Use What You Have

freeLet’s just face it – we don’t start out with much. And most of what we do is relatively small compared to what we would really like to do. We have big plans with little resources. We have big dreams with little results. we take baby steps instead of giant steps.

Most of the time when we decide towards a faith venture or some exploit we decide to begin calculations of what we don’t have. We add up our debt, our depreciation and our decrease. We subtract from hope, faith and patience. We substitute fear, bad dreams and the sweats. But what if we used what we have.

The simple instead of the complex, the small instead of the large or the minute compared to the exhaustive.

Let’s examine all the Bible characters that started small:

Abraham and his staff

Moses and his rod

David and his five stones

The difference is they started small with a big God.

There was not a selective power in the rod, the staff or the smooth stones but the power was found when these faithful followers gave to God what they had to do what God has asked them to do. Giving before receiving; believing before the answer and small happens before big happens. David’s faith was not in the five smooth stones but in a great, big God. Yet, he simply gathered from the brook what he knew to do.

Maybe God wants you to do something, something big but you don’t have what it takes to make it happen. Why not count, add up and put together what you do have and give it to God. David ran towards the giant and you can too with just the little you have. A little talent, a little writing, a little prayer, a little conversation, a little…well, you get the picture. Take what you have and let God in it.

The difference with you starting small is you have a big God.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

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The Big Question

2e52dd1d53Maybe it is time we define, “worship.” Maybe our self-made worship is more about us and our feelings than it is about drawing near to God and exalting and adoring the Lord God. Maybe we have turned our worship service into a self-serving manipulation of God turning the spotlight on my life rather than His glory. Maybe, just maybe, we need to define worship by going back to the Bible and seeing what God really desires.

When God created man it was for the dual purpose of fellowship and expression. Fellowship was the heartbeat of God for mankind to know and experience the love of God on an everyday basis. Expression was to manifest His glory upon them and within his creation; upon them for influence to reach for the souls of men and within them for personal hope and peace. When the glory of God illuminates upon a man He will influence others to righteous living. When the glory of God resides within a man, he will walk in integrity, transparency and peace.

When Adam and Eve sinned they lost fellowship and expression; they lost the everyday fellowship with a loving God and they lost the glory of God upon and within them. After their sin, God began earnestly looking for them and God asks the BIG QUESTION, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). The first question God ever asked, and the most heart wrenching, the man and woman He created were gone; he sorrowfully asked, “Where are you?”

The BIG QUESTION needs to be asked today, “Where are you?” Are you living in everyday fellowship with a loving God and is the expression of His glory upon you and within you? God is looking for you, pursuing you so He might show His lavish love by everyday fellowship and supremely pour His glory upon and within you. He wants you to come to Him. He wants to be with you. “Where are you?”.

Let’s do a checkup. The following reveals the emptiness of living without the presence of God in our life:

 

  1. Frustration, anxieties and other emotional downfalls
  2. Provokes a man to live close on the edge of failure
  3. Friction at home escalates
  4. Financial pressures abound
  5. Emptiness creates larger vacuums
  6. Our heart becomes weary
  7. Complaining instead of worship flows from our mouth
  8. Our song, joy and dance is gone
  9. People problems become prevalent
  10. Life becomes complex and worrisome
  11. Fear is substituted for faith
  12. Weakness in our Spirit
  13. Job related problems increase
  14. We begin to withdraw from others
  15. Our attitude becomes obnoxious and defensive
  16. We cower from the presence of God
  17. The Word of God becomes boring
  18. Life is increasingly boring
  19. Depression and discouragement
  20. Loss of Hope

The good news is that one step in His direction and He will come running towards you. James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. The opportunity for more is within my grasp. Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. When you hunger for more, thirst for more, it is your initiative that brings God’s blessings. His glory is poured out upon a man who enlarges his capacity by total surrender of heart, mind, soul and body. The empty self gains the fullness of His glory. He is ever longing to speak to you, bless you, fill you, heal you, restore you and love you.

His presence is waiting for you now – He wants fellowship and to express His glory – to overflow you with His love and His glory.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Are We Praying Wrong?

prayerPraying often has its dips and turns according to the emotional needs of the man or woman praying but what would happen if we changed one-act of prayer? No, I’m not advocating a new, improved or  “greater revelation” type change but a scriptural change to our prayer life. Of course, I am assuming prayer is a natural element of your Christian life. We have both, corporate and private prayer and unlike some, time spent praying is not as important as why we pray.

We all agree, to pray is to communicate with God, both speaking and listening but acting on our prayer has been virtually nonexistent. We are asking according to the Word of God; right? We have checked or examined our motives and heart; right? We have prayed earnestly and sincerely; right? Yet, no answer; why? I believe this simple act of stepping out or taking hold of it through action may be the very thing missing in most of our prayers.

Jesus asks the question, “Who do you say I am?” A very important question to ask our self as we pray, in fact, Jesus instructed us first to acknowledge the “I AM” when he taught the disciples how to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed is your name.” Hebrews also, reiterates, “You must believe that HE IS and is a rewarder of those who seek him.” Prayer is based not on His power but on His person, the I Am.

Once you believe in your prayer then it is time to act on your prayer.

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. This was a direct message to the conquering church, just before Jesus promised the gates of hell could not prevail against the church. When people come together in corporate prayer act on the prayer by action.

My good friend, Clifford Hurst, pastor and Greek scholar, stated the Greek text states, heaven has already “loosed” or “bound” and now the church can act on it. That’s powerful! Praying in God’s purpose knows the work has already been accomplished and now we can rejoice in the prayer answered. Praise Him before the results come because we pray not for results or revelation but we have a relationship with the I AM. No, not a “name it, claim it” but a pray it – believe it.

Take for instance, Hannah prayed for a child and received the promise, she left the temple, knowing in her heart God had granted her request but the answer came gradually over the next nine months. She painted the nursery and put together the crib after she received the promise. When God puts the seed of faith in your heart then you can begin to act on it.

The greatest form of faith is when I walk out of the prayer room knowing God has heard me.

What have you been praying about? What can you do to act on it? Put shoes on your prayer. Take the step of faith. Build your relationship instead of hoping for results. Trust the I AM – believe and act.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

What I Know About Problems

Your problem may not be a problem

Your problem may seem bigger than it is

Your problem may not be your problem

Your problem may not take as long as you think it will

Your problem may add something to your life rather than subtract

Your problem may be a miracle in disguise

Everyone has problems

God cares about your problems

Achieve Your Goals This Year

Goals like resolutions are often broken without the intended results we wished for – I know, I have done the same thing only to feel guilty and disappointed in myself. However, last year’s goals were beat beyond my expectation and create a greater confidence in God and my purpose in life. Whether jogging, writing, blogging, dieting, prayer, spiritual growth or business projections, you CAN do it.

Here are some of the tools I use frequently in setting goals:

Write Each One Down Writing down your goals is essential in “fleshing out” your dreams. Placing your goals on paper builds a system of checks and balances.

Develop a Bull’s Eye Be specific. Be focused. You may have to rewrite your goals, as I have done, they can’t be general, for instance, “write a blog” may be better stated, “write on my blog twice a week.” A goal must be “zeroed in on” if you are to be satisfied with the results.

Collect Pictures Gather pictures (I call them “visual reminders”) to consistently remind me of the goals I created and the hopes of accomplishment. Place them in a prominent position so you can view them frequently.

Build a Theme This has been a huge plus for me in accomplishing my goals. For instance, my theme this year is “APPROPRIATING.” Simply appropriate my dreams into life settings. Having a scripture underneath my theme is a double positive, my scripture this year is, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Evaluate Often Check your goals often, don’t be disappointed if you didn’t accomplish one goal or two, I have set 18 Health, Reading, Praying, Living, Family and Financial goals this year, There will be many I accomplish, hopefully all of them but realistically some may fall by the wayside.

Do the Little Ones First You can build momentum to the larger ones by accomplishing the little goals first. I usually read my Bible, read my devotional, read a chapter in a book, pray, write in my blog, exercise and more; by 8:00 in the morning I have already accomplished half of my 18 annual goals. However, here is a caution, don’t be so mesmerized by the small goals accomplished that you’re not spurned on to the larger goals.

Don’t be Afraid of Baby Steps Some goals take longer, so I must be incremental, in other words, steps must be set to each goal, “How will I reach the goal?” For blogging, I set ten to twenty minutes to write so I can have two posts a week, maybe I write in the morning, maybe a little in the afternoon, but I stair step to the goal rather than take giant steps. Don’t be afraid to jog .5 miles for two or three months. Add 10% growth to your accomplishment the next month.

Pray About It Purpose in life is God-given and goals develop purpose in my life. It is reasonable to pray about the life I am living in God’s purposes.

Memorize Scripture This is something I stumbled upon to be honest. My wife and I decided to memorize together Psalms 91, not only did it erase fear but it placed our mind and spirit in a different frame of mind. Sharpen your mind by memorizing and meditating on the Word of God.

Celebrate Accomplishment When some goals have been accomplished I will go to a coffee shop, take my iPad and just savor the moment. Goals can’t be driven 24/7 – you must find time to think, relax and enjoy.

Comment: What system do you use to accomplish your goals?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Spiritual Growth Habits for 2014

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Every year thousands of Christians begin their spiritual journey by diving into a devotional, Bible reading plan and usually, the Daniel Fast. Intending to make the best and most profitable increase in our inner man we go to the bookstore in search for the item that looks the best. Before you start; begin by discovering some of the devotionals, Daniel Fast plans and Bible reading plans outlined below.

Making the best of things begins by starting the best of things.

My Utmost for His Highest. This timeless classic is available in several formats, as well as, printed. If you have the YouVersion App downloaded on your phone or tablet https://www.bible.com there are several Bible reading plans available. A new addition this year is My Utmost For His Highest This special edition of Oswald Chambers’ timeless, widely read devotionals now includes Chambers’ personal prayers. From Discovery House Publishers. 30 days Journey. You will receive a daily reminder – if you wish; plus you can post to Facebook or Twitter your unique discoveries. Or, if you would like to read, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers on your computer just go to http://utmost.org for a year’s worth of devotional thoughts and uplifting insights. If you wish you can go to iTunes and download My Utmost for His Highest app for Android or IPhone for $4.99

Streams in the Desert. This classic poignant devotional comes in three volumes in written form; this treasure never ceases to speak to me. However, go to the iTunes store and get a free download for your tablet or phone http://download.cnet.com/Streams-in-the-Desert-Devotional/3000-20412_4-75246497.html It comes with a daily reminder, bookmark and ability to add notes.

7:14 Prayer. I am really enjoying the 7:14 Prayer app on my IPad but it also works on my IPhone. You can set your own prayer list, pray for preformatted guidelines for praying for your area schools, the nation and up to date news prayer requests. This amazing app has a live feed showing people praying around the nation and an appointment reminder to “pray today.” Available free on ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7-14-prayer/id585072149?mt=8

The Daniel Fast Maybe you would like to add the Daniel Fast to your prayer habits during the month of January. The 21 day Daniel Fast basically shuns, sugar, flour, meats and focuses on vegetables, fruits and grains. This is a great way to begin healthy and concentrate in prayer. If you would like more information my wife and I always go to http://www.daniel-fast.com or there are several books available on the subject. And there is an app for that at https://itunes.apple.com/app/id598090882

Comment: Do you have a favorite devotional you are using?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

The Ephesians Six Husband

prayerSome friends of ours celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary recently. Friends, family and acquaintances gathered to celebrate their lifelong commitment to each other. If you were to ask her how the blushing bride did it, she would gladly reply, “I prayed for my husband every day.”

Of all the qualities of my wife, I am most appreciative of my wife’s one most important task, she prays for me.  She daily prays for me. Not only have I felt her prayers but I have seen the answer to her prayers frequently. My wife has a unique prayer pattern, she prays for me to become an Ephesians Six Man. She takes each verse and prays every aspect into my life. It is interesting to note the Armor of God follows the discourse on marriage; it isn’t difficult to believe it is intentional.

Ephesians 6:13-18  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

She visualizes placing the armor of God upon me each day. She prays the following according to Ephesians 6:

Armor “God will strengthen my husband to be able to stand against adversity and stand firm in the face of opposition.”

Loins Girded “God will always reveal truth to my husband’s heart and expose fads, false prophets, and foolish tales.”

Breastplate “God will cloth my husband in righteousness and he will live a pure and holy life.”

Feet “His light will shine and my husband will influence many for Jesus Christ.”

Shield “God will enable my husband to resist temptation. Pornography, seducers and illicit women will not appeal to him in any manner.”

Helmet “My husband’s mind will be open to the voice of God and he will be protected from wrong.”

Sword of the Spirit “The Word of God will grow in His life, be evident in his steps and be the love of his life.”

Prayer “Prayer will be my husband’s foremost desire and he will find sweet and precious fellowship in the presence of the Lord.”

Comment: How do you pray for your husband each day? What do you think is the most effective way to pray for your husband?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Raising Our Children to Be Spiritual Champions

Picture1Holding a newborn has always been a challenge, they are so fragile, but holding my newborn shook me to the very core. Even though that sacred moment occurred several years ago the imagery still captures my hearts, A father holding his own baby for the first time and thinking, “Now what?”

My children are grown and raising their own family but I remembering asking, “Now what?” on their first day of school, their teenage years, the moment they brought home someone they “had their eye on.” Contemplating my role as a father has been questioned, oh, not by others, but over and over in my own mind. I read books, I watched how other father’s did it and I even prayed about it, “Dear God, make me a good father.”

Raising children has never been easy and pointing fingers at other’s mistakes in our own self-righteous stance only sets us up for possible failure.

Several things are for sure about parenting:

  • Being a parent is not easy
  • You will make mistakes
  • When your children grow up, they will make their own mistakes.
  • We need God’s help

However, culture in its demoralized state unfortunately has been a chokepoint in the arena of child rearing. Building spiritually aware children and youth takes initiative, action and consistency. Perfectionism isn’t required but daily character reinforcement is required. What we do must be done intentionally and habitually.

Here are Six Habits in Raising Our Children as Spiritual Champions:

Pray Daily With Your Children – nothing, I repeat nothing, has the power to make your child a spiritual champion as prayer does. Praying in the morning with your children, before they leave for school, helps place the right spirit around them. Close the day with prayer and prayer requests, praying one for another.

Ask Questions – have moments of conversation and interaction with your children each day. Inquisitive and investigation are miles apart. Find out what is important to them. Talk about the hard things – friends, sex, dirty words, sexting, and pornography, coupled with God’s biblical design for a holy body, mind, spirit and life.

Involve Yourself In Their Life – What do they like to do? Can their friends come over your house for a pizza party? Take them, don’t just send them, to church camps, outings, and sport events, including hunting, camping and fishing.

Go On Word Adventures Together – Study a subject, theme or passage of scripture together. Make the Word of God exciting to your children. Welcome missionaries and other godly figures into your home. Share God’s Word with your children regularly when you camp together, go on a trip and regularly at night before bedtime.

Cleanse Your Home – Letting something get in their minds through illicit TV programs, vulgar music or movies may take months to root out. Make sure the internet is guarded and your children are warned of predators. Teach your children modesty and self-respect.

Love Them Unconditionally – tell them you love them, frequently and meaningfully. Go throughout the day with a positive word and a hug. Praise them for making a wise choice and doing the right thing.

 

Comment: What advice do you give to parents wanting to raise spiritual champions in their home.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Questions I Ask Before Making A Change

noGrowth and maturity are based on change. So change in a life growth plan is inevitable. To change is to step into tomorrow while holding on to foundational truths of yesteryear but letting go of bygone preferences. Since growth is incremental the decision to change must be the first step. Most of us agree to this point but how do we make personal changes, life changes and organizational changes for the best? The idea of change clashes with the change process. We know we should but how do we bring change to the table in an acceptable manner?

Maybe we should ask five heart searching questions, I ask myself:

Is The Change Necessary? Change for change sake is ridiculous. Change for revenge sake is evil. Change for the sake of finding something new is irrational. So I must ask myself  three intrinsic questions: Am I attempting to become obedient to the Word of God? Is it my desire to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Or, is the change a personal preference?

Is The Change Minor Or Major To Me? Before we ask the question on how it affects others I must ask myself how does this change me? What sacrifices will I need to make? Will it have long-term or short-term effects? How does it affect my family?

How Many People Will The Change Personally Effect? Change has a ripple effect. Will it affect just those around me, my congregation or my community – for the better or for the worse?

What Is The First Step I Must Take To Bring About This Change? Must I make some personal changes first? Is there something I need to begin personally before I make this change public? Am I willing to suffer the consequences?

Have I Prayed About It? No, I mean really prayed about? Haws God-given His stamp of approval? Do you feel the peace of God or do you wrestle with it? Have you asked for the counsel of godly men around you?

If bringing myself to the place of confidence is the first step then bringing others to the place of confidence must be the second step;  I ask others:

Who Is Affected By This Change? I may discover some resistance that I may not have anticipated had I just asked this simple question among my peers or those who circle around me. Not all change will attract all people but all change must attract God’s blessing. A circle around you is imperative to creating change around you.

Do You Understand What Must Die And What Must Live? Have those around you create a checklist of the essentials and the nonessential, list the positives and the negatives, list what lives and what dies? This exercise will cut off unmet expectations and hidden turns in the future.

Do You Understand Why We Are Making This Change? The big why Is more important than the what must change, who must change or when will we change? If the why is not clear then step back and wait.

Have We Prayed About It? Prayer together is the solidifier. Melting together means staying together. Prayer creates an atmosphere for change. If we haven’t prayed then plans, purpose and projects are skeletons of vision resulting in disappointments.

 

Comment: How do you prepare for change?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

When Do You Need A Mentor?

Picture1Now – Is the correct answer. Life is better when another set of eyes views the project. Life is better when another heart feels concern. Life is better when another mind has assisted in thinking out the process. Life is better when two carry the load.

A young couple found another couple in their church; this couple had been married about ten years more and had served God since their teens. The young couple heard laughable and insightful stories to encourage them through the bumps in their own marriage.

A pastor was navigating his church through difficult waters, stressful and tired, he and his wife called an older pastor and his wife over for dinner. The evening went quickly and after the older couple left, the pastor’s wife smiled at her husband, “I feel totally refreshed.”

An aspiring writer wanted to put something together but kept hitting rough spots; she called an experienced author and asked if they could meet over coffee. They did and continue to meet – inspiring each other.

A mentor may meet once but most likely will meet several times and often. A mentor is not a counselor but a coach. Not “I have all the answers” but “let’s find the answers.” A mentor doesn’t push but coaxed. A mentor is concerned and you should be honest but a mentor is not a garbage can to put your trash in.

Mentors Coach You To Go To The Next Level. If you wish to grow in a more rapid pace you will need a coach. A true mentor will encourage you to take risks with careful consideration, to spend money frugally, and to make decisions prayerfully.  A wise mentor will not push you to the next level but will persuade you to take the next step.

Mentors Address The Vision. Mentors will dig until your true vision comes to the surface. Mentors will prod until your true feelings are exposed. Mentors ask questions about your vision, your dream and your purpose in life.

Mentors Discover The Path. A mentor will encourage you to take the first step in the right direction. A classroom, a conference, a phone call, a book, may be the right step but a mentor will help you find what the next step is.

Mentors Will Pray With You. A real mentor knows prayer unveils truth, discovers direction, and fills the heart. Compassion is the unique quality of an effective mentor. You may not see them every week but when you do you know it is a God moment. Praying together helps the heart to find its purpose.

Comment: What do you feel is a great characteristic of a mentor? Do you have a mentor?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.