Archive for May, 2017

Dear Friends,

In my new work life as an entrepreneur I think I’ve experienced both types of fears since I decided to start my consulting business and launch my career as a professional speaker almost three years ago. At first, I experienced the loneliness that entrepreneurs go through when you leave your team behind and start your company—on your own. There is no assistant to help you with the administrative duties and there is no senior leadership team to bounce ideas off of. There is the fear of not producing enough money to meet your financial needs and there is also the fear of rejection. You wonder, “What if no one needs me?” “What is nobody cares about what I do?” and “What if no one sees the value I offer with my services and experience?”

As time goes by, I will forever be grateful to the first few customers who believed in me and gave me the opportunity to be of service. When you fast forward to several months down the road and you see the fruit of your labor realized, it boosts your self-esteem as an entrepreneur. You start having positive thoughts like, “Maybe this will work.” “I think they found me valuable.” “I think this business idea is finally working!” “I think my audience really enjoyed having me.” Now I find myself transitioning from having fear of failure to experiencing the fear of success. My new thoughts are now, “What is this business actually takes off and I’ll be so busy that I won’t know what to do?” “What if I lose my life balance I’ve worked so hard to achieve?” What if I get so stressed out that I lose my peace?”

From the spiritual perspective, I fear not having enough time to spend with the Lord. I fear not being able to give of my time to ministries that need my help. I’m fearful of missing opportunities to spend time with my husband and the rest of my family because there is too much work to get done. I’ve experienced all these things before when I had “a job” and “a career” that was so demanding of my time, energy, and brain power. Each day after an entire day of working at the bank I would come home completely depleted of everything. I had nothing left to give. Many days I couldn’t even make a simple decision as to what to have for dinner so I wouldn’t eat. I was “decision-ed out,” if you can say it that way. I was emotionally exhausted from working in Corporate America. Don’t take me wrong. I truly enjoyed my entire banking career and the five years I worked in ministry. I experienced joyful years and felt fulfilled as an executive and as a leader. Nevertheless, all of that came with a price—lack of time with family, physical exhaustion, and emotional stress.

I think it’s interesting that both failure and success can actually have similar consequences in your life. You can lose your relationships, your marriage, your home, and even your relationship with God in both cases. Both failure and success have the power to destroy your life. It is, therefore, your choice on how you will handle either as you may experience both situations throughout the course of your life. But when you choose to walk your journey along with God, you will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding and you can choose life as the Bible tells us to do.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT) Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 39:19 (NLT) Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

With the thirty one years of working experience that I now have under my belt, I finally understand what people mean when they say, “I’ve been around the block.” I feel I have been around the block at least once if not twice. I now know the dangerous of working so hard as well as the positive consequences. I now know the positives and negative feelings of working alone. But most importantly, I now know how crucial it is to hang on to God regardless of my work situation. He is my provider. He is my comforter. He is my companion. He walks with me daily as I make my decisions. I depend on Him completely to send me the right customers and the right speaking engagements where I will make an impact in people’s lives. I also depend on my husband and consult with him on all my business decisions because it is our business. He is very wise and God uses my husband to give me guidance and also to help me balance my life.

I know I can be very successful and I will not hold back anymore. I will let God guide me every step of the way. I know that when we have a thankful heart, God protects us from becoming prideful because we remember that we are nothing without God. I know that when we give out of our abundance—and even out of sacrifice—we don’t develop an attachment to material possessions. I know that when we have our priorities straight putting God first, then our families, and then our work, God helps us to live a more balanced life. I will follow my own teachings and what I know is right. I will let God use me for His purposes and will be set free. I will not hold back. It will be an amazing journey to see what God has in store for me in all areas of my life. I trust Him with all my heart.

I will leave you with this Scripture today:

II Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

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Dear Friends,

This past week I read an annual report from Opportunity International about their accomplishments in Nicaragua working with the poor. I love and support this Christian nonprofit organization because they are teaching the poor how to become self-sustainable by co-investing with them and providing micro loans for their small businesses. In addition, they are teaching their clients business principles and the Bible. Opportunity International also has a school called “Emprendedora” which means “The Entrepreneurship” School.

One of the stories in the annual report was about a girl who graduated in the very first graduating class of the Emprendedora School in 2016 and she was also the very first person in her entire family to graduate from high school. She graduated with honors and also with the additional agriculture technical certificate offered by the same school. Even though her accomplishment of graduating from high school plus doing it with honors, in addition to being the first one in generations to finish high school was an amazing achievement, what touched my heart the most about the story is that she studied under “only one lightbulb” throughout high school. Her entire house had only one lightbulb!

I shared the story with my husband as we looked around our kitchen and dining room lighting. At that moment, there were fifteen lightbulbs on! The kitchen recessed lights (6) plus the little lights under the cupboards (3) plus the chandelier over the dining room table (5). This girl, not only had to share a very small house and bedroom with her family but studied under only one lightbulb for years. She was so thankful and happy to go to school that one lightbulb was a minor obstacle only. She was also so thankful that her dad made a bicycle (out of used parts) for her to ride to school so the trip now took her fifteen minutes versus the one hour walk each way, that she didn’t complain about the lack of lighting in her house.

For a moment I felt guilt but mostly I felt gratefulness in my heart for what God has provided for my family. My husband and I have worked extremely hard to have the material things we now enjoy so we should not feel guilty. Even though I don’t consider ourselves to be rich, I recognize that by any other country’s standards many of us here in America are considered rich and that we live in abundance. I am thankful to God for our work, for our education, and for all the gifts and talents He has entrusted us with. I’m also thankful that we learned the concept of stewardship early in our lives so we could treat all the resources we’re entrusted with appropriately.

Being a good steward is a big responsibility. Stewardship is knowing that what we have is not ours but God’s—including all our talents He deposited in us. When we are entrusted with material possessions, including money, we are to share it with the world—especially for the Gospel to be preached around the world. That is the main purpose for us to have riches in this world.

I challenge you today to look around your house and see how many lightbulbs you have. Then thank God for each lightbulb and for the gift of light in your home. Thank God for every single thing you have in your life, for your children, for your spouse, for your friends, for your family, your work, and your education. But most importantly, thank God for His Light, Jesus, who shines in your home and illuminates your heart with His love and truth. Then share Jesus with others—He is indeed the only lightbulb we need in our homes!

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Dear Friends,

I was meditating today on Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus went to the desert to fast and pray for forty days. At the very end, on the fortieth day, when Jesus was hungry, exhausted, and the most vulnerable is when Satan showed up to tempt him. Part of Jesus’ mission on earth was precisely to become human and live a life as human as possible so that’s why he went to the wilderness. Imagine the monumental temptation to convert the rocks into bread right there and then. We experience terrible hunger after only one or two days of fasting. We are weak! The hunger after forty days must be unbearable. But Jesus abstained from using his power. He quoted the Bible to Satan and told him “It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then Satan tempted him with power when he asked Jesus to throw himself off the cliff and have angels rescue him. Then Jesus responded by saying, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Lastly, Satan tempted Jesus a third time when he asked Jesus to worship him and then he would give Jesus all the worldly possessions and power. And Jesus rebuked Satan yet once more and said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

As I shared in previous blogs, I’m doing an in-depth study of the Bible using the Life Application Study Bible. In the explanation of these verses, the study Bible says that “The devil often temps us when we are vulnerable—when we are under physical or emotional stress (for example, lonely, tired, weighing big decisions, or faced with uncertainty” (p. 1533). Isn’t this absolutely true in your life? It is in mine. It is in those times when I feel the most vulnerable that Satan always tempts me with negative thoughts of defeat, doubt, and fear. But the Bible also says that we must not feel dirty when confronted with temptation because that is not a sin. “We sin when we give in and disobey God.”

In the same manner, in the good times, when everything is going well, Satan shows up too. This time he temps us with other things—possessions, power, and pride. When everything seems to be going great in our lives, there are no illnesses, the job is going good, relationships are awesome, and when we feel we’re on top of the world—that is the perfect opportunity for Satan to tempt us. Without knowing, we are as vulnerable during these times as we are when we are at the bottom of the pit. The Study Bible says that “he also likes to tempt us through our strengths, where we are most susceptible to pride” (p. 1533). The Study Bible summarizes it in three key areas that the devil tempts us: 1) physical needs and desires, 2) possessions and power, and 3) pride.

When we are tempted in any of these areas—whether we are vulnerable because we are at the bottom or at the top—we must seek God with all our hearts and drive our strength to resist temptation from Him. Knowing the Word of God well and where these powerful verses are in the Bible is a huge weapon against the enemy of our soul. The Word of God is like a sword and we must use it to destroy the enemy. But we must practice and learn how to use it well so in those vulnerable moments we are ready to fight—and win!

There is nothing wrong with having physical desires (we are human) or being successful in business, which can include having possessions and power. It’s a matter of the heart. We need to remain humble in the bad times and in the good times. In the bad times, it’s easier to recognize the need for God in our lives but still some people refuse to run to God and don’t give him a chance to help them. In the good times, it’s easy to feel as if we don’t need God because money and power can buy anything we need in the world—except true happiness and eternal life. By recognizing that it is God who gives us the power to create wealth to begin with and knowing that He gave us all the talents we possess, we stay humble. Also by having a thankful heart and attitude we keep our hearts free of pride and close to God. Lastly, by giving out of our abundance and also when in need, our hearts remain humble. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I hope today’s blog encourages you to not give up believing in God if you are going through difficult times in your life. I also hope that this blog inspires you to stay close to God during times of prosperity as you remember that this world can take everything away in a split second. God is our eternal source of strength. I will end with what the Study Bible says, “When temptations seem especially strong, or when you think you can rationalize giving in, consider whether Satan may be trying to block God’s purposes for your life or for someone else’s life.” Be strong in the Lord and resist temptation!

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