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Like many of my you I spend extended time at every New Year to reflect and personal evaluation. Tomorrow I will share the type of questions that I have used for 25+ years and how it impacts my growth process. Today I want to share what I have done with my children. This morning we reflected on Jeremiah 29:11 and each of us prayed together. Each of my sons (age 13 & 16) were asked to write down the answer to these 6 questions:
1. What were some of your best memories of 2011?
2. How are you doing in your relationship with Jesus compared to a year ago?
3. Is there anything you want to do to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus in 2012?
4. Are you closer to your friends of good influence and family today than you were a year ago? Give each relationship a number from 1-10. Can anything be done to improve the relationship?
5. Is there anything you want to do in the new year to grow, develop your passion or have fun? Narrow list and prioritize.
6. If you could change one thing about those in your immediate family in 2012 (dad, mom, brother and self) what would it be?
After reflecting and writing we spent time sharing together. It was insightful and helpful. It was good to let the boys share first on each point. I learned some new things and got confirmation on some things. My hope is that they will eventually desire to perform this exercise on their own as they seek their own pathway for growth.
To some the concept of holiness may seem impossible to our current generation. The news is filled with adultery, fraud, theft, deceit, murder and a variety of crimes against children among many other things. Even within the church and among those of us who claim to be Christian I sometimes ask myself: What happened to holiness? In my own life the Holy Spirit will sometimes remind me that “sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14
Holiness is a scriptural principle. The word holy in various forms is found more than 600 times in the Bible. God commands us to be holy (Leviticus 11:44). There are many false concepts of how to actually live a holy life. In some circles holiness is equated with with a list of do’s and don’ts. When we follow this approach we are in danger of living like the Pharisees which can result in self-righteousness, pride and legalism. And for still others it means unattainable perfection, an idea that can result in discouragement and defeat about one’s sin.
Living a holy life means to live in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. It is the ongoing process of being shaped into the image of Christ. Seel Romans 8:29 & 12:2. This transformation is a journey of learning to think, feel and act like Jesus. Is it really possible to live a holy life in our times? Does God actually expect this of us? I believe the Lord would never ask us to do something that is impossible. As Christians we are to live a holy life “Since then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through an through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life, a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you. What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense.” Ephesians 4:22-24
If holiness is so basic to the Christian life, why do we not experience it in daily living? Why do so many Christians feel defeated in their struggle with sin? Why do so many churches seem to be more conformed to the world around it than to God? The answers to these questions will be answered in the next post.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on holiness? When is the last time holiness was taught in your church?
Relationship is what will give your life so much fulfillment and meaning. A true friend is more valuable than gold. Yet real friendship seems to be such a rare commodity these days. A true friend is a real friend. People seem to value convenience over real relationship. Being a good friend takes time and commitment. It takes being truthful with grace. Transparency with trust. Freedom to be honest.
Are you a good friend? Don’t assume you are. Here are 7-signs that you are not a good friend:
1. You are negative. Every one has a bad day now and then but if you always see the glass half empty you will drain the life out of those you are with. Being positive is a choice. Show me a person who is consistently negative and I will show you a person who is not feasting on the Word of God. You cannot bask in the presence of God on a regular basis and remain negative.
2. You are easily offended. You get your feelings hurt a lot and people feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you.
3. When you get hurt you pout. Instead of putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it in a healthy way you hold a grudge.
4. You’re high maintenance. You get jealous of their time and other friends.
5. You are two faced. You are one way with some people and another way with others. You are not consistently the same.
6. You blab. With any information you get from a “friend” you share it with others because it makes you feel significant to be privy to such.
7. You would prefer them to please you rather than the Lord or His Word.
What would you add to this list?
Who are you? There are numerous benefits to knowing who you are. Knowing yourself will enable you to know others. It is only when you understand your strenghts and weaknesses and how God has made you that you will be able to live a life of greatest impact. Not to mention personal fulfillment. Do you know what your sweet spot is? Using your gifts will energize you. Studies show that up to 80% of people are in jobs they dislike. Ouch. You can be part of the 20%.
I’ve helped teens and seniors figure out what their gift mix is. It is never too late to learn. If you think you are too old then you might as well die. If you are alive God still wants to use you. Even if you are 75 I believe knowing who you are can enable you to leave a better legacy and impact for eternity. You are only a decision away from making the rest of your life the best.
I have a high tolerance for people different from me. That in part is attributed to studying and learning personality, strengths and spiritual gifts of others different than myself in my early 20’s. I don’t believe there is just one way to do something nor is there always a wrong way and a right way. There can be a variety of ways. When I see opinionated, negative and critical people I see people who not only don’t know themselves very well but they don’t understand others. Having a “we” and “them” attitude is sometimes due to an attitude of feeling different is wrong. Different is just different. It’s okay to be different. The apostle Paul learned to be all things to all men in order to reach some.
When I take on someone new to coach or mentor I do a personal evaluation which includes spiritual gift assessment, DISC, Myers-Briggs, Strength-Finder and Ministry Profile Discovery. It is after this Discovery Phase that I can coach and mentor in personal and ministry life. I have seen people resign from ministry because when they were in the wrong position. Have you considered quitting lately? Knowing yourself will enable you to find the right seat on the bus. Using your strengths will bring great joy.
For over a year I took a break from WIN and LEAD (2 ministries I serve) to help my husband with his church. I love and adore my husband but the church had such great need that I spent 60 hour weeks on admin just helping with the jump start. For over 20 years I was used to having my own admin support and I was the lone administrative person for the whole church. I’m good at admin but it is not my sweet spot or what God called me to do. One morning during my devotional time I had a wake up call during prayer. I was off the my faith path and needed to make some decisions. With my husbands full support I pulled back and today he chooses how I serve him very carefully. My job is to lift his load and do for him what others will not and cannot do. I am an innovative and strategic leader with the gift of leadership, teaching, faith and evangelism. Prayer is a strong conviction and therefore a prioritiy. In DISC and Strength Finder my profile is Achiever and Developer. in Myers-Briggs I am ENTJ. Beginning or Leading new ministries and Spiritual Transformation roles are a natural fit. i.e. Coaching, Mentoring & Leadership Development. I enjoy helping someone develop a working strategy to live out their vision. Looking back at 25 years of ministry I understand how mentoring others and coaching has been a source of fruit and joy. This is my design.
What about you? Have you discovered your sweet spot? Are you in the right seat on the bus? Where can God use your gifts for the greatest return for the kingdom? Sometimes timing is an issue but it is never too late to late to get on the faith path you were designed for.
This morning the Lord woke me up at 3:00 am but I lay there for a while deciding whether to get up and spend time with him or pretend I didn’t hear his voice. You ever done that? I clearly heard I want to spend time with you. It’s important. OK. I’m up. In my gut I knew this was not going to be a quickie so I put on a pot of coffee. When Todd’s alarm clock went off at 6 am I was shocked. My time with the Lord had flown by. It was such a sweet time of fellowship. I wrote down 4 pages of how he spoke to me through His Word. Renewal really does come from spending time in His presence. Once again He has taught me that it is so worth it to get extended time to hear His voice. Ever tried to do lunch with a friend in a half hour? Hard to do huh? Same with Jesus. Often we need more time to connect. Wow. It is so worth it.
Thanks Lord for renewing my life this morning. For speaking to me through your word. For giving me 3 different messages for my life, for my children and maybe for a future retreat or conference. It is worth it!
Today I am sharing a blog that Mark Batterson just posted. This topic is something I think about often as I work with declining churches. Yesterday during a phone conversation someone asked me: “why do we so strongly resist change?” See previous posts on this topic here. My favorite is “Insanity in the Church” and “Why Do People Resist Change.” For those of you laboring in the harvest I want to encourage you not to give up. Growth = Change. John Maxwell put is wisely when he said “All change may not represent progress, but without change there can be no progress at all.” Would love to hear your comments in regard to implementing change.
THE LAND OF UNFAMILIARITY by Mark Batterson
We naturally gravitate toward what is familiar. Once we find a place to sit, we’ll sit there every time. Once we find a favorite dish, we’ll stop trying new things on the menu. Once we get into a routine, it’s next to impossible to get out of it. As the old adage put it: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Or can you?
Most of us live most of our lives in the land of the familiar. We never cross the border intothe land of unfamiliarity. Why? Because unfamiliarity is full of uncertainty. We know that is where life’s greatest discoveries are to be made, but we don’t dare cross the bridge of risk.
Here’s out it plays out spiritually. God moves in a profound way and we don’t know what to do so we do what we’ve always done. We return to the land of familiarity. We quickly sing a song or pray a prayer. Is there anything wrong with that? No. But that is the land of the familiar. Maybe God wants to give you a new song, a new vision, a new gift.
Remember what it says about Abraham? “He went even though he didn’t know where he was going.” He ventured into unfamiliar territory. No map. Just a compass. Most Christians want a map, but God gives us a compass. His name is the Holy Spirit. He points us and prompts us and stirs us. He is the voice behind us saying “this is the way, walk in it.” And he always leads toward the land of unfamiliarity. But we don’t want to have to rely on hearing His voice so we settle for the land of the familiar. And that is where most of us die. We die of familiarity. We’re buried in the land of familiarity.
If you want to experience God in a new way, you can’t keep doing the same old thing.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass. New things I now declare.”
Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?” Then they looked up and saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. ~ Mark 16:2-4
Is there a huge stone in your life right now that you are worried cannot be moved? Maybe…
· A troubled marriage?
· Recovering from a divorce?
· A rebellious child?
· Death of a loved one?
· Death of a dream?
· Fill in the blank
Because of the resurrection your stone can be moved too. Lord, I pray for everyone who reads this post that whatever their stone may be, you give them the faith to believe you are bigger.
Is the word “No” difficult for you? The ability to say “no” is a sign of spiritual and emotional health. If you struggle with saying no you will hinder Jesus from the transformation he desires to see in you. Sometimes saying no means standing up to the world when in conflict with His Word. No I will not watch that movie or TV show. No I will not view pornography. No I cannot date a non-Christian.No I cannot afford that. No I will not spend this money if it means I cannot tithe. No I cannot go on facebook because I have not completed my work. No I cannot be friends with that person because they are dragging me down.
Sometimes we have to say no to the good in order to say yes to the best. No I cannot accept that promotion at work or that ministry at the church because it will take too much time away from my family. No I cannot do that, every need does not have my name on it. No our church cannot do _____________ because it is not in line with our vision.
I have a large capacity for people and complexity in my work but I need time to read, pray and reflect. Every January I pray about how I am spending my time and consider if I need to make adjustments in my life. Most of the time I am required to say no to some things. This usually involves relationships…with the Lord, my family, friends and ministry. Some of the questions I pray over are on my last blog post. It is so freeing as a leader for me to say “I can’t.” In the past 30 days I have said no to three different conference speaking invites, a girl friend trip, and two mentoring requests. The decisions were not easy ones but they were right ones.
What about you? Have you made any difficult decisions lately that required you to say no? Are you struggling with a decison right now? What have you learned about saying no to the demands in your life?
The only thing I like better than the New Year is personal evaluation. Having an insatiable hunger for growth and asking questions at a new year is something I have done for years. Here are 9 questions I had to ask myself at the beginning of 2015.
1. When in the last year have I felt most alive to God? Why?
2. What have I learned about myself, God, ministry, calling, my spouse?
3. What will I do to deepen my relationships in a small Biblical community of friends?
4. Who do I feel called to invest my life in this year and what will we focus on?
5. Who are the preChristian friends that I want to be more intentional in spending time with?
6. What am I motivated to do developmentally this year – personally and professionally?
7. What should I keep doing … stop doing … start doing? (Ask my spouse.)
8. What is my plan for extended time with the Lord.
9. How and when will I invest time in marriage, family and Biblical community?.