Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Think About What You Think About DVD Bible Study Sale!

You've heard the phrase that our computer age has generated: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Well, it's not only true of computers; it's also true of our minds. 

One important element in creating a right thought life is to carefully guard what you put into your mind.  If you put garbage into your mind, your thought life will reflect that input.

What do you read? Trashy novels, trivial magazines, secular newspapers? Do you spend more time reading God's Word and good Christian material than you do reading the world's literature, even if it's not necessarily evil? You will never change your thinking if you're reading trash, or failing to read the Bible consistently with top priority over all other reading.

What do you listen to? Are you soaking up the world's music? Much of the lyrics are absolutely evil.  Those lyrics get into your mind. What kind of conversations do you listen to? Do you subject yourself to off-color conversations, gossipy conversations, critical conversations? Your thinking won't change with that kind of input going into your mind.

If you will change the input into your mind, you'll be amazed how your thinking will change. Of course, an essential is the Word of God, poured into your mind regularly and systematically. Scripture memorization is a fantastic way to program your mind correctly. Good reading has helped me immensely. 

I simply can't over-emphasize the importance of guarding your mind closely. The world we live in is full of garbage, and we've become desensitized to it. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. 

For right thinking we are promised two wonderful things in Romans 8:6: "The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."

Life and peace.You can't buy them, you can't earn them, you can't manufacture them. They come to you as a result of having a mind set on the Spirit of God, having a thought life that stays carefully within biblical boundaries.

This is such an important Christian principle, that I’ve written a book on it and now we’ve produced a DVD Bible Study entitled Think About What You Think About. I am convinced that in my own life, the pathway to freedom and joy is to learn to think about what I think about and bring my wrong thought patterns into the captivity of Jesus Christ.

This new DVD Bible study is available and you can use it individually or in a group setting. It includes seven lessons, and is designed to be easy to use, with my commentary on the DVD for each lesson and a participant’s guide for discussion. And it gives you much more help in how to be set free from the wrong thought patterns of your life. Believe me, whether you realize it or not, you may be suffering greatly because you’ve developed some truly wrong thought patterns and they are holding you in bondage.

I can testify to you, as one who is still learning this principle, that it makes wonderful differences in your life. I hope you’ll consider getting this very reasonably priced DVD Bible study, perhaps using it in a small group setting or on your own. I truly believe it will help you apply biblical principles that can be a true turning point in your life.  The Think About What You Think About DVD Bible Study is on sale this week at 20% off. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Defeating Discouragement

Have you ever had an experience like Alexander from the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? For me, it has been a terrible, no good, very bad few months.  

Now discouragement is something I don’t feel very often, but all these little problems are starting to cause a feeling of defeat in my life. Thankfully, I recognized early on how I was feeling and saw my need to rely on God through this trial. But during this time I have to constantly remind myself to turn to God to sustain me and not earthly things.

In Mary Whelchel’s Bible Study Defeating Discouragement she focuses each chapter on someone from the Bible who has been discouraged. It was so great to read that I am not the only one that wants to run away and sleep all day when facing tough situations. It’s been going on for thousands of years!

Elijah (1 Kings 18:36-40) needed rest in the middle of his struggle and ate for health to continue his journey for Christ. How important is this to realize that rest is needed while facing trials and so is eating for health. I often feel guilty when I rest b/c I have a long list of “to do’s” running through my head and yet, after reading this story, it was comforting to see it is not a sin or laziness to “rest” when in the midst of the storms in our life.

God also led Elijah to Elisha (1Kings 19:19-21). Elisha was Elijah’s encourager to keep on going on.  I want to encourage you today, wherever you may be, to pray and ask God to bring an Elisha into your life to help love you through whatever trial you may be facing. 

"Hope is one of the missing ingredients in our lives when we are discouraged. God wants us to have hope, and that’s why we have the written scriptures. They give us hope. Therefore, as you and I study these godly people of the Bible, it will build our hope and faith.”  Mary Whelchel

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 1: 4

For more helpful and biblical advice on how to defeat the discouragement, you may be facing now, order a copy of Mary Whelchel’s Bible Study Defeating Discouragement.  Our Bible Studies are on sale this summer for only $5.  Take advantage of this deal by calling 630-462-0552 or order online.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Become a Barnabas on the Job

Become a Barnabas on the Job

Do you have a nickname?  Often we get stuck with nicknames from our childhood, or sometimes people will pin a nickname on us based on a certain characteristic, and it may not necessarily be flattering.  However, there is one person in the Bible who was given a nickname because of a very wonderful trait.  His name was Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement.  You’ll read about it in Acts 4.

Imagine people calling you a name that signified you were an encouraging person.  I can’t think of a greater compliment, can you?  I want to show you how you can become a Barnabas in your workplace; you can be known as a person who encourages others.  A good friend, Traci Mason, has compiled these ideas and allowed me to share them with you.

Now, mind you, this will take some time and effort on your part, but the return on your investment will be eternal!

So, here are some practical ways you can become a Barnabas where you work:

Ø  Write notes.  Handwritten notes are almost extinct.  Keep a supply of note cards and encourage colleagues by placing a note on their desk, in their mailbox, or in their hand.  It’s easy to make personalized cards on our computers now; so get creative and write a note just to encourage someone.

Ø  Send e-cards.  It’s really easy to send an e-card to your coworkers just to let them know you are thinking of them.  You can even send the same card to multiple addresses.  Employees receive messages that make requests and give instructions.  They would surely welcome something more pleasant in the in-box, and an e-card would be a pleasant surprise. 

Ø  Remember birthdays.  Find out the birthdates of coworkers, put them on your calendar, and simply give each coworker a birthday card to help them celebrate their special day.  I’ve begun doing that for the women in my church, and we send out birthday cards here too, and I’ve been amazed at how many people are encouraged to receive a special birthday card—and it’s so easy to do!

Ø  Smile!  Did you realize that by a simple smile you could cheer someone up and encourage someone?  Smiles are contagious and can brighten the atmosphere where you work.  When talking to or passing by others, just turn up the corners of your mouth and flash them a radiant smile.  Costs you nothing, and it could really make a difference in someone’s day.

Ø  Greet people!  As you enter the workplace, greet coworkers with a simple, “Good morning.”  You never know the energy it took for others to arrive at work.  A pleasant greeting can start a person’s day off right and possibly help them forget about their troubles.

Ø  Be the Welcome Committee.  When a new employee joins the staff, introduce yourself and offer to be of assistance.  Help that person find his or her way around, offer to have lunch together.  Think how comforting it could be to that new colleague, because being the new person can be challenging and a little frightening.

Ø  Share your lunch.  Purposely take more than you can eat for lunch and invite a coworker to eat with you.  Or if you baked something special and have some leftovers, bring it in for others to enjoy. You could go the extra mile and ask them ahead of time to share lunch with you the next day.

Ø  Offer to help your boss.  That’s what I said—offer to help your boss.  Instead of running from work or assignments, ask your boss what you can do today to help him or her, especially if you know that your boss is under a lot of pressure.  Bosses need help just like everybody else, yet often they are overlooked.

Ø  Be sensitive to the sniffles.  Working while you’re sick isn’t easy.  When those in your work environment suffer with colds, give care packages.  Items such as cough drops, soup, tissues, tea or peppermint will provide relief and help them get through the day.

Ø  Acknowledge good work.  Even if you’re not a manager, you notice when coworkers do good things, and often they are not acknowledged.  You could acknowledge it with a word, or an email, or a written note, just to let them know that someone notices the effort they put into a job and it was appreciated.

Ø  Offer to pray for a coworker.  There are many times when a coworker shares a worry or concern with you, either personal or job-related.  Instead of allowing it to degrade into a griping or gossip session, simply offer to pray for that person.  You may not be able to pray at that moment on the job, but you can assure them that you will remember that situation in prayer.  I believe you’ll find that some coworkers will begin to share prayer requests with you when they realize that you’re willing to pray for them.

Ø  Listen.  If a coworker wants to share a problem with you, take the time to listen and give that person your devoted attention.  Obviously, you need to be careful not to take advantage of time you should be working, but a listening ear can be one of the most encouraging things you can do for a coworker.

Ø  Be a good employee.  It’s not always easy to submit to your boss, but that is what Christians in the workplace are to do.  When given instructions, follow them—unless they would cause you to compromise your integrity.  Remember, you are working for Jesus and he is your true boss.  Just being a good employee will be encouraging to your boss, if no one else, but it also sets a good example for others.

Ø  Take second place.  Be willing to be the last in line, to take the worst seat, to let someone else take credit.  That’s not easy to do sometimes, but it’s the servant attitude that Jesus had, and we need to have it as well.

Ø  Apologize.  If you’ve made a mistake, done something you should not have done, said something you should not have said, own up to it as soon as possible and simply apologize.  A friend of mine says the biggest difference between her and her coworkers who are not believers is that she apologizes more than they do!  Well, an apology can go a long way toward relieving tension in relationships, and it will indeed be an act of encouragement.

I often think of that old song, Home on the Range, where never is heard a discouraging word!  You remember that song.  Well, wherever that range is, it’s not where most of us work, is it.  So, we need to become Barnabases—people who refuse to be discouraged, and instead, offer words of encouragement to those around us.  It’s what Jesus would do, and we need to be his ambassador right where we work.

This should be a trademark of a Christian—to be an encouraging person.  And whether you have the gift of encouragement or not, we can all learn to be encouragers.  I trust these simple ideas I’ve shared with you will cause you to stop and think about what you can do to be a more effective encourager—to be a Barnabas in your workplace.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Be A Risk Taker!

Are you a risk taker? If you were to talk to any successful person in any field, no doubt they would tell you about some time in their life when they took a risk. They exposed themselves to failure and maybe even ridicule, but that’s what it took for them to be successful.

You know, as we live our lives for Jesus, there will be times when we need to take a risk, move out of our comfort zones, attempt something that looks difficult, yes, even run the possibility of failing.

I wonder how many of us are missing out on so much of what God wants us to do and the blessings that come when we obey, simply because we’re not willing to take a risk. Obviously we should always proceed with prayer and caution.  But my friends, if you’re afraid of any risk, you will simply never do all the good things that God has put you here to do. You’ll miss so much of God’s blessing in your life.

In his insightful booklet, Risk Is Right, John Piper says his aim is to explode the myth of safety and deliver us from the enchantment of security, because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. None of us know what the next moment holds, not to mention tomorrow. God never takes any risks because he knows the end from the beginning, but we don’t and God doesn’t tell us. He intends for us to live by faith not by sight, and so our lives are risky. 

God is looking for believers who are so in love with him—soul, heart and mind—that the risk doesn't scare them—or if it scares them, they go ahead anyway! When God is opening a new door and I know he wants me to take the next step, I usually feel very overwhelmed, inadequate, and just plain scared.  Scared of the risk of failure, scared I won’t be able to do it, scared I’ll make a fool out of myself.  But I just tell God I’m scared, give my fear to him, and take the next step.

John Piper says, “Doing nothing needs forgiveness as much as doing the best you can and erring.”  It is right to take a risk for Jesus.

Regardless of what God is leading you to do, I can promise you it will be bigger than you are, and it will be risky.  It will require you to live by faith and not by sight.  It will test you and frighten you, but that’s where the blessing is, where the abundant life is.  Don’t miss it.  If God is for you, who can be against you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Work Principles from King David - Principle #10

Principle # 10:  Hard times offer opportunities for great growth.

If I asked you what was King David’s greatest moment for God, you might first think of how he killed Goliath. But I would propose to you that the way David handled his years of running from Saul and living in caves were truly his shining moments.

For all those years that David had to live like a fugitive, he must have wondered if he would even survive, let alone rise to the throne.  It would have been easy enough for David to doubt God’s promise to him then.  That ceremony when Samuel anointed him as king—that must have seemed like a dream during those cave years.

I think David’s greatest moments are those times when he had an easy opportunity to kill King Saul, who was trying to kill him, and he refused to do so because he knew it was wrong to touch the Lord’s anointed king, and Saul was still the king.  His soldiers urged him to take advantage of his opportunities to kill Saul; they even suggested that God had set it up for him.  But David would not violate his conscience and do something that went against his principles.  To me, those are David’s greatest moments for God.

It was those cave years that shaped David’s character and built into him a strong commitment to do what was right.  It was those cave years that produced some of his most powerful psalms, words that have comforted millions through the ages.  It was during those cave years that David learned a lot about leadership and motivation, as his small army of misfits had to be made into a fighting force. 

If you are in the midst of some hard times right now, have you asked God what He wants you to learn through these difficult days?  Paul wrote to the Galatians: "Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing?"  Everybody has hard times, but not everybody learns from them and grows through them.  That is our choice–will we become bitter or better?

I pray that your hard times will produce great growth in your life, and you’ll see your ashes turned into beauty. 

I hope you’ve found these principles from the life of King David helpful to you.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Work Principles from King David - Principle #9

Principle #9:  Jealousy will ruin you.

Proverbs 27:4 tells us that “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”  Who indeed? King David learned how difficult it was to stand before jealousy.  As we look at principles from the life of King David, this one stands out strong:  Jealousy will ruin you.

Saul’s jealousy of David led to his ruin.  And it was unfounded jealousy, irrational jealousy.  But it so obsessed him that it led him to acts of insanity and periods of deep depression. 

True, David enjoyed some fame after he killed Goliath, as the women sang, “Saul has killed his thousands but David his ten-thousands,” but there was no reason for Saul to be worried about this young man.  After all, Saul was still the king, and he should have been greatly relieved to have the Goliath problem solved.  So why all this jealousy?

Jealousy springs from insecurity and/or discontentment.  If you are insecure about yourself, if you don’t have full knowledge and confidence of who you are in Christ, if you are discontented with who you are or where you are or what you are doing, you become an easy target for that green-eyed monster, jealousy.  And it is a monster!

Jealousy made Saul miserable, and it will do the same to you.  Jealousy caused Saul to act like a spoiled brat, to make a fool of himself, and to behave in a very immature way.  And it will do the same to you and me.  Jealousy causes people to imagine things that are not true and to obsess over them.  It makes people suspicious and causes wrong conclusions to be drawn. 

Proverbs 6:34 says, “For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” 

Saul brought on his own destruction by his jealousy, which made him so furious that he repeatedly tried to kill David with his own spear, and then launched a campaign with his soldiers to track David down and try to kill him. And eventually it took over his mind and drove him insane.

Who can stand before jealousy? Don’t let one twig of jealousy take root in your own heart.  It can drive you crazy!  Appreciate how God has created you and ask God to teach you to be content with who you are and where you are.