God’s Set Up

Ruth 2:16 “Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

Sometimes God will set you up for a blessing. God can connect you with the right people, the right opened door. Without you even trying to get noticed, God knows how to put a spotlight on you, your business, your talent, skill or your product.

I absolutely LOVE the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. It’s the story in the Bible found in the book of Ruth. Ruth is going through one of the darkest season in her life. But she remains faithful on so many levels. She remains faithful to God, shows extreme kindness in her relationships and consistent with her responsibilities. Ruth shows up for her responsibilities and God allows her to be noticed by the owner, Boaz. Ruth had a great reputation for the kindness she shown to her mother-in-law. The owner, Boaz, was so moved by her kindness and faithfulness, he went out of his way to position her for a blessing. She received special treatment and protection. Boaz gave an order to his employees to leave grain in Ruth’s way so she would see it and be able to harvest it. This special favor and relationship allowed Ruth to experience a greater harvest than what she would have experienced on her own.

God shares this amazing story with us to let us know that He can bring restoration after great loss. God’s desire is for us to have faith that His favor can open incredible doors and change our circumstances.

These three characteristics will open the door for God’s favor: 
• Remain faithful to God. Don’t allow your trust in God to slip. Stay anchored to God.
• Remain faithful to your relationships. Even in your darkest seasons find ways to be kind to others and ways to be a blessing to someone else.
• Remain faithful to your responsibilities. Keep doing what God has assigned you to do. Ruth may have been poor, but she was willing to leave the house and go out to find food.

God set Ruth up for a blessing that changed her circumstances and her life forever. There were things left for her on purpose, but she had to be willing to show up and pick them up. Allow your faith in God to increase. Believe that He is a God that will reward you for your faithfulness. Let your heart and mind wander about how God can set you up with favor.

Maggie Has Been Rejected 50,000 Times

This is Maggie. Britains most “unloved dog”. That’s what Britain paper “The Daily Mail” wrote in 2015. Maggie is a whippet cross who was taken to Serendipity Kennel in Cellarhead, Staffordshire as a puppy because a large family was unable to cope and care for her. For eleven years over 50,000 people who were looking for a dog overlooked Maggie. No one wanted Maggie.

What really breaks my heart at an escalated level is the thousands of children who have been rejected or abandoned by their parents. In some cases, the children are not rejected but have lost their parents to death, prison or to extreme illness. Children need parents. They need care-givers. They need love, affection and affirmation. It is devastating and a detriment to a Childs health to be left alone, ignored and not nurtured on every level… body, soul and spirit.

When we bring attention to loneliness, we must remember our elderly who are in nursing homes or unable to leave their homes. Thousands of our elderly have no one to visit them. They spend hours bound to a bed or to a very small square footage of space. A visit from anyone always puts a smile on their faces.

Loneliness is a real issue. No-one wants to feel like they are alone or do not have anyone they can talk to about ideas, problems or sharing things that excite them. Professional studies have proven that we are wired for social connection. From plants, animals to humans, the results are the same, when they are neglected human interaction… the outcome will be sickness and possible death.

In some cases, the cure for loneliness is relativity easy and low sacrifice. Its a simple 30 to 60 minute conversation. Its a phone call. It’s sharing a meal. Its taking a walk together. In some cases it will require more sacrifice. It’s making a relational commitment to be a friend. It’s spending time mentoring. Adopting a child. Whether a small investment of time or a larger sacrifice…

You can be someones cure for loneliness. 

5 Things to Help Fight Against Loneliness

  1. Invite someone out for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner. You may be the one that feels lonely. Don’t let the possible feeling of rejection stop you from inviting someone. The first invite might not work for their schedule or you may have invited the wrong person. Don’t give up. Someone wants to talk with you.
  2. Take time to call 3 people this week. Spend some time on the phone with them. Offer words of encouragement, scripture verses and a prayer before you end the conversation.
  3. Find a teen that seems to be fighting loneliness. Get permission from their parents and take them to lunch, play basketball, fishing, go get ice cream. Talk about future goals and plans. Take time to dream with them about their future. Find out what they are passionate about. Encourage them. Breathe life into their future.
  4. Treasure the moments that people give you. If someone takes out time to talk with you. Notice you. Invite you. Thank them. When you feel lonely, or you have the thought that no-one cares, remind yourself that someone took out time to call you or they sent you a card. Those small moments mean a lot. I believe when we are truly thankful for the small moments that people give us and we sow into other peoples lives, God will allow us to reap a harvest of friendships.
  5. Remember these Scriptures. Pray and ask the Lord to help you extend His presence in to someones life this week.
  • Proverbs 18:24a, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”
  • Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “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.”
  • John 15:12,This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
  • Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

Signs You May be STUCK in Your Past

1. You are consistently talking about your past.

We can get stuck rehearsing who hurt us, how we have failed, what we are lacking, how we are rejected, who is not supporting us, how we don’t have the right skills, talent or education.

Rehearsing the “curse” will not reverse the “curse”. It just keeps it connected and alive.

2. You refuse to formulate a good plan for your great future. 

God states that He has a good plan for our future in Jeremiah 29:11. Why do we delay in formulating a good plan to move forward? If God has a great plan for our future, then shouldn’t we be planning with God?

Don’t plan on failing, plan on succeeding. That’s what God is planning for you.

3. Your passion has died for your future.

Do you have more stories about your past than dreams for your future?

When you have passion for your future, you dream. God wants you to dream about your future. In fact, your expectation and thoughts give God something to work with. Your expectations and thoughts fuel your faith for your future. Look at Ephesians 3:20, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, God says, “Whatever you think or dream about for your future, I will exceed your expectations.”

God does not want us stuck in our past. Spending more energy, thoughts and passion on your past means less energy and passion toward your future.

“You can’t have great success in your future if you stay stuck thinking about a failed past.”

It is HIGHLY important for your relationships that you do not get stuck in your past failures.

“How you see yourself will be how you see others.”

Judges 6:12-16 shares with us that God was trying to call Gideon for a greater purpose, but Gideon was stuck about his past. He was very upset about how things were going the last several years. Gideon’s perspective was that things was so bad in his past, he basically called God out and said that God had abandoned him. Gideon had low self-esteem, he seen himself as the weakest and least person in his family and nation. But that’s not what God seen.

God said…  “Gideon, you are a mighty warrior.”

Gideon said…  “I am the least in my family and nation.”

 God said… “Go in the STRENGTH you have.”

Gideon said… “I come from a weak family.”

 God said… “I am sending you.”

Gideon said… “God has abandoned me.”

Arguing with God about what your past and what you don’t have will not bring the breakthrough sooner. It only delays what God is desiring to bring into your life.

Four things God taught Gideon that will help us get UNSTUCK:

  1. Your family history is not your destiny.
  2. Stop thinking like a victim, and start believing you are a victor.
  3. Speak at a higher level of faith when it comes to your future. God doesn’t address Gideon’s low perspective by arguing. God simply declares a higher Truth over Gideon.
  4. Don’t let anyone else hold the pen while writing your story. (A quote by Harley Davidson.)

You may not feel hope for your future but God does. God wants to do something new in you. Remember God specializes in CREATING. He is a God who saves us from disaster, delivers us from evil, opens closed doors, transforms us into a new creation.

Consider His word which declares we are not captive or bound to our past…

Isaiah 43:18-19, ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

I declare your God is bigger than your past. You are not stuck, but are free to reach forward to the greater things God has prepared for you!

Your next word will cause a Reaction or a Response

Our attempt to resolve problems, deal with differences of opinions, desiring to express where we have been offended or trying to correct bad behavior in a relationship; can either cause more negative reactions or cause a response. Reactions are usually quick and immediate. They are normally more based from how we feel. Like the natural reflex of a muscle. However, a response is more thoughtful. A response considers, “What I am about ready to say, how will it impact the rest of this conversation and will it help to bring resolve?” A response usually has a thought out plan with the end goal in mind to… understand and resolve. Reactions could be more, “I just want to express how I feel” or “I want to get this off my chest”.

We have the ability to trigger a response that could bring resolution, reconciliation and healing. Choosing the right words have tremendous power. Words can provoke, stir up, push buttons. Words can start wars; or bring people to the table to sign Peace Treaties. Words have the power to close the deal on a multi-million dollar contract. Words also have the power to destroy relationships, and create tension and division. Wise words have incredible power to bring peace in a home or in the work place. Words can gain a friend or bridge differences. Being purposeful with our words that cause more response can bring a healthy environment to our relationships.

Consider these Scriptures from God’s Word that bring light to triggering a response or a reaction.

  • Ephesians 3:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
  • Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,”
  • Galatians 5:26, “Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
  • Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

What we say, how we react or how we respond will CREATE an environment. We have the ability to raise the level of our relationships to be more purposeful, intentional; to cultivate an environment that will be conducive for encouragment, learning from one another, resolving problems and lifting each other to greatness. Weeds don’t need help to grow. Weeds can grow in any crude environment. Plants and trees that produce healthy fruits and vegetables, need an intentional environment. This requires someone that cares to give the effort to create.

Let’s create an environment that triggers a response so great things can grow.

Bonnie and I had a conversation about causing reactions and responses on our last podcast. You can listen by clicking here… Episode #002 Linked: Are You Causing a Reaction or a Response?

Press the Pause Button – Rest, Reflect & Renew

 

Do you like the ON DEMAND feature of pressing the pause button? The option of recording your favorite show so you can watch it later. In the middle of watching a movie and you start craving popcorn or ice cream and you are able to press the pause button so you don’t miss anything as you walk to the kitchen. You hear a movie quote, or a cool scene that you have to back up and watch again. You’re in an intense moment in the movie, eyes and ears are glued to the screen, and all of a sudden someone comes walking loudly in the room! You can’t hear the dialogue in the movie for the disruption. You press the pause button so you don’t miss the scene. Our life can be full of distractions.

Taking time to rest and reflect is like pressing the pause button on the ON DEMAND controller. If we are not careful we can be so overloaded by the “noise” of life; we can miss the opportunities to pause, think and reflect on what is going on around us. It is important to pause and think deeply about the importance of the people in your life.

Things are not meant to keep producing, growing and running non-stop. Winter is a season for things to reset & rest. Trees take a break from producing and growing during the winter. Even bears go into a level of hibernation during the winter! They are able to sleep for up to 100 days without eating, drinking or passing… ugh… waste!

Our vehicle cannot run non-stop without it eventually shutting down and blowing the engine. The vehicle will run out of gas, the oil will eventually break down and lose its properties to lubricate the engine properly. The wheel bearings and tires will eventually wear without proper maintenance.

My point is most things in life need to pause to take a break. They need to rest and renew. So do YOU. Our bodies and minds are not meant to keep going at the same level of pace all the time.

Listen MOM. Put down the mop. Let the dishes pile up for one day. You don’t have to sweep the floor and fold the laundry everyday. You must put in your weekly schedule a routine, a time for you to press the pause button so you can rest, reflect and renew.

Dad… You too. You cannot work two jobs, constant overtime, 10 to 12 hour days without a system in place for you to rest, reflect and renew. Our performance for our jobs, relationships at home and abroad will not be at its optimum level.

Leaders, CEO’s, doctors, nurses, team members, managers, teachers, pastors, ministry leaders, … we need you and we want to keep you around for a long time. We don’t want you breaking down or blowing an engine. I’m urging you to make it a priority to schedule a weekly routine to rest, reflect and renew.

Determine Your Levels of Rest

How can you pace yourself for better performance and success without burning out? You are probably like me; we have a full schedule every week. Multiple responsibilities. We cannot afford to “take off” 100 days like a bear or the whole winter season. In fact, disengaging for a long period of time is detrimental to our relationships, parenting, career, as well as our emotions, body performance and mental capacity. That’s another lesson for another time. I want us to think about our system, procedure or habits of how we rest. We must evaluate how much daily, weekly and yearly rest we need.

Yearly rest can be a week or several days of vacation each year. If your company does not give you paid vacation days, take advantage of holiday weekends that do not require you to miss work. Yearly rest is where you plan to take more than three consecutive days off. You can plan and budget a trip or just plan a “staycation”. Stay home and rest. Set an instant return message on your emails and phone to let your clients and team know that you are taking a vacation. You will return their call or email when you return from your vacation. While you are taking this time to rest, make it priority to truly unplug from your job and rest your mind and renew your spirit. This time is an opportunity for you to think about all the blessings in your life. Be grateful for what God has given you. Appreciate family, friends, relationships, provision and your purpose.

Weekly rest may be an entire day or half a day. This is where you “unplug” for a short period of time. Put away the phone. Get with friends or family and have FUN! Don’t bring up work, issues, and problems. Go watch a movie, play some board games, go to dinner, go hiking, canoeing, golf, skiing, fishing, shopping. Laugh, cut up, smile, enjoy each other’s company and live in the moment. This level of rest can be weekly or once every two weeks.

Daily rest includes your daily amount of sleep and a quiet time for reading, reflection and prayer. Most people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. Prepare your bedroom and your brain for good quality sleep. Shut or silence phone notifications that may beep or cast a blue light through the night. Your brain will pick up lighting changes and sounds, while you are sleeping. Read a book before you sleep. A devotional and Bible is a great way to bring peace and relaxation to your mind and emotions.

3 Ways to Rest, Reflect & Renew

Developing a habit to rest and reflect will help you bring renewal to your mind, emotions and body. This routine is like reenergizing your batteries. It’s like refueling and providing preventive maintenance on your vehicle. A constant habit to rest will prevent you from not just burn out, it will keep you performing at a high level of creativity, passion and focus to reach your goals and desires for success in every area of your life.

  1. Rest & Read. Schedule a quiet time in your day that you will read something that will be beneficial for personal and spiritual growth. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t happen. Set the atmosphere that is conducive for reading and reflecting. What do you like? What do you enjoy? What relaxes you? Drinking coffee or hot tea in the morning? Sitting on the deck watching the sunrise or sunset? Playing worship, jazz, classical music on a low volume as background music? Pure silence? Prepare the moment. Your brain and emotions will anticipate and crave these quiet moments of rest.
  2. Reflect by writing in a journal. Express what you are reading, learning, how you are applying new principles, where you find joy, what areas you feel fulfilled. Write creative thoughts that come to you. Quotes that touch your heart and soul and express a deep truth. You can journal business ideas, ideas for inventions. Poems or songs may come to you in this time of reflection. Don’t be surprised when answers and solutions become clear for certain problems you are facing. Reflect on what is making your relationships healthy. Evaluate your priorities, are you reaching your goals, do you need a “tune up” or preventive maintenance in any of these areas?
  3. Renew your mind, soul and spirit. When you feel like life is spinning out of control; schedules and to-do list are increasing, I have found one small action has helped. Take time to get quiet. Get still. Press pause on life and give time for your mind and emotions to calm. I discovered something years ago that I love. Its one very simple way that brings quick rest and peace to my mind. On a warm June day in Tennessee, I was a young boy lying on my back in the middle of a grassy field. As I’m gazing into the sky, I notice a slight summer breeze that seemed to push and squeeze the clouds that looked like huge cotton balls. I was amazed as I watched the clouds begin to press together and form bigger clouds. As the clouds scrolled, the deep blue sky and spotless white clouds were intensified. As I’m watching this amazing scene, I realized how calm, relaxed and at peace my mind and emotions settled over me. I love God’s creation. I love how taking time to appreciate nature and God’s creation seems to bring rest and renewal to my soul. There is something so peaceful about taking quiet moments to gaze at the mountains, walking in the woods, staring into the bright blue sky or a starry night. Don’t underestimate the power of pressing pause throughout your day so you can embrace creation, nature, and the meaningful relationships in your life. Find a park and take a walk. Find a trail in the woods and embrace the sights and sounds of God’s nature. While you are in your quiet time, meditate on scripture, talk with God; thank Him for His creation and the blessings in your life. You will find this small step of pressing pause will bring clarity to your mind, calm your emotions and renew your spirit.

You may think you have to quit, you don’t have the strength to continue on, but what your body and mind may be telling you is develop a habit to frequently press a pause to rest, reflect and renew. I believe you will find renewed strength, energy and passion.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB) Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

TABOO TALK

“Sticks and stones may break  my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yeah right! Whoever came up with that phrase was totally faking. Posing. Lying. Not real. The fact is words have the power to really hurt. Words do a lot more damage than hurt feelings… words can cut right through the heart. More importantly our words have the power to mold and shape the lives of the people around us; including our own life. Words can instantly determine the outcome of a mutli-million dollar negotiation, an interview for a job, a relationship strain or a commitment to marriage. Words can intensify attraction or bring a disengaging disgust. Words have started wars. Words have the power to sow a seed of friendship, unity, bridge a disagreement; or words have the power to bring a harvest of discord, dissension & death to relationships.

Expanding our vocabulary has a deeper meaning than moving  beyond the use of 4-letter words. Choosing to speak at a higher level than our feelings and frustration is not just being nice or trying to keep peace. It is divine wisdom that nudges us to choose intentional words that will produce, create life and resolve problems. Like an artist choosing the right color, a musician selecting the right notes, the architect knowing where to draw the lines. Can you imagine how enriched our relationships would be if we would be intentional with our words; like sowing seed into a well prepared garden? According to Proverbs 18:21, our words have the power to either produce life or death.

Another thought on taboo talk… What you say is crucial. However, how you say it and when you say it; is just as imperative.

4 TABOO TALKS THAT WILL DESTROY YOUR LIFE AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Talking bad about yourself is more damaging than someone else talking bad about you. Stop talking down about you. Stop pointing out how you don’t measure up, your flaws, your lack of abilities. How you view you is how others will view you. I’m not talking about over-compensated confidence, over-inflated arrogance. I’m simply saying, see the value that God has created in you. Begin focusing and talking about the good qualities that God has placed within you. God believes in you (Jeremiah 29:11); believe and speak what He believes about you.
  2. Talking about people behind their back will weaken your integrity and character. Our words can be so helpful or hurtful. If we truly want to be a friend and have healthy relationships, then we need to be a faithful friend. A friend that can be trusted. Full of integrity. If correction or constructive criticism is needed; then we will offer it directly to the person, not behind their back.
  3. Talking about your spouse & children’s dysfunctions, bad traits, personality flaws, will never change them nor inspire them to be better. NO ONE can endure being beat down about their insufficiencies for long period of time. Your words of encouragement can launch your children’s dreams and inspire them. Your words of encouragement and affirmation of what people are doing right will give them renewed energy and passion to continue on with their growth.
  4. Talking with words of grumbles and gripes makes one a miserable life. I read a research paper where we think 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. 98% of them are repetitive thoughts. What is more “thought provoking” is that 80% of our thoughts are negative. Words that we speak and words that we think work together. There’s a tipping point in a persons life when they decide to take inventory and control of their thoughts and words. Philippians 4:7,8,9 is the formula for success with our thoughts and words. I believe this will help… Spend more energy on practicing Philippians 4:7,8,9 than on griping, grumbling, complaining and giving constant life to your feelings. Listen to your own words. I will admit, its hard to not express our feelings when they are such a strong part of who we are. We may not be able to remove all of our negative words; however, we can decide to replace most of them. When the majority of your words are positive, giving solutions, problem solving, giving compliments, giving encouragement; then you will find your world and life will begin to change.

Love… More than a Feeling

Love is more than emotion, it is a choice. Love is more than a feeling (yes I’m singing Boston’s song right now), it’s an attitude. Love is far beyond just sexual attraction; love has been planted and sprouts within us because it is the fruit of God’s Spirit. We keep on loving, because God is constantly producing love in us by His Spirit. Love is not just thoughts or words alone, but action. We give out of love, we do selfless acts expecting nothing in return, because we love. We love, because our Heavenly Father IS love. We have His DNA in us. We don’t just love those we like or are attracted to… we are full spectrum lovers… we love our enemies too. 

3 ways to love MORE:

  1. Don’t just think it, say it. Don’t just say it, express it in a form of appreciation. Show kindness, help someone, buy a gift, give words of encouragement, send a card, find a need and resolve it, pay someones bill, take them to lunch, pick up the phone and call. There are so many ways to show our love. What we don’t want to do is, wait until its too late to express our love. Let’s not live in regret. “I wish ___________ were here so I could tell them (show them)… how much they mean to me. “
  2. Take a step to resolve a conflict. Don’t let unresolved conflicts, misunderstandings or pride keep you from love. Release someone who has offended you. Don’t make them guess, if you are still mad at them or not. Directly tell them you forgive them.
  3. Don’t let a few people harden your heart. Some people will be bent on being mean, grouchy, cynical. Don’t let the few force you to forget about the many others in your life who are nice. Don’t let the hardships of life cause you to abandon the call of love and kindness. Keep your heart soft toward showing kindness, love, caring. People who love live a longer, happy peaceful life.

1 John 4:10-11, Galatians 5:22, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 3:17, Matthew 5:44, 1 Corinthians 13