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Justice has Been Served

A verdict has been delivered in one of the most watched trails of this decade. I’ve waited along with the rest of our country as evidence was piled on evidence, leaving little doubt that an unarmed man was willfully and painfully killed by another man, an authority figure, who knew better.

Here’s what I know. Violence is part of our world, and it shouldn’t be. Racism is systemic and ugly and it shouldn’t exist. In any form. What should exist is an overpowering love for our fellow humans. That is what Jesus called us to do with our lives. We are to love, serve, and share His love with our fellow humans.

 

A Duty and a Gift

When I was asked to serve as the hostess for George Floyd, I was honored. I was honored to be given the opportunity to help bring a tiny bit of peace to his loved ones and all of those suffering in our country.

Looking back at that moment now, I think the opportunity to serve in the midst of darkness and sorrow was a gift. It opened my eyes, placed me in the middle of the pain, and it’s allowed me to see the trails so many of our brothers and sisters face every day.

Up until the moment that jury came back with a verdict, much of the turmoil surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death was political. Pundits talked on the news and talk shows about the “realities” of racism and the need to defund, give more money to, train better, or empower our police forces. So many opinions, but none talked about the need to love our fellow citizens.

 

Judgment

The men and women who served on that jury had to set aside the opinions and give a decision based on evidence. That’s what each of us will face at the end of our lives. We will stand before our Lord and He will open the Book of Judgment and give an accounting of the evidence of how we’ve lived our lives.

He won’t judge us on popular opinions, like the pundits. He won’t judge us on what we intended to do, like we might hope. He’s not going to judge us by who we knew. He is going to judge us on the evidence.

 

Did we follow His commandments?

Did we LOVE others?

Did we SERVE others?

Were we leaders when we were called to lead?

Did we follow faithfully?

Did we LOVE others?

Where our hearts pure?

Did our thoughts stay focused on Him?

Did we stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves?

Did we LOVE others?

 

Those men and women made a decision based on evidence, and that decision wasn’t made in malice. They made a decision for what is right. They made a decision against violence and hate and murder.

They didn’t malign the police force. They supported positive policing by agreeing with the evidence given by the police. They stood up and said murder is wrong. Abusing authority is wrong. Killing a man because you don’t like him, or because he is the “wrong” color is not going to be permitted!

They gathered together and gave the judgment they felt was right based on the evidence. And it was a judgement that brought tears of relief to eyes around the country. Justice has been served.

 

Moving Forward

Now we need to move forward. We need to LOVE one another. We need to serve one another. And we need to change our culture to one that encourages love instead of hate, peace instead of violence, and harmony instead of discord.

That will look different for each of us. As we move toward true equality and justice in our country, LOVE is what we need. We need to LOVE our brothers and sisters, our fellow humans, and all of God’s creation.

 

 

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Do you remember the story of Esther? It kind of has the feel of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? And like most fairy tales, it contains the Divine secrets of transformation inside the life and death story. God used the most unlikely girl to save His people from genocide. She could overcome life’s challenges because of His blessing and guidance.

Today, I want to encourage you with her story. Just as in Esther’s story, (1) your fate will be like that of the rest of the crowd, (2) God can and will replace you with someone else, (3) you could lose more than an opportunity, and (4) you might miss out on your mission in life. Let me explain.

First, your fate will be like that of the rest of the crowd. I know we all want to believe we are special and won’t have to take the risks of the generations before us. Sorry, friend, but that is a myth. If we aren’t willing to take risks, we can never expect to rise to the occasion. In Esther’s story, she was given the opportunity to intercede on behalf of her people. Mordecai reminded Esther that even though she was queen, she would fare no better than the rest of the Jews if she didn’t step forward and do what she was called to do.

Second, God will replace you with someone else if you don’t seize the opportunity. Vashti’s place was given to another (Esther). Mordecai reminded Esther that if she sat back and did nothing, GOD would accomplish His purposes with or without her. He wanted her to understand that if you are sitting on gifts, or opportunities, that God intends to be used for HIS purposes in the lives of those around you – and if you don’t use them for His purposes, God will get it done without you. When that happens, your sense of destiny will sit on the shelf. It’s possible that you will live and DIE and never fulfill your purpose, and never really experience happiness.

Third, you could lose more than just an opportunity. Esther could have lost more than a chance to do the right thing. The situation was so dire that she could have lost her life.  Although doing the right thing at the right time can seem risky, in the long run you will incur a greater risk by DOING NOTHING.

Finally, you could miss out on your mission in life. Mordecai speculated that if Esther failed to act on behalf of her people, she might miss out on God’s purpose for her life. You will never accomplish your mission by remaining idle.

God worked through one young woman to save the Jewish people from total annihilation.

In Esther’s situation, PREPARATION met OPPORTUNITY. She prepared for over a year for her opportunity to be queen. And it could have stopped there. She could have lived her life as a queen and turned her back on her people. Although that would likely have resulted in her death. Instead, she was blessed with success. SUCCESS happens when PREPARATION meets POTENTIAL. Never underestimate the potential of one encounter!

So are you willing to risk the good so you can reap the BEST? The key is to prepare, so that when you meet opportunity and potential, you too can have SUCCESS!

You can’t hide your attitude. It is the chief part of you that the world sees. And it alters not only their perception of you but also your perception of yourself. The state of your spirit and mind influences your choices and determines your words and your actions.

Attitude is tangible, friend. It’s real, and it matters. We may not control all of our life circumstances, but we can control our attitudes and how we react to our situations. I’m not sure about you, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced me to do some attitude reevaluation. Sometimes several times a day. This world we are living in right now is tough! So how do we deal with it and our attitudes?

God has given us the ability to stand outside of ourselves and test our thoughts. Isn’t that a blessing?! You and I can stand on God’s Word to capture toxic thoughts, and then we can counteract them with godly wisdom.

We can’t change yesterday. It’s over. We can’t undo the mistakes, disappointments, and failures. That includes both our mistakes and the failures of others. We don’t get a do over. It’s gone. But, if we allow the pain of yesterday to spill into our today, we poison our potential for positive forward results in our lives. And I know you want positive forward results, just like I do!

We all deal with challenges and difficulties, often daily. It’s exhausting to navigate the stormy waters of life, but I want to encourage you right now—you aren’t in your boat alone! Nothing is more overwhelming than believing all the challenges of life are your responsibility. Want to know a secret? Well, it’s not really a secret at all. Our problems, struggles, and challenges all belong to God.

God loves you and is fully aware of every circumstance you are facing right now. Your choice is to trust yourself or to trust Him.

Trust YOURSELF or Trust IN GOD. Which are you going to choose?

When you trust God, it doesn’t release you from responsibilities or obligations; it means you aren’t facing those decisions alone. Today, you can stop carrying your load all by yourself. Go to the Lord and ask Him to take control. You may need to be patient, but He is always faithful. And while He is taking care of the hard stuff, you can make sure your attitude is right.

Try saying these verses, filling your name into the blank, as you take a closer at your attitude and who you are depending on:

  • I praise you because I (_____________) am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Ps. 139:14)
  • Do you not know that your body (_____________) is a house of God where the Holy Spirit lives? God gave you His Holy Spirit. Now you belong to God. You do not belong to yourselves. God bought you with a great price. So (_____________) honor God with your body. You belong to Him. (1 Cor. 6:19–20)
  • He fills my (_____________) life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagles! (Ps. 103:5, NLT)
  • The LORD your God is with you ( _____________). He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you (____________), renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy. (Zeph. 3:17, GW)
  • God makes his people strong (_____________). God gives his people peace. (Ps. 29:11, MSG)

I like to think there’s a sea in all of us. Your internal mental world, which we can correlate to an ocean, is the deep, wonderfully rich composite of you, filled with your thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams, hopes, and desires.

However, it can also be filled with storms of inadequacy, insecurity, regrets, fears, disappointment, and hopelessness. We’ve all felt this inner sea crash in on us, threatening to drown our future. So how do we prevent these negatives from becoming our reality? We change your lives, one thought at a time.

“Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], and your plan will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].” (Proverbs 16:3, AMP)

Thoughts are things, and they will become our reality. When we decide to change our lives, we have to first change our reality.

One of the most powerful abilities God granted to us is the ability to choose our thoughts and think things on purpose. You and I don’t have to think about whatever falls into our minds. This is a life-changing revelation! Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) tells us, “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.” I say it like this: Where the mind goes, your life will follow.

If we don’t learn how to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4–5), we won’t live the life Jesus died to give us. Jesus offers a life of peace with God, peace with ourselves, great relationships, genuine joy, and the ability to become everything God created us to be. It comes down to choosing to believe what God says (the truth) more than we believe our feelings, what other people say, or our circumstances.

So how do we embrace that truth and accept the peace God offers us? The Bible talks about three actions we must take to gain a mind that comes to an agreement with God.

1. “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things]” (Col. 3:2, AMP). Before we get into a situation where we must make a choice, we must decide in advance where our intention is focused. For instance, before you get into social situations, decide, “I will not gossip. I will not ruin someone’s reputation and offend the Holy Spirit.” Other situations may require you to decide things like, “I will not use language that is toxic today.” Or “I will not waste time on selfish arguments.” Alternatively, “I will not hang out with people who are destructive influences.” We must make a positive decision before we encounter the negative.

2. “Do not be conformed to this world … but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, AMP). Renewing the mind is a constant process. We must take time every day to study God’s Word so we can intentionally think according to what it says. No one is perfect with this, but we need to make progress so we can keep our minds renewed and can grow in our relationship with God.

3. “Gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13, NKIV). This is old-fashioned terminology, and you might wonder what the writer meant. He was saying that we need to get all the trash out of our minds so we can keep “running our race” in Christ Jesus. God intends for you to win the race you are running for Him, as the first-place winner! By clearing out our minds, we are ready for action to follow God’s plan for our lives.

Commit to set your mind on God’s Word, renewing your mind with truth and getting what I call “stinkin’ thinkin’” out of your way. Yes, it might take a little time, but as you continue forward, you’ll start to enjoy the life God is offering you today. All it takes is a little more progress, one day at a time. The first step to understanding how to control your thoughts is to learn how your brain functions.

At the beginning of the year we focused on our vision and goals for the year. Little did we know what the year had in store for us! I’ll be honest and say some of my goals have suffered because of this pandemic. Others have moved full ahead. How about you? Have you done a review of your goals and your progress?

Goals are not a set-it and forget-it thing. They have to be managed and periodically reviewed. We have to tend to our goals if we want to make progress.

It doesn’t work to set goals and then not look at them again until the end of the year. Goals, just like our relationships and faith, are organic, evolving, and ever-growing. If we ignore our goals, they become meaningless words or dreams that never come true.

So what now? What do you do to get your goals back on track?

First you need a plan. Map out action steps to help you reach your goals. Whatever planning system you use, be sure to map out how you are going to reach that goal.

Second, set aside time in your schedule to review your goals and progress on a regular basis. Some goals may change or need to go away entirely due to life changes. Some become more important and should be moved to the top of your to-do list. Focus on the big picture and what you are trying to achieve and it will help you keep sight of what matters.

Finally, track your progress. Keep track in a way that allows you to visually see that you are moving toward an end result and getting closer to achieving your goal. Visualization is such a powerful tool!

So let’s take a few minutes to do a goal check-in right now. And remember, Don’t let an irrelevant or outdated goal prevent you from making progress. Don’t abandon your goals altogether because things have changed and the goal no longer makes sense.

What do you do instead? Purge!

Just like you would purge your closet of clothes that no longer fit, if a goal no longer makes sense update it or delete it! If you get rid of one goal, replace it with a new goal that will keep you moving toward your best life. You’ve got this!

Need a God boost? Say these affirmation scriptures each day. Just add your name where the blank is!

Be careful how you think ( _________ ); your life is shaped by your thoughts. (Prov. 4:23, GNT)

My thoughts will be clear; I ( _________ ) will speak words of wisdom. (Ps. 49:3, GNT)

I ( _________ ) can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13, ESV)

( _________ ) Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you ( _________ ) belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. (Phil. 4:6–7, CEV)

We are carrying enormous loads at home and in the workplace. The coronavirus isn’t making it any easier. Life takes a toll on every single one of us. Stressed, tired, and rushed has become the description of life in our country. So many of us are totally exhausted, have too much to do, and have too little time.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this article today: you are body, mind, and spirit. Your family, your life, your work, it will all come to a grinding halt unless you discover your key to sustainable renewable energy. You need to restore, release, and recharge.

First, you must rethink the concept of balance between your personal/home schedules and your professional life. Most people tend to assume that being out of balance is the cause of energy issues because conventional wisdom says home time is restorative and work time is draining. In reality things aren’t so black and white. And we know that truth more perfectly now as most of us have been home for months!

The wrong kind of home time can be crippling. Think of endless diapers, screaming teenagers, empty refrigerators, piles of laundry, or a needy spouse. You experience a teeter-totter of energy ups and downs in every part of your life whether at home or work.

So how do you find your restore, release, and recharge?

First, let go of the mindset that you can reach a constant state of total control. Only God can initiate perfect balance. Give Him your schedule and commit your home time and your work time to Him. He can expand and balance what you will never be able to stabilize. He alone can restore you.

Next, replace your vision with a new plan of managing your energy flow inside the framework of what is important to you—at the time. By reframing the challenge this way, you are replacing an unsolvable problem (sustaining a work/life equilibrium state) with a big payoff: never running your energy batteries on empty. Release your iron grasp on the details and focus on doing what brings you joy.

Next, take time to recharge. Read scripture, worship God, listen to music, take a walk or a bubble bath, do something to recharge your body, mind, and spirit. I take a walk every day. I do it to stay healthy, to see something other than the walls of my house, and to recharge myself.

What are you going to do to restore, release, and recharge?

We are created by God to live in relationship, both with Him and with others. What an amazing blessing He has given us! That blessing, our relationships, comes to fruition when we make and maintain loving connections with others.

God created us to be in community with others. We are a community of believers. Part of the family of God. We are created as His children to be in relationship with Him and with those around us. Even the introverts among us!

Part of being a community is connecting with others. And connecting with PURPOSE can propel you to a better future. It’s actually more important than you might realize. Studies show that loneliness increases an individual’s risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive problems, and other health issues.

But what do I mean by connecting? Connecting is a range of activities that focus on creating and sustaining connections with others.

That sounds technical, but it can be boiled down to focusing on others as you communicate with them. This might happen through active listening, empathy, compassion, shared activities, through your leadership, or through reaching out to the other person.

Sound familiar? None of us operates alone. You need that connection with others if you want to live your life to the fullest. The act of connecting links you to others. What you need are specific actions you can take to ensure connectivity happens!

An attitude of servant leadership is the first thing you need to enhance and improve your ability to connect with others in a constructive, purposeful, and meaningful way. When you purposefully become a servant leader, the focus of your life shifts to the development of altruism, emotional healing, wisdom, support, and stewardship.

This foundation facilitates empowerment and capability development, leading to a sense of community and an alignment of goals within your family, your close friend circles, in your workplace, and even in your new relationships.

Life isn’t an individualistic pursuit! You are taking part in an interactive process involving hands-on action, and you must attempt to include all participants. Communicating, listening, integrating viewpoints, taking action, and building trust are all critical to your success and your personal growth.

So are you ready to accept your role as a servant leader to meet the needs of those around you? If you are, you will connect with others more deeply than you could have imagined! Start with this personal affirmation:

“What I make happen for others, God will make happen for me!”

When obstacles come our way, they can throw us for a loop. If we are stressed already, even the smallest obstacle has a way of seeming overwhelming. And friend, I know you are stressed right now. Current statistics show that about 80% of the people in our country are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. And I honestly think the other 20% are babies, hermits, or just have no idea what’s going on around us.

Stress is part of life. How we deal with it, and how we deal with obstacles we face is what’s important. I’ve written before about ways we can deal with stress. Today I want to talk about obstacles. Obstacles are roadblocks thrown in our way that stop our forward progress in an area. This could be in our jobs, our personal life, and even in our spiritual development. Some obstacles seem overwhelming, some are just confusing and hurtful.

I’m going to tell you a story about Sara. Sara had a great job. She was working her way up the ladder, had a new boyfriend who seemed like he might be the one, and she was thinking of buying her first home. Then her company was taken over by another and every employee was notified that their job was on the line and the new company was only keeping a small percentage of the current workforce.

Sara was devastated. She saw visions of being out of a job, and the job market in her field was tight. Her stress levels skyrocketed and when she told her boyfriend about it. They had a fight because she felt he didn’t truly understand what she was dealing with in that moment. She wanted his emotional support, and he offered immediate solutions to the problem.

That night was a giant pity party. Sara cried, gorged on junk food, and sat alone in her apartment feeling sorry for herself. It’s a stereotype because it happens, friend. She finally realized she was getting nowhere with the issue and went to bed determined to deal with the situation first thing in the morning. And she did. She decided to EMBRACE her obstacle, and you can too.

Ways you may be able to EMBRACE your obstacles:

Realize that an emotional response is a natural reaction

First try to identify the emotion. Is it fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, or some other emotion? Instead of fighting back the emotions, work to understand why you are reacting the way you are. You can’t accept and process your emotional response if you don’t understand what is happening, and the very act of stopping to analyze your reaction can calm you and bring some emotional clarity. Sara knew she was upset. She was afraid of losing her job and angry that all of her hard work might come to nothing. Once she realized why she was reacting the way she was, Sara was able to take a step back from the situation.

Be rational

We just talked about emotions, and one thing strong emotions do to us is reduce our ability to use reason. Once you are calm, and understand why you became emotional, take a step back and look at the situation. Sometimes you will be too close, or it is too soon after the event to do this, and that’s okay! Wait until you can look at it rationally. This might be the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, or it might be after you’ve talked to a loved one or close friend and know you have someone there to support you. When you take your emotions out of the situation and look at it rationally, you give yourself the opportunity to start problem-solving. Sara woke up ready to tackle her issue. But the first thing she did was call her boyfriend and apologize for her reaction the night before and thank him for wanting to help her. Her personal relationship was her first priority.

View it as a learning opportunity

Now that you can look at the situation rationally, break your obstacle down to smaller parts. Are there some issues or problems you can deal with? What can you learn about the parts that are beyond your control? Are there solutions you just aren’t aware of, or is there another way to approach the situation? Sara couldn’t change the fact that her company had been taken over, and she couldn’t change the fact that they were reducing the workforce. But there were things she could change. First she freshened up her resume. Then she did some research on the new owners of the company and of other companies she might like to work for if she needed to find another job. She felt in control again, and that allowed her to take positive steps. She also thought about other, related fields she might be able to work in if the need arose.

Think outside the box

If you can’t change the circumstances, what good can you create out of this situation? Look for the positive outcomes and that will give you the strength to deal with the not so great parts. Sara knew she had two options. One was waiting for a decision about her position, the other was to take action. She chose action. Sara contacted the new owners of the company directly. She talked to the person in charge of the division her position would fall under and let them know she was a dedicated employee, hard worker, and she wanted to serve if they needed her skills. If not, she would like to know sooner rather than later so she could start looking for a job she would love as much as she loved this one. The new owners were impressed with her dedication and drive and not only kept her on, they promoted her to a new position.

What obstacle are you facing today

How can you EMBRACE it?

Life is strange right now, don’t you think? Some days it doesn’t feel quite real. One thing about having to stay home is that we have time to think, to plan, and to get started on making the changes we want to see in our lives.

Lately I’ve been thinking about success, and the many definitions of the word. For some, success is making a lot of money. For others, it’s raising their children and providing them with a good life. Many want to start businesses, finish school, help others, become doctors, or travel the world.

What does success mean to you?

Here’s what I think, Purpose-Filled Living is TRUE success. Get that? The result, the final destination is not the success we should seek. Should we still have that desired destination? Absolutely! That goal is what gives us purpose! So let’s get real today. Let’s live with purpose.

Our first step is to love ourselves as God loves us. Don’t get stuck on what other people think about you. If you take it to heart when your aunt says, “Girls don’t do that” or when a friend says, “But that’s not who you are!” you are letting their beliefs limit you. Go beyond what others think and look deep inside yourself. Look at the person God created you to become. Each of us are on this earth for a reason. We have a purpose.

Purpose-filled living provides clarity in a way that can’t be described. It allows you to see through a new lens that brings clarity to your personal and professional paths. Purpose-filled living aligns what we do and what God wants us to do with who we are.

So how do we live a purpose-filled life? How to we achieve that true success? When you embrace your God-given purpose, the Holy Spirit guides you and gives you a sense of peace about the steps you need to take. You move from a place of doing what others think you should do, to a place of doing that which brings fulfillment, progress, and joy.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Purpose-filled living doesn’t mean every day is easy, or that you’ll love every day. You are still going to face difficulty, have good days and bad days, and experience ups and downs.

The difference is you’ll know your WHY. Why you’re doing what you’re doing. That knowledge will bring you a peace and certainty you can’t experience any other way! You’ll know you’re on the right path, and with the Holy Spirit’s help you’ll know how to navigate the challenges you face.

When you find your purpose, you boost your confidence, overcome fear, and embrace the you God sees. The confident, successful individual living a purpose-filled life He knows you can become. That’s TRUE success.

What situation in your life could benefit from forward movement if you were willing to open your mind? Take a minute to really think about this. Is there an area in your life where your thoughts are what are holding you back?

You might be:

  • In a job that doesn’t fit with your goals, but you think you have to stay for security.
  • Ready to go back to school and get a degree, but you are stuck on the idea that college is for young people.
  • Want to find a way to help your community, but you don’t know what you can offer.
  • Want to start your own business, but imposter syndrome* has you convinced you aren’t as talented/skilled/knowledgeable as other people in the field.
  • At your wits end with a difficult child, but you’re convinced, “This is just the way it is.”
  • Are ready to finally get healthy, but the options for how to do it are so overwhelming you do nothing.

My friend, the word “but” can be trap in our lives.

It convinces us that where we are is where we have to stay. If you change your thinking, your whole perspective changes! Look what a little mindset shift can do to each of the situations I listed.

You might be:

  • In a job that doesn’t fit with your goals, and the benefits and security you need might be even better through another employer.
  • Ready to go back to school and get a degree, and you are excited about the prospect of spending time with and learning with young people.
  • Wanting to find a way to help your community, so you sit down and make a list of volunteer work you would enjoy.
  • Wanting to start your own business, so you make a plan, set goals, and cast a mighty vision.
  • At your wits end with a difficult child, so you reach out for help because we aren’t in this parenting thing alone.
  • Ready to finally get healthy, so you make an appointment with a nutritionist and a personal trainer.

Your beliefs direct you in your moment-by-moment choices and actions. You can choose to dwell on the “but” in your situation or you can take positive action. What you believe drives your viewpoint and your mindset in every situation. That means your beliefs actually become self-fulfilling prophecies in your life. Our beliefs shape our perceptions, our perceptions define our experience, and we find meaning in our lives from our experiences. Thoughts are things, and they become our reality.

To change your life, you first have to change your reality—your thoughts. We each have the ability to choose our thoughts and think things on purpose. In other words, you don’t have to think about whatever falls into your mind. This is a life-changing revelation! As Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) says, “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.” We say it like this: Where the mind goes, your life will follow.

To find the answers to the obstacles you are facing in your life, are you willing to change your thinking and turn your mindset inside out?

*Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.