several generations.

I guess I just didn’t think I would have the opportunity to leave a legacy. I was wrong.

How we treat people on this earth leaves a lasting imprint into eternity. Yes, what we do here matters.

Being content to sit in the corner and watch the world go by doesn’t seem to be an option. God wants more. He wants action. Action brings change. Change brings renewal. And renewal creates a legacy that reaches across generations with stories and memories. Many people think of an earthly inheritance when they hear the word legacy, but it is so much more than that.

Hand writing the text: Whats Your Legacy?

I have a little grandson who is almost 2 years old. The idea of a legacy did not hit me until recently, when God began asking me to step out of my comfort zone, and take action where I previously had been complacent. Little Luca’s face is ever before me now, as I ponder what kind of a world will I leave for him?

I heard a sermon recently that illustrated how a life of legacy looks, using the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6:1-23) Go ahead and read it, then ask yourself: What are the qualities of someone who leaves a legacy?

  •  When it comes to leaving a legacy, God looks for men and women of character.  In verse 3 of this story we see that Daniel had distinguished himself among the administrators by his exceptional qualities. Daniel lived a life of excellence, even though he was living in exile and was a visitor. I’d say this would be the ultimate illustration of how to Bloom Where You Are Planted, am I right?
  • When it comes to leaving a legacy, God looks for men and women of conviction. Verse 10 of this story tells us that when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home and prayed beside a window opened toward Jerusalem three times a day anyway. Daniel knew the penalty was death for praying to any other god or human besides King Darius. He did it anyway. That’s conviction.

“Daniel knew that the lion’s den of conviction is a far safer place than the royal palace of compromise” Pastor Chuck Olson

 

  • When it comes to leaving a legacy, God looks for men and women of confidence. And, I might add, not confidence in themselves. We hear a lot to talk about self-confidence, but what if we operated in God-confidence instead? Surely we could move mountains. Daniel faced death, but he went about his day doing what he believed in without concern for the consequences. I’m sure he knew the bogus decree was specifically intended to trap him. He could have whined about how unfair life is. He could have begged the king for mercy and asked for a special dispensation to disobey the law. He was very close to the king, after all. What Daniel had was an unwavering faith in God even when life’s circumstances don’t make sense. Verse 23 tells us that when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 

Don’t you want that kind of unwavering Character, Conviction, and Confidence? That’s what I’m talking about. A legacy of money is fine, but what people will talk about for generations is how you made a difference in this world.

What will be your legacy?

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Perspective Overhaul

Lately I have been doing a lot of work on myself.

Personal development.

I am learning to shift my focus and my perspective (a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view). After 40 years on earth, it seems an automatic reevaluation has occurred.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I would not change any of it. However, there are personal callings I have not fulfilled because I have settled in.

Am I doing what I’m good at, and where I have the most impact? Is there a great future for me, or am I going through the motions and living someone else’s dream rather than my own? Am I learning and trying new things? Or am I comfortable and stagnate?

I don’t know about you, but it seems that life just continues to speed up the older I get. Besides that, we live in the Information Age and everything is “instant.” We work on a second to second basis and I believe as a whole we have lost the ability to just sit still and relax, meditate, pray and recharge. Somehow if we are not “busy” we feel like we are not accomplishing anything.

I have come to realize that is a lie. We need to be still sometimes. Do nothing. Being busier does not equal being better. We need to work smarter, not harder.

I think many of us end up settling for what we are “supposed” to do in life, and then one day we wake up and we have wasted years being unhappy. We decided not to “rock the boat.” We decided to just put our heads down and grind away the years.

We feel like the road we are on is the only choice. Like it’s too late to change direction. Like playing it safe is better than risking a perspective overhaul.

Well, we don’t have to settle!

We can in fact change our perspective and shift our focus. If you see a dead end ahead, you don’t have to continue toward it.

IMG_6139

Turn around. Go another way.

God has offered an abundant life – but we must be willing to trust Him, set our goals higher and then take risks to make them happen. If we want change, we can make it happen. We must only be willing. We must face our fears.

With God, ALL things are possible.

Talking about changing won’t make it happen.

Thinking about changing won’t make it happen.

ONLY taking action will cause change in our lives.

How do we do this?

First, we must change our perspective. We must look at things from a different angle.

We must be willing to do things differently even if they seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

We must change our mindset. We must DREAM BIG like my cousin Nikki challenged us to do a couple weeks ago!

We must trust the God who gave us breath to give us the life we desire. If we remain in Him, and dream big and work hard, He will reward us with more than we could ever imagine.

Our God is bigger than any problem we may have. Let us hold fast to Him, and with Him, we shall overcome! He wants you to have LIFE abundant in love and joy!

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

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GO CHANGE THE WORLD

After Jesus arose from the dead He proved His resurrection by appearing to His eleven closest disciples, and others, before ascending to His Father in Heaven. There were only eleven now because Judas, who was stricken with remorse after Jesus was condemned to death, tried to undo his betrayal. But, when the priests refused to take back the 30 pieces of silver, Judas threw the money down in the temple and went out in the field nearby and hung himself from a tree. Jesus would have forgiven him if only he had asked. That’s why Jesus died….and arose from the tomb!

As Jesus was about to ascend into Heaven He gave these instructions to the disciples. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15

Resurrected Lord

And verse 20 says…”And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through accompanying signs.”

Well…..CHANGE THE WORLD THEY DID!!! If they had not done as Jesus instructed, we would not have believers in Christ all around the world today. In fact those eleven disciples gave their lives for the spreading of the gospel.

The following is an account of each one and how they were martyred.

MATTHEW was slain in Ethiopia with a pickaxe.
JAMES THE LESSER was killed by a blow to the head and then sawed apart.
THOMAS carried the gospel to Parthia, Persia and India where he died at the hand of a pagan priest who pierced his body with a spear.
NATHANIEL took the gospel to India and Armenia where he was flayed and beheaded.
SIMON THE ZEALOT was a missionary to Persia and was crucified.
JOHN was the beloved disciple who faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a large basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome, however, he was miraculously delivered from death. He then was sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos where he experienced and wrote about a great “Revelation.” He returned to Ephesus and died quietly in his sleep.
JAMES THE ELDER was the first martyr among the eleven. He was beheaded by order of King Herod of Agrippa.
ANDREW was crucified on a cross shaped like the letter X. This symbol is now recognized as St. Andrew’s Cross.
THADDEUS WAS CRUCIFIED IN Persia.
PETER, at age 75, was crucified upside down at his own request because he thought himself unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus.
PHILIP known for bringing Gentiles to Jesus, became a missionary to Asia Minor. He was scourged, thrown into prison and later crucified.

Jesus said, in the last days sin will be rampant everywhere and the love of many will grow cold, but those who endure to the end will be saved. The good news of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that finally all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Believers in Christ all over the world are going through persecution and martyrdom right now for the sake of the Gospel. They are giving their lives to change the world, just as the disciples of Jesus did.

Can Jesus trust me and you to change our world with the kind of love He showed? Hmmmmm….something to think about.

GO CHANGE YOUR WORLD!!!

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Paths of Righteousness

Psalm 23:3 “He guides me in paths of righteousness (right decision making) for His Name’s sake.”

winding-path

We are all on a journey of life. The choices we make along the way affect us and those around us. There are consequences for stepping off the path of right decision making. If you’re like me, you often make a choice that is wrong and you try to “fix it,” or you try to talk God into making it work. Yeah – I’ve done that a few times in my life, and the consequences hurt.

The bad thing is, the enemy of our soul is the accuser and will bring up those wrong choices to try and make us ineffective in what God has called us to do for Him.

The good thing is, Jesus waits for us with open arms and unconditional love when we get off that path of right decision making.

I have just returned from a weekend with my sister Tami, my niece Nikki, and my daughter Kristin. We were in Atlanta, Georgia to spend time with Nikki as she leaves today on a missions trip to 11 countries in 11 months.  I saw a young lady who has grown so deeply in Jesus, and watched her rejoice in the choice she made in leaving the comforts of home, family and friends. If you’ve read any of her blogs lately you know the decision to go on this missions trip was difficult for her. But now she is fully committed and knows she made the right choice for this time on her life’s journey. I believe she is on a path of right decision making for His Name’s sake. In other words, she is making known the love of Jesus to different people groups in Central America, Asia and Africa. That path of righteousness is for His Name sake.

As Kristin just wrote on her blog entry a couple days ago, we are all different, and have traveled on paths that are as different as our personalities and giftings. And that is what the “Body of Christ” is all about. (Romans 12:4-8)

You have giftings that are unique to you. You are traveling on a path, a journey of life. Whether you make right decisions today or tomorrow is up to you. God gives each one of us the freedom of choice. He also says, if you need wisdom to make right choices you can ask Him for it. (James 1:5) And if you have made a wrong choice in your past you can ask for forgiveness because Jesus paid for it already on the cross. God is in the restoration business, so don’t despair if you’ve made some wrong choices. Just walk with Jesus now on the path of righteousness for His Name’s sake!

A great way to start a new year….right?

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Different Gifts, Same Spirit.

The women of LifeWords Today just spent a couple of wonderful days together in Atlanta, Georgia. Tami and Nikki flew in from Southern California to meet up with Nikki’s World Race Squad for their final training before departure on January 9th for 11 months of mission work in Central America, Asia and Africa. My Mom, Karen, drove up from Florida, and I drove down from Charlotte, North Carolina to spend some family time together. Now, I am back home in Charlotte and I am pondering our time together, and looking toward the New Year.

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This evening I read the January 6th entry by Sarah Young in her devotional “Jesus Calling” (which all four of us read regularly, and which we highly recommend to you). It is so appropriate for such a time as this:

“I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see MY POWER and GLORY at work in the situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.”

Nikki has inspired the rest of us, and countless others, to let go of earthly things and let God truly lead our lives. She has surrendered to His will for her at this time in her life. She is willingly stepping into extreme circumstances where trust in God is paramount. As I step away from this weekend together, I realize several things.

The four of us are very different. Our individual talents, personalities, and life callings are all different. My Mom is 17 years older than her sister – another generation! My Aunt is 16 years older than me. And I am almost 15 years older than my cousin Nikki! Our perspectives on life vary almost infinitely. We have four very distinctly different life experiences set in different eras.

But, together we share a generational blessing of women in ministry. Our love for our Lord Jesus and our desire to share Him with others, binds us together. Our individuality is woven together with Jesus as the common thread.

This weekend we spurred one another on toward our goals for 2014. We challenged one another. We encouraged one another. We prayed blessings over one another.

I feel more tightly bound to all three of them and to our shared purpose through LifeWords Today than I ever have.

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So, for 2014, I challenge you to value and encourage the differences within the members of your spiritual family. I also challenge you to value your own gifts and ask God to give you opportunities to use them. Do not compare your gifts and purpose with others. You are unique, and God planted in you everything you need to make an impact in this world.

Only you can create and give to the world what God put inside of you. Ask Him to activate it and give you vision and purpose that you have never seen before! You CAN do all things through Him who gives you strength!

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

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