Be Resilient Like a Chicken Nugget

Friends and I were laughing as one shared the hilarious story of “slinging food” at her children on a Wednesday night on the way to church, because as a school teacher, she leaves school at 4:45, goes down the road to pick up child #4 drives across town to pick up her other day three children and husband from home, drives through fast food to get everyone chicken nuggets and make it on time to Wednesday night church! 😂 We all laughed till our sides hurt as she shared all the “mom tactics” to having children clothed and in their right minds with a dinner in their tummies, and her own self in her right mind; so, they could behave and have fun while in the evening program. One of the statements she made was, “Let me tell you. Those chicken nuggets are resilient! They bounce off windows and don’t splatter. They are easy to handle for little fingers. You can get the 20 for $2.50 and have change to spare, too!”

It was such a comical moment, and, honestly, I’m not a great fan of chicken nuggets, but our kids loved them in their early years, and that simple statement made me start thinking…

Chicken Nuggets ARE resilient! We could learn a lot from that little nugget…

1. They are crunchy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. It’s ok to have a little tough skin to survive through life’s ups and downs, but be sure to stay soft on the inside. Keep your heart humble and your soul full of grace and love. Don’t be so tough on the outside that you harden all the way through. Nobody wants to encounter all that.

2. They don’t fall a part easily. In this day and age, we’ve got to have a little strength to who we are to survive. We can be, and need to be, cushy soft on the inside to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patient and with those other fruit of the Spirit. However, all the hyper-sensitive, can’t disagree with someone for fear of “hate speech” actually makes us a weak people and a crippling nation. Toughen up, people. Be resilient and live life full of strength and grace!

3. They come in large quantities for inexpensive prices. Be able to give the good parts of yourself away to lots of people and don’t be too demanding of what they give back. Now listen, I’m not giving you permission to be used and abused. If you tend to be a doormat, please understand, this point isn’t for you. What I’m talking about is giving your love in a hug, an encouraging word or time spent with a friend. I’m talking about sharing laughter, making a memory or spending time with those you love. Share these things in large quantities, and don’t be demanding of a condition to be met for you to share it. People need to know you care.

4. You can’t eat just one. Be the kind of person who is contagious, magnetic and engaging to those around you. Be the sort of friend others aspire to be. Be the type of leaders others seek after. Be the person of whom others just can’t get enough.

5. They are great in just about any sauce or condiment. Diversify your tastes, your likes and your knowledge. Extend your horizons. Learn something new. Try, taste, or even listen to something different than before. You never know, you might like it, and you may even find a new friend along the journey.

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Well, that about sums it up.

Seriously. 

Candy, Anyone?

Be soft … not fluffy … not squishy … not not brittle … not chewy … and not hard. 

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Cotton candy is fluffy. It really has no substance, no depth, no strength of taste. It’s just super sweet and evaporates rather quickly. Marshmallows are squishy. They are great in hot chocolate or melted in s’mores, but they are so squishy and weak on flavor, it’s hard to eat more than one or two. 

Now, peanut brittle can be rather tasty, but it’s so brittle (pun intended), breakable and cracks so easily, it can leave behind an incredible mess. On the other hand, caramel can be rather chewy and filling, except it’s so sticky, if you’re not careful, it might just remove a filling! Once it’s stuck to something, it can be very hard to remove. 

Hard candies can be tasty, yet they can be so unbendable, unyielding that they can damage your teeth, and once hard candy is broken, the edges can be sharp and pointed, having dangerous edges, almost like glass. Some even like licorice, but it seems a little lacking in flavor and is so leathery and tough, there’s not much point in pondering long with it. 

However, chocolate seems to be a universal delight. Some of the most expensive “candies” are listed as chocolate. Chocolate is smooth, soft, and pliable. It is known to be the “candy” that brings about good feelings and will uplift a mood. 

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Chocolate can be both diverse and traditional. It is incredibly tasty and can have an endless number of things added to it to even enhance its flavor. Chocolate can be thick and powerful, or it can be creamy and comforting. It can be consumed in large quantities or tiny little bites, either way, the feelings of warmth and happiness remains the same. Chocolate has been said to be a taste that can touch the very soul of a person. Simply put, chocolate is very hard for most to live without. 

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Have you ever looked at a piece of candy and compared yourself? If you were to choose a piece of candy from this list, which might you choose? If you had to compare one of these to your own personality, your attitude and your life story, which might it be? 

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Let us always seek to be soft in words rather than hard, smooth in action rather rough and leatherlike. May our lives be known as smooth and delightful, comforting and strong, making a powerful impact wherever we go, such an impact that those around would pay a high price just to have one moment with us. 

Let us always seek to touch the soul instead of the heart, because the soul is the depth of the sea, but the heart can change like the tide. For, Jeremiah reminds us, “Deceptive above all things is the human heart.” May we always seek to be the one thing which it’s hard to live without. 

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Lean On Me

I had a ladies board meeting, with 6 other women, this past week and another leadership meeting, with ten of them, at the end of September. They are all incredibly different from me, and yet, we have so much in common. I said to them, “It is amazing and such a blessing to be in a church with a group of ladies who can be so strong and confident in the person God has called them to be, and at the same time, be so humble to love, accept and help one another to become a great team who works together in unity.” We didn’t become this kind of team by chance. It has taken a lot of love, a lot of grace and a lot of truth to bring us to this point, and most of all, it has taken us being there for each other when someone hits a “low spot” along life’s journey.

In Galatians, Paul tells us, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ…Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” I wonder, how well are we carrying one another’s burdens? I’m not talking about just being all caught up in this one’s latest drama or that one’s most recent crisis, and I’m not referring to how much gossip we can share with our neighbor. I’m talking about genuinely carrying a friend’s burden, coming along side that person who is hurting and weary from the journey and helping to share his load.

I’m talking about taking about taking the load, NOT upon ourselves, but joining in prayer with that person, and helping her to lay that burden at the feet of Jesus and helping him to see a ray of sunlight through his storm. Maybe it’s a note of encouragement, maybe it’s a little gift, or maybe it’s just sitting by her bedside for an hour simply sharing in the moment, even when you could really be a thousand other places getting a something done. 


This is the kind of burden-carrying that fulfills the law of Christ. This is the kind of load-lifting that reveals His love to the world around us. When He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It wasn’t just a cute cliche. It wasn’t just a nice follow-up statement to His command to love Him first.

He loves each and every one of us, because we are His children, regardless, of our differences or similarities to each other. He longs for us to love each other as He has loved us. One of the best ways we can do this is to pray for one another and help each other with the loads we carry. The more people who help in lifting a heavy load, the lighter the load is for each individual.

To Make A Dream Come True

Inspiration + Perspiration   =  

A Dream Come True

Okay, can we just get REAL for a moment? Dreams don’t just happen because we dream them. Dreams don’t become realities simply because we wish them so. Yeah, I know the world of Disney and Hollywood would like to have you think so. (No offense to both!)  No matter who tries to tell you otherwise, dreams take a lot of planning, hard work along with your inspiration to make a dream come to reality!
An Olympic runner doesn’t cross that finish line in first place simply because he dreamt about it when he was eight years old. A CEO doesn’t become a multimillionaire, because he lives his life in indecisiveness. A government official, small business owner, military officer, author or even an NFL player doesn’t become who they are just because they wished it into existence. No, a dream has to be inspired, first, but then, it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to bring it into existence.
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I think we rob this next generation, sometimes, by giving them all the materialistic things they desire, skip them through grades like their playing hopscotch and loan out credit to them like it’s water, because when you become an entitled people, you become selfish in your ethics, self-centered in your approach to community and demanding of all those around you to provide for your every whim and desire. You believe the world owes you something, rather than, believing you owe the world something. In turn, you kill the very abilities to dream and aspire plans and strategies to make those goals happen.
dream2America was founded upon people who had a dream. It has survived by having people who aspired to be great. However, it only become a great nation by being nurtured and pioneered by those who were willing to toil, sweat and even die for the dream they held within their hearts. So many gave up so much to make the great nation America has always been known as.
I know that in recent years, this vision of our country has been fought hard against, and there are many who would try to debate this notion of America being great. However, I will contend if America isn’t so great, then, why on earth are so many who don’t live here still desperately longing to come here, even by illegal methods? If America isn’t so great, then, why do so many despise the freedom, justice and pursuit of happiness that we enjoy here? But, I digress. That argument is for another post for another day…
The fact is simple, and it remains to be true: if you have a dream, and you want it to come true, apply some hard work, and you can make it happen! You may have to make some changes. You may have to acquire a great leader in your life, and you may have to overcome some incredible obstacles along the way, but if you dream it, AND you work hard to achieve it, you CAN make all your dream(s) come true!
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Not Equipped

A couple of years ago, we had a truck that had off road suspension, but it did not have four-wheel drive. However, we found ourselves going straight up the side of a mountain in this truck…or at least we attempted to. My husband tried to get the truck to cooperate. The front tires went up, but the back tired started spinning in the mud, and we started sliding backwards. He tried once more, and more sliding occurred. All the while, I am holding my breath, because I can visually see, in my mind, the whole truck getting completely vertical and then flipping straight over, with all four of us in tow! He tried once more with the same results; so, he allowed the truck to roll backwards, and we didn’t go up that hill, because our truck simply wasn’t equipped to do so…

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I think, sometimes in our Christian walk, we can find ourselves in this same predicament. We are attempting to go up and over a mountain that we, in our human strength, are just not equipped to travel. We try, and we try, and we keep ending up with the same results: sliding backwards or, if we push it too far, flipping over into a ditch! We are not equipped to travel some mountains, because God hasn’t yet prepared us, we’re attempting to go over the wrong mountain, or we are simply attempting it without His help!

There are many things in our faith that God has to prepare us, strengthen us and teach us before we are ready to face it. When we get ahead of Him, we end up making a mess of things, and often, we walk away from the trial, bruised and wounded when we didn’t have to be. Waiting on God for our preparation only undergirds our cause. If you’re in the middle of a process, but you long to jump ahead, can I encourage you today? Just wait on Him. He will bring you to that mountain at His proper time, and when you follow His lead, He will give you the exact tools you need to conquer it!

Sometimes, we are trying to climb a mountain that God never called us to climb. It might be someone else’s mountain. It might be a “mountain” in our past that we keep trying to hold on to, but He has already forgive and told us to move beyond. It might be a mountain that we want to climb over, but it’s not the direction in which He is leading us. If we will listen to and follow His voice, rather than our own, we will have plenty of mountains to trek upon without challenging ourselves with the ones at which we’re not suppose to be!

Other times, we have simply attempted to scale a mountain without His help. Just as my truck didn’t have four-wheel drive, there are times in our lives, when we try to accomplish things in our own strength, and we leave Him behind. Then, we find ourselves worn out and burn out, wondering where God is and why isn’t He helping us through this.

If we are to climb the mountains that we will surely face in this life, we must be prepared, we must ascend the right ones, and we must have His assistance and lead to conquer them! With God by our side, there is nothing we can’t accomplish, and oh, the view (and rest) we will receive once we reach the top!

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Dangers In The Pew

Ok, so, this post won’t, necessarily, be for everyone out there, and if you have not been in leadership, and/or you haven’t been in church for a very long time, this probably won’t even be of interest to you. However, I came across these notes the other day, and I was reminded of the book by Pastor Jim Bolin titled, “Recognizing the Spirits That Hinder the Flow of God.” I thought it might be helpful to those readers who are pastors, leaders or even church members who want to be a benefit to your church family (and pastor) rather than a hindrance… 😉

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Often times, sinners aren’t the ones who destroy the church, well-meaning Christians do. Everyone of us who call ourselves part of the Body of Christ should be aware of this fact and shield our hearts from this temptation. We were not created to be dividers of the body. We are here to love God, love people, and show them the way to Him. Every one of us, the longer we serve Christ, the easier it is for Satan to use us. If we are not vigilant in our prayer life, of sober mind in our walk and of humble spirit and attitude, we can easily grow comfortable on the pew and be led astray. The Word says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” He wasn’t kidding, and He didn’t have this written simply for our enjoyment of reading…

 

Some of the most dangerous people in the Body of Christ are the ones who think they could never be used by the enemy to hurt, deceive or push away from the cross another believer (or nonbeliever, for that matter), but if he or she is not alert and cautious, anyone can be used. Look no further than Scripture to see this proof. There are seven spirits that, if left unconfronted and ignored, can kill revival and essentially destroy the body of believers (you can look up these characters in the Word to read their stories):

Cain – spirit of murder: killing people with our words, back-biting, slander and gossip.
Balaam – spirit of false doctrine: remember, “If it’s true, it isn’t new, and if it’s new, it isn’t true!”
Kora – spirit of rebellion: full frontal assault against authority: They get a team together to fight their cause. They never want to meet with authority alone. They bring a reproved, organized group.
Absalom – spirit of disloyalty: this is a whisperer at the gate who brings disloyalty against the one placed in authority.
Jezebel – spirit of control: this one doesn’t want to lead, he/she only want to control the leader. Commonly, this is referred to as a woman, because Jezebel also will use seduction as her tool. However, a man can operate in this spirit, as well, because he “seduces” the leader by threats of withdrawal if confronted.
Leviathan – spirit of confusion: this is one who twists words, heard and repeated, in a twisted way. You can never reason with Leviathan, because, as an octopus will “ink the waters” to confuse it’s prey, leviathan does the same thing in conversation.
Pharisee – spirit of righteous judgment: this is, perhaps, one of the most dangerous, because this is when Satan convinces you that all your manipulation and control is helping the church. A Pharisee will throw stones at sinners and saints for the sake of religious tradition. The longer we serve God, the sweeter we should become. We should have a gentle and gracious spirit. Pharisees will throw rocks, make judgements and live by their opinions of the Word rather than the living, breathing Word of God.

When we believe we should hold a position that we don’t have, Satan can lead us to rebellion. We’ve got to figure out what position God has called us to and do it well, regardless, of where we believe we should be. Once we allow rebellion in our heart, we will allow one of these spirits to run rampant.

So, what’s the cure? How do we avoid these issues where we are?  The Word speaks pretty clearly: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

Submit to God, for feelings follow actions. Change your behavior and your feelings will follow. If we will respect the positions set over us, our actions will follow. Let us see the king in those over us in the Lord, even before we “feel” like they are king. Look no further than the story of David and Saul. David was anointed king, but he didn’t touch God’s anointed (King Saul), because God never gave him permission. God fought his battle and rewarded him for his faithfulness and submission! 😉

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What’s Your Talk When They Walk?

You can’t change someone else, their brand of crazy, their attitude, or even their perspective or opinions. They are who they are, and you are who you are. Only God does the changing when we yield to His hand. Expecting change and then getting angry when it doesn’t happen is simply a recipe for disaster and misery.

 

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Yet, we all do it, don’t we? If you’re in leadership, I can almost guarantee you do this, unless, you’ve mastered the art of waiting patiently for God to “do His thing.” It’s tough to work alongside someone day in and day out, see their flaws, be convinced of what they need to change, suggest needed change, and then fail to see any successful change, isn’t it? Honestly, it can be downright aggravating, frustrating, really! Although, it can be quite a challenge to pour into someone all that you have within and still watch them walk away, we must remember Christ went through this very thing.

Jesus spent hours, days, weeks and even years with Judas Iscariot. Judas stayed with him, ate meals with him, visited the sick with him and even watched him heal and deliver the bound. Yet, in the end, Judas still chose to betray Him and walk away. He chose to walk away from Jesus’ love, forgiveness and promise of hope.

Jesus, also, spent the same amount of time, and more, with Peter. Peter stayed close by His side. He was one of the three who went to the Garden of Gethsemane with Christ. Yet, when it came to down to the heat of the moment after Christ’s arrest, Peter denied even knowing the very man who had saved him. Thankfully, there was a moment of clarity later on for Peter, and he returned to Christ.

Let us never believe we are better than our Master, our Lord and Savior. If He had people walk away, we will, too. It’s how we handle these moments that will determine our success or failure in leadership. Do we let them walk away without a word, or do we confront? Do we confront with love or cruelty and hatred? Do we pray for them after they leave, or do we simply bash and gossip about the wrong choices they obviously have made?

 

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Let us always trust God is still in control even in the midst of our disappointments. Let us always turn to Him in the middle of our hurt and anger over someone walking away, and let us always follow in His footsteps of loving confrontation followed by prayerful concern for that one who left.

We never know who might be spurring us toward our destiny or who will, eventually, come back to join us in the journey.

 

Where Are You Leading Them?

millstoneLet us never lead a little one to stumble. I have found that this Scripture can be interpreted in so many different scenarios. Literally, it can mean leading small children away in their faith (or in other things, for that matter). It can, also, mean distracting new converts from their new commitment to God’s calling, and it can even be mature Christians being directed down the wrong path by prideful, egotistical or ambitious fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

As Christians, we must be so careful not to lead “little ones” astray from the Word of God and from what He has in store for their lives. The Bible says it is better for a millstone to be wrapped around your neck and you thrown into the depths of the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble! In case, you don’t know what a millstone is, it was one of the large circular stones used to grind grain in grist mills years ago.

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When we are called into leadership, when we are called into teaching capacities, and even when we are placed in situations by God to help someone learn more about Him, our number one goal should be to lead them closer to Him not away from Him! We can only do this as we seek His face and listen for His answers to their questions and wonderings.

Whether we are a parent, a mentor, a teacher, or simply a friend, we should never take lightly a position of influence in someone else’s life. We should boldly walk in the authority He gives us but never because of our own wisdom, strength or abilities. We should approach it with buckets full of humility and grace, lest we get filled with pride and lead one of His precious ones away from what He has in store for them.

Let us be ever prayerful and ever mindful when it concerns someone who is impacted by our words and deeds. Let us always be humble and full of grace, and never let us take lightly the positions of leadership and influence He gives us in someone else’s life.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42

 

The Closed Roads of Yesterday

There’s a song I’ve been listening to this week that I just can’t seem to get out of my head. It has some incredible lyrics…

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacked. The future feels so hard, and I wanna go back.

The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned. Those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.  – Sara Groves

Her song is referencing the story in the Bible of the children of Israel who were delivered from their years of slavery in Egypt; however, once they found themselves wandering in the wilderness, they whined and complained, longing for their days back in slavery…

I think, too often, this is so true for our lives. When we are growing, transitioning from the old to new, sometimes, it can feel uncomfortable, even painful, to keep moving forward. The changes and transitions it takes to mature can cause us to long for those “easier” days of our past. They can even cause us to “glorify” those yester-years, forgetting the reality of what once was true. Yet, what we fail to realize is when we’ve grown past those days of which we’ve so beautifully painted, they just don’t seem to fit like they used to.

It’s just like many young adults growing into adulthood. They may long for those glorious days of their youth, but they can never really return, no matter how much they try to regress. They may act silly, playful, even completely irrational, but they’re only left looking a fool, because those childish acts just don’t fit, and they simply cannot become a kid again.

She says in another place, “…caught between the promise and the things I know…” It can be so difficult when we are trying to reach for the promise of our tomorrow, but the comforts of yesterday are screaming at us to return, and the present just doesn’t seem as great as we once envisioned. Sometimes, it can feel so tempting to back up, “take a breather,” and not work so hard to achieve whatever goal it is that we’ve set before us. However, can I tell you something? Too often, when we back up, when we turn around from where we’ve been headed, and we try to return to those more comfortable moments, those places that used to feel good, we realize even those don’t actually feel as good as we thought they did. Something’s missing; something has changed, and what has changed is US. We are no longer the person who used to fit into those experiences, those places from whence we came, and those roads of the past are simply closed.


 It’s just like an old jacket or dress from our early teen years that we try on once we’ve grown up and even had a few kiddos. We might be able to put it on, but the sleeves might be a little short, the ends might come a little above our waistline, or the fashion is one that just can’t quite make it to today’s standards. It just doesn’t fit anymore, because we’ve grown beyond the point when we could wear it comfortably. We’ve grown beyond when we needed it. In order to keep growing, we must put it away, or even better, we must get rid of it. We can cherish the memory, but we must press forward to a better purpose, a higher calling, a brighter promise!

If we’re going to continue growing, this is just how life is. We can’t return to those things of old, those things which we’ve grown beyond. If we are to be champions of the faith, we cannot return to our past time and time again. We cannot dabble in those things that cloud our vision and hold us back. We must press forward, and take hold of those things to come, even when they’re challenging, even when they are uncomfortable and make us long for those “easier” days. We must walk away from those closed roads of yesterday, and take hold of Jesus and allow Him to mold us, shape us and develop us into being who He has called us to be.

We must, also, learn to say with Paul, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:7-9a, 12-14

Sara Groves – Painting Pictures of Egypt from 2nafish on GodTube.

**I did not take this pic, nor do I own this pic. Simply looked up and going through Google images.**