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Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to Pray God's Will

Praying according to God’s will is not always easy. I just received a prayer request concerning a young boy that suddenly became ill. The loving grandparent wrote, “We pray the Lord will help the doctors figure out what is wrong so they can treat it, or God can divinely heal him.” How do I pray? For the doctors to heal the boy, for God to heal the boy, or perhaps God has a greater plan.

When I have prayed prayers I thought were in God’s will and they were not answered my way, I felt discouraged. That happened to Ted Turner, the founder of the cable news network CNN , and it wreaked havoc with his faith. As a youngster he desired to be a missionary. When his little sister, Mary Jean, died of complications after being sick for five years from a rare form of lupus, he abandoned that idea. Turner recalled, “It just seemed so unfair, because she hadn't done anything wrong. Christianity couldn't give me any answers to that. So my faith got shaken."

I’m certain the apostle Paul also struggled in prayer. He prayed three times the “thorn in his flesh” be taken away. The Lord answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It’s not the answer Paul pleaded for. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

Often we feel incapable to of asking God specifically about securing this job or that job; or about moving here or there; or concerns related to our children, finances and vocational direction. We don’t see the big picture and God’s overall plan and purpose for our situation. God doesn’t answer a prayer the specific way we think He should, and we struggle with prayer.

That’s when Scripture encourages us not to quit praying!  “The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray” (Romans 8:26 NLT).

The powerful word helps occurs here and only one other place in the New Testament. Picture someone carrying a heavy load and another person comes alongside to take the other end and bear the burden with him or her. Imagine your helper being the Holy Spirit!

The other occurence of “help” is when Jesus goes to Mary and Martha’s home and they get in a tiff. Martha’s making all the preparations for dinner while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Martha bursts, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her to help me.” Martha wanted Mary to help bear her burden.

One bible scholar puts it, “as we pray, the Spirit says, ‘let Me grab the other end. Let me help you by picking up your burden and taking it before the Father’s throne. I know what to pray for when you don’t.”

Therefore, the Holy Spirit takes part with us, not instead of us, and for us “with groaning that cannot be expressed in words…the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:27 NLT). Consequently, our weak prayers become effective.

Our requests and petitions of all kinds to the Father (1 Timothy 2:1), may have a different outcome from what we had prayed. Yet, remember, the Holy Spirit carries our needs and conveys our cares to our loving Father all in keeping with His good, intentional plan and design for us. (Romans 8:28-29) What an encouragement to keep praying!









Saturday, September 13, 2014

Even Short, Spontaneous Prayers are Powerful!

In The Washington Post, an article told about a 15-year-old girl who sent and received 6,473  text messages in a month. Remarking about her constant communication with friends, she said, “I’d die without it.” The average teen sends 3,339 texts per month.
Digital conversation illustrates what prayer could and should be. Paul says, “[We] do not cease to pray for you” (Colossians 1:9) and “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Constantly praying had sounded impossible for me, but then I learned about missionary Frank Lauback’s prayer strategy. He used to “shoot” prayers all day long. He was “texting” God, in a sense, staying in constant communication with Him.
My neighbor, Judy, works to maintain her nursing career in addition to caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease. Judy shares that Mike’s needs for her help are increasing daily. She says, “The days I feel overwhelmed and all alone, I keep calling out, ‘Jesus, help!’ And His presence calms me.”

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Whine, Worry or Worship

“Tom suffered so terrible,” said one lady. “We had taken him to healing services and prayer groups all over the country. He seemed better for a while, and our hopes soared. Then the cancer returned and months of agony before he died. How could God be so inconsistent? I can’t believe it was His will that Tom die so young. He was a Christian and wanted to serve God. If God did this just to teach the rest of us a lesson, why did Tom have to suffer? I can’t believe I’m supposed to praise God for what has happened.”

This story sharply contrasts with Elaine’s.

I fell, bruised my ribs and both knees badly. Walking was very painful. I slept for three days in my recliner. (Thank God for the recliner because sleeping in a bed was silly due to all the pain!) I worshiped and had peace. Friends told me to go to the hospital since I could have had a stroke—one was a nurse. I worshiped and praised God as a sacrifice of praise.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Do You Hold a Grudge?

 On October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, PA, and shot 10 young Amish girls. Charles Roberts, 32, a non-Amish milkman known to the children, shot the girls and then killed himself. Five of the girls died; the other five were seriously injured.

This shocking violence caused great anguish to the Amish Community. But, they did the unimaginable and chose to forgive their children’s killer within hours of the tragedy. While their hearts were broken, they expressed tangible acts of love and kindness for the gunman’s family. They didn’t just talk the talk; they walked the walk of forgiveness. They let go of nursing grudges and seized the opportunity to make their faith real.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Consider Becoming a "Drive-by" Jesus


A homeless man stands at a busy intersection holding a cardboard sign. The large printed letters unashamedly display his cry for help.  “I’m hungry.” Or, “Out of work.” I hear Jesus whisper, “He’s one of the least of these.” Compassion rises and begs a question. “How can I help him?”

Called to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and mouthpiece in this situation requires God’s wisdom. I think, if I hand him a few dollars, he’ll probably waste it on alcohol. Giving him a gospel tract might appease my conscience, but what if he can’t read? Words don’t fill an empty stomach, anyway. I have 30 seconds, at best, to make a positive difference in this lost soul’s life. I usually pray for him.

My friend, Julie, shared with me how she makes a difference. It’s practical, personal and simple. Put a few non-perishable items in a plastic bag. Include food in cans with flip tops and a plastic utensil, plus bottled water.  As the food is given, bless them in the name of Jesus.

This mercy act idea has taken hold in David’s heart. He recently shared his excitement:

Yesterday evening, I dropped off Leah at soccer practice, and then I went to Wal-Mart over on K-7 and Santa Fe in Olathe. As I turned into the parking lot, I saw a man standing at the corner holding a sign that asks for food. Psalm 37:7 says, “be still and wait for God to work.” As I did, the Lord snapped me awake and told me to pull over to get one of my "drive-by Jesus" bags out of the trunk.

 I drove around, pulled up next to the guy, and put the window down. I handed him a bag that included a 7-pack of white t-shirts and a box of Fiber One bars. He was so excited about getting these items! This is what he said. ‘I was just thinking I needed to head in and get some t-shirts!  All I have is this shirt [the shirt he was wearing]. This is just what I needed. This is totally unexpected! Thank you, man!’”
Steve Sjogren, an author and expert on servant evangelism, reminds us that it’s the kindness of God that leads people to repentance. (Romans 2:4) God’s kindness can be expressed through us by offering a word of encouragement, a prayer, or a "drive-by" Jesus bag. Steve notes that it takes 15-20 significant kindness nudges to help people come from where they are into relationship with Jesus. We could be the first nudge or the fifteenth nudge. It doesn’t matter if we’re the one who sows or the one who reaps (John 4:37). It matters that the Kingdom of God is brought to someone else through a practical means, through an action of love.


*Another forgotten, shunned people group, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, is having their Olympic games Aug. 9-16, in Akron, Ohio. Nine thousand participants are expected. Many believers are there to bring them the light and love of Jesus. Pray for the believers’ boldness, for the Lord to come in power, for healing and deliverances. Pray the Lord enlighten the LGBT community to God’s love for them. May His love lead many to repentance. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sally Deserves Better!

Sally’s news shocked me. Cancer cells have invaded her body. She’ll receive six rounds of chemo treatments causing severe nausea, baldness, and for Sally’s family, financial strain. I heard myself thinking, Sally deserves better.

I admire Sally. She and her husband love God and serve Him in the hard places. They have lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Amsterdam, Holland for more than 20 years. Currently, in South Africa, they tell people about Jesus, make disciples, and train leaders. I've always thought Sally deserves nothing but God’s best.

That same thought was expressed, shortly after, by someone pleading others to pray for her co-worker. “He’s an amazing guy and brilliant and was in a bad car accident. He’s having brain surgery. He doesn't deserve this.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Best Dad Ever!


Father’s day evokes a variety of memories and emotions. Some of us have been wounded by a father due to a distant, absent, harsh, or abusive relationship. Others are blessed and deeply grateful to have had a loving, faithful, involved dad.

God is unlike any Father we have ever known! The apostle Paul boasts about the “Father of Compassion” (1 Corinthians 1:3) Webster defines compassion: “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Paul knew more about distress than probably anyone of us! (2 Corinthians 6:5)

The following true story by Mel, a missionary in Guatemala, resonates with compassion. She reminds us how our heavenly Father treats us. Without limitations, His compassions are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:23-24)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

IT Used to be Fearful...Now It's Fun!


Jesus’ heart has always been “To seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) He longs for us to have His heart. I used to justify why I shouldn't or couldn't intentionally share Jesus’ love. My top 4 good excuses: 
      Excuse # 1 Only ministers and designated missionaries assigned to foreign countries share their faith. I had forgotten about the caring insurance salesman in a small Wisconsin farming community who shared Jesus’ love with my husband                                                             and me.
Excuse # 2 I’m on the quiet side.
Excuse # 3 I don’t have the “gift” of evangelism.
Excuse # 4 My plate was already full caring for my five children and my husband.

Then unexpectedly my excuses began to unravel. My friend asked me to pray for Kari, her pregnant future daughter-in-law, and a high school senior. Committing to pray, compassion grew in my heart for her.  
 Six months later, I met Kari at a picnic. Prayer had prepared our hearts to want to build a friendship regardless of our age gap.  
A few nights later, God’s familiar nudge awakened me from a deep sleep. “I’m so tired.” I mumbled.  Did I have to get up? Of course not, but I've learned over the years that when I obey God’s early morning invitations, we enjoy sweet intimacy.
 I stumbled to my living room rocker recliner and closed my eyes to pray. I pictured Kari and me sitting in a booth at my favorite Italian restaurant, talking about God.
 I opened my eyes. Hmm … could God possibly want me to share my faith journey with Kari? Immediately, fear gripping thoughts consumed me. I hardly know her! I don’t want to turn her off!
The accuser seconded my fear. You’ll make a fool of yourself.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

God’s Guidance Doesn’t Have to Be a Guessing Game


One of the most challenging aspects in growing a vital, intimate relationship with God is discerning His guidance. Other messages, streaming from social media, television, movies, and books, always attempt to pull us this way or that. Lack of sleep and unsettled emotions block clear thinking, too! The discernment of God’s guidance usually feels like a steep uphill climb.

Speaking of guidance, I’m referring to daily choices. God’s Word doesn't specify how to number our daily “to do” list. It doesn't tell me where to vacation, which movie to watch, how much money should I donate, or when to... On a weekly basis, there are dozens of decisions I’d like God’s guidance for. But, they don’t have biblical clear cut answers. God's guidance doesn't have to be a guessing game.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Giving Thanks is Powerful!

The enormous Sheraton ballroom, downtown Kansas City, filled with Salvation Army leaders and patrons. I and my husband were graciously invited to their elegant luncheon with guest speaker, Laura Bush. An attractive 20ish year-old woman sat beside me at the round table covered with a white crisp table cloth and a sparkle of fresh flowers.

She and I chatted before a Salvation Army officer gave thanks for the food. Then we dived into our fresh lettuce salad. I couldn’t help notice Mindy’s unusual behavior. Between bites she was writing feverously in a small journal.

Since I’m curious, OK… nosy, I leaned toward her and boldly asked, “What are you writing?” Mindy obliged with a stimulating answer.

“I’m writing what I’m thankful for. About a year ago I was challenged to think more positively, to write 5 things each day I’m thankful for. Each one has to be different.” 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Our Tears are Never Wasted

My favorite place to retreat used to be my master bedroom closet. No matter how large or how small, I could always somehow squeeze myself, a pillow, a journal, and my bible into that 4’ x 6’ space. Oh, Kleenex accompanied me too. The dimly lit closet felt safe and the canopy of clothes overhead created an aura of coziness. And best of all, my kids never thought of looking for “Mom” in the closet!

Why did I find the closet so desirable? I needed a place to deal with life’s hurts and disappointments, my anger and frustration. In quiet seclusion I could share conversations with God, sorting through reasons why I was in the closet. Allowing my emotions to surface, and having a good cry, cleanses my heart and heals my soul. Tears are like words the heart cannot express.

To be honest, I really don’t like “losing it,” or some say be “reduced to tears.” That implies weakness of character. Quite the opposite. Getting in touch with our sorrow, pain and needs, requires slowing down enough to cry out to God. It calls for honesty, humility and courage.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

When God's Too Early or Too Late!

A woman on a mission trip landed at the Singapore airport. She was mistaken for a wanted criminal and thrown into a filthy prison. A few days later authorities realized they had the wrong woman and released her.

A doctor forgot to sign his patient’s release papers and couldn't be reached. The patient remained confined to his hospital bed while important things at home went undone. Time was being wasted!

I’m a list maker. A prayer list, grocery list, daily “to do” list, a packing list for my suitcase (so I won’t forget anything).  I used to think making lists would guarantee me security and a sense of peace.

In spite of our finely tuned schedules, interruptions show up and expectations fizzle. Our best laid plans sink, often taking us down with them. Trying to manage life the way we want takes an incredible amount of hard work. It steals joy from the journey. It’s energy draining!

That’s when you and I query God, “Are you paying attention?” “Did you hear my prayers?”  “Are you aware I need help and now!”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What Heaven Smells Like

A delightful fragrance enveloped me. Looking around the foyer I spotted the perfume’s fount.  A dozen or so Easter lily’s huddled together, exuding their potent, sweet scent.  I couldn't resist. Bending down, I poked my nose into one of the large white trumpet shaped flowers and inhaled, deeply. Again and again. Is this what heaven will smell like? I wondered.

Throughout the day that question played in my mind.  So I did a Google search.

I discovered Scripture is full of imagery of what God looks like or sounds like. Tabernacle incense is mentioned, but what about heaven’s scent?  

When a panel of adults was asked, "What does heaven smell like?" they mentioned, "freshly baked bread, an ever-flowing river of chocolate, freshly roasted coffee, the smell of barbecue on a hot summer day." Kids commented, "bubble gum, hot dogs, spaghetti or pizza."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Does Jesus Still Heal Today?

Jesus’ blood paid for our sins, (Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 9:14-15). Jesus’ sacrificial, unconditional love provided our way to enjoy a personal relationship with Him. But that’s not all!

On the cross Jesus also acquired our healing. “He heals all your diseases, (literally deadly diseases)” (Psalm 103:3). “… the punishment needed to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him we are healed and made whole” (Isaiah 53:5).

One morning after discussing and studying Scriptures with my husband about healing and living a supernatural lifestyle, we happened to face a great opportunity. Driving through our neighborhood, we happened to see our neighbor at his mailbox. Feeling compelled, we stopped.  Immediately, he shared about his severe back pain. It had him confined to bed for several days.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Singing in the Shadows

Imagine Jesus and His disciples singing, “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad” mere moments before His violent arrest, just days before His crucifixion. “And when they had sung a hymn, [specifically from Psalms 115-118 celebrating triumph and deliverance], they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).  

Why was Jesus singing under impending horrific circumstances?

Praise at the Passover was not only Hebrew tradition; for Jesus it was also soul preparation. Preparing Him for unjust physical and emotional abuse during His trials and crucifixion. Jesus prepared well. Humble and mostly silent without a hint of anger, praise had given Jesus a sense of absolute, composed surrender to His Father’s will.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Remedy for CCS (Clanging Cymbal Syndrome)

Eric, a God-loving, prospering business owner and family man, decided to invest his time in a young man, David, single and young in his faith.  Eric faithfully met with David, teaching Him truths from God’s Word. Eventually, he hired David to join his business team. David seemed to be maturing in his faith and was learning valuable business skills. Sharing many hours of life together on the road, Eric and David grew to become good, close friends.

Business developments expanded and that’s when David and Eric’s friendship was soiled. David began lying about Eric, making accusations against him among co-workers. The last thread of their friendship broke when David emptied Eric’s business bank account. He stole nearly $40,000.   

At first Eric struggled to forgive David, but soon thereafter, Eric declared to his own satisfaction that he had forgiven David of lying and stealing. He released him. Whenever David’s name came up in public, Eric spoke forgiveness about him. When Eric encountered David shortly after the incident, Eric acted cordial.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Running Out of Time!

I just celebrated another birthday! I let go of my “work, work, work” mentality. I kicked back and watched, with my husband, the heartwarming movie, “The Music Never Stopped.”  I even ignored my healthy diet and indulged in a large slice of rich, moist chocolate cake drizzled with chocolate fudge! I amused myself, admiring the deep purple larkspur and pale yellow roses arraying my floral bouquet. I engaged in unrushed conversation when friends stopped by with unexpected birthday blessings. The day passed too quickly!

 Just like life, I thought. It fades away swiftly. James reminds us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”(Verse 4:14) So I began to reflect on my use of time. How will my choices make a difference in the long run? What are their future implications? Will they give glory to God?
Since life runs short for me and for you, let’s be thoughtful and intentional about the time God allows us.   

Saturday, March 22, 2014

3 Good Reasons Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Our freedom and peace depend upon choosing forgiveness. Yet, we search for reasons to justify anger or bitterness. We try to convince ourselves that the Lord must have meant something else when He taught: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).)

Instead of shirking the obvious, let’s take on our responsibility. Instead of “cringing under every criticism, smarting under each slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred” let’s give up the fight. (A. W. Tozer)

Let’s consider 3 good reasons to forgive.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bitter or Better? When Someone Hurts You

People that live closest to us seem to have the greatest potential to hurt us. Someone mistreats, annoys, or irritates us. Perhaps it’s what someone didn’t do or say that causes our rights to rise up and protest. When you feel hurt, stop and think.

Anger is not the solution. Neither is lashing out with gossip, withdrawing, taking revenge, or growing bitter. Forgiveness is the better way. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

When the Nazi’s occupied Holland, Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jews in their home. Consequently, they were sent to a concentration camp where millions were tortured, raped, and killed. Prison guards stood by mocking, sneering at women’s naked bodies as they shuffled to the showers.  Corrie survived, but her sister succumbed to the abuse. Corrie’s hate for one particular guard intensified.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Expect Enemy Attacks and Anticipate Victory

You may have heard it said, “The Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battleground.”  For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12 NLT) It is clear that our warfare is not against physical forces, but against evil invisible powers who have clearly defined levels of authority.

Evil forces strategically tempt us to oppose God’s will and His authority. For example, the other day I was driving home from work, minding my own business. Suddenly, I became aware of a thought that was opposing God’s will. It lingered until I prayed, commanding it to leave. The devil also works through people. How many times has someone deflated you with a cutting, critical remark? Demonic assaults come unprovoked, unannounced and are relentless!

I’m not saying all adversity is bad. God permits some to strengthen our faith. Yet, Satan uses it to entice us to do and think that which brings harm and destruction. Consider the epidemic of broken families and marriages.  “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.” (James 4:1 MSG) Wicked spirits tempt us to give into selfish desires.

How are we to overcome and be victorious in the battle? God’s word tells us to “stand against” such attacks. It’s significant to know this verb’s meaning: to command bravery and great vigor, not passivity. (Ephesians 6:11)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What to do With Your "What-Ifs"

At first, I panicked.  My 18-year-old daughter announced her plan to move out of the house on the heels of graduation. Sure, I had done my best to teach Bonnie practical life skills and, most importantly, impressed upon her the ways and character of God. Nevertheless, I suffered a miserable case of “what ifs.”

What if she can’t pay her rent and utilities, car payments, car insurance, gas? What if she’s short on food?  What if she gets sick? What if she lives in an unsafe place? My parental radar assessed this uncharted territory way too adventurous!

Can I trust God to keep “my baby” safe?

Other fears trigger “what ifs”. Driving in crowded highways: “What if I have an accident and I’m injured for life?” Hearing of someone getting cancer: “What if that were me?” While pregnant: “What if my child is born with a mental or physical disability?” When a death occurs: “What if God takes my husband or my children?”

Do you relate?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Very Best Way to Love!

Americans spend quite a bit of money on Valentine’s Day to show love. According to CNN, “Valentine’s Day love” amounted to nearly $2 billion on flowers, and $2 billion on candy!

Yet, when the candy’s gone and flowers fade, the very best way to love remains. God’s love, described in 1 Corinthians 13, never fails and it exceeds a price tag. 

Feel the warmth of His love:

“Love is patient”
“Love is kind”
“Love does not envy”
“Love does not boast”
“Love is not proud”
“Love is not rude”
“Love is not self-seeking”
“Love is not easily angered”
“Love keeps no records of wrongs”
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”
“Love bears all things”
“Love believes all things”
“Love hopes all things and endures all things”

God is the essence of love. Experiencing His love, first, is the key to loving like He does. “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 Good News Translation)
                                       
“Patient” is listed as the first attribute of God’s love for you and for me. Perhaps it’s because we require so much of God’s patience? Maybe because it’s the most difficult yet necessary aspect of love to express?

“Patient”…Webster’s definition: able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Will You Have What You Want?

I faced that question 39 years ago when my husband and I accepted God’s invitation into full-time ministry. It aroused a fear. Perhaps one that had always been there, but now, exposed. If I relinquish total control of my life to God, “will I have what I want?”

We sold our comfortable, suburban home in Wisconsin to become apartment dwellers in St. Paul, Minnesota so John could complete his studies at Northwestern Bible College.  We traded in our fancy car for the least expensive car manufactured. This new lifestyle launched 6 years of college and graduate school, followed by multiple moves around the U.S. and Canada. We helped plant new churches and served struggling ones. Raising a growing family of 4 children posed continuous financial challenges.

As Charles Dickens put it, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” It was the age of frequently wondering ‘will we have enough’; it was an epoch of learning about God’s promises and testing His trustworthiness. My favorite, go-to promise was “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When I wasn't trusting, I caught myself worrying, coveting, lacking generosity and just feeling over-all unsettled.

Friday, February 7, 2014

9 Ways to Put “Spring” in A Sagging Spirit

I’m ready for Spring! How about you?
Let's give our sagging spirits a sunny lift!

1.     Do something nice for yourself… without feeling selfish. Relax in a bubble bath, don your kitchen table with fresh flowers, enjoy lunch with a friend. Anyone like chocolate?  Check out dark chocolate’s sweet benefits: http://www.everydayhealth.com/info/v1t01/benefits-of-dark-chocolate?Msid=|sCV7czmSX|&gclid=COD_hf3gsLwCFWIV7AodggwA5Q&xid=g_dlp-

                  If you love yourself well, you’ll love others, well. (Mark 12:31)

2.      Exercise. Regardless of age or fitness level, studies show that exercise provides serious mental benefits. For one, it releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria.  My husband and I squeeze water aerobics, (H2Obics) into our busy schedule. Our productivity and energy level has increased!  Read “13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099.html

3.     Encouragement For me, giving gifts wakes me up inside, like watching heart-warming Frank Capra movies. A text message, an email, or a card can be a gift…every single word. If you weren’t born with the gift of encouragement, the great Encourager says He will give you His words to sustain those around you. (Isaiah 50:4)

Even rich and famous people experience pleasure, giving encouragement. Super bowl quarterback, Russell Wilson, frequents hospitals, encouraging patients. He tells the hospital staff, “Give me the person in the worst condition.”

First thing in the morning, ask Jesus, “Who may need encouragement?”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to Embrace the Cross

Recently, I was asked, “What does it mean to embrace the cross?” What a power-packed question! Pondering that question, my heart was refreshed and ravished once again.

Embracing the cross only happens when I’m being rather than doing… being in the Presence of Jesus, God’s love sacrifice, the slain, bloody Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world. With arms flung wide open, He is calling, “Come as you are”. This love invitation overflows with kindness to needy people like you and me.

Embracing the cross, I see afresh the beauty and joy of all that Jesus is and has done. “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him [Jesus], we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

 Wouldn't you and I be fools to reject God’s love invitation offered so freely? It's the great exchange! We give Jesus our inadequacies and insecurities, our guilt and shame, our pride and self-righteousness, our doubts and fears, and tendencies to please and perform. Jesus gives us forgiveness and worth. He lavishes upon us a no strings attached love, hope, encouragement and comfort.

Embracing the cross, receiving the height and depth and width and length of Christ’s love, compels us to love with the same immeasurable love. (2 Corinthians 5:14) “Our sin” looks no greater or less than “someone else’s sin.”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What Real Life Looks Like and How to Find It

I heard that voice again. Suavely proposing that real life is merely getting and gaining more, to impress others and please myself.

What happens when I gain all the gadgets and pricey high tech devices I want?  When I claim life as my own?  When I use it to benefit myself?

Is real living truly about gaining the whole world?    
        
That version of real life strokes my ego; it makes myself appear righteous.
_ It insists real living must use precious people to serve me. 
_ I must have your good opinion.
_ I live to self-indulge and serve my purposes.

I know better! That voice, an impostor, grates on the truth!

I see what happens. The impostor wins and life turns stressful. Jealousy drains the soul. Right becomes confusing and sometimes wrong.

So how is real life found?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 Reasons You Can Get Through the Tough Times

My caring friend, a dedicated Christian, introduced me to “Prayercentral.”  It’s an online prayer site established to recharge your prayer life or help you learn how to pray.  

Prayercentral, at www.prayercentral.net, features daily devotionals, prayer tips and inspirational words. Its purpose is to help you build a closer connection with God.

Let’s be honest, we all need a tighter connection with God. This year we’ll face new challengestough times. J We’ll need spiritual stamina and mental toughness. Kathleen Dillard, director of Prayercentral, recently shared “Getting You Through It”. Keeping in mind Kathleen’s quoted key truths (below), along with my spiritual insights, you and I can confidently step into 2014.  We can get through the tough times!