Shaped Outside-In or Inside-Out by James A. Harnish

When it comes down to it, Paul is pretty well convinced that there are two options for our lives. One option is to be squeezed. We can allow our lives, our values, our attitudes, our convictions, and our relationships to be shaped and formed from the outside in by the forces of the world around us. The other option is to be transformed. Our lives can be remolded, reshaped, redesigned from the inside out by the wind and breath of the Spirit of God.

Paul hangs those options out in front of us. With great passion he calls for our response. Therefore: because you know the mercy and grace of God, because you’ve seen how God loves lost, disoriented, confused and broken people, because you know how God’s love has been made real for us at the cross, therefore, for God’s sake, for your own sake, don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold. Rather, let God remold your life from the inside out so that you may demonstrate in practice the good, acceptable, loving, life-giving will of God for you.

Paul is correct, of course. You and I know that if we let it, the world around us will squeeze us into its own mold. If we let it, the world will shape our attitudes, our values, our convictions from the outside in, until it squeezes the life right out of us.

If we let it, the world will squeeze us into the mold of materialism. That’s the belief, the ideology, the conviction, the assumption that everything that really matters in this life can be bought and sold with money. It’s the belief that I can have what I want and have it now; all I need is plastic. We will mortgage our grandchildren’s future to have what we want and have it now.

One of the emerging pastoral concerns that we share is the concern for good folks, Christian people, who are being squeezed to death by the demon on debt and the demonic power of plastic. People whose lives are being controlled and managed by their credit cards. The crisis for many families today is not only the high cost of living, but the cost of high living. It’s a profoundly spiritual thing, and later this fall, we want to try to work on that.

If we let it, the world will squeeze us into the mold of self-centered amorality. That’s the assumption that there is no objective standard of right or wrong in this universe, and that my behavior is determined solely on the basis of what satisfies me. It expresses itself in many ways. We desperately need gun control in this country, but we will never control the violence of our culture until we deal with the underlying desire to have whatever we want, whenever we want it, by whatever means it takes to get it. It works itself out in a multitude of ways, but if we let it, the world will squeeze us into the mold of self-oriented amorality.

If we let it, the world will squeeze us into the mold of “squishy spirituality.” I borrowed that term from Jonathan Yardley, the book critic for the Washington Post. When I shared it on the Internet a few weeks ago, I received more response than anything I’ve sent out there since I wrote on Moncia Lewinsky. In a scathing review of a book on “boomer spirituality,” Yardley described “squishy spirituality” as a “blend of all the most self-absorbed aspects of pop psychology, New Age pseudo-mysticism . . . and half-baked religiosity. It completely rejects anything remotely smacking of authority . . . It is self-indulgent rather than self-sacrificial, and it is utterly devoid of anything approximating intellectual rigor.” He says the bottom line of most contemporary spirituality is “What’s in it for me?”

Establishing Dreams and Goals

Establishing Dreams and Goals by Jim Rohn

One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life, and the ability to establish goals to live out those dreams. Think of it: We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families; dream of better financial lives and better emotional or physical lives; certainly dream of better spiritual lives. But what makes this even more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to not only dream but to pursue those dreams and not only to pursue them, but the cognitive ability to actually lay out a plan and strategies (setting goals) to achieve those dreams. Powerful!

What are your dreams and goals? This isn’t what you already have or what you have done, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.

So how do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and it relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams (and many will try to put their plans and dreams on us). If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us. No, we must listen to our own hearts.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps/thoughts on hearing from our hearts on what our dreams are:

Take time to be quiet. This is something that we don’t do enough in this busy world of ours. We rush, rush, rush, and we are constantly listening to noise all around us. The human heart was meant for times of quiet, to peer deep within. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams! Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cell phone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen, and your thoughts.

Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you LOVE to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions you will feel great and you will be in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we experience what our dreams are!

Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish. Remember, you’re dreaming! Let the thoughts fly and take careful record.

Now, prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order in which you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.

Here is the big picture: Life is too short to not pursue your dreams. Someday your life will near its end and all you will be able to do is look backward. You can reflect with joy or regret. Those who dream, who set goals and act on them to live out their dreams, are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They have finished well, for themselves and for their families.

Remember: These are the dreams and goals that are born out of your heart and mind. These are the goals that are unique to you and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to attain because they are what will make your life joyful and bring your family’s life into congruence with what you want it to be.

The article above was excerpted from The Jim Rohn One-Year Success Plan.

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Will They Truly Not Depart?

Will They Truly Not Depart?
– by Earl C. Davis

When we read Proverbs 22:6 and say a child who is trained up in a godly fashion will always return to his roots, no matter how far he roams, it is true as a general rule, but not absolutely and always true, because every child has his own free will. But there is enough promise in this verse to let us know, when we are raising our children, that it is not in vain; enough promise to comfort the faithful and broken heart when the child strays.

Children are the source of great joy: Proverbs 23:24-25; Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 17:6. They can also be the source of great sorrow. The same man who spoke of children as a joy, as arrows in a quiver and said, “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them ” — this was David, who also moaned those heartbroken words: “O Absalom, my son, my son. Would to God I had died for you! ” His son Solomon would have broken his heart, too, if David had lived to see his idolatry. Rebekah said twice in Genesis that the marriages of Esau were a “grief of mind” and that she was “weary of life” because of him.

The waywardness of children is no respecter of persons. I think of a dear friend in the ministry who had a child on drugs, wandering over the country for years. No parent can point a finger at any other parent, for children are not robots who can be completely controlled, even by a loving Christian parent. And I do not wish to heap a pile of guilt on parents who have done all they could to train up their children right, and still the result has not been anything to write home about. There are no perfect parents, but most Christian parents I know truly desire to impart their faith to their children, and do the best they can.

Your Self-Esteem Must Come From God by Bob Gass

“… I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” – Isaiah 43:1 NKJV

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, ‘Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, ‘I know you.’ How wonderful is that? Take a moment and consider the things in life that rob us of self-esteem. Words such as, ‘I don’t want you; I don’t love you anymore.’ Or ‘You’re unsuitable for the job; sorry, we have to let you go.’ Or, ‘You keep making the same stupid mistakes. You’ll never get it right.’ Or, ‘Why can’t you be like your brother, or your sister, or so-and-so?’ Understand this:

1) Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you do for a living. Because when you can no longer do it you’ll feel worthless. Think about some of the famous people you know: athletes, artists, speakers, etc. When they can no longer do what they do they often get depressed, even suicidal.

2) Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you own. Recently the U.S. housing market lost up to 40% of its value in one year. Millions of people saw their social status go down and their financial security go up in smoke.

3) Your self-esteem cannot be based on other people’s opinion because it will always make you vulnerable to rejection. What’s the solution? Discover what God thinks about you and build your life on it. ‘… thus says the Lord, who created you… who… redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.’ (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV) It doesn’t get any better than that!

More Tomorrow by Larry Hatfield

Immediately after World War II the allied armies gathered up many hungry, homeless children and placed them in large camps. There the children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well. They seemed restless and afraid.

Finally, a psychologist hit on a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread to hold. If they wanted more to eat, more was provided, but this particular slice was not to be eaten – it was just to hold.

The slice of bread produced marvellous results. The children would go to sleep, subconsciously feeling they would have something to eat tomorrow. That assurance gave the child a calm and peaceful rest. More tomorrow! Isn’t that really the basic longing deep inside each of our hearts?

It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out why we’re that way. The longer I live, the more I see taken away from me. Oh yes, I’ve got more stuff than I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. I’ve got books I’ll never read, work manuals I’ll never work, catalogues I’ll never order from.

Plus, I’ve got jars and jars of assorted nuts and bolts, electric wire nuts, picture-hanging brackets, and curtain rod implements. Stuff. The funny thing about it is that when I need some of this stuff I can never find it, so I wind up going down and buying more stuff.

Would you like to know what I do with the leftovers? I put them in the jar alongside the stuff I was looking for when I went down and bought new stuff. It’s right beside the half empty gallon paint can I saved from one of my projects back in 1991.

Yeah, I got stuff all right but I’m also losing things — lots of things. My mind, for instance. My once active brain picks the dumbest times to go on sabbatical. Some things I’m still good at; some things I’d rather not discuss. I’m sort of like the professor on Gilligan’s Island who was smart enough to make a two-way radio out of a coconut; but didn’t have sense enough to fix a hole in the bottom of the boat. That’s me all right.

And my eyes aren’t as keen as they once were, which might have some redemptive value. At least when I can’t think of someone’s name I can always use the excuse, “I couldn’t see you very well.”

Yes indeed! I want more tomorrow, like the little children in the war camps. I need something to hold on to; something that will let me know that tomorrow is taken care of already. God knew that we were all going to be like those little children. That’s why he so often referred to us as ‘little children’. And one of my favourite ‘little children’ talks Jesus gave, came to us by way of the pen and parchment belonging to Matthew, His disciple: “Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing,” Jesus said. “Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

That’s better than stuff stuffed into the closet. Better than stuff on shelves in the garage. Better than stuff in jars. That’s even better than sliced bread!

Larry Hatfield is Pastor of Grand Assembly of God in Chickasha, OK.

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Don’t Give Up….

Don’t give up….

One day I decided to quit…

I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality… I wanted to quit my life.

I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God”, I asked, “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”

His answer surprised me…

“Look around”, He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them.

I gave them light.

I gave them water.

The fern quickly grew from the earth.

Its brilliant green covered the floor.

Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful.

And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said.

“In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed..

But I would not quit.

In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would

not quit.” He said.

“Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared

to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant…But just 6

months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive.

I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”

He asked me. “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots”.

“I would not quit on the bamboo.

I will never quit on you.”

“Don’t compare yourself to others.”

He said.

“The bamboo had a different Purpose than the fern.

Yet they both make the forest beautiful.”

“Your time will come”, God said to me. “You will rise high”

“How high should I rise?”
I asked.

“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can?” I questioned.

“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”

I left the forest and brought back this story.

I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.

Never, Never, Never Give up.

For the Christian, prayer is not an option but an opportunity.

Don’t tell the Lord how big the problem is, tell the problem how Great the Lord is!

And heaven’s door opened this very moment.

“Keep Driving”

A lady was driving along with her father. They came upon a storm, and the young lady asked her father, What should I do?”He said “keep driving”.. Cars began to pull over to the side, the storm was getting worse.

“What should I do.” The young lady asked?”Keep driving,” her father replied. On up a few feet, she noticed that eighteen wheelers were also pulling over. She told her dad, “I must pull over, I can barely see ahead. It is terrible, and everyone is pulling over!”Her father told her, “Don’t give up, just keep driving!

“Now the storm was terrible, but she never stopped driving, and soon she could see a little more clearly.

After a couple of miles she was again on dry land, and the sun came out. Her father said, “Now you can pull over and get out.”She said “But why now?”He said “When you get out, look back at all the people that gave up and are still in the storm, because you never gave up your storm is now over.

This is a testimony for anyone who is going through “hard times”.Just because everyone else, even the strongest, gives up. You don’t have to…if you keep going, soon your storm will be over and the sun will shine upon your face again.

Someone shared this with me. Feel free to pass it on to some people you know. Tell them, “never give up”, because GOD will never give up on them!
Keep Driving! This story touched me! I hope it touched you!


The Story of Appreciation

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview. The director called him for the last interview and made a lasting decision.

The director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research. Never had there been a year when he did not score.

The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” the youth answered “none”.

The director asked, “Was it your father who paid for your school fees?”

The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.”

The director asked, ” Where did your mother work?” The youth answered, “My mother worked as clothes cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.
The director asked, ” Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?” The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted
me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me”.

The director said, “I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning”.

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands.
His mother felt strange. Happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.
The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tears fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realised that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.
After finishing the cleaning of his mother’s hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.
Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office. The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes and asked: ” Can you tell me what you did and learned yesterday in your house?”

The youth answered, ” I cleaned my mother’s hands, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes’

The Director asked, ” please tell me your feelings.”

The youth said, “Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today. Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only now do I realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship”.

The director said, ” This is the one I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired”.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wants, would develop “entitlement mentality” and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parents’ efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. This kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel any sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more.

If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying our kid instead?
You can let your kids live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand that no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your kid learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.
You would have forwarded many mails to many and many of them would have back mailed you too…but try and forward this story to as many as possible…this may change somebody’s fate…

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

IAT Boluwatise

Are You Too B-U-S-Y?

“… that Satan might not outwit us… ” – 2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV

Addressing a worldwide convention of demons, satan told them: ‘As long as Christians stay close to God we’ve no power over them, so: 1) Keep them busy with non-essentials.
2) Tempt them to overspend and go into debt.
3) Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles.
4) Discourage them from spending family time, for when homes disintegrate there’s no refuge from work.
5) Overstimulate their minds with television and computers so that they can’t hear God speaking to them.
6) Fill their coffee tables and nightstands with newspapers and magazines so they’ve no time for Bible reading.
7) Flood their letter boxes with sweepstakes, promotions and get-rich-quick schemes; keep them chasing material things.
8) Put glamorous models on TV and on magazine covers to keep them focused on outward appearances; that way they’ll be dissatisfied with themselves and their mates.
9) Make sure couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy; that way they’ll be tempted to look elsewhere.
10) Emphasise Santa and the Easter Bunny; that way you’ll divert them from the real meaning of the holidays.
11) Involve them in ‘good’ causes so they won’t have any time for ‘eternal’ ones.
12) Make them self-sufficient. Keep them so busy working in their own strength that they’ll never know the joy of God’s power working through them.

Do these twelve things faithfully. I promise-it’ll work!’

Have you figured out the difference between being busy and being successful in what God’s called you to do? Sometimes being B-U-S-Y just means Being Under Satan’s Yoke!

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