Category Archives: Success

Getting Through a Tough Time and Coming Out Better On the Other Side

Some Tips on Getting Through a Tough Time and Coming Out Better On the Other Side

Getting Through a Tough Time and Coming Out Better On the Other Side

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

A good friend of mine is going through a tough time right now. She’s brokenhearted and grieving tremendously about some of the bad things that are happening to and around her. I’m not at liberty to share the details, but I know all of us can relate to feelings of us loss, grief, betrayal, defeat, loss of hope, despair, confusion…the list could go on and on. Sometimes things happen in our lives that we don’t see coming. Things that knock us off of our feet and take our breath away. Things that feel crushing. It might even feel like we won’t be able to come back from these awful things.

I’m here to tell you today though that WE CAN! We have a wonderful, powerful, amazing God who can do things greater than you could ever possibly imagine! Don’t lose heart during a tough time. We serve a God that can bring things back from the dead. Those situations, circumstances, and even relationships in our lives that appear to have died…He can resurrect them! We serve a resurrection God.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:17 (NLT)

It’s okay to be sad…God gets sad too

First, grieving is perfectly okay during a tough time. It’s okay to be sad. We’re not a “bad Christian” if we’re not happy, positive and hopeful ALL the time. We’re human, and God knows that. In fact, God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27). So guess what that means? We’re a lot like God. Did you know He gets sad and grieves too? Continue reading

Be Kind and Gentle to Gain Respect

Be Kind and Gentle to Gain Respect

Be Kind and Gentle to Gain Respect

“A kind and gentle woman gains respect but violent men gain only wealth.” Proverbs 11:16 (ERV)

We must be KIND and GENTLE to gain the respect of others and win people over. When I read this verse a short time ago I thought of the mean ol’ bitty lady at the family reunion I attended recently. Actually, Eric and I had just been discussing how mean she was and how she has a negative impact on people because of it. She could have a lot more influence if she’d only be nicer and less harsh (i.e. more kind and gentle…like the verse says!). She goes on and on about the family reunion dying out and the lack of attendance as the older generations are passing away. Her continuous reprimand each year is that the young people need to take over so the family, its stories, and the reunion will live on.

However, she then proceeds to belittle the younger people and act condescending toward them lashing out constant insults. She’s bossy and harsh with her mannerisms and words. Quite honestly, she’s really just flat-out rude. Because of this, she’s turning and driving the young people away. She’s losing her influence. More than likely, she’s having the exact opposite effect of what she wants. After all, who wants to keep a family tradition of meanness, rudeness, and condescension alive?

On the other hand, if she would do as Proverbs 11:16 says showing kindness and acting more gentle, she would earn the respect of the younger generation to whom she is trying so hard to pass the reigns. They would probably bend over backwards to help out and keep the family traditions alive if only she would be kind and gentle.

A bad first impression of this less than kind and gentle lady 

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Proverbs 31…It’s Not Just For Women

Men should possess the Proverbs 31 characteristics too. These same character traits this passage praises the Proverbs 31 woman for having are also desirable for men. They are not gender-specific. ALL people, men and women alike, should strive to have this type of character.

Proverbs 31…It’s Not Just For Women

Proverbs 31 is one of those chapters that I think a lot of women sometimes read and then feel deficient. It’s almost like we can never measure up to her. I mean, really, who can do and be proficient at ALL of the things that she does? Talk about a Renaissance Woman!

However, recently I had some different insights while reading Proverbs 31 in The Message translation. As I read through the verses about the Proverbs 31 woman, I jotted down her characteristics in my journal. It dawned on me that it’s not necessarily the activities that she does that matter, but the character and traits she possesses are what are truly important. That should be our primary takeaway from the reading. Thank goodness because I don’t think I’ll EVER be proficient at sewing!

In Proverbs 31, verses 10-31 form an alphabetic acrostic, used here as a type of Hebrew poem about a woman who exemplifies godly character and wisdom from A to Z. J.A. Motyer says, “In the common form of acrostic found in Old Testament Poetry, each line or stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. This literary form may have been intended as an aid to memory, but more likely it was a poetic way of saying that a total coverage of the subject was being offered — as we would say, ‘from A to Z.‘”[1] So in this case, the Proverbs 31 woman exemplifies godly traits and wisdom throughout and completely. She’s the full package.

Proverbs 31 is not just for women

In part of my recent study of the Proverbs 31 passages, I came across a really good article by Rachel Held Evans. In her post, she mentions that the “target audience” of Proverbs 31 is actually men. I did not know this! Rachel mentioned that she learned from a Jewish friend of hers that in the Jewish culture, it’s the men who memorize the passage, not the women.

In fact, the men actually sing or recite it to the women as a way of praising and blessing them! This special “Eshet Chayil” song is typically done each Friday night before the Sabbath or Shabbat meal.

Here is a video of a traditional Eschet Chayil song with the Hebrew lyrics and English translation shown:

I LOVE this English rendition by Ari Lesser as he sings to his wife:

I also realized these are NOT just characteristics that a woman should possess. Men should possess the Proverbs 31 characteristics too. These same character traits this passage praises the Proverbs 31 woman for having are also desirable for men. They are not gender-specific. ALL people, men and women alike, should strive to have this type of character. 

Proverbs 31:10-31 in The Message Translation

Below is a look at my takeaways about character from the passages. I use the feminine pronouns “she” and “her” when describing her characteristics, but read through them keeping in mind that we should all endeavor to display this type of character in our lives. Continue reading

Put On Christ: Jesus is Like a Stylish Outfit

Put On Christ....Learn How Jesus is Like a Stylish Outfit

Put On Christ: Jesus is Like a Stylish Outfit

“And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” Galatians 3:27 (NLT)

I read Galatians 3:27 this week in one of my morning bible readings. You know me and analogies! So of course my mind went reeling with the different ways we “put on Christ like putting on new clothes”.

What we wear and how we look in it tends to be a pressing topic this time of year. With summer approaching people are concerned about summer clothing…swimsuits, shorts, tank tops, dresses, etc. However, what we put on spiritually will have a significantly larger impact. In fact the bible uses clothing and “putting on” things as an analogy throughout different parts of the Bible. Today though, we’ll focus on how when we put on Christ, it’s like we’re putting on new clothes.

Jesus is like a fashionable and stylish outfit. I thought of how when we put on Christ, it’s like finding and wearing a new, classy outfit in a lot of ways…

When we put on Christ and look like Jesus, it flatters us.

Do you have that outfit that just makes you look good? You can probably picture one of your favorite outfits in your head right now, right? Jesus can make us look our best like that outfit. His character displayed in us paints us in a flattering light. We look our best when we act like Jesus.

“Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 Corinthians 15:49 (NASB)

“Then you will look and be radiant…” Isaiah 60:5a (NIV)

Like a great pair of clothes, Jesus emphasizes, highlights, and accentuates our best parts. 

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Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

I love being and working outside, especially this time of year with planting and gardening. Plants make me happy. I might even describe myself as an amateur gardener. However, I use this “gardener” term very loosely! Over the years I’ve learned a lot about God through the planting process. In fact, the bible is full of gardening and agricultural analogies, being they were so prevalent in that culture.

Because I love gardening so much, it’s easy for God to talk to me and for me to understand in gardening terms. For that reason, it happens a lot. Just this past week in fact I was reading John 15 where Jesus is describing himself and the vine, us as the branches, and God (the Father) as the gardener.

During this particular reading, the pruning process stood out to me. I think this was because of what God has been speaking to me about lately. Specifically, this made sense with regard to removing distractions when spending time with and listening to God. I mentioned last week that I was being “corrected” in this area! Therefore, pruning distractions fit right in the theme of what I was already learning.

John 15:1-8 (NIV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Bearing Fruit=Being Successful

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Baptism: The Reason For and Meanings Of Being Baptized

Baptism: The Reason For and Meanings Of Being Baptized…

Baptism: The Reason For and Meanings Of Being Baptized…

I’ve received several questions about being baptized on my post “How to Lead Someone to Christ”. Unfortunately, I think some readers may have inadvertently skipped the part that stated “Being saved or receiving salvation is only the first step. Click here to read more about the next steps that a person needs to take after being led to Christ” where the readers are then directed to the “1st Steps to Ultimate Success” page that instructs on the need for baptism, finding a church home, establishing/growing a relationship with God by daily quiet times/bible reading, finding a good Christian support system, etc. So, to remedy this problem I decided to write a more specific post about being baptized and then put a direct link on those pages as well.

We need to be baptized to follow Jesus’ example

Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 (NLT), “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Even Jesus was baptized. We need to follow His example.  This serves as a public example and expression of our decision to follow Christ.

“Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.” Matthew 3:13-15 (NLT)

““I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!” One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.” Mark 1:8-9 (NLT)

“One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized…” Luke 3:21 (NLT)

Being baptized is an integral part of our faith

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The Puzzle of Life

The puzzle of life...How life is like a complicated puzzle that you sometimes can't seem to figure out...

The Puzzle of Life

My family and I like to work on jigsaw puzzles from time to time. Typically it turns out to be an ongoing project. As a matter of fact, sometimes they even go unfinished for quite some time…if we give up because it got a little tough. In fact, there’s an unfinished puzzle on a piece of plywood sitting inside our extra room right now!

Unfinished puzzle...kinda like the puzzle of life

Our unfinished puzzle…it’s been there quite a while!

A thought crossed my mind this past week. Trying to run our own lives and figure everything out on our own is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a puzzle of life. Additionally, it’s not just any puzzle. It’s a very intricate one where it’s hard to determine where things fit together. Not only that, we don’t even have the picture off of the box to look at to see what the finished product is supposed to look like.

Sure, we may be able to do all of the outside edges. The outsides are fairly easy to put together and find. Likewise, in our own lives we may be able to fix our outsides to look fine. On the surface we may look all put together, but then the middle or the insides are a jumbled mess with things missing everywhere.

Until God steps in

That is…it’s only a jumbled mess until we let God step in. You see, He’s got the box, the full picture. Furthermore, He’s the one who created this puzzle of life in the first place. So He knows exactly what it’s supposed to look like and how all the pieces fit together. With His help and direction we can put the pieces where they go and make sure everything fits where it’s supposed to.

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:10 (NLT) 

The thing is though, Continue reading

Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

Who is on Your Cabinet of Advisers? Do you have people you go to for advice, counsel, prayer, etc.? We all need reliable, honest people on our team to call on when we need.

Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

We are starting a new era with a new President this week in the United States. The role of President is a pretty powerful role. However, to think that one possesses all of the knowledge, wisdom and power in oneself to live and make decisions without relying on the wisdom and help of others is foolish. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. President uses a Cabinet, a special group of advisers.

Article II, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution states that the President “may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articleii). To build the Cabinet, the President nominates heads of federal executive departments such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, etc. Nominees are approved or confirmed by the Senate.

We need a Cabinet too

Just like it would be unwise for the President to think he needs no one, it would be foolish for us to try to do life alone. Especially when making big decisions, it’s always a good idea to consult others. Therefore, similar to the President, we too need a Cabinet of advisers. We need people in our lives that we can go to for their opinion on certain matters.

It’s not good to do life alone

God designed us as relational beings—we were NOT meant to do life alone!

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)

Jesus was led alone to the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1). We are tempted more when alone. 

It’s wise to seek advice

When we don’t know what to do, Continue reading