Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Finding Answers For Impossible Situations

(The following is a re-post from a few years ago. I thought it might be worth a second look.)

There's a story in the Bible about four lepers who were in a bad situation, but through a little creativity and boldness, they were able to improve their circumstances beyond their wildest dreams.
The city where they lived was under siege by their enemies, and a great famine ensued. All of the inhabitants of the city were affected, especially the lepers who pretty-much had to beg for everything they got. The four of them got to talking to each other one day, and they made the collective decision to leave the city, go to the camp of the enemy, and beg for food from them (who had an abundance of food, drink, clothing, and other assorted "stuff").

Their reasoning was this: If they stayed inside the city, they were going to die. If they went to the enemy camp, they were going to die...but, maybe the enemies would show mercy and give them something to eat and drink.

Well an interesting thing happened. The Lord God made the enemies who were camping outside the city hear the sound of a great army of horses and chariots, and they thought it was the allies of the city residents coming to rescue them. They literally ran away and left everything behind, even stripping off extra clothing as they ran so they could run away even fraster.

The four lepers of our story found the abandoned campground and after checking out a few of the tents, found that they had stumbled upon a mega-powerball-sized jackpot. Food, drink, clothing, silver, and gold were all left behind by the scared enemies. The four lepers began to eat and drink all that they wanted, and then to gather the riches and stockpile them for themselves for later use.

There is more to this story, but for the purposes of this Blog post, allow me to state that looking outside of a seemingly impossible problem or situation may produce the solution or answers you are seeking. Add to that a little boldness to move beyond the familiar and comfortable, and you are setting the stage for a huge breakthrough.

Having faith in the Lord God completes the package.

Question: What difficult or impossible situation are you facing that may need you to look outside for an answer, to look inside for some boldness, and to have the faith to look heavenward for help?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What to Do While Waiting

Last week in this space I shared some encouragements about waiting. We determined that waiting is an inevitable fact of life.
Because there are many excellent Blogs, books, and articles on practical things to do while waiting (in line, at ballgames, etc.), I do not want to use this space to re-create that list. What I would like for us to consider is a bigger picture application of what to do while waiting through major initiatives in our lives (promotions at work, relationship improvement, overcoming an illness, etc.).

I believe that how we position ourselves when we do have to wait, and how we leverage our spiritual resources during the wait will do one of two things: It will either propel us forward into a greater intimacy with God and spiritual growth, or it will keep us simply mediocre.

Here are two things to consider:

1) Make preparations for the best. Many people “don’t get their hopes up” while waiting. They find it easy to expect the worst rather than expect the best. What we need to do is act and speak as if what we are waiting for is going to happen. That is what faith is.

You might ask, “But what if it doesn’t happen?” Wouldn’t you rather have expected and prepared for the best possible outcome, being ready for when it does happen? Or, do you prefer a life of being discouragement and negativity, expecting the worst outcome?

A life lived with a positive attitude will open more doors for you, will cause others to want to be around you, and make you more purposeful and productive. On the other hand, a life lived with a negative attitude will depress you, will drive others away from you, and keep you from achieving very much.

When it comes to negative expectations, many people expect the worst and look forward to saying, “See, I told you so.” I’d rather live a life of faith, expecting the very best so I can say, “See, the Lord said so!”

2) Remind yourself of God’s Promises. God’s Word is full of His promises for those who believe in Him. When difficulties come or when you must wait, remind yourself of specific promises in His Word. Say, “God has me in His hand, and no weapon formed against me will prosper. I am trusting (not will trust) in my God to see me through!”

This puts the responsibility on us to find and learn the promises in His Word. We must be diligent treasure hunters, seeking the promises and encouragements that are waiting to be discovered. May I encourage us to turn off the TV and spend time in God’s Word. When facing a difficult period of waiting in our lives, the promises of God’s Word will go a lot further than knowing the winner of a reality TV show.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us: 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.

Wait Well!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why Wait?

None of us like to wait. We seem to always find ourselves in a hurry. We are impatient. Our instant culture demands that we get going quickly. But, waiting is a fact of life.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated as you: Wait at a red light, wait in line, wait for payday, wait for the weekend, wait for a relationship to improve, wait for a promotion, wait to get married, wait to overcome an illness, wait until next year… 

Here are six benefits to waiting:
  • Waiting inspires creativity. Because we want it now, we tend to use shortcuts to achieve, posses, correct, or arrive. As a result, those shortcuts often generate a new set of problems that we must navigate in order to achieve, posses, correct, or arrive. By using our creativity, it causes us to think within ourselves for a solution. (I believe that everyone is creative because we were made in the image of the Great Creator)
  • Waiting uncovers selfish motives. Sometimes when we want something or want something to happen quickly, we don’t consider the origin of that desire. By waiting, we can examine our hearts and see if the desire is rooted in selfishness or pride. If we find that it does, we may need to reevaluate the value and purpose of what we are seeking.
  • Waiting defers to others. Don’t you hate it when someone pulls out in front of you while driving? Unless it requires a “tire screeching, near-miss, groceries dumped on the floor” braking maneuver, your dislike is usually about someone getting in front of you. Or what about having to wait at the doctor’s office? What if a parent with a sick child was squeezed-in ahead of you, or several other patients scheduled before you had needs that required special attention. In most situations where we must wait, we are allowing others to go in front of us. That’s basic Christianity.
  • Waiting prevents unnecessary debt. When it comes to purchases, we see what we want, and then we buy it. If we don’t have the money on hand, we finance it. Simple. But, it creates months or even years of added burden that brings an entirely new set of pressures that eclipse the pressure of doing without that thing. Do we really need it? Do we really need the upgrade? Is brand new required, or will used suffice? (See benefit #1 above.)
  • Waiting adds value to what you are waiting for. We are not only an instant culture, but we are also a throwaway culture. The things we possess, the relationships have, the jobs we do, and the activities we engage in are all disposable if something better comes along. If we have waited for something, or waited for someone, it or they take on much more value to us. We are more apt to take care of, more inclined to protect, and more driven to remain loyal.
  • Waiting builds character. Here we find the polar opposite of instant. Most character qualities find themselves rooted in waiting, because character is built over time, and waiting takes time. When it comes to waiting, the character we build is worth far more than the thing we want.
As I write this Blog post, the Powerball Lottery is worth $1.4 billion. The media, both social and professional, have proven our culture’s obsession with instant riches. So why wait? Your move… Or your decision to not move, and simply wait.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Dump Your Resolutions Now!

Ask God for Vision! As we begin this new year, may I encourage you to not just make resolutions, but to ask God for a vision for your life.
Proverbs 29:18 tells us: Where there is no vision (sense of direction), the people perish. Here is what we can learn from this verse:
Dissatisfaction doesn’t come from the absence of things, but from the absence of direction. Seeking stuff (which includes seeking the experiences that activities provide) only leads to disappointment. Direction in life is born out of a vision. Desire of things and activities is born out of misplaced affections.

Simply existing is settling for less then God intended for us. If we go through our lives being directed by activities, routines, others, and what is popular, we are simply existing. Picture a raft in the ocean, being driven by whatever outside force is upon it. Having a vision-driven life is like being a sailboat, steered by the rudder of purpose, and propelled by the wind of God’s Spirit.

The quality of our lives will be determined by our vision, and the effort we are willing to put into fulfilling it. Quality of life is not predicated on what we have or what we experience. Rather, quality of life is achieved by becoming what we were designed to be.

But simply knowing our vision is not sufficient. We must be willing to invest the time and energy into ourselves to make it come to pass. This takes commitment, effort, consistency, and a plan.

Ask God for a vision for your life. Determine a strategy to fulfill that vision. Consistently do the little things every day that exercise that strategy. If you do this, you will become all that God has designed you to be, and you will fulfill your destiny!

Lead Well!

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