Stay on Your Toes!

Distractions interrupt every part of our lives, including our spiritual lives. As Christians, we have a purpose: to be in a personal relationship with God and live that out in our daily lives. Many things can distract us from doing that. As wonderful and cool social media has become, it can also be a major distraction in our life. From Facebook to Twitter to any gadget that begins with the little letter i, let’s face it, our ‘face-time’ with another human, or more importantly-our God, can become extremely limited. I’m not saying that these things are bad or evil, but I do believe that too much of ‘anything’ can be harmful. I pray that I keep my priorities straight and recognize that it could be a potential stronghold in my life if I let it.

Many other things distract us from our spiritual walk with God – our busyness, our stuff, our problems, even the good things in our lives.  Christmas shopping is upon us and I love to buy gifts for my family and friends, which is a good thing, right? However, if I focus all of my time (and money) out shopping for that perfect gift, and I neglect ‘face-time’ with the One and Only Reason we celebrate Christmas, it is not a good thing. We must constantly be aware of God’s presence and His workings in our daily lives. If we are aware and stay on our toes then we can try to minimize the harmful distractions so we stay on course as we follow God.

While there are some distractions that are harmful for us, God sometimes uses distractions to get us to stop thinking about what we think is right and start thinking about what He says is right.  Saul believed that persecuting Christians was the right thing to do. He thought God was pleased with his actions. God had to get his attention with a dramatic distraction that changed the course of his whole life (and the lives of many others!). The more stubborn and passionate we are, the more dramatic God may have to be to get our attention.

Some distractions are clearly bad for us because they take our focus off what we should be doing. We need to discern between a distraction that should refocus our attention and one that should not.  If a distraction is mainly about us (it tempts us to do wrong or to disregard a commitment), then it is not a good thing.  If a distraction is mainly about others (it allows us to help someone in deep need or it provides a teachable moment), then it is a good thing.  If we set clear goals for how we will serve God and manage our day and then we focus on those goals, we will be less likely to get sidetracked by harmful distractions.

Distractions bombarded Jesus all the time. But He didn’t see them as distractions; He saw them as opportunities to save the lost and to help someone in need.  A distraction can become a divine opportunity to show someone the love and care of God.  Sometimes God interrupts us for good reason.  Don’t miss a chance to help the people God brings to you. Stay on your toes!

(excerpts taken from “The Complete Book of Life’s Questions with Answers from the Bible”.)

Healthy Confidence vs Unhealthy Pride

We are born into this world thinking the whole world revolves around us and all the other people are just paying rent to live in our world. Many of us have parents that told us we were the best, the cutest, the smartest, and the greatest at anything we did. Why would we want to believe anything else! In fact, we, ourselves as parents, have told the exact same things to our beloved children. From the moment they become a part of our family until forever, we want our children to think the best of themselves. If taught correctly and in healthy exhortation, with the grace of God, our children will attain a healthy confidence.

I believe we, as parents, are to be their role models. If we live our lives before them not as cocky , selfish, pompous elitists , but as broken and humble servants looking for opportunities to help others; then, most likely, they will do the same as they grow into their confidence through the years. It must start in the home though. Afterall, God gave us these precious children to love, nourish, and disciple. Let’s encourage them to embrace who God created them to be.

Healthy confidence is a realization and an assurance that God loves us, that He has given us talents and gifts, that He wants us to use those gifts for Him, and that He has given us salvation and eternal life in heaven. This gives us complete certainty that our life can have meaning, now and forever.

Unhealthy pride results when arrogance and cockiness are substituted for healthy confidence. Thinking we can make it without God and failing to seek His help are the warning signs that confidence has turned into pride. Self-promotion will get us nowhere but into a deep, dark hole of depression with no friends to enjoy the success we made for ourselves. If we promote ourselves, then we are the ones responsible for the outcome. I can probably bet that that would not be a life we would want to live with all the stress and burden of having to live up to that. If we let God promote us, then He is the one responsible for the outcome. He’s got my vote! Just think how peaceful we all would be if we just let go and let God.

Wisdom in the Race

“Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.” Ecclesiastes 7:12 NLT

I love to watch the Summer Olympics. My favorite part is watching the track and field events, mostly track, no field. When I was in junior high, I was on the track team. I ran the 100m sprint, 200m sprint and the mile relay. My coach said that I looked like a prancing horse when I ran. After all, I was one of the tallest girls in my class and I was finally proud of my long legs. I took it as a compliment and ran my best in every race. My team did very well those few years that I ran and even though I never won any individual awards, I was honored to be a part of a successful track team. My zeal for running waned tremendously as I grew older. I never got it back and to this day, I can honestly admit that I hate to run but I must jog to keep my heart healthy, so I do…sometimes.

I remember that before a track event our coach always told us to drink plenty of water so that we’d stay hydrated and eat carbohydrates for energy. If we didn’t, we’d get dizzy, have leg cramps and basically would be no good for the race. You see, you must ‘prepare’ in order to run a race well. I wonder in our own individual spiritual race how many times we approach the starting line unprepared?

Proverbs 3:21-23 declares “My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, and ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.”

Sound judgement and discernment are medals that are ours when we walk in wisdom! I find that extremely exciting! Wisdom is the footwear that each of us needs to wear in order to run the race God has for us. The road may not always be flat and the route may not be easy. In fact, you can bet it won’t. God warned us that we would face trials, adversity, and attacks; therefore, we must choose our reactions wisely and be prepared. We must keep running when tough times come. So, how do we do this?

First, we ready our hearts by hydrating ourselves every day with the Living Water of God’s Word. Next, we feast on our Daily Bread through worship, and last, we rest in the shelter of the Most High by investing time in our relationship with Him. This is the fuel we need to replenish us with faith, hope and encouragement. God has given us everything we need to run the race. It’s up to us to prepare so that we gain victory in the tough times and finish strong!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

Justice for All

I admit it! I love watching those legal shows. You know, the ones about people getting justice. I’m a justice-kind-of-girl. I get it honestly, though. My father was a police officer for 23 years, so I grew up always wanting for him to get the bad guys and put them away. My mom has been a legal secretary for many, many years and she’s always been fascinated with the legal system and how it works. She had high aspirations to become a lawyer, but never pursued it. In fact, I have entertained the thought, as well. I love discovering facts and helping prove a person’s innocence, but I wouldn’t do so well in the lying department or helping a guilty client.

Although, I have a high regard for justice in our legal system; the ones that I am most concerned about in receiving their justice are the children who have fallen victim to trafficking. Some of their parents have sold them into the industry for money or they have been kidnapped. My passion is to spread awareness and raise funds to help stop this most tragic crime. These precious children have had their childhoods stolen from them. Can you imagine not experiencing all the fun and exciting things you did as a child? Some of the joys that I experienced as a child like taking a trip to the zoo, going to see a movie, playing hopscotch, jumping rope, making mud pies, building houses out of pine straw, making animals with play doh, my first happy meal from McDonalds, and celebrating my birthday have been stolen from these precious children. They are kept in a tiny little room in a run-down building. They share this room with many other children who are required to service as many as 20 clients a day.

The statistics are horrendous and unfathomable. Child trafficking is a $32 billion industry! The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring. 52% of those recruiters are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women. In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim and in 46% of cases the recruiter was known to the victim (from the International Organ. for Migration). According to UNICEF, as many as 2.5 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. 300,000 children in our very own country are at risk every year for commercial sex trade according to the US Dept of Justice. That’s right. This unspeakable crime is happening right under our noses, in our own backyard. The Denver and Dallas airports are two of the major hubs for transporting trafficked children. It’s time for us to become proactive and do whatever we can to stop this.

When I first heard that this was going on internationally and also in the US, it was overwhelming. It shook me up. It wrecked my heart. I cried a lot. I began to pray and ask the Lord how I could get involved. I searched the web for a trusted organization that wanted to stop this horrific crime. I came across Stop Child Trafficking Now founded by Ron and Lynette Lewis. I read all of their information on their site and then asked our Missions Pastor what he thought of them and then I looked at their website and their board members and found that one of my husband’s new friends was on the board! Our Missions Pastor agreed that they were legit.

I was so excited to get involved! This organization raises awareness and funds to send special operative teams into the places where this unthinkable crime is happening so they can arrest the predators. Stop Child Trafficking Now “believes strongly that to eliminate this crime the demand for children must end. That’s why SCTNow seeks to destroy the source. SCTNow believes that by putting predators behind bars, we can Stop Child Trafficking Now.”

When we, as concerned citizens, simply decide to do something it ignites the power of one life. You can make a difference as one. I made a choice to partner with SCTNow to be a voice for the ones that have had theirs stolen. This is what excites me!! No longer can we sit and cry and hope that something will change. We cannot just dismiss it and think that someone else will deal with it or that it’s just too overwhelming. Where’s the justice in that? Where’s the compassion? Those children still have hope that someone will rescue them. How can we take away their last bit of hope?

You can do something. Think about all of your friends and everyone that you come in contact with every day. If you would just tell one person and that person told one person and so on, think of the damage we could do to destroy this billion-dollar industry. Just about everyone wears a silicone bracelet to show support for a particular cause. I went online and bought 20 white bracelets with Be a Voice…Stop Child Trafficking embossed on them to hand out to people who want one and also, to give as an extra little trinket in a birthday gift. That’s just another way to spread awareness. You’d be surprised how many people do not know anything about child trafficking.

Also, to help raise funds, SCTNow is sponsoring a community walk around the country Oct 2-3rd. Please visit www.sctnow.com and check out where the closest city walk is located near you. Last year over 8,000 people participated in the very first annual walk and raised over $600,000 to end child slavery. That’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it? Just think…YOU can be a part of that this year! The power of one life is truly amazing when you realize that you really do have the power to do something extraordinary with it.

Together, one by one, we can have Justice For All.

Stop the Whining and Start Praying

So, this past spring I started working out really hard to get my 42 year old body back in shape and healthier.  I try to fit cardio and weight training in my schedule at least 5 times a week. It’s so easy to put on my walking shoes and enjoy the beauty of His creation. When I walk alone, I take time to have a conversation with God and I thank him for all of the blessings in my life lately. After all, this is just not a physical walk, it’s a spiritual walk.  Many times, He’ll put a song on my heart and I’ll sing it to Him.  These are very precious moments with my Savior that I just get lost with Him. 

Now I can’t say that all of my walks are like that.  On some walks I cry out to him for unanswered prayers.  One day I was feeling really frustrated and impatient with something going on in my life that just hadn’t happened yet.  I was waiting for Him to take care of it, but it was taking too long; therefore, came my weariness and doubt.  I began to tell Him my reasons and thoughts as to why this issue needed to be solved already.  I gave Him an earful that day!

It’s during times like this that He always reminds me of Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (NAS) and then I like the way the Message Bible states it so emphatically: “Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him.”  In order words, quit your fussing and whining and get to praying!

Now walking with my tail tucked between my legs, I humbly obey His word, get quiet, pray and….wait.  After all of my worrying and frustration, I realize that this situation is totally out of my control.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to get the ball rolling.  I must trust and obey that God will take care of it all in His timing.  I suspect many more lessons will be learned along the way. *grin*

Freedom from Rational Strongholds

Freedom from Rational Strongholds

 

(Excerpts taken from “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” by Rick Renner)

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 states, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. …We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

 

If we want to be free from every stronghold of the enemy in our life, we have to understand that there are 2 kinds of strongholds: rational and irrational.  The rational ones are the most difficult to deal with…because they make sense!

 

When talking about ‘taking every thought captive’, Paul refers to rational strongholds.  The greek word for ‘imaginations’ is logismos, which is where we get the word “logic” as in “logical thinking”.  A sound mind must be submitted to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; otherwise, your mind will develop a stronghold of ‘natural’ reasoning that starts to let all kinds of lies in your life dictate what you do.  Your logical mind will always try to talk you out of obeying God.  It will tell you that you can’t afford to obey the Lord and that it isn’t a good time to step out in faith. Your natural mind will come up with all kinds of logical reasons to explain why you shouldn’t do what the Spirit of God is telling you to do.

 

I experienced this about 12 yrs ago when we were living in Amarillo TX before we had children.  We had been trying to get pregnant from 1991-1998 but to no avail.  We had tried artificial insemination 3 times with no luck. Our money had run out, too.  So we took a break from it for a year and started saving our money again for the next try.  In May of 1998 Brady got a call for an interview with a television station in Monroe, Louisiana and we both thought, “Wow! We could live close to our families again, only 30 minutes apart!”  We started getting excited about that opportunity and looking at how all of the pros outweighed the cons in our ‘logicial’ minds.  Then we began to pray about it and Brady told me on the way to the airport that if this was God’s will for us, then he’d know immediately when he walked in the building and sat down for the interview.  Well, much to my dismay and brokenheart, he called me afterwards and said that this was not God’s will for us.  The company had not made a decision on whether to hire him or not, but he felt compelled to let them know that he was no longer interested.  We were sad for a few days, but really trusted the Lord that He had something better for us.  

 

That ‘something better’ turned out to be our son, Abram Neal Boyd!!  You  see, if we had disobeyed God and followed our own ‘logical’ thinking and moved back to Louisiana, we would have missed out on God’s promise for us to have children!  In July of 1998, that same year, just 2 months later, we found out about the opportunity to adopt a little boy who was to be born in October.  We were able to use the money we had saved on his adoption! It still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.  Satan will try any and every little trick in his book to distract us from hearing the Lord.  

 

Most of us knows what the Lord declares in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”, but do we really believe it?  If we constantly give in to rational strongholds, and do not start to recognize them and denounce them, then it seems for sure that we don’t believe this declaration from the Lord.

 

I am so thankful we did not walk in our flesh and move just because ‘it made sense’.  We would have missed out on not just our first child from the Lord; but also, our second child.  Both Abram and Callie were born in Amarillo TX.  Both were adopted at birth and both are the greatest blessings in our life!

I Thank God for You!

Ephesians 1:16 “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.”

So how long has it been since you gave thanks for the loved ones God has placed in your life? To take it further, how long has it been since you spoke those words to your loved ones? Well, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we all know that ‘love’ is celebrated on that day whether it’s for your spouse, your family, your friends, or that special someone in your life.

The number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually is approximately 200 million, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (Christmas has 1.9 billion) (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)

Wow!! Compared to Christmas that’s not a lot of cards with heartfelt love going out. I wonder why that is. Now I know that some of it could be because you can send a FREE card via the internet now, but how many of you appreciate a card that you get in the mailbox more than an e-card? For me, I’d have to say a card that I receive in the mail means that the person who sent it really took the time to pick it out just for me. They chose to go to a store and read hundreds of cards before they found just the right one. (OK, maybe not hundreds.) But you see, time is valuable and so when someone chooses to use that time for me, it’s always precious to me. I have a dear friend who does just that. Actually, I have many dear friends who do that, but this friend continues to do it even though we’re many miles apart now and not only does she send me a card on special occasions, but she also sends cards to my children on their birthday. She has taken love and thoughtfulness to a whole new level. I wish that I could say I do this for all of my loved ones today. Truth is, I used to many years ago, but life got so busy that I stopped and I started sending the e-cards (at least I remembered to do that). ☺ I guess you could say that the Lord gently reminded me through my dear friend to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and to take time for the ones that I love and that are special to me. My friend doesn’t know how much her actions have encouraged me. (I think I’ll send her a card to tell her just how much.) ☺ Thank you, Peach!

Won’t you join me in taking time to thank God more often for your loved ones and better yet, take time to thank them more often whether by snail mail, email, a phone call or a visit? Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day that we celebrate our love for our loved ones. ☺ Let’s celebrate love all year long!

p.s. In case you’re wondering, I’m getting a delicious meal at Pappadeaux’s with my 3 valentines this year. ☺

Live Out Loud

After reading some of my son’s emails that he has sent to a few recipients i.e. my parents and a couple of children’s websites, I noticed that he writes just like he thinks…straight and to the point. There is no gray area with Abram, it’s either black or white. You definitely do NOT have to wonder what he’s thinking; although, sometimes I DO wonder where he comes up with some of his thoughts. The Lord reminded me that this special little guy loves to live out loud. We all should take note and love to live out loud!

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song about it. One line of his lyrics is “This is the life we’ve been given, made to live out, so…live out loud.” Wow! What a great quote! The Oxygen channel even uses Live Out Loud as their slogan. I believe that most of the shows on the Oxygen channel are reality shows and they go to the extreme of ‘living out loud’. This makes me wonder if we, as Christians, truly live out loud in reality. If we had a reality show, what would it look like? Would it be staged like all of them are on TV already or could you be truly yourself with cameras coming at you from every angle?

Here’s another thought, if we lived out loud serving the King of Kings would we be content and satisfied with our life? Ralph Waldo Emerson has an interesting quote about that. He states, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Paul instructs us how to produce the satisfied sense of well-being that should encompass a Christian’s life in Ephesians 5:15-17 “Therefore be careful how you walk; not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” When we feel good about life, about who we are in Christ, what we are doing for the Kingdom, and where we are headed, honorability and compassion become a big part of our character. We desire to make a difference. There is an overwhelming sense of joy that cannot compare to short-term happiness.

An unthinkable, most horrific crime that is rampant in the US and abroad wrecked my heart in Jan of 2008. I couldn’t believe what my friend, Lisa Bevere, was telling me about the child trafficking that she witnessed in Thailand a couple of years ago. Child trafficking? It was even more horrible than what I thought it was! And, it was going on right here in the U.S., in our own backyard! After feeling sick in my stomach and crying my eyes out over these precious children, I began to pray and ask the Lord how I could get involved to help stop this billion dollar crime. Lisa has an organization that she founded called Pearl Alliance that helps to raise funds and awareness to rescue these precious children of God. Lisa has become a dear, trusted friend over the past 2 years. She is full of wisdom and courage and great tenacity to see this industry come to an end. In a recent address to America on Anti-Trafficking Lisa states, “More than stocks & bonds, the children of this nation are our greatest wealth! Their present and future safety…our only hope of lasting legacy. The oppression and injustice we tolerate for others will over take us all if we remain silent. I am passionate because I’ve not only heard…I’ve seen, so I speak my passion. In the name of all that makes us humans created in the image of God, how can any of us remain silent when the voices of so many children have been silenced?”

Her passion and courage is contagious! Please visit her website PearlAlliance.org to see how you can get involved.

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