So You Want Transformation…

From The Higher Calling

From The Higher Calling

Most people who put down blogging are people who don’t blog. Blogging is part-journaling and part-networking. It has purpose, and not just selling points.

I invite you to take the time to read my blog from when I began three years ago. If you want a picture of Jesus transforming a life, take your proverbial magnifying glass on my life. I invite you.

Jesus changed my life both physically and spiritually.

But I am not perfect.

Sometimes, I annoy people.

Sometimes, I care too much.

Sometimes, I am way too OCD about things.

But God is my Daddy. He is my Savior, my friend. Jesus is the reason I breathe, laugh, cry, and live. He is the reason for my change, but remember my humanity. I am not Jesus. Therefore, I cannot be Him. So if you are looking for perfection, it is not here. If you are looking for love, He loves perfectly. I may judge you or get annoyed at you, but I still love you.

Because Jesus loves you.

And you can learn a lot from re-reading your own blogs as well as see the transformation Jesus has done in a person’s life by reading someone else’s blog or journal.

A Culture of Indecision

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A guest on Fox and Friends said, in order to keep a good job, you must take responsibility for your actions. Their target audience were millennials, but all ages are guilty, especially in this culture of indecision.

Examples often observed are the lack of commitments to anything from church membership to weekend plans, even to marriage. The culture waits until the eleventh hour to make plans or to decide not to attend. This serious lack of commitment in our society has bothered me.

The cure for the culture of indecision could be in creating better habits:

1: Keep a day planner or Google calendar. When you are asked about weekend plans, you can answer yes or no right away.

2: Make plans and keep them, even if on that day you get a better invitation someplace else or don’t mentally feel like showing up. I have often awoken in the morning before a full day and wished I could call in sick from my commitment. Short of family emergencies or illness, I am going to be there when I have committed to something.

3: Commit long or short term to a project or ministry. Practice makes for better habits. Start with a small project and commit fully to its vision. When obstacles come, find a way over or through them. Don’t let discouragement keep you from using your gifts.

4: Find a church and commit to its vision through the long haul, even when trials come. Church is often like the weather; bad weather comes, people fall away, and return again. Bad weather is a great time to stick it out and shine. Allow yourself to emotionally connect with others who attend that church and love them as good as family. Contribute to that church and help it become successful.

5: Find a job and hold on to it even when it’s no longer fun. Jobs are not fun. Even the fun jobs have moments where you absolutely hate it. They pay the bills and grow character. So stick with a good job and give them 110% no matter what they pay. You’ll earn more than a paycheck; you’ll earn people’s respect, and that in itself, is a very powerful testimony of your belief in Christ.

6: RSVP to an event yes or no; or follow up on your maybe. Be respectful to the host or hostess. They have to buy supplies for the party and need a head count. Don’t make them chase after you with follow-up phone calls and emails. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t forget to follow-up in short order on a maybe. I’ve forgotten to do that once and I felt bad, but haven’t done it since.

Matthew 5:37 struck me some months ago. It read:

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Like Fox and Friends said, take responsibility for your actions. A non-answer or not showing up allows the other to make sometimes wrong assumptions about you. The Bible implores us to be firm in our answers. Maybe that’s why I beat myself black and blue when I let someone down? I don’t want to hurt those I care about the most.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

A situation recently caused me to think about how we, as Christians, justify posting our grievances online.

Someone chose to create a very public firestorm against shut-mouth-face-smileyanother business and it had many negative consequences. I was thinking how inappropriate it was to post that grievance online when that person had access to the head of the business and could have called the person. In doing so, the situation would have been resolved rather quickly without creating negative and inflammatory feedback.

We need to think about the influences we have and the consequences of our reactions to a situation. How would a secular person view your status? What kind of consequences would your status have in the long term? When you post your grievance online people who love you will often take your side without first checking the other person’s story, and in some cases forsaking common sense, blinded by their love for you. A firestorm can mask the good the other is doing, and we must think about that, too.

So the teachable moment for me was to curb how I would react to a bad situation; to forgive the person who hurt me so I can move on; and to remember Christians are not perfect. Like in Biblical days, we, too, have our pharisees. It doesn’t mean the whole lot of Christians think or act the same way as those pharisees. It would be like blaming an entire church congregation for the unfriendly actions of two people. If I read a grievance online, I restrain myself from overreacting, or at least try. It’s easy to want to take our friends and family’s side, to believe there is no second side of the story, but we must not have a knee jerk reaction as the consequences could be worse than the wound caused by the original hurt.

Describe the consequences of your knee-jerk reaction.

It’s The Devil’s Fault

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Attacks do happen when evil doesn’t want God’s purpose realized. But sometimes evil gets the blame for the consequences of our own decisions or lack thereof.

  • Like saying yes when I should have said no.
  • Like gaining weight because of eating poorly or exercising too little.
  • Like complaining when things aren’t happening due to my inaction.
  • Like not researching something well when it sounds too good to be true.
  • Like expecting opportunities to come to me and wondering why nothing is happening?

I’ve said yes many times before consulting with God. So it’s not always the devil’s fault when things go wrong in our lives. God gives us the tools to make wise decisions. We don’t always exercise wisdom in our decision-making and blame the devil and his minions when things go wrong.

When Mockingbirds Sing

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What begins as a sweet tale about a little girl becomes something akin to Edgar Allen Poe or the movie Signs. When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey is a brilliantly written novel, and even up to the ninth hour you are still not sure if Leah is who she claims.

Tom and Ellen Norcrosse and their daughter, Leah, move from the city to a small town to save their family. Tom is a counselor who has gone part time to save his marriage. This small town is tightly knit and because Leah has a bad stutter most town folk are having a hard time connecting with the Norcrosse family. Tom and Ellen arrange for a big town party to draw their reclusive daughter out of her shell. Leah has also begun talking about ‘The Rainbow Man.”

“The Rainbow Man” concerns Tom. Tom is an atheist. Ellen rubs a crystal around her neck and holds to a New Agey belief. The invisible friend causes Tom to struggle with how to deal with his daughter’s imagination. Leah makes a new friend named, Allie, at the party. They become inseparable for most of the novel. Allie is not completely convinced The Rainbow Man is real either. What makes this novel unique is how deftly Coffey uses a writers technique called, “The Tornado Effect.”

The Tornado Effect is how each person views the same thing in a different way. Reggie, the pastor, see’s Leah’s reaction out of context and in a different way than some of the other townfolk. His perspective helps increase the tension in the story. From his perspective, Leah is conniving. Barny takes care of his Dementia and stroke-ridden wife who is wheel chair bound. From his perspective, Leah is the ticket out of his bad luck. Barny’s story takes center stage here.

Leah suddenly becomes a great painter after Barny makes her a beautiful, hand-carved easel and the painting reveals numbers in it. Leah says The Rainbow Man wants Barny to have the painting and asked her to paint that scene. Barny sees the numbers, plays the lottery, and wins. This makes Leah and Barny instant celebrities and Barny’s toy shop sees more customers than in years past. Reggie is suspicious. People claim The Rainbow Man is God, but it’s such a strange thing to have God speak through an unbeliever and to be called such a name.

The tension in the town mounts as Leah paints another scene and Barny hangs it on his window. There are numbers in this painting, too. Scores of people write or take pictures of the numbers and run out to buy a lottery ticket. Reggie says God can’t use the lottery and he is right to worry how the town will react when the numbers don’t win.

The chapter where Coffey takes an omniscient point of view is a very tense chapter. We see every character as they wait until midnight. Meanwhile, the mockingbirds are gathering in numbers, giving an almost Poe feel to the story. The story is getting darker as the town gets angrier and things go wrong. When Mockingbird Sings is a story that makes you wonder if you would have thrown the proverbial stone, too. The novel explores Christianity and self-responsibility through the eyes of the town folk.

When Mockingbirds Sing is such a different novel that writers ought to read it to study Coffey’s methods. It’s dark, but it doesn’t begin or end dark. It’s like a storm slowly building until suddenly it breaks and everything hidden comes out. It’s supernatural. I gave it five stars. What a wonderful and tense read!

*Book given by publisher to review.

Godly Wisdom or Just Plain Annoying?

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But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.—James 3:17

Lead Like Jesus sent a devotion on August 5 to my email which read:

“Many people give advice, while others are sources of wisdom. How can you tell one from the other? Advice typically comes in the form of opinion and reflects the viewpoint of the person offering it. Wisdom, the kind of wisdom that Jesus exhibited in His life, has the ring of God’s truth about it, an overarching truth that transcends human understanding. Even His enemies marveled at Jesus’ selfless, God-centered wisdom. Do you give advice or offer godly wisdom?”

Most of the time, I offer advice. I’m a fixer. We fixers are cursed with a desire to solve the other person’s problems. We want to say something, wipe away their tears or terminate their anger, but unless the Holy Spirit is involved, the advice is a patch; the kind smokers wear on their arm. The advice is not even followed half of the time. People generally confide in others to be heard, even sometimes wanting the listener to agree with them. When the listener disagrees, it can sometimes be taken as an insult or an offense. But when prayer is involved and the Holy Spirit has worked something in that other person’s heart, true change can come. That’s godly wisdom, the kind Lead Like Jesus spoke about.

It’s happened once or twice only and it’s truly a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, I, too, have been given advice that is usually out of touch with my situation, annoying, or unwanted. My husband learned early in our marriage that when I speak to him, I just want someone to listen. That’s what most people want is a listening ear.

So I try to hear what God is telling me when someone confides so I don’t offer merely advice, but godly wisdom. When it’s godly wisdom, a life changes; not because of what I said, but because of what the Holy Spirit is doing in their soul.

Do you offer advice or godly wisdom?

Your Livelihood or Your Faith?

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Worldnet News Daily jerked me out my Christian slumber when their headlines read, “U.S. Court: Choose Faith or Livelihood.” It caused me to ask: What would I choose if faced with that kind of persecution?

The picture above is what I created to illustrate the headlines. This is not some “right-wing conspiracy theory”, but a real threat. If business owners or workers are forced to choose between their faith or their livelihood we could see a new era evolve that closely resembles India’s caste system; real poverty, like a third world country where Christians (and anyone who disagrees with the elite of the country) are the aliens.

WND’s article says, “The stunning verdict came in a case brought by lesbians against Elane Photography. The lesbians wanted the photographer to document their “wedding,” and the studio declined, claiming it would violate the Christian faith of the owners. Tough luck, said judges Edward Chavez, Petra Jimenez Maes, Charles Daniels, Barbara Vigil and Richard Bosson. They make clear the company has the option of going out of business.”

This verdict isn’t new. Fox News reports how a Colorado gay couple is suing a bakery for not providing a cake. In Washington State, ABC News reports a florist is being sued for not providing flowers for a same-sex wedding. In England, Lifesitenews reports how a gay couple is suing a church for not providing the wedding of his dreams. Two Catholic Innkeepers are being sued for refusing to host a gay wedding.

In this anti-bullying fever, it’s amazing how no one is pointing out the obvious; how the same people who want to live in peace are forcing people out of business or asking them to compromise their deeply held religious beliefs using the tactics of a bully. A gay congressman has even mentioned taking a Christian’s children away. This is re-enforced by what an ASU professor said from an atheist’s standpoint, because it’s not just gays attacking Christians, but some atheist groups and individuals are also working at eradicating Christianity from the fabric of America. But the Bible is clear on persecution and trials:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14 (ESV)

I’m not sure us latte-sippin’, iphone playin’ Christians are ready for this choice. There are exceptions. One woman I know has decided she will die as a missionary in a hostile country. Every day is survival mode as buildings blow up, but she is determined and an inspiration to me. What would America look like if we lived and died for Christ, like a Billy Graham or a Nate Saint?

I’m not even sure what that looks like in America. After attending service at a Navajo church on our own, independently funded, missions trip, I saw the church stripped down to faith and truth. No bands. No battle over hymns or contemporary music. No private membership feel or getting lost in a crowd or alienated by a clique. No one went without. No place is perfect, but it’s a reminder to me how complicated and consumoristic we have made church.

So what would we choose, if forced to choose between living a comfortable life in a house, two cars, and yearly vacations or living destitute like a homeless person only with no free meals or hot showers? The latter, of course, could be those of us who choose Christ, and as in the India Caste system, become the ‘untouchables.’  Are we ready? What would you choose if faced with that very real possibility of losing everything you’ve worked hard to keep?

Life Stops

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“Are you experiencing a life stop? Are you confused and questioning why God is allowing this in your life? Learn to praise Him in the midst of the moment. Thank Him. He knows best and is working out a mighty plan. Praise Him for teaching you to trust Him even though it doesn’t seem to make sense. Ask God to prepare you for those unexpected interruptions to your life. Also, take an extra step forward and pray for others who are experiencing life stops. Pray they trust God through it all.”  – Life Stops, My Prayer Chair

I couldn’t think of anything to write for this particular chapter. So, if you feel inclined, please answer the above questions.

Limitless: Devotions For a Ridiculously Good Life

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While it doesn’t make false promises, Limitless by Nick Vujicic is a cheerful and encouraging read. The writer is a well-known global speaker, born with no arms or legs and has only a foot. His testimony and struggles are an antidote to someone else’s depression.

Life is possible even when you were born disabled. I can only imagine the restrictions placed on life when one is born without the usual limbs, but Nick’s parents didn’t raise him to think like a disabled man. They raised him to see life as hard, but full of opportunity if only you have the will. Nick’s life is truly an encouragement for the rest of us. We, who were born with two arms and legs, struggle with issues that feel small after reading a devotion like this. Not to trivialize each of our individual struggles, but Nick could use the excuse of his disability to stop living or be demanding.

Instead, Nick is independent in his thinking. He does have a care giver, but for the most part he has learned to adapt. It reminded me of JoJo Meyers novel, Me Before You, where the young man eventually takes his own life because he can’t imagine a quality life being unable to move from the neck down. Nick proves the quality of life depends upon you.

God has a purpose for you. Nick also believes in miracles. He keeps a pair of shoes in his closet in case God decides to give him arms and legs. He says God means for him to be this way and refers to the blind man in Jesus’ time who was blind from birth so that the miracle of his new sight as an adult would glorify God. Nick’s sense of humor is contagious. I gave this devotional five stars.

*Book given by publisher to review.