Forgiveness: A Lovely Idea Until . . .

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Forgiveness is the distinctive Christian virtue, but the most difficult command to practice. Forgiveness is easier to say than to do. Forgiveness: A Lovely Idea Until . . . provides clarity to what forgiveness looks like; compelling reasons why we should forgive; and the proper steps to know we have forgiven. For those people trapped in bitterness, anger, and hatred, this book uncovers the release. Forgiveness will free you from a painful past and propel you into a future of joy and freedom. I reflect on a hurtful event that could have destroyed me. I present a thorough understanding of forgiveness’ power. I show the process that led me to forgive. Though it was not easy and it did take time, the result was worth it. I have gathered a gold mine of truth and in a concise form that will guide your forgiveness journey.

The eBook is available at any of the following: Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Google Play.

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Transform Misfortune to Miracles

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Bad things do happen to people. Life is unfair. Happenings do not always go as planned. Circumstances change. Businesses go bankrupt. Employees are laid off or fired. Athletic contests are lost. Scholarships are given to others. Relationships are broken. Unfortunately, no one is exempt. Augustine said, “God had one Son on Earth without sin; he never had any without suffering.”

The dilemma is knowing whether the event is good or bad. In the midst of our misfortunes, an immediate evaluation is not always accurate. Many times, what appears to be a misfortune may turn out to be a great opportunity. When will the good happen? How will the good happen? I do not know. I just know that God in his sovereignty has the way and the will to transform adversity, misfortune, and heartache into something beautiful.

Here are five ways to transform your misfortunes into the miracles.

Focus on God

Too often in adverse situations, we focus on self and not on God. We tend to view life from a horizontal or human point of view rather than from a vertical or godly perspective. When things go wrong, we often reject the person we need the most—the Lord. God loves to turn pits into palaces, slaves into sons. He has a lot of practice—he turned a crucifixion into a resurrection.

Forget the Past

We often have many painful memories from a troubled past. But, we don’t have to wallow in self-pity or harbor bitterness or seek revenge. We cannot change the past; we can only heal the hurt that comes to us from the past.

Be Fruitful in Work

It’s easy to rationalize mistreatment and swim in inactivity when we are mistreated. The better person is successful in their jobs. One of the greatest Christian witnesses is the performance of our labor. Even though we may not enjoy our labor, or are passed over for promotions, or know that we can perform better than our superiors, we can maintain a standard and quality of excellence. We can say, “I don’t know why these things are happening to me, but I do know how to act.”

Be Faithful in Character

Today, many are advancing their career, but few seem to desire to build their character. All too frequently who we are is discarded upon the altar of ambition and worldly success. What we want to achieve is not nearly as important as what we become.

Forgive the Offender

Forgiveness seems unnatural and illogical. Our sense of fairness kicks in telling us that people should pay for the wrong they inflict. But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule. Forgiveness is love’s toughest work and love’s highest risk.

Circumstances will change. And some of those circumstances will be bad. Our response to those conditions must not change, however. We can take the broken pieces of our misfortune and transform them into a miracle.

Do you have adversity, and pain, and heartache? What have you done to turn your misfortunes into miracles?

 

“Before I need you, I need to know you.” Pain and problems come into every person’s life. Employee Care of America partners with businesses to provide help and hope for its employees. We build a relationship before the need arises. To find out more about this beneficial service  click here for our website.

 

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5 Reasons “Having More Money Will Make Me Happy” is a Lie

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In the never-enough world, the myth that having more will make one happy is preached as though it were the gospel truth. Nearly every time I open a magazine, turn on the television or talk to a neighbor, I am bombarded with the message that having more will provide the answers to life’s fundamental questions and satisfy the longing of my soul.

Having more will make me happy is a lie. The acquisition and accumulation of more is a cruel hoax that may provide a temporary surge in emotions, but it never lasts. Having more is like seawater. The more one drinks of it, the thirstier one becomes. It is never enough. It will never satisfy. It will not bring lasting happiness.

I am not implying that we should not have more spacious homes, greater bank accounts, and more people attending churches. I am solely issuing a warning that those things do not satisfy our souls or erase our emptiness. I am most vulnerable to the myth that having more will make me happy when I drift from the relationships for which I was created.

I was created to have a relationship with God.

I am a relational being designed first to be in a relationship with God. Just as my hereditary characteristics are embedded in the structure of my chromosomes, so my relational-ness is embedded in the DNA of my soul. I was made for God, and until I find God, there will be a vacant spot in my soul. I may try to fill that emptiness by acquiring more things, but I need to understand: There will never be enough material things to satisfy the longings of the human soul.

Having more has severe limitations.

Life would be difficult without an income-producing job and a home that provides shelter and warmth. But having more does have its limitations. I can have more clothes, but it does not produce true beauty. I can experience exotic vacations, but it does not give me the ability to relax and sleep. I can own a big house, but it does not produce a happy family. I can belong to sports clubs, but it does not make for happy children.

Simplicity is not something for by-gone eras.

When I engage in a relationship with Jesus, I put him in his rightful and exalted place in my heart. When he is first, it causes me to view my longing for more from a new and different perspective. And from that vantage point, the things that I thought I needed are not that important. In fact, I learn that I can live without many of the things I thought I so desperately needed.

Albert Schweitzer was a medical missionary who died in 1965 at the age of 90. His standard attire was a white pith helmet, white shirt and pants, and a black tie. He had worn one hat for forty years, the tie for twenty. Told one day that some men owned dozens of neckties, Schweitzer remarked, “For one neck?”

When Jesus is in his rightful place, it will prompt me to think of what I have, what I need, and without what I can live. Consequently, I may have to perform some subtracting and simplifying of my life. G. K. Chesterton has pointed out, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

And when I desire less stuff I have more contentment. Which, by the way, is the most profitable.

Learn contentment.

Contentment lies not is what is mine, but in whose I am. When I come into a relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ, I understand who I am and what I have.

John Stott wrote, “Contentment is the secret of inward peace. It remembers the stark truth that we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Life, in fact, is a pilgrimage from one moment of nakedness to another. So we should travel light and live simply. Our enemy is not possessions, but excess. Our battle cry is not ‘Nothing!’ but ‘Enough!’ We’ve got enough. Simplicity says, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”        

Remember what matters most.

Contrary to the myth of having more, it isn’t the ones who die with the most toys who win. It is those who have loved their families well and know the joy of having that love returned. It is those who have known what it is to spend their lives for a purpose that is greater than themselves. It is those who know their God and await eternity with him.

Rudyard Kipling once told a class of graduating seniors, “Be certain that you do not care too much for the material because someday you will meet someone who does not care for it at all. Then you will recognize just how poor you really are.” The real measure of wealth is how much I would be worth if I lost all my stuff. I have started measuring my value not by the things I have, but by the things for which I would not take money.

And, that’s not a bad measuring stick.

One of my most popular books, The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People, takes a twenty-first-century look at the seven deadly sins and offers advice on how, through Christ, we can overcome them. The book is a repair guide that will take you from highly defective to highly effective in your Christian walk.  Click here to claim your copy.

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Never Give Up

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Victory belongs not to the faint-hearted. Nor does it belong to the weak-willed. Nor to the uncommitted. Not if the enemy is great and his resolution strong. Only by facing the opponent head-on with undaunted valor can the battle be won. Victory necessitates that we fight on with undying, inflexible persistence.

The race is not always won by the fastest. Or the game won by the strongest. But rather by the one that keeps hanging on, who refuses to give up. Consider the postage stamp. Its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. Former racecar driver Rick Mears reminds us, “To finish first you must first finish.” Former President Calvin Coolidge wrote, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are overwhelmingly powerful.”

Persistence begins with an unwavering belief in what you are doing. Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely, the twentieth of twenty-two children. Her survival was doubtful. When she was four-years-old, she contracted polio. Doctors said she would never walk again. To make matters worse, Rudolph was a black child living in  Clarksville, TN, in the 1940s. Her options for medical care were limited. Still, Wilma had two powerful forces working in her favor: One, her mother, who decided she would prove the doctors wrong, and, two, the undaunting power of persistence. Rudolph said, “My mother taught me very early to believe I could achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first was to walk without braces.” At age nine she did just that. By thirteen she had developed a rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle. The same year she decided to become a runner. She entered a race and came in last. Everyone told her to quit, but she kept on running. One day she won a race. And then another. In 1960 Wilma Rudolph, the girl told she would never walk again, became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

Discouragement is that subtle but dangerous compulsion to give up, to quit, saying what’s the use?

When the former world chess champion Bobby Fisher was a young boy, his mother took him to a museum. He happened upon a painting that caught his eye. It depicted a bedraggled, exhausted older man slumped over a chessboard. Few of his pieces were left on the board, and he was conceding the game. On the other side of the board was his fresh and snappy opponent, Satan. The painting was entitled  Checkmate.

Already a chess prodigy, young Bobby Fisher stood looking at the painting for a long time. His mother soon tired of it and moved around the remainder of the gallery, finally returning to find Bobby still entranced by that painting. “Come now, Bobby, we have to go.”

Bobby Fisher continued to stare, thinking. One more time his mother insisted, “Bobby, we have to go. Come now!”

“But, Mom,” he pleaded, “he has one more move!

When you are tempted to quit, resist. We must endure in the battle until the evil day is over. We must press on in the face of the temptation to quit. Until the war is over, we must battle to the end. Until the race is finished, we must keep running.

In a race, it does not matter who starts but who finishes. In a ball game, the most meaningless statistic is the halftime score. Persistence is the power that keeps us from giving up. We need to be like an oak tree. An oak tree is a little nut that refused to give his ground. Have you ever wondered how the snail made it to the ark? By persistence.

Don’t quit. Never give up. Keep going. God’s rewards await us in the distant future, not near the beginning; and we don’t know how many steps it will take to reach the prize. So , keep going. You’ve always got one more move.

“Before I need you, I need to know you.” Pain and problems come into every person’s life. Employee Care of America partners with businesses to provide help and hope for its employees. We build a relationship before the need arises. To find out more about this beneficial service click here for our website.

 

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Do You Need a Second Chance?

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“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” This brief phrase, easily overlooked, reveals a great deal about God’s character. God is the God of the second chance. If you miss that discovery, you miss the message of the book of Jonah, not to mention, the entire Bible. God doesn’t turn a deaf ear or a cold shoulder to the repentant—no matter how blatant the rebellion or which border the runaway crosses.

A failure is an event, not a person. There is a vast difference between who one is and what one does. One mistake or one hundred mistakes does not make a failure. We are God’s special treasures. We are of extreme value to God.

The movie City Slickers is about three New Yorkers who are approaching midlife crises. They decide to take an adventure vacation; a cattle drive out West.

Phil’s life was a wreck. He was in a meaningless job at his father-in-law’s grocery store, and he was facing a divorce. In one scene, he and his buddies are in a tent. Phil breaks down and begins crying. “I’m at a dead end!” he sobbed. “I’m almost forty years old; I’ve wasted my life!”

One of his friends tried to console him. “But now you’ve got a chance to start over,” he said. “Remember when we were kids and we’d be playing ball and the ball would get stuck up in a tree or something? We’d yell, ‘Do over!’ Look, Phil—your life is a do-over. You’ve got a clean slate!”

As I watched the scene, I thought, How is a guy like Phil ever really going to be helped? And the answer is only through the kind of do-over that he can get from God. After all, God is the world’s biggest dispenser of do-overs. He loves granting them to contrite and humble recipients.

Individuals like Phil, and Jonah, and you and me, can wish we’d never committed the wrongs we have, or try to paper over them like they never really happened, or try to deal with them on our own. But God says, “I can erase them so you can start over. I can forgive you, and I can help you begin again.”

Forgiveness frees us from our indebtedness that we could never repay. It casts us on the resources of God’s amazing grace. It restores us to usefulness in society. It removes us from the torment of guilt.

We should reject the notion that if we turn away from God’s will we are forever thrown on the ash heap. Satan likes to muddle us into thinking that we are beyond salvage, doomed to meaninglessness. Don’t believe it. Hear from the megaphone of God’s Word that God is in the salvage reclamation business. He delights in transforming us into something beautiful and useful. God never discards a repentant life. Restoration qualifies us for renewed service. No matter what the disobedience, God wants to restore, reinstate, and reshape your life.

The most meaningless statistic in a basketball game is the half-time score. God wants you, like Jonah, to get up and go on back into the game.

You have a second chance.

How has God given you a second chance?

One of my most popular books, The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People, takes a twenty-first-century look at the seven deadly sins and offers advice on how, through Christ, we can overcome them. The book is a repair guide that will take you from highly defective to highly effective in your Christian walk.  Click here to claim your copy.

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4 Realities to Revolutionize Your Prayers

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The practice of prayer in a believer’s life is an incredible, virtually untapped power source. Prayer moves the hand of God. Prayer prevails. Prayer turns ordinary mortals into men and women of power. This key unlocks the storehouse of God’s riches. The action that moves heaven to act on behalf of the earth.

Here are four truths that will ignite your prayers.

The power of prayer is not merely communicating words with God, but communion with God himself.

Does prayer work? This question is a bad question. Prayer is not a utilitarian practice aimed at achieving an accomplishment. Neither is prayer an exercise in which a person gets everything that he asks for if he takes great care to state the request properly.

Prayer is communion with God. It is more than communication with God. Communication implies an exchange of words and logic. Often prayer consists of nonverbal outcries that are far more emotional than rational. The substance of prayer is communion with God—the act of being with God.

So, to ask if prayer works is to misunderstand the nature of the experience. It’s like asking, “Does love work?” or “What do you get out of talking to the one you love?”

In our communion with God, we need not occupied with logistics, language, or locale. We need only to speak to God with absolute candor and a total lack of inhibition. Prayer is an invitation to address the One who loves us beyond measure. Prayer does not lead to an experience with God; prayer is experiencing God.

 The power of prayer does not depend on the one who makes the prayer, but on the one who hears the prayer.

We live in a noisy world. To get someone’s attention is no easy task. We must turn down the radio, turn away from the monitor, turn the corner of the page and set down the book. When someone is willing to silence everything else so they can hear us, is a privilege. A rare opportunity, indeed.

But God is different. He listens. You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice in heaven matters. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, he turns to hear your voice. Even if you stammer or stumble over words, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God—and he listens.

He listens to the painful plea of the elderly in the rest home. He listens to the gruff confession of the death-row inmate. When the alcoholic begs for mercy, when the spouse seeks guidance, when the businessman steps off the street into the chapel, God listens.

You can’t count on a lot of things in this world. But this one thing you can count on: God hears your prayers.

 The power of prayer does not depend on telling God what is in our hearts, but on us asking what is in his heart.

The power of prayer is to join God, not God joining us. The power of prayer is to rearrange us, not us to rearrange God. The power of prayer is to ask what is on God’s heart, not us telling God what is in our hearts. Prayer’s power adjusts; it does not change God.

 The power of prayer is unleashed not by our eloquence, but by our hurt.

God is moved more by the hurt and pain in our hearts than by the eloquence of the words from our mouths. Never forget that God is a father. And as a father, he is moved by the hurts of his people. He responds. That’s what fathers do.

Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer comes from the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference. God is moved by our hurts, not by our eloquence. When we pray, humbly and specifically, the forces of heaven come to our aid.

Did you know that if we practiced love, our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, and our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called  Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love in 1 Corinthians 13. This book provides a guide to love, and, if practiced, it will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.

 

 

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3 Marks of a Hero

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Heroes populate the highest rung of the ladder of every religion, every profession, every country, every race, every generation, and every home. A great crowd of heroes lives on in each of our minds. We look up to these people. We admire them. We want to be like them.

What is the actual measure of a hero? Here are  three marks of a hero.

A hero has a purpose .

A hero has that intense look of determination. That presence of mind to hang tough when others would rather hang out. That fortitude to marshal their powers and energy on the task ahead.

Consider: General Douglas MacArthur knee-deep in tropical waters saying, “I will return.” Jonas Salk was developing the polio vaccine. Glen Cunningham was breaking the four-minute mile.

By the way, what’s your business’ purpose? What is your overarching goal? For what are you willing to give your life?

When we die, people will gather around our grave to recall our lives. They will talk about us. They will summarize our lives—that which was important to us—our purpose.  What will they say?

A hero sacrifices for a goal.

It’s hard to imagine a truly greedy hero. Our heroes always put their goal ahead of their gain. The best of them put other people ahead of their interests.

William Wallace leading fellow Scots into battle. Joan of Arc standing on a burning pile of wood. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his “I have a dream” speech.

Often, to be a hero appears glorious. To pour oneself out for others . . . to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom, to go out in a blaze of glory.

We think sacrificing for a goal is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table—“Here’s my life. I’m giving it all.” But the reality for most of us is that we are sent to the bank to cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to our children’s troubles instead of saying, “Get lost.” Coach our son’s soccer team. Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

Usually being a hero isn’t all that glorious. It is done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live as a heroic dad or mom little by little over the long haul.

But that is the kind of sacrifice that makes for real heroes.

A hero challenges others to build on their accomplishments.

The heroics of the moment always have a lasting impact. Heroes have a future focus. Whether it is a man rescuing a child from a burning building, or a mother staying up late to help her son with math, or a Dad teaching his son the game of baseball.

Bernard Malamud said, “Without heroes, we are all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.” Heroes have a way of challenging us to build on what they have started.

The movie Schindler’s List is about Oscar Schindler working endlessly, spending his fortune, to save imprisoned Jews from the death camps in World War II. The film ends with the Jews he saved and the sons and daughters of those who have died laying rocks on his grave. This simple gesture in the Jewish tradition is a way of saying, “I will build on the foundation you have laid.” Your life will not have been lived in vain.

That’s what dads ask of their sons and daughters. It’s what the rescuer says to the rescued. It’s what all heroes ask from their sacrifice and effort.

Bette Midler’s character sang to her best friend, in the 1987 hit Beaches, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything I would like to be.” Many of us don’t have the opportunity to do magnificent things of heroic status. But even if we can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound or single-handedly rescue a third-world nation from starvation, we can exhibit heroic character in everyday life; we can be heroes in the way we live.

Have you ever considered that you might be someone’s hero? Someone is watching you.

What characteristics would you add to the list?

My book, Sightings of the Savior: Meeting Jesus When We Need Him Most, opens your eyes to see Jesus today. Retelling Bible stories of men and women who were met by Jesus uniquely and powerfully, this book shows how only the Savior can meet your needs, heal your hurts, and give you hope. Click here to claim your copy.

 

 

 

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The Five Habits of Happiness

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Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that 60% of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40% is up to us. He further suggests that happy people have habits one can introduce into their everyday life. Joyful folk has certain inclinations that add to their pursuit of meaning—and motivate them along the way.

Here are a few habits that lead to happiness.

Put others before self.

The acrostic JOY is Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. Happy people place Jesus and others first. Putting others before one’s self does not come naturally. We need to be intentional and learn to put others first.

Place character before conformity.

Happy people are men and women of character. They are trustworthy, consistent, and dependable. Their actions match their words. They keep their promises. Happy people have nothing to hide and nothing to fear.

Put we before me.

Happy people are the ultimate team players. They know their role. They work well with others. They learn to cooperate and to contribute. And they are considerate.

Place cause before comfort.

Happy people know the best us of their time is to invest in that which is bigger than themselves. That which will last for eternity. They are willing to take on dangerous assignments, expose themselves to dangerous jobs because the mission is worth it.

Place risk before reward.

We have a saying: “Go big or go home.” Happy people go big. They take the risk; they make the gamble.  They step out of their comfort zones.

There you have it, the habits of happiness. How would you rate yourself on each of these habits?

Seligman spoke of three kinds of happy lives: pleasant (only seeking pleasures), engaged (investing in work or children), and meaningful (living for something bigger than yourself). Ultimate happiness comes in giving ourselves to something larger than  ourselves.

 

Recently I wrote a book on Psalm 23, Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23, that speaks to the heart, quiets your spirit, and eases loneliness. This psalm is a picture of contentment; it represents that mental state and physical place for which everyone longs. I share how Psalm 23 can comfort and empower your life. Click here to claim your copy.

 

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4 Steps to Changing Your Thoughts

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Our thoughts determine our feelings and our feelings determine our actions.

If we want to live positively we must carefully choose what we think about. The Proverb states: “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” It’s been said, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.” Mohandas Gandhi wrote, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

Feelings are determined by thoughts. Thoughts are the seeds one plants for future attitudes. What you think about today is what you will do tomorrow.

The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If you want to change your actions, change the way you think. If you want to change your attitudes, change the thoughts you put in your mind. Sometimes you may act negatively; that is, you may worry, be angry, be depressed, complain, or criticize. Do you know why? Because you feel that way. Do you know why you feel that way? Because you are thinking negative thoughts. If you want to change your actions, don’t focus on your feelings, focus on changing your thoughts.

Granted this is easier said than done. But here are four practical steps for changing your thoughts.

Make your first thoughts God-directed.

Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you crawl out of bed, crawl into his presence. Some people make it a habit to roll out of bed onto their knees and begin their day in prayer. C. S. Lewis wrote: “the moment you wake up each morning . . . [all] your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life comes flowing in.”

Focus your waiting thoughts on uplifting-ideas.

Consider that by the time your life is over, you will have spent six months at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, a year and a half looking for lost stuff, and a whopping five years standing in various lines. Why use those moments thinking about something upbeat and positive? In the waiting moments, the common becomes the uncommon, by becoming a cathedral as you pray, or a classroom as you learn from a teaching CD or read a book.

Center your repeated thoughts on the winning outcome.

We all talk to ourselves often saying the same thing over and over again. Make sure those repeated thoughts are positive and will benefit you not bring you down. Positive self-talk is one of the most powerful tools we can use. We are going to talk to ourselves, some of us will even answer ourselves. The point is to make those words uplifting and encouraging. We, in many respects, are the benefactors of self-fulfilling prophecy. We become what we think and say to ourselves.

Give your final thoughts to God.

Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his forgiveness. Seek his wisdom. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psa. 121:4 NIV).

“Before I need you, I need to know you.” Pain and problems come into every person’s life. Employee Care of America partners with businesses to provide help and hope for its employees. We build a relationship before the need arises. If you would like to find out more about this beneficial service click here for our website.

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4 Benefits of an Upgraded Life

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Jesus is in the upgrade business. He upgrades despair to hope, bondage to freedom, perplexity to peace, and illness to health (to mention but a few). His most significant upgrade for us has to do with our existence. His main motive in coming to this earth is to move us from a position of death to life, from a destination of hell to heaven.

Jesus spoke of the upgrade when he stated, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 KJV). The phrase “have it more abundantly” means to have a superabundance of a thing. It carries with it the idea of overflowing the container, more than one can handle, that which goes beyond necessity, life beyond our wildest dreams.

Here are four aspects of the upgraded life.

It’s a Heaven-Bound Life

This spiritual phenomenon provides a new dimension of life: abundant on this planet and eternal in heaven. Believers are heaven-bound. This reality separates Christians from non-believers. Unbelievers may make more money, live longer, and seem happier than believers. But believers are heaven bound; it makes us unique from them.

The movie Dead Man Walking received its title from the prison guards calling out to the others when a death-row inmate was leaving his cell: “Dead man walking.” In reality, all humanity is like a dead man walking. Our sentence has been set because the consequence of sin is death. But the believer of Jesus Christ has a new classification—Heaven-bound living. Does he still sin? Yes. Does he deserve death? Yes. But because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ he has been given a new birth for today and a new hope for tomorrow.

It’s a Spirit-Controlled Life

God’s Spirit takes up residence in our lives to become the president of our lives. This dynamic transforms our internal world and bleeds into our external world evidenced by a change of behavior and conduct. The key turning the infilling life juices is a daily surrender of control of our lives to the Holy Spirit. This exciting fulfilling life is not something we possess but rather the eternal Spirit possessing us. God takes control of our lives and lives through us.

It’s a Grace-Filled Life

Scripture is clear that life lived in the presence of God is rich both with longing and fulfillment, times of darkness and times of light, times of sweet days and times of dark nights. The Spirit led Jesus into the desert. Jesus experienced darkness in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. Lament, in the Psalms, is as familiar as an old pair of slippers. Even Paul, the model of Christian optimism, said he was “perplexed” and felt weak at times. Yet, in spite of the unpredictable days, the one constant is grace. God’s being infused in our being to make our days and nights bearable.

A grace-filled life understands the remarkable gift of today. Today is a gift, you know, that’s why it’s called the present. In our unpredictable todays, we must find all the life we can and live it to the fullest. The upgraded life comes with an owner’s manual. The Bible instructs every Christ-follower to carve out a satisfying life that is full and complete under the loving rule of God. Abundant life is not determined by how long we live, but how well we live.

It’s a God-Intoxicated Life

The abundant life knows its share of heartache, tragedy, and disappointment. Here’s the point: One can be upgraded to first class on a flight and the plane still crash. Abundant life does not exempt one from adversity. But it knows that the unpleasantness of life can be endured with the presence of God. The intoxicating presence of God provides the rich hues and luster to our otherwise drab and lifeless picture. It’s the richness of God’s presence that provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Would you like an upgrade?

My book, Defining Moments: How God Shapes Our Character Through Crisis, takes a fresh look at the hard times that God uses to shape our character. This book offers hope that God can be found in crisis and shows how He turns our struggles into defining moments—opportunities to dramatically transform His people. Click here to claim your copy.

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