I’m a Survivor?

In today’s economic climate, it’s not hard to imagine that a lot of people are barely “surviving”.  Most months I would include myself; hoping to make ends meet as gas, food, and other expenses seem to rise almost daily.  But today I read something that really stuck with me.

“God wants us to move from a survival mentality to a position of ruling and reigning.  From just getting by, to really believing Him ‘to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20)”

How many times have we used the “j” word – just?  “If I could just make it this month”….”I’m just hoping to get at least two clients”…..I just  want to get through this. Those kind of statements keeps us in survival mode, and that is not what God wants for us.

For in the gospel God’s righteousness is being revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

So how do we go from just surviving to living abundantly?  We have to exercise our faith.  Faith is the tool that allows us to believe in God’s promises…..and there are many of them.  Faith is what compels us to believe that God will answer our prayers.  (“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:24.)  Faith is what will help us see the situation with spiritual eyes to look beyond circumstances.

Don’t wake up just hoping to survive the day…..wake up knowing that God has an abundance of blessings waiting for you.  You just need to adopt a faith based attitude to receive them.

Take a Look

Last week, I coached my last tournament game of the summer season.  I told my players that good competition exposes their weaknesses; the areas of skill that they need to improve upon.  I gave them an assignment to go home and write down what their strengths were, as well as their weaknesses, and make it a goal to improve the weak areas over the next few months so they will be prepared for their school tryouts.

I love the quote, “Success is when preparation meets opportunity”.  It’s not only athletes and coaches that need to be prepared, but everyone, as we never know where God may lead us.  If you have been praying for something specific, as I have, you better believe that preparation is one of the keys to receiving it.

I have been asking God to show me my weaknesses and help me to make them strengths.  It’s not always pleasant hearing about your shortcomings; I have had to lose the ego, and take the constructive criticism.  It’s for my own good….necessary to reach my full potential. It’s funny because I told my players the same thing about a week ago – “I correct you for your own good!”

Athletics is the perfect example of self-assessment, hard work and preparation, and then victory.  Just think of how much better our lives could be if we followed the same path in our relationships, work, or any other goal we want to achieve or situation we want to improve.  If we humbled ourselves to ask God to show us our faults, instead of always pointing the finger at someone else.  If we periodically took a self-assessment, and began to let God change us.

So this will continue to be my prayer:

“Investigate my life, O God, 
      find out everything about me; 
   Cross-examine and test me, 
      get a clear picture of what I’m about; 
   See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— 
      then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (Psalm 139:23-24, The Message)

Even God’s Will Has Obstacles

God has opened up some doors, and I feel like I’m going in the right direction.  It should be smooth sailing from here, right?  WRONG!

On the road to success, there are many obstacles…even if God is leading the way.   I admit that I was a little naive about this concept.  Sure, I expected a little precipitation on the journey, but not a full blown storm!

Victory isn’t easy, and the only way to achieve it is to push through all of the things that come against you.  Life sometimes seems to get worse, before it gets better, when you are traveling God’s path.

I will admit, I wasn’t prepared for a fight.  It looked like life was getting easier, so I relaxed a bit.  But then things got really tough, and I found myself hiding in my bed eating graham crackers for breakfast and lunch, refusing to face the day.  Finally at 3 p.m., I convinced myself that my growing 2 year old needed more to eat than crackers, so I got up.  (Hope her grandma isn’t reading this).

That was yesterday…..

Today I awoke to a clock that said 7:55 a.m., and I was still not ready to tackle anything.  By 9:30 a.m., I was up going through the motions.  But at 11:30 a.m., I decided to have a little meeting with God.  30 minutes later, all my problems were not gone, but my attitude began to change.  I realized that I needed to change my approach.  Perfection is unattainable…..obstacles are unavoidable….human error is inevitable.

But God’s word is unchangeable……

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon….” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Yesterday I was hiding from the world, but today I am ready for battle!

It Ain’t Over til the Buzzer Goes Off

Late game situation:  we are down by 7 points, and there is 2 minutes and 30 seconds left to go on the clock.  I call time out, and my team comes to the bench.  As I start talking, I notice some heads are down, and others have faces that carry a look of defeat.  So I say to them, “Why are you acting as if you have already lost??  There is still time left….you are still in the game!  Don’t give up, because you can still win….even now!”

“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’.” (Joel 2:12)

Even now…..

Those are the two most powerful words in that verse.  It shouts to us that even though we feel defeated, the game ain’t over yet.  God wants us to be victorious.   Of course, being down by 2 points seems a little more hopeful than if you are down by 20.  But God said, “even now”, no matter what the scenario.  There is only one stipulation.

return to me….

This requires us to admit that we messed up.  It requires us to depart from our own way, and go back to God’s way.  You can’t just go through the motions either, as He says “return with all of your heart”.

“Tear your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the LORD your God. He is merciful and compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive and to change his plans about disaster.” (Joel 2:13)

That is the game-changer.  Returning whole-heartily to living the way that God intended us to live.  He gives us guidelines on every situation that we face; we just have to seek and follow them.  Even now, the game can change for us.  Even now, we can go from down by 20 points., to bringing home the gold.  Even now, God is patiently waiting for us to just throw out our way, and go back to His.  Never accept that it is too late, cause you know what they say….

It ain’t over til the buzzer goes off!

Quitting is a Habit

I have been noticing a trend in today’s culture……quitting.  It used to be, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.  Billy Ocean even did a song titled that, back in the 80’s.  Now the phrase sounds more like this, “when the going gets tough, just give up!”

I feel as if making a commitment, and seeing it through, is becoming a lost art in our society.  People think nothing of quitting at the first signs of distress, or moving on to what they think is the next best thing.  No matter what or who they are leaving behind.

Of course, there are times when you should leave your current position, and move onto another opportunity. However, that decision shouldn’t be made hastily.  It should be prayed about, and well-thought out; and it shouldn’t include breaking a commitment to someone else.

“Endings are better than beginnings.  Sticking to it is better than standing out.”  Ecclesiastes 7:8

Famous football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”  Habits become easier to fall into, and harder to break over time.  When a situation gets tough, think of what you can do to help make it better, instead of just quitting.  If you have made a commitment, see it through until the end.  Don’t just jump ship!  You may be in rough waters now, but if you just hold on, your end destination may be paradise.

He didn’t say “no”, He just said “wait”…

When my kids ask me for something, and I tell them to wait and let me think about it, they usually assume my answer will be no.  When they ask their dad, and he says the same thing, they assume his answer will be yes.  I guess I’m the tough one, and he is pegged as the push-over.

Have you ever asked someone for something, but already assumed what the answer would be? Something like this, “They will probably say no, but I will ask anyway”.  Oh ye of little faith.

I think that scenario can sometimes reflect my prayer life.  I have prayed for something, and God didn’t say “no”, He just said “wait”.  But exercising patience can often be a difficult task.  So after I have waited, as long as I can stand, I start to assume that the answer is really going to be no, so I should just take it upon myself to work out the situation.  Does that course of action sound familiar to anyone?  Taking matters into our own hands, usually just causes a bigger debacle that God has to rescue us from.  Thankfully, He doesn’t lose His patience with us.

I heard a quote to sum this up.  “God will give it to you when He feels you are ready for it”.  As a parent, that makes perfect sense.  I wouldn’t give my daughter the keys to the car, until she was fully trained and prepared for the responsibility.  Not because I’m some cruel, evil mom (not always at least); but because I want to keep her safe, so I have to make sure she is ready.

“But I am certain that, even now, whatever request you make to God, God will give it to you.” (John 11:22)

We are supposed to bring our requests to God all of the time. (Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything, Phil. 4:6) Sometimes He will answer “yes”.  Sometimes He will answer “no”.  Sometimes He will answer “wait”.  If the answer is “wait” and time has been passing, don’t get discouraged.  He didn’t close your door,   He just wants to be the one to open it for you.

A New Perspective

Last week, I came back from a trip that I took by myself; in other words, sans kids.  I went to visit a friend in the D.C. area.  Since I’m single, and was taking this trip alone, a friend of mine kept teasing me saying that I was taking a “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” trip.  If you haven’t seen that movie, it’s about a single, 40- year old woman, who takes a lone trip and finds romance with a much younger man.  The purpose of my vacation was to catch up with old college friends, but I wasn’t completely put off by the idea of getting my own groove back.

I had a great time while I was gone.  I caught up with my friends, did some sight seeing, and ate way too much junk food.  It was nice to just be away, and in a sense I did get my groove back; just not in the way this picture from the movie depicts. (darn…..maybe next time :))

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.(Isaiah 43:19)

I had been feeling lately, that it was time to turn the corner on some things in my life.  God was beginning to do some new things, but I couldn’t recognize fully what they were.  I can now see why Jesus would go away from the crowds to be alone. (After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.-Matthew 14:23)  Our lives are filled with so many people, distractions, hindrances, and busyness, that it is hard to focus on what God is doing.  Even though my trip wasn’t taken in solitude, it was still a chance to be removed from the daily grind, and get a much needed new perspective.

You know the old saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.”  Sometimes we are just submerged so deep, in the details of our lives, that we lose the big picture….the picture and plan that God has for us.  Even if you can’t jet set off to another part of the country (well, taking AirTran and sitting in coach, isn’t exactly jet setting), you can still set aside some time to meet with God, and seek the new things that He wants to do in your life.  Get away to gain a new perspective….that much needed “aerial” view of your life.

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