Archives for January 2016

The Need for Severe Perseverance

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That low voice rears its ugly head at the worst times.  You’re minding your own business, doing what you think is right. What happens? The critic appears, speaking with that nagging monotone….

“You aren’t a good writer.”

“You are not my Timothy (my mentee).”

“You don’t know how to do _______.”

Friend, those opinions of critics tend to wear us down, wear us out, wear our patience thin.

As I write this message for myself, may I encourage you with this one word. Perseverance. Perseverance. Perseverance. Persevere in what God calls you to do.

Remember, there will always be critics in life. In fact, one dear friend and leader says to always account for a two percent “Jerk Factor.” Realize that two percent of your audience won’t like you or what you’re doing for God’s Kingdom.

Opinions are like noses; everyone has one. Opinions and truth are often two different things.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” –Romans 5:3-4.

Keep going. Please don’t give up because you hear some negative criticism. Smile and thank the critics. Also pray for them. Their criticism will make you stronger.

These days I’ve learned that I don’t want to give my opinion. It’s more beneficial to point people back to the Bible, back to God’s Word, back to the Voice of Truth. This is the True Voice that drowns out nagging opinions of criticism.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” –Hebrews 11:35-36.

Amen. Go get ’em! Today is your day!

Reflect:

What is the nagging monotone critic’s voice that you hear and how will you respond differently today? Please comment.

What does perseverance look like to you? Please comment.

Renew:

“Because you know that the testing of faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” –James 1:3-4.

Recharge:

To watch one of my favorite motivating movie clips on perseverance, please watch this poignant, quick football scene from the awesome Christian movie “Facing the Giants.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Drops of Encouragement

Who was the last person who encouraged you? Who have you encouraged?

Would you believe a cough drop is the inspiration behind me asking those two questions for us to ponder?

Recently I bought an economy-sized bag of Hall’s cough drops and found a pleasant surprise. As I was about to throw away my Hall’s wrapper, I noticed the words “A Pep Talk in Every Drop” and the following:

  • “Don’t waste a precious minute.”
  • “You’ve survived tougher.”
  • “Don’t give up on yourself.”
  • “The show must go on.”

I smiled. What brilliant marketing! What wonderful encouragement! I’m so proud of Hall’s.  I will buy Hall’s cough drops just for this reason.

If a simple cough drop wrapper can make me smile and encourage me, imagine what encouragement precious you can offer someone, even to a stranger.

Encouragement is such a gift. It is even considered to be a “spiritual gift.” See below from Romans 12. A man in the Bible named Barnabas had a knack for encouraging people. In fact, his name means “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36).

Have you considered  smiling at the Target cashier and asking how she is?

Have you thanked your mom and dad for raising you and sacrificing so much for you?

How about complimenting the lady in the  Chick-Fil-A with the well-behaved children?

Or what about telling the adorable, little, elderly lady in the elevator how beautiful her scarf  is?

It might be the only positive reinforcement or encouragement he/she may get today. Today is our day to encourage, to be a Barnabas. Be encouraged, friend.

Hall's cough drop

Reflect:

–What is a recent example of someone who encouraged you or who you encouraged? Please comment below.

–How did that encouragement make you feel? Please comment below.

Renew:

–“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others; let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him to it cheerfully. “ –Romans 12: 6-8 NIV

–“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5NIV.

–“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11NIV

PS. Happy, Shiny New 2016! Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my weekly blog.  My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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Shepherding: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

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As we put away our Christmas decorations and haul our brittle and dry Fraser fir trees out to the landfill for recycling, Christmas reflections still linger. Linger like the few sweet-smelling leftover needles in my living room corner and in my vacuum. My mind and heart linger, still thinking about sweet baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds.

The shepherds…Before now I haven’t thought too much about shepherds. Other than I know the Lord is my Shepherd, as it says in Psalm 23. Why are shepherds on my heart?

The word “shepherd” is used more and more as a descriptive verb for guiding and motivating, leading a family or group of people, as shepherds guide sheep. My heart’s desire is to be a good shepherd of people.

In Biblical times, shepherds were outcasts, really low in terms of social status. Supposedly, even in a court of law, shepherds’ testimony wasn’t even regarded. Shepherds were voiceless in society. But not to God. God loves to take nobodys and make them somebodys.

God chose shepherds to be the first to see baby Jesus and tell the world about Him.  Shepherds were perfect ambassadors for Jesus. They are patient, kind, gentle, faithful, nurturing. Just like the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

The Lord gave a respected voice to the voiceless. May it be so of each of us.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger…

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” –Luke 2:8-12, 16-20 NIV

In this shiny new 2016, who are you shepherding?   Who is shepherding you? To whom will you tell the Good News of Jesus Christ?

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will…” –Hebrews 13:20-21a

Reflect:

–When have you felt voiceless? Please comment.

–When have you felt like a shepherd?

–Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is not only our Great Shepherd but He also is our Sacrificial Lamb? “In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'” –Revelation 5:12

Renew:

–“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” –Psalm 23:1-3 NIV.

–“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. ” –Ezekiel 34:11-12 NIV.

–“I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and My sheep know Me. Just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.” –John 10:14-15 NIV.

Recharge:

–Who will you pray to shepherd this year? God as the Great Shepherd will guide you.

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