Why? Where? What?

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In these last few weeks, the terrible tragedies in our nation have surfaced heart-felt questions from many people:

Why would God allow this?

Where is God when these things happen?

There are no easy ways to answer these questions. Even Job in the Old Testament came to the conclusion that there are certain aspects about our circumstances we simply can’t comprehend. But there is one question we can answer:

What does the Bible tell us about God’s heart?

In the midst of our sadness and grief, there are many truths about God which we can hold onto in our lives. I want to mention two:

God brings comfort in our pain. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) His presence is with His people even in the midst of tragedy. His Spirit is our comforter and healer and is a very present help in time of need. God doesn’t promise us a life without tragedy, but He does promise to be with us through the hard places.  David wrote,

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

God gives us hope in our despair.  The Bible refers to God as the God of Hope. If He can bring hope from the tragedy of the cross and the brutal death of His Son Jesus, He can bring hope and redemption to our lives as well. We may not be able to see it now. It may take time to work through our grief, but He always brings hope. The ultimate hope He has given us is to be in heaven with Him one day.

Paul prayed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13) As you walk through grief or questions, my prayer is that His Spirit will bolster you with a hope and a peace that the world cannot comprehend.

 

I encourage you to search the scriptures yourself and find comfort, wisdom and strength in getting to know the God of the Bible. 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Pit

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Ever felt like you were in a pit? When life or emotions seem to bring us down, it is difficult to see anything but the pit in which we dwell. Interestingly, did you ever notice that there are several instances in the Bible where people were in literal pits? Think about it. Joseph was thrown in a pit by his brothers and then eventually sold into slavery. Not the Plan A Joseph had for his life. And then there’s a little known story about Benaiah who ended up in a pit with a lion. Seriously! The Bible tells us that Benaiah was a valiant warrior and performed many great exploits. The prophet Samuel recorded, “Benaiah struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion (2 Samuel 23:20).” Now that probably wasn’t on his schedule of things to do that day either.

David described God as the one who “redeems our life from the pit. Now perhaps you have felt as though your life or your day was in the pits and you could see no hope, no redemption and no way out.  I suppose that’s how pit-dweller Jeremiah felt. Jeremiah was one of God’s prophets who was thrown in a pit as a result of simply proclaiming what God told him to say. That doesn’t seem right! There he was obeying God, and he was thrown in the pit. Take a look at how low this Old Testament prophet must have felt as he wrote, “The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.”

But Jeremiah didn’t call it quits. He was able to keep his eyes on the Lord despite his circumstances. Here’s what he said after describing his situation, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’ The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him (Lamentations 3:19-25).”

Now there’s a person who has their eyes in a positive direction!  He’s not dwelling on his dismal circumstances in the pit, instead He is dwelling on the Lords faithfulness. His sight is going beyond what he can see, and looking to the hope of what a faithful God can do.  How’s your eyesight? In one of his most fearful moments David declared, “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34:5).” Oh for the faith to look past the dark clouds of despair and see the sunlight of God’s faithfulness peeking through to bring us comfort and hope! May He be your strength today.

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This is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women on sale this month for $5. 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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Why Do You Worry?

Relinquish Your Worries

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Worries and fears can pop into our thought-lives as constantly as the pitter-patter of a spring rain. Whether it is the kids, the budget, the job or even the small stuff, each day is filled with opportunities to worry. It takes a deliberate effort to turn our thought patterns in a new and faith-filled direction. I like what Charles Spurgeon wrote about worry:

“Why do you worry? What possible use does your worrying serve? You are aboard such a large ship that you would be unable to steer even if your Captain placed you at the helm. You would never even be able to adjust the sails, yet you worry as if you were the captain or the helmsman of the vessel. Be quiet, dear soul – God is the Master!”

I like Spurgeon’s boat analogy. It reminds me that I’m not the one steering the ship – and what a relief that is! God is not only master, He is with us. I think about Jesus in the boat with the disciples as the wind and the waves overwhelmed their vessel. Jesus was with them the entire time, yet He allowed the storms to come to show that His power is greater than our storms.

Spurgeon went on to write:

“Do you think all the commotion and the uproar of this life is evidence that God has left His throne? He has not! His mighty steeds rush furiously ahead, and His chariots are the storms themselves. But the horses have bridles, and it is God who holds the reins, guiding the chariots as He wills!”

Our God is still the Master! Instead of trying to hold on to the worries, hold on to Him. Remember His unfailing love for you and listen to His voice that continually says, “Don’t be afraid”  (Matthew 14:27.

Press on Through the Challenges

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Bad starts don’t always determine how you finish. I’ve had a few rough starts in my life, and I’m sure you have too. Take for instance the one and only marathon I ran back in my college days as a student at Baylor University. When I lined up at the starting line of this momentous marathon race, I somehow didn’t realize there would be thousands of other people joining me. I guess I assumed there were not too many people on this earth who would choose to run in a 26.2 mile race. Well, let me just tell you there were so many people that I couldn’t even see the flags marking the starting line.  I began the race way, way, way back in the pack, and it took what seemed like an hour just to get beyond those first flags. Of course I couldn’t even think about stopping to tie my shoe or taking a look behind me. One false move and I would be trampled by thousands of Nikes.

Eventually the crowd began to thin out, and I worked into a pretty confident stride until I began to face new challenges like blisters in places I never imagined a person could have blisters and my socks feeling like sandbags around my feet.  Four hours and thirty-two minutes later I crossed the finish line with a smile of victory and a hearty sense of accomplishment (and relief).  I made it! I can’t begin to describe the feeling of excitement I experienced in knowing I set a goal and achieved it. The point is, I didn’t have such a glorious start to the race, but through persistence and perseverance there was a grand and sweet outcome.  At dinner that night we celebrated my triumph with family and friends, and of course I fell asleep in the middle of my mashed potatoes.

No doubt it is easy for any of us to become discouraged when we have rough spots in our lives, especially if they happen at the beginning of our journey. Maybe your marriage started off on a negative note, or your career got off on the wrong path or your childhood years were a disaster.  It could be that you simply had a bad start to your day and you felt defeated even before you got out the door.  The good news is, no matter how you start your journey, the beginning doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome. There are tremendous possibilities up ahead. Sometimes we must press through the challenges and keep our mind on the goal.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Forgetting what is behind me, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God is calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” God has a wonderful purpose for you here in this world. The marathon may get tough at times, but don’t give up. Press on.  God is not finished, and He has a plan that is bigger than your troubles. What may seem like a mess, could simply be the beginning of a beautiful masterpiece.

Remember, God is the God of hope, and He brings redemption to even the worst of situations. This week let your mind be filled with hope and possibilities as you face both victories and hurdles. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

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This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. Check out Karol’s DVD on sale for $5 only during the month of March!