The Holiday Season and Dealing with People in Depression

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I think Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Not only do I get to be around people (which I love) it is also the time that Ghirardelli Peppermint bark hits stores, an excuse to watch one of my favorite movies Elf, and because my primary love language is gifts, presents are exchanged!!

For others, the Holiday season can be just the opposite in about every way. Coming from a family where there was so much love and a true celebration of the holidays it can be hard to imagine the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas could be anything other than enjoyable. That is, until I got sick with my eye condition. Then the full reality of the depression, angst and despair that people can experience was brought into perspective.

People have family members that they have not talked to in years because there was something said or done that caused real hurt in them. Some people lost a loved one or are currently going through some challenge medically, emotionally or spiritually.

As humans, we are naturally selfish not only in our actions, but also in our thinking. We can base our reactions towards people on things that we assume they should know or get. We can think or say things like, “Why would everyone not be happy this holiday season? They need to just get over their issue with family” or “Why did that person snap at me when I asked her a question at work? Don’t they realize this is the season of love and joy?”

I always want to be considerate of where people are in life because of the things I went through with being sick on Thanksgiving and Christmas for four years in a row. I was not always the most pleasant person to be around during the holidays even though it was nothing personal with anyone around me but more with my anger at God. I didn’t need someone to pull me aside at a gathering and try and counsel me out of being sad/mad. I just wanted to be left alone and would lash out at times because of the mental and physical pain I was in.

We MUST be intentional with loving those people who seem to be having the hardest time with the holiday season. It is not even so much about saying something to them but just showing love where you can and praying for them. Think of it this way, if you were in their shoes and dealing with some kind of pain over a holiday, how would you want someone to treat you? Jesus was the best example of having TRUE empathy for people who didn’t understand the peace that they could have by just trusting in God.

If you are someone who is hurting this holiday season, know that if you are reading this blog then I am praying for you to find hope and peace in your mind and heart.

Being an agent of change by loving people and acting like Christ in EVERY way is not easy, but necessary for those looking for hope in their hopeless world.

Tim Tebow and His Ten Magic Fingers!

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It has been all over the news this week about Tim Tebow being at batting practice and while he was signing autographs, someone in the crowd had a seizure. He laid hands on the guy, prayed for him, the seizure stopped and the guy was fine. I think it was awesome that Tim thought to pray for someone and that he was able to help.

It is funny to read the storylines from the media and their perspective on the healing. It was like, “Tim Tebow was minding his own business when suddenly, a gentleman fell to the ground with what seemed to be a seizure. So, for whatever reason, Tim laid his hands on the man and magically the seizure stopped! We are checking into the incident to see if the man was a plant in the crowd to make Tim look good and for the Mets to put him into major league rotation.” (I made up that last bit, but would it surprise anyone that the media, at this very moment, are doing a background check on the man who had the seizure?)

There are a few principles that I think are important to highlight and use to examine our own lives and the world we live in.

First, It should not surprise anyone who understands this was a healing, that the media or people watching the event unfold did not understand what was going on. There is even a verse in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that states people who don’t really understand Jesus are not going to realize or recognize his power on display or the fact that they can have even GREATER things and an eternal life with God in heaven.

Second, these kinds of things are not just for the mighty Tim Tebow to have an opportunity to do and see God move in a miraculous way. Many times, we put people who we think are more “religious” than ourselves up on pedestals and think that they can do things we cannot. I am sure if you asked Tim, he would admit that it was only the power of God that worked through him in that man’s life and not the ten magic fingers on the end of his arms. If we are asking God for opportunities to help work miracles in people’s lives he will meet those needs and give us doors to walk thru. The big question is will we take the opportunity to step out from the crowd and be willing to do what God is calling us to do?

Third, I have a “what if” scenario for everyone. Tim Tebow got cut from football because he was not the commodity the NFL wanted to promote. He also apparently had some fairly glaring issues with accuracy (I am no expert) but the fact is that he was out of football. What if Tim’s WHOLE ENTIRE desire to now play baseball was God positioning him to be in that exact place to pray for that man and be a part of his healing? Those are the kind of things that can be hard to wrap our heads around. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t about Tim Tebow but it was about God using events in his life to position Tim to be in a place to be a blessing to someone else.

Maybe you are reading this blog and don’t understand what I am talking about with God healing people. That SAME POWER can reside inside of you and even comes with an amazing relationship with the creator of the universe. Maybe you are reading this and you always compare your relationship to Jesus to others who you feel are more spiritual than you. You have a unique anointing to be the person that God needs you to be on this earth and a circle of friends that need what you have inside. Maybe you are a follower of Christ and are getting wrapped up in the circumstances of life and wondering why negative things are happening to you. It could be God positioning you for something greater for yourself, or even more importantly, because there is someone you will interact with that needs what you have.

These were just a few things to consider today in how we will live today on this earth. Tim Tebow is living his life to glorify God first, and in the process, getting a platform to share even more about the love, grace and peace of God that EVERYONE needs. We can all do the same if we just choose God over us.

Talkers are Praised While Listeners Go Unnoticed

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I cannot say that I know very many people who are great listeners, including myself. Someone who, when their name comes up, is known to others as an exceptional listener. At the same time, we can name numerous amazing speakers when it comes to people we think have full command of the words that come out of their mouth. It is an interesting thing to me that we praise talkers but great listeners in life go unnoticed. Maybe it’s because we feel like if we don’t share how we feel we will not be able to change our corner of the world. Maybe you grew up in a large family and if you were not able to express yourself well that you were ignored or even forgotten.

As a follower of Christ, I was ALWAYS taught growing up the importance of telling others about my relationship with Jesus. Even now, Christians far and wide believe the most important thing is telling the world about how much Jesus loves them. We even sing worship songs about “telling” and build vision/mission statements around talking! When was the last time you read the vision statement of a religious organization that says, “We will listen to the broken and answer with love first and words second.”

Please hear me. I am not poking holes in religious organizations or churches but just making a statement about maybe some of the pacing we do as followers of Christ that tries to mimic the people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus yet. The world is all about telling others who they are, how they feel and the convictions they have and operate by.

There is an incredible power exhibited when you LISTEN to someone who either disagrees with your stance on something or even says things based from a place of hurt or pain. Stop trying to come up with a witty antidote to something being told to you and just tell yourself to shut off your mouth and engage your ears and mind to just listen.

The amazing byproduct of listening is that it encourages others to hear what YOU have to say because they felt honored that you would listen to them. So it is not whether you ONLY listen or ONLY talk but that listening opens up the channels of communication with others and helps you share what is on your heart. Maybe it is a priority of listening with a result of talking. Even Jesus would interact with people in a question format, listen to what they would have to say and then share. The greatest communicator to walk the earth was first and foremost the greatest listener, and He is who I want to be.

God DOESN’T Just Love You…

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The Bible tells of instances where people came to Jesus because they knew who He was. Those people would be considered “believers” in our day. But it is also FULL of times where Jesus went out to minister to people needing help and not even knowing that Jesus could fix what was broken. They would be considered “lost” in our day.

If you are a follower of Christ, it’s not just about coming to church on Sundays, praying, reading your Bible and spending time with Jesus for self consumption. It’s about following Christ’s example and going out to get the lost. The church does not only exist for us to consume good teaching and feed only ourselves for the week. No one will know how great Jesus is and how the church can help them if we don’t go get them!

The question is what does it look like to “go get” people? For some, it is making sure that we find and tell people what they are doing is wrong and that we don’t show an ounce of care because that would be justifying what they are doing. Others have been led to believe that Jesus came to this earth to simply love with nothing else in mind. That is also incorrect. His love for people was and always is there regardless of the situation, but his REAL purpose for being on this earth was to bring CHANGE. It was change for Jesus’ followers to have to leave their known professions and follow Him and his teachings. It was CHANGE in the lives of people to be healed from disease that had plagued them for years. It was CHANGE for the religious officials who were more concerned about keeping the religious laws of the day rather than doing what Jesus directed which was helping the poor, sick and broken.

We are now the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are looking for a change in life and maybe don’t even know it yet. That means we love everyone no matter what but we are constantly asking God what we need to do to be an agent of change in their lives. It may be loving someone unconditionally while telling them that you think they may be making a poor choice. It is still love to care for someone and disagree with their actions. Jesus loves ME when my actions might not line up with what he thinks is best for me and because of that love I know where I can go when I want to make a change in my life.

It is very important to remember that we are not the ones who BRING change in people’s lives but that we set the stage for GOD to bring change. When we are focused on setting up opportunities for God to move in people’s lives it takes the stress off of us to think that we have to make something happen in people’s life. When I love with the knowledge that I am not going to MAKE anyone change, I can let God work in their hearts and then be there if they want to go in a different direction in life.

Today, consider how you are going to go get the lost tomorrow by setting the stage for God to bring CHANGE in the lives of others. Jesus trusts that you are not going to screw it up so just go and love with a purpose!!

The Importance of God NOT Being “Early” in Your Situation!

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I have two friends, Matt and Jill, who moved their family from Colorado to Washington recently. He had been out of work for a very long time and living off of the severance package from his former job. He is a great employee and was looking for jobs everywhere but it was always not the right fit. They were feeling God’s direction to move to Washington without any real firm leads on a job for him and massive transition for them as a family with their three girls.

 I felt impressed to pray for them as a family the other day and texted them that I was doing a “run and pray” for them and believing that God would open doors that no man could close and close doors that no man could open. Jill texted me the following day and said that Matt had gotten a job offer that day and possibly another one by the end of weekend! Jill and I texted back and forth a few times and she said that they had just gotten their last severance check that day. She said, “God thinks he is so funny!” I responded and told her that in my life, “God has NEVER been early but He has never been late.” Jill responded and said that was so true. Then I thought of the countless times I have said that same line to people through the years.

Then it hit me. I responded something that I know came straight from God. I texted “If God was early, we would think it was our talents, connections, whining or complaining that made it happen.” All of which are NOT true!!” Wow. My fingers were typing it as I was thinking about why God is never early in our situations in life. It all made sense at that moment and I texted Jill that I felt a blog comin on!! Haha

Maybe you are in a situation where you are trying to give something to God and trust him for the outcome and wondering why God is not coming in early and making the changes you want to see. You are probably anxious about the situation and curious as to how God is going to “pull this one out” of the fire. Just remember, if God was early in meeting your need in life then you would probably give yourself the credit for “praying hard enough, complaining enough or just crying enough” to make it happen. Trust is essentially believing something is going to happen when nothing in the physical realm seems to be changing.

Today, pray and make your request known to God but then trust HIM to do HIS part in your situation. I am not saying this is going to be easy. In fact, it will probably be some of the hardest prayer/trusting you can do in life but will be the most gratifying when you truly release something to God and then see Him bring the increase. Just ask Matt and Jill and their journey these past couple of years. Good stuff.

Four “E’s” to Help Change Your Life!

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I want you to consider four “E’s” this weekend that could change your life.

Equip
Think about what you need to activate in your life to be successful to not only yourself but to the people you come in contact with for the rest of this year. Do you need to ask God for patience or for wisdom in a specific area of your life? Let this be a weekend of taking inventory in your life and areas you need to be equipped.

Engage
There are people you have in your life that you need you to engage. I mention in the Holy Crap book about the power of reaching out to others when you are in your own crap of life. Don’t wait until you have everything figured out in life to engage others and see how you can help them. Even a phone call that says you are thinking about or maybe even praying for them can speak volumes.

Encourage
Let God encourage you where you are in life. Our natural human nature is to see the things that we still need to work on and then try and strive to get to those places. There is nothing wrong with working on yourself and trying to become a better person in all areas of life, but it we don’t have a little encouragement along the way, that path is much harder to navigate. Take some time today and let God speak to your heart and encourage you right where you are and to help you see how far you have come in life instead of how far you have to go.

Empower
Empowerment is such an amazing word. It literally means to give power to (someone) OR to give official authority or legal power to (someone). When you ask Jesus to be the leader of your life, you then have authority given to you by God over the devil and his schemes for your life. You are empowered by Him to pray prayers that you could never pray in your own power and to take authority in all areas of life.
This awesome power if available to you if you would only reach out and ask for it!

I am believing that these four E’s can help you live the full and complete life that you were always intended to live. Have a great weekend and know that I am ALWAYS praying for each of you!

Take Heart and Trust God!

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John 16:33
…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The world will be full of problems and trouble of all kinds. Even in the book of John in the Bible, there is a factual statement Jesus makes about problems and pain life saying that “this world will have trouble.” So it is not a question of IF there will be pain but WHEN and to what degree.

The term “take heart” means to evaluate your heart and where your trust is in difficult situations. This verse was not when Jesus and the disciples were lounging next to a lake eating figs and enjoying the cool fresh breeze. It was before Jesus’ arrest and the beginning of a very difficult time for his followers.

Today, think about where your trust is located. Is it in temporal earthly possessions? Is it in your looks or your personality? Or is it in Jesus who is the one who has overcome the world and all the destruction that will continue to occur around us? Find hope, peace and strength in Jesus and maybe start to give him control of even one area of life. You can do it. I am praying for you and believing for the BEST in your life.

So Many Losers in the Olympic Games…or…NOT!

Olympic Fireworks

I am fascinated by the coverage of the Olympics and the thirst to promote the winners and pretty much forget about anyone who doesn’t come in first, second or third. We should NEVER forget that ANYONE who made an Olympic team from around the world had a level of dedication and sacrifice that probably most people reading this blog would never even begin to pursue.

Even the slowest time or worst performance in every single category of the Olympics is far greater than a person on the street could do even on their best day. Each person is considered the best in their COUNTRY in each sport, which is something amazing to consider.

Some of the same principles of comparison can cause people to live a defeated life  because they compare themselves to others. Run your own race. Set your own goals. A relationship with God is not called a “personal relationship with Jesus” on accident. You are uniquely and wonderfully made with abilities that no one else has and talents that are only as great as the effort YOU put into them. God created you and as the old saying goes, He doesn’t make JUNK!

Today, stop comparing yourself to others and strive to be the best version of YOU! With God as the director and guide for your life, you can have the best “Olympic life trainer” ever to push you to be the best you can be.

I am trusting that you each see how special you are in God’s eyes. Have a wonderful day!

GPS….Just…WOW!

GPS
I was typing an address into my car’s GPS the other day and thought, “Wow. We have come such a long way with navigation in this world.”

I can remember when I used to have to just know where to go and my own crappy directions. We also used to go to AAA to get a “TripTik” for longer vacations. It was basically a map that was spiral bound at the top and about 4 inches wide and 8.5 inches long with your route cut into 25 miles increments. The AAA agent would have to use a stamper to let you know where construction or obstructions were going to be on a trip. There was no guarantee that you would not get lost using the map because it was still up to you to find the turns.

I have voice-activated navigation in my car that has real time traffic as well as a Garmin in Yolanda’s car that you can wake up by saying its name and tell it where you want to go. It just boggles my mind how technology has advanced when trying to get around.

Then I thought about the life we live in general. What are we allowing to give us direction in life? Is it trusting ourselves and our knowledge of what we have experienced to help us navigate life, like when I first started driving? Is it just based on other people we know and their experiences as in the case of going to AAA to get a TripTik? Or is it looking to God with a global network of satellite “life” images and accurate positioning to trust in our journeys? I know now that if I were to not have GPS in my vehicles that it would be much more difficult to get to where I wanted to go and I would most likely get lost.

When we give God control of our lives we basically say, “God, I know you have mapped out every place that I would need or ever want to go and I trust in following your directions in everything I do.” The key as well with GPS is that you still need to make the turns!! You don’t put in the location you want to go and then just sit in your car. You need to still drive and follow the directions.

Think today about giving navigational control of your life to God by reading the Bible and seeking God in prayer. If you don’t know how to do that, then click the “Connect” button above and send me an email. I will be more than happy to help you calibrate and start using the “God GPS” in your life!
Have a great day!

Empathy is the Finest HOLY in the CRAP

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Chapter 12 – “When Pain Has Value”

“It is interesting for me to look back on the “eyeball years” because I really feel God was working on my empathy for people more than He was working on my belief in Him while I was going through the worst of my eye situation. I want to state it again because I think this concept is so important for a person following Christ: God was working on my empathy for people more than He was working on my belief in Him. Now, to a “career Christian,” this can sound terrible. But I know that if I tell people I love Jesus more than anything in my life, but I can’t have empathy for people, give to the needy, help the poor, take care of widows and orphans, or just simply love people who are making bad decisions in life–as I do sometimes–then my relationship with Jesus is a lie.”

Many times we focus so hard on trying to believe things for our own lives rather than letting Jesus teach us empathy for others while going through crap in life. The empathy we have for others is what changes our relationship with Jesus. We go from just being concerned about ourselves and what WE can get and what WE need, to an outward focus that wants to serve others. It is the perfect and selfless example that Jesus gave us while on this earth. When we are focused on giving to others, Jesus not only meets our needs but meets them with perfect timing to receive it for maximum impact.

Today, think about how you can get involved in someone else’s life in a practical way, especially if you are going through some kind of crap of your own. When we help take care of God’s children, WE are taken care of. It’s the Kingdom way; give yourself away to find your own needs met.

As always, praying for you all to have daily revelations from God and a heart that is pliable to His ways.