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Yes, and…

mayyes-and-fancyWhile my husband and I were at a financial workshop designed for couples to communicate effectively in regard to the emotional impact finances have on their marriage, we did an interesting activity involving brainstorming. We were given a scenario and told to try to solve the dilemma using the phrase “Yes, but…” After a few minutes we were instructed to use the same scenario, but use the phrase “Yes, and…” while brainstorming.

What a difference one word makes! At the completion of the exercise, we talked about how easy it was to use “Yes, but…” to get our point across, yet, didn’t help us solve the problem. Using the phrase, “Yes, and…” took a little more effort but opened our hearts and minds to greater possibilities.

Later in the evening we had opportunity to brainstorm solutions for one of our own financial goals. While doing this, my husband and I found ourselves in a quandary because we were literally saying “Yes, but…” and tension was escalating. “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but you want me to do what?” “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but that’s ridiculous!”

We weren’t getting anywhere because we weren’t hearing each other. Suddenly it hit us! We were saying the wrong things! We smiled! We laughed! We regrouped! We started saying, “Yes, and…” We had fun! We brainstormed! We came up with a plan! We’re on our way to reaching our goal!

All this got me thinking though about something bigger! It got me thinking about the power of those two little words, “Yes, and…” AND what if we used those words with Jesus! What if we read His Word and always responded with those two words?

let_not_your_heart_be_troubled_mousepad-p144284209831913735envq7_400Here’s what it might look like taking John 14 as an example: Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts get all out of whack! Don’t be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” We say, “Yes, and how cool is it that we don’t have a trouble in the world AND how cool is it that we GET to believe.”

maxresdefaultJesus says, “Yes, and in My Father’s house are MANY mansions. I’m going there to prepare a place for you.” We say, “Yes, and when I die, I GET to live in the place You’re preparing.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and since I’m going away to get this place ready, you can believe I’m coming back to get you so where I am, you are.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait to see what You’ve prepared for me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and where I go, you know! AND, you know the way.” We say, “Yes, and we know we know the way because we know You.” (Yes, read it the way I wrote it)

imagesJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We say “Yes, and knowing You the way we do, we also know our Father.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and because you believe in Me you get to come to your Father.” We say, “Yes, and now because we know our Father, can you show us our Father?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and I can do more than that! Just so you know…you’re looking at Him…because when you see Me you see your Father who is in Me and I am in Him.” We say, “YES, and…Is there more, Jesus?”

He says, “Yes, and assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” We say, “Yes, and how excited we are to do these greater works. Is there more?”

20120319-231032Jesus says, “Yes, and whatever you ask in My name, I will go ahead and do it just so My Father will be glorified in Me.” We say, “Yes, and from now on I’m going to ask for all the “whatever’s” in Your name. Is there still more?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you ask ANYTHING in My Name, I will do it.” We say, “Are You kidding me?” (haha!) No, we say, “Yes, and if I ask for anything in Your name, I know You will do it. More Lord?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We say, “Yes, and because I love You, it is truly an honor and privilege to obey You.”

pic twoJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I will pray that My Father will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever.” We say, “Yes, and I can’t wait to get to know this Helper intimately.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and this Helper is the Spirit of truth and you already know Him.” We say, “Yes, and we know Him because He lives in us and is with us all the time,everywhere we go.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and you can believe something else too… I would never leave you fatherless. I’m coming back.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait! I’m so excited for the time You are coming to get me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and until that time the Helper, Holy Spirit, whom Father God is sending in My name will teach you everything you need to know and He will help you remember everything I’ve said to you.” We say, “Yes, and I am teachable and want to know and remember everything! Is there still more?”

images (1)Jesus says, “Yes, and I’m leaving you something real special. My peace! It will keep your heart from being troubled and afraid.” We say, “Yes, and Your peace is so different from the fake peace the world offers us.”

Yes, and I could go on and on and on in God’s Word! I could show you lots of examples where we see people saying, “Yes, and…” People like Abraham when God said He would make his descendants like sand on the seashore. People like Rebekah who went with Abraham’s servant when he met her at the well and said he would like to take her back to be Isaac’s wife. People like Mary, Joseph, Paul, and let’s not forget Jesus, who always responded to His Father with “Yes, and…”

There are lots of “Yes, but…” responses too. BUT, those don’t turn out so well just as our “Yes, but’s” don’t turn out so well today! It’s a choice! As for me, I’m going to make sure my vocabulary includes the phrase, “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…” and I’m going to have some fun with the Lord today and everyday! How about you? My suggestion is you give it a try! What do you have to lose except some “but’s”!

 

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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Hail Santa Claus! Not! But What Does That Even Mean?

downloadMy husband, daughter, and I went out to eat at a local restaurant where it was noisy with lots of conversation and laughter. Our food was served and we held hands to give thanks to our heavenly Father who richly provides for our every need. We finished saying, “REJOICE” in unison as a family walked past our table to leave. The smiling man looked at the three of us and said, “Hail, Santa Claus.” It happened so suddenly and he left so fast we didn’t even have a chance to respond.

what-does-that-even-mean-jackie-chanWe looked at each other, and our daughter said what we were all thinking, “What does that even mean?” Obviously he didn’t like our rejoicing in Jesus but really? Hail Santa Claus? Perhaps we just don’t know some “new” slogan out there or it is some “new” mockery against Christianity. I don’t really know! On the outside I smiled but on the inside I cried. It broke my heart. I have no condemnation for this man. I would never point my finger at him or tell him how terrible he is. I am not angry. I know he doesn’t know any better and he is just acting according to his nature. It shouldn’t surprise us. He just doesn’t believe in this wonderful God we happen to know and be in relationship with. It is a sign of the times, evidence of a godless nation. In my brokenness, I thanked God for our freedom in this land TO pray and believed we planted a seed in this man’s life, even though he is unaware of it being planted.

The next morning Holy Spirit tied this experience with a quote I read about how the hearts of Christians should break because our presence is not making a more significant difference in our land. I have to tell you, THAT is another kind of statement I ask, “What does that even mean?”  Certainly, it is tragic for Christians to remain silent, to refuse to be witnesses for Jesus, to condemn people in the world, or not to honor God in everything we say and do. However, to suggest our hearts should break because “our presence” is not making a more significant difference in our land is heartbreaking.

FJMATD-Logo-600x222We don’t look at society to see if “our presence” makes a difference! See, we are the very presence of Jesus everywhere we go. I’ve got to tell you friends, HE MAKES A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE every day in every way! We look to Jesus and let His presence MAKE all the difference in us. It doesn’t break my heart thinking “I” don’t make a difference. It breaks my heart when others don’t receive the difference He makes in us!

whats-that-smellThe Word of God tells us exactly what our presence will do in this world – and it isn’t about making a more significant difference. It is about His fragrance! 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…”

We CANNOT know how little or how much significant difference we make in this world by looking AT the world! We CAN know it though by the fragrance GOD emits through us! He does the work. We are the diffusers! The power is in Him and we are His conduit! Everywhere we go we are TO GOD the fragrance of His Son. He diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge everywhere we go. Some people will smell it and receive life while others will smell only the aroma of death.

Certainly it hurts to know some smell death when His fragrance is diffused. But somehow, knowing it is not my job to make a significant difference by looking at how little or how much difference I SEEM to make, takes the pressure off and I can simply let God diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge through me, knowing I don’t need to “see” the difference, just “be” His difference.

jesus_public_display_of_affection_t_shirt-r51fa9b881391406db9ec8e08c5d4b01b_804gy_512When my husband, daughter, and I demonstrated our PDA, our public display of affection for Jesus, something significant happened in our lives and I can tell you it wasn’t because WE made a difference but because His fragrance was diffused which makes ALL the difference in the world. AND, I’m believing something significant happened to the man who said “Hail Santa Claus” as well. It might not be a difference WE saw, and it might not be the difference we would like to see BUT, when Jesus is diffused, when His knowledge is released, He makes a difference.

 
 

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Choosing is So Much Better Than Making Decisions – The Best Part!

Choose Image_0Choosing is so much better than making decisions! That’s what I heard from the Lord one morning!  (Read last blog) Many people struggle with the concept of “decision making”; some refuse to make decisions; some reluctantly make them; and some complain, moan, or groan while making them.

Making decisions can be hard especially since the disapproval from others can make us second-guess or doubt our ability to make decisions. So the idea of choosing instead of making decisions can really be refreshing. I’m not saying making decisions is bad or ungodly, I’m just saying choosing is so much better (because that’s what Holy Spirit said).

imagesMaking decisions doesn’t necessarily commit us TO our decision; it doesn’t force us to invest or take part IN our decision. In fact, some people say no decision is a decision but that really means nothing either because we still don’t have to “do” anything with our non-decision. On the other hand, choosing commits us to our choice; it’s a conscious action on our part forcing us TO participate IN what we’ve chosen, and forcing us NOT TO choose something else.

Choosing is so much better than making decisions because THAT’S what God does. He chooses! Deuteronomy 7:6-8 “…the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples but because the Lord loves you…”

God didn’t “decide” to be in relationship with His people. That sounds sort of “cold” doesn’t it? No, He chose His people for Himself and THAT solidifies our relationship with Him! He chose His people to be a special treasure to Himself not because of any reason other than His love. (For you theologians out there I realize this speaks specifically about the Jewish nation but praise God, we Gentiles have been “grafted” in so…we are chosen John15_16-300x225too.)

Jesus Himself tells us He chose us and if that doesn’t make you want to shout “Hallelujah” I don’t know what does! John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

chosenWe GET to go, live, love, and laugh because He chose us. We get to be blessings to other people because we ask and we GET! By His choosing we become His own special people. That is breathtaking! 1 Peter 2:4,9 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

ChooseThisDay-1024x768There’s only one response to God choosing us – Choose Him! Then proclaim Him to the world!  Choosing to serve and live for the Lord is not a decision we make; it’s a choice based on His irrevocable choice! Joshua 24:15 “’And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

In the next few verses the people explain to Joshua they intend to choose the Lord their God. They proclaim His faithfulness to them in freeing them from bondage, Who did great signs in their sight, Who preserved and protected them, Who fought for them! They said as did Joshua “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

Then Joshua reminds them their choice commits them “to” serve God and “to not” serve other gods. It is an “all or nothing” deal!  He says in verses 19-20  “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”

The people “GET IT”! They are suddenly acutely aware they cannot do both. They need to make a choice! Verse 21 “And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’” They can make this choice because the Lord their God had already chosen them. They needed to reciprocate! Joshua continues in verses 22-24 “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’”

Their choice committed them to not only obey and follow God but to put away everything else in life they had chosen. See, choosing really does commit us “to” some things AND commits us to “putting away” other things! And THAT’S a good thing!

So today, take some time to remember His faithfulness and how He has set you free in Him. Remember and consider all the great signs and blessings He showers on you every day; how He has preserved, protected, and fought for you.  And then…Choose life! Choose blessing! Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

deuteronomy-30-19After all, we GET to choose because He chose us! Don’t fret about making decisions! Start choosing instead! Choosing is so much better than making decisions!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Life, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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There is a Time for Everything – Live in the Time You are Given!

A television preview for an episode of a science program about the possibility of bringing people back to life to experience the future, highlighted a man saying, “I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my death.”  This one simple statement captured and kept my attention, not leaving my mind for weeks, flooding me with thoughts about death and the future.

We live in a world of extremes when it comes to life and death. Most people have an innate desire to fight for life while a few have no fight left! “Disease” riddles our society, forcing people to make tough choices as to whether or not to endure grueling treatment plans hoping for a cure. This choice in itself is often polarizing as people have different opinions about what is best in each scenario. We often make character judgments based on choices. For example if someone chooses to “go through” treatment they are thought to be strong while the person who chooses “no” treatment might be criticized for “not being willing to fight”; or accused of “being careless” or “giving up” unless of course we’re dealing with the elderly who’ve lived long, full lives. In that case, we might deem it appropriate, as some say, to just let nature take its course.

All this to say, there’s a myriad of thoughts and opinions about our desires concerning life and death, about sustaining or discontinuing life, each coming with its own package of motives, ideals, and beliefs. Why some people grab hold of every possible prospect to live while others would sooner die than live one more day on the earth is a complex and ultimately unanswerable paradox.

 “I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my deathtaps into the desire to do what seems impossible; to live and not die; to physically see the future, to extend life beyond what is presently doable, to control our own destiny. But it also raises the question about what future do you want to see? There is always a future to any future so which one a person wants to see and who ultimately makes the decision to “refresh” their “preserved” body makes for a questionable future for those people.

I would never pretend to know or understand the motives, thoughts, or reasons behind this mindset. But I do find it to be an intriguing subject for Christians to ponder, worthy of our time and attention because it affects how we live in our present AND our future!

When all the thoughts which had flooded by mind receded, there was one phrase remaining; “I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my life!”  This “wanting” mindset likewise taps into a desire to do the impossible, to live and never die, to see the future, and to extend life beyond this world. The difference is, as a Christian, I have no desire to “control” my own destiny, only choose the direction by choosing Christ Jesus as He has chosen me!

We’ve probably all heard the cliché “I don’t know what my future holds but I know the One who holds my future.” From a “Christian” perspective this slogan is meant to give comfort and assurance concerning our future here on earth. But unbelievers feel Christians just use this as a crutch to “convince” ourselves all is well when in reality, we fear the future. They may be more accurate than we give them credit for because the truth is, if we believe in Jesus Christ, we not only know Who holds our future but we know what our future holds!

The Lord thinks about us and our future! Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Now THAT is a future I want to live to see! And we will when our hearts are set on Jesus and the eternity He has established for us.

But there is a “catch” in these words from the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. We must believe in God’s thoughts, trusting in Him for peace, not being deceived by our own thoughts and dreams or what others might tell us. Jeremiah 29:8-9 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name…”

Too often, we live for what we “hear” in this world or what our own dreams reveal to us. Those are false desires. God knows His thoughts toward us for our future, and He promises they are thoughts of peace, not evil. His thoughts give us a future and a hope. That’s a done deal! THEN, when we believe these thoughts, we will call upon Him! We will go and pray to Him (and He listens)! We will converse with Him! We will trust in God! We will seek Him, not seek the future. We will find Him not someone or something else! But ONLY, when we search for Him with all our heart!

Without Jesus, our future is uncertain. Well, we can be certain we live and then we die, no more and no less. That’s why the Good News of the Gospel is imperative to share with others because it gives the reality and certainty of seeing and living in the future! This is one of the most hope-filled, heart-warming truths of our Christian faith though one of the least talked about and celebrated ones!

See, the longer Christians live, the longer we wait to die and truly live! We aren’t in control of life and death so the question is, “What are we doing until we die so we can live”? Are we truly living? How we spend our time living “today” affects our outlook and our future. Romans 14:7-8 “For none of us lives to himself, and on one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Isn’t that a beautiful truth, living and dying “all out” for the Lord?

Paul experienced this same conflict of life, death, and the future when he said in Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Living is very, very good but dying increases what is already good! To live IS Christ to die IS gain! Living and dying IS! We must die to gain more than what already “is”! That’s some really good news! It’s now easy to see how we can say, “Yes, I want to see the future! The only thing holding me back is my life”, when we believe and live in Jesus! Our desire is to depart and be with Christ, knowing death opens the door to the future, and life holds us back from death. BUT, we also know remaining in the flesh might be necessary for the time being! Sooo…the contemplation of life, death, and the future isn’t new, but some people spend their life trying to find ways to physically live in the future!

This isn’t a news flash but let me remind everyone the future is tomorrow! Duh! But I say it because the future, our tomorrow, can cause some real problems for people! We can get real strung out about “tomorrow” or living for the future instead of living for today! We might say we only “look forward” to the future in hopes it will be better than the present, without realizing we often miss out on “today” as a result!

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

That pretty much sums up tomorrow! This “worry” is not just about fear or trepidation of what is coming tomorrow, but also includes being overly concerned or focused on tomorrow, thinking about it and making provision for it! Instead we should take care of today, which of course, demands its’ own time and attention because of trouble. We spend too much time thinking about what “will be” instead of what “is”!

Whether I live today or tomorrow, whether I live for today or live for the future, whether I think death is keeping me from my future or life is keeping me from my future, one thing is certain; we are only truly “alive” today! Jesus says don’t worry, waste time, focus on, or long for tomorrow because it will do its own worrying! We should just “let” tomorrow happen and spend “today” living!

Today, tomorrow, the future…there is a time for everything! We need to focus on what time it is in our lives each day, making the most of any and all the time we are given. Ecclesiastes 3:2 “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. Verse 11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

Note that God has put eternity in our hearts so our longing for the future is God-given! However we need to know and see that “no one” can find out the work God does from beginning to end. It is enough to know eternity is IN our hearts, without needing to find a way to experience the future, without needing to see the future while here on earth! Will we let eternity reside without trying to make it happen? Will we accept whatever time it is for us in life, and not long for a time that isn’t meant to be right now?

I hope, if nothing else, I’ve given you something to think about today and you won’t be held back from living by life, death, or the future! Live fully for today and let tomorrow take care of itself! To live IS Christ! To die IS gain! If you’re reading this you’re alive! Just live!

 

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