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Feeling Low? It’s Time to Take a Look in the Mirror.

mirror 13204669_sWe all have those times when we feel low. I’ve been there. I know how you feel. Sometimes we look around and conclude we are so inadequate. Poorly prepared. Not up for the challenges before us. It’s not a very good feeling. And frankly, unless we get a grip on those feelings, they can lead to a downward spiral taking us to a dark place!

If you can relate to these feelings, then keep reading. Because there is a sure remedy, and the benefits far exceed feeling happy or content. Actually, you can fully experience the joy, peace and rest that you long for in the innermost part of your soul.

What’s the remedy? The mirror! But not the mirror you may be imagining right now. Instead, there is a mirror that reflects back to you your real self – your greatness. Your unique treasure of gifts. Your awesome value.

What is this mirror? It’s God’s Word! And in it you will find a true reflection of who you are in Christ. Paul put it this way, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In “Susan’s Translation” Paul is saying, “I now see myself according to who I am in Christ, but I don’t see the full picture. But when I am face to face with the Lord I will see my true identity – and even though I can’t see it all now, it truly is who I am.”

Our True Identity

So often, we take our identity from the world. We compare ourselves with other people. We take on the labels from parents, siblings, playmates, teachers, spouses and co-workers. We absorb the opinions of people – many of whom we may not even respect. We look at the perfectly coiffed movie stars or the chiseled muscles of athletes . . . and know there is a huge gap between their picture and our self-image. We even compare ourselves with fictional characters in movies and television shows! How will we ever measure up?

Here is the truth. That is the wrong mirror! If you are finding your identity from the world and from people, you are looking in the wrong place! And your reflection will never be the truth. Not only can you end up feeling bad about yourself. But you can also move into an unhealthy dependency for finding your worth and value from the opinions of other people (all you People Pleasers, wave and say, “That’s me!”).

Here is the truth of who you are:

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:13-16

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in [Christ]. 2 Corinthians 5:21

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. John 3:16

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:19

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6

Reflect on Who You Are in Christ

When God created you, He used His perfection, His mastery, His artistry. Yes, because of Adam all humankind was stained with imperfection. But Jesus changed all that for you and me and for anyone who believes: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

You are highly valued. You are God’s precious child. You are greatly esteemed and needed.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

The Choice is Ours

We have a choice to make. Which mirror will we use when we seek a reflection of who are? Will we rely on the distorted reflection coming from the world and from people? Or will we look into the perfect mirror of God’s Word and embrace our true identity?

The best answer is easy to see.

I had a great day doing a job I hate!

paper 19461564_s (cropped)Okay! Am I the only one who sometimes gets buried in paper?  And I don’t mean just a little bit. But there are times when I have stacks staring at me! And every time I look at the pile (sometimes that’s plural – piles), I hear the sheets calling my name. “Susan! File me! Read me! Toss me. Pay me!”

For me, filing papers is akin to cleaning the darkest and dustiest corner of a damp basement! Not on my top ten favorite ways to pass my time. So I put if off. I resist. I procrastinate.

Eventually, I have to tackle the job or suffer the consequences. True confession. I have been late paying bills because they were buried so deep in the stacks. So I am reforming and trying to keep up with the filing.

Today was the day to organize the way too tall stack of paper that had gathered. But this time, I took a different tact. Instead of grumbling and clinching my teeth the whole time, I decided to make this usually gruesome experience one that was a little more pleasant. Here is what I did:

First, I cleared off my kitchen table and made some labels for the major categories. The labels were just 3″ x 5″ note cards folded in half to make little tents. Then I wrote the name of the category on each one so it would be easy to know which pile was which (I plan to use the same labels next time I do this).

Second, I got all the papers together, which wasn’t too difficult. I practice the strategy of “keep like things together.” So while I might not be the fastest at filing my papers, I do know where they are! Then I put the pile on one corner of the table.

Third, I brought my recycle box into the room so I could use it to toss whatever didn’t need filing. I also grabbed my supply of files and a pencil to mark each one as necessary (I make permanent colored file labels later).

Four, and here is the ingredient that changed my hated task into an awesome experience! I got my little portable Bluetooth speaker ($9.95 at the local variety store) and my iPhone and I started playing worship music.

Wham! Immediately a dreaded job turned into a time or praise and worship as I sang along to the great songs and focused on the Lord rather than my filing! My music of choice was Throne Room by CeCe Winans. Her music took me to a place that was rich. Lovely. Joyful. And before I knew it, the filing was done. I was full of God’s blessing. And God was glorified . . . even by me shuffling stacks of paper!

So I offer this plan to you. The next time you have a job that you really don’t want to do, figure out a way to turn it into a lovely time of praise and worship by playing some great music and getting into the flow. This is great to do when you’re cleaning the house (or the basement), washing the car, fixing meals or even exercising! And now I can’t wait until I get to file papers again!

Be blessed! Our God is so good and worthy of all our praise!

 

Be Love

Be Love

My morning started off heavy today. I read a note from a business friend who is really struggling with all the stress and sadness in the world. She’s been through some tough experiences in the recent past that contributed to her blues. But she mainly wrote about the heaviness and darkness she was feeling.

She didn’t end her message in sadness, but rather how she was able “get through” this experience with the help of her husband, family and friends. And so she’s doing better.

But her message caused me to reflect on the really tough times we are in these days. The atrocities going on in Iraq. Natural disasters all over the world. The sad loss of Robin Williams, who for many was a beacon of fun and laughter. And then there are the personal stresses so many are facing with financial pressures, broken relationships, illnesses and disappointments in life.

What Do We Do?

So my first response was to seek the Lord and ask, “What do we do, Father? What do I do?” And the answers were quick and clear.

First is that as children of the Most High God, you and I can put our trust in Him. Even if we don’t understand or if we have questions, our trust can be deeply rooted in knowing that our Father is solid and that He will care for us. We have a security that those who don’t yet know Christ don’t have. And so we can sink into the assurance that our Lord will always be with us. He will never forsake us. And we can count on Him. He says, “Fear not.” And that’s because we can rely on Him and His promises.

The second answer was, “Be love.”

You and are in “in the world, but not of it” (study John 15 and 17). And our hope is not from this world, or circumstances, or even other people, but in Christ. However, we are surrounded by men, women and children who need love. Who need light. Who need hope.

You and I have the love, light and hope of Jesus inside of us. And the world needs what we have! So I encourage you to “be love” to those you meet today and tomorrow and the next day. Whether it’s at the checkout stand at the grocery store or passing someone on the sidewalk. Be kind to your coworkers and your business associates and customers. Be especially loving and caring to your family members and your friends and your neighbors.

Being love to others is always the right thing to do. But today is a really good time to be especially vigilant and purposeful in being love to those we encounter. “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

We have the light of life inside of us, not to keep to ourselves. Instead, our light is to be shared. God is love. He is inside of us. And we can be His love today to those He leads across our paths.

Be blessed.

 

 

 

Are you ready for the “change points” in your life?

Change PointAs we navigate our life journey we all encounter what I call “change points” along the way. These are those life-altering experiences that require or cause us to change how we will go forward.

Right now, I have several friends who are experiencing change points in their lives. Megha is a lovely woman who is married and has two small children. She is also the owner of a small business. That’s how I met her – through an association of which we both are members.

Earlier this week Megha and her assistant Jane drove from Florida to North Carolina to attend some meetings. Megha brought along her infant son for the four-day excursion because of his young age.  While Megha was in the meetings, Jane watched the baby.

On their way back to Florida, while traveling on a busy freeway, a teenage girl was driving and it seems she was texting or using her telephone at the same time. She lost control of her car and crashed into Megha’s vehicle, almost folding it in half!

Fast forward, Jane was banged up, but no broken bones. The baby was injured, but doctors say the recovery will be quick, mostly because babies heal faster than adults. Meanwhile, Mehga suffered serious injuries. Her pelvis and both her hips where shattered, along with lots of critical bangs and bruises. The doctors say she won’t be able to stand for at least two to three months.  Clearly, this is a change point in Megha’s life and the life of her family!

Kim is another friend. Her husband has been ill for a long time, but now it seems that he is on the final leg of his journey here on earth.  I just received a message from Kim reporting that today her husband is in the hospital, but will soon come back home and eventually to be transferred to hospice care. Kim and her husband are experiencing change points in their lives.

Frances is a woman I’ve known for many years. A few weeks ago, I received a message from her husband Brian telling me that he had taken Frances to the doctor for a checkup. About five years ago, she had been diagnosed with cancer and was successfully treated for it. But now, after getting many test results, the doctor told Brian and Frances that the cancer had returned in a very aggressive form and that she likely only had four to six weeks to live. Change points taking place!

So here is why I am sharing these stories with you today. Every life has change points. They come in varied forms. They can be a car accident. The loss of a job.  A serious illness. An unwanted divorce. A death in the family. A financial hardship. Every person’s life will have change points. They happen. They are a given. And we don’t always have control over the change points that will happen to us. And sometimes they are not by our choice!

But what we do have control over . . . and what is our choice . . . is how we live our lives today so when the change points do enter we are better prepared. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When our faith is strong and we trust God with our lives, we are prepared in the best way for the change points (tribulations) that are part of this world experience. We can go through the encounters with the peace of Christ in our hearts. And we can walk through the storm with assurance that He will see us through. We don’t walk alone. We don’t fear. We don’t get “undone” when we face the sure to come change points in our life.

The key is that we need to always be prepared if we want that peace that passes all understanding to be present in our lives. The peace is available to us, but it is received into our hearts as we love the Lord our God with all our hearts. It comes when we seek first the kingdom of God and His right way of living. It comes when we love Jesus and obey His teachings.

My friend Megha came very close to not surviving the car accident. But her doctors said that her faith played an essential role in her being able to hang on and make it during those critical hours. Megha was prepared. Her faith was strong . . . and even in her physical brokenness her faith is getting stronger every day as she experiences the love of God working in her life.

How about you? How is your faith today?

That’s a question we each should ask ourselves. Are we prepared for the change points that could happen to us when we least expect? Are we working those faith muscles consistently so they stay strong and are ready for when heavy lifting is required?

I hope you are strong in your relationship with God. If not, I encourage you to start today to get stronger in your faith and make sure you are prepared. Your Lord wants you ready! He wants you well-prepared. He wants you to experience the peace that is available to you!


If you want to explore a powerful resource to help you develop your faith and increase your trust in God, check out Discovery, Faith and Transformation.

 

Troubles Can Be Magnets

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings . . . Hebrews 10:22

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings . . . Hebrews 10:22

We are silly souls, sometimes. Here we have the Creator of everything so willing to help us, strengthen us, bless us and give us everything we need for success . . . yet we don’t turn to Him! What’s that all about?

But here is one thing I have discovered in my own life – when I have a problem that is really causing challenges in my life – it can be a magnet to draw me closer to God!

God is never the one holding back love, care, wisdom, blessings or whatever we need. Instead, we aren’t aligned to hear or receive from Him.

As you work through Discovery, Faith and Transformation . . . it’s very like that “issues” will arise. You will take notice of characteristics about yourself that you know need shoring up. Or you will find the enemy nipping at your heels. Or the challenges of life will present themselves to you.

These are all times to draw nearer to God. Develop a habit that going to Him is your first response. Open your heart to Him. Tell Him what’s going on. Ask for His help. Get into His Word and learn about what He has to say about the matter. And thank Him, in faith, for already being at work in you and for you to bring what is out of order into order.

Get so good at coming to God first, that this practice becomes your natural reflex. That requires consistency and time . . . and doing the same thing over and over again.

So allow challenges to be magnets that bring you closer to God . . . develop the wise habit of making Him your first response . . . and realize the peace that passes all understanding that is available to you as His precious and highly valued child!

Joint Heir! Really?

You are an heir with Christ.

You are an heir with Christ.

Today in my Discovery Time (I call it that because I discover so much about myself, about God, about who I can be because of Jesus), the Lord pointed out to me that I often “settle for much less” than what Christ has already given me!

As I thought about that notion, I realized “feeling not good enough” was a belief that was deeply rooted in me since childhood. I won’t go into all the details of why that is, but I often felt like I was always striving to “keep up” with others who were better, stronger, smarter, more blessed and on and on. And here I am decades later . . . in many ways . . . still bound by those feelings.

So this morning the Lord challenged me to tackle that toxic way of thinking and deal with it! He’s calling me to replace the lies with His truth about who I am and who He is. So here is the truth about me . . . and about YOU!

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17

Yes, the truth of God says we are “children of God” and  “joint heirs with Christ.” That got me thinking . . . how does God regard Jesus? How much does He love Him? What would God do for Jesus? Is He pleased with Him? Does He take care of Him?

Without a doubt, God gives only the very best for His Son. And as a joint heir, our Father will also give only the very best for you and for me.

This truth is something we may have heard over and over again . . . yet we let the words evaporate from our thinking like water from dishes in the drying rack. But if we are willing to ponder this truth and renew our minds to it . . . it will change the toxic thinking to life-giving thinking. And that’s what I am working on for me. I want the truth of God flowing through every cell of my body and in every thought in my mind. I want the renewal, the transformation, to take place so I can be and have all my loving Father wants for me. God says in His Word:

My child, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.   Proverbs 4:20-23

Your Father wants only the best for you. He loves you. He cares for you. And just like Jesus, you are His special child. You and I are joint heirs with all the rights that, because God was willing to give His Son to us . . . we can live in abundance, health, security and peace.

Hold onto the truth of who you are and what you have until it’s deeply rooted in your soul. That is the way to transformation by the renewal of your mind.

Be blessed!

Are You in Danger of Smothering God’s Word?

I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. Those times when we feel overwhelmed by the problems of the world. We just can’t seem to connect with God. Our lives seem bombarded with troubles and while we aren’t “hopeless,” we feel very close. We pray. No results. We start begging. Still no results. It seems there are no answers coming our way.

Maybe you’ll see yourself (like I’ve seen myself) in this description from Jesus: “Now these are the [seeds] sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,  and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-89

Ouch! Is the Word “unfruitful” because I am so caught up in the cares and troubles that God can’t work in my life? Are the thorns so many that the seeds of the Word can’t grow and can’t be fruitful?

If you are experiencing this dark time in your life, see it as a powerful opportunity to step back and take some corrective action . . . even if you don’t feel like you can!

Sometimes, we feel so overwhelmed, worn out and weak that our senses are dulled. Or we are so confused, we don’t know what to do or how to respond. This is where discipline and obedience come in and demonstrate their power. Open your heart to the Lord and pray anyway. Open the Bible, and study God’s ways anyway. Speak the truth from the Word over your situation anyway. And keep doing it, not because you “feel like it,” but because God has told us that this is what works.

Obey God. Meditate on His Word. Put your trust in Him. Look at God’s promises rather than the enemy’s lies. And bit by bit, you will notice the change. Maybe not all at once, but as you keep moving forward there will be a time when you look back and see the progress you’ve made and how the Lord has directed your steps.

Take time and “see yourself in the Scriptures.” Then take action through obedience and discipline. That’s the way of the Lord . . . and the way to peace and rest.

My Favorite Recipes for the Spirit, Soul and Body

cookbookThe good news about today’s culture is that we have so many choices. But there is another side to that coin! Sometimes we can have so many choices that we feel overwhelmed and confused. And what experts teach us is this: The confused mind says, ‘No!’

That’s why I try to find simple, go-to solutions that I know always work and that I can count on. They’re “recipes for success,” whether it’s a matter of the spirit, a matter of the soul, or even what to cook for dinner when both time and creativity are short! So here are my “go-to recipes” that I use regularly. I hope you find them useful to you, also!

Success recipe for spiritual matters: The Bible teaches us in 2 Peter 1:3 this powerful truth, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Did you catch that? The Word says we have everything we need for a godly life! And that everything comes through our knowledge of Christ.

So whenever you need a spiritual boost or a have a question about your life . . . go to Jesus and His Word! Find scriptures that speak to your need. Very often, I print the scriptures on cards or small pieces of paper and post them all around my house. I recall I time when I was facing serious financial matters due to the sub-prime mortgage debacle. I desperately needed God’s hand to work in my life. So I claimed Deuteronomy 28:8, “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

I posted that verse in six or seven places in my house so I would see it throughout the day. Every time my eyes laid on the verse, I read it allowed and affirmed the truth that God always upholds His promises. I chose faith over worry . . . and it was through this practice and a powerful journey of faith with the Lord, that He pulled me out and met my need in a way I never expected.

So when you have a need, go to the Word. I like to ask and answer these questions about the matter I present to the Lord: 1) What does the Lord say about this? 2) What does the enemy say about this? 3) What do I say about it? And then I discipline myself so that my thoughts and words match with those of my wise and truthful God.

Success recipe for matters of the soul: Our soul is the part of us that is our mind, will, emotions and personality. When we experience thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and character qualities that are not in line with the ways of God, then we can see these are opportunities for growth and transformation.

Romans 12:2 of God’s Word says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Our minds need renewal so God’s truth and our faith are guiding our lives.

Some of the emotions we might feel are fear, jealousy, or bitterness. But these emotions don’t line up with God’s ways. We might have a judgmental attitude or a critical way toward ourselves and others. We might have strong beliefs about issues . . . that are not consistent with God’s Word.

So the recipe for success is one of submitting ourselves to God and allowing His Holy Spirit and Word to change us . . . to transform us. His Word is always the truth! His ways are always the best. And He is always the best mentor for leading our lives so we can indeed be transformed so we really know and behave according to “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Success recipe for our body: Whether we are fasting or during our everyday lives, we want to take good care of our physical bodies. The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If we live by this command . . . then we are called to make good and healthy choices for what we should eat and what we should drink. And for many of us that means overhauling our typical fast-food and processed food choices and developing a lifestyle of health.

When we choose health, we want to make it easy and doable. Especially in today’s busy times, we need recipes that are easy to make, are satisfying to the palette and have good nutritional and economic value!

Susan' Vegetarian ChiliOne of the best practices is to make sure you have healthy foods available. And one of my very favorite go-to recipes for the Daniel Fast (and even when I’m not fasting) is my Vegetarian Chili. I’ve been making this recipe for decades now . . . and it’s still a winner!

You can make this recipe in less than 20 minutes (from start to serving) and you can have all the ingredients you need on hand for those times when you need “fast food” of a healthy sort.  Just click on the ink below for a copy of the recipe. I hope you print it out and add it to your own collection and that it becomes one of your “go to recipes” for your healthy lifestyle.

Click Here for Susan’s Vegetarian Chili recipe

As children of the Most High God, you and I are called to live differently from the way the world lives. God calls us His “chosen people.” And we are chosen to live a holy (used for the purposes of God) so that we can reveal God to people who don’t yet know His Son. When we choose success for our spirit, soul and body and continue to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ, we become better ambassadors for our Lord. We fulfill the call He has on our lives. And we fulfill the purpose He has planted within us.

Praise God as you continue to be transformed for the cause of Christ.

Entangled or Established?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).

What does that scripture mean? How is it possible to not “copy the behavior and customs” of the world when it surrounds us and everything we see and do is affected by the world in which we live?

A key to not being so attached to the world that we conform to it in every way is the next phrase: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

How can we let God accomplish this? How can our minds be renewed? Paul gives a hint: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5, KJV).

When we receive Jesus in our hearts, He doesn’t want to just be a doorway to heaven at the end of our lives. He wants to renew our minds and recreate us in His image. As we allow him to do so, our minds will be renewed and transformed, and our lives will be completely changed. As such, we will avoid copying the behavior of the world and becoming entangled with the things of the world.

This is what the Lord desires of us: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1, KJV). He wants us to experience the freedom that comes through knowing Him and patterning our lives after the example He gave us. When we become more like Him, our lives will be purposed to further the kingdom of God.

This means something different for each person. When Jesus was on earth, not every individual who believed in Him became a full-time disciple. Joseph of Arimathea believed in Him, but the part he played (providing the tomb for Jesus’ body) was very different from the part Mary Magdalene played, whose calling to follow Him was very different from that of the 12 disciples.

You have a unique calling from God, a purpose that only you can fill. How can you learn to know and understand that purpose, to know “God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect?” You know it by allowing your mind to be transformed through the power of Jesus. As you do so, you will come to know His will in your life, and you will have the strength to follow it.

This is how you keep free from being entangled with the things of the world, even though you are in the world. This is how you become established in the Kingdom and help others to do the same. This is how you fulfill your God-given purpose.

Question . . . how are you doing? Do you find yourself caught up in the trappings of the world? Do you feel like you have to fight off the easy outs that the world-system offers? Believe me, you are not alone. We are called to be very intentional as we open our hearts to the comfort, understanding and direction our Lord generously provides. And then we can be intentional about living our lives according to God’s ways . . . and discover and live in the peace and rest only He can provide.

An overview of the Daniel Fast

The work we did in Zimbabwe is fulfilled. Thank you to all who participated!

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