Connecting Through Conversation

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One of the most important ways for us to engage with our culture is to encourage healthy conversation instead of shutting down conversations. How do we shut down dialogue? By failing to listen. When we are willing to listen to people God’s puts in our path and converse back and forth, we open up the possibilities for building into the lives of others. It’s easy as Christians to think it is our duty to set everyone straight and let them know where they are wrong. Jesus wasn’t afraid to engage with sinners. He asked questions. He loved and did not condemn. He showed us what it looked like to engage with the culture by reaching into the lives of people who needed His love.

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” He went on to say, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6). So how do we speak the truth of God’s Word, while lovingly reaching out to the culture around us? We must be both gracious and wise in what comes out of our mouths, recognizing that those who do not know Christ do not see life through the same perspective.

Theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer wrote, “Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.” Often Jesus answered a question with a question. Questions can help us get to the heart of the matter and lead people toward truth. Recently I had an e-mail dialogue with one of my readers that went something like this.

 

            Reader: Do you think ___________________is a sin?

Me: Why do you want to know?

Reader: I want to know if God is mad at me.

Me: Why do you care if God is mad at you?

Reader: I want to know if I am disobeying Him. I don’t want to feel far away from Him.

Me: If you care about what God thinks about you, then you don’t need to know what I think about that sin, rather you need to know what God says about it.

 

I then led her to the passage in Romans 3 that reminds us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We all have a sin problem, and yet God in His loving-kindness provided the solution to our sin problem through Jesus Christ. I led her to passages in the Bible about Jesus, so that she could understand His love and mercy, as well as His righteousness and His desire for your life. You see, we need to lead people to the love of Jesus first, because without Him, picking out this sin or that sin is meaningless and unfruitful. When someone is inquiring about sin, they either sincerely want to know what God thinks about sin, or they are trying to get you to say something so that they will feel offended (and sadly this is usually the case).

The message of the Bible is simple: We all fall short of God’s glory, and we all need Jesus. Our objective is to argue less and point to God more. Often our words can be misunderstood or not received in the spirit which we give them. The most important thing we can do is to refrain from surface-level disputes and instead get to the real issue of the heart. Ask questions, listen, engage in conversation, and lovingly lead people to the core issue of Christ’s love. Remember how Jesus handled the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees brought her to Jesus wanting Him to condemn her. Jesus wisely and gently responded by pointing out the fact that all have sinned. We all need Jesus. Our job is not to cast stones at sinners; our job is to point to the gospel of salvation.

Instead of condemning, we ought to be engaging and shining the light of Christ. Our first objective is to live biblically and examine our own hearts and motives, repenting and seeking the Holy Spirit’s help in living righteous lives ourselves. As we humbly reflect the love of Jesus in our words and actions, then we have the platform to lovingly share the gospel with a world that desperately needs Him. Am I willing to step out and touch the people who are different than me, just as Jesus did? It all comes down to asking ourselves, “Am I willing to take the time to engage in conversations and build relationships with those who need Christ?”

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This is an excerpt from Becoming a Woman of the Word. Click Here for more info.

Five Steps to a Happier You

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We all tend to define happiness in different terms. For some, it’s a euphoric feeling when circumstances are ultra-fantastic. For others, happiness may be on the scale somewhere between joy and delight when we are with people we love or in a job for which we are passionate. Still others, may define happiness as a clean bill of health or a pain-free day. Whatever your definition of happiness is, you don’t need to wait for the right set of circumstances to experience it. Here are five positive steps to help you create your own happiness right where you are.

 

Gratitude Journal – Begin a daily routine of writing down at least five things for which you are grateful.  Be specific and think about the people you met or the small joys you experienced over the last 24 hours. Go one step further and consider the blessings you can find in the challenges you are currently facing. Your mindset and perspective will begin to change as you choose to focus on what is good in your life, rather than what is frustrating to you.

 

Kind Actions – If you want to do a happy dance, do something to make another person happy. When you elevate others through your words or actions, you can’t help but experience a sense of delight. Whether it is a smile, or holding the door open or helping a co-worker or neighbor with a project, when you give kindness it will be returned to you in heaping doses of happiness.

 

Regular Exercise – Get up and get moving. Whether you go for a walk in the park, grab a short jog on the treadmill or stretch and do Pilates on your bedroom floor, exercise has a proven track record of releasing endorphins (the happy hormone in your brain) and providing a release from stress. As you form a habit of exercising at least five days a week, you will not only feel better physically, but you will experience emotional benefits as well.

 

Alone Time – In our overconnected culture, we rarely have time alone to relax, think and pray. We must take deliberate measures to disconnect from technology and have some time to communicate with God and listen for His direction. Stillness rejuvenates our soul. Set aside at least ten minutes a day to put away your phone and devices and spend some alone time with the Lord. Praise Him for His greatness, listen for His direction and cast your cares at His feet.

 

Forgiving Heart – In my opinion, one of the greatest robbers of joy and happiness is a bitter heart, filled with unforgiveness. Every day we have new opportunities to forgive others because every person we encounter has a few flaws or shortcomings. As followers of Christ, we reflect His forgiving nature as we forgive others. Release your resentments into the hands of a just and understanding God. He will heal your wounds and set you on a new path of freedom.

 

Start this week with a new mindset! Fear, anger, self-doubt or a critical spirit are just a few mental attitudes that diminish our joy in life. Identify the negative attitudes that you are allowing to dominate your thinking and make a deliberate effort to change your focus. Begin to live with a mindset filled with victory and hope, rather than defeat and negativity. Apply these five steps to your daily life. You don’t need to sit around and wait for happiness to happen – you can begin the journey on the road to happiness now.

 

This is the last week to order A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living DVD for $5 only available on her website. Click Here for more details.

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https://positivewomanconnection.com/books/#monthlyspecial

How Deep is Your Faith?

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When the Robersons moved into a house not too far from ours, we were thrilled.  It’s always fun to have dear friends living close by, and especially if they give you their trees. Let me explain. You see, they didn’t like the landscaping around their house and wanted to get rid of a few Savannah holly trees. Being the kind and thoughtful friends that we are, we volunteered to take the trees off their hands and plant them in our own yard.  Wow, what a deal!  Free trees!  We found just the right spot for them.  Our house backs up to a pleasant little creek, and so we planted them near the creek to enhance the beauty of the area. Five lovely Savannah hollies lining our creek! We were so proud of ourselves.

The water in our creek tends to rise when we have a rainstorm, and boy did we have a gulley washer one night right after we planted those hollies. On the morning after the storm, we woke up and looked out our window toward the creek. Hmmm, we wondered, what were those large holes in the ground? Wait a minute, and where were our hollies? Three of them were completely gone! Yes, swept away! We had another storm soon after that, and guess what. The other two were swept downstream too. Oh well, easy come, easy go.

Now if the hollies had been given the time to take root in the ground they may have stayed around, but since they were newly planted there was nothing to hold them in the ground as the water rose and the current flowed. If you have ever watched flood waters rise, then you know the strength and power of the water’s current.  It will sweep away anything and everything that is not deeply rooted or firmly founded in the ground. In a moment, large objects can be swept away and carried for miles downstream. The same is true with the flow of life and the current of our culture.  If we are not deeply rooted in the truth of Christ and the assurance of His love, we can easily be carried away by the latest philosophies or our own whims and feelings.

There is a constant flow of ideas that “sound right,” and “seem good” in our culture today. But we must know The truth – God’s truth.  Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31,32).” As we hold to God’s teaching and are rooted and built up in Him, then we will be free from the pull and drag of man-made rules and fine sounding philosophies. Here is Paul’s encouragement to the Colossians:

 

Colossians 2:6-8

 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

 

No more shallow Christianity! Let’s be intentional about letting our roots grow down deep into Christ as we study His word and get to know Him. We don’t want to be guided by the latest fads or our finicky feelings. When we get to know what the Bible has to say about Christ, our faith is made strong to weather the storms of life and discern the philosophies of our culture. Take some time to read God’s Word for yourself each day.

 

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from Karol’s book A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

Check out this month’s $5 special, Karol’s DVD on the topic.

https://positivewomanconnection.com/books/#monthlyspecial

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Who is Jesus?

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Holy Week brings our focus in to who Jesus is and why He came to this earth. God doesn’t want us to be confused about Christ. Jesus Christ’s deity is central to our Christian foundation and beliefs. If you believe that Jesus was just a nice man or a wise prophet or a good angel, then you are missing the very essence of Christianity. Paul, in His letter to the Colossians, made it clear that Jesus was all man and all God. There is no one else who fits that description. Christ is the one and only God in human form. Immanuel, God with us, sent to this world to offer His life for us.

In Colossians 1, we see one of the strongest statements in all of scripture as to the divine nature of Christ. He is supreme over all creation and over all spiritual beings. He is the one who created us and sustains us. As this passage paints a true picture of Jesus in vibrant color, I see the power and the beauty of the One in whom I have placed my trust.  I know I can safely and confidently place my life and my future in Him. Here’s what Paul wrote about Jesus:

  • He is the visible image of the invisible God.
  • He is the firstborn (supreme) over all creation.
  • By Him all things were created.
  • He existed before everything else began.
  • He holds all creation together.
  • He is the Head of the church.
  • He is the firstborn of all who will rise from the dead.
  • In everything He has the supremacy – He is supreme over all, the first in everything.
  • All God’s fullness dwells in Him and through Him.
  • God reconciled all things through Christ, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross.

Take a moment to ponder each of these descriptions of Jesus throughout the week this week, and praise Him for who He is.

 

Praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God three in One.  There is no other.  You are the God of all creation, the beginning and the end.  Loving, Merciful, all-wise God, all glory and honor belong to You. You are before all things, and by You all things exist. Thank you God for caring about me.  I am honored to be called your daughter.  Glorious God, thank you for letting me know you through your son Jesus. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, You are the One Who was and is and is to come.

 

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from Karol’s book A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

Check out this month’s $5 special, Karol’s DVD on the topic.

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