Encouragement, Leadership

Finishing the Year with Vision for 2014

The year 2013 is about to come to a close.  What were your highlights from this past year?  Do they out number the lows?  It’s easy to be thankful for the highlights, but a bit tougher to “give thanks in all things” for the lows.  Someone said if you get your eyes on what you feel God hasn’t done, you’ll lose your thankfulness, but if you keep your eyes and heart on what God has done you’ll maintain a heart of praise and a spirit of joy.

Before we enter 2014, I want to encourage you to take some time to evaluate 2013 and consider what you have learned, how you have grown as a person, what did you needlessly worry about, what financial decisions were right and which ones were wrong, how did you do with dating your spouse and children, and perhaps consider what you would have done differently now that you have the hindsight?  Then turn the corner and ask God for the vision He has for you in 2014.  What three or four goals would you like to see accomplished spiritually, emotionally, educationally, financially and physically?  Consider writing down the vision along with steps to take in order to reach your vision.  When you come to the end of 2014, you’ll have more to rejoice about as you discover many of the goals written twelve months earlier are accomplished.

Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets…  (Habakkuk 2:2)

Encouragement, Prayer

Ending the Year With Forgiveness

Throughout 2013 you and I experienced perhaps numerous disappointments, letdown and unmet expectations.  We had opportunity to respond in anger, pick up an offense, grow cold toward someone or simply pretend it never happened.  How we responded or reacted was up to us.  In thinking back over the year 2013, I had one of the most personally challenging and difficult life situations.  Some days I felt freedom and many other days I felt defeated, unable to change the situation.  I know it affected me emotionally and it affected my thinking.  While I guess I’ve had a lifetime to prepare for such situations, I found myself very unprepared and trying to find some sanity in it all.  I forced myself to spend more time in God’s word and in prayer looking for answers (the opposite of what my flesh wanted to do).

After months of this turmoil, I read two verses of scripture that helped me immensely.  Of course I’ve read them many times before, but for that morning they were brand new once again – written just for my specific situation.  Colossians 3:13 & 14 state, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  The lesson?  As we look back over 2013 there is so much to be thankful for and there is so much to forgive yourself and others for.  Do not carry un-forgiveness, anger, offenses or a cold heart into 2014.  It will only hurt you.

Encouragement, Prayer

Jesus is the Best at Everything

This past summer I was talking to a friend in New Zealand and he had an apartment to sell in Auckland.  Another friend was telling me of an upside down house investment he had and needed to sell the home as soon as possible.  While in Barbados this year, a businessman told me he had to sell a 37-foot fishing boat.  Someone else had shared with me about a legal issue they were in the middle of.   Still another told me about a need to purchase a home.  One young man was sharing about his need and desire for a wife and ministry partner.  As well, a young married woman was sharing with me about her need for marriage counseling.

My answer was similar in each and every situation.  Jesus is the best banker, the best real estate agent, the best salesperson, an amazing lawyer, a matchmaker since Genesis two and one of His names is The Counselor.  Christian Mingle or Match.com cannot possibly do what Jesus does in finding a life mate even though one in five singles are now finding relationships on-line.  His bank will never run dry of funds.  He owns the cattle on a thousands hills.   And, speaking of real estate, He owns it all!  His law degree is not from Harvard, but He created law and government.  Jesus is not only the Christ child, the Son of Man and Savior, He IS the answer.  Check out James chapter four, verse two.

Marriage, Mission Report, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Addis Ababa and Other Such Places (Part II)

Once landing in Kampala, Uganda it was an amazing time of ministry to children, teens, a local DOVE International church, leaders and couples.  These precious people are both hungry for more of God’s principles, as well as, an encouragement in areas of prayer and faith-filled living.  The Ugandan’s are an industrious people who seem to be working from daylight to after dark alongside a small kerosene lantern in order to provide for their families.  There are literally thousands of little stands selling shoes, meat, handmade furniture, jewelry, etc.  They are not dependent on others for their survival and I never heard them complain about life circumstances.  I was privileged to be spending a week with them.

After hearing a teaching on biblical submission, one precious woman of God commented, “This is so freeing to us as woman and so encouraging for our husbands.”  When I gave the overnight homework assignment of writing their own couple mission statement for their marriages, they returned the next morning with excitement to share their paragraphs.  It was as if new life was breathed into their marriage relationship.  One young pastor asked, “But what do I do if my wife will not agree to my vision?”  I then challenged the personal pronoun of the word “I” and the possessive word of “my” and asked them to think in terms of “our.”  How simple and yet so radically different for him when thinking about future vision with his life partner who he is one with.

Do you have a marriage mission statement for your marriage?  It may just change the way you see submission, which literally means to come under the mission.

Encouragement, Mission Report

Addis Ababa and Other Such Places (Part I)

Addis Ababa, ever been there?  Me neither, with one exception.  Over a week ago my plane landed there (Ethiopia) after twelve hours at 39,000 feet.  Sitting at the gate for my next flight to Kampala, Uganda I do not recognize a single word around me.  Foreign has a way of taking on even more foreign when the sites, smells, dress, heat and language are unrecognizable.  One can feel a bit insecure, anxious and excited all at the same time, but it’s another day in the kingdom of God full of anticipation.   It becomes a reality that my security is not found in where I am or whom I am with.  Native faces turn with each passing white face, while comments follow.  I find myself imagining that the conversation is about where this “foreign” person is headed on this African continent.

Vacation it is not.  I am here to serve the DOVE International family in the nation of Uganda.  The leaders have requested that I come to share on principles of marriage.  My prayer has been, “Lord, help me to be sensitive culturally, while at the same time remaining biblical.”  Further, “Help me to humbly remember that I am a foreign guest.”  While I do not desire to offend in any way culturally, worse would be to stray biblically.  I truly believe that God’s word transcends culture.  I am so pleased, so honored to have this opportunity before me.  “Foreign” is a feeling that every believer should feel on this earth anywhere they live or travel.  The Scriptures reveal that we are simply passing through this world into the next one.  If we begin to feel too comfortable, maybe we’ve become too familiar with our surroundings and our too normalized life.  Perhaps it’s time to ask your heavenly Father for an assignment that feels insecure, uncomfortable, stretching and foreign.  It’ll grow your faith and trust in Him.