Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Spiritual Growth, Success

Dress for Success – Pt 2

 

 

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“having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” Ephesians 6:16b

Notice how these pieces of armor say “put on”?  It is up to us to put it on.  In the case of the breastplate, we’ve been gifted by God with His Righteousness.  The Great Exchange:  He took our unrighteousness and gave us His righteousness. Our job is to believe it and receive it!

“He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 Holman

That’s who you really are!

Parting words:  Remember, the breastplate protects the heart.  That’s the one thing we are exhorted in Scripture to guard above all else.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT

 

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Spiritual Growth, Success

Dress for Success – pt. 1

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“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth,” Ephesians 6:14a NLT

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,” Ephesians 6:14a NKJV

The belt in Roman times—known as the cingulum or balteus played a crucial role in the effectiveness of a soldier’s armor. 

It held the scabbard that held his sword.  Strips of leather hung off the belt to protect the lower body and held all the other pieces of armor together.

In other words, it is a key part of making all the other pieces of armor effective.

According to the Barna Group:  66% of Americans believe there is NO absolute truth (probably more now and rising daily.)  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to live God’s way not the world’s way. God’s Word is the foundation on which we build our lives in every area, if we want true and lasting success.  

We need to study Scripture and listen to Biblical teaching to dispell the misbeliefs that we’ve gathered from exposure to the world’s philosophy.  It’s everywhere, chipping away at our faith, it’s in public schools, even some Christian schools, the Discovery Channel, the news, everywhere we turn the enemy is trying to deceive us into believing that the Word of God is not literal, not infallible, that it’s just a book of allegories. 

The devil’s game is to trick us into diluting our life by trying to get us to mix “just a little” of the world’s philosophy with God’s truth.

Each day, we get to chose, God’s truth or man’s.

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17 NKJV

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Spiritual Growth, Success

Half Dressed Is Still Mostly Naked

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“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” Ephesians 6:13 NLT

*“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 NKJV

I know we can have a tendency to get up in the morning and put on part of our armor and think we are good to go for the day.  I know I’ve done it.  However, it says “put on EVERY piece”. That’s where our safety lies.  Fighting partly dressed is still not obedience.

*Suggestion:  For clarity, read a verse in several translations, often that’s where you get your “aha” moment.

What does your daily wardrobe consist of?  Half dressed is not dressed at all.  I would say, you wouldn’t go to the store in your PJs, but I’ve been to Walmart.  So, I will say it this way, you wouldn’t think of going to work, school, or the market with nothing on but a hat and a pair of shoes, why would it be any different for your spiritual outfit?

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Spiritual Growth, Success

Don’t Fight Naked

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“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12 NKJV

Notice that we put on the armor of God.  God left getting dressed for battle to us.  He supplied the armor, we put it on.  We also fight the battle with Him right by our side.  No soldier would ever consider going into battle without their armor or without knowing the enemy and their strategy.  Why is it as believers we think we can run into battle with no preparation, fight “naked” and think we will win?

 

Posted in Encouragement, Reflection, Spiritual Growth, Success

Encouragement from Paul

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“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

Ephesians is a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom from the Apostle Paul who is thought to be the author, probably during his first imprisonment in Rome.

Ephesians 6 is filled with imagery of spiritual warfare. He opens the conversation by exhorting us to “Be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.”

This is so reminiscent of what God said to Joshua in  2 Chronicles 32:7. “Be strong and courageous.”

Our power comes from the One who is all-powerful.  The closer we draw near to Him, the more we’re filled with His power, because He is the power source.  I encourage you to plug into the power source today!

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Success

You Find What You Look For

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Lately, I’ve been doing word search puzzles  to keep my mind sharp and to keep myself looking out of the box.  However, here’s an interesting thing I’ve noticed, while I do see some words I am not specifically looking for, more often than not, I can get to the end of the puzzle and look for a word I’ve not seen the whole time;,, but when I consciously look for it, it just seems to pop off the page.  It was there the whole time, I just kept looking past it, because it was not a word I was looking for at that moment.

What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Well nothing, but today as I was looking for that last word; it instantly popped off the page.  How many times had I looked right past it?  This thought hit not just my head, but my spirit. “You see what you look for.”  This is not only true in a word search puzzle, but in every aspect of our life as well.

When was the last time you asked yourself, “What am I looking for in my relationships, my health, and my wealth?”  Whatever it is, you’ll find what your looking for.  

I have to ask myself, am I looking for what is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely in my relationships, my health, and my wealth?  Or, am I looking for what’s defective, missing, or wrong in those areas?  Whatever I’m looking for, I’m pretty sure that is what I’ll find.  

Sometimes we do have to deal with areas in our life that are not lining up with the Word of God. However, for the most part, if we look for what’s good, that will be what dominates and ultimately wins.

We tend to look for what we think about.  If you want to know what that looks like, just check out what’s popping off the pages of your mind.  This holiday season, let’s determine to step out in faith and look at life and others through the lens Philippians 4:8.

Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  NLT

Posted in Encouragement, Reflection, Success

The Power of . . . By Faith . . .

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This morning, I was reading Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith. Each story began with “By faith” . . . As I was reading, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “By faith . . . in 1989 the Lawson family left California and all that was familiar to them to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wow, God!

That took my breath away and caused me to stop and reflect on the power of that one single choice. That choice in all reality didn’t just have a ripple effect, it was more like a tsunami. Because of that one choice, we’ve had the honor of leading thousands of kids to Christ. All three of our kids are in ministry and have affected tens of thousands of lives. They married godly spouses and gave us nine wonderful godly grandkids.

Our oldest son, Erik, and his wife, Christy, started Element Church that ministers to nearly 4,000 people each week . . . “by faith.” Our daughter Heather and her husband Bob were the original people to help Erik and Christy launch the church from their basement office in Chesterfield . . . “by faith.”
Today, Kip and I, and our daughter Heather, serve on staff there.

Our son David, married Charity, the daughter of the Pastor Willie George of Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That’s the church we moved from California to serve at. David still serves there on staff.

All from one choice. . . “by faith” . . . And what God started by that “by faith” is still continuing to unfold all because of one decision a phone man and a stay-at-home-mom made nearly thirty years ago.

What if we had not left California? We probably would have had a nice life, but in my heart, I know it would have been a shadow of what could have been, a glimmer of what unfolded because we took that step of faith.

What is God challenging you to do today . . . “by faith?” What step of faith is He asking you to take? What wonderful plan will unfold before you when you do? You’ll never know, if you don’t take that first step . . . “by faith.”

I challenge you to read Hebrews 11 and ask God, “What is my . . . by faith?”

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Reflection, Success

Reboot Your Joy By Changing Your Words!

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So far, we’ve talked about 2 ways to reboot your joy: to review: we reboot our joy with gratitude, and we reboot our joy by changing our perspective.

Both of these are related, and really are like seeds that you plant to yield a crop.

The type of seeds you plant will dictate the type of crop you get.

Today, we’re going to talk about rebooting your words.

For yourself, your words are both seeds you are plantling now, and the fruit of the seeds we’ve planted in the past, they reveal

our level of gratitude.
our perspective and
what we’ve been thinking about.

If the words we speak are seeds, we plant them in our own soul and conscious and subconsicious mind.

Even scientific research shows you believe more of what you hear yourself say about yourself than what you hear others say about you.
For other people, and for ourselves too, our words are seeds that produce life or death.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 nkjv

The power of the tongue is life and death— those who love to talk will eat what it produces. Proverbs 18:21 isv

So why are our words such a big deal?

To find the answer, we need to go to Hebrews 11:3 and the first chapter of Genesis.

Heb 11:3 the New Living version says it the clearest: By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

Now lets go to Genesis for clarification:

When God created the earth, He used words.

That was His creation vehicle.

8 times in the first chapter of Genesis, it says – “then God said” . . . and whatever He said, is exactly what happened.

Interestingly, the number 8 in the Bible symbolizes new beginnings.

And as if on que, that 8th, “then God said” was talking about Him creating us; and because we were created in His image, our words have power too.

Our words are so powerful that it is like a self fulfilling prophecy. So . . . what are you prophesying over yourself, your spouse, your kids, friends etc.

To compound this . . .

In Matthew 18:19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. NLT

This Scripture is talking about the power of agreement.

Who have you been agreeing with?

Any time we choose to believe and speak what our own soul, mind, or the enemy tells us about ourselves and others, instead of what God says, we are agreeing with the wrong side of the equation.

Have you been in agreement with the enemy? Believing and speaking what he says about you and those in your sphere of influence.

“Nothing is ever going to change.”

“I’m an idiot,”

“I never do anything right.”

I know I’ve been guilty of this. I love it that I have people in my life who love me enough to bust me when I do this. I know better, but sometimes I still fall into the trap.

So, if we want to increase our own personal joy let’s look at what the word says.

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23 NKJV

Here are 3 ways to increase your joy

1. Determine you will speak life not death – take time to think before you speak, ask yourself will this build up or tear down?

2. Speak in due season – ask yourself is this the right time? The right thing at the wrong time is still wrong.

So many people these days struggle with depression. We never know what impact our words of kindness will have on them. You may be the voice of hope in their life.

How many times have you said something encouraging to someone only to have them tell you, “That is exactly what I needed.” Or, “You don’t know how much that meant to me.”

3. When you’re short on joy, find someone to encourage. When you lift others, you automatically lift yourself.

Words are a gift from God use them wisely!

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Parenting, Reflection, Success

Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams – Part 2

Joseph's Dream

What principles can we learn from Joseph if we want to make our God-given dreams reality?  Today, we’re continuing this series and looking at the first key to achieving your dreams.

1.  Don’t let your past determine your future.

I’m going to ask you to hang with me here this is going to take a little time to develop. We’re going to focus first on Chapter 37 of Genesis.

As our story opens we find Jacob settling once again in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1-4

“So Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived.

This is the history of Jacob’s family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks with his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day he gave Joseph a special gift—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

So let’s give a little background to this story because I really want to camp on this first key because I think it is so vital in our culture today.

Joseph is the son of the Bible Patriarch Jacob.  Jacob had just spent 20 years in Haran where 11 of his boys were born. He had 4 wives Leah, Rachel who had died giving birth to Jacob’s 12th son Benjamin on the way back from Haran, Bilhah and Zilpah who were originally Leah’s and Rachel’s handmaids.

So we have here a gigantic blended family.  That all still lived at home!

We have a father who tried to bring God’s plan about in his life by lying, cheating, and conniving.  A trait he had passed on to most of his boys.

And talk about dysfunction – these guys could write the book.  Jerry Springer would love this family!

Reuben the oldest son slept with one of his father’s wives,

Jacob’s only daughter Dinah had been raped by the Prince of Shechem, so Jacob’s sons deceived the men of Shechem and then Simeon and Levi went into the city and killed every man in the city and then the rest of the sons went in and looted and plundered all the wealth of the city and took captive all the kids and women.

Besides his other stellar qualities, Jacob showed total blatant partiality to Joseph.

Scholars differ on why this was, it could be that he spent more time with Joseph than his other kids, or that he was Rachel’s son that they had believed for for so long because she could not conceive for a long time, or it may have been because he was a good kid unlike his brothers.  But no matter the reason Jacob made no attempt to hide the fact that he like Joseph the best.

So, as if there was not already enough tension in the family, Jacob gives Joseph what is commonly known as the “coat of many colors.”  Scholars believe that it was most likely an ornate robe that was not suitable to work in that denoted royalty.

Many scholars believe that the coat that Jacob gave Joseph was a coat that designated that Joseph had been selected by Jacob to assume the family leadership.

So it’s not rocket science that his brothers hated him and trash talked him.

Here’s an interesting note:  the brothers couldn’t say a kind thing about him, and yet Joseph is one of 3 or 4 characters in the entire Bible, one of them being Jesus, that God does not say one negative thing about through the writers. In fact, later we’ll see that Joseph is actually a type and shadow of Jesus.

As our story continues, Joseph has a dream.  He dreams that he and his brothers were out in a field tying up bundles of grain and suddenly his bundle stands up and all the brothers bundles gather round him and bow low before him.

So what does Joseph do?  . . . He goes and tells his brothers.

Do you think they were happy about this dream? no . . . .

They responded, “So you think you’ll be our king do you?  And you think you’ll reign over us?”

And the Bible says,”They hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.”  Genesis 37:8

First, it’s not always wise to tell everything you know!  Some things are better kept between you and God.

Second,  not everyone is going to be excited about your dream.  The odds are that more people will try to discourage you from achieving your dream than will believe in your dream and help you achieve it.  In fact, we’ll see in a minute that some will even try to sabotage your dream.

Then if things weren’t bad enough, he has another dream, this time the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed low before him.

So has Joseph wised up?  No . . . this time he not only tells his brothers about the dream, but his dad as well.

His dad gets on his case “What kind of dream is that?  Will your mother and I and your brothers all bow down to the ground before you?”

The word goes on to say while his brothers were filled with jealousy, Jacob ponder what it could mean.

Soon after this Joseph’s brothers took Jacob’s flocks to Shechem to pasture them. After some time, Jacob sends Joseph from Hebron to Shechem to check on them.

So Joseph arrives in the hills of Shechem and a guy sees him wandering around looking lost and asks him what he was looking for and he tells him he’s looking for his brothers.  Now this guy tells Joseph, “They aren’t here any more, they have gone to Dothan.”

Let’s stop for one minute and look at this:  Jacob didn’t send Joseph across the street to find his brothers.  From where he lived he had to travel about 50 miles to get to this place.  Also, what were the odds this guy would know where his brothers were?  Remember, this was the city where Simeon and Levi had killed every male and trashed the whole city.  You’d better believe that when these boys were in town someone would be keeping a close eye on them.  This was also probably one of the reasons Jacob was concerned enough to send Joseph to check on them, as they had been gone for a while.

So then, Joseph had to go another 20 miles to get to Dothan. Which was right on the trade route to Egypt.

Joseph’s brothers see him coming from a ways off and say, “Let’s kill this dreamer.  Then we’ll see what will become of his dreams.” Genesis 37:19-21 So they devise this plot to kill him and throw his body into a cistern and tell their Father he was eaten by a wild animal.

Reuben intercedes and says, “Hey, let’s not kill him . . . why have his blood on our hands, we’ll just throw him in the empty cistern, then he’ll die without us having to do it.”  And all the brothers thought it was a great idea.

Reuben was secretly planning on rescuing him and taking him home.  Possibly in an attempt to regain first-born status with his father.

So Joseph arrives, they strip off his coat and throw him in the cistern.

Then they cook dinner like nothing happened.  At this point in the story, there is nothing recorded about Joseph’s reaction to all this, but in Genesis Chapter 42:21 some 22 or so years later, we’re privy to a conversation the brothers have after they have come to Egypt to get grain and are accused of being spies.

Genesis 42:21

“Speaking among themselves, they said, “This has all happened because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why this trouble has come upon us.”

So we see that Joseph must have been terrified and begged and pleaded for his life and they heartlessly ignored his pleas.  And 22 years later they are still plagued by the guilt of what they did.

Then a caravan on it’s way to Egypt comes along and they sell him as a slave.  So they not only don’t have to kill him, they make a profit off the deal.

Let’s stop here in our story and go back to Point 1.  Don’t let your past determine your future.

Would you agree that if anyone qualifies as a victim, and has the right to play the blame game it would have been Joseph?

But the truth is, No one can keep you from your God-given destiny but you. Others can’t keep you from your dreams. We are the keeper of our own dreams.

No one can limit you, except you . . . its a choice

You can be a victim and remain a spectator for your entire life, or you can get up and make the world your dance floor.

No excuses – just do it.

Your past can’t stop God’s plan, your circumstances can’t stop God’s plan, your education, your color, you are the only one who has that power.

If you will trust him, God will take even your worst day and use it to your good.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

While God did not cause all those awful things Joseph’s family did to him, it was playing right into God’s plan.  God got him right on the trade route to Egypt exactly where he needed to be to complete his assignment.

About 35 years ago, my husband and I went through a horrible separation.  It devastated our family.  After a year of being a complete knucklehead, I surrendered my heart back to the Lord.  I had the distinct impression that the Lord was telling me that He was not through with Kip and Sandy Lawson yet, unlike Joseph, I had no one to blame but myself and my own poor choices for the situation we were in.  However, God is so good that even though our circumstances looked impossible, God’s goodness reached down and brought healing to a truly hopeless situation.  Today, we’re happily married for over 48 years.  My husband is my best friend, and our family is healed.  God is the God of the impossible.

Since that time, God has used us in the lives of literally thousands of kids and he has used our son in even greater ways as well as our other kids.  We just had to get to the point that we desired God’s highest more than anything else.  We also had to get to the point that we truly believed and received that His blood had truly cleansed us of past sins and by His grace we got a do over.  We didn’t let our past determine our future, we used it to help others from falling into the same traps that we did.  God made all things work together for the good as he promised in Romans 8:28.

God does not want us to be trapped by outward circumstances, I think this is one of the beautiful truths in this story.  Joseph was a man who lived above his circumstances as we will see as the story continues . . .  He didn’t let his past determine his future.  Back to our story . . .

So Joseph arrives in Egypt and gets sold to Potiphar the head of Pharaoh’s Palace guard.

We are now in Genesis 39

At once he goes to work with all his heart and immediately Potiphar starts noticing that everything Joseph touches gets better!

Genesis 39:2

“The LORD was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”

I believe that God was able to work on Joseph’s behalf to bring about his destiny because Joseph kept his heart right.  He didn’t allow bitterness or unforgiveness, or a victim mentality to occupy his heart.  The only one who had the power to rob Joseph or his desitny was Joseph.

Sometimes we can see delays and detours as defeats.  Maybe God is using them to refine our character, or maybe what seems like a detour is God’s rerouting to get us to our divine destiny.  We can’t always avoid delays and detours, but we can control our heart response to them.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2-4 NKJV

How can Joseph’s story help you change the way you view your circumstances?

Posted in Encouragement, Leadership, Parenting, Reflection, Success

Don’t Give Up On Your Dream

Joseph's Dream

 

A few years back, there was a popular song with the kids called “Determinate”. from a group called Lemonade Mouth  It’s about not being a wallflower, watching others on the dance floor of life living out their dreams. The song exhorts you! You need to determinate, make the world your dance floor.  Try until you can’t and then you demand more.  Determinate.

How many of you have ever had a dream?  Dreams and aspirations . . .  we all have them or had them. Kids come with a built in sense of destiny and nothing is out of reach . . .- I’m gonna be president, a fireman, policeman an astronaut.  Notice how its all high and nobel, when was the last time you met a kid who said I want to be a bank robber when I grow up . . . that’s my dream.

My dream . . .  as a kid, I wanted to be the first woman supreme court justice.  Don’t laugh!  Sure, I was a bit overly ambitious and Sandra Day O’Connor beat me to the punch.  But seriously, I’ve always had this innate passion for justice.  I was always a conservative even in the 60’s when I was growing up in the counter culture generation, something just didn’t ring right.  Like it all sounded like truth, and seemed right, and looked good, good like bait on a hook.  The only problem with bait on a hook is when you bite it, you become someone else’s meal.

I wanted to right wrongs by being a prosecutor, so I could rescue the innocent from the bad guys.  Somewhere I lost that dream. Until one day, I found out Jesus is the only one who can really right wrongs and restore lives. .So full circle back to the dream, back to the passion in a different wrapper, I ended up in a pastoral role instead.  Now, I can help people pick up broken lives or preferably, build them right from the beginning so that they never broke.  Either way, my sense of justice is fullfilled because now I’m fighting the original bad boy, Satan.

But for many of us, somehow these high and nobel dreams have drifted into a permanent dream state instead of becoming living realities in our lives.  God did not create us just to dream . . .  but to live.  He did not create us to be wallflowers, He created us to be dancers.  God did not create us to be spectators, He created us to be world changers. So, in this series, we’re going to focus on how to get our dreams from concept to reality.

A dream by definition is a strong desire to do something high or great.

The opposite of a dream or aspiration is aimlessness.  Or as Proverbs puts it

“Where there is no vision, the people perish:”  Proverbs 29:11

Without a dream, we have no direction, we become aimless.  Without aim or purpose.  You know the old saying, if you aim a nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But God says . . .

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

My goal is to encourage and challenge you to pursue the dreams God has given you with all your heart.  And if your dreams are all but dead to stir those embers into a fire.  Because your dreams do not just impact you, everyone in your sphere of influence.

It’s said that encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.  I want to give you oxygen.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to a whirl wind study the life of Joseph, a man who lived nearly 4,000 years ago, but whose story is as relevant as if it happened yesterday.

What was your childhood dream?  Has it become a reality?  Did it get put on the back burner?  Did it get replace with something even better?  I’d love to hear from you.