Monthly Archives: June 2012

GETTING OUT OF THE BOX

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By:  F. Kong

 

Popular author and motivator Zig Ziglar tells us a story.

 

Many people set low ceilings on their expectations and capabilities. In the process, they place themselves in a “box.”

 

Alexander Whortley took that a step further and literally lived in a box. It was a mini-trailer, three feet wide, four feet long, and five feet high. He lived there until he died at the age of 80. His box was made of wood, had a metal roof, and it housed him and all his meager belongings. Regardless of where he worked, Whortley chose to spend his life in that cramped space, even though larger, more comfortable quarters were always available.

 

Few of us live in a “box.” However, too many of us have a tendency to “box” ourselves in and continue to do things one way because we’ve “always done it this way.” In many cases, time and experience have proven that “this way” is the best way. However, I challenge you to periodically take a long walk or quietly sit and think about the way you do things. Ask yourself if there might not be a better way. Could your procedures be simplified? Are they necessary at all? Could they be done more cheaply or efficiently? Could your product be longer?

 

Shorter? A different shape? Another fabric? Another color? Sometimes you can come up with simple ideas that make a big difference. Incidentally, one advantage of a continual personal-growth-and-education way of life is that the broader and deeper your knowledge base, the more creative your problem solving approach to life.

 

Simple example: For years men’s coats had an inside pocket only on the right where pens and other items were kept. One day somebody had a thought: Since most men are right-handed, why not put a pocket on the inside left so that they can reach in, extract the pen with their right hand, and begin writing?  Not monumental, but it saves a second or two and it’s sold lots of suits.

 

That’s thinking out of the box.

 

Famous playwright George Bernard Shaw says: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

 

Some people wait for that flash of inspiration but it never comes.

 

The thing is to get you to start doing something and then the inspiration does come.

 

People who think out of the box are usually people with multiple interests.

 

They love music, they love arts, they’re into sports, they adore literature, they study history, they travel and they don’t confine themselves into one solitary thing.

 

Prominent professor and psychologist Frank Barron says: “The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive and more constructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.”

 

And before you start thinking of somebody you know in the office realize that the person is the one that stares right back at you from the mirror.

 

You can think out of the box. You can be creative.

 

Learn a second language, take up a new craft.

 

Enroll in cooking lessons, go and join a skydiving club, go out there and enjoy life and pretty soon you will discover that you’re adding strength and resource to your creativity.

 

You know what makes us different from animals?

 

We are created in the image and likeness of God and God is the Creator.

 

This is why He has gifted us with creativity too so that we can enjoy this wonderful gift of His, this thing called life.

 

Enjoy it and live it to the fullest.

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UNKNOWN ZONE

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By:  S. Bohnert

 

I pull open the blinds and look out to another day of uncertainty. What will this day bring, Lord? Why can’t I get it together? That terrible pain down deep in my emotions has hit me again this morning; it is a hurt that causes me to cry out even though the pain is not felt physically.

 

Author, Byron Bohnert wrote, “Oftentimes following God does feel very uncertain, but if we just hold on for the ride it’s always worth the trip.”

 

That uncertainty is what I call the “Unknown Zone”. One day while sitting in front of my computer and searching the Internet, I started talking to God. “Lord, I’m sailing into unchartered waters. I don’t know where I’m going.” Then while looking down at the screen, I noticed the words on the bottom right, “Unknown Zone”. Have you ever noticed it on your computer? It’s the place you go while waiting to reach your site.

 

We will all enter this zone several times in our lives through starting a new marriage, family, job, church, school, or home. It actually all starts at birth. What will this life of mine bring?

 

[The Future—Determined and Unknown] Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. (Ecclesiastes 6:10 New Living)

 

You know you have a destination to reach but you’re not sure how you’ll get there. The anticipation of what lies ahead can be exhilarating and the possibilities will be limitless as you enter this zone.

 

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 (Message)

 

However, it never occurs to us that these unknown zones can turn around and leave us battling fear and hopelessness. Therefore, we find ourselves traveling into another unfamiliar zone during times of divorce, job loss, death, bankruptcy, broken relationships. The list is endless.

 

My insides are turned inside out; specters of death have me down. I shake with fear; I shudder from head to foot. “Who will give me wings,” I ask— “wings like a dove?” Get me out of here on dove wings; I want some peace and quiet. I want a walk in the country, I want a cabin in the woods. I’m desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather. (Psalm 55:4 Message)

 

We wrestle with so many questions. Will I make it through without being shipwrecked? Will I drown in the middle? Will I stay on course? Don’t you see how the disciples felt being in that boat during a storm? The King of Kings was right there in the midst of them and they still panicked.

 

“When you’re in a tight spot and problems are raging all around, there is a sense of uncertainty that tries to envelop the mind. If we are not careful, it is easy to get mentally sidetracked. By focusing on our problems and never looking up, we will fail to experience the peace of God.” (Trust Him in Everything by Byron Bohnert)

 

In the unknown zone you have to trust Jesus without knowing where you are going. Your possibilities can still be unlimited. God will open up opportunities you would have never known without trusting in Him during times of uncertainty.

 

These words in Isaiah 42:10-16 will give you courage as you travel into the unknown:

 

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them— sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute. (Message)

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

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By:  Blackaby

 

Would you dare to believe that God, who called you to Himself and equipped you with His Spirit, could work mightily through you? Have you made the connection between the time and place in which you live and God’s call upon you?

 

World events never catch God by surprise. He placed you precisely where you are for a purpose. Daniel did not let the temptations of his day interfere with his relationship to the Lord. He knew that to make his life useful to God he must be obedient in all things. Regardless of what the most powerful king in the world commanded, Daniel refused to compromise what he knew God required of him.

 

History is replete with examples of Christian men and women who believed that God would work through them to make a significant difference for His kingdom. God placed Esther strategically in the king’s court at a crucial time when she could save the lives of God’s people (Esther 4:14).

 

God placed Joseph strategically to become the most powerful adviser to the pharaoh in Egypt and to save Jacob and his family from a devastating drought (Gen. 41:39-40). Are you allowing your surroundings to determine how you invest your life? Or are you letting God use you to make a difference in your generation? Ask God to reveal His purposes for you and His will for your life today.

 

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies. – Daniel 1: 8

LIVE OUT YOUR DREAMS

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By:  D. Decker

 

Did you know that…

 

1. Lucille Ball’s (I Love Lucy) career didn’t start off so well. She was once dismissed from drama school for being too quiet and shy.

 

2. Big companies that have gone bankrupt:
– Quaker Oats (3 times)
– Pepsi-Cola (3 times)
– Borden’s
– Aunt Jemima
– Wrigley’s (3 times)

 

3. Clint Eastwood was once told by a Universal Pictures executive that his future wasn’t very promising. The man said, “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far, and you talk too slow.”


4. Albert Einstein
did poorly in elementary school, and he failed his first college entrance exam at Zurich Polytechnic. But he became one of the greatest scientists in the history of the world.

 

5. Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.

 

What if these people listened to the naysayers and gave up? What if they let their negative experiences stop them from pushing on?

 

Many of their great contributions and successes would be lost.

 

How does that fit into your life? Are you letting the negative setbacks pull you down? There are always going to be people who can’t see what you see. There will always be circumstances that shape your thinking and slowly begin to cause you to lose that drive and determination you may have once had. The key though, is to never give up and do what you feel is right. Constantly reinvent yourself and what you do. If you come across someone who doesn’t believe or share the same vision you have, be reminded that God gave YOU the vision to fulfill a certain purpose. Sometimes others just don’t see the same thing because God gave them a different vision to pursue.

 

Live out your dreams, stay focused and change the world.

TRUE FREEDOM

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By:  P. Chia

 

Many countries annually exercise their freedom to literally change time. I experienced this timely change when I was in the US a few years ago. During my visit, I witnessed Daylight Savings Time—a national law that calls for all clocks to be set back by one hour. It’s designed to save energy, and it also leads to lighter mornings for children who are heading to school. Interesting!

 

In our postmodern world, freedom to change is a treasured commodity. It goes hand in hand with individual rights. We see freedom as the liberty to follow our preferences, the ability to do whatever we want. No constraints. No rules.
Sound good?

 

The Bible reveals that this isn’t real freedom. In John 8:34, Jesus asserts, “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” In other words, leading a self-centered life-to do our own will, to follow our willful desires and preferences-will lead to bondage to sin. Not freedom. But if we remain faithful to God’s teaching, then we “will know the truth, and the truth will set [us] free” (v.32).

 

Satan has switched the price tags in the world. He makes the priceless stuff that brings eternal joy look worthless. While the junk that leads to addiction and enslavement he presents in attractive packaging. We desperately need God’s truth-truth that enables us to see things in their true perspective.

 

The apostle John, in chapter 8 of his gospel, presents an interesting cause and effect pattern. To experience freedom, we must first know the truth. To know the truth, we must first obey God’s Word. The initial step to freedom begins with obedience. Counterintuitive? Yes. But the fact remains that true freedom is only possible when we live under God’s loving authority.

BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS (GREED)

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By:  H. Robinson

 

Covetousness is one of those overstuffed words in our religious vocabulary that has lost its cutting edge. Many don’t take it seriously. Some even suspect that when God was putting together the Ten Commandments He had nine good solid ones, but then to round out the list threw in one about coveting (Ex. 20:17).

 

Jesus gave a warning about covetousness to a man who interrupted Him in the middle of His sermon. The man wanted Jesus to settle a dispute between him and his brother. Evidently their father had died, and this son felt he was not getting his fair share of what the father had left behind. The inheritance had become an obsession to this man. It consumed him. As he stood in the presence of Jesus Christ and listened to His peerless preaching, he did not hear the liberating words the Savior had been speaking.

 

There is danger in wanting more and more things, or in wanting what belongs to another. The apostle Paul called this intense desire “idolatry” (Col. 3:5). That’s strong language. Let’s listen to the law. Let’s listen to our Lord. He wants us to be rich toward God. That’s why He warned, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

 

You cannot covet and be happy at the same time.

HERE LIVED A GREAT STREET SWEEPER

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By:  B. Perks

 

I had been working much too long on this job. I guess things could have been worse. I certainly wasn’t doing hard labour. But going door to door asking questions as a representative of the federal government wasn’t the most satisfying position either. It was August. It was hot. I had to wear a tie.

 

‘Hello. My name is Bob Perks and we are doing a survey in this neighbourhood.’

 

‘I’m not interested! Good bye!’

 

You can’t imagine how many times I heard that.

 

I finally caught on and began with,

 

‘Before you slam the door, I am not selling anything and I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and the community.’ The young woman inside the doorway, paused for a moment, raised her eyebrows as she shrugged her shoulders confused by my rude introduction.

 

‘Sure. Come on in. Don’t mind the mess. It’s tough keeping up with my kids.’

 

It was an older home in a section of the valley where people with meager income found affordable shelter. With the little they had, the home looked comfortable and welcoming.

 

‘I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and family. Although this may sound personal I won’t need to use your names. This information will be used’

 

She interrupted me. ‘Would you like a glass of cold water? You look like you’ve had a rough day.’

 

‘Why yes!’ I said eagerly. Just as she returned with the water, a man came walking in the front door. It was her husband.

 

‘Joe, this man is here to do a survey.’ I stood and politely introduced myself.

 

Joe was tall and lean. His face was rough and aged looking although I figured he was in his early twenties. His hands were like leather. The kind of hands you get from working hard, not pushing pencils. She leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the cheek. As they looked at each other you could see the love that held them together. She smiled and tilted her head, laying it on his shoulder. He touched her face with his hands and softly said ‘I love you!’

 

They may not have had material wealth, but these two were richer than most people I know. They had a powerful love. The kind of love that keeps your head up when things are looking down.

 

‘Joe works for the borough,’ she said.

 

‘What do you do?’ I asked. She jumped right in not letting him answer.

 

‘Joe collects garbage. You know I’m so proud of him.’

 

‘Honey, I’m sure the man doesn’t want to hear this,’ said Joe.

 

‘No, really I do,’ I said.

 

‘You see Bob, Joe is the best garbage man in the borough. He can stack more garbage on the truck than anyone else. He gets so much in one truck that they don’t have to make as many runs’, she said with such passion.

 

‘In the long run,’ Joe continues, ‘I save the borough money. Man hours are down and the cost per truck is less.’

 

There was silence. I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head searching for the right words. ‘That’s incredible! Most people would gripe about a job like that. It certainly is a difficult one. But your attitude about it is amazing,’ I said.

 

The lady walked over to the shelf next to the couch. As she turned she held in her hand a small-framed paper.

 

‘When we had our third child Joe lost his job. We were on unemployment for a time and then eventually welfare. He couldn’t find work anywhere. Then one day he was sent on an interview here in this community. They offered him the job he now holds. He came home depressed and ashamed. Telling me this was the best he could do. It actually paid less than we got on welfare.’

 

She paused for a moment and walked toward Joe. ‘I have always been proud of him and always will be. You see I don’t think the job makes the man. I believe the man makes the job!’

 

‘We needed to live in the borough in order to work here. So we rented this home,’ Joe said.

 

‘When we moved in, this quote was hanging on the wall just inside the front door. It has made all the difference to us, Bob. I knew that Joe was doing the right thing,’ she said as she handed me the frame.

 

It said: ‘If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’- Martin Luther King

 

‘I love him for who he is. But what he does, he does the best. I love my garbage man!’

 

So how was your day? Did you give it your best?

STANDING IN THE GAP

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By:  L. Adams

 

Several years ago following a surgery, I discovered anew how important it is to stand in the gap, or pray, for others. There were a few days when I felt very bad. I felt weak and helpless. Certainly my suffering (if it can be called that) was not on the magnitude of people who are dealing with terminal illness, yet I felt bad enough to allow me to feel empathy for those who suffer. There were several days that I did not feel like doing my Bible study or praying. All I wanted to do was just lie still and hope the day went by quickly. 

 

Initially, I felt quite guilty for not feeling like spending time with the Lord, but after the Lord brought me through those days, I realized that He had reminded me of a very important concept—that of intercessory prayer or standing in the gap for others. I had many people say to me in the days after my surgery, “I am praying for you.” How those words blessed me because I knew that the person was faithfully praying for me at a time when I could not pray for myself. I also knew that those prayers were especially sweet to the Lord. 

 

The prophet Ezekiel gives us the words of the Lord in Ezekiel 22: 30,

 

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”

 

Although this verse deals with the sins of Jerusalem, I believe that we have permission to apply it directly to our lives. The is a very sad verse because Jerusalem was in a sad and horrible state and the Lord was saying through the prophet Ezekiel that He was searching for someone who would intercede for Jerusalem and do what was necessary for her salvation. When He looked He found no one who would intercede for the nation and the city. 

 

There are times when we are in sad shape because of illness or life circumstances and we need the prayers of others to hold us up and encourage us. We may not even be able to pray in our own behalf because of our situation. That is when I believe God calls Christians to especially pray on behalf of others. This kind of praying requires commitment on the part of the person doing the praying. It is not just a quick one time prayer, but rather a request that is brought before the Lord many times until the person being prayed for sees results. 

 

My intercessory praying has changed as a result of my experience. I consider it an honor and a duty to be able to stand in the gap for those who are unable, for whatever reason, to pray for themselves. It is my hope that you will take very seriously the honor that you have of standing in the gap and praying for other people. 

PROGRESSIVE LIVING

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By:  J. Meyer

 

Every time God is ready to bring us higher, there is going to be new opposition that comes against us. It could be something we’ve dealt with in the past that comes back against us in a stronger way than before—or something new that we’ve never dealt with. If we plan to progress in life, we need to know that there’s a price to pay.

In 1 Corinthians 16:9 the apostle Paul tells us that with a new opportunity to bless more people, there also comes much opposition and many enemies to come against it. But 1 John 4:4 tells us …He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world. We don’t need to be afraid of facing opposition.

 

Change Brings Opposition

 

When you and I say to God, “Change me,” we’d better know what we’re saying because we are not just going to wake up different the next morning. Instead, God is going to give us an opportunity, through opposition, to grow as we change. If we tell God we want to change in our love walk, then we can count on Him putting someone in front of us that’s hard to love.

 

“ If we plan to progress in life, we need to know that there’s a price to pay. ”

 

James 1 tells us how important it is to have patience when we’re changing and facing opposition. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that only develops and grows under trial, and is something we need. James 1:4 says that when we have it, we’re perfect, lacking nothing. However, there’s just no way to get it without going through something to receive it.

 

It doesn’t mean that all we’ll face is opposition, but it does mean that along the way the devil is going to try to stop us from having what God wants us to have or doing what God wants us to do. If we really want to be victorious Christians who serve God and make a difference in the world, then we are going to have to go through some challenges. I think the absolute worst thing we could do is look back on our lives and realize that we didn’t choose to let God work through us to bless other people.

 

Be Determined

 

As God works through us, He encourages us to be steadfast, stable and determined to never give up. We need to make up our minds that we will never give up when facing opposition. We may not hit it right every time or the first time, but we shouldn’t quit.

 

Have you ever been around people who have so much going for them, yet don’t do anything with their life? Then there are others who don’t have much at all going for them and they end up doing great things. It’s really not about natural gifting and talent. It’s really about being determined to do something with what we do have.

 

Remember, it’s not about what we don’t have; it’s about being determined to never, ever, ever give up.

 

No Pain, No Gain

 

The Word of God tells us that God wants us to be blessed. He wants us to prosper. (See 3 John 1:2.) To do this, we need to find out what the guidelines and the spiritual laws are that lead to prosperity and blessing. And there’s one thing that stands between knowing and doing: pain. Pain is not just a physical or emotional thing—there is also the pain of obedience. For example, if we hear about giving, and then go home and God puts it on our heart to give away a favorite possession, we’re going to feel some pain. Our flesh is not going to cheer us on.

 

How about the pain of forgiving someone or not getting back at someone who has hurt us? We could talk for hours about being submissive to authority and we wouldn’t feel any pain. But wait until the first time someone tells us to do something and we don’t want to do it.

 

The Bible talks about those who progress and those who don’t. It talks about the Word of God being sown like a seed into different types of hearts. Some people are fine. They hear the Word, receive it with joy and are all excited until they receive some opposition. (See Mark 4.) It’s the same thing when it comes to progress.

 

Why Doers Progress

 

Talking about doing something is easy. But just hearing about it is not going to change our lives. It’s doing the Word, living it out day-by-day, that brings progress in our lives. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25 NASB).

 

Let’s choose to be doers of the Word so that progress and blessing come into our lives. And let’s be willing to push through the pain of opposition, because there’s no such thing as a drive-through breakthrough. With steadfast determination and patience, we will continually move forward in our walk with God.

WHEN CHRIST COMES

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By:  M. Lucado

 

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air. The sound is high above you. A trumpet? A choir? A choir of trumpets?  You don’t know, but you want to know. So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up.

 

As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store. The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds.

 

And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

 

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None. From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color-spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels.

 

They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky. North. South. East. West. Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, “Holy, holy, holy.”

 

The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship. Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: “Holy, holy, holy.” Between each word is a pause. With each word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.

 

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet. The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns-and there he is. Jesus. Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King. He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud. He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”

 

The angels bow their heads. The elders remove their crowns. And before you is a figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know: Nothing else matters. Forget stock markets and school reports. Sales meetings and football games. Nothing is newsworthy. All that mattered, matters no more, for Christ has come.