"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Endurance

This is the final posting from my friend Susan. I hope you have enjoyed these posts about finding your Pure Purpose as much as I have! Enjoy!

What if someone took a snapshot of you and made it an example for others so that’s all others know about your life? Some snapshots of our lives can be framed into a nice photo that accurately reflects a particular situation in our lives. However, our lives aren’t mere snapshots. Our lives are rich recordings, capturing our thoughts, emotions, relationships, situations, struggles, growth…every detail of every moment of our lives. Our lives are a marathon. We may stop to walk along the way. We might make a wrong turn and need to get back on track. We may enjoy the refreshing wind at times and sit by the side of the road in tears sometimes. Endurance is movement through the marathon of life, regardless of the varying types and speeds of movement. Endurance involves perseverance. Sometimes we persevere at a sprint, and sometimes we barely shuffle our feet.

When have your legs felt strong and you felt the refreshing wind in your face as you ran through life?

When have you been completely overwhelmed with the path ahead, your legs feeling like massive weights, and you wanted to stop for a long rest?

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God's grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God's glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. Romans 5:1-5
When we have problems and trials, we can develop endurance. (We can also sit and mope and whine and become self-focused.) Endurance develops character. Character develops our hope in salvation. And yet…isn’t it our hope in salvation, our relationship with Jesus, our acceptance and understanding of God’s character, that helps us deal with our problems and trials in the first place?

You see, we often stop where we are because we’re waiting on something. We think we need more faith or we need more strength or we need more courage. We may even ask God for it. And then we wait and wait and wait….when we already have what we need! If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have his strength and courage. You may not always feel like you have it, but it’s there. We may feel completely drained and insufficient and incapable, but it’s not because we actually are. Standing on the promise of Romans 1:5.

The Holy Spirit gives us everything we need. The strength and courage we need is already in us, and not only is it in us, but the Holy Spirit fills us! You have access to God’s love, courage, strength, joy, discernment (and the list goes on…) inside you, accessible at all times. So why do you think we still want to sit beside the road, bury our head in our hands and quit?

My thoughts might not be even close to yours, but here are a few I’ve considered.

1. Even when we know God provides all we need through him, we try to rely into our own strength and courage instead of tapping into his.
2. We wait to tap into his strength and courage only when we’re completely exhausted. We try to hand him the baton, expecting him to run the rest of the way for us, not with us.
3. We rely on the Holy Spirit to guide, equip, and encourage us so infrequently that we’re not sure how to listen and rely on him.

We’re human. I don’t want this to become a crutch we rely on, but we have to admit, we’re going to struggle with our past baggage, current struggles, and future apprehensions. The key is whether we try to manage it all or rely on God to equip us to persevere and endure.

Our marathon doesn’t start the moment we get the phone call, receive the diagnosis, or discover the betrayal. We don’t run through the crisis and check it off our list. Our marathon is our entire life. Challenging uphill climbs. Downhill coasts. Crushed by crowds of people. Feelings of isolation. Encouraged by others. Discouraged as others fly by. Inadequacies. Doubt. Injuries. Milestones. Rejuvenation. It’s all part of the marathon. And you’re in training through the entire marathon. Increase your endurance through consistent training.

Training isn’t just a to-do list. It’s a to-be list. What you do prepares you for who you become. Who you are influences what you do. Both are intimately connected. What is God prompting you to do and who is he prompting you to become?
Adapted from Pure Purpose by Susan H. Lawrence. Check out Susan’s blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/ and follow Pure Purpose on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/PurePurposeFB

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Authenticity ~ Guest Post by Susan H. Lawrence

Another wonderful offering from my friend, Susan. If you are interested in a free sampling from her book, Pure Purpose, leave me your email address and I will be happy to send it off! Have a wonderful week! ~ Shannon

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  Lord, teach me what you want me to do, and I will live by your truth. Teach me to respect you completely. Psalm 86:11
      Authenticity is “being actually and exactly what is claimed.” (www.merriam-webster.com)

      Have you ever given advice you have difficulty applying in your own life? Have you ever stretched the truth (a.k.a., lied) to make yourself look a little better or perhaps a little worse in order to avoid doing something? (Perhaps you’ve even deceived yourself.) Are there areas of your life in which you know there are principles you should follow, but you just don’t seem to be able to discipline yourself to apply them or you struggle with how they apply directly to you?

      Truthfulness isn’t just about what you say. It’s about the way you live. It paves the way for an authenticity in our lives, a perspective that reflects actually and exactly what we claim. Authenticity is a reflection of God, which means if we want authenticity, we can’t look in our own mirror; we have to use God’s.

      Truthfulness affects others. It affects their faith, because it affects how they see God. Whether I have a long-term relationship or momentary encounter with someone, my character, the way I behave, my attitude…all combine to reflect the God who created me for purpose on this earth. No moment, no situation, no person is insignificant.

      And here’s the truth. I don’t always reflect the truth of God’s character. Sure, sometimes it has nothing to do with deceit. It might have to do with ignorance. But in all honesty, how often are we ignorant in a situation…versus how often werationalize we’re ignorant? It’s much easier to plead innocence than to take responsibility.

      Not listening to God isn’t the same as not knowing his character. We live in a “shirk responsibility” culture. It’s easier to blame someone else. But when it comes to your personal walk with God, it’s between you and him. I can assure you, he’s not the one creating space. Are we distant from God sometimes? Yes, but we can acknowledge the distance and move. Or we can choose instead to try to figure out the distance, whine about the distance, and end up in the same place weeks or months from now. Are we hurt or confused sometimes? Yes, but again, we can acknowledge our emotions and experience and begin the process of moving to another place, or steep in the turmoil and end up in the same situation, or worse, weeks or months from now.

      You’re not a victim. How can I be so sure? Because I know my God. He’s not a victimizer. He’s a Victor. He created you. And he is Truth. There is truth in you. We need to let him reveal it to us, so you see the reflection God sees. So others see the reflection God sees.

      God understands all hearts, and he sees you. Proverbs 24:12


      (For practical tools for how to “get R.E.A.L.,” authentic in your Relationships, Experiences, Attitudes and Leadership, check out Week Eight of Pure Purpose by Susan H. Lawrence.)


Check out Susan’s blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/ and follow Pure Purpose on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/PurePurposeFB

Friday, June 18, 2010

I AM

This is the song of my salvation. This is the song that was playing when I gave my life to Christ. I may have officially prayed the prayer a few weeks later, but this is the song that broke my heart to Christ, the song that was used to call me home. It is still my prayer and thanksgiving song to my precious Jesus.

I love you my Jesus.



More songs at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Communication ~ Guest post by Susan H. Lawrence

Here is another great offering from my friend, Susan. Enjoy!


Each of us is impacted by our past experiences, family, health, education, relationships, and much more. Consider everything and everyone who has impacted your life from teachers to friends to coworkers to ministers. Jot as many as you can in one minute.

Each time we communicate, we bring our background with us. We use it to make sense of what we’re saying. Others bring different background to their communications. We may have some similarities, but no two people’s lives are exactly the same, and no two people will communicate in exactly the same way. We filter what we say and what we hear. So every time you say something, it goes through two filters: yours and the person’s to whom you’re talking. Every time you hear something, it goes through two filters: yours and the person’s who is speaking to you.

Understanding our filters helps us understand our communications better.

Consider a situation in which you made an assumption that was later proved to be inaccurate about someone.

If one assumption you’re made has been proven inaccurate, consider the possibility than any assumption you make about people might be inaccurate. We hear and give information based on our filters. But our filters aren’t purely clean. Our experiences, relationships, and attitudes clog our screens…and the screens of people we’re communicating with. That’s why we sometimes think someone said something they didn’t say or insist they didn’t tell us something when they actually did.

Being aware of your filters means acknowledging the possibility there’s been a miscommunication. When there’s a miscommunication, who’s responsible?

There are at least two people involved in communication. Both have filters. Does it really matter who’s right and who’s wrong when there’s a miscommunication? If the goal is communication, and communication isn’t complete or effective, strive to focus on the goal-communication- instead of getting stuck in a blame game.

No one should accuse or blame another person. Don't blame the people, you priests, when they quarrel with you.  Hosea 4:4

We can’t assume everyone shares our experiences. It can be frustrating to start at the beginning to explain something to someone when we just want to move on, but again, if the goal is communication, and communication isn’t complete or effective, we need to strive to focus on the goal, communication, instead of getting stuck focusing on our filters, who should already know what, how much time we need to take to explain something, etc. Building relationships with healthy communication is always worth time and effort.

Here’s my list of communication tips:

       No one is a mind-reader. If you want or expect someone to know something, tell them.
 Take a breath before speaking. Once it’s spoken, you can’t swallow it.
 Communication will fail. Do your best, but know it’s not foolproof.
 Communication is not avoidable. You can be quiet, but you’re still communicating.
 Communication assumes…based on past experiences, relationships, and personality.
 Communication involves relationship. It’s not just about you, your intentions, and your goals.

How will you reflect God in your communication?

It will not really be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 
Matthew 10:20

Adapted from Pure Purpose by Susan H. Lawrence. Check out Susan’s blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/ and follow Pure Purpose on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/PurePurposeFB

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Only You Remain




My words are just so small and insufficient to describe My God.


 I have better words than mine that I can use. These verses help us to start to see how big our God is.  How amazing to know that the God of these verses is still so much bigger than we can ever comprehend. 


Genesis 1:1 (NIV)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Isaiah 40 (NIV)
 1 Comfort, comfort my people, 
       says your God.

 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
       and proclaim to her 
       that her hard service has been completed, 
       that her sin has been paid for, 
       that she has received from the LORD's hand 
       double for all her sins.


 3 A voice of one calling: 
       "In the desert prepare 
       the way for the LORD [a] ; 
       make straight in the wilderness 
       a highway for our God. [b]


 4 Every valley shall be raised up, 
       every mountain and hill made low; 
       the rough ground shall become level, 
       the rugged places a plain.


 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, 
       and all mankind together will see it. 
       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."


 6 A voice says, "Cry out." 
       And I said, "What shall I cry?" 
       "All men are like grass, 
       and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.


 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, 
       because the breath of the LORD blows on them. 
       Surely the people are grass.


 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, 
       but the word of our God stands forever."


 9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, 
       go up on a high mountain. 
       You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, [c] 
       lift up your voice with a shout, 
       lift it up, do not be afraid; 
       say to the towns of Judah, 
       "Here is your God!"


 10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, 
       and his arm rules for him. 
       See, his reward is with him, 
       and his recompense accompanies him.


 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: 
       He gathers the lambs in his arms 
       and carries them close to his heart; 
       he gently leads those that have young.


 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, 
       or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? 
       Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, 
       or weighed the mountains on the scales 
       and the hills in a balance?


 13 Who has understood the mind [d] of the LORD, 
       or instructed him as his counselor?


 14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, 
       and who taught him the right way? 
       Who was it that taught him knowledge 
       or showed him the path of understanding?


 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; 
       they are regarded as dust on the scales; 
       he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.


 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, 
       nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.


 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; 
       they are regarded by him as worthless 
       and less than nothing.


 18 To whom, then, will you compare God? 
       What image will you compare him to?


 19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, 
       and a goldsmith overlays it with gold 
       and fashions silver chains for it.


 20 A man too poor to present such an offering 
       selects wood that will not rot. 
       He looks for a skilled craftsman 
       to set up an idol that will not topple.


 21 Do you not know? 
       Have you not heard? 
       Has it not been told you from the beginning? 
       Have you not understood since the earth was founded?


 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, 
       and its people are like grasshoppers. 
       He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, 
       and spreads them out like a tent to live in.


 23 He brings princes to naught 
       and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.


 24 No sooner are they planted, 
       no sooner are they sown, 
       no sooner do they take root in the ground, 
       than he blows on them and they wither, 
       and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.


 25 "To whom will you compare me? 
       Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.


 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: 
       Who created all these? 
       He who brings out the starry host one by one, 
       and calls them each by name. 
       Because of his great power and mighty strength, 
       not one of them is missing.


 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, 
       and complain, O Israel, 
       "My way is hidden from the LORD; 
       my cause is disregarded by my God"?


 28 Do you not know? 
       Have you not heard? 
       The LORD is the everlasting God, 
       the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
       He will not grow tired or weary, 
       and his understanding no one can fathom.


 29 He gives strength to the weary 
       and increases the power of the weak.


 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, 
       and young men stumble and fall;


 31 but those who hope in the LORD 
       will renew their strength. 
       They will soar on wings like eagles; 
       they will run and not grow weary, 

          they will walk and not be faint. 
Revelation 21: 22-27 (NIV)
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders is hosting Then Sings My Soul Saturdays. Check her out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Compassion ~ Guest Post by Susan H. Lawrence

Another wonderful offering from my friend, Susan. Enjoy!

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How have you shown compassion to someone you didn’t know. It doesn’t have to be huge. Have you helped someone carry groceries? Paid for someone’s lunch when her debit card was declined? Listened to someone’s struggles while sitting on a plane or in a doctor’s office?


      Compassion is sincere. To share a burden or to sympathize with someone isn’t motivated by guilt or obligation. It’s a tug into action, rooted in love, consideration and kindness.


      When do you avert your eyes from a need? Who do you pass by? Consider any groups of people or situations you consistently avoid.


      Need help? Consider the following: 
    • Roadside beggars
    • Veterans
    • Drug addicts
    • Foreign missions
    • Homeless
    • Poor
    • Single moms
    • Door-to-door solicitors
    • Hitchhikers
    • Donation solicitor
What are some reasons for avoiding people?


      There are certainly some safety issues we must consider. If you’re walking alone in the mall parking lot and are pursued by a man asking to use your phone to call for help, you should immediately move toward a populated area.


      But I wonder how often we rationalize not showing compassion because of an exception, not a rule. How often do we assume we know someone’s motives, and we don’t want to be taken advantage of, so we pass by?


      Jesus answered, “As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, some robbers attacked him. They tore off his clothes, beat him, and left him lying there, almost dead. It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Next, a Levite came there, and after he went over and looked at the man, he walked by on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan traveling down the road came to where the hurt man was. When he saw the man, he felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to him, poured olive oil and wine on his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he put the hurt man on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he cared for him. The next day, the Samaritan brought out two coins, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come again.’”
      Then Jesus said, “Which one of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the robbers?”
      The expert on the law answered, “The one who showed him mercy.”
      Jesus said to him, “Then go and do what he did.” Luke 10:30-37


      Consider this happening in today’s world. Picture the roadside where you might see this man and what your reaction might be when you encounter him? What are your assumptions, and how do they determine your response?


      What happens when we assume we know someone’s past, motives, etc.?


      Isn’t it funny, when the other fellow takes a long time to do something, he’s slow. When I take a long time to do something, I’m thorough. When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy. When I don’t do it, I’m busy. When the other fellow does it without being told, he’s overstepping his bounds. When I go ahead and do it without being told, that’s initiative. When the other fellow states his opinion strongly, he’s bullheaded. When I state my opinion strongly, I’m firm. When the other fellow overlooks a few rules of etiquette, he’s rude. Tom Knight, quoted by Charles McHarry, New York Daily News


      Brothers and sisters, do not tell evil lies about each other. If you speak against your fellow believers or judge them, you are judging and speaking against the law they follow. And when you are judging the law, you are no longer a follower of the law. You have become a judge. James 4:11


Adapted from Pure Purpose by Susan H. Lawrence. Check out Susan’s blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/ and follow Pure Purpose on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/PurePurposeFB

Friday, June 4, 2010

Better than a Hallelujah

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)
"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah" Psalm 62:8 (NIV)


Setting aside pride, control, fear and doubt, we need to bow at the cross and refuse to rise until the love and forgiveness and salvation that flows not only covers us but convinces us that He is real. 


Becoming overwhelmed with the simple grace of our God, with a heart that is broken for the relationship we have lost with Him, is the first step in humility that will ultimately bring us closer to Christ than ever before. 


Seeing for the first time that our imperfection and brokenness, even if it is for the hundredth time, are where God will be glorified most, giving all to Him so that He can be praised.






More songs and testimony are found at Signs, Miracles and Wonders