Monday, July 1, 2019

What Motivates You?


This morning my scripture studies began in the book of 1 Thessalonians.  As I read, I got stuck in verse three,
“Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope...”

I tried to move on to the next verse, knowing this was just a part of the salutation to the church at Thessalonica, but the word “motivated” pierced my conscious.  Immediately, the question hit me straight between the eyes, and then forced me to really stop and think- What motivates you?  As I pondered a string of possible motivators popped up as captions in my head.  (You know like those floating thoughts you see in a comic strip.) 

   
Here it comes.... yes, I did a word study on “Motivate,” if you have read any of my blogs or books, you know this is what I do.   Motivate - a cause or reason to act.  It is a prompting.  When we are motivated, we are influenced by some sort of stimulus.  We are spurred on, incited, or provoked to move and take action.

What causes someone to run into the crashing ocean?  Or for that matter, what inspires the warrior to run into the fray of battle, or for the bystander to join in the fight?  Why do we engage in conversation?  Or search, plunge and dive into study, or even more curious - what causes us to desire love, or to be in a meaningful relationship?  What compels us to flee, turn away and shut our eyes?  Better yet, what stops us in our tracks, to be still or silent?  What provokes us to work, to serve or to share?  What moves us to laugh, to love, to live or to cry, become angry and quit?

These are some soul searching questions, aren’t they?  What motivates us is as unique as who we are?  We are all motivated by something.  My husband enjoys engaging and meaningful conversation, one of his favorite provoking questions is:  “What wakes you up in the morning?”  The answer to his question and to my long list above is personal.  There is a fire inside of each of us ready to be ignited. There is a gifting within each of us, waiting to be stirred up to benefit the world around us.  There is a longing deep to make a difference, to leave a lasting impression.  God placed within each of us a purpose, a rare and individualized call.  I believe we act and move according to this divine call. We are bent toward a destination; we are gifted for a cause.  I encourage you today, to ask yourself – What motives me?  It could be life-changing.

Monday, April 22, 2019

True or False - Can you handle the truth?




Imitation. Knock-offs. Fake, Mock-ups. Impostors. Hollow truths... What’s Real?

The world is always selling – if you cannot afford the genuine, no worries, commercial marketing has made millions off of peddling imitations.  “Give the people what they want” is their mantra!  Gucci, Armani, Rolex, Channel, diamonds, leather, etc. all have imitations. These “knock-off” versions all look good at first glance, but if you know the genuine product you won’t be fooled by the counterfeit.

Falsehoods are untrue ideas which suppress the truth with the intent to deceive.

The world sells many false gods and idols – replicas of hollow truths - purposely misleading the gullible with feel goods, quick fixes, fads, and fantasies. The repertoire of self-indulgence is designed to deceive. In a world where scientific and technical advances have manufactured 3-D printers and the cloning of animals, they replicate and copy, but they can never create the genuine.  False gods or idols look good, making promises of greatness, but they are no more real than a beautifully sculpted piece of plastic fruit.

As a child, my mother had a plastic fruit in a decorative bowl on the table.  In my childish innocence I took a grape from the bunch and put it into my mouth, only to discover I had been faked out! What looked good and enticing had no taste, no sweet nectar, nope nothing but a rubbery imitation that couldn’t be chewed or swallowed.  As a matter of fact, it had the potential of chocking me if I tried.

Beloved, do not be deceived or fooled (1 Corinthians 6:9).   Once you have tasted the goodness of Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied with anything else.  Once you have received the robe of righteousness all other garments are mere rags. Once you have smelled the sweet aroma of our Lord’s sacrifice, you will spend a lifetime desiring to bask in its fragrance over and over again.  Jesus is the real deal!

Real versus Fake, I must ask, “Can you handle the truth?”  In Martin Luther King’s Sermon on “False God’s We Worship” he states:  “A man’s real God is that to which he gives his ultimate devotion, that unifying loyalty which draws his life together and gives it centrality and singleness of aim.”  We must be wary of what we bow down to.  What are we devoting our time, devotion and unquestioned loyalty to?  False gods have many faces, shapes, and sizes. Are you bowing down to a relationship, has your significant other become your god?  Or have you become devoted to your own self-image?  Has money and keeping up with the status quo taken precedence over life itself?  Have fame or celebrity and sports figures become markers for success?  Have you become enslaved to social and political causes? Are there any vain imaginations usurping or undermining your knowledge of Jesus Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5)   “Little children, keep yourselves from idols, false gods – from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life. (1 John 5:21).

Evil, with its worldly schemes and ever-growing idolatry, desires to harden our hearts to the truth.  At the cross, the soldiers mocked Jesus, made sport of Him.  Unfortunately, mankind still ridicules Jesus today.  Many laugh, despise and scoff at the truth of the Gospel. In their arrogance, they claim to be smart in their endless arguments, but they are fools, devoid of understanding and empty inside. They attempt to ambush the truth but ensnare themselves with futility. In reality, they are lost, following transitory “here today, gone tomorrow” gods. Always striving after what cannot be obtained, caught up in a world of false promises, they have exchanged the love and salvation of the One True God for hollow vain imaginations.

Many impostors will cross our path in life. We will be deceived, and even betrayed by what we believe to be genuine and lasting unless we diligently yield to the Holy Spirit within us and test for truth.  Idols, graven images, fake reproductions entice and seduce, enslaving with false realities. However, the good news of the Gospel sets us free. The truth is this, it is impossible for God to deceive us (Hebrews 6:18).  He is incapable of deception (Numbers 23:19). Jesus is the real deal!  He is the Way, He is the Truth, and through His saving grace and infinite mercy, we have everlasting life (John 14:6).  God will do what He promised (Genesis 28:15). He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).  Why settle for knock-offs, fake idols, when the one and only begotten Son of God gave His life up for yours. Only Jesus can truly satisfy the longing of our hearts.




Monday, March 11, 2019

Success versus Happiness


I have been having God-talks [prayer dialogues with God] concerning success and happiness. I am going to share some bullet points of truth I discovered through these times of prayer and meditation.

Discovery #1- Success and happiness are not synonyms!

Discovery #2 – Success doesn’t guarantee happiness, but happiness does create pathways to success. 
Success is best achieved through the courageous pursuit of happiness, rather than striving for success hoping to discover happiness and fulfillment. 

Discovery #3 - Fame is fleeting, yet joy is everlasting.
Everlasting joy never runs out, it is a continual flow. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Set His joy before you and pursue life with passionate purpose.  “May your joy be full” ( John 15:11).

Discovery #4 - God wants us to enjoy life.
God wants us to go, do and enjoy! He desires for us to take pleasure in living and benefit from His goodness. He has plans to prosper you. He has a hope and a future secured and specifically designed just for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)  Trust. Believe. Follow Him...

Discovery #5 – A life beyond, thought, expectation or measure. 
Jesus promised an abundant life. In John 10:9, Jesus proclaimed "I am the door" beckoning us to follow Him. In verse 10, Christ promises an abundant life. It is a promise of freedom, assurance and an eternal destiny found only through Jesus.

An abundant living is a life greater than imagination. It is being assured and secured, bold and confident knowing you can't lose. Jesus has your back and your front, He envelopes you in love and protection. You are safe, stable and free from doubt. You are a child of God, what more could you desire?

Discovery #6 -Through Christ we find pasture.
Referring back to John 10:9 those who follow Christ have freedom. "He will come in and he will go out freely, and will find pasture." I love the idea of finding pasture - A place to rest and be sustained, to flourish and become nourished, to lie down without fear, and where creativity blooms and grows. When we find pasture we discover nourishment for the soul. We become our best selves.

Discovery #7- Joy and gladness in full measure, complete and overflowing.
All the true needs of humanity are satisfied in Jesus. "I have told you these things, that My joy and gladness may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing" (John 15:11).

Discovery #8 - Joy is consistent and is cultivated from within.
Joy is the driving force residing at the core of your uniqueness. It is the bedrock within you. Joy fights against sorrow and defeats doubt. Boldness is birthed from joy because there is no fear of failure. The purpose of joy goes beyond self-satisfaction. Joy urges us to be committed and connected, living life for the greater good.

Discovery #9 - Joy is resilient.
Nothing can steal your joy. Those who have lost or surrendered their hope and purpose still have joy within them. They just no longer recognize it. Bent and weighed down by suffering, pain becomes a shroud. Pain is real and refuses to be ignored. But, Joy is stronger! Joy is relentless. Joy rebounds, emits beauty and rises up.

Discovery #10 - Narrow is the road that leads to life, only few find it.
Choose wisely the path before you.

Although the road to wealth, power and fame is well traveled, it is often paved with harmful and self-destructing desires. Instead of becoming successful, it leads to ruin. Along the broad road lie wasteful wanderings, traps of temptation, land mines of immorality, sink holes of selfishness, relentless competition to get ahead, all lending to despairing days, and lonely exhausted nights. By the way, this road is always under construction and in need of repair. I would rather invest my devotion, time and energy traveling down the pathway that leads to contentment, happiness and a life worth living, wouldn't you? “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” Matthew 16:26 

Discovery #11 - God makes our efforts successful.
We make plans, but it is God who directs our steps. Sometimes, He is our guide leading the way, and in others, He walks by our side. When we are weary He carries us and when we are immovable He nudges us forward. In my case, there have been times when He has given me a firm, but loving push forward and countless times of "would you please Be Still!"

May we find hope, joy, and satisfaction in the Lord. As we delight in God's presence, may our loving Father grant our hearts desires and "may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful" (Psalm 90:17).  Lord God, may your gladness and joy overtake us as we journey through life. Amen.

My final thoughts...

“Surely, goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell forever, throughout all my days, in the house and in the presences of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6 AMP). 

I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding the passing away of this life.  We touched briefly on the topic of bucket lists.  I have spent most of my life busy with a list of things to do.  As I approach the last leg of my journey on this side of life, I would rather count my blessings, than try to complete a bucket list.  Now, please don’t misunderstand me. If opportunity and time allow, there are many things I would like to do, see and experience. After all, life is a grand adventure.  However, I am not compelled or driven to fulfill them, nor will I feel a lack of accomplishment if I don’t succeed before I pass over to eternity. Instead, I prefer to live and capture the moment, to be content in the simple things and enjoy putting myself totally and sincerely into each day given me. Moments, after all, are precious and they add up to lifetimes.  Life is full of breaths of wonders, gasps of beauty, calming caresses, tugs of awe and alluring sounds.  If I am crossing things off a list, I might miss out on something rare in the here and now. 

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
If we endure life’s hardships, trials and inconveniences, “if we bear all of this with patience, kindness and love, we will be brimming with joy” (Francis Assisi).  Joy is a state of happiness, a continual glad feeling, a great and exceptional delight. If you have joy, you have achieved the greatest reward life has to offer.  

#successversushappiness #whatsyourstory #seekjoy #presentinthepresent #raremoments #livelife #Godisgood #thebestlife #bucketlists #eternallife #findpasture #godoandenjoy #nofear #freefromdoubt #heavenbound #hereandnow #joyoftheLord #joywins #abundantlife #surely #sureandassured 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Winsome




“Let your speech at all times be gracious pleasant and winsome, seasoned as it were with salt, so that you may never be at a loss to know how you ought to answer anyone who puts a question to you”  Colossians 4:6 AMP.  






Hey Everyone!  It has been a while since I have blogged.  Writing and reviewing have been monopolizing most of my time.  But, this tidbit of insight is too good not to share with you. 

As I was doing my morning reading, this verse jumped out.  The word winsome caught my attention. I was uncertain of its definition, so I quickly hit the dictionary app on my phone and looked it up. I love this word!  

But, before I get into it, I must explain why I am touched by the relevance of its meaning. I am notorious for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  And to add insult to injury, I often speak quickly, interjecting my thoughts without giving pause or listening intently to the end.  I have struggled with this dilemma for as long as I can remember. (Yes, I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.)   A few decades ago, I begin to diligently pray for God to help me to be “slow to speak.” With His help, I have made progress, but I am far from reaching my goal.  Thank goodness God is patient, if only everyone else would be, ha-ha. 

I am passionate about the Word of God and my relationship with Christ.  Colossians 4:6 gives instructions on how we are to speak to non-Christians, but I believe it should be a standard in all conversations. Let me explain. 

Winsome is defined as “sweetly or innocently charming; winning or engaging.”  Its word origin is joy + sum, or simply put - add some joy.  According to scripture, our speech should ADD JOY to conversations. Selah (Think and consider that for a moment). Our words should be seasoned, adding flavor by sweetening the conversation.

If we conduct our speech graciously and winsomely, we should never be at a loss as to what to say.  Look back at the definition.  Notice the graduated intensity:  from sweet and innocent, to winning and engaging.  We are to win the conversation!  But please be aware, this is not a license to manipulate.  Contrarily, winsome speech is the process of adding joy to each word spoken.  I told you it was good. 

My takeaway is this:  when in doubt add joy.  And when you can’t say anything nice, graciously bow out. Yes, I realize this is easier said than done.  Remember, we are a work in progress. 

Be winsome. 
Cheryl 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moutain Moving Faith... hum?

Currently on my daily walk, I see the picturesque allegory of mountain moving faith.  Many people doubt that faith can move mountains.  Me, I have beheld it. I know it is as true as holding and sensing the touch of my child’s hand in mine.

Each day as I walk, the mountainside to the west is being excavated. Gigantic machines tear into the hillside, scooping away tons of dirt, rock and foliage. Every day the mountain is gradually being leveled.

Mountain moving faith... hum?  Fact or fiction? Wishful thinking or an undeniable reality?

The power of faith can erupt with a seismic force that can level the obstacles of life like a mountain melting like wax. Changing circumstances in an instant - God makes the impossible possible.  However, most of the time, faith in action is a process.  Daily, our faith whittles away adversity. Gradually, faith shifts the mountain of despair by digging into its insurmountable height, leveling its obstructive and overwhelming elevation.  And like the landscape being shaped by the earth moving machinery, God is making a way for you and me.

We may not be able to see above the summit that lords over us, but God can. Have no fear, God’s mighty arm can reach into the greatest of barriers and eliminate them.    Soon the mountainous scenery I see every day will make way for homes, businesses, playgrounds and schools.  A location where people can live, prosper and grow, a resting spot of security and refuge, a place to abide.  If we continue to daily walk in faith, we will discover our predestined refuge, our God crafted place to abide and grow. And in this place we can be hidden in the cleft of His Rock, knowing there ain’t no mountain high enough, that faith cannot have it removed, leveled or possibly completely annihilated- for nothing can separate us from the powerful force of God’s love.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I Don't Fit In and That's Okay

Throughout my life I have experienced the awkward state of being misunderstood.  You know that person who does or says something that causes the room to go silent, or faces to melt and contort with astonishment.  These “odd duck” occurrences have shaped me as an individual.

As a child, I was told time and time again, I had not tact.  I often just spoke, and at times I am sure, blurted out exactly what I thought in any given moment.   Yes, I suffered with the expertise of “come backs.”   Need-less-to-say, my mom worked diligently to correct my outspokenness.  And it paid off as an adult.  Plus it helps that I have an arsenal, a depot full of memories, in my underground bunker (better known as my soul) that remind me of the power of my explosive words.   I call this special hidden vault “times I should have kept my mouth shut, but didn’t.”

I have come to realize that I am a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  My uniqueness sets me apart from normality. In a sense, if you stop and think about it,  this is a good thing. From a Biblical standard, the Apostle Paul exhorts us “not to conform to the world”(Romans 2:2).

Too many times, I have spent countless hours trying to whittle away my rough corners to fit into the required standard of the round hole.  As a result, many of my cornerstones have become nicked and chiseled over time. What I thought was softening and smoothing out rough edges to fit in, really means I am missing parts.  I use to think, this was a good thing.  Then I remembered, that God fashioned me together in my mother’s womb.  He gave me my personality, temperament, gifts and talents to be used to advance His kingdom, by doing my part, completing my destiny in HIS overall plan. (Acknowledging this truth has been liberating.)  No, this does not give me the right or privilege to say whatever I think, nor am I entitled to live however I choose fit. Contrarily, it opened the highway to discovery.  Namely regarding the “who I am and why I am here,” and placed the huge responsibility of living my life God’s way, according to His Word, applying His standard designated just for me. I believe God gives each of us a measure of grace, a standard to live by - no two standards are identical, but they are uniquely individual as each of us. (For more on this, read Ephesians 4: 7 and see what you think) I am required to live my life according to the standard designed for me. With this new found understanding, I was to stop trying to be what everyone else thought I should be.  I was not to yield to the standards of the world.  Mostly, I was to refrain from trying to fit in, and to embrace the fact that I was different.   I don’t fit in, and that’s okay.

All sounds wonderful, right.  Well honestly, it much easier said than done.    When God speaks and reveals truth to you, He means it!  His word does not return void.  Action is required.  Purification is coming.  Cleansing is inevitable!  This has been an arduous journey, and it is far from over!  It is a process of wonder and pain.  Squeezing and pressing through the narrow gate of life hurts, the gate you must pass through is contracted by pressure, that is why few find it (Matthew 7: 13 &14).

With this revelation, came responsibility. God would do His part, but I was required to do mine as well.  I had to cooperate with Him. This has proven to be a task, because I am not very patient, and I still ask too many questions.  Anyway, it was necessary for me to become a student, a student of life.  In essence, my thoughts and actions had to be schooled. I needed to be willing to be taught, I had to get down and dirty, wade among the muck and become bruised and battered.  I had to throw in the towel of spontaneity, and learn to be content with silence and stillness.  My risk taking mentality dissolved into weighing the cost and trouble-shooting decisions. I had to learn to sit at the feet of Christ, and be content just being there – doing NOTHING!  I had to dig, search, and find the hidden treasures of daily living.

Now, I’ve gone way too deep to ever be comfortable with the surface. Superficial, artificial, stereotypical, are not good enough, I want the real thing! To achieve the mind of Christ, to receive understanding and Godly wisdom, you must “experience life.”  To grow, you must be challenged.  Life hurts and it isn’t fair.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t fit in, and that’s okay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Dawn of Christmas...oh how magnificent!

Light is the absence of darkness.  One small flame, one slight flicker hollows out darkness, it weakens its strength. Light overcomes the power of darkness.  

The lights of Christmas are so soothing.  Whether young or old, they mesmerize the observer.  Set within the backdrop of darkness, these sparkling wonders stop and make us behold their illumination.  Children gaze at the twinkling lights on the tree. They coo, giggle, clap their little hands with awe at the shimmering radiance.  As I walk the neighbor at night, I can see the glow of Christmas beaming from each doorway and balcony.  This sight is so welcoming; I can’t help but smile, a smile that only Christmas brings.

Centuries later, the story of the Magi led by a mysterious light still holds true. “When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.” (Matthew 2: 10) Mankind longs to find the source of such a glorious light - A light that guides.  A light that dawns eternal.  A light that shines in the midst of darkness.  A light that radiates hope, dispelling despair.  A light that glistens, bringing unfathomable joy.  A light that beckons anticipation- a lighthouse of expectation.  A light that a never loses its illumination. An unquenchable light that can never be snuffed out.

The birth of Jesus Christ heralded – “the Light has come.”  This Christmas, don’t be afraid to step into the glorious presence of the Light. Bask in its brilliance, until it fills you with peace, joy and resilient hope.

“A Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit us.  To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide our feet in a straight line into the way of peace.”  Luke 1: 78b-79 AMP

#randomthoughts #exposed