encouragement. Encouragement helps you reach goals that you thought were
impossible. Discouragement will cause you to operate at a lower level than your
optimum potential and it will limit your vision.
I read the
story of a man who was told by a teacher that he was not very smart. He needed
to quit school and learn a trade. He followed the advice of the teacher and
became an itinerant worker for 17 years. When he was in his 30s he took an IQ
test and discovered that he was a genius. He later became the chairman of the
Mensa Society, which requires an IQ of 140 for membership. For so many years of
his life, this man operated far beneath his potential. Why? Because someone
discouraged him. How different could this man's life have been if he had
Things are tough for many people right now. Give someone a word of
encouragement. Give that person a word of hope. Meet their need for
encouragement and watch that person achieve a great goal in their life. read more
We love to hear sermons and speeches about change. We love seminars that encourage us to change. We even enjoy traveling different paths in order to change our scenery. The problem is that we don't like to change.
A Canadian neurosurgeon discovered some amazing truths concerning the human mind's reaction to change. He found that when a person is required to change a fundamental belief or opinion, the brain experiences a series of nervous sensations similar to enduring torture. Our minds simply do not enjoy major changes.
Sydney Harris was an American journalist. He was also a drama critic, lecturer and teacher. Harris once said, "Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we want is for things to remain the same but get better."
It is not surprising that things do not remain the same. Many times situations may actually get better. Prepare for change. Although your mind may react as if you are being tortured, you are not. You are merely in the midst of change—for the better! read more
Several years ago my friend mustered up the confidence to tell me about her struggle with lust. Even though she wasn't dating anyone, she was afraid her fixation would eventually seduce her into having premarital sex.
Thinking about her problem made me want to blog about premarital sex, a topic I believe the church often shuns. But why? Christian singles have sex or want to have sex too. And though the Bible prohibits such behavior, that hasn't stopped believers from going too far.
Sadly, some Christian singles behave as if there are no consequences to sex outside of marriage—but there are. Dr. Freda McKissic Bush, a Christian, a board-certified OB-GYN and co-author of Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children, says premarital sex and extramarital affairs can unleash a host of psychological and emotional problems in a person's life.
Dr. Bush says hormones are released in the body that "knit" couples together and "complement the biblical vision of two becoming one flesh." In females, she says, oxytocin is released in the brain when a woman experiences "meaningful touching." And in men, vasopressin is released when a man experiences meaningful touching.
But Dr. Bush says dopamine, the other brain hormone, also "rewards" the body. "The God-given gift of sex is exciting and when the bonding act of love is rewarded with dopamine, we become 'hooked,' even addicted, to this bonding activity with our mate. Within the confines of marriage this is healthy and in accordance with God's intent.
"When an individual begins to search for extramarital opportunities to satisfy their natural desire for a dopamine fix, the consequences include a chemical bond that literally addicts that person to sin."
Are you addicted to sin? My friend was, but she confessed her problem and got counseling. With all the scandals happening in the church today, we can no longer afford to keep quiet about sexual issues. Let's start talking about it now.
I was in New York City years ago shopping with my sister, when a young
man stopped me on the sidewalk and asked me for a handout. He was
wearing designer everything, so I didn't give him a dime. In this case,
it was easy for me to ignore a poor person. After all, this man wasn't
poor—he was a con!
People who try to take advantage of our kindness
have approached many of us. Street peddlers or drug addicts who trick
people out of money so they can buy drugs or liquor make it difficult
for the truly destitute who are forced to live on the streets.
Since we don't want to decide who's really poor and who isn't, we tend to look the other way. It's easier to just ignore them.
Rewind this story 2,000 years and something sounds familiar.
was an expectant mom who arrived in an unfamiliar city and was told
there were no motel rooms or boarding houses available. Though she was
about to have a baby, she and her husband were homeless.
recognized her need, so she was forced to give birth in a barn. Her
baby's name was Jesus. He became poor so we could have the priceless
gift of eternal life (see 2 Cor. 8:9).
you recognize the poor around you? This holiday season many of us will
shop until we drop and on the way out the door, we'll probably throw
some loose change into the Salvation Army kettle to help others. Or
possibly some of us will volunteer to feed the hungry during a church
But helping the poor needs to become more of a
priority for all who follow Jesus. So much of His ministry was directed
to the poor. Why, then, do so few churches in the U.S. support
ministries that meet the physical needs of underprivileged people?
Word instructs us to feed the hungry, visit prisoners, care for orphans
and widows, and give clothes to those who don't have any. So when we
don't make room for these people in our hearts, we are doing what the
innkeeper did to Mary and Joseph when they sought a room in Bethlehem.
We are turning Jesus away—again.
When you see someone truly in
need, allow Jesus to break your heart, so you can feel what He feels
for the woman who has to live in a cardboard box, the many who must
sleep on bench or the child who rarely eats a healthful meal.
This Christmas—and all through the year—let's make room in our hearts for the poor.
Soon after I graduated from college I gave my life to the Lord. Even though I grew up in a godly home, I treated salvation like a game of Russian roulette. I played around because I figured I had time on my side. Was I ever deceived!
I know today what made me drop to my knees, repent of my sins and ask Jesus into my life: prayer. My mother spent untold hours in prayer crying out to God, "Lord, save my children." She knew back then what I know now: Prayer changes things. read more
Have you ever read Frank Peritti’s This Present Darkness? I read it maybe 15 years ago and it changed my prayer life forever. The book is about spiritual warfare and what happens when Christians pray—or don’t pray. I held on to every word, comma and semicolon in the book because it taught me the value of seeking God.
After watching Gloria Copeland’s powerful healing prayer in Say It, Sister!, I thought I would invite you to join me in prayer right here on SpiritLed Woman eMagazine. Let’s pray for the lost, our loved ones, broken marriages, our nation, and whatever else in need of God’s intervention.
I believe this world will soon get what it deserves if the church does not repent of its slothfullness and pray more. Second Chronicles 7:14 says: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (NKJV). read more
In my research for Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey, I spent time with a shepherd in Oregon, a farmer in Nebraska, a beekeeper in Colorado and vintner in California. With each person, I opened up the scripture and asked, “How do you read this passage—not as a theologian—but in light of what you do every day?”
The journey was chock-full of spiritual insights, but one of my favorite stops was my time with Lynne, a shepherdess, who took care of a flock of a few dozen sheep in the fields near her home in Oregon. Not only did we feed and water the sheep together, but we just spent time among the flock sitting in the field, watching the sheep and talking.
During our time together, I was struck by just how much a sheep knows its shepherd. One of the most amazing times I had with the shepherdess, Lynne, was the very first time she introduced me to her flock. I followed her up a muddy path to the upper field where the sheep were grazing.
She whispered to me, “When they hear my voice, they’ll come running.”
Then simply by saying the words, “Sheep, sheep, sheep,” she called her flock. Every last sheep in the field bolted toward her.
That moment was powerful for me. John 10 describes the sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice as a metaphor for us knowing God’s voice. Yet it isn’t just a metaphor—it’s the way sheep really behave. Standing in the field with Lynne and watching the sheep run toward her made that verse come alive in a whole new way. I recognized that just as a sheep is created to know its shepherd, we are created to know God and live in relationship with Him.
During my research on sheep, I discovered a remarkable story from Gary Burge, a professor at Wheaton College, that illustrates the close relationship of shepherds and their flocks. He describes how Israeli soldiers visited a poor village outside of Bethlehem after a Palestinian uprising and demanded that the people pay the taxes they owed. They refused.
The officer in charge gathered up all the animals of the village—primarily sheep and goats—and placed them into a huge pen. A poor woman approached the officer in charge and begged him to release her animals. Because the poor woman’s husband had been imprisoned, her sheep were literally all she had.
The officer laughed at her request. How could she possibly find her dozen sheep in a pen of more than 1,000 animals?
The woman challenged the officer. If she could find her animals, could she keep them?
Intrigued, the soldier agreed.
The woman then invited her 10-year-old son to stand before the pen. He pulled out a flute and began to play a simple tune. As he walked through the fenced-in area, a dozen sheep gathered behind him, following him all the way home.
The officer and soldiers were impressed. They broke into applause, shut the gate and then announced that no one else could use the trick to get their sheep back.
Why did the sheep follow the boy? Because they knew he was their shepherd. And they knew he was a good shepherd. They were not only familiar with his voice, they knew the very tunes he played on his flute—songs he had played in the fields many times before.
That portrait of a sheep knowing its shepherd so well gives me hope that I, too, can know God intimately. For me, spending time with a loving shepherd was a powerful portrait of God’s love for each of us—a love that is tangible, practical and unending. From this perspective, some of the seemingly opposite attributes of God, such as discipline and grace, began to make sense.
Over the course of our time together, I watched a shepherd who truly loved her sheep—it was so evident in the way she spoke to and about them. Whether feeding her animals by hand, changing their bandages, administering medicine or keeping a watchful eye, her love was constantly on display. I also watched when Lynne had to reprimand or punish a sheep by placing it in time out. Even those moments were founded in love and caring for her flock.
The entire time, Lynne wanted what was best for the flock and the individual sheep. She was for them. For me, it was a tangible reminder of just how much God is for us, individually and as His flock.
You are successful to the degree that you empower others! Too often, in today's world, success is defined by the size of your organization, the amount of money you accumulate or how influential your name is. Although each of these things may be found in a successful person's portfolio, they are not true indicators of real success. Success as a leader is measured by the degree that you empower others.
Several years ago I regularly struggled with discontentment. I was so disheartened by my problems and life in general that I spent hours seeking God for answers. I would pray in my car, in the office, everywhere. But nothing changed.
The uneasiness I sensed was the last thing on my mind when I went to bed at night and the first thing to flood my thoughts when I awoke the next day. I started to concede defeat and remain unhappy when God spoke to me through His Word.
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good things” (Ps. 107:9, NKJV).
At that moment I knew what God meant. I had experienced many highs in my walk with the Lord. I was used to the Father blessing me every time I sought His hand, so I became relaxed in my relationship with Him. But God wanted more, so He started prodding and creating in me dissatisfaction for spiritual mediocrity.
I cannot adequately describe what God did for me during that season of my life, but I can say I learned never to take His goodness, favor and presence for granted. Yes, God blesses us with earthly blessings, but He is the only person who can satisfy that deep yearning we have for Him because He is the one who creates it.
Don’t settle for business as usual. Step out of your comfort zone and let God move you to a new place in Him.
No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, whether on the mountaintop of life or in the valley of hardships, stay close to Him and seek His face. He will respond and invade your mediocre walk with Him. read more
Remember several years ago when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were performing at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show, and he ripped off her costume exposing her chest to nearly 90 million viewers?
The performance caused uproar in the public arena over indecency on TV, and led to bills being passed increasing fines against broadcasters that violate decency standards. But despite federal regulations, the push to saturate our kids' minds with sexually explicit content and products is alive and well in our culture.
The assault on young girls is especially heinous. I was taken aback the other day when I walked into a store and saw racy underwear on sale for girls as young as 5 years old. It's only a matter of time before our sex-crazed society causes kindergarteners to lose their innocence. read more