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Archive for January, 2015

Dear Friends,

The “game of the year” is happening Sunday. People across America prepare and plan who they will invite to their party, what food they will bring or serve at their home. This Sunday, church attendance is low because everyone is either at the grocery store buying food or preparing the house to have guests. Many people plan way ahead and are so excited to see the new commercials that debut for the first time during the game. Then the anticipation of watching the half-time show builds up until it finally comes and they can see it. Soon the game is over, the party ends, everyone goes home. Those who hosted have to clean up the mess and everyone talks about the game, the winners and losers, the food, and the commercials. Life goes back to normal until the next season starts and culminates in the big game again the following year. This annual event takes probably an entire year to plan. Thousands of people across America plan for it—from the stadium workers to the commercial producers to the cleaning crew—everyone does their part to produce an amazing show.

While all of this anticipation and planning is a lot of fun, and there is nothing wrong with doing it, sometimes we focus too much of our time and energy on the external things. In other words, are we spending the same amount of time, resources, and our energy on the things that really matter –the eternal things? Today, I was meditating on the thought of “The Game of Life.”

Your life – is it a big game too? Do you approach your life like a game? Do you take the time to really plan your life out and take the steps to make it happen? If you don’t take the time to plan your life, who will do it for you? If you don’t plan your life, you will never realize your dreams. You may not be able to do all you want or make all your dreams come true but if you don’t plan at least some of them, you will get to the end of your road and will have a lot of regrets.

Life is not a game. Life is real and everything we do here on earth is preparation for our eternal lives in heaven with God. That’s what I believe as a Christian. Many people live through their lives without ever thinking what they really want to do or be. They let life happen to them. They never figure out their calling and thus never pursue it. Many Christians don’t plan their future with the hope that “Jesus is coming soon.” I think that is unwise. No one knows when Jesus is coming back. Therefore, we should live our lives as if He’s coming today while planning for the future as if we will be here until the end of our earthly lives.

I encourage you today to plan your life out. Take charge of your life. Discover your dreams, plan them, and then do them. Create your plan and give it to God. Trust God with your plans. Let Him change your plans and redirect you if necessary. Let Him guide you.

Just as the big game of football takes a lot of careful planning, preparation, and practice so does our lives. Except we only have one life to live. At the end, it’s game over! There is no next season or the next game. There is no more time to plan it again, prepare, nor to practice… It’s done. At the end of our earthly lives comes eternity. Everything we did here will affect our eternal destiny. So let’s make sure we spend our time here planning, preparing, practicing, and doing the things that really matter—the things of God and His Kingdom.

Enjoy the game and enjoy planning and living your life too!

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Dear Friends,

Most people you know, and probably including yourself, strive to be successful in life. But, truly, what is success? What is success to you? And once you are successful, are you also achieving significance in life? Are you making a positive impact in other people’s lives? Are you accomplishing anything to build the Kingdom of God? Do you know your personal and unique calling in life?

Today I want to share with you about The Master’s Program – for Men and for Women. Bob Shank authored this program to help men and women achieve their highest potential and fulfill their calling in the Kingdom of God. He founded The Master’s Program with the mission “To prepare Christian leaders to change their world and build God’s Kingdom through their irresistible lifestyles and influential works of service.”

I am privileged to know Bob Shank personally and to sit under his teachings while I’m in training to lead the first Women’s program in the Twin Cities, which I started last April. I am preparing to start my second women’s group in Minneapolis, MN on April 16th and possibly starting one also in Chicago, IL. There are several men’s groups starting across the nation as well.

I encourage you to look into this program as it will take you from success to significance. If you want to find your Kingdom calling and then pursue it, this program is for you. If you feel you’re stuck and are not sure how to jump into doing the things of God, or want to make a difference in people’s lives, this is the program for you. It’s a three year journey of discovery with quarterly meetings with a group of other believers seeking the same thing as you are—their unique calling of God in their lives. They are small groups of 10 to 15 people and it’s a confidential and professional setting where you will learn how to become the person God intended for you to be. You will have a positive and godly influence in those around you and leave a legacy of significance in your life.

You can find information on the men’s program at www.themastersprogram.org and the women’s program at www.themastersprogramforwomen.org. Enjoy the journey!

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Dear Friends,

This weekend I entertained my Graduate School of Banking friends here at home. We had a great time remembering the great experience we had at the school and the lifetime friendships we formed. Because of that, I wasn’t able to write my weekly blog on Saturday so I’m doing it now.

Today, I want to focus on the topic of holiness. This word can be controversial because we live in a world where this word is never mentioned and people’s lives are, overall, far from holy. But the Bible tells us that we are to be holy as Christ is holy so we can do His work. 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NLT) says, Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

But, what does it mean to be holy? The first step, of course, is to give your life to Jesus and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Then you can start working on your life and taking steps toward becoming holy. To start explaining, I want to share one of the devotionals from my first book, Devotions for Working Women, that applies to everyone:

Lord, Teach Us Your Ways

# 199

Psalm 86:11 (NLT)

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you.

Psalm 86:11 is a prayer I want to keep close to my heart and live out. When we know the ways of the Lord, we can live in His truth. By studying and meditating on His Word, we get to know Him and receive a revelation in our hearts of the truth. We can then live our lives according to what He wants for us.

The King James Version of the Bible says the second part of this verse this way, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” When we ask God to put in our heart the fear of His name, our heart becomes pure. When our heart is pure, God can mold it and transform it into the heart He wants us to have—His heart. Remember, He made us in His image.

When we live our lives according to this truth, we become a light to the world and are able to influence people for His Kingdom. This applies for our work, home, and community involvement.

To be holy means to have “purity of heart.” It means to have the fear of God in our hearts. To be holy means you separate yourself from the things of the world and seek those things that are pure, true, and honorable to God. The things of the world are those that have the potential to control you and take you away from God such as alcohol, pornography, drugs, lying, and stealing, among other things. The things that are pure are honesty, truthfulness, fairness, self-control, and loving others with the love of God, for example.

When you decide to serve God and to live for His purposes, to follow your calling, and to do “Kingdom work,” you are taking on a huge responsibility. When you choose to do God’s work, you are His representative everywhere you go. Your life becomes transparent to those you help, and the people who listens to you and ultimately follow you as their leader. Therefore, you must strive to be holy. 1 Peter 3:4 (NLT) says, You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

You may be thinking becoming a holy person is impossible while you’re living in this world and are submerged in it. But it is possible. Don’t be discouraged. God has equipped you to do His work and has given you the tools and guidelines that are key to your success in this area. It’s all in the Bible! The first step is to strive to live a holy life, as Christ Jesus did. Yes, Jesus was God BUT He was also human and, therefore, He struggled with sin just like you. Doing what’s right consistently and in every area of your life is key to your success in becoming holy. 1 John 3:7 (NLT) says, Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it is because they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.

I leave you today with the encouragement and hope that you can become holy like Jesus was. As you strive each day toward that goal, God will be able to use you beyond what you ever dreamed and you will help and influence many people along the way. Spend time with the Lord, in His presence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!

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Dear Friends,

Why is it that when we sin we move away from God instead of running to Him? I think it’s because we feel shame—just like Adam and Eve felt when they saw that they were naked in the garden of Eve. We feel ashamed of going to God because we don’t feel pure in our hearts. But that’s precisely when we need to run to Him and put our sins at His feet.

Jesus died on the cross for us and He forgave all our sins—past, present and future—and we cannot forget that. We need to come to the cross along with the big baggage made up of our sorrows, our sins, and our hurts. Jesus will take our burdens and make them light. He will walk the road with us and get us out of the sinful life or behavior we’re in at the time.

We all have sin in our hearts. Nobody is sin free. Jesus was the only human who ever lived on this earth who was sin free. But also because He was a human, He understands the struggles we go through and He wants to help us be free of sin by granting us forgiveness. God the Father loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus for that purpose—to forgive our sins, to save us from hell, to give us everlasting life, to restore our relationship with God.

So today friends, I encourage you to run to Jesus and bring all your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how big or small your sin may be. We are to live holy lives and the only way we can do that is one day at a time, asking God to forgive us as we sin.

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Dear Friends,

It’s the New Year and most of you are planning your year and writing goals. Most of you have heard of creating goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) and I’m sure you’re striving to write goals that meet that criteria.

I categorize goals in four main areas: 1) Personal (health, fitness, finances, relationships, family), 2) Intellectual (learning, education, acquire new skills), 3) Career/Business (new job and/or business opportunities, growth goals, improvement goals, networking), and 4) Spiritual (my relationship with God – time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, working for the Kingdom – doing work that has eternal value, fulfilling the call in my life). I write these goals with the SMART concept in mind but when it comes to the Spiritual goals, it gets a little more challenging. How do you measure the impact you have in someone’s life after a deep conversation about God’s love? Is it realistic to think that every person you touch will be changed by the power of God’s love? Can you time every interaction with people that God may put in your path so you can help them? Can you put an attainable number of people you want to minister to each day or week or year? And how specific do you get with the concepts of God explained in His Word? The answer is yes to all of these questions. You just have to plan and set a goal and then let the Holy Spirit guide you each day, each moment, and each interaction with others.

There are some things of course we cannot measure in natural terms like the impact of God’s love in someone’s life but that’s when we trust God that His Word and His love will always produce results. We do our part, which is to share and God does His. We may never see the results while we’re here on earth but we will see them when we get to heaven.

After writing all my goals in all the various categories, I stopped and thought for a while about this key question: Which goal (or goals) will get me closer to fulfilling the call of God in my life? Those are the most important goals that I should focus on because when I am doing what I’m called to do first, then everything else falls into place.

This year, I want to challenge you to write your goals and then prioritize them based on that key question – which goals will get you closer to fulfilling the call of God in your life? If you don’t know what your calling is, it’s time to find out. Seek God with all your heart and ask Him to reveal it to you. He will.

 

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