Tag Archives: god

Train your eyes to see evidence of God's presence, not evidenceof His absence. If you are looking for God's absence, you will conclude that this world is a God-forsaken place! On the other hand, if you are looking for evidence of His presence, you will soon see that He is with us even in the darkest of moments.
Sometimes we have a mistaken notion of spirituality. When stricken by this disease, once-stalwart Christians become pharisaical at best. This malady can infect any believer, but it more often strikes older Christians who have been in church for five or more years. The veterans seem to be the most prone and susceptible. One telletale symptom heralding the presence of the disease is that we begin to think our own spiritual maturity is measured by how many faults we can detect in others. If I spot more faults than anyone else, then obviously I'm more spiritually mature. 
But watch out! Because if you are looking for cursing, curses will find you!

He also loved cursing, so it came to him; and did not delight in blessing, so it was from from him. (Psalm 109:17)

If you are not looking for what's good, then even what good there is present will be difficult to recognize. 

A few people have said to me, "I understand what you're saying about looking for what's right. But you can't deny that there are problems! There will always be problems. How do you deal with them practically?"
Sure, there will be problems, and each problem needs to be addressed. You need to meet them head on and courageously deal with them in a way that honors God and builds biblical character. However, here's a secret that has helped me over the years: When you speak of problems, always speak of them as changing.
Someone says, "You have a problem." Your response should be, "Yes, I do, but it's changing!" Someone else says, "Well, you've got financial problems." Your answer? "Yes, but that's changing!" When someone says to you, "Hey, you have a bad marriage." You say, "Yeah, but it's changing!" When someone says, "You've got bad breath." you can reply, "Yeah but it's changing!"
When you speak of problems as changing, you see a hopeful light at the end of the darkened tunnel. This is a positive indicator that you are growing.
However, if someone says, "You've got financial problems," and you say, "Man, do I ever have financial problems! I have always had financial problems, and I will probably always have financial problems until Jesus comes," this attitude acts as a magnet, inviting depression and cynicism. It shuts down your creative problem-solving ability and causes you to freeze up, leaving you perpetually in this state of financial need.
You will see problems everywhere, but don't allow your eyes to remain focused on them. Look for answers and that's what you will see. Develop a new perspective - a fresh view of your problems. Solve them, don't dwell on them. You'll be tempted to remain in slough of despair. It feels good, sometimes, to be pitied, and many of us look for reasons to remain in our unhappy circumstances. But don't do it. 
Failure is not when you get knocked down. Failure is when you refuse to get back up. Don't hang around the swamps of despair. They will only skew your attitude and impede your resilience. Learn to bounce back quickly.
Someone once said to me, "When you go through hell, don't stop to take pictures."
I agree!

Fear is a poor chisel for carving out tomorrow. Today, if you are viewing your future from a position of fear or worry, I want to let you know that view is not accurate or correct. Instead, view your future from a position of faith. That's the truth. Worry is simply the triumph of fear over faith.
There is a story about a woman crying profusely and standing on a street corner. A man came up to her and asked why she was weeping. The lady shook her head and replied: "I was just thinking that maybe someday I would get married. We would later have a beautiful baby girl. then one day this child and I would go for a walk along this street, and my darling daughter would run into the street, get hit by a car, and die."
It sounds like a pretty ridiculous situation - weeping because of something that will probably never happen. Yet we act this way when we worry. We blow a situation out of proportion that might not ever come to pass.
An old Swedish proverb says: "Worry gives a small thing a big shadow." Worry is simply the misuse of the creative imagination that God has placed within each of us. When fear rises in our minds, we should learn to expect the opposite in our lives. The opposite of fear is faith.
The worry is derived from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning to strangle or to choke off. There is no question that worry and fear do choke off the creative flow from God. The less you worry, the more ideas, insight, and revelation you will have.
Things are seldom as they seem. "Skim milk masquerades as cream," said W.S. Gilbert. As we dwell on and worry about matters beyond our control, a negative effect begins to set in. Too much analysis always leads to paralysis. Worry is a route that leads from somewhere to nowhere. Never let it direct your life.
In Psalm 55:22 the Bible says, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Never respond out of fear, and never fear to respond. Action attacks fear; inaction reinforces it.
Don't worry and don't fear. Instead, take your fear and worry to the Lord, "casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
(From John L. Mason's "An Enemy Called Average")

We will always face storms in life, but remember: Never allow an outside storm to become an inside storm.
It's inside storms that sink ships.
The Bible is replete with story after story of how God's people encountered problems.

When Noah sailed the ocean blue,

He had problems the same as you.

For 40 days he drove the ark,

Before he found a place to park.

How many times have we found ourselves flooded with problems? Often, when I have been surrounded with struggles in the ministry, I have felt like the lion tamer who put an ad in the paper: "Lion tamer - wants tamer lion."
A few years ago, I took up fishing as a hobby. Friends and I would fish on the eastern shore of the Big Island of Hawaii. We would throw our lines into the ocean, and if we we're fishing at the right time and had the right bait, we would catch some good-sized fish. Nearby was a barbecue grill where we would place our trophies. We would take our day's catch, clean each one and then place each trophy on the grill. Even though these fish had spent all their lives in the salty ocean, guess what I had to sprinkle on our catch as we were cooking them? Right! I would sprinkle salt on the fish to bring out the flavor.
You would think that would be about the most unnecessary thing to do, considering that the fish had been marinating in saltwater for at least a year or two. Yet even though these fish had lived in the ocean, none of the salt got inside.
My point? If God can do that for fish, He can do that for each of us.
Each of us has been placed in the middle of a world filled with worldly perspectives and philosophies. But here's the wonder of God's design: Although we live in the midst of a "crooked and perverse generation" (Phil 2:15), none of that crooked perverseness is supposed to get inside of us!
Your attitude will either protect you or defeat you in the midst of storms. Develop your attitude well.
(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes that Attract Success!")
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My friend Camille owned a thriving travel agency in Denver. Living out God's plan A calling on her life, she looked for opportunities to serve and share her faith with her employees and clients, and she did so effectively. As a result, her customers received far more than good travel plans.
Camille was attending a thriving inner-city church, which was a fair distance from her suburban home. Church in the City is located in the heart of Denver on East Colfax Avenue - a street known its many homeless people, drug addicts, and prostitutes. But for the most part, this Kingdom laborer lived a safe and predictable life. Then one morning everything changed. Camille sensed God calling her beyond the four walls of her church building to a nearby street corner frequented by homeless people. Who would have thought that God wanted a red-haired, freckle-faced woman from the suburbs, who knew little about the street, to bring His love to people very different from the ones she encountered in her normal everyday world? With the blessing of her pastor, she committed to obey and began praying like crazy.
She knew that prayer is not something you do for the work of God - it is the work of God. Her first action step was praying that God would protect this plan and these people from any satanic attack that would neutralize her efforts. And she asked God to use her to bring His abundant life purpose to as many people as possible. Her praying was bold, and it needed to be! As she prayed, God poured His love into her heart (Romans 5:5).
Camille had a deep understanding that prayer is the way God prepares hearts (our own and others'). Before her first day on the street, she began earnestly praying. Eventually the time came for her to put her prayer into action. She traded her safe seat in the church sanctuary for an unfamiliar street corner. It was scary venturing outside the safe environment of a church full of "easy to love" people - to engage unpredictable new places and people. But god was leading her step by step into this unknown adventure. Answering this divine calling meant dying to self and coming alive to a life motto she would embrace again and again: ALL for the King...for His Kingdom!
By faith, Camille stepped out of her comfort zone, knowing those who risk nothing gain little.
Her friend Gail joined her, and together on a Tuesday morning that rocked Camille's world, they gave away free doughnuts - and a generous helping of God's love.
In her first venture into the unknown, Camille got out of her car, box of doughnuts in hand, and began walking toward a group of homeless people she'd seen earlier. Although very aware that she looked much different from them, she pushed past her fear and self-consciousness.
"Here, have a doughnut," she stammered as she offered her trembling box of doughnuts to the bystanders who suddenly stopped talking and were staring at her.
"What's the catch, lady?" a voice offered back.
She paused and then shared what God brought to her mind.
"God loves you, and I've been praying for you. He told me to come and give you doughnuts today. I'm here to serve you. Is there anything specific I can pray for anyone about?"
For a moment, she lingered in the awkwardness of their silent stares. No one knew how to respond.
Finally, someone broke the silence. "When will you be back? Is this gonna be a regular thing?"
"Yes. Every Tuesday morning, right here at this intersection, you can have free doughnuts, friendship, a listening car, and prayer," Camille explained.
The next Tuesday a big homeless man named Jack confided that he was headed to the hospital in a few days to have a growth surgically removed from his neck. When Camille asked to pray for him, he refused. Jack then shared that years before, a church wounded him.
After listening intently, Camille responded, "Well, Jack, I'm your new friend. I'm not a church. And I'd like to pray for you, if that's okay. Can I?"
Street people can often discern the attitudes and motives of the people around them. Jack sensed Camille's humility and genuine concern. So in a gruff, stoic John Wayne - type voice, he replied, "I guess you can." Camille then prayed a simple prayer for Jack, the doctors, the hospital and his recovery.
The next week, Jack was standing at the street corner, but something was missing. "Jack, where's your bandage?" Camille asked, looking for evidence for his surgery.
"When you prayed for me, the growth dissolved," he answered in a matter-of-fact voice.
Camille's jaw dropped. "It did?"
"Yeah," Jack retorted, taken aback by her surprise.
Camille was shocked.
"I really didn't have that much faith," Camille confessed later to me. "But God was confirming to me that if I did my part, He would surely do His."
Every time she returned, she felt God's presence and pleasure in her service to the poor. These strangers became Camille's friends and a special group of people to love.
Every Tuesday for fifteen years, Camille has served God's life-changing love to about 130 of her friends on East Colfax. And her friends love them and respect her as well. She serves them breakfast, give them hygiene items, and distributes an assortment of high-quality supplies from T-shirts to leftover Starbucks baked goods. Camille wants to bless them by acknowledging their dignity and worth. She treats them as people whom God loves and values - people with a hope, a plan and a future.
"It's simple," Camille says. "The Holy Spirit runs it. I just keep on showing up."
But she also admits, "God had to teach me patience, faithfulness, and humility- which always usher in His presence because He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).
God's call to take a risk and offer her efforts unto Him has required that Camille relinquish any desire for specified results or acceptable social responses.
After investing years of hugs and listening to people's stories, countless prayers, and advocating again and again on behalf of her friends, she has remained faithful. She shows up every week for the people she loves.
God has done the rest!
Now, in a donated storefront building, Camille leads a weekly Bible study for fifty street people who want to know more about Christ, and every week God shows up in various ways. Some of her friends have plugged back into life and society. They know they can count on her - and God can too. She's a special laborer who keeps coming back, again and again. Consistency is vital when God gives you people to love.

Camille has crossed countless social, ethnic, economic, and religious boundaries in reaching out to Denver's neediest people. Today, eighty-eight lives are off the street because one ordinary woman covenanted with God to move past her typical boundaries and find common ground with an uncommon group of people to love. Just like Jesus.
(From Dwight Robertson's "You are God's Plan A [and there's no plan b])

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If we refuse to change, we're in trouble. If we think we can't change, we won't have the faith to change, even if it is possible. Jesus said, "According to your faith will it be done to you." (Matt. 9:29, NIV). If I don't have the faith that I can change or that my situation can change, then it won't.
On the other hand, if I believe I can change - I can follow Jesus, I can do better in my marriage, God can use me - then the Lord can say, "Now you've got the faith." A good attitude releases the Lord to do His work. If I say I can't, then I won't have the faith to cooperate with God's attempts to bring wholeness and healing to my life. My poor attitude will actually sabotage God's work in me.
Do yo believe your marriage can change? You must believe it can. You must believe that your heart can change, that your family can change. God is able. The question is this: Are you willing?
In the Bible, God often commends or reprimands people based on the level of their faith. In Luke 8, a woman who had been ill for many years believed she would be healed if she could only touch the fringe of Jesus' cloak. When she did, Jesus said to her, "Your faith has made you well." (v.48)
"We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV)
Do you have faith that you can change? You must believe you can be made well, that you can develop an attitude that attracts success. If you don't think you can, you won't. The choice is yours.
(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes that Attract Success")

All great achievers, all successful people, are those who have been able to control their time. All human beings have been created equal in one respect; each person has twenty-four hours each day.
We must give our best time to our most challenging situation. It's not how much we do that matters; it's how much we get done. I remember my dad always telling, "Don't spend a dollar's worth of time for ten cents' worth of results." We should choose to watch our time, not our watch.
One of the best timesavers is the ability to say no. Not saying no when you should is one of the biggest wastes of time you will ever experience.
Make sure to take care of the vulnerable times in your day. These vulnerable times are the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I've heard a minister say that what a person is like alone at midnight and alone in the morning reveals that person's true self. There are the potent times of the day, when productivity and idea generation are at their maximum.
If you are saying, "I could be doing big things if I weren't so busy doing small things," then you need to take control of your time. The greater control you exercise over your time, the greater freedom you will experience. The psalmist prayed, "so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). The Bible teaches us that the devil comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10), and this verse applies to time as well as to people.
If often hear people say, "I'd give anything to be able to . . ." If you said this, you should adopt the "6 x 1 = 6" leadership principle. If you want to write a book learn to play a musical instrument, become a better tennis player, or do anything else that's important, then you should devote one hour a day, six days a week to the project. Sooner than you think it will, what you desire will become reality. There are not many things that a person cannot accomplish in 312 hours a year. Just a commitment of one hour a day, six days a week, is all it takes.
We all have the same amount of time each day. The difference between people is determined by what they do with the amount of time at their disposal. Don't be like the airline pilot flying over the Pacific Ocean who reported to his passengers, "We're lost, but we're making great time!" Remember that the future arrives an hour at a time. Gain control of your time, and you will gain control of your life.

(From John L. Mason's "An Enemy Called Average")

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live. (Deut. 30:19)

God tells us that the choice between life and death, between a blessing or a curse is up to us! He almost pleads with His people, telling us to choose life in order that we may live. God not only gives us a choice, He goes further and tells us what choice we should make. He even shows us the benefits of making the right choice, and He let us know the consequences should we choose otherwise.
In essence, God is saying, "Here's your choice, life or death, a fruitful future or one of pain. But wait! Before you choose, let Me tell you which is best. Choose life that you may live, both you and your descendants. Got it? Okay, now choose."
There was this "Let's Make a Deal", on this 1970s TV game show, would-be contestants in the studio audience would dress up like squirrels, ducks, redwoods and various household appliances and act nuts to get the attention of the show's host, Monty Hall. On one of the shows, Monty pointed to a housewife dressed as a chicked and said, "Chicken, come on down!"

IF YOU KNOW THESE THINGS, YOU ARE BLESSED IF YOU DO THEM.                                                                         JOHN 13:17 

The lady pecked her way toward the aisle, jumping up and down excitedly and molting all over the host. Monty then pointed out three large doors on the stage and said, "You can have whatever is behind door number one, door number two or door number three. Which one are you going to choose?" The helpful studion audience yelled out, "One!" "No, pick two!" "Three! Three! Pick Three! all at the same time. 
The chicken made her choice: "Three!"
Monty then said, "Before I show you what's behind door number three, let me show you what's behind door number one!" The door was opened and there stood a pair of Mercedes Benz luxury automobiles.
Wails of sorrow rose from the chicken and from the audience.
Monty continued, "Now let me show you what's behind door number two!"The door opened and a voice announced, "A 50-foot sailboat and a vacation in Acapulco!"
More groans of disappointment.
"And now," Monty said, "let me show you what you have chosen behind door number three!" The door opened to reveal a donkey.
The chicken lady threw her hands up in despair, as the audience echoed woe over such a poor choice. Wasn't that tragic?
Now let me share with you something even more tragic. Imagine if the game show had gone like this:
Monty says, "You can have whatever is behind door number one, door number two or door number three. Which door will you choose? But wait! Before you tell us, let me show you what's behind every door! Behind door number one are two luxury cars! Behind door number two we have a sailboat and a vacation in Acapulco! Behind door number three is a donkey. Got it?
"Uh, okay! the chicken lady replies, and the crowd goes wild in anticipation.
"Now, which one will you choose? Door number one, door number two, or door number three?"
She pauses for a second, listening to the confusing barnyard calls of the other animals in the studio audience.
"Oh... uh....well....," she nervously deliberates. "Door number three!"
Now that would be tragic!
Nevertheless, as dumb as it sounds, that's exactly what we do. So often God shows us the consequences of making a bad choice or walkint through life with a bad attitude, and yet we choose that attitude anyway. Then when relationships fail, when we lose friends or forfeit a great opportunity, it really should be no surprise.
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Take time with me over these next chapters to deposit into your heart the necessary ingredients to develop a life-changing attitude. Make that choice right now. It may come slowly first, but don't give up. The new attitude may feel awkward at first, but practice until it becomes natural.
You are only one attitude away from a great life, a successful marriage and a promising future!

(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes that Attract Success")

Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves - to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by today, to do our work with more force than ever before" (Stewart John). If you would like to know who is responsible for most of your troubles, take a look in the mirror. If you could kick the fellow responsible for most of your problems, you wouldnt be able to sit down for three weeks. It's time for us to stay out of our own way.
Most of the stumbling blocks people complain about are under their own hats. Louis XIV commented, "There is little that can withstand a man who can conquer himself." The Bible's wisdom counsels. "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls" (Proverbs 25:28)
"Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you" (Frank Tyger). You may succeed if nobody else believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don't believe in yourself. Zig Ziglar observes, "What you picture in your mind, your mind will go to work to accomplish. When you change your pictures, you automatically change your performance." Whatever you attach consistently to the words "I am," you will become.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is impossible for man to be cheated by anyone but himself." Gain control of your mind, or it will gain control of you. Your imagination dictates your openness to positive direction. As Norman Vincent Peale remarked, "Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Remind yourself that God is with you and that nothing can defeat Him."
"Our best friends and our worst enemies are the thoughts that we have about ourselves" (Dr. Frank Crane). Stop looking only at where you are, and start looking at what you can be. The Bible declares, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart (Proverbs 23:7). Be carefl of your thoughts. They may become words at any moment and actions very soon. Wrong thinking almost always leads to misery.
No one can defeat you unless you first defeat yourself. Self-image sets the boundaries and limits of each of our individual accomplishments. Charles Colton said, "We are sure to be losers when we quarrel with ourselves; it is civil war." If you doubt yourself, listen to Alexander Dumas: "A person who doubts himself is like a man who enlists in the ranks of his enemy and bears arms against himself." Tim Redmond observed, "Don't commit treason against your own life and purpose."
Your world first exists within you. Marriane Crawford said, "Every man with him the world which he must live." Having trouble hearing from God? "When God speaks, your mind will be your biggest enemy" (Bob Harrison). Facing major obstacles in life? James Allen answered, "You are the handicap you must face. You are the one who must choose your place." Remember you are your own doctor when it comes to curing cold feet, a hot head, and a stuffy attitude.
(From John L. Mason's "An Enemy Called Average")

Years ago, I spoke in the Dominican Republic for a ministry that works with American kids struggling with behavioral problems, I addressed them several times a day during their spiritual-emphasis week.

Early in the week, I met a young student who showed me what Plan A can look like lived out.

Lance approached me after one of my teaching sessions and asked if he could talk with me. Later, he shared what had been happening in his life that week. Clearly, God was lighting a fire in his heart.

Lance explained that he entered the program not because he was rebellious or had broken the law like many of other kids. His parents asked him to enter the program so he could gain more structure and discipline in his life.

"I've gotten a lot of my time here," Lance said, "but now I'm thinking it may be time to go home. I want to help people learn more about God. Maybe I could make a bigger difference in the lives of my old friends. What do you think, Dwight?"

"You may be right," I replied. "But is it possible that God is giving you temporary assignment while you're still here? Is it posible that He wants to use you to minister to kids right here while you're with them?"

Lance's eyes lt up as I continued sharing with him a vision for his temporary assignment.

"That's it!" he suddenly exclaimed. "There is something I can do for the other kids while I'm still here! I know things about their lives, their parents don't know - stuff not even our staff knows. I'll pray for them and talk with them as God leads. Dwight, some of them are pretty messed up, I hope I can help."

Over the next few days, Lance and I chatted about his newfound purpose for the rest of his time in the Dominican Republic. I gave him a book on prayer, and we prayed together for some of the other kids his dorm - including a kid named Chris, who professed to be an atheist.

After I left the campus, Lance and I continued to write back and forth. In one letter, he wrote,

The other day, Chris announced at the dinner table that he is no longer an atheist. I have now changed my prayer from, "Lord, show Chris that you're real" to "Lord Chris needs to know you personally. Please help him make the decision to accept and follow you." The power of prayer is really strong!!!

Unfortunately, that was the last letter I received from Lance. A few weeks later, one of the program administrators called me on the phone.

"Are you sitting down?" she asked. "There's been an awful tragedy here this wek. A group of boys from one of our dormitories was swimming in the river. A flash flood suddenly swept three of the boys downstream, including Lance. We rescued two of them, but we couldn't reac Lance in time...Dwight, I'm sorry to tell you. Lance is dead."

I sat stunned silence, trying to figure out how to respond. The administrator paused for a moment to let the difficult news sink in, then continued.

"Dwight, there's one more I want to tell you. As we were cleaning out Lance's locker and sorting through his belongings, we came across some things you sent him - encouraging letters and a book about prayer. The book had highlights and notes through it. We also found his prayer journal. We're amazed at how many kids and situations he was praying for. We've been piecing together a lot of recent things that have been happening as a result of Lance's prayers."

She went on to share specific answers to prayer. Discouraged staff members ready to give up experienced new strength, joy, and purpose in their work. Students struggling for years with emotional and spiritual issues showed new signs of growth and victory. Even some of the most troubled kids experienced major breakthroughs in their attitudes and behaviors.

"We now realize that Lance prayed for those needs," she said. "And God answered his prayers! We're amazed. Single-handedly, a teenage kid impacted our program, staff, and students through his prayers."

Several weeks later I learned that five kids gave their lives to Christ at Lance's funeral. One of them was Chris, the former atheist. He had watched Lance's life more closely than anyone realized. He experienced God's love through Lance before he even believed God existed.

Chris and the other kids embraced God's love because a fellow student caught a vision for the role he could play in their lives - as one who was up close to them.

God wants to give you a vision for the role you can play in the lives of people around you - on your assembly line, in your office, your neighborhood, your dormitory, or your class at school. Perhaps He wants you to pray for their needs - becoming their first-ever prayer intercessor. Perhaps He wants you to be His agent for meeting their needs.Perhaps God wants you to be his agent for meeting their needs. Perhaps God wants you to be a living testimonial of His love and grace that they see and feel firsthand.

Lance the Student followed Jesus' example of becoming God's up-close, on-the-scene connection to the kids in his sphere of influence.

And God did the rest.

(From Dwight Robertson's "You Are God's Plan A {and there's no plan b}")