crooked paths

Day 51: Make Crooked Paths Straight

Do you feel like you’re traveling crooked paths, repeating unwanted patterns, stuck in some form of bondage or another? You don’t have to stay stuck in this. God is telling you,

“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” Isaiah 45:2-3

Have you read the book that started the movement? Get your copy of Light the World: How Your Brilliance Can Shift the Planet.

season

Day 50: To Everything There Is a Season

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Have you read the book that started the movement? Get your copy of Light the World: How Your Brilliance Can Shift the Planet.

His Hands

Good Friday to those who celebrate the living Christ

Words by Kenneth Cope. Performed by Julie de Azevedo-Hanks

His hands
tools of creation
stronger than nations
power without end
and yet through them we find our truest friend

His hands
sermons of kindness
healing men’s blindness
halting years of pain
children waiting to be held again

His hands would serve His whole life through
showing man what hands might do
giving, ever giving, endlessly
each day was filled with selflessness
and i’ll not rest until I make of my hands what they could be
’til these hands become like those from Galilee.

His hands
lifting a leper
warming a beggar
calling back the dead
breaking bread, five thousand fed

His hands
hushing contention
pointing to heaven
ever free of sin
then bidding man to follow him

His hands would serve His whole life through
showing man what hands might do
giving, ever giving, endlessly
each day was filled with selflessness
and i’ll not rest until I make of my hands what they could be
’til these hands become like those from Galilee.

His hands
clasped in agony
as He lay pleading, bleeding in the garden
while just moments away
other hands betray him
out of greed, shameful greed
and then His hands
are trembling
straining to carry the beam that they’ve been nailed to
as he stumbles through the streets
heading for the hill on which He’d die

He would die
they take His hands, His mighty hands, those gentle hands
and then they pierce them, they pierce them
He lets them, because of love
from birth to death was selflessness
and clearly now I see him with His hands
calling to me
and though I’m not yet as I would be
He has shown me how I could be
I’ll make my hands like those from Galilee

A Merry Christmas

Hugging my son Caleb on the evening of his return from Honduras

I am so grateful for the Lord’s tender mercies in returning our son who just spent 2 years serving a mission for Jesus Christ in Honduras. For me, it’s the best Christmas present I could ask for to have our son back home with us and to see the growth in him. To hold a vision of the man you know your son can become and then witness the fruition of that is a humbling experience.

What has impressed me most about Caleb is his powerful testimony of our Savior’s love for us and the transforming power of His infinite atonement. There is no greater gift given to mankind than what Jesus Christ has done for us and the eternal life He offers. The following video is a beautiful depiction of His life and ministry. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Merry Christmas, my friends. May God bless you today and forever.

How to Forgive

I’ve been pondering a lot lately about the principles of forgiveness and unconditional love. How does one unconditionally love someone you cannot trust? How does one forgive someone who very well may betray, deceive or hurt you again?

I had the privilege of previewing an excellent book before it went to print. Victoria Fielding’s “A Piece of Time” gave me a critical puzzle piece along my path to more fully understanding the principles of forgiveness and unconditional love.

At one point in the story, the main character summarizes,

“There were many dancers, many styles of dances, with innumerable dances being performed simultaneously on the stage of life. And who was to say that one dancer was any better than another? No longer did I think it was just my stage. It was everyone’s stage, and we were all just inexperienced dancers bumping up against each other, and—for the most part—trying to get our steps down, and trying to do our best. That was all. And that was enough.”

This morning as I was pondering on the subject further, it occurred to me that I’ve been taking things very personally. When someone makes a mistake, blows a fuse, or does something that makes my life difficult, I’ve been taking it personally. I’ve been acting as if I’m the main character on the stage, and it’s all about me and how other people treat me. I’ve been betrayed. I’ve been deceived. I’ve been used or treated like dirt.

How am I supposed to keep loving someone who may betray me again, may deceive me again, or may use me again? How am I supposed to unconditionally love those people?

But what if Victoria Fielding is right? What if we’re all dancers, performing simultaneously on the stage of life and all those things I perceive as “about me” aren’t personal at all! What if it’s other people bumping up against me as they try to play their roles in life? We’re all imperfect and human. Rarely is someone else’s mistake all about us.

I call a child for dinner and he yells at me rudely. I can take that personally. I could think, “How disrespectful! How rude! He doesn’t love me at all. How ungrateful!” Or I could realize this child was acting out of character and there must be more to the story. Sure enough, I later learn that he was mad about something else and my calling him three times for dinner was the last straw. It had nothing to do with me.

Someone once said, “No man knows my history.” We don’t know each other’s histories. We don’t know the string of incidents, choices, and beliefs that led someone to a particular act. Perhaps he was flailing his arms dancing on the stage of life and smacked you upside the head because you were the closest person around.

Have you ever noticed on crime dramas like “Criminal Minds” it’s rarely that the murderer simply despised the victim? There’s always this string of events, circumstances, choices and the perpetrator’s view of life that led to the crime. By the time the FBI team gets to the bottom of it, we see the perpetrator’s twisted view of reality caused by a myriad of factors that made the person snap.

Of all people who could take betrayal, deceit, and even murder personally, it would be Jesus Christ. But there’s one thing about Jesus — which I believe enables Him to love each of us unconditionally no matter what we do — and that is He doesn’t take our actions personally. Even though our actions caused Him pain, He still prayed on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” What if he wasn’t only talking about the soldiers driving the nails?

Jesus knew it wasn’t personal. And even if it felt very personal, He never took it personally. He knew that we all have a history, and we’re all imperfect dancers on a stage “for the most part—trying to get our steps down, and trying to do our best.”

That’s why if we’ll come to Him, and give Him not only our sins, but also all the times we’ve felt offended, betrayed, deceived, or injured, He can take those things and replace them with love — unconditional love that never ends. He will “bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open up the prison to those who are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Will you join me in shifting perspectives? Can we stop taking other people’s actions personally? Can we choose to believe that, “we are all just inexperienced dancers bumping up against each other, and—for the most part—trying to get our steps down, and trying to do our best?”

(A Piece of Time by Victoria Fielding will be available online and in some Cosco’s in September. For more details visit www.VictoriaFielding.com )

What NOT to do with God’s Promises

One of the main things I teach people to do when they’re going for a goal or objective is to pray and get a confirmation from the Lord that what they want is what God wants for them. When you get a feeling of peaceful assurance that you’re on the right path, you can proceed forward in faith, resting on God’s promises.

The problem that arises next for most of us is the human need to make God’s promises happen. We start feeling that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” when the truth is “what God originates He orchestrates.” But surely we can’t sit back and do nothing? We must take action. True faith engenders action – right? Yes, it does, but there is a difference between taking inspired action and forcing an outcome.

I think the very best example of this was Sarai in the Old Testament (Genesis 16). Do you remember the promise God made to Abraham that he and Sarai would have a son? The problem was they were in their 90’s and Sarai’s time for bearing children had long since passed. God promised, yet nothing seemed to be happening. So, Sarai, in classic “take matters into my own hands” fashion set to work to help God fulfill His promise.

She had a handmaiden named Hagar who was of child-bearing years. In this period of time and part of the world, if your handmaid had a child by your husband, it was the same as if you had given birth to the child. It was the early form of surrogate motherhood. So, Sarai, went to her husband and suggested he take Hagar to wife and let her bear a son. It would be Sarai’s by proxy … thus fulfilling the Lord’s promise. After all, it wasn’t logical that a 90-year-old woman could ever bear a child herself – right?

So Abraham follows his wife’s advice, Hagar conceives and then begins to lord her pregnancy over Sarai. Sarai goes to Abraham and admits she’s made a mistake. Now what can she do about this prideful maid? He tells her that Hagar is her maid, and she can deal with her however she wants.

Sarai is harsh with Hagar and Hagar flees. An angel of the Lord appears to Hagar and asks her where she’s from and where’s she’s going. She explains that she’s fleeing from her mistress, Sarai. The angel tells her to return to her mistress and submit herself to her hands. The angel also prophecies to her about her son Ishmael and his impressive future.

Hagar replies with something quite insightful, “God sees me.” She marvels so much over the fact that God sees her — notices her — that the name of the well where she met the angel is called Beer-lahai-roi meaning, “The well of him who liveth and seeth me.”

I believe this desire to be seen, to be noticed and to matter is at the root of all Hagar’s actions toward Sarai. Here she is a servant, and Sarai tells her to have Abraham’s child so it can be hers. Sure, Hagar went along with this plan, but how much choice did she really have in the matter? She was a bondwoman.

Might her acting out toward her mistress be her way of saying, “Am I not human? Don’t I have feelings? Shouldn’t I have a say in how my body is used and for whom my children are born? Does anybody see me? Does anybody think my feelings matter here?”

How many times in our rush to fulfill God’s promises do we trample over other people to make it happen? Sarai used Hagar, and then was upset that Hagar didn’t handle it well. How did she expect her to handle it? I think this story is a classic example of our propensity to take a promise God has made, start trying to control how it happens, and forget completely about the feelings and rights of other people. We rarely stop to look through another person’s eyes to see that they might not be too happy about how we’re manipulating them or using them to reach our objective.

Had Sarai just waited — not taken action to manipulate things — she would have seen that God was actually going to help her bear a son herself. God literally meant what he said, and He didn’t need Sarai’s help to make it happen.

So the next time you feel the need to help God keep His promises, try stepping back and asking Him what action you should take — if any. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing to do is to just be still and know that He is God!

God Wants a Unified and Powerful People

My recent post about Dr. Michael J. Duckett’s, The Progression, stirred a bit of hubbub, which made me want to post a little more on why I feel it’s important for Christians to …

  • develop a feeling of friendship and unity in our midst regardless of theological differences, and
  • embrace and activate the creative power we possess as children of God.

The way I see it, the “signs of the times” are upon us and we are living in the last days. I anticipate that Christ’s return is very near, and in the not too distant future, He will usher in a peaceful rein upon this earth:

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorry, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. Revelations 21:3-4

The question is, are we ready for Him? Are we ready for an incredible period of peace and unity? If we’re bickering, arguing and finding fault now, are we suddenly going to change our habits and the very nature of our beings simply because Christ is with us?  I seriously doubt it. I believe we must become a peaceful people.

Notice there's no doorknob on this door! "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelations 3:20

Our ability to live in unity with one another may be the very invitation Christ needs to dwell among us. So, while I may not agree with everything a fellow-Christian may believe, I can still love and respect her and value the truths she shares with me from her perspective. While I may not agree with 100% of an entire presentation in a dvd or book, I can glean the truth and knowledge that is there. In order to do that, I must search diligently in the Light of Christ to identify truth when I see it. And the way to recognize it is by listening to the Spirit of God.

No human is perfect. No one has everything right or all the answers, but within each of us are valuable truths, talents and gifts that we can share with others. If I discount the truth you have to share or diminish your gifts and talents because you aren’t “right” about everything or use the same terminology I use, then it’s my loss.

I believe Christians have within them the ability to transform this world and work miracles. God gave us dominion over this earth and all things in it, but we …

  • refuse to step up to that ability — succumbing to being acted upon instead of acting for ourselves; or
  • are afraid of our ability to create (slapping labels like “New Age” on it); or
  • use our creative ability for vain, gluttonous and prideful purposes.

I don’t want Christians to learn how to use the laws of the universe and their creative ability so we can all get rich and prosperous and show off to others that God is blessing us. I want Christians to utilize this creative power so we can clothe the naked, feed the hungry, liberate the captives, and administer relief to the sick and afflicted.

What if we used this creative power to liberate children kept in cages in human trafficking rackets in Nicaragua or Costa Rica?  What if we used this creative power to build orphanages and safe houses? What if we used it to develop healing programs for those who have suffered trauma? What if we used it to provide food, clothing and shelter for those in poverty?

What if we used this creative power to “wipe away all tears” NOW? It may sound idealistic, but I believe that if we stepped forward and lived in peace and love NOW, we would be sending out a planetary invitation to Jesus Christ — “Come, Lord Jesus, dwell among us.” Certainly, a segment of the world will continue to travel in darkness, but Jesus showed us that it only takes one God and a handful of disciples to change the world.

Can’t we be those disciples now?

You Call Me Yours

I’ve spent the last couple weeks with my good friend Lisa Rae Preston, the creator of the STEP Into Destiny quiz and author of the soon-to-be-released book with the same name. I think of all the wonderful things I’ve learned from my friend over the years, but the one that stands out to me is that Lisa highlights the beauty of God’s heart. She helps me know and feel how much my Father not only loves, but also delights in me.

Today, she introduced me to a song that I instantly fell in love with and I had to share it here with you! It’s called “You Call Me Yours” performed by Prelude.

Songwriters: Reginald Timothy Stone and Christy Sutherland

I hear You calling out my name as only You can do
Your voice it covers all my shame, the old You turned to new
No matter how things look to me
You see a destiny, a perfect promise.

You call me beautiful. You call me righteous.
You call me worthy of Your Son’s own precious blood.
You call me holy. You call me strong at my weakest.
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours.

It’s hard for me to understand exactly what You see.
I slip and stumble everyday but still You say believe.
You say you finish what you start.
You’ve seen me from my heart and not the bruises.

You call me beautiful. You call me righteous.
You call me worthy of Your Son’s own precious blood.
You call me holy. You call me strong at my weakest.
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours.

You call me beautiful. You call me righteous.
You call me worthy of Your Son’s own precious blood.
You call me holy. You call me strong at my weakest.
Forgiven and pure. You call me Yours.

Restoring Hope in a Troubled Marriage

A lady emailed me in response to my Step-by-Step Formula for Resurrecting Hope. She’s going through a painful situation. Her husband left her for another woman. Still married to the man, he continues to flaunt his misconduct by living with the other woman and giving his wife a hard time about her belief in God. She wrote asking my advice on what to do.

Some people might tell her “divorce is wrong” and she should hang on to hope that this marriage can be restored. Others might tell her to ditch her husband and move on. Honestly, it’s not my place to say either way. It’s not my place to judge what God will or will not do in her situation. Only God can answer that for her. All I can do is set her on a path which will lead her to God’s answer for her.

I have a feeling there are others out there who struggle in marriages that are dying on the vine, and so I’d like to address this concern with the SAM experiment. Here’s the advice I gave her and that I give anyone struggling in a painful marital situation.

1) Get very clear on the ideal husband you’d like to have – the ultimate – how he would act, treat you, be, etc. Get very specific. What are his beliefs? How does he take care of himself? How does he treat you? Etc. Be prayerful and seek the Lord’s input on this list. Let this list be your “Sam.”

2) Let go of “who” SAM is. It may or may not be your current husband. Let go of the “who” and give that to God. Allow Him the possibility of transforming your husband, radically changing your view of him, teaching you to unconditionally love your husband the way he is, or of bringing someone entirely new into your life. Put your Hope in Christ … not in an individual!

3) Keep a lookout for anyone or anything that comes into your life that aligns with SAM. It may be a stranger who helps you out of the blue. It might be a child. It may be your husband, or it may be a friend or sister. Anyone.

Example: In my situation, Sam appeared as an elderly gentleman at the landfill when my truck broke down and wouldn’t start. Together we figured it out and got the engine started. Another time, Sam appeared as my 9-year-old son. I came home from a week at a church girl’s camp, and he’d totally reorganized his room without being asked. What once looked like a tornado aftermath was neat and tidy. What’s more, he’s kept it that way for over a month!

4) Be grateful for those SAM moments – express gratitude to God and to anyone involved for them. Document your SAM moments in a notebook or journal.

In the case of my 9-year-old, I took him aside and thanked him for what he did, letting him know why it meant so much to me that he would organize his room and how it made me happy and lifted my burdens.

5) Continue to be prayerful through this process because God is going to teach you things that I can’t tell you. He knows what you should do and who you should or should not have in your life. But the clearer you become, the more evident God’s hand will become in your life and the more you will see what you should do.

Once you’ve made your list of the ideal, ask yourself if there is anything you need to be or do in order to be prepared for this person to walk right into your life. If that ideal husband appeared tomorrow, what would you need to be ready for him? Do you want to be in better shape? Would you want a hair cut? Would you want some aspect of your home in better condition? I was telling this to a young single friend of mine and she said she’d keep her legs shaved. 🙂

For example, if “Sam” is in great shape, eats healthy and has lots of energy. Could you keep up with him if he appeared in your life tomorrow? If not, then you know you need to work on your own health and body. See what I mean? Be who you need to be so that there’s nothing between you and your ideal.

Throughout the process be prayerful. Ask to see your situation through God’s eyes. And be sincerely grateful for the tiniest glimpses of SAM in your life!

Step-By-Step Method for Resurrecting Hope

Over the last few months, I’ve stumbled upon a step-by-step method for resurrecting hope when hope feels dead and gone. I call it my SAM Experiment. Hope you enjoy this video explanation and give it a try for yourself!

Please tell me how it goes for you in the comment area below.