Success is Knowing and Obeying God, Even When We Suffer

As Christians, we need not be dismayed when we suffer in this life. Those who love the Lord are the enemies of the evil one and his demons. Because the real battle is unseen, we can be blind to the oppression inflicted against us. Satan often prefers that we do not know that it is him who is attacking us. He wants non-believers to be oblivious to the help and hope available to them through Jesus Christ. He wants us who believe in the Lord Jesus to see ourselves as undeserving victims of God, or as foolish and doomed martyrs in the cause of Christ. He assigns the demons to attack us in the ways that we are most vulnerable. The evil one even uses people who, with or without knowing it, are controlled and manipulated by him to hurt us. He tries to convince us that unpleasant or painful dilemmas are evidence that the Lord does not really love us and is not really good.

Especially when we do not have the answers about why we are suffering, the evil one attempts to convince us that God is punishing us. His accusations, of course, are filled with deception. He will do anything in his power to try to stop us from using every situation for the glory of God—even what appears, in human wisdom, to be failure. Satan wants us to blame ourselves or blame God for what we experience as painful because he knows that God’s plan is good for each who believes in Him through Jesus Christ. Each and every circumstance that God allows, whether we perceive it as good or bad, and as a success or a failure, has an eternal, good purpose.

If you are in a painful situation, Satan is either hoping to keep you from knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or he is maneuvering to impede you as you serve God. Jesus is our only protection from the evil one and his demons. They are in fact terrified of Jesus. Jesus Christ has authority over everything in heaven and on earth. Satan does not want you to know this and remember this as you are suffering. He wants you to focus on yourself through what you think and how you feel about circumstances. He wants to distract your attention away from our Lord so you will not seek and receive the strength, power, courage, and wisdom that is in Jesus Christ and revealed by Him to us through the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, when we suffer, we do not understand that the reason for the difficulty is to bring glory to God. We can become discouraged by struggles, and see ourselves as failures when we forget to trust the Word of God rather than how we feel, the perceptible challenges that face us, or what we are thinking. Everything God allows is to be used to further His Kingdom. We do not fail as long as we obey Him.

Our Lord is faithful. At the right time, He will reveal the specific reason that He has allowed oppression by the evil one. Perhaps God is speaking to you through these words you are reading. Maybe He is calling you to Him through Jesus Christ. Maybe He is confirming that what you are experiencing is to draw you near to Him so that you can fully know His purpose for allowing your circumstances. Listen to His whisper to your heart. God wastes nothing. He will make known to you what you are to do with your situation.

If you are suffering for the Lord, what can you do? Praise Him for the opportunity to serve Him. Be diligent in reading His Word and dwelling on it. Ask God what you are to know and to do for Him. Ask God what the evil one is trying to accomplish or prevent. We can persist, overcome, and succeed by obeying what God tells us to do with whatever we face. Suffering for the Kingdom of God is a tremendous honor from our Lord. The works to which He calls us, as the result of serving Him through difficulties, are more important than anything we could treasure in this world. Suffering for the Lord brings us closer to Him. It gives us a greater appreciation of what He has done for us. It permeates us with reverent awe of His love and provision for us. And, one day, when we see Jesus face to face, we will know that persisting with faith and through obedience, when we suffer in His will, is the epitome of success. Further, what we do for the Lord, in and through suffering, is success that lasts forevermore.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17, NLT

Do you see what I see?

One Christmas Eve back in the mid-90′s I headed out to Kensington Avenue with my good friend, Shirley. She had called me a few days earlier to invite me on a very special mission. So, I said yes, as I was always ready for a bit of intrigue.

Packed in her trunk were about twenty gift bags filled with toiletries like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. Shirley had prepared each bag with loving care and a silent, yet thoughtful, prayer went up as every one was completely filled.

Kensington Avenue is located in one of the ugliest areas of North Philadelphia known as the “Badlands”. I used to live and work just five minutes from the strip. After dark, and after most of the shops along this street (covered by the Elevated Train track overhead) were closed, out of the shadows crept the prostitutes who were ready to begin their workday. Dressed in dingy, skimpy clothing, with tired and vacant eyes and slouching shoulders, each girl began her silent sales pitch.

As we began our journey down this dimly lit avenue, bundled up and tucked safely in Shirley’s car, I could recall the words she spoke to me over the phone. It went something like this: “These girls just need to be touched with God’s love. Who else is going to do it? We’re His hands, Summer. I just want to make sure they know that God knows who and where they are, and that He loves them.” How could I resist?

One by one, as we inched along the street, we gave the bags away with a few words of hope. I wish I could say that they all responded with immense gratitude and that many decided to walk away from their lifestyle. But, no miracle happened that night. None that I could see anyway.

But, the memory of that evening is branded in my mind. And I thank Shirley for the invitation.

In 2002, I helped start a ministry to prostitutes along the railroad tracks in Zone One of Guatemala City. I’m no longer with that ministry, but my husband and I have maintained a relationship with one of the ex-hookers I’d met there. Her name is Sheny, and she’s HIV positive. She’s got three kids and we help them throughout the year with food, clothes, school supplies, etc. Sheny’s got a job, but only earns the equivalent of $200 a month, which barely provides for the rent, food and medication she needs to keep from dying too soon.

She’s got quite the story, Sheny does. Her life history makes mine seem like a fairy tail – and I didn’t have it easy.

I’m not tooting my own horn or patting myself on the back by sharing this with you. The truth is, it’s a sacrifice for me to give of my money, time and energy. Oftentimes, I’d rather stay inside my cozy home and enjoy being with my husband and son. But, I’m always haunted by the fact that there are millions of people hurting in this world.
So I give.

I wish I could give more. I wish I could do more.

We have gifts nicely wrapped under the tree for Sheny and her kids this year. Nothing fancy, really. Just blankets and some toiletries. But, we’re happy to give, because we know that through giving God’s love is communicated.

Shirely’s still living in Philly, giving of herself constantly.

How will you spend your Christmas? Will you give to someone in need? Who do you know that’s hurting?

It’s a challenge.

Don’t do it to make yourself feel good or to ease your conscience. Give because you know someone needs it. Open up your heart and life and pour out kindness and gentleness and mercy.

Don’t think you have anything to give? Everyone has something.

Our budget was extremely tight this year, what with the newborn baby and all. But, It’s worth it to love someone else, no matter what the cost. So we’ll be in debt for a couple of months. So what.

Give.
Help.
Love.

Merry Christmas!
Summer

(Originally written December, 2007)

Roadblocks: What Am I Missing?

Roadblocks to Creativity

The Thinking Roadblock:

I have lectured often about how our thoughts and preconceptions are the biggest roadblocks to creativity. Ironically, this week I realized that I have spent more time searching the web, reading books and articles trying to fill in the gaps of my “understanding” of what it means to be an artist. I ask myself, “When did “understanding” become a part of my creativity?” I answer, “Understanding is not a part of creativity! It is a roadblock.” Murmurings of the forbidden tree in Eden: “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” come to mind. While some have written that the fruit of this tree was about Judgment (good and evil). I think that the fruit of the tree was equally about the desire for “knowledge”, because I find that when I am in that knowledge seeking mode, I lose something. I equate that “knowledge” with the left brain stuff that gets in the way of creativity, intuition, and spirituality.

The Striving Roadblock:

In addition to preconceptions and too much left brain thinking there is the road block I call Trying to Make Art. As part of my recent detour into “understanding what it means to be an artist I discovered a ½ price book sale on fine arts book at the Corona Public Library. I picked enough books to keep help me check myself into a motel on the this uncreative detour. (more…)

Are You Successful?

Are You Successful?

Have you ever compared your success to that of another and found your own sadly lacking?  As a writer and speaker, it’s part of my job to know and study my “competition”.  But to be honest, the process is often quite discouraging.  Do you know what it’s like to see these authors of best-sellers and know that the words they spout are lies from the pits of hell?  They twist the truth to make it more acceptable so they don’t offend their audience.  They smile and offer words on living simply in your faith in Christ while they fly around in multi-million-dollar jets.  They are liars.  They are hypocrites.  And yet, they are wealthy and popular.  Does that seem unfair to anyone but me?

Please understand that I’m not saying that all best-selling authors or speakers are that way.  But there are several well-known celebrities that are leading people astray and getting paid millions to do it.  Meanwhile, simple authors (like myself) who are striving to get the truth out are struggling to make sales and book meetings.  I guess the truth is harder to swallow and, therefore, not very popular.  Still, as I flip through the latest Christian book magazine, longing to see one of my books on its many pages, I can’t help but turn my face toward Heaven and ask, “Why, God?  Why will you allow this filth to be published?  Why do you allow these lies to spread like wildfire?  I’m teaching the truth.  Why can’t I be more successful?  Not for my own glory, but for Yours.  You know my heart. You know my true desire.  I don’t want fame for myself.  I want Your truth to be known.  I want to see sinners saved and saints encouraged.  Why can’t I succeed?”

God’s answer can be found in Psalm 37:1-11.

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.  For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.  But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Through this passage, God reminds us that success is not about being popular or wealthy.  To be successful, we need only do what God has asked us to do.  He called me to write, so I’ll write and leave the results up to Him.  He called me to speak, so I’ll speak and leave the results up to Him.  If you, too, long to be successful in your life, do whatever it is that God has called you to do.  That’s all He asks of us, and He promises us that it will all work out in the end.

Plans to Prosper

Did you know that before the universe was created the thought of you existed? Before the stars were put into the sky, before the sun first shined, and before the first individual came into being, you were already planned by God.

Not only did God have a plan to create you into existence, but He made plans to prosper you, plans to give you unfailing hope, and plans to give you a great future. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made plans to succeed or not; God has set you up and predestined you for greatness. (more…)

When YOU die, how will you be remembered?

If you were to die this very second (God-forbid), how would you want to be remembered? When people who never knew you asked what you were like, what would you want others to tell them? (more…)

Life’s Resume

While thinking deeply, and on multiple levels from planes of intellectualism to spiritualism, I found profound thoughts buried there within my heart. This truth is evidenced best and most wholly by my life’s resume, which is a resume that represents more than one aspect of a person’s life. It is a resume that actually represents every aspect of one’s life.
I realized that the qualifications that seem the most impressive to peers, employers, and people in high places, mean very little to the Most High God. For instance, I am sure that God truly does care about every aspect of our lives, including our education and work history; however I believe He cares more about how we act on and articulate every innate, expressive and unique ability, talent and skill that He has given to us. So often the gifts that God so graciously bestows upon us are misused, abused and taken for granted. Because of this fact, I have a rather distressing admission to make!
Sadly, I must openly and embarrassedly admit my severe failure in this life. I am blessed with so many talents and skills, yet I allow most of these to lie dormant within me. All too often, I have ignored my abilities instead of yielding great fruits from them. I have also, many times in this life misused my talents for all the wrong reasons. I have wanted to gain attention, riches, and even power. I am guilty of this and much more. I am sometimes so displaced by this world that I have failed to my job as a human being. I have let God down many, many times, by not promoting Him and His greatness above my own desires. Miserably, via greed and selfishness I have fallen far short of God’s Glory. I have not always sought first to edify the kingdom of God in everything that I do. I have declined to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness when and where it matters most-everywhere.
What I realized today and wish to share with you is that we cannot beef up our Life’s resume before God. God knows everything about us and there is no way to fudge it, pad it, tell little white lies or make up euphemisms about ourselves in order to make our lives more appealing to God. All we can hope to do is prepare ourselves rightfully for the day of our great and final interview, by allowing God to be the center of all we do. We must strive past the usual criteria and onward toward true greatness. To do this we must first realize that it will not matter how much money we have earned. It will be pointless to brag about our careers, and our great knowledge. For compared to God’s Greatness it will be nothing more than fools’ gold.
We each have the ability to do more than simply realize our own dreams and goals. True, honest to goodness success in this life is achieved by realizing God’s dreams and goals for us. Instead of searching for ways to uplift ourselves and make ourselves great among men, we must allow God to be uplifted before all men, through us! We must ask God to utilize and promote our talents according to His will. We must permit God access to every part of us including and especially our finances. We must be willing to give up anything and everything for Him, even our hearts’ desires and the dreams we have for ourselves. When we do this it will becomes obvious that we can each do far more by touching others and becoming great inspirations, motivators, and the deliverers of the truth. Every person has within them the raw and instinctive capability to physically, spiritually and emotionally reach others, and actually help transform lives, soften hard hearts, and move literal mountains!
The day of our greatest interview that shall determine our ultimate position for all of eternity approaches closer with each day. Where will you choose now to spend all of eternity? What will God place you in authority of based upon your life’s resume. It is particularly comforting to know that God searches our hearts and minds and knows all that they contain. This means if we turn everything over to Him we cannot fail.
Matthew 25:23 (Amplified Bible)
23His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [a]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [b]blessedness) which your master enjoys.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Pam Shekailo

Warm, Flat Coke

A couple years ago I was on mission in Mexico. On the final night the Church we were partnering with had a long service. On this night my friend decided to buy a ice cold coke for a young local girl (maybe 9). This being a rare treat for her she gladly took it but nursed it down slowly. Later in the church service she pulled the bottle out, She offered a drink the same man who bought it earlier. He knew by now it had been shaken in dance,was room temp (close to 90), and maybe 50% backwash.

What a parable, God gives us everything, absolutely everything we have. We take it we use it and then we “offer” it to God, like it is something great. when in all reality it’s just a warm flat soda.

So to finish the story, My friend took the Coke and took a drink with a smile, not out of duty or guilt, but knowing this was all She had, and all she had to ofter, and she offered it in Love.

I know God Does the same thing. He accepts what we offer in joy, when we are offering in love, not just out of duty or ceremony.

How to Have Proper Preparation in Your Life

Having Proper Preparation in Your Life

The motto of the Boy Scouts is to always be prepared. It is a good creed to live by, as you never know exactly what is going to happen. Boy Scouts always make sure they have everything on hand they could possibly need for any eventuality out in the world. Their whole objective is to never be caught off guard. You should live your life that way, too, in order to provide protection and security to yourself and your family. This is especially important when it comes to faith, as it is said that Jesus will come as a thief in the night, so you must always be prepared for his return.

However, the fact is that no matter how much you are prepared, you can not prepare for every single thing. Unexpected things happen. Things that are totally random and out of the blue happen that no one would ever have imagined happening. You can have all of the first aid kits, hurricane kits, outdoor survival kits, snake bite kits, poison control kits and even emergency food supplies for extended natural disasters, and still find yourself without the one thing you need when the unexpected occurs.

Even in household budget planning, the unexpected happens. A tire blows out, a child has to go to the emergency room and there is no insurance, or a job terminates.

So how do you ever have full security in life? The fact is, you cannot outside of salvation. There will always be something that you could never have foreseen or imagined, and it could happen to you at the most inopportune times. Now, do not blow this out of proportion. Having blind faith by not preparing as much as humanly possible is advocated against in Scriptures as it is admonished that faith without works is dead.
Take heed in the meaning of the story of the ant and sluggard. You still need to have a budget plan, savings, emergency supplies, etc.

However, when you have faith in God (proving it through your obedient actions) you know you are never alone, never forsaken, and always protected in God’s own way.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5.

With this faith, you need never worry about being unprepared, because you will always have all the help you need right at hand.

Remember that God is never farther away than your prayers. When the earth quakes and the streets flood and your house comes crashing down, remember that God is with you. Reach out to him in faith and trust, and know in your heart He will protect you. The only way to have proper preparation in your life is to have God.

Serving Others–A Mandate from God

A Mandate from God is Serving Others

As Christians, we are called on by God to the role of serving others — and not only in the area of finances. We are to serve others with every opportunity we can find, and to always be looking for opportunities to do so. And next to witnessing to the testimony of the Gospel, it is a primary function as children of God as well as loving God with all of our hearts and souls and minds.

When we think of serving others, we often think of getting involved in charities or giving money to homeless people on the side of the street. However, serving is so much more than that. It is not something we do once in a while. It is a way of life.

Always have the thought of service to others in your heart, every waking moment of every day. There are all kinds of unexpected ways to go about this. You may not even realize you are doing it at times. For example, getting up before your children and making them breakfast and fixing their lunchboxes for school is serving. Making dinner for your family or buying groceries for your housebound grandmother is serving.

We are serving when we allow someone to get in front of us in traffic or let someone with fewer items get in front of us in line at the grocery store. Even picking up something that an old person dropped and handing it to them or retrieving a ball from a roof for a child are all ways of serving others as God intended, if done with the right motives.

However, be careful. If we serve because it makes us feel better, than no reward will be set aside for us. It is for a selfish reason … that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Matthew 6:2.

Do it out of a heartfelt desire for, and love of, God. We are to serve for his pleasure, not ours.

The whole point of serving others is to think of the needs of others before we think of our own. As parents, we are used to doing that with our children, but we often forget to do it in other parts of our daily lives. We may become short-tempered with strangers, act selfishly in public, and decide that we deserve something more than someone else and grab that sweater out from under the reaching hands of someone else at a department store sale.

When tempted to be selfish, just remember how much God gave to us. It should be all we need to soften our hearts and serve as we were meant to as we serve God by serving others.

Psalm 34:1 – A Needed Paradigm Shift

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the lord at all times.  His praise shall be continually in my mouth.

Wow, his name shall be continually in my mouth.  All the daylong I need to bless the name of the Lord.  Have I gotten this wrong?  Have we as a Christian people gotten this wrong?  Devotions.  There is nowhere in the Bible that talks about devotions.  We get so caught up in making sure we do our “quiet time” with God, make sure we have our “Bible time”.

We sit down, and we do it, and we open our Bible, and we read it, and we pray and then we get up and continue on with our day.

That is not the way it was meant to be.  It was not meant to be something we do but something we live.

Not just 10 minutes, not just for 30 minutes, not just for 2 hours a day just sitting down.

His praise shall continually be in my mouth — all the day long.

There are so many ways to do that.  Praising, worshipping, talking.  There are so many songs based specifically on the Psalms.  So many old time hymns, so many new songs.  Yes, a lot of the music is just screaming, trying to replicate what is popular in the culture and appeal to them.  Yet, there is so much good stuff out there that sings the praises of God.

Why can’t we be like my three year old who makes up songs and sing praises to the Lord?  Just make up words and a tune – whether it sounds good or not.

How can his praise be continually on my mouth when I am arguing with my spouse or trying to figure out the next best way to just make money?   Yes, with my financial coaching, I am in the business of helping people concentrate on honoring God with their money.  But it goes way beyond that.

No, I need a paradigm shift in my thinking, in my actions, and in my attitude.

And it is more than just singing.  I look out at my green grass and the dawn rising early this morning.  And I praise his name for what I see.  I can close my eyes or I can lift my head up and hold up my hands and praise him out loud.

Praise him continuously.

As I walk in my kitchen I can praise him for who I am and what I have.  Yes, I can do this.  His praise can continually be in my mouth.

So, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.  Join me in the new paradigm shift in thinking and in actions.  Let us bless the Lord at all times and may his praise be continually in my mouth — and in yours.

I love you Lord, and I lift my voice — to worship you.  Oh, my soul rejoice.  Take joy, my King.  In what you hear.  May it be a sweet, sweet, sound.  In your ear.

Juggling Pressures and Crazy Schedules!

Somewhere around age 40 a strange shift happened.  When I was younger, I literally fed on being busy.  And I’m not talking about a healthy busy…you know, living with purpose – having a few places to go, some people to see, etc.  No, I’m talking about insane busy – life on overdrive 24/7.  And I loved it!  I loved having every single moment so compressed that even Einstein would have said, “If this woman adds even 15 more seconds of activity to her day, she is going to upset the time continuum!”

I remember one day in particular.  I was working for a Los Angeles radio station and I was a little late to an appointment (first time ever) so I was flying down the 5 Freeway (just a few miles over the speed limit).  Well, I wasn’t exactly behind schedule – let’s just say I didn’t have an extra 30 seconds to spare.  I was weaving around the “slow pokes” with amazing skill …when a thought flashed across my mind.  ”I am really an important person because I have an appointment!  And better yet, it’s not my only appointment, I have lots of appointments which is why I’m barely going to make it to this one on time.  I have really arrived – I’m busy so I’m important!”

Now of course it is fun to have purpose and commitments, etc, but I hope you can see that this attitude was a little off.  And here’s the thing…I really believed it.

Well, again, somewhere around 40 this vague cloud of exhaustion started following me everywhere I went as I sped around on overdrive.  I still believed that being busy meant I had value, but the crazy pace was beginning to wear on me.  After a few years, I still kept up my workday pace, but I started to find myself withdrawing at nights and on weekends.  At first it was just one night a week, but it slowly grew to the point I almost resented having to make any social plans at all…didn’t want to be pinned in.  What if when that scheduled time came around I didn’t feel like it? Everyone wants something from me and I have nothing left to give!  “I gave at the office” took on a whole new meaning.

Again, as I noted this growing behavior, I grew to like it.  Ok, that’s just me – I’m maturing.  But then it seemed that I couldn’t get enough time alone and away from the crowd.  If I had too many social activities on a weekend I would find my anxiety rise exponentially – which also would guarantee a very short fuse the entire next week.  I became aware of how much time I needed to “recoup” from all the workday “performing” and all that I thought others demanded of me.

Well, I’m not a total recluse today, and don’t get me wrong – I know I need my friends probably more than they need me.  But I do still find myself needing to retreat and give myself plenty of unstructured “down time.”  When I don’t, all the activity becomes completely meaningless…even depressing.  I was enjoying some of this precious alone time rattling around in the garden a few Saturdays ago.  Then I remembered a social event I had committed to. Agh!  I watched myself instantly begin brainstorming ways to get out of it, and of course, the internal angst level started rising.

That’s when I thought of Him.  How did Jesus handle it?  How could He stand all those crowds, people pressing in on every side, following Him everywhere, trying to catch Him in His words – with not a second to Himself?  How did He do it!? 

Well, first of all, He snuck off regularly to be alone and talk with the Father. But often His compassion for the overwheming needs of the crowds caused Him to postpone His solitude and keep going.  But how did He do it? Sometimes I feel that I just can’t handle another detour, another glitch, another interruption! 

Why did He push Himself?  I mean, He already had the great networking thing of the 12 apostles going.  Couldn’t they just pass along His teachings?  Endless lines of people that wanted something from Him! Ugh!  How could He stand it?

But then it hit me – He pushed Himself, He kept moving to the next town, and the next town and ketp healing, kept teaching…  Why?  I think He pushed Himself because in each incident He had someone’s face on His mind – someone waiting in the next town who needed to hear about the love of the Father…and He had to get there. He had appointments!  Oh, they didn’t think they had appointments.  No, they didn’t know, but He did. I think Jesus had individuals’ faces on His mind and on His heart.  He knew their hurts and confusions, their hopes, their disillusionments. 

He not only knew the people who would be changed forever with a word, or even a glance, but He knew exactly where each would notice Him and what would catch their eye or ear.  Yes, these people were usually in crowds, but they were individuals to Him…individuals that He loved.

I wonder if He would have walked all night to meet with me?  Well, the Bible tells me that He did more than that – He died for me. 

So how can we follow Jesus’ example and have an ongoing reserve to help us balance out difficult people, ongoing pressures and crazy schedules?  By spending time with Him.  “But I’m so busy already!” you say.  Yes, I understand…I am too.  But I promie you that the 15 minutes you spend with God will make the rest of your 23.75 hours flow much more smoothly!  He will literally go before you, like a linebacker – knocking pesky time and energy tacklers out of your way.  Remember what He did with the few fish and loaves of bread?  He can do the same wth your time and your life.

Learning the discipline of setting time aside daily for uninterrupted communion with God Almighty was difficult for me. Like dieting or quitting cigarettes, I started and failed many many times.  But the pain and longing in my heart to not be a ”performance” saint only, but to develop a real relationship with God drove me to keep trying. 

Oh, I’m not perfect now.  I still go through times when I just don’t think I can stand another moment with so-in-so at the job, or another church event, or… (you fill in the blank).  But He has taught me that I can trust Him to redeem my investment of time for Him.   And more than that – when I ask Him, He shows me what He sees in those difficult people, and what I still don’t “get” I just surrender to Him.  God help us all to walk in the Spirit and see the world and all his precious masterpieces (humans, that is) through His eyes.  But you can’t do it on the fly. Give Him time to speak to you daily.

Remember, resetting your schedule and priorities for God can seem difficult.  But difficult is not impossible…and in this case – so worth it! 

Also see Seeking GodLaziness, Success, Peace, Trusting God, Money, How to succeed in tough economic times

American Idols

When I talk about American Idols, I’m not talking about the TV show American Idol.  I’m talking about the idea of idols.  Idols can be anything.  Some people might have money, a big house, fame, sex as their idol.  Wikipedia’s definition for Idol is “An idol is a man-made object that is worshiped in some way.”

Now, let me stress that there is nothing wrong with sex, fame or having money, etc. in the right context.  Let’s take money for example.  Many well known godly people in the Bible had lots of money and wealth, like Abraham, Solomon, David and many others.  The question is, where is your heart?  Is your money controlling you?  Are you a slave to your money?  Are you focused on just on the accumulation of money?   When money becomes your focus, in other words your idol, it is then when you’re getting into real trouble.

It’s worth thinking about.  First of all, you will never experience lasting fulfilling success if your focus is on money.  Bill Gates did not make his money by focusing on money.  He had a passion for computers and software and money was a side effect of his passion.  Besides failure, having the wrong attitude about money can cost you everything including your soul?  Here is what the Bible says about money and success.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ “  Matthew 4:8-10 (NKJV)

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  1 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NKJV)

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  1 Corinthians 7:23 (NKJV)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  1 Timothy 6:17 (NKJV)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4 (NKJV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  John 12:25 (NKJV)

The amazing thing is that when we focus on God, he takes care of us.  His promises are amazing for people that focus on him.  He provides true, lasting and enjoyable success.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Josh 1:8 (NKJV)

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  2 Cor 9:8 (NKJV)

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.   Psalms 1:2-3 (NKJV)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.   Prov 18:10 (NKJV)

then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
2 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:19 (NKJV)

Frankly, it’s hard to change some of our attitudes like the one about money by ourselves, however, if we ask God, he promises to help us change from the inside out.

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